What Do You Need to Build a Windows PC?

Building your own Windows PC has numerous benefits. It enables you to create a computer for your specific needs, learn more about how the components work, and save money. Of course, building a computer is also much more fun than going to the store and buying a pre-built PC. Although it may not seem like it, building a PC isn’t too complicated. But, before starting, you need to know what parts and tools you’ll need.

If you want to know what’s necessary to build a Windows PC, you’ve come to the right place. This article will go over the important components and explain their function.

What Do You Need to Build a Windows PC

The parts you’ll use for building a Windows PC largely depend on what you need the computer for. However, there are some parts you’ll need regardless of the computer’s purpose. We’ll go over all of them:

Setting Up

Let’s start with the basics: a clean workspace. You’ll need a surface large enough to store the computer case and all components. We recommend working on a non-metallic surface to avoid static buildup. Besides a clean area, you’ll also need an adequate screwdriver.

Case

Every computer needs its “home” or case. A computer case is a box that stores all PC components. It can be opened and closed and typically features designated spots where other parts need to be stored and attached.

Computer cases come in numerous colors, shapes, sizes, and designs. Some have additional features like LED lights or glass side panels that make them more visually appealing. Most users opt for basic black or white boxes with buttons on top.

Technically speaking, a case isn’t an essential component. You can always lay the parts on the floor or mount them on your wall. However, a case is beneficial for multiple reasons. First of all, it keeps all the components in one place, allowing you to move them more easily. Secondly, the case protects the parts from damage and dust. Finally, the designated spots can make the building process much easier.

Most cases come with built-in fans. If you opt for one that doesn’t have it, you should consider purchasing it. Case fans keep all components nice and cool, thus increasing their efficiency. They also contribute to noise reduction, so if you want a quiet computer, a case fan is a must.

Motherboard

A motherboard is an essential part of every computer. It’s the main printed circuit board that connects to other components and enables communication and collaboration. Although they come in different sizes and configurations, all motherboards have essentially the same function.

Every motherboard features connectors for power and data cables and slots and sockets for different units. When purchasing a motherboard, you need to know what socket it has and what generation it is.

Keep in mind that your motherboard needs to match the processor (CPU).

Processor (CPU)

A processor is the brain of your PC. It connects directly to the motherboard, and it’s responsible for providing the instructions and processing power your computer needs. The more powerful your processor is, the faster it will perform its tasks. Ideally, you should look for a processor with high clocks and core count.

Since every CPU has a specific socket, it’s best to purchase this part first and then find a compatible motherboard.

CPU Cooler

CPUs can generate a lot of heat while operating, and too much of it could jeopardize the performance. If you want your CPU to operate flawlessly, you should consider purchasing a CPU cooler. Some CPUs are shipped with CPU coolers, but most aren’t.

Keep in mind that the CPU cooler needs to be compatible with the CPU and the motherboard. For example, if your CPU is AM4, your motherboard and CPU cooler also need to be AM4. Otherwise, you won’t be able to connect them.

Graphics Card (GPU)

Graphics processing units (graphic cards or GPUs) are responsible for handling and optimizing visual data. They are used in video and photo editing, playing games, and other intensive tasks. All GPUs can be divided into integrated and discrete GPUs.

Some CPUs come with an integrated graphics card, meaning you don’t have to purchase it separately. Although this option is more convenient and affordable, keep in mind that the performance of integrated GPUs is often very limited. In most cases, such GPUs are good for light tasks like word processing, surfing the internet, and playing lighter games.

If you want to play demanding games or use Adobe Photoshop or similar programmes, you’ll need a discrete GPU. Discrete GPUs don’t come as a part of CPUs. They have their own printed circuit board and are mounted into a slot on your motherboard. The two most popular GPU manufacturers are Nvidia and AMD, and both offer high-quality products.

