Picking out parts


The processor is the "brain" of the computer.  It is what processes the tasks you are doing with the computer.  If you will be using it for just basic home use like e mail and Facebook, you could probably get by with a budget processor like an AMD A4 or the Intel Pentium.  If you will be using lots of office applications such as Microsoft Word, Excel, etc. You will want a little more power, which can be found in the Intel Core I3 or the AMD A8.  If you will be gaming, video editing, or using design programs like CADD, you will want a higher end processor such as the Intel Core i7 or the higher end AMD FX series processors.  Below is a quick video about picking out CPU's. 

amd                                                                                                                            intel

RAM or Memory:

The RAM or Memory is what stores your information while you are using the computer.  The Memory clears when the computer is restarted or shut down.  For example, if you are typing a Word document and you don't save it, it is currently on the Memory.  The two most popular types of Memory today is DDR3 and DDR4.  They are both very fast, but if you want the best of the best go with DDR4.  Otherwise, DDR3 is just fine and fast enough for most people.  I recommend 4 Gigabytes of RAM or more depending on what you are doing.  If you are just using basic applications like browsing the web, using e mail, and Facebook, 4 Gigabytes of RAM will work fine for you.  If you are doing anything more than basic web browsing, I recommend at least 8 Gigabytes or 16, depending on how many programs you will have running at a time.  If you are video editing or playing lots of video games, 32 Gigabytes of Memory is ideal because video editing, gaming, streaming, etc. takes up a lot of Memory.  Depending on how many games you have running you may even want to upgrade to 64 or 128 Gigabytes of Memory. 



The motherboard is where the Processor and RAM are installed, and it is also where the hard drives, Optical drive, power button, etc. are connected.  Once you pick out your processor and memory, the motherboard is pretty easy to pick out.  First, figure out what socket your CPU uses.  For example, if you purchase an Intel Core i3 and the socket is LGA1155, and you purchase DDR3 memory, the motherboard must have a LGA1155 socket and support DDR3 Memory. 



First, I will talk about storage drives.  Today there are two types of drives, Solid State Drives (SSD) or Hard Drives (HDD).  The HDD is a mechanical drive with platters and a needle that store data.  The SSD is a drive with no moving parts, and your data is stored on chips.  Both drives are reliable, but the SSD lasts longer because there are no moving parts.  The SSD is also faster for gamers and anybody else who has many programs running at once.  SSDs tend to be very expensive, so often times people purchase ones with small storage size, and pair it with a less expensive, higher capacity HDD.  If you did this, you would put your operating system and programs on the SSD, and your photos, documents, and other files on the HDD.  If you will be using the computer for just web browsing or basic office applications, a HDD will be fast enough.  If you are purchasing an SSD and HDD together, I suggest getting an SSD with at least 60 Gigabytes of space, and a Hard Drive with one Terabyte (1,024 gigabytes) of space.  This will allow you enough storage on the SSD for the operating system, and enough storage on the HDD for lots of pictures, documents, and large programs.  If you are just going to get a HDD, I suggest getting one with one terabyte (1,024 gigabytes) for enough space for your operating system, pictures, and other files.  If you tend to do more video editing, or store lots of games and pictures, you may need more storage space.  Additional drives can be installed in most computers if you decide you need more storage at a later time.  Next, I will talk about optical drives. Optical drives are the DVD and CD drives on the front of your finished computer where you can play and burn DVDs and CDs.  These drives are slowly becoming obsolete, and not everybody uses them.   But if you use discs a lot, you will want to purchase one.  When your purchase drives, make sure that they either include SATA cables or you will need to purchase the SATA cables yourself.  These are what connect the drives to your motherboard. 


The Graphics Card:

The graphics card is what renders the graphics on the computer.  If you will be just using the computer for basic office tasks like E Mail, word processing, and accounting, you can skip this section because the graphics built into the processor will be good enough for what you are doing.  If you are a gamer, graphic or CADD designer, or a video editor, you will want to purchase an additional graphics card because the graphics integrated into the processor are not good enough for what you are doing.  Some graphics are capable of working together with another one of the same graphics cards for double the power.  If you do this you must have two PCI express slots on the motherboard (one for each graphics card) and they connect together.  NVIDIA and AMD are the two graphics card chip producers.  The graphics card is also known as the GPU or Graphics Processing Unit.  The latest graphics card from NVIDIA is the GTX 1080.  The latest GPU from AMD is the Radeon R9 series chips.  Both of these cards are the best that are out today and will be powerful to do anything you want on the computer.  If you would like to save some money, you may consider some of the older NVIDIA GTX series chips or the older AMD chips.  These won't be as fast as the latest chips, but depending on what you are doing they may be good enough. 


The Power supply:

The Power supply is where the computer plugs into the wall, and distributes the power to the processor, motherboard, HDD/SSD, Optical drive, graphics card, case fans, and other accessories inside the computer.  The wattage of the power supply depends on the components you have inside the computer.  If you aren't using an graphics card, you can probably get by with a 400 watt power supply.  This also depends on how many hard drives you have, or how many case fans are inside the computer.  If you have lots of additional drives, fans, or a high wattage processor, you may want to go with a 500w or higher power supply.  If you have an additional graphics card, you will want at least a 500 watt power supply (or greater depending on other components and how many graphics cards you use)  If you have a graphics card, you will also want to make sure you have the proper power connector on the power supply. 


The computer case:

The computer case is where all of the computer components go.  These are pretty easy to pick out, just make sure that the case has enough space inside it for the graphics card(s) and the amount of drives you may have.  Also if you have a graphics card, you will want to make sure the case has enough cooling fans and ventilation. 

case case

Other accessories:

If you don't have these already, you must buy a monitor, keyboard, mouse, as well as network, video, and power cables for your computer.  There are also many other accessories available for computers.  These include, but are not limited to Wifi cards, SD card readers, or additional Network cards.  These are all optional, but you may find them useful and necessary for your computer build.