Few things in life are as satisfying as creating something that you
will admire and use everyday. Whether you like to cook, draw, build
things, write, or compose, there is a certain satisfaction when your
project is completed, and you begin using your new creation.
Applying creativeness to your next computer system purchase can also
be very satisfying and rewarding. As a matter of fact, with proper planning it is fairly
easy for you to design every detail of your next custom desktop PC,
and you don't necessarily have to be an experienced computer builder to do it.
You are probably wondering how building a desktop PC can be easy
and not require experience. While building a custom desktop
PC does require experience, designing a desktop PC for an experienced
manufacturer to build is relatively uncomplicated. Whether you want to build the entire computer yourself, upgrade a barebone system or older computer, or use a configurator to select computer parts for someone else to build, this article will help you get started customizing your very own computer.
Wouldn't it be fun to pick out all the parts for your computer, including
the case and the motherboard? Do you want a fast, unique looking PC, that you can
be proud of? Are you tired of guessing what parts are actually inside your computer? Do you want a PC that can be easily upgraded with the newest parts?
If you've answered yes to these questions, then designing your own
desktop PC is the thing to do.
Getting the Design Started
1. Choose your CPU
To start designing your own custom gaming PC, you need
to make a few basic decisions. The first decision you have to make
is whether you want an Intel Quad or Core Duo CPU, or an AMD Phenom system. Basically, both processor families have good performance and you should compare price to performance when making your buying decision.
Overclocking Anyone?? It is difficult
to discuss CPU speed without getting into a discussion about overclocking. Simply defined, overclocking is the process of using motherboard BIOS settings (or motherboard manufacturers' supllied programs) to increase the CPU's processing "clock" speed. While it is nice to get the increased processing speed from overclocking, the trade off is increased CPU heat emission. So the wise overclocker must consider how to dissipate this heat or the CPU will not overclock very well, nor will it last very long (resulting in a "fried" CPU from overclocking mishaps).
This is an advanced subject that is endlessly debated, and we will discuss this a little further when it comes time to discuss PC cases and CPU cooling.
See all the Best Selling Boxed Retail Processors (with CPU fan included)
See the Best Selling OEM (no CPU fan and few instructions)
CPUs and Processors
2. Picking out the Perfect Motherboard
This is so important that it could be step 1, but generally the CPU you want will drive you to the motherboard you should buy as motherboards are divided into two groups; AMD compatible or Intel compatible.
So what you are looking for in a motherboard is a part that is very reliable, has all the features you need (or you want), and is affordable. Generally this means that you will be paying between $150-$250 for a good motherboard.
Since the motherboard is the heart of your computer system you have to decide on several features before you start looking.
What type of video cards do you want to use? There are two flavors of video cards; ATI/AMD or NVidia. Motherboards are usually only optimized for one manufacturer's video cards. So you have to make a choice of which major manufacturer's video cards you want to use and buy a motherboard that is optimized for that manufacturer.
Also involved in the video card choice is the decision of how many video cards you want in your system. Do you want multiple video cards working together? Do you want one video card that has multiple graphics processing units (GPUs)? Or do you just want the option to pop in a second video card at a later date?
If you want to have multiple video cards, your computer will need multiple video card slots.
The latest type of graphics card slot is known as PCI express (PCIe) and moves data in 16 lanes (x16). If you want to link two or more graphics cards together you will need a PCIe X16 graphics slot for each card.
If you want to link two or more NVidia cards you will need to buy an SLI motherboard. If you want to link two or more ATI graphics cards you will need a motherboard that is Crossfire capable. It is important to remember that ATI and NVidia cards cannot be hooked together to produce shared video (although they could be in the same computer running separate monitors).
3. Choose Your RAM
Before choosing your system RAM the first thing you have to decide is which operating system you want to use. If you are going to use a 32 Bit Windows operating system (Windows XP, 32 Bit Windows Vista, or 32 Bit Windows 7) then the most RAM Windows can use is usually 8 GB. Video memory is also included in the 8GB limit so your actual RAM limit may show up as 7GB or less with your video card installed.
If you know you are going to buy a 64 Bit version of Windows then you can use 8 -64 GB of RAM or more. Obviously, planning ahead can save you from throwing out your old RAM to make room for higher density RAM.
Once you decide on the operating system you want to use, you need to buy RAM that is compatible with your motherboard. Most motherboard manufacturers list compatible RAM on their web sites and some RAM manufacturers list compatible motherboards.
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