Building a Pc Guide

By: DIY Productions

Building my own computer was one of my favorite projects. Customizing a machine to your needs, and assembling it yourself is always an awesome thing. However, there are so many different PC parts out there sometimes it gets a little confusing to know what you should buy! In this blog I'll go over basic PC parts, and how to make sure you pick up components that will play nice together.

Shopping For Parts

First of, you'll need a place to do your shopping. If you don't have any computer stores around you locally (like me) then you'll have to go online. Which is no problem! Big selections, low prices, and quality merchandise if you know where to look! This is the one time I will advise against buying on Ebay. If you are new to computers you may end up getting lots of parts that are of no use to you due to seller's mis-representing. Most sellers have a policy about checking compatibility - So you'll be stuck with the parts. My favorite online source for PC parts is Directron. They have a massive selection, low prices, reasonable shipping, and i've never been dissapointed with them. There are lots of other good places like New Egg, but personally i've not needed to buy anywhere else.

The motherboard is the beating heart of your PC. All the other pieces plug into it, and are given life. When you purchase a motherboard you need to make sure it will work with all your other parts. When looking to make a purchase ask yourself the following questions.

* Will this board support the processor I want?
* Does it support single or dual channel memory? Does it have enough slots?
* How many PCI slots will I need?
* Does it support IDE, SATA, or both?
* What size is it?

By browsing the long list of specifications; you can thumb through it until you have answered all these questions. We'll take this MSI motherboard for an example..

Processors: Supports 64-bit AMD Athlon 64 processor (Socket 754). Supports 2800+, 3000+, 3200+, 3400+, 3700+. Supports Sempron 2600+, 2800+, 3000+, 3100+, 3300+.

"This board supports AMD processors - If you want to use an Intel processor you'll need to pick a board that is made for those. The numbers are the power of the processor - it will support a 2800 - 3700 mhz Athlon 64 or 2600 - 3300 mhz Sempron. Make sure you buy the correct socket else you'll find yourself with the wrong connections! In the case of our example we'll need to get a 754."

Memory: Supports two 184-pin DDR SDRAMs up to 2GB memory size. Supports DDR400*/DDR333/DDR266 DDR SDRAM.

"This board has two RAM (Random Access Memory) slots. It will support up to 2GB of memory of the DDR400, DDR333. and DDR266 varities. If you don't buy the correct sticks they will not fit in the slots."

On-Board IDE:An IDE controller on the VT8237R chipset provides IDE HDD/CD-ROM with PIO, Bus Master and Ultra DMA 66/100/133 operation modes. It can connect 4 Ultra ATA drives. Serial ATA/150 controller integrated in VT8237R: Up to 150MB/s transfer speed. Can connect up to 2 Serial ATA drives. Support RAID 0, RAID 1. Audio: 6 Channel software audio codec VIA VT1617A. Compliance with AC97' v2.3 Spec. Meet PC2001 audio performance requirement.

"IDE are the slots that connect things like your Hard drives, CD Rom drives, ect. The board in this example will allow you to use 4 ATA (IDE) devices. (Two ribbon cables to the board itself, and two devices to each cable.) This board also supports two SATA devices if you want to you them; or upgrade in the future.

On-Board Peripherals: 1 floppy port supports 1 FDD with 360K, 720K, 1.2M, 1.44M and 2.88Mbytes. 2 serial ports (COM2 supported by pin-out). 1 VGA port. 1 parallel port supports SPP/EPP/ECP mode. 8 USB 2.0 ports (Rear x 4 / Front x 4). 3 audio ports in vertical (Line-out, Line-in, MIC). 1 RJ-45 jack. 1 IrDA connector for SIR/ASKIR/HPSIR.

" This board also has..

* Support for one floppy drive.
* 2 Com serial Ports
* 1 VGA port
* 1 Parallel port
* 8 USB ports (4 in the back of the PC and 4 in the front)
* 3 Audio ports (Line out, Line in, and a Mic)
* 1 RJ45 Jack (Telephone line or similar input)
* IrDA Jack (Infared Data Association)

How much you want to spend on a motherboard is up to you. If it has everything you want and looks solid then go for it. My main board cost about $80, had everything I need, and has so far treated me very well. I've got support for SATA, and four RAM slots so I can upgrade later on if I decide I want to.

This particular board is a mATX (Micro ATX) size component, and so we'll need to make sure it will fit in the case we purchase. Else the mounting, connectors, ect. may be off.


The processor does just what it says - it processes your commands. The better the CPU then the faster your computer will be able to issue commands. Most people do not need a super high end processor for their everyday tasks.

