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Building Your Own PC: Computer Parts Lists

The holidays are full of joy…but panic tends to seep in as you realize time is running out to find the perfect Christmas present for the ones you love most. It's a lot of pressure, but if you know someone that can't get enough of technology and has a knack for putting things together…we have a gift that will keep on giving. Purchase all of the parts needed to build a computer and give it to a loved one so they can build it themselves. If you're not a techy person, this might not sound so appealing, but to someone that enjoys the ins and outs of technology, it would be a dream come true! Keep in mind – it comes with a hefty price tag. Stick around for price points and what parts you'll need to make this dream become a reality. 

Choosing a Price Point

The price all depends on what you're wanting. Many like to build computers for gaming purposes, while others just do it for fun. Before you go buying parts, it's important to decide how much you want to spend. 

  • $600: We would consider this a starter kit. At this price point, the builder would come out of the project with the bare minimum for a computer and no gaming abilities.
  • $800: For $800, you could purchase the parts needed for a cheap gaming computer with limited functionality. 
  • $1,000-$1400: If gaming is the ultimate goal, this is the price point that you want to look at. This would be your target price range for competitive gaming and/or high-end gaming.

1. Graphics Card (GPU) 

If you decided on the price point already, you have likely already determined whether the computer will be used for gaming purposes or not. If gaming is part of the intended use, it's important to purchase a graphics card as this renders the image to the monitor. If you're sure the computer won't be used for gaming, then you just need to make sure your CPU has integrated graphics. This means that a small portion of your CPU and system memory will be used for graphics instead of having a graphics card operating independently. 

2. CPU and Motherboard 

The CPU and the motherboard are two of the most important decisions you will make when purchasing parts. If you buy a CPU that isn't compatible with the motherboard, you can cause permanent damage to the system or possibly be unable to install it at all. The best way to ensure that the CPU is compatible with the motherboard socket is to research the compatibility on the motherboard manufacturer's website. You will likely be able to purchase a CPU from the same store or website that you purchased the motherboard. Additionally, it's important to make sure the CPU comes with a heat sink (disperses heat) as it's not always included but is an important part of the computer building process. 

3. Memory (RAM) 

Every computer that is built in this age will use a Desktop DDR4. The most important thing to consider is the total capacity you'll need. These days, any gaming PC should have 16GB, but 8GB is considered enough for your typical non-gaming workstation. Modern CPU's pair well with memory running at 2666MHz, but if you find a higher-speed kit at or around the same price, it would be preferred. 

4. Power Supply 

When it comes to choosing your power supply, the best of the best isn't necessary. We recommend going with a middle of the road power supply but aiming for at least 500 watts of power. The 80+ Bronze is perfectly suitable for the job, but keep in mind that the 80+ Gold is more efficient and wastes less power. If you're wanting better cable management, however, we recommend a modular power supply. 

5. Storage

When it comes to storage, a Solid State Drive (SSD) is the best option. While you do get more space per dollar spent with an old school hard drive, SSDs have become cheaper over the past few years. With SSDs being many times faster and far more reliable, we recommend getting one of these in almost all circumstances. 500GB is considered the sweet spot. 

6. PC Case 

The most important part of purchasing a PC case is making sure the form factor matches the power supply and motherboard. The only reason you would need to do some more research is if you're planning on building a top-of-the-line computer. In which case, you would want a case that can support water cooling and multiple hard drives. After that, it's about the aesthetics with features such as size, materials, colors, see-through panels, RGB Lighting, and more. 

What Tools Do You Need to Build a Computer? 

Since this is a gift, don't forget to get the necessary tools needed to put the computer together. You can always break out all of the stops for the gift recipient with a screwdriver set, plyers, cable ties, and a static guard, but truthfully – you don't need all of the fancy things. All you need to build a computer are the parts, a screwdriver with multiple bits, and someone willing to invest their time. To add the cherry on top, we also included two recommended videos that assist with the computer assembly process. 

If you really want to find the best combinations and you have some extra time to spend on the project, PCPartPicker is an excellent resource. 

Final Thoughts 

Whether you're building a computer or buying the parts for a friend, we hope this gives you a good start! If all else fails, take a trip to a store like Best Buy or Micro Center (a great place to get the parts too) and purchase a pre-made computer!

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