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Tips and Techniques For Building Your Own PC

First things first. What do you need to build a computer? Believe us, it's not as complicated as it seems. Let's start with the case. The variety 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.

Building Your Own PC

Most cases and motherboards use the ATX Formfactor, standardizing the sizes of the components and all of the power connections. Speaking of power: Although many PC cases are sold with a pre-installed power supply, check it carefully - your power requirements may exceed the capacity of the pre-installed unit. How do you know? Here's a quick guide:

Component Wattage Required

ComponentWattage Required
Low-end CPU20-50
Midrange to high-end CPU40-100
RAM7 per 128MB
PCI add-in card5
Low to midrange graphics board  20-60
High-End graphics board60-100
IDE hard drive10-30
Optical drives10-25

Do the math. You may need to purchase a higher-output power supply for your new PC. Once you've selected a case and power supply, be sure that you have the following items:

  • A set of screwdrivers (small, large, slot, Phillips), or a PC Tool Kit
  • An anti-static wrist strap
  • Needle-nosed pliers
  • CPU (processor)
  • CPU cooling fan and heat sink
  • Sound Card
  • Motherboard
  • One or more hard drives
  • Graphics card
  • One or more RAM DIMMs (Memory modules)
  • An operating system

That's basically it. And these days, anyone can build or upgrade a computer. It's really very simple and it can save you hundreds of dollars.

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