How to Build Your Own PC - The Smart Way
By Alan M Johnson
Even experienced vendors and system builders get it wrong with all the tools and
support they have. Although in some ways its never been easier to build your own, there
have also never been so many choices and therefore pitfalls. A modern computer is a
complex system of interdependent components. The performance of all components in the
system is often limited by the capability of the least common denominator. In other words,
you can't have a top performance graphics PC by installing the latest graphics card (GPU)
without also having a CPU powerful enough to keep the GPU pipelines busy with work, and
fast memory within which to work.
With this in mind your approach to the architecture, design and build of computers of
any size needs to be the same. Carefully select individual components that you know will
all compliment each other and work well together. Then thoroughly test and benchmark your
designs to ensure they work as well as you expected them to. The last thing you want is an
unexpected crash at a vulnerable time. I've taken key snippets out of our own internal
build & design process and best practice documentation to help you do your own.
Why build your own?
The benefits to you of doing it yourself are:
• You know best what you want and therefore you can build it exactly the way you want it
• You can choose exactly the components you want and shop around for the best prices
• If you built it you will know how to fix it yourself and might save time in the event something goes wrong
• It can be fun!
• If you get any component choices wrong then you might just have to settle for what you ended up with, or, sell it on at a loss
• You will get limited support from component retailers in the event of compatibility or stability problems between components
• Quality of advice on the best component selection from the retailers is highly variable, and sometimes downright dubious and self serving
• You are the designer, builder, installer, tester and support engineer, be ready for the possibility of some long nights and a rough ride with little support
• You will spend potentially a lot of time learning a lot of things you might never have wanted to know
• Ill just say; drivers, drivers, drivers.
You might have expected me to put price or cost on the list of Pros. I haven't because
generally it just isn't true any more. There are plenty of machines out there built ready
for you to buy that barely cost any more than it would cost if you bought the component
parts yourself. If you take labour cost hours into account then it's a no brainer, just buy it ready built.