When deciding on a graphics card, you need to consider what you’ll use your computer for. You don’t need a powerful, high-end GPU to use Microsoft Office, browse the internet, or play TV shows. In such cases, investing in an expensive GPU that can handle more intense tasks can be a waste of money. Likewise, if you’re playing demanding games, don’t try to save money on a GPU, as this could significantly affect your experience.

Memory (RAM)

RAM stands for random access memory is used to store working data. It enables quick and easy access to the information your computer is actively using. Plus, it conducts basic, everyday tasks like loading apps, browsing the internet, switching back and forth between different programs, or responding to commands.

The amount of RAM determines your computer’s speed and performance. If you don’t have enough RAM, your computer will be slow and could experience issues with performing basic tasks. On the other hand, it’s possible to have too much RAM.

Like with GPU, the amount of RAM you need depends on what you’ll use the computer for. If you’re not sure how much RAM you need, here are some basic recommendations:

  • 8 GB of RAM is enough for basic computer usage and surfing the internet.
  • 16 GB of RAM is enough for running Microsoft Office and other not so demanding programs and apps. With 16 GB of RAM, you won’t have problems streaming TV shows and movies or playing less demanding games.
  • 32 GB or more is recommended for high-performance gaming, graphic design, 3D modeling, and intensive multitasking.

Storage

While RAM can write and read data very quickly, it doesn’t retain information once you turn off your computer. That’s why you need a storage medium. Storage mediums are generally divided into two main categories: hard disk drives (HDDs) and solid-state drives (SSDs).

Hard disk drives are traditional drives with moving parts. They feature spinning disks and “arms” that write and read data. They usually read and save data at around 100-150 MB per second.

SSDs operate based on flash-based memory, and they are much faster than traditional mechanical hard disks. They can read and write data at approximately 500 MB per second.

Again, which one you’ll choose depends on your needs and budget. SSDs are faster, quieter, and more durable, but they also cost more money. On the other hand, HDDs are more affordable and offer easier data recovery in case anything goes wrong.

Both HDDs and SSDs plug into the SATA plug in your motherboard using a SATA cable.

Power Supply Unit

No PC component will work without a power supply unit (PSU). You can find numerous PSU brands on the market that offer products of varying wattage and efficiency. With so many options, purchasing the right one can be overwhelming.

The most important factor you need to consider is how much wattage your PC will require to operate smoothly. Keep in mind that you should leave “extra space” for potential upgrades in the future. You want your PSU to be able to handle extra components.

If you’re not sure how much wattage you’ll need, we recommend asking professionals for recommendations. Moreover, you can use online PSU calculators like Be Quiet. All you need to do is enter your system components, and the tool will calculate the wattage based on their peak performance.

Monitor

We can’t use our computers without a display device. Monitors come in numerous designs, colors, sizes, and resolutions. Which one you’ll choose depends on how much money you have and your needs. If you’re a designer or architect, you want to ensure high color accuracy and resolution. On the other hand, if you need a computer for performing basic tasks, a high-end monitor isn’t essential.

Operating System

When you build your own PC, you won’t have Windows automatically installed. You’ll need to buy a license from Microsoft or another vendor and make a USB key.

Currently, the most popular Windows is Windows 10. You can also check out the recently-released Windows 11.

Pro tip

Ensuring all components are compatible can seem impossible, especially if you don’t have much experience. You don’t want to pay hundreds of dollars for a part just to realize it isn’t suitable for your motherboard or CPU. Fortunately, there is a tool that can make building your system much easier: PCPartPicker.

Not only does this website sell everything you need for building a Windows PC, but it also ensures the hardware plays well together. With PCPartPicker, you can build your system piece by piece without worrying about compatibility.

Build a PC That Matches Your Preferences

If you want to tailor a computer according to your needs, preferences, and budget, building one from scratch is an excellent option. Although there’s a lot to think about, building a PC is exciting and can help you “get to know” your computer from the inside.

What is the main reason you want to build a computer? What will you use the computer for? Tell us in the comments section below.

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