The Road to Building a PC

Welcome back! I had some things going on in my life which, inevitably, caused me to put this update on the back burner for a while. To make good on that, I’ll double the fun this week with TWO updates.

So computers, right? We use them all the time, but so very few know what actually makes them tick. The idea of building one’s own PC has, for decades, triggered a particular tinge of fear which slivers down the spine of men.

“Computers have a thousand parts!”

“I’m not smart enough to build a PC…”

“I heard if you do just one thing wrong, then everything inside will be fried! ”

“I’m not rich! it’ll cost at least a thousand dollars to build!”

Friend, I’m here today to lay your wearied head to rest. If I can build a PC, then so can you.

Recently, I was in a position to build a PC for a friend, and I had been itching to do so for the longest, so I did. The machine itself was mostly a gift, so I didn’t go overboard on the components. The parts it consists of wouldn’t be considered “Top Shelf“, but nonetheless, the machine easily punches at a higher weight than your standard PlayStation 4 or Xbox One. Unlike those boxes, a PC has the benefit of being upgradable as the user sees fit. Briefly, let’s go over the parts you need for a build.

Motherboard: The central nervous system — In essence, the motherboard controls communications between the other components of the PC.

CPU: The left hemisphere — The CPU performs a lot of the math and logic needed to run programs and processes.

GPU (Video Card): The right hemisphere — Like the CPU, the GPU crunches numbers, but specializes in doing so for visuals being pushed to screen. Usually, motherboards have an embedded GPU, yet it’s normally best to purchase a dedicated video card for better results.

Memory (RAM): The short-term, quick response memory — RAM stores data for “in-use” programs, allowing them to run quickly and smoothly. This memory is wiped when the computer is powered down.

Storage: The long-term memory — This is where the user stores files to the PC itself. This memory remains even after the PC is powered down. Disk based storage offers better price per storage, whereas solid state storage is exponentially quicker.

Power Supply: The stomach? — The power supply (often referred to as the PSU) supplies energy to the rest of the machine. If you can’t supply enough energy to your body, you die, right?

Case: The corpse — Simply put, this keeps everything in place.

Operating System: The sex chromosomes. By in large, Operating Systems all function the same, but small differences change the way people perceive and interact with them. Your build can start as an X or a Y (Windows or iOS), but it’s never too late to switch if something feels off.

And with that info stored in the memory banks, you now know all the components needed to put together a PC. The only thing you need to watch out for now is part compatibility. Like an actual (human) body, you can’t just amputate an organ from one person and expect it to work perfectly in another. Fortunately, this step in the process has become trivial thanks to the website pcpartpicker.com. Create your own build or choose from one of their recommended builds. Throughout the process, the site will notify you if two components aren’t compatible with one another. If you need advice, I’m more than happy to help as well.

Below you will find a poorly shot video of me going through the process. Here’s a link to the specific components featured in this build. Overall, it took me about three hours. If it weren’t for my own stupidity and carelessness, it would’ve taken half of that. I’ll provide five quick takeaway I learned from this particular build and an actual professional guide to PC building right below my link.

  1. Don’t be afraid to use a moderate amount of pressure to push down the CPU latch.
  2. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, REMOVE THE METAL ENDS OFF THE I/O PANEL BEFORE PUTTING IT IN. COST ME THIRTY MINUTES!
  3. The case power connectors have a very specific order they must be in and, despite how they appear, they’re put in horizontally.
  4. Make sure the RAM sticks are all the way down on both sides. This might require a decent push.
  5. Always, always, ALWAYS make putting in the power supply and connecting components to one another the last step. Also, consider buying a modular power supply to save space!
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