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Erik Larson writes about the job market, resume improvement, and career advice

8 Things to Know Before You Build a Computer

Written by Erik Larson, Community Blogger | Sep 12, 2017 11:18 PM

Some of the reasons you might be building your own computer include; improved speeds, lower cost, better game performance, and greater versatility. While building a computer is not rocket science, there are basic considerations that need to be made if your computer is to work properly. Here is a list of the factors you ought to consider before building a computer.

Compile a List

For first timers, a checklist is important as it guides you while building a computer. You can look to gaming hardware sites to help you figure out what you need. With every piece, make a note of what you need to do. Some of the basic components you will require to build a computer are:

  • CPU and its cooler
  • RAM
  • Hard drives and SATA cables
  • Power supply
  • Graphics card
  • Motherboard
  • Fans
  • USB, sound, and power ports

Follow Your Motherboard Manual

For a person building a computer for the first time, the motherboard is the most challenging task. Everything on your computer, from the CPU to the RAM, connects to your motherboard. Therefore, it is best practice to refer to the motherboard manual for guidance. You can save lots of time by installing parts on the motherboard before placing it in a PC case. This is useful when checking whether hardware components are functioning properly before placing the PC case. It is also convenient if you want to align the heat sink and fan in a certain fashion but change your mind before enclosing all the computer components.

Be Careful With The Power Supply You Choose

You need to pay attention to the power supply you will be using for your computer. An under-powered power supply is likely to short the computer and cause damage to the hardware components. The first thing to check when buying a power supply is its rating. Power supplies are rated as bronze, silver, gold, or platinum. The other thing you need to check is the power wattage that your computer requires. Insufficient power leads to a malfunctioning system and the eventual damage to hardware components. Calculate the wattage of all hardware components before buying a power supply. You can use an online power supply calculator to determine the right match for your machine.

Do Not Forget Thermal Paste

Thermal paste is heat-conductive compound used when installing the heat sink of both CPUs and graphics cards. Failing to apply thermal paste could leave your computer with heat dissipation issues. When you place the heat sink on the CPU or graphics card, there are still some tiny gaps left that could compromise heat dissipation. This will leave you with a hotter micro-processor or graphics card that is prone to damage. Thermal paste seals these microscopic gaps and dissipates heat away from your micro-processor or graphics card and onto their heat sinks.

Create Good Air-flow

A hot and dusty computer will affect the performance of your computer. You need to be keen on the direction the fans are facing. There is an arrow on the side showing you which direction it blows air.  Ensure the air is flowing in one direction, preferably, the front of the case and out through the back. This will mean a cooler computer and less dust.

Check the Casing

Cases come in different sizes and identifying the right one is a daunting process. You are looking for a case that will fit all your components and future upgrades. Another factor that should be determined when choosing a casing is the size of the motherboard. The casing has to be compatible with your motherboard, whether you are using ATX, Micro ATX, or Extended ATX.

Think About the Long-term

Some of the questions you need to ask yourself when building a computer are; the requirements that games will have in two years to come, whether the computer will allow you to add RAM, or an extra graphics card, or even an expansion card that supports more USB-connectors. Building a computer with long term goals will save you a lot of money for upgrades.

Expect Hidden Costs

You can never anticipate what will go wrong after you have built your computer. Maybe you will require additional thermal paste, a wireless card, or to install blue tooth. With a wide range of unexpected problems that could pop up, you should have a small budget for these hidden expenses.

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