Finding all of the parts you need to build a computer can very challenging! So I have created this article to be a quick reference guide with some recommendations and resources I personally use to build my computers. Please note that this is not an all encompassing guide to buying PC parts, however this as a fantastic reference tool on some of the best websites to do your own research when buying PC parts.
If you need help building your PC after you get your parts check out How to Build a Computer.
Step 1: What will this computer be used for?
Is this computer going to be used for just day to day checking email and Facebook gaming? Or do you plan on being the next top video gaming streamer? Once you know what you plan on using this computer for it makes the rest of the process much easier.
Step 2: Determine your Budget
How much do you want to spend or able to spend, easy enough right? Obviously the more you can spend the better the computer you can build. This could lead to an overall increased life of the computer. Meaning you could make a $500 computer every year or two OR you can spend $1,000 and potentially have it last 5 or 6 years. For the best performance to cash ratio, I would recommend a budget of around $1,000 if that’s possible. And yes you can get as crazy as $2,000-$7,000 for an amazing machine but I do not recommend it unless you just have extra money to throw away. If that’s the case feel free to throw some at our Patreon account!
Step 3: Research!
I know that researching parts can sound boring and you might be tempted to give up. Well don’t do it, Captain, you do have the power! Seriously though, this is the single most important step of the entire process so do not skip it! When it comes to doing research on the individual parts you need from above, I suggest checking pricing and reviews on these three sites. Note you do not need to spend a great deal of time on these just check the price and a quick scan of review stars for any red flags, 2-5 min maximum.
Micro Center = Typically has the best pricing on Motherboard and CPU combos.
Amazon = Always worth comparing anything to save a little extra especially if you already have Prime. Amazon also has decent reviews on products as well.
Newegg = Typically has very competitive pricing and by far has the best reviews on products.
Step 4. Finding and Buying Parts:
Motherboard: To make this step easy I would highly recommend going to Micro Center and picking a Motherboard and CPU combo. 1. You get a discount for buying both together and 2. You know that processor will work in that Motherboard so you save a great deal of research. If you choose to buy these separate you must research what socket and type of CPU your motherboard will accept. So do yourself a favor and buy a combo! I typically look for ASUS, Gigabyte or MSI branded but if you want to dig deep here is a great article on Motherboards.
CPU: Buy the combo already! Well if you choose not to then I must emphasize the importance of researching what your motherboard will support. For gaming, I currently recommend the latest generation Intel processors either i5 or i7 preferred. If you really need to save money AMD is still a solid option. Here is a great link to help you really dig deep on processors.
RAM: Take a look at the Motherboard you just picked and see what type of RAM or memory it will accept, an example is DDR4-2400. You are going to want 8GB to 16GB of RAM total. Also, I highly suggest going to the Motherboard manufactures website and use one of the RAM/memory that they recommend. Another great tool is Crucial Memory Selector Tool.
Video Card: The big names right now are NVIDIA and AMD and they are both really good. I highly recommend looking at videocardbenchmark.net to find the most current list of prices and performance, to make a quick and easy decision. Otherwise, you could spend countless hours researching all the types of cards.
Hard Drive / Solid State Drive: If you want a fast computer with smaller storage capacity I strongly recommend SSD (Solid State Drive). If you want a slower drive but a large of amount of space to save all your games go with a HHD (Hard Disk Drive). Or you can have both! I personally use a small SSD to store Windows on and use the HHD to put my games and movies on. So if you can afford it go with a very large Samsung SSD only, the difference is the speed with an SSD only is quite remarkable. But if you just need more space or it's too expensive an HHD will still do just fine in which case I might suggest a Toshiba or Western Digital HHD.
Power Supply: Generally speaking you will be just fine with a 500w-600w Coolermaster power supply. But if you will want to make sure and use this calculator.
Case: Find one you like the looks of that will hold all your stuff. Most of them will have sufficient airflow, so it won’t really matter. I would suggest a Cool Master brand as they typically look good, have nice airflow and relatively inexpensive options. One recommendation would be to find a case that is considered screwless, basically makes building and changing parts a breeze. Amazon, Newegg and Micro Center have a huge selection of cases so should be easy to find something that looks great to you!