How to choose components for a new pc

Hi there,

If you are planning to create a new pc then you are at right place. You probably are confused on which processor to buy, how much ram to get an much more. Lets plan it step by step to make it much simpler.

First thing first:

You need to convince yourself what kind of machine you need. It can be for gaming, for video editing or it can be for simple day to day functioning using your office tools. According to your need you have to choose the parts because this will bring down your total cost and on other hand, this will be deciding factor that you are not bottle necking any of your component with one another. Basic components you will need are as follows.

  • A cabinet or chassis.
  • A power supply.
  • Motherboard
  • A processor.
  • Hard drive for storage.
  • Ram

The there are some optional ones like:

  • GPU or graphics card (if you are planning for playing high end games or rendering videos for editing).
  • Optical drive such as CD/DVD drive
  • SSD or solid state drive.
  • Fan controlling hub and many more…
Outlook of an assembled PC

Processor (CPU):

After you figure out what kind of machine you want, you will need to finalize a processor as the rest of build depends on this. You will need to find your if you want to have an AMD or Intel CPU. If your are on budget AMD is your friend hands down. Both of these brands has very unique set of architecture, therefore you need to understand that most of the hardware you purchase will not be used for other architecture. Even in any one of these brands we have different socket CPU’s available which differs in the pin size (socket). I will list down the CPU in 3 tier approach. First will be low end utility that will be basic like doing your Microsoft sheets, playing mario/minesweeper, listing to music and watch movies (not in full HD). Second tier will be mid range processor that will be helpful in low profile gaming and rendering HD videos. Last will be high end that will be utilizing hyper-threading concept (for intel) and will be beneficial in hardcore gaming and video editing. (I will keep all the cheapest avaliable links here).

You also can overclock your processor if you have unlocked processor with you. I will cover this topic later as this will come under advance builds and tweaks. For starters locked ones are good to go as they are cheaper than unlocked ones.

Cabinet or Chassis:

You may now want to select your preferred size of the enclosure here. There was a norm on the sizes but now manufacturers are making their own version of the sizes like cubes, lan boxes etc. So I will classify them in 3 types of cabinets. a) Full tower b) ATX and c) mini ITX. This depends on you choice and the place where you want to keep your PC. Personally if you are building it for your home you should consider a full tower chassis as will give you more room for upgrade. Small chassis is used when you want to flaunt your pc in a living room where you literally want to compare it will a PS4 or Xbox 360. According to the size you will need the equivalent motherboard and power supply. You should also check if it has enough air flow in it and it has room to tie up you cable clutter so that the cables inside the chassis will not be any obstruction is air flow.

  • Full tower pc cabinet.

Cooler-Master-Cosmos-SE-Full-SDL494764432-3-e3035.jpg

  • ATX.

  • Mini ITX ( Here on left is silverstone mini itx chassis compared to xbox 360 on right)

Motherboard:

Now this is yet another critical component as it depends on the processor type (amd or intel), socket type (fm, am3+, lga1150 etc), size of chassis. There are similar sizes for motherboards available as your chassis. To get exact size detail you can read yous chassis or cabinet manual. Secondly you want to understand the chipset and you should use current ones as it will provide you the latest features and future proofing capabilities. I am not writing about the available chipsets, as there are many to compare. You need to check if you are getting all the necessary features that you would probably use. To give you and example if my chassis do not have a usb 3.0 jack the internal 3.0 header in the motherboard will be waste for me. I hope this will help you to choose the best.

 RAM:

For ram again you will have to check with the capability of your processor and motherboard to check what is the best optimal frequency you can use. For this you can refer you motherboard manual. There are currently 2 categories of RAM’s i.e. DDR3 an DDR4. DDR2 is now old architecture and more or less extinct from market. Then corresponding to your motherboard you will get the maximum capacity of RAM that can be installed. Today motherboard also offers dual channel, triple channel and quad channel architecture. To utilize this architecture you will need specific set of kit. Suppose you want to use dual channel architecture of your motherboard then you need to get dual channel kit (like 2X4gb for 8 gb). Generally similar channel slots are color codded but still you should refer to motherboard manual to be sure of. Also understand a fact that using 2 dimm slots in dual channel for say 8Gb (2X4gb sticks) will not add up to 8 gb but will be less than 8 gb in real time scenario. In dual channel ram act as parallel memories and not serial. On contrary, performance of 2X4gb dimms in dual channel will be more than 2X4gb in serial or single channel slot. How much RAM you need depends on the level of pc you are building. For low end 4 gb is enough, mid range 8gb will be good and for high end 8-32 gb is preferred. To read more on dual channel architecture click here.

motherboard-color-code-ram-slots-dual-channel.jpg

Again there is a another act that new DDR4 memory is way much faster than DDR3. Currently newer skylake processors are using DDR4 memories which are new and quite expensive.

 Storage:

It depends on your need basically. What files you will be keeping and how much buffer space you need. In today’s scenario minimum 1TB is suggested where you can keep all your movies, games, documents and all. There are different 3.5 inch hard drives which is used for specific purpose such as cctv video recording, archives, hybrid ones. Basically you will need the intermediate ones which has decent read/write speeds and are optimal for computers. For eg (WD blue, WD green, Segate baracuda etc).

