Part 1 – Choosing Components
The best part about building a computer is that you can choose your own parts. So if you know that you don’t need a powerful system – you’re just going to be word processing/surfing the net/watching TV shows – then, you can channel money away from a GPU that you probably won’t be using, to a really nice case. Similarly, for a budget gaming system you would probably prioritise a kickass GPU over a fancy case. In addition to this level of customisability, you also end up saving a few bucks as well! (And it takes an evening.)
You will need:
Internal Hard Drive
PSU (Power Supply Unit)
That’s it! These are the core components in any computer build. Buying these components from your local computer hardware store will allow you to fix up a system (additional items needed – a screwdriver! all wires are included with the components). You may not even need a graphics card – most AMD and Intel processors come with onboard graphics that are very capable – only buy graphics card if you are 3D rendering (AutoCAD)/playing modern games, and want to play the modern games at a high resolution and quality. If you do a quick YouTube of Intel’s or AMD’s onboard graphics (e.g. Intel HD Graphics from the Celeron/Pentium Haswell Intel Processors) you will find that they can often run modern games at lower settings/resolution. Extras for a PC build include: 5.25″ bay devices such as a DVD player/or card reader with additional USB outlets; PCI express devices such as wireless capabilities, or more USB3 headers; aftermarket CPU coolers (Intel and AMD both provide stock coolers with their consumer processors.)
CPU: I recently purchased a G1840 (a 4th generation/Haswell Intel processor) and I was pleasantly surprised with how fast operations were! If you are a hard core gamer, choose a Haswell (not Skylake!) i5 or i7 processor – as modern games are moving towards quad core CPUs. (The reason for not going Skylake – or atleast not now – is that most games have been optimised for Haswell; this will change as Skylake becomes more prevalent.)
Motherboard: MSI, Asus, AsRock, Gigabyte.. all good brands, all have horror stories and die hard supporters – the choice is yours! Luckily with warranties, even if you do get a bad egg, you can get it replaced. Remember that your CPU must have the same socket as your motherboard – e.g. LGA 1150 (Haswell 4th gen Intel) or FM3+ (FX series AMD).
GPU: You need this if you are playing new games at 1080p/60fps/ultra settings. If you are not, than Intel or AMD’s integrated graphics will be fine! For example, the Intel Celeron G1840 Haswell (which is a very budget orientated processor) has Intel HD Graphics included. It handles League of Legends fine (60fps at lower resolutions/medium settings). It also handles Bioshock, and other older games really well. It can play 1080p videos with no stutters – awesome stuff!
RAM: 8GB of DDR3. That’s all you need. Not much difference between DDR4/DDR3/1333MHz/2400MHz/8GB/16GB. 8GB is the sweet spot for RAM – get 16GB if you need 25 years of future proofing!
Case: Generally I look for number of front USB ports/looks/options for fans – up to you!
PSU: If you don’t have a graphics card, you can probably escape with most PSUs or even case+PSU combos – if you don’t draw much power, your PSU won’t be stressed, and it won’t die. If you need reliability/you will be drawing a lot of power (as is the case if you have a gaming graphics card), than look for a good PSU, i.e. ones with ALL quality/Japanese capacitors.
Internal Hard Drive: SSDs vs HDDs, the choice is yours! I find that both types can be very snappy – lag is most often due to a messy computer/old CPU/too little RAM.
Part 2 – Building your Computer
This is the video guide that I used. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0bUghCx9iso
Only note to make is to install CPU+stock CPU cooler before putting it into the case, so that you can check whether your CPU cooler is properly affixed by looking at the back of the motherboard (as watched here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5qczGR4KMnY)
And that’s it – good luck!