So you want to build a PC

One of my very first IT jobs was working for a small independant PC Manufacturers in Cork. The company was called PC Pro. It was a small operation at the back of the Prince August Factory in Kilnamartyra Village near Macroom. And they built computers. From the first PC I ever built, I had the builders bug. I love to make PCs. There’s something about taking a pile of parts and breathing life into them. However, I keep this activity to an exclusive few.

Not so long ago a friend reached out to me to build him something special. He gave me his budget and I got to work.

Specs: –

AMD Ryzen 5, 3.4GHz, 6 Core/12 Thread Processor
Coolermaster Master Liquid ML240L RGB CPU Cooler
Asus ROG Strix B450-F Gaming Motherboard
16GB PC4-25600, DDR4 32000 Corsair Vengence RGB Pro RAM
Dual PCIe 3.0 x16 Slots
MSI GeForce GTX 1650, 4GB GDDR5 Graphics Card
Western Digital WD Blue 250GB SN550, M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe SSD
Seagate Barracuda ST2000DM008, 3.5″ SATA3, 2TB HDD
Antec NX300, Midi Tower Case with 750 Watt Seasonic Gold Core PSU

This is was a mid level gaming rig on a budget. The end result is sleek and really fast. The point of mentioning all this is I took the time to shop and research. This is critical if you are building PCs. The above list of hardware all work really well together.

– I can’t emphasise enough the need to research. Look at the specs of the Processor, Motherboards, RAM and Hard Drives.
– Be aware that RAM usually needs to be in matching pairs. Off matched pairs can impact performance.
– Fast Storage and Slow storage both have a place in a build. Many PC builder opt for having a small but fast SSD for the boot drive, like a 256GB Samsung Evo NVMe and a slow but large storage drive, like a 4TB WD Blue SATA3. This is a nice option for low cost but high performace storage.
– Don’t be afraid to go back a generation. Everyone likes the latest and greatest but last years greatest is this years budget offer.
– Read reviews on parts from Amazon. Read the good and bad reviws but also consider when the reviews were made.
– Power Matters! Don’t scrimp on the Power. Your PSU is a make it or break it item. Builders are often tempted to go for budget end PSUs. Be very careful with this choice. Read reviews. The bare minumum a Gaming Rig should have is 500Watts. If your Graphics card needs power too go higher again. Your choice of PSU is often all that stand between Gaming happily or lementing over a very expensive brick.
– Before you build, look at your build area. Make sure you have all your tools ready in an area with plenty of light and adequate power. If you don’t have anti-static straps use Nitrile Gloves for the acutal build.
– When it comes time to build the PC, lay out all your parts and do an inventory.
– Offer up unassembled motherboard to the case. Ensure all the standoffs are where they need to be. Adjust them if necessary. DO NOT proceed without the standoffs.
– Construct as much a possible onto the motherboard before placing it into the case. CPU, RAM, SSDs and Fans are all easier to assemble outside the case. The case is very restrictive. It is also easier to mount fans and radiators with the motherboard outside the case.
– Once you have the motherboard inside the case screw the motherboardin place but be careful to to force or overtighten.
– Plan your cable routes. Unwrap and untie all your cables from PSU, Case I/O, RGB, SATA. Lay them out and use sticky tape to temporarily place cables
– Once ready assemble all the cables and do a test fire.
– Take your time, don’t rush. Check all your connections

And finally, before sealing, tightening and fully assembling the PC, find a diagnostic tool and test your PC vigiorously.

If you want to know more on building PCs from scratch I can highly recommend this video from Linus Tech Tips: