Optional Hardware for Building a PC

Specific needs may necessitate some hardware configurations which are not globally “required.” An example would be wireless adapters – most desktop rigs can connect to an Ethernet cable, but some users still prefer wireless. Another example would be “bling” elements, like lights or RGB LED controllers. Optical disk drives have also faded from “required” into the realm of “optional,” as now the OS can be installed via USB key.


Optional PC Hardware #1 – Wireless Adapter

Wireless adapters come in a few forms. First of all, a few motherboards will include wireless M.2 cards with headers that extrude from the case. These are useful if you know pre-build that wireless is a demand. The alternative is to buy a wireless adapter after, and that can come in one of three primary forms: (1) a USB device, (2) a PCI-e expansion card, (3) an M.2 card/adapter.

All three are reasonable solutions. USB keys are more portable, but can sometimes drop-out if there are issues with USB connectivity. PCI-e cards are fixed and somewhat reliable (depending on make and model, of course), and M.2 devices are just an extension of those – they communicate on the same bus, even. The only difference is that not all boards support M.2, but those that do will benefit from more compact wireless adapters.

Optional PC Hardware #2 – Gen 1 RGB Controller+

If RGB LEDs are your thing, the NZXT Gen 1 RGB Controller+ offers a kit of LED strips, software for control of their colors and patterns, and a controller unit that fits in most 2.5” SSD slots.

This offers a “bling” factor that’s useful for windowed cases. It’s easy to spotlight components with the LED strips, provide underglow, or general ambient light internally. The colors can also be matched with gaming events – like lower health – or audio events.

Optional PC Hardware #3 – NZXT GRID+ V2

Some cases pre-install fan hubs, but not all do – and an aftermarket fan hub like the NZXT GRID+ V2 can be useful in such instances. These are almost entirely for cable management, but can also provide over-voltage protection and additional ports for fan connectivity. The convenience factor is also useful, as a fan hub will centralize all fan headers into a single device. That makes management easier, initial installation trivial, and future troubleshooting equally simple.

Optional PC Hardware #4 – Optical Disk Drive (External or Internal)

Optical disk drives have gone the way of the dinosaur – but some folks still like their CDs, ripping/burning capabilities, and use discs regularly. There’s nothing wrong with that. An internal optical drive (5.25”) can be purchased for a permanent, inside-the-case solution for optical media. If you’re only accessing optical media occasionally – maybe for ripping music here-and-there – it’s worth looking into an external CD/DVD drive. These tend to be about as fast as the internal readers these days and are stowable/portable.


There’s too much optional hardware available when building a PC that making a list is nearly impossible. The best thing to do is stick to the basics and add more functionality as your needs dictate. – Steve Burke, GamersNexus