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.
For optical drives we purchased both an internal Blu-ray player and burner as well as a traditional CD-ROM drive and burner. The benefit to having two optical drives is that it makes it easier to copy discs. With a Blu-ray burner it's possible to burn 1080p video and play it back on a Blu-ray disc player. The Pioneer Blu-ray disc/DVD/CD writer cost about £130 and the Lite-On 24x DVD writer with Lightscribe cost about £22.
Many PCs usually have a single hard disc drive, but for our computer we will be installing three. The first one is a Western Digital VelociRaptor 150GB, 10,000 RPM SATA 3Gb/s drive. That means that the storage capacity is 150GB. It spins at 10,000 revolutions per minute, which is fast for a drive, and its data transfer speed is 3Gbps. We plan to install our operating system and Adobe CS5 on this drive.
We also considered installing a solid state drive, but because of cost, storage capacity and reliability concerns, we decided to install a traditional drive. The other two drives are Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB 7200 RPM 6Gb/s drives. That will give us two terabytes of storage and fast data transfer. The first drive cost about £100 and the last two cost about £75 each.
Our motherboard and case have some USB ports, but we wanted to add more. We bought a USB 2.0 adaptor that has five USB ports. It will plug into our motherboard and add five ports on the back of our case and one port on the inside. It cost £10.
On the front of our case, we'll add a card reader with five slots that can handle more than 30 types of media cards such as SD, compact flash, MicroSD and others. It also includes one extra USB port. It cost about £15.
As mentioned before, we decided to choose an after-market fan and heat sink to cool our CPU. It's important to buy a powerful enough fan so that the CPU doesn't overheat. For our system we chose the Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 for about £17. We also bought Arctic Silver 5 thermal compound for about £5.50.
The last internal component for the system is the power supply. Power supplies are measured in watts, and for our high-end system we chose a Silverstone ST1000-P modular active PFC power supply. The nice feature about this unit is that you only have to attach the plugs that you need. In some power supplies all of the wires are permanently attached to the unit, so the leftover ones that aren't used end up sitting bundled in the bottom of the case. It cost about £150.
NEXT PAGE: Periperals and software
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
- Small-business IT advice
- Laptop buying advice
- See all laptop reviews
- Video: how to build your own PC