Why Building Your Own PC Is Best

May 29th, 2012 | Posted by Stephane in Geekery

Nothing beats that rush of excitement when you know it’s Newegg knocking on the door.

Computer Build Parts

Okay, maybe that Christmas when I was 9 and woke up to a shiny new N64 with Goldeneye and Ocarina of Time, but you get the picture. And the best part is that it’s surprisingly worthwhile to build your own computer.

Building Your Own PC, Pros:

  • You have complete control over what goes in there
  • You can easily upgrade your PC later
  • You’ll save lots of money if you’re making anything reasonably performant
  • It’s incredibly easy. You only need about two limbs, preferably with opposable thumbs
  • You’ll learn about how computers work (and as a bonus, become the local tech support person)
  • You may even have fun

Building Your Own PC, Cons:

  • If your budget is less than about $500, it’s not really worth it
  • It will take perhaps an hour of your precious time
  • If something goes wrong, you’ll have no clue what the problem is

But worry not, the internet always has your back. You obviously know how to use it, since here you are. Just ask it politely for answers (of course, not anything that sounds suggestive when spoken aloud slowly, because Rule 34) and you should be just fine.

And while we’re at it, let’s dispel a common fear when it comes to bare hardware: It’s not nearly as fragile as you might think. PCBs are made to flex a fair bit, so don’t be afraid to push a little. Furthermore, the risk of static discharge is completely overblown. Just don’t wear any polar fleece footed pajamas, and you should be fine.

Now, how easy is it to actually build your own PC? Five steps oughta do it. It depends on how I arbitrarily group simple things together of course, but it’s very straightforward. You’ll use two tools as you go through the motions: a flashlight for the nether regions of your case, and a screwdriver for making sure things hold together. Then, take a moment to make a mental map of how everything fits together, and where everything is going to go, because you can dive right in.

  1. Start by building up the motherboard (put in the CPU, its heatsink, and your RAM sticks). The only tricky thing here is not to put too much thermal paste, because somewhat counter-intuitively, less is more, so be frugal.
  2. Open up your case, and put in all the other pieces, the PSU, HDD, and DVD drive. Hold on to the video card or any other PCIe devices for now. Don’t forget the backplate included with the motherboard, because this probably won’t fit afterwards.
  3. Put in the built-up motherboard, add a pinch of video card, then screw, clip, and tighten everything in. Not much harder than a Lego kit.
  4. Connect all of the power wires from the PSU, and all the data wires from the motherboard. Refer to the instruction manuals appropriately. If there’s a loose wire dangling from somewhere, you’re probably forgetting something.
  5. Plug it in, boot it up, and install your OS.

First Boot

And, we’re done! No, seriously, that’s it.  So long as you can focus on not drooling all over your shiny new hardware, you should be fine. Now, granted, this is a high-level overview of the process that omits many smaller details, so if you’re looking for an in-depth guide, you should probably turn to someone that can take better pictures than me. But the point still stands: the process is simple and anyone can do it, because I believe in your abilities, shady internet-person.

Final Build

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