Building your own PC is almost the same as playing and building Legos. PCs have building blocks that essentially make up it's whole system.
Building your own PC is almost the same as playing and building Legos. PCs have building blocks that essentially make up it's whole system. In this blog post, you will learn the essential PC Building Blocks and give you an overview of each one. You can also browse other articles related to this topic by going to my Ultimate PC Build Guide Master List.

PC Building Blocks

The Base a.k.a Motherboard:

This is where you plug all other building blocks on your PC, hence making it one of the essential parts in building your PC.
Okay, for newbies this might intimidate you since there's alot of sockets and pins and parts on this motherboard. While I will make a dedicated post for each building block such as this one, here are some information that you will always come across when buying one or during a discussion about motherboards:

Socket Type:

There are different socket types for motherboards which corresponds to compatible CPUs or processors.
 So generally speaking, when you hear someone asking what socket you need or have, you can tell the following details:
  • AMD processors use the AM3/AM4/FM2+/TR4 sockets. 
  • Intel processors use 1150/1151/2066 sockets

PCI Slots:

Peripheral Component Interconnect or more commonly known as PCI slots are a set of pins and slots that will extend the capabilities of your motherboard via external PCI cards. 
I say extend because, this can expand a few features of your motherboard than just relying on the "On-Board" parts.
Sample PCI Cards are:
  • Network Adapter Cards
  • Sound Cards
  • Graphics Cards
  • PCI NVME Storage Cards
  • etc.

Memory Support(DDR3/DDR4):

Basically this just pertains to the supported model of memory. DDR3 is older than DDR4. Currently DDR4 is the standard.

M.2 Support:

M.2 is a form of PCI slot(I guess, for simplicity's sake. If you know the right term, please let me know haha). Generally it is used for M.2 Form Factor SSDs(Solid State Drives)

SATA Ports

When you're concerned about storage capabilities of a PC, SATA ports is the term you need to spit out to your retail stores and sellers. The interface or port where Host Bus Adapters and SATA devices connect. This one is generally used for SATA Devices such as Hard Disk Drives(HDDs), Solid State Drives(SSDs) or even Optical Disk Drives(ODD, DVD Drives etc) The more SATA ports, the more SATA devices you can connect. These terms are what you would normally hear tech people, PC enthusiasts and retailers talk about when discussing about Motherboards. There are other technical details that I will go in depth in another blog post.

The Brain a.k.a Processor (CPU)

The processor is definitely a MUST have item on your PC Build since it is the brain of the whole system. It processes(pun intended?) data from all parts of the motherboard to give you a holistic experience and basically, without it, you won't be able to use the computer.
When it comes to PC processors, you will only hear about 2 major players. Intel and AMD.
Here are the terms that you may hear when talking to your PC Enthusiast friend or your friendly tech guy at the retail store:

CPU Cores

No we're not talking about apples or the abdominal area of the body. With the continuous breakthrough of making processors smaller and more compact, processor manufacturers developed the concept of processor/cpu cores.
Basically in one CPU there are "mini" CPUs that all make up the brain of the PC. This enables your PC to be faster and makes Multi-Tasking a lot smoother.

CPU Threads

This is the CPU or CPU Cores' capability to run multiple concurrent processes or threads. Basically aside from dividing the workload to the CPU cores, the CPU cores then offloads it to threads to process even more and efficiently making use of its inherent processing power.

Clock Speed

This pertains to the speed of the execution of instructions of a CPU, basically the speed of the CPU.
The higher the clock speed the better. The speed is expressed as Megaherts(MHz)

Overclocking

CPUs nowadays have very fast clock speeds but people sometimes want to push it to the very limits by performing Overclocking or OC. Overclocking throttles the CPU to perform way past their official clock rates. 
While this improves performance, it definitely have some drawback as it makes your CPU increase its temperature and therefore you would need to invest in a more sophisticated cooling system than just your typical case and CPU fans.

The RAM a.k.a Memory Stick

Having a fast CPU is awesome, but it can't do it's job properly without the help of the RAM or Random Access Memory. Considered a VOLATILE type of memory, it gives the CPU a super fast storage for data that it is currently processing.
As for the terms you will typically hear about RAM.. here are some of them:

DDR (Double Data Rate):

Very technical term, but basically it's a type of memory integrated circuits which gives higher transfer rates. Ok, that's more technical terms hahhaha I'm sorry. 
Think of it this way, it's the technology that enables fast access storage for CPU to use when processing and executing instructions. Currently, DDR4 is the standard for latest PCs. 
NOTE: This is very crucial when picking out parts for your PC since DDR3s don't work for current lineup of motherboards and processors.

RAM Size

Basically the size of your RAM sticks. There are different sizes which starts at 4GB and up to 32GB. When buying RAM, you are limited to a few factors:
  • DIMM Slots in the Motherboard(usually 4 slots)
  • OS Maximum Compatible Memory(For Windows, it's 128GB maximum for Windows 10 Home Edition, 2TB maximum for Enterprise Edition) (This assumes you're running a 64-Bit Installation of Windows 10)

Memory Clock Speed

Same with Processor Clock Speed, this pertains to the speed at which it transfers files to and from the RAM Sticks. Expressed as Megahertz(MHz) as well. 
Memory Clock Speeds of DDR4 Memory Sticks are up to 3200MHz. 

