When it comes to choosing a PC, you probably head straight to an online or high-street retailer. But why not think about building it yourself? We've put together a step-by-step guide covering every aspect you need to consider.
There's also a video version of this tutorial for you to watch for further instruction.
When you've finished this article, take a look at the remaining six parts. These cover Installing the motherboard, installing a CPU, adding ram and cards, connecting the power supply unit, inserting the drives and configuring the BIOS.
The advantages of building your own PC
There are some advantages to building your own PC, like picking out the exact parts you want and building it to your own specifications. It's also going to cost less than buying a computer from a typical retail outlet.
However, one of the drawbacks of building your own system is that rather than the full system being under a single warranty, each individual part has a warranty under its manufacturer. If something goes wrong, it may mean contacting each company separately.
The PC we're building will be built for video editing, so there will be a lot of high-end components, but regardless, every computer needs certain parts.
The motherboard is the control centre of the PC, where most of the components and chips plug into. When buying a motherboard, make sure it has the correct number and sizes of sockets for your CPU, memory and other cards. We chose the EVGA E760 Intel X58 motherboard, for about £270.
Most parts will come in antistatic bags. It's important to keep them in these bags until you're ready to assemble. Static shocks can ruin PC components, so be sure to ground yourself by touching metal before handling a component, or by wearing an antistatic wriststrap.
Next is the processor, which is the brains of the PC. We chose an Intel Core i7-980X. It's a 3.33GHz, six-core desktop processor. It also has hyperthreading, which means there will in effect be 12 processing cores for the computer. This would be overkill on a traditional desktop, but since we'll be editing video with it, the 12 cores will be very useful. For this particular CPU, Intel included a cooling fan, heat sink and thermal paste. You could use them, but we opted to buy our own. The CPU cost about £850.
After the CPU, RAM is one of the most important components of a PC. If you're installing a 32bit operating system, it will only be able to use 3GB of memory. If you're installing a 64bit OS, then memory is only limited by your budget. Memory is important, especially if you plan to run multiple high-powered applications. We chose 16GB of DDR3 SDRAM from GSkill. It cost about £420.
For our graphics processor, we chose an Nvidia Quadro FX 3800. It's designed to take advantage of the Mercury Playback Engine in Adobe Premiere CS5. That means that some of the video rendering will be off-loaded from the CPU and on to the GPU, resulting in faster export time and real-time effects processing. The card has its own built-in fan as well as one DVI and two HDMI outputs. It cost about £740.
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Follow the complete guide to building your own PC:
- Installing the motherboard
- installing a CPU
- adding ram and cards
- connecting the power supply unit
- inserting the drives
- configuring the BIOS