How do I begin to build a custom computer?

By MichealW
May 21, 2013
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  1. Right now im running on a optiplex gx270 Dell computer. I was looking into upgrading it but after doing a little research it seems to be a better idea to have one custom built. The problem is I have no idea where to begin lol, I dont have any serious knowledge about computer parts but I would be needing something that could run smoothly overall. Also hopeing to play higher end games like diablo 3. Any suggestions?
  2. stonarda

    stonarda TechSpot Enthusiast Posts: 178   +17

    hmmm...I would start by researching all the different parts that you may need, that's what I did! I then looked at the brands and different cards/models in more detail to pick the final parts (checking their compatibility) for the computer that I am using now.

    Min. parts you will need:
    - CPU
    - Motherboard (ensure it can support the CPU)
    - RAM
    - A case
    - A Hard Drive/SSD
    - Graphics Card (optional, depending on if you have integrated graphics, but a dedicated is recommended for gaming)
    - A Good PSU
  3. ReederOnTheRun

    ReederOnTheRun TechSpot Booster Posts: 310   +62

    I built my first computer few years ago. I think this methodology could help you out too.

    1. Start with the recommended specs for the games you want to run. When I built mine, I was planning to play Battlefield 3.

    2. I bought a Nvidia gtx 570 (an upper-middle graphics card that could run Battlefield on ultra settings) so I could have decent graphics for a while with future games, and when it comes to upgrade again, I can just buy another one and use it SLI.
    --> Also, some really high end graphics cards will overheat and strongly recommend a water cooling system. Google every component you're looking at and look at forums. It'll help you get a feel for what you should be prepared for.

    3. From there, look up the power supply the SLI setup would require (So I know I won't have to upgrade the power supply unit (PSU) when I get the SLI setup). Also, make sure this fits in the case you buy.

    4. Then I found a 2nd generation i7 CPU (This was before the 3rd gen Intel processors came out. Although, unless you do a lot of video or picture editing, I don't think it is required to get an i7. I hear i5 is the way to go if you want to save some money while building a gaming machine.)

    5. After that I got a motherboard that supported SLI and the CPU I wanted. Make sure the motherboard will fit in the case you buy! I didn't consider this when I got mine, but luckily it still fit perfectly.

    6. Then of course, there's the hard drive, but anyone you choose should go fine with the rest of your components. If you want to record your games, I hear the best setup to do is running your game on a SSD and the recording program on a separate, high capacity HDD.

    You can see on my profile on TechSpot what specs my computer ended up with if you want to look at similar specs.

    Also, do a lot of Google searching about the products you are getting. Look on Amazon for their reviews, benchmarks, etc.

    Good luck!
  4. MichealW

    MichealW Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    Thanks for the responce guys, I got somewhere to start now.(y)
  5. JC713

    JC713 TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 6,108   +731

    Watch these videos:
    Part 1:

    Part 2:

    Part 3:


    What is your budget? I recommend starting from scratch instead of upgrading that Dell trash (my opinion lol).
    TheHawk likes this.
  6. MichealW

    MichealW Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    Im not sure how expensive building a computer from scratch could be, what do you figure $500 would give me? Yeah and I wasn't planning on upgrading this cpu Lol.
  7. MichealW

    MichealW Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    $500?
  8. JC713

    JC713 TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 6,108   +731

    $500 can get you a new PC. But it wont be able to play Diablo 3 at max settings. What resolution is your monitor? Also will you need to buy peripherals (keyboard, mouse, etc)?
  9. MichealW

    MichealW Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    I've got the keyboard, mouse, etc. Im not sure what resolution my monitor is, I was actually planning on buying a new one when I start investing in a new computer. What type of monitor would you suggest?
  10. JC713

    JC713 TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 6,108   +731

    I would suggest a nice 1080P monitor. Dont go crazy with it though. IPS displays are my personal favorite because of the deep colors. But they have slower response times. LED backlighting is a nice plus since it allows for greater brightness and saves energy compared to LCDs. Anything from $150-250$ is a good deal for a monitor. We can talk about that later though. Let us proceed with the PC. What other games will you be playing other than Diablo 3?
  11. MichealW

    MichealW Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    Probably an assortment of RTS games and RPG games if the price of the computer needed to run them permits.
  12. JC713

    JC713 TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 6,108   +731

    The most demanding game is Diablo 3 then. I think a $500 PC will be fine. You may need to bump it up to $600 possibly, but I can manage with $500. I think you should start off by watching this video:
    .
    I will recommend parts for you, but I want to let you know that Intel is about to release their new line of CPUs, so I suggest you wait for those. They are being released in early June.
  13. MichealW

    MichealW Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    I'll take some recommendations. And yeah I can wait until june.
     
