Many people simply go to the retail store and get sold to when it comes to computing equipment. You would be very surprised how easily you can pick up all the core components and assemble yourself or get a friend or family member in the know to do it for you. All the top brand PC manufacturers such as IBM, HP and Fujitsu Siemens offer you pre built PC’s, Dell on the other hand will take your order and build to your own style. Off them all Dell will come across more flexible with the specification, however, building your own will not only save you many dollars but make you aware of just how much profit these guys are making.
What are the core components of a PC?
Well let’s start with the basics you will need no matter how high or low spec you want the computer:
PC Case – Motherboard – Processor Chip – Fan – Power Supply – Hard Disk Drive – Memory (RAM) – Power Cord – Keyboard & Mouse – Graphics Card (may come on the motherboard) – Sound Card (if you require one). All these components will get you started. Remember build the PC to your own needs. Gaming PC’s generally need a good graphics card with 3d capabilities while general office PC’s do not need such powerful cards.
Intel and AMD are the key players when it comes to processors, Intel offer the Pentium chip or Celeron while AMD have their range such as the AMD Athlon and Sempron. While both companies have their benefits Intel’s being that they are the largest selling globally but AMD seem to have the faster processing capabilities. When looking at the processors think sensibly and ask yourself do you really need the latest and greatest or would you notice the difference in point two of a processor e.g. 3GHz compared to 2.8GHz.
Remember keep the cost down, basic components such as the PC case comes in a number of different styles such as Mini Tower, Desktop. Choose what suits you. RAM (memory) will depend on what you plan to do, some games and simulators require large amounts of memory so check before you buy, and the graphics card will also depend on your PC plans. If you are generally using the PC for home and Internet browsing remember to purchase a modem or if you are planning broadband arrange with the installer and get yourself on the waiting list.
Building the PC
Building a PC is not as daunting as it seems. If you have not attempted to do this before it is a good idea to have supervision. Some of the components such as the memory need careful handling due to static electricity. Get an anti static wrist strap to protect the components, they cost very little and could save you a lot of money. There are plenty of cheap books out there to guide you in assembly but you will also find free articles online with diagrams for assembly.
Hardware is one thing but you also need the software such as the operating system and anti virus software for protection against viruses. Depending on what you want and what you are used to using before you can get free operating system such as Linux. Most of us are used to Microsoft Windows but you will require a licence to use this software. You may also need some office software such as Microsoft Office XP or 2003 standard or Professional edition. The anti virus software is essential and Norton’s or McAfee are some of the better known brands. There are also free downloads that will help protect your PC such as Stinger and Ad-Ware.
Building your very own PC gives you the flexibility that most manufacturers do not. The price is greatly reduced if you can assemble yourself and it will give you a great insight to all the components and key terms in computing. You will be surprised to find that not all is as technical as first seems.
Some quick notes: Do not forget the following: Modem – Make sure you also have enough USB ports for external devices such as a printer or digital camera. Always back your files up such externally on the off chance you have a problem with the Hard Disk Drive and your files are not transferable, something like a usb keyring would be ideal.
By Declan Tobin