(Pocket-lint) – Building your own computer can be daunting. There are many things to think about beforehand. These tips will help you ease your worries.
We have written various detailed instructions for building an extreme gaming PC, a mini-ITX machine, a budget gaming PC and more. But there are things to think about even before you start.
Easy compatibility testing
One of the most difficult things about building a PC is knowing which parts fit together and making sure everything is compatible, both in terms of size and system stability.
Fortunately, there are solutions to these problems and tools to check before making a purchase at all.
Checks power supply requirements
One wrong thing people do is buy the wrong power supply. It is important not to cheapen your PSU, as a low quality power supply can ruin an entire system. It is tempting to save money, but a poor quality power supply can potentially short circuit, rise or simply damage your entire PC. Other times it may just fail, making the whole machine useless.
The old saying – buy cheap, buy twice – has never been so painful here. So make sure you buy a good quality PSU with a good rating.
Requirements for PSU power
The other important thing to find out is the power requirements of your system. This will vary depending on what you add to your PC. If you add a power GPU, an advanced CPU, multiple HDDs, SSDs and more, you will soon find that the power requirements increase.
Fortunately, this tool lets you figure out your power supply needs with a simple PSU calculator that lets you look at your system specifications and get a recommended effect. Fill in everything you include, and you will not only get the intended use, but also a recommended PSU to buy. Use this to ensure that you have a power supply that has enough watts to power your system (do not buy one with lower watts or performance will suffer), but also to avoid over-consumption of something too powerfully unnecessary.
Plan your purchases
If you have done some research, you may know some of the parts you want to buy. If you already know the specific CPU you want, for example, you can use this PCPartPicker system builder tool to plan the rest of the build and see which parts fit.
This tool allows you to search for specific parts, add them to the system and then find other suitable parts. Maybe you can start with a PC cover and then use it to select motherboards and other components like RAM and other things. This will make sure that everything fits together. It will also stop you from buying things that do not fit or simply do not work in the system.
It is a great tool that is free to use and even shows you where to buy the parts from.
Get a graphics card
It has been tough trying to buy a graphics card in recent years. It’s going to get better as Nvidia (and others) promise more effort to alleviate the supply shortage. Competition is also intensifying, with Intel soon entering the graphics card space, so it should be easier to buy over the next few months and years.
Nvidia recently launched a campaign called “Restocked & Reloaded” which promises a range of GeForce RTX 30 Series graphics cards available for purchase now. So things are definitely looking up.
In the meantime, if you’re waiting for a particular graphics card to go down in price or be available for purchase, the good news is that you might be able to get away without one in the short term. We have tested and written about how it is possible to build a gaming PC and play without a graphics card.
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Optimize your investment
We have already said that it is important not to cheapen the power supply unit or risk damaging the whole machine at some point.
There are other things that are worth spending more on in the first place. Some things can be replaced and upgraded in the future. It is very easy to add more RAM, for example, or to replace the graphics card with a newer model, but that is not the case for everything.
We have written a guide about how to upgrade your CPU relatively easily. But something like your motherboard is not that easy to replace. We like to think of the motherboard as the basis of your PC. If you ever need to replace it, remove it from the cover and it can hurt, not only because you have to disconnect everything, but also because it counts as such a significant change that you need a new license for Windows.
Look for a motherboard that ticks in all the right boxes considering what you need and buy it. Watch out for IO ports, NVMe ports, PCIe path speeds, and more. Consider whether you really need an advanced motherboard for overclocking, or whether a more affordable motherboard is a better option.
RAM you can save money on as you can always start with 8GB or 16GB in two sticks, and then upgrade with more of the same in the future. So look to save there if you need it.
What do you need your PC for?
Ask yourself what you are going to use the PC for before you buy. If you plan to play, a good graphics card is important. However, if you are planning to do other intensive tasks like video editing, you may find that higher capacity and faster MHz RAM will also be beneficial.
If you know what kind of game you are going to play, you can get an idea of what you need by looking at the minimum and recommended system specifications. Many games show these to give you an idea of what experience you can expect. If you always want to play the latest triple-A games with maximum graphics settings, chances are you need a PC with a lot of processing power. If you prefer indie games, they are often less graphically intensive, and you can get away with a lower specified system.
Keep in mind, however, that technology is advancing rapidly, and if you buy a machine with lower specifications, your specifications may soon be below even the minimum requirements of modern games.
However, you can get more FPS out of your graphics card with a few settings, and DLSS can also help with frame rates.
Budgeting beyond PC
When you budget your PC, do not forget that you probably have to spend a lot of money on a good gaming screen, keyboard, gaming mouse and headset as well. The cost can quickly increase when you include all of these things, so do not neglect the planning there as well.
Author by Adrian Willings. Edited by Chris Hall.