Let’s start with why. Why would you want to build a computer?
Do you need a computer?
Are you a gamer?
Do you do lots of filming/editing?
Does saving money appeal to you?
Do you want to know more about technology and feel more prepared to fix something when it inevitably goes wrong?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then I strongly urge you to hear what I am about to say: Build it yourself!
Why do I wish for you to do this?
Because I recently did it myself, as well as my sister buying an equally priced laptop. And after much comparison, I deduce that I got the much better deal.
I started my journey about 3 months ago when I realised I would need a computer to be able to keep up with my college work at home as well as a complete entertainment device for when I can’t be bothered with the college work. I had just landed a job, but I was still concerned about money and so started looking at the cheapest computers I could find.
I was thoroughly disappointed.
Not only because everything I saw was far more than I had expected a cheap computer to be. (400-500 quid) But because everything was a bit crap. If I was going to spend my hard earned money, I wanted something good. That I could play games on, edit on and learn on.
I got home and decided to look on the internet, because If the internet couldn’t help me, nothing could.
After a good couple of hours reading articles, forums and watching videos on Youtube I knew what I had to do. The overwhelming answer to my question was “Build it yourself.”
I went to sleep that night happy with my knew found knowledge. And then woke up the next morning feeling silly as I realised that I didn’t even know any of the components in a computer, let alone how to assemble one.
I put those thoughts out my mind and instead concentrated on earning the money I needed.
Every now and then I would look up computer components and find out what they did, I would watch assembly videos on Youtube and browsed Amazon for when they would most likely do deals.
But despite this, the one website that helped the most was Logical Increments:
I can’t recommend it enough as it tells you exactly what parts you need as well as information about them as well as price and a rough performance guide.
Although things that it misses out on the website are DVD drives, WIFI cards, monitors (It mentions them but not a huge selection) and mice and keyboards (same as monitors)
There is also a question about which OS you should use (Operating system)
Most people are familiar with Windows, but it will cost you. And even if you get a cheap OEM windows (Original Equipment Manufacture – in short it’s tied to the motherboard) it is still money that you might not want to spend.
For this reason I originally went for Ubuntu (A Linux distribution) which was very good at what it did. It was free, easy to use (takes a while to get used to but is easy once you have the basics.) and there is loads of support out there.
But after a week of use I realised that I would need to splash out for windows as Ubuntu did not have the same amount of compatibility when It came to Games and several programmes that I use regularly.
Despite this I would still recommend trying Ubuntu or another Linux distribution (Mint, Xubuntu, Debian etc…) as I found my computer ran a fair bit faster, had little to no updates as well as the feeling that I had more control over the machine as a whole.
After a couple of months I was finally ready to Order my parts, I checked their compatibility using Pcpartpicker.com and then checked as many websites as I could for the cheapest parts and minimal p&p… You may want to order everything off the same website, but I checked what I would have spent If I had got everything off of the suggested websites, and how much I actually spent, and I saved 50 quid (Which I later used to buy windows 8.1)
I would take you through the process of assembling the parts, but it is far better to watch a video of someone who has done it multiple times or read one of the dedicated websites that I likely already stumbled across. However I did not find any buying guides for getting parts and so I shall attempt to help the best I can form my experience.
1.Buy everything online…
I know it is controversial (we are constantly told to support local stores and to support our communities) But after going in to all of the local PC shops (one) and looking in the major hardware retailers I found that I had far more knowledge about the components than they did (knowledge is power) as well as the fact that most of the components were either overpriced or of less quality than the things I found online.
2. Prepare for lots of cardboard…
After waiting for 2 weeks, I received the mother load of cardboard boxes. My room still looks like an alter to Carton, the Roman God of cardboard.
3.Look for amazon warehouse deals or other similar offers. Computer components get tested regularly and so you can buy pretested components for cheaper as they have been previously un-boxed and tested free of charge.
4.Make sure that once it is assembled you find cheap deals on software or look for open source. As you can spend the extra money on an ergonomic mouse or a slightly better graphics card etc..
After assembling the components and plugging everything in, it became time for the magic moment… The initial boot up. This is where you find out if you did something wrong, if you just wasted all that time and money, If it was all worth it.
With sweat dripping down my brow, I closed my eyes and gently pressed the on switch…for about 5 seconds all I could sense was the silence and disappointment in the air.
That is until the fan stuttered to life and the whole machine creaked to life. All the hard work paying off in that one moment. I opened my eyes and was faced with a boot menu… I had never been happier to see a boot menu. And If I learned one thing throughout this whole experience, it is that I can do my work, play games and edit with the knowledge that if something brakes, crashes or stops working properly, I no longer get frustrated. Because I have a much better understanding and respect for computers, and all you have to do is think logically and try to get to the root of the problem and 90% of all technological problems become easily solvable.