In storage segment I would like to add up SSD here. Sometimes even after adding up all the best processor and stacking up the ram we do not see that pc boots and shut downs real quick. The reason beyond this is the OS requires to read many startup files and load up to ram in boot process. To make it happen fast we can use SSD here. These are very compact solid state devices coming basically in the 2.5 inch disk and also very small strips that are based on M.2 interfaces. Read/write speeds of these devices are very good making the pc and other key applications stored in it start up very faster. You can expect 5-10X speed than the normal hard drive. With the fast speed comes expensive architecture. SSD’s are usually expensive for eg. 120 gb will cost you minimum of 3500 RS. If you really want to make your pc boot up fast you can buy this drive and load your OS (C drive) with key applications on it. Remember that frame rates of games do not depends on SSD read/write speed but will surely reduce the loading time for any application/game.

Power supply:

Here we come to the last main component. Keep this in mind, do not fall for high watts and cheap Chinese brands. 1000W local PSU can cost you 1/4th of 300W 80+ Gold certified PSU. Yes you read it correct. There is a specific guideline to check for the highly optimized PSU or power supply. Starting from 80+ as the lowest mark we have 80+ platinum as the premium PSU. More high rating depends on the capacitor used, continuity of of power, heat dissipation and so on. Size also matters here. Normal or full size ATX ro small factor SFX. There are sub-divisions to it. To be sure read your cabinet or chassis manual for the perfect size.

80-plus-icons-100021933-medium.jpg

Then comes modular, semi-modular and non modular. Here modularity means to have control over which cable you want to use for connecting PC components. Other unused cables can be detached from PSU to reduce cable clutter inside the pc case. You might already  have a pretty good idea that this feature will cost you more. Yes, modular ones are costlier than semi-modular and then non-modular. Semi modular has some of the cables coming out which are non-removable, these are mostly the motherboard power cables and 24 pin connectors that we always use. This is probably a good choice if you are on a budget and also want pc to have a clean aesthetic. Non modular ones are like ugly octopus whose tentacles are tangles in one another and you have a hard time to clear out the mess. You should atleast get yourself a 80+bronze rating PSU. 500W is sufficient to run a PC but to be confirm you can link your pc components to PCpartpicker and find out the total power consumption. Also make sure to buy some extra watts if you are planning to upgrade anytime soon.

Graphics card or GPU:

So if you want a gaming pc it cannot be finished without getting a GPU. This card is mostly for your intensive graphics rendering which CPU cannot handle. We have 2 major teams in the club, Green team (NVIDIA) and Red team (RADEON/AMD). You can probably search a lot of arguments on which among these two is better, but with no definite answer. Everytime one beats another with its newer products. But again this is a fact that if you compare the similar kind of GPU in both these teams you will find radeon is bit cheaper and nvidia is on the better side, slightly on performance, heating and power consumption. Again this is a common belief that with intel processor one should use nvidia and with AMD radeon. But this is all rubbish. You are free to choose any card with any processor provided it should not bottleneck the performance of other. Like with dual core intel cpu if you are using GTX 980ti then the GPU will not perform to its best as it is CPU that will help in communicating GPU with rest of the components. Also make sure you use the fastest PCIe slot in your motherboard to install your GPU to make best out of it, information of the PCIe slots will be in your motherboard manual. Another quite common speculation we have is the VRAM size. In GPU its not always that a 8GB card is twice good as 4 gb card. R9 390 8Gb card is not as fast as GTX 980ti 4GB. Many other factors such as cuda cores, base clock, architecture and many more depends on the performance factor. The second factor you want to consider before purchase is the resolution you want to play with. If you do not have a 4K monitor then AMD fury X card is a waste of money for you. For 1080p gaming R9 390 or GTX 970 will work same as the other high end models. Even if the higher mode can provide you 200 frames per second you will not notice it as more than 60 frames are not distinguishable but on the other hand if it is not able to provide you 40 frames per second than you can feel the lag. Therefore choose wisely. In my opinion GTX 970 is the best deal for 1080 gamin and R9 380 in radeon side. Choice is yours.

This is average frames per second graph in 1080p gaming

Future Proofing and Cable Management:

Future proof is quite a term nowadays. With new components coming up you want to keep your pc update so that you can play new games with ease. To do this you need to consider few things before you make your purchase. Always buy the latest chipset motherboard. There is a reason we call this as “motherboard”. If the mother is not capable to handle its children (pc components) you can not accommodate latest ones. Then its your psu, if you don’t have enough power to add another card in your pc in SLI or corssfire (I will cover this as separate topic) you might end up playing with single card. Then its your cabinet and motherboard size. Size matters a lot, as in mini itx you will get only 1 PCIe slot, adding up another  card is not an option here and on the other hand in full tower you can actually add up 4 graphic cards. Sounds insane but you can easily find people doing it.

Now when you are finished assembling you must neatly tie all the cables on the cabinet or some other place so that they do not come in between the air flow inside the chassis. A good air flow means cooler and quieter pc. I will post more about the airflow and liquid cooling in upcoming posts. But initially keep in mind that you have adequate fans to push fresh air inside the cabinet and atleast 1 fan for exhaust.

Summary:

After this article you might get a brief idea on how to think on purchasing for pc components. Its always better to build one yourself according to your need for many different reasons. Gamers, you have to have a PC for your gaming experience as it is a lot lot lot lot more satisfying than playing it on consoles.

So this is me signing out. Do let me know if you have any query and tell me if your found this post useful.

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