Author: Steve Burke, GamersNexus
On average, there are approximately 14 screws involved in building a PC – maybe 18, depending on case. One Phillips screwdriver, some screws – provided, by the way, and some parts. That’s how you build a PC.
Building a PC is easy.
The fact of the matter is that building a PC requires effectively no hardware (read: garage hardware, not PC hardware) experience – just a screwdriver. But it’s not the only misconception. We’ve seen fans of console camps argue that it takes $2000 to build a good gaming computer – utterly false – or that PC building takes a lot of time. We’ve seen people say it’s easy to destroy parts, or that it’s hard to assemble them, or that special tools are required.
WHAT ARE THE COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT BUILDING A PC?
MISCONCEPTION #1 – BUILDING A PC IS HARD
We’ll walk you through the entire PC building process and help you understand each component install procedure, but here’s a quick recap of how to build a PC:
- Parts selection and purchase
- Socket the CPU (drop it into place), socket the RAM (drop it into place), mount the CPU cooler (a few screws, if that)
- Connect a few power headers and test that everything works
- Migrate the build into the case
That’s, at an excessively high level, the process of building a computer. The hardest part is normally installing the CPU cooler – but NZXT’s liquid coolers make that easy – or troubleshooting unexpected issues.
MISCONCEPTION #2 – BUILDING A PC IS EXPENSIVE
Part Price After Rebates/Promos:
- CPU: Intel i5-6400 2.7GHz $190
- Motherboard: SI Z170A SLI Plus Motherboard $120
- Video Card: MSI GTX 960 4GB $175
- Memory: HyperX Fury 8GB 2133MHz $38
- Power Supply: Rosewill Valens 500W Modular $52
- HDD: WD Blue 1TB 7200RPM $54
- Case: NZXT S340 Mid-Tower $70
- Total: $704
A middle-of-the-road PC build. You could easily drop down to the $500-$600 range, or scale up to the $1500+ range.
Building a PC scales massively in price. A few hundred bucks can buy the parts needed to build an “internet box” or home-theater TV-attached PC, deployable for the likes of Netflix or Hulu or YouTube or what-have-you. It’s also easy to build a $1500 rig, but such a machine could play games for years on end – or maybe be used for video production (or both – the parts often overlap).
When you decide to build a PC, you control the price. It’s your build! Don’t let someone insist that a $2000 budget is required to compete with a console for graphics – it’s simply not true. Such a machine could be assembled in the mid-hundreds, and – this part’s a big deal – it can be used for other things outside of gaming. Video production, school work, work-work, game streaming, and so forth.
Keep in mind that, along with price, you also control the time-scale. If your budget or pay cycle is best-suited for buying one or two parts at a time, that works perfectly fine with the PCDIY approach! No need to buy the entire system all at once. If a PSU happens to go on sale for $30, there’s no harm in grabbing it and buying the next part a week or a month from now. Just be sure that everything is compatible, though.
MISCONCEPTION #3 – BUILDING A PC TAKES A LOT OF TIME
My day job is being the Editor-in-Chief of GamersNexus. My team builds PCs on a daily basis – sometimes an hourly basis. We’ve been doing it for years, sure, but the entire start-to-finish assembly of a build now takes us about 5-10 minutes. I still remember my first PC build – that project took an entire afternoon of checking manuals, but it worked flawlessly when done. That was also before the internet made these types of guides so easy to reference.
With a little bit of research, you’ll soon be able to work toward quick, effortless assembly. That first one is fun and requires a little more time – mostly just learning where things are and what they do – but it’s not inherently difficult or time consuming. We’d generally suggest that a first build might take a few hours (including assembly, OS install, environment/peripheral setup).
Even so, a few-hour project isn’t a bad deal. It’s fun the whole way through, it’s educational, rewarding, and interesting.
MISCONCEPTION #4 – BUILDING A PC MAKES IT EASY TO DAMAGE PARTS
Damaging parts during PC assembly happens only one of two (common) ways:
Forced Installation – the component doesn’t fit in the slot or is misaligned, and could undergo forces that cause damage (or you’ve managed to force it to fit, in which case it could be electrically damaged). Follow the rule “monkey tight, not gorilla tight” and this won’t be a problem. If it doesn’t fit, don’t force it. Look closely and try again.
Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) – If building a PC in a cool and dry environment, it’s easier for the user to build up a charge of static electricity. Touching a car door and feeling a shock is an example of electrostatic discharge; if you can feel such a discharge, it’s easily thousands of volts – PC components are only built to handle, in the case of sensitive silicon, around a volt of electricity. Taking measures outlined in this guide will mitigate or eliminate ESD risk!
Don’t worry too much about ESD. Grounding yourself will all but guarantee component safety, and taking care when installing components means no real risk of forceful installation (entirely a user error, if it happens – that means you control the risk). Most likely, a failed boot more likely means a DOA part than anything else.
BUILDING A PC DOESN’T HAVE TO BE EXPENSIVE, DIFFICULT, OR RISKY
That recaps the most common misconceptions with PC assembly. PC building doesn’t have to be expensive (and often isn’t), it doesn’t have to be difficult, and it doesn’t have to carry any risk of component damage.
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