  14. St1ckM4n

    St1ckM4n TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 3,197   +555

    Listen to JC, he'll hook you up. :)
    JC713 and MichealW like this.
  15. JC713

    JC713 TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 6,108   +731

    Sorry for the wait. I will give you two options for the build, AMD and Intel. I personally think AMD gives you the better bang for the buck for a lower end build, especially when playing RPG games, which can take advantage of more cores. Do you agree St1ckM4n?
    Option 1, Intel (this will be modified when Haswell, the next generation of CPUs, is released):
    CPU: Intel Core i3 3220 ($130)
    Motherboard: ASUS P8B75-V ($85)
    Option 2:
    CPU: AMD FX-6350 ($140) - The 6 core AMD CPU will outperform the dual core i3, especially in more CPU heavy games.
    Motherboard: ASUS M5A97 ($100)

    Definite parts:
    RAM: Corsair Vengeance 4x2GB ($70)
    GPU: EVGA GTX 650Ti Boost ($170)
    Power Supply: Corsair TX 650 ($90) or Corsair CX500 ($60)
    HDD: WD Caviar Black
    Case: Corsair 200R ($50)

    That brings you too about $600. If you interchange cheaper components and factor in mail and rebates + sales, it can be brought down to about $500. The parts I provided will promise you the best performance and reliability. I think the AMD platform is worth the extra money, especially the motherboard (the M5A97) since it has UEFI BIOS, which is safer (in some cases) and easier to use. I didnt find any B75s (I didnt look that much) that had a UEFI option.
    St1ckM4n likes this.
  16. mailpup

    mailpup TS Special Forces Posts: 8,279   +180

    FWIW, the ASUS P8B75-V does have a UEFI BIOS.
  17. MichealW

    MichealW Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    Looks good, thanks for the list it will definately be put to use. (y)
  18. JC713

    JC713 TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 6,108   +731


    (y)
  19. JC713

    JC713 TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 6,108   +731

    If you decide to go for the Intel platform (AMD is probably better for $500-$600 builds), than you just interchange the Core i3 3220 for the Haswell model (it is probably gonna be the i3-4220) plus a B85 motherboard. I also think the AMD platform is better since you can overclock the 6350, which can futureproof the build even longer. Make sure you purchase this CPU cooler if you plan to overclock: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835103099.
  20. deanlaing12

    deanlaing12 TechSpot Enthusiast Posts: 161

    Case based on size of Mother Board.
    CPU based on mother board + Preference
    Ram based on mother board + OS + Preference
    Graphics card based on mother board + Preference
    Hard Drive / SSD based on preference + Motherboard
    Optical drive - based on preference + Motherboard connection (Unlikely restriction)
    Power Supply based on Motherboard, hard-drive/ssd, graphics card, fans, additional hardware - optical drive etc...
    Monitor based on Graphics Card + Preference
    Sound based on preference + Motherboard (For some reason, I have seen a few without optical! Had to buy a converter for my parents pc. Very Very unlikely though)
    Keyboard + Mouse based on preference. (I think even older input devices versions come with converter to usb 2.0)
    External hard drives based on motherboard (Need usb 3.0 or eSata for fast external hard drives, and usb 2.0 for slow hard drives.)
    Wireless card based on motherboard (if going wireless)
    Operating System based on ram + Specs of machine + preference.


    In my opinion, start off with a great mother board and you will end with a great machine.

    My opinion and view is not to everyone's taste and will probably result in problems unless you know what you are doing.
  21. JC713

    JC713 TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 6,108   +731

    The OS is not based on the specs of the machine really. Any modern CPU can run Windows.
  22. deanlaing12

    deanlaing12 TechSpot Enthusiast Posts: 161

    When someone who does not fully understand machines decides to build one. They should understand as much as possible. You can install windows 32Bit onto a machine with more than 4 Gigs of ram, and it is very possible to access all the ram with the correct software, but who in their right mind would do it? It means updating the software constantly and is not convenient for new computer users.

    The point I was attempting to make was, there is restrictions for the OS based on certain hardware, such as RAM.
  23. JC713

    JC713 TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 6,108   +731

    Yeah true. That isnt really an issue with the default RAM configurations being 4GB nowadays, so installing 32bit Windows can use 95% of it (32bit cannot use exactly 4GB). But with 8GB becoming the norm, 64bit software is a must, along with knowledge on which OS to install.
  24. deanlaing12

    deanlaing12 TechSpot Enthusiast Posts: 161

    Agreed! But we do not want people to make that mistake. :)

    Yea, it uses 3.87 or something, if I recall correctly.
    JC713 likes this.
  25. JC713

    JC713 TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 6,108   +731

    Something like that.


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