When building a PC, you need to select computer parts. This can be tricky and can result in a faulty computer or bottle-necking if the parts are not selected properly. But don’t worry, I will help you with choosing your PC components.
Let’s think of the computer like a human’s body. We humans have a body that holds our brain, eyes, and other different organs, each serving a different purpose that contributes to the final goal, which is surviving.
I like to think of computers similarly, so you can think of the motherboard as the body. That’s because it’s where all the other components are connected and communicate together.
Motherboards come in many different sizes: Mini-ITX, Micro-ATX, and ATX.
The 3 different sizes offer different features depending on your needs, and it’s obvious that ATX provides the most features as it’s the biggest.
We will discuss those features in detail later, but you need to make sure that your motherboard at least has the following: enough USB ports, enough fan headers, enough RGB headers, VRM, 4 RAM slots, and chipset cooling.
Enough USB ports are solely based on your needs, but make sure you have at least 5.
That’s for your mouse, keyboard, headphones, speakers, and a spare one. Actually, USB ports aren’t that simple! There are multiple generations of USB ports with vastly different speeds, to the point where some peripherals must be connected to newer generations to function properly.
Make sure your motherboard at least has two USB3.2 connections (USB3.2 is faster than USB2.0).
As for the RGB and FAN headers, that can be determined later based on the number of Fans and RGB you’re installing. Headers are basically pins on the motherboard, that provide power to whatever it’s connected to.
VRM and chipset cooling is crucial if you’re looking to overclock your components, otherwise, you may experience crashes and the “blue screen of death”. The VRM basically converts the high voltage from the Power Supply to the lower voltage that is supplied to the components.
Having a heatsink prevents the VRM from overheating, hence having a more stable overclocking experience.
Now that we have discussed what to focus on when buying a motherboard, let’s move on to other components. The brain has short-term and long-term memory, and so does the motherboard.
The short-term memory in the motherboard is called RAM, and it holds all the current and ongoing commands and applications in the computer temporarily.
Having 4 RAM slots is really important, mainly for future-proofing when upgrading your RAM. What’s more important than the RAM slots themselves, is the number of RAM sticks you will install.
You should always install 2 RAM sticks for the best performance (this is called dual-channel memory).
Always check your motherboard’s manual on where to install your RAM sticks, but it’s usually one slot apart. Installing RAM in Dual Channel will have significant improvements in performance.
It’s pretty obvious that running more applications will require more RAM, but there are some standards for how much you should get.
For gaming, you really don’t need more than 16Gb of RAM. As mentioned above, remember to get two 8Gb sticks instead of one 16Gb stick for better performance. We will discuss RAM speed later with the CPU.
Storage (HDD and SSD)
But what if we need to store applications and data permanently? This is where the motherboard’s long-term memory comes in.
There are two main types of long-term computer memory: the HDD (Hard Disk Drive) and SSD (Solid State Drive), each one has its own pros and cons.
The main difference being that SSDs are much faster compared to HDDs, however, they can’t store large amounts of data for a long time like HDDs (HDDs have better longevity). That’s why you shouldn’t pick one over another, but use them both together.
You should install windows -which will be explained later- onto the SSD for fast boot times and a responsive OS. Word Documents, photos, and videos should be stored on an HDD, as they won’t benefit from faster loading times.
When it comes to games… installing them on an SSD or HDD won’t have a significant effect on performance, however, you will experience longer loading times on an HDD.
Now we have reached the brain of the computer, the CPU. Knowing how the CPU works are not needed to build a gaming PC, but if you’re interested, check out these sources (Wikipedia – RedHat). Choosing the right CPU is quite a tricky task, as every other component choice is based on what CPU you choose.
To make things easy, check the illustration below… and everything will be explained after.
The CPU market is currently split between AMD and Intel, and they aren’t similar… not even one bit.
Since AMD and Intel’s CPUs are different, they connect differently onto their motherboards.
AMD CPUs have pins on them and connect to AM4 motherboards. Intel CPUs have pins on the motherboard and connect to LGA1200 motherboards (older Intel CPUs will use different motherboards).
When it comes to RAM speeds, AMD CPUs benefit from much higher speeds, 3600mhz or higher.
Intel CPUs will be alright with 3200mhz or lower, anything more won’t have a noticeable effect on performance.
CPU cooling is really important, especially if you plan on overclocking. The two main types of CPU cooling are Air cooling and Water Cooling.
Air cooling works by using air to push heat trapped in the heat pipes (heatsink) outside of the case.
They are more budget-friendly and easier to install than Air coolers. A slight downside is that large Air coolers can interfere with the RAM heatsinks or GPU (sometimes).
Water coolers -also known as AIO liquid coolers- work by circulating a liquid coolant around a loop, that picks up heat from the CPU and releases it through the radiator.
The biggest advantage Water coolers have is that they can keep your CPU cooler than Air coolers could. But this better cooling will cost you and would require more time when installing.
If your CPU’s Idle temperature is 60C or higher, you’re in a serious problem. So always aim to keep the temps below that. We will suggest different Air/Water coolers in the next Article.
The computer case helps to physically mount and contain all the components inside the computer, there are three common case sizes: Full Tower, Mid-Tower, and Mini Tower.
Full-tower and mid-tower cases both fit standard ATX motherboards, by far the most common motherboard size out there. Both can also fit smaller micro-ATX motherboards.
Some cases made up of metal contain sharp edges and you should be careful while working with them, a case is used to prevent Dust from damaging the internal parts of a computer.
Before buying always check if your motherboard and power supply are compatible with the case or not.
Graphics Card (GPU)
Finally, gamers’ most important part…the graphics card. The GPU is responsible for rendering all the shaders and visuals in the game you play.
The good news is, choosing a graphics card is quite simple! The more you pay, the better performance you get.
But that’s not always the cases, you need to keep in mind some other factors like how good your monitor is and what CPU you are using.
You should always aim for a balanced system, and not spend all the budget on the graphics card. If you get a top-end GPU and ignore the CPU, you may suffer bottle-necking and lose on FPS and performance.
If your monitor is lower than 144hz, there is no point in getting an RTX3090, as you won’t be able to benefit from the extra performance. Unless you plan on Ultra-High settings gaming.