Whether you want to go with Intel or AMD is really a matter of preference. You can listen to processor fights until your blue in the face, but I guess it's just something you have to try for yourself. Personally, I'm an AMD user. So, we'll use one of those for our example.

AMD Sempron 2800+

"Specifications: Processor: AMD Sempron. Model: 2800+. Core: Palermo. Ordering P/N (PIB): SDA2800BXBOX. Operating Mode: 32/64. Stepping: E6. Frequency: 1600Mhz. HT Speed: 1600. Voltage: 1.40V. Max Temp: 69oC. Thermal Power: 62W. L1 Cache: 128KB. L2 Cache: 256KB. CMOS Technology: 90nm SOI. Socket: Socket 754."

From the description we can gather the information we need!

* We know our motherboard supports AMD. So check!
* We know it will support a processor with 2800 mhz of power. Check!
* We know our motherboard is socket 754 just like this processor! Check!

Alright, this processor is compatible! If you want to use a more or less powerful processor go ahead, and browse; Just compare the specs, and make sure you're still compatible. Most processors come with the heatsink, fan, ect. so you shouldn't have to worry about that.

Hard drive

Most of the work for this piece is based on how demanding of a user you are, and not compatibility. We'll use this Seagate Barracuda for our example this time around.

Specifications: Model Number: ST3160815A. Interface: Ultra ATA/100. Cache: 8 MBytes. Capacity: 160 GB. Areal density (avg): 101 Gbits/inch2. Guaranteed Sectors: 312,581,808. Spindle Speed: 7,200 rpm. Average latency: 4.16 msec. Random read seek time: Random write seek time

Maximum interface transfer rate: 100 Mbytes/sec. PHYSICAL: Height (max): 19.99 mm (0.787 inches). Width (max): 101.6 mm (4.010 inches). Length (max): 146.99 mm (5.787 inches).

"This tells you some random information about the computer. The important information that we really need at this point...

* Interface: Ultra ATA(IDE) - If you didn't pick a board with SATA then you'll need this type of drive. IDE are older, and not as fast as SATA drives, but they will save you cash.
* Cache: 8MB - This means you can store 8MB worth of data for fast retrieving. Saves you time for things you use a lot basically.
* Spindle Speed: 7200RPM - This is how fast your drive will spin - The higher this number is the faster your drive will operate, and the faster your computer can fetch data.
* Capacity: 160 Gb - The most important bit of information! How much space we have to take up! Personally I'm very needy in this department I have a 400GB drive, and still want to upgrade. If you have lots of movies, music, games, and files opt for a bigger drive.

This is a standard 3.5 inch drive so the actual dimensions aren't really important. Unless you are custom building a case then you don't really need to measure anything like that since cases are build to support this universal size desktop drive. "

Memory (RAM)

RAM or Random Access Memory is what your computer uses to run applications. The more things you have going at once the more memory your computer is going to need to handle these commands. My computer runs 24 hours a day, and I have lots of idling programs; my 2GB of RAM is still not enough for me.

Let's take a look at this Kingston 512MB stick.

Specifications: Model number: KVR333X64C25/512. 512MB 333MHZ 184PIN DDR Memory, No-ECC. Higher performance over mainstream PC100 or PC133 memory. Up to 2.1 GB/sec of peak bandwidth using PC2700 DIMMs (with DDR333 memory chips). JEDEC Standard. 184 pin DIMM, non-ECC. DIMM Lead pitch: 1.27 mm. 2.5 Volts. SSTL-2 I/O Interface. CAS Latencies: 2.5. SPD Support.

"From this description we can see that our RAM is..

* 184 pin - Just what our mother board needs.
* DDR333 (333 mhz) - Which is compatible with our main board as well.
* 512 MB - It's fast approaching where this is not enough memory. If you want to run Windows Vista you should opt for 1 GB bare minimum. If you are heavy on applications then I'd go for more if you can afford it.


A case is a lot of preference, but make sure you have parts that will fit inside it. If you bought a normal size board then don't get yourself a micro sized case. This case will fit a standard or a micro ATX sized motherboard.

You can build anything from a tiny tabletop PC, to a full size floor server rack. You'll have to read the description on anything you look at since some come with more than others. The one we're looking at here comes with a 450 watt power supply. Keep in mind that anything you plug into your computer uses power, and you need one strong enough to handle it. Basic rule of thumb.. the more expensive (higher end) your parts.. the more power they will suck up. If you want a giant graphics card that takes up the whole case; don't skimp on your power supply unit. ; )

Congrats! You've got all the important parts for your new computer! I didn't highlight anything like CD/DVD drives since they shouldn't be that tricky. With the information you've learned about the rest of the components that should be easy for you. : )

Happy Building.



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