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A Guide To Building Your Own PC

What do you need to build your own custom computer? Believe it or not, it's not as complicated as it seems. There are ten basic steps to building the perfect PC:

1. Choose Your Processor First
2. Then Choose The Motherboard
3. Then Choose The Case & Power Supply
4. Then Choose Your Components
5. Prepare Your Workspace
6. Then Assemble Your Computer
7. Power On and Test
8. Install The Operating System
9. Install Updated Drivers
10. Install Application Software

Choose the Processor Before the Motherboard

Intel Core 2 Quad Processor

The processor you choose usually determines which motherboard you select: Motherboards are designed to work with specific CPUs, indicated by the type of socket that the processor fits into. For example: Socket A, Socket 939, and Socket 940 are designed to work with Athlon processors, while Socket 478 and the new LGA socket 775 are for Intel CPUs. Many resellers offer bundles consisting of a processor, a motherboard, and memory; these can be a good way to save some money, and make the selection and compatibility process vastly easier.

Get the best processor and motherboard you can afford!

The system chip set (the chips that pass data between the peripherals and the CPU) is the other component that differs among motherboards; it determines which integrated components (graphics, sound, Ethernet, etc.) will be included. Though integrated graphics aren't generally as good as dedicated cards, they're usually adequate for simple office tasks (home users will probably want separate Video Adaptors for game playing).

The Computer Case (Chassis):

Computer Case The variety of computer cases is staggering, with hundreds of styles, shapes and sizes available. We recommend that you look closely at the features. Some gorgeous PC cases are nightmares to work with, or are cheaply built.

Get the best case you can afford!

We recommend you ask for "tool-less" case design, which enables you to click > open, click > closed. Most cases and motherboards use the ATX form factor, standardizing the sizes of the components and all of the power connections. Speaking of power:

Choosing Your Computer Case

The right Computer Case can make working with your system a dream, but picking the wrong one will come back to haunt you. Though you can find a case plus power supply for less than $50, it is recommended that you invest a bit more to obtain a case that will last through many upgrades, has a high-quality power supply, and is attractive.

Case Form Factor: Most cases and motherboards use the ATX form factor (a set of design standards that specify things such as the size of the motherboard and the connectors on the power supply). It's critical that your motherboard match the form factor of your case. Be aware of other standards are available (for example: Shuttle-style cube-shaped systems that come with their own custom motherboard). Check carefully and note the form factor when buying your case.

Case Construction: Steel cases weigh more than aluminum ones, they cost less, and they muffle the noise from components such as hard drives better than aluminum cases do. On the other hand, aluminum boxes tend to be more stylish, and they are certainly easier to carry around.

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