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2,860 Tutorials

How to build your dream PC for less than £200

Create a dream machine with this simple guide

When it comes to purchasing your dream PC, you could spend ages looking online, sussing out the specs on offer and seeing whether you can tailor the machines available to meet your needs. Or you could take the plunge and build your own computer from scratch.

Putting together an entire PC isn't as scary as it sounds – and it's well worth the hassle. Your home-built PC will have the perfect spec, since you decide what goes into it. Want a faster processor? Get one. Prefer more RAM? Add some. Looking for extra storage space? What are you waiting for?

Index:

PUTTING IT TOGETHER: Click here for PC Advisor's detailed seven-step guide to assembling your components

The last resort

Having pieced together your shopping list, it's worth having a scout around online and checking out magazine reviews to ensure you haven't overlooked a deal that matches your specification. If you're building a budget machine, buying a pre-built system may be the most cost-effective method of obtaining the required setup. However, unless you stick with a configuration pretty close to the mainstream, building your own system is probably the only way to go.

Here, we've put together two sample configurations. These should be seen only as a starting point. We'll be advising you on how to piece together your own perfect system, not giving you a prepared shopping list. You'll want to swap some components in order to increase performance or lower costs. That's the beauty of being able to make your own build choices.

Price vs performance

Our first build is a budget machine, capable of decent performance with general office applications, email and web surfing. It costs just £164. This doesn't include a monitor, keyboard or mouse – reusing peripherals from your previous system is one way to save cash on a new build.

Our second configuration is a high-end multimedia system, capable of handling most of the tasks you'll be throwing at it both today and for some time into the future. This PC can handle cutting-edge gaming, video editing and high-definition playback, all without breaking a sweat. We spent £1,448 on our powerhouse, again saving some cash by reusing the monitor, keyboard and mouse.

The components for our budget system, bar the motherboard, were bought from aria.co.uk. We opted for a £41 AMD Athlon 64 X2 4600+ processor, a Gigabyte M61PME-S2 motherboard (£32; misco.co.uk) and a 2GB kit of Aria-branded PC2-6400 RAM for £25. We chose a Xen Midi case – which was affordable at £19 and included a 520W power supply – and a £30 250GB Hitachi SATA 7200rpm hard drive with 8MB cache. Finally, our LiteOn DH-20A4P DVD writer cost £15.

The motherboard we chose for this system is home to integrated graphics, saving us some cash on a dedicated card. Similarly, our AMD processor bundled a heatsink. You'll find a more detailed explanation of why we chose these particular components later in the article.

Our high-end system boasted an Intel Core 2 Quad Q9300 processor (£172; Aria), an OCZ Vendetta 2 CPU cooler (£26; Aria), an MSI X38 Diamond motherboard (£146; saverstore.com) and a 4GB OCZ PC3-10666 Platinum memory kit (£176; Aria). In order to provide enough power for the system we bought a 1,010W FSP Sparkle Everest power supply (£176; Misco) in a CoolerMaster Stacker 832 case (£158; Misco).

An Asus ATI Radeon HD 3870 X2 graphics card (£281; Aria), two 750GB Seagate Barracuda hard drives (£78 each; Aria) and an LG GGW-H20L Blu-ray writer (£152; Aria) completed the package.

Going shopping

We shopped around to find the best price for each component, but found that buying several components from a single supplier (in our case, Aria) makes keeping track of your orders more manageable. While you may not be able to buy each component at its lowest price on the web, you should at least save on delivery costs.

Next page: assembling your dream PC

Quick links:

PUTTING IT TOGETHER: Click here for PC Advisor's detailed seven-step guide to assembling your components

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