Memory Overclocking

Similar again with the Processor Overclocking, this pertains to the process of increasing the performance of the memory chip by making the RAM perform higher transfer rates.

The Storage (SSD/HDD/SHDD)

As the name suggests, these are the devices that store your data, applications, settings, etc. It can be in the form of Solid State Drives(SSDs), Hard Disk Drives(HDDs), Solid State Hybrid Drives(SSHDs).

Types of Storage for Computers:

Hard Disk Drives(HDDs):

One of the main types of storage typically found in a PC Build. It has mechanical moving parts like the disk platter/plate and the arm with the read/write head. You can buy HDDs with large chunks of capacity for a cheap price. This however has its disadvantages as having a larger capacity means it may take time for the arm and head to find your data and thus bringing you a slow performance. Speed of HDDs are measured in terms of RPM or Revolutions Per Minute and current standard is 7200RPM(for consumer grade HDDs)

Solid State Drives(SSDs):

What makes the SSDs faster is that it has no mechanical moving parts and is made of chips that RAM sticks are also made of. This makes it also more expensive than HDDs.

Solid State Hybrid Drives(SSHDs):

Newer systems now involve having SSDs to decrease boot time and response times of other applications as well as giving you storage that are faster to access compared to HDDs. This one is a hybrid between SSDs and HDDs. It contains cost-effective large chunk of HDD with a significant amount of NAND/SSD chips to make it perform in an SSD-like manner. The SSD chips acts as a cache where it stores data that are frequently accessed and leaves dormant data to the spinning drives. In enterprise storage solutions, this is what is usually called as Data Tiering.

The Visual Enhancers a.k.a Graphics Card/Video Card

The graphics card is what gamers sought after most of the time. This gives your computer the capability to render amazing visuals on your screens as well as process graphics from applications like games and creative suites like Photoshop, Premiere Pro, AfterEffects etc.
Video Cards have a processor of its own called the GPU(Graphics Processing Unit)(it is also the general term for Video Cards nowadays. 
The GPU determines the performance of the graphics card and thus the more powerful it is, the more expensive it is. 
Recently, GPUs are used by Bitcoin Miners to mine and collect Bitcoin for a profit which spiked the price of GPUs even higher.

The Power Supply:

Of course every part of the computer needs to have power on it to function. So it's just natural to talk about Power Supplies.
Choosing a Power Supply is as important as the other parts of your own PC. But you do have to know a few things. (More about this on a separate blog post)
  • You don't need those huge power supplies since your system won't run at maximum all the time. 
  • Aim for Efficiency ratings (Bronze, Gold, Platinum, etc)
  • Typical setups only need up to a 600W or 750W power supply
  • If you have multiple GPUs and higher end parts, then go higher since it will draw more power
  • Having a high wattage power supply only gives you enough headroom when running at maximum. 
You can check the following Power Calculators so you can already have an idea of what to buy:
Power Supply Manufacturers also have Power Calculators and will recommend a particular power supply that they offer based on your inputs. 
DISCLAIMER: I cannot guarantee the accuracy of these calculators, but based on forums and other blogs, these are the recommended ones.  
You might wanna have a friend or a technician to also check if the power supply you're buying for your rig is enough. You don't want to have issues with power supplies since it can destroy your parts for sure.

The Monitor:

Lastly, you'll be needing a decent monitor for your amazing rig. There are lots to choose from and it all boils down to what you need.
Several Terms you need to know:

Refresh Rate:

Most manufactures nowadays offer 60, 75, 100,120,144 and even 240hz refresh rates. These pertain to the ability of the pixels to refresh over a certain period. The higher the refresh rates the smoother things look on the screen.

Resolution:

The terms 4k, 2k 1080P, FULL HD, 720p etc are what you'll normally hear when talking about resolutions. In tandem with your CPU and Graphics Card, you need to find a compatible resolution for your PC. 
Some PC Builds are only capable of up to FULL HD or 1080p resolution, so be sure to check that for compatibility. Currently, the standard is 1080p or FULL HD since not everyone can afford the 2k or 4k resolution monitors yet, and most content/games/graphics are more rendered towards the FULL HD resolution than higher ones. 

Input Lag:

This is another factor you may want to consider especially if you're a gamer. Basically it is the time it takes for the monitor to register/display the action made by a mouse or keyboard. 
An input lag of 30ms or less is not noticeable but anything higher than that may affect gaming performance. 

What we've discussed so far..

Basically, these are the major components that would determine your final build. Other accessories such as cooling, casing, keyboards, mouse and even SOFTWARE will be discussed on another blog post.
So, the ESSENTIAL PC Building Blocks are as follows:
  • Motherboard
  • CPU/Processor
  • GPU/Graphics Card
  • Storage(SSD/HDD/SHDD)
  • Power Supply 
  • Monitor
Be sure to check the master list for more articles like this:  Ultimate PC Build Guide Master List.
Thank you so much for making it this far and hopefully it has given you alot of basic information to help you build your own PC.
Do you guys have brand preferences for each component? 
Image Sources:
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/81D5ZKMPBcL._SL1500_.jpg 
https://www.pcgamer.com/best-ddr4-ram/
www.pexels.com
www.stocksnap.io
www.unsplash.com
TechGabster

Tech Gabster

A Blog About Tech and the Digital World

Post A Comment:

0 comments: