Build a PC

SYLLABUS
7 Sections
Introduction

1Introduction

Are you looking to play beautiful looking pc games on high settings? Do you want to save a lot of money? Do you want to be a pc gamer? Chances are that’s why you’re here. Welcome to the wonderful PCMasterRace. Surprisingly, building a PC is actually one of the easier tasks to complete in the Computer Science field. All it requires is getting 6-7 components and connecting them all together.

This syllabus will provide resources explaining each component, how to pick the components, and how to put them together (with some advice)! By the end of it, you will be a fully capable PC Builder.

Prerequisites

2Prerequisites

None! This is a fully beginner tutorial. Remember though, this is an investment – know exactly what your needs are. Wanting to be a developer vs. wanting to play Counter Strike on medium settings vs. wanting to play [insert crazy intensive beautiful game] on ultra settings and recording it is all going to require different budgets.

Know your environment too. Is this a PC that’s going to be in your room forever? Is this a machine you want to transport to and from work/college/hackathons?

Components

3Components

I was going to put all the components in separate sections, but I think that would be overkill. I’ll explain them here quickly, and leave resources to further explanations if you think you need it (it’s okay if you do). Here we go:

Case

This is what your computer is housed in. They come in a couple different size types. This is where you get to have a little fun and get the perfect style for you – just make sure it’s sized according to your environmental needs, and that it’s compatible with the sizes of your other components

Motherboard

The motherboard is the equivalent of the human body, or the skeleton of it. It connects all your parts together to make them all work together as one.

CPU

Best known as the brain of the computer. It does most of the heavy lifting and makes most of the important decisions. It’s also one of the smallest components surprisingly

Graphics Card (GPU)

If you’re a gamer, you may call this the brain of your computer (ha.. Jokes.. kinda). Anyways, the graphics card renders all your images, videos. Just upgrading your GPU can give you a big increase in performance, but as I mention later, you always want a well balanced build, so don’t put all your money into it.

RAM (Random Access Memory)

Think multitasking (or just really computer intensive programs like Video and Photo Editors). Every program on your computer uses some amount of ram, so the more you have – the more intensive stuff you can do at once. So if you’re the type to play Battlefield while finishing editing a YouTube video while writing an essay with 1743 tabs open, you’re going to want a lot of ram. 8-16gb is always a good range for most builds. Don’t go less than 8 and don’t be scared to get only 8.

Hard Disk Drive and Solid State Drive

This is the storage for your computer – what holds all your files, games, photos, programs and whatever other shady stuff you have.

Solid State Drives (SSD) are a relatively newer form of storage. Buying an SSD over an Hard Disk Drive (HDD) is one of the best decisions you can make. You’ll notice a huge increase in speed of your operating system, and most of your programs loading times.

Powersupply

Exactly what is sounds like – the power supply to power your entire computer and all its components.

If you think you have a good enough understanding – you can skip the resources for this section. They’ll essentially say the same thing in a few different ways, but go into some more technical detail if you’re interested.

Getting the Parts

4Getting the Parts

The most popular websites are Amazon and Newegg. I’d recommend going through this whole syllabus before making any purchases though. So… what parts are you going to buy?

Intel vs AMD

You can never go wrong by starting with your processor. You have two main brands to chose from: Intel and AMD. Almost every really high-end build will go with an Intel. Basically if you find an almost equivalent processor between AMD and Intel, the AMD will almost always be slightly cheaper. So if you’re building on a low-mid end budget, you can’t go wrong with an AMD. For more details on the debate check out this article.

First of all before buying, make sure all your parts are compatible. The resources provide really help you understand compatibilty, some do it for you!

If you’re now questioning, “well there’s sooo much stuff, what do I get?” – always try to get as close to the latest generation of anything as your budget can afford. If something is totally brand new (within the last year), chances are it’s not a big deal if you don’t have/get it yet (new things are always stupid expensive).

Putting it Together

5Putting it Together

There may be a slight learning curve to this, but really all you’re doing is connecting the blocks. It’s hard to really break anything honestly. I remember pressing the power button on my built PC for the first time… and it didn’t turn on. Turns out the main powersupply plug wasn’t plugged into the motherboard all the way.

Since every build is slightly different, you may not find an exact tutorial for your build. Don’t let this be intimidating, I promise you it’s pretty simple to connect everything. Check out the resources though and get a feel for people putting together builds.

If you want something even more specific to you… search YouTube or Google “Building a PC with [insert_your_motherboard_name]. If you can’t find one for yours, like I said it’s easy to figure out from other build videos.

When installing your CPU and CPU Fan, I’d definitely YouTube Search specific videos for their installation. Luckily – there’s not many types of CPUs, so it should be super easy.

Installing Windows

5Installing Windows

Windows actually makes it really easy to install on a new PC. All you need is a copy of Windows on a DVD or a USB. You want to go to your BIOS settings to make sure it boots from the USB or DVD, and windows will do the rest.

Every motherboard brand has a different BIOS. A BIOS is simply like a control panel for a motherboard. It can be tricky to navigate sometimes, but all the name-brand motherboards have good tutorials. You only have to change one thing to make sure it boots from a USB or DVD.

There’s a couple of tutorials on the resources page which show you how to download Windows 10, even without a key (never tried it personally). Microsoft also has a simple tool that will help you make a bootable USB.

Advice

5Advice

A build should always be balanced. If you spend most of your budget on a graphics card and wimp out on RAM and the CPU, you going to have a bottleneck and a bad time. Distribute your budget equally, not necessarily in monetary terms because good Ram costs $60 while good CPU costs $150, but in terms of quality.

Don’t overkill it if you don’t need to, save your money. When I was a YouTuber, and lived at home, I invested a lot because I had to record very intensive games, do video editing, etc… I bought the biggest case because I never thought it would be moved from my room. Two years later I went to college and couldn’t bring it. No regrets though, I built a smaller budget build with a super small transportable case. Overall, anticipate your environment and the type of work you’re going to do for the next few years. Luckily you can always upgrade specific parts.

Bradley Mitchell
MENTOR
Founder at NoviceDock. Student at Rutgers University studying Computer Science. I like tacos and working out, even though I'm very skinny.