If you're looking for a PC that's perfectly suited to your needs but don't want to pay over the odds for the luxury, your best bet is to build it yourself. We show how to create the PC of your dreams.
Create a dream machine with this simple guide
Power supplies, fans & cases
Once you've chosen your motherboard, processor and memory, you'll need something to put them all in. All boards and cases use the ATX standard, so you needn't worry about a certain board fitting in a particular case. A standard ATX case can also accommodate a smaller Mini ATX or Micro ATX board, as the connectors and slots are in the same place.
The ATX specification covers the power supply, and this may be included with a case when you buy it. One thing you need to pay attention to, however, is power-supply load, which is dictated by the number of watts the components in your system need to run. If you don't have a powerful enough unit then you could damage the components or experience random crashes.
For a budget PC, a 400-500W power supply should be sufficient. For a high-end machine, you'll need something far more powerful, such as an Everest Module 1,010W unit. This should provide plenty of power even if you want to run two graphics cards in an SLI configuration (see the graphics card section) or include multiple hard drives.
Brains and beauty
Many case choices come down to whether you like the look of a particular model, but looks aren't always the most important thing. Other aspects to consider are the number of drive bays – both for hard drives and optical discs – and space for additional fans to assist with cooling. If you're put off by the noise of loud fans whirring, consider buying a case with special material inside to dampen the hum. It's also better to opt for larger fans if noise is an issue – these don't need to spin as quickly (and loudly) as smaller ones.
You'll need a heatsink and fan to cool the CPU. If you buy what's referred to as a ‘processor retail kit', you'll find the necessary parts are included. Although these are sufficient to adequately cool the chip, you might prefer to buy an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) processor (just the chip on its own) and choose a more efficient or quieter heatsink and fan of your own.
- Build your own PC: price vs performance
- Build your own PC: tips on assembly
- Build your own PC: selecting a motherboard
- Build your own PC: processors & memory
- Build your own PC: hard disks & optical drives
- Build your own PC: graphics cards & monitors
- Build your own PC: power supplies, fans & cases
PUTTING IT TOGETHER: Click here for PC Advisor's detailed seven-step guide to assembling your components