(Pocket-lint) – Making your own computer can be scary. There are many things to think about in advance. These tips will help alleviate your anxiety.
We have written various detailed guides on how to build a gaming PC, a mini-ITX machine, a gaming PC budget and more. But there are things you need to think about before you even start.
Easy compatibility test
One of the most difficult things about building a computer is knowing which components fit together and making sure everything is compatible, both in terms of system size and stability.
Fortunately, there are solutions to these issues and tools that you should check before you even make a purchase.
Check supply requirements
One mistake people make is buying the wrong power supply. It is important not to waste your PSU cheaply, as a low quality power supply can damage an entire system. It is tempting to save money, but a poor quality power supply can potentially shut down, overheat, or simply damage your entire computer. Other times it may just fail, rendering the whole machine useless.
The old adage – buy cheap, buy twice – has never been so painful here. So make sure you buy a good quality PSU with a good rating.
PSU power requirements
The other important thing you need to address is the power requirements of your system. This will vary depending on what you add to your computer. If you put in a powerful GPU, a high-tech CPU, multiple hard drives, SSDs and more, you will soon find that the power requirements are cumulative.
Fortunately, this tool lets you meet your power supply needs with a simple PSU that lets you view your system specifications and get a recommended power supply. Complete everything you include and not only will you receive the estimated usage but also a suggested PSU to buy. Use it to make sure you have a power supply that has enough power to power your system (do not buy one with less power or the performance will suffer) but also to avoid overspending on something very powerful for no reason.
Plan your purchases
If you’ve done some research, then you may be well aware of some of the spare parts you want to buy. If you already know the specific CPU you want, for example, then you can use this PCPartPicker system build tool to design the rest of the version and see which parts fit.
This tool lets you search for specific components, add them to the system, and then find other parts that fit. Maybe you could start with a computer case and then use it to select the motherboard and other components like RAM and other things. This will ensure that everything fits well together. It will also prevent you from buying things that do not fit or just will not work on the system.
It is a great tool that is free to use and even shows you where to buy spare parts.
Get a graphics card
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It was hard to try to buy one graphics card in recent years. This is about to improve as Nvidia (and others) promise more efforts to mitigate supply shortages. The competition is also heating up, with Intel entering the graphics card space soon, so it will be easier to buy them in the coming months and years.
Nvidia recently launched a campaign called “Restocked & Reloaded”, which promises a range of GeForce RTX 30 series graphics cards available for purchase now. So things have definitely gone up.
In the meantime, if you’re waiting for the price of a particular graphics card to drop or be available for purchase, then the good news is that you can get away with not having one in the short term. We tested and wrote about how it is possible to build a gaming computer and play without a graphics card.
Optimize your investment
We have already said that it is important not to run out of power or to risk damaging your entire machine at some point.
There are other things worth spending more on first. Some things can be replaced and upgraded in the future. It’s very easy to add more RAM, for example, or change your graphics card to a newer model, but that is not all.
We have written a guide on how to upgrade your CPU with relative ease. But something like your motherboard is not that easy to replace. We like to think of the motherboard as the basis of your computer. If you ever need to change it, you will have to remove it from the case and this can be a pain, not only because you have to disconnect everything, but also because it is considered such an important change that you will need a new license for Windows.
Look for a motherboard that marks all the right boxes for what you need and buy it. Look out for IO ports, NVMe ports, PCIe lane speeds, and more. Consider whether you really need a high-tech motherboard for overclocking or whether a reasonably priced motherboard is a better choice.
RAM in which you can save money, as you can always start with 8 GB or 16 GB on two sticks and then upgrade with more of the same in the future. So look to store there if needed.
What do you need your computer for?
Ask yourself for what purpose you will use your computer before you buy. If you plan to play games, then a good graphics card is important. But if you plan on doing other intensive work, such as video editing, then you may find that higher bandwidth and faster MHz RAM will also be helpful.
If you know the type of games you are going to play, then you can get an idea of what you need by considering the minimum and recommended system specifications. Many games mention them to give you an idea of the experience you can expect. If you always want to play the latest triple-A games with maximum graphics settings, then most likely you will need a computer with plenty of processing power. If you prefer indie games, then these are often less intense graphics and you can get away with a lower standard system.
Keep in mind, however, that technology is advancing rapidly, and if you buy a lower standard machine, your specifications may soon be lower than even the minimum standard requirements of modern games.
However, you can get more FPS from your graphics card with a few tweaks, and DLSS can also help with frame rates.
Budget beyond the computer
Keep in mind when planning your pc budget that you will probably need to spend a lot of money on a good game screen, keyboard, gaming mouse and headphones. Costs can be summed up once you consider all of these things, so don’t neglect planning there either.
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Adrian Willings writes. Edited by Chris Hall.