Building your own computer
Mar 7, 2010, 13:02 GMT
Munich - Buy a standard off-the-shelf computer and you're probably making compromises. It's rare to find a pre-configured system that meets your needs to a tee.
The simplest way to make sure that every piece of technology in a new desktop PC fits your requirements is to build it yourself. You don't have to be a nerd to manage the task anymore, either. The key thing is to enter into the planning stage by ensuring that the individual pieces - the components - are compatible with one another.
The key components of any PC are the case, power supply, motherboard and processor (including fans and heat conductive paste), memory, graphics cards, optical drive, and hard drive.
'Once you have these components, you can create a PC system that would suffice for most users,' says Christian Kissinger from German electronics specialists Conrad Elektronik.
Each one of the components listed above is available in hundreds of variants. Deciding which one should grace the inside of your new creation is largely a matter of determining what kind of tasks the computer will be performing. A computer being used just for email messages and surfing the net doesn't require the horsepower under the hood that a gaming PC needs, for example.
Evaluating the individual components is thus a relatively important part of the process, says Josef Reitberger from the computer magazine Chip, but it can also be fun. He suggests checking the top products lists in well-known magazines.
Reitberger feels the challenge of physically constructing the PC itself is often overblown. 'Good cases are constructed so that amateur tinkerers just have to tighten a few screws,' he notes. And those even usually come included with delivery.
The process is a key part of the PC.
If you've already decided on a specific model, then the next step is finding a suitable motherboard. Once that step is finished, the RAM can be picked to fit the motherboard. It's important to ensure that the RAM type - such as DDR3 - actually fits the slots on the board. If you're not certain, ask a specialist before making the purchase or make sure that the seller has a good exchange policy.
Hard drives and optical drives are pretty much interchangeable nowadays, Kissinger explains.
'All current motherboards can handle devices with a SATA port, as well as old IDE drives,' says Kissinger. In terms of capacity, it's usually better to spend the extra few dollars. The price differences tend to be minimal, Reitberger says. 'But extra quick drives don't bring major noticeable benefits.'
When it comes to new graphics cards, it's recommended that the model have a fast PCI Express port. The rule of thumb: the more you game, the better the graphics card has to be, especially if 3D games are likely to be installed. An optical drive is simple to add in: Blu-ray drives cost at least 70 dollars. DVD burners are cheaper.
Technical author Rudolf Glos recommends sticking to brand-name products, especially when selecting motherboards. Brand name makers tend to keep up on driver updates for their products as the years go on.