Building a custom computer has become less complicated over the years as equipment has become more easily installed and configured. Despite this progress, there are still a number of details that must be considered when building a computer from scratch.
To help you through these steps and to ensure that you don't miss any important details, we've designed a checklist that outlines this process. We've also included an interactive form to help you shop and compare prices between the various components you will need. To get your hands on both of these handy documents, download the zipped file that contains both the checklist and the price comparison sheet.
Actually building a computer can be a pleasant experience or a real headache depending on your level of preparation. Before you do anything else, consider the following:
- What you want the computer to do
- How much you are willing to spend
- How flexible the components must be for future expansion
- How compatible your parts will be
- Where you will build and operate the computer
- When you will have several uninterrupted hours to build the computer
Research and read reviews of the components that you plan to use in your new computer. Check with colleagues for their opinions of and experience with the components you have chosen.
Shop for your components by prioritizing the functions you need the computer to perform. Do you need a top-of-the-line video card for a file server? Probably not, and the money you save on a cheaper video card could be better spent on a bigger, faster hard drive. Also consider buying original equipment manufacturer (OEM) components instead of the retail version. OEM parts are usually the same as their retail counterparts yet less expensive because they lack flashy packaging and documentation.
Shopping for hardware
The price comparison form will help you decide upon the parts you need. It contains sections in which you can list each major PC component (CPU, hard drive, motherboard, and RAM). There are also drop-down lists of other components, such as video cards, modems, a second hard drive, a sound card, and so forth. Each part row also contains three fields where you can list the brand, basic characteristics, and price of each part you are considering. After you decide which part you want, a final column allows you to enter the price of your chosen component and keep a running total of what the parts for your project will cost.
Putting it all together
Once you get all the parts, it is time to build. Here's where our building checklist helps you ensure that everything is done correctly and in the proper order. Steps are ordered in a logical progression, starting with installation of the CPU and moving through installation of the OS. Before you build another PC, check out this checklist.
Do you want detailed instructions?
Check out our download containing a purchasing comparison list and detailed computer construction checklist and make building a custom computer an easier task. Meanwhile, post a comment below if we've left out any important steps in preparing to build a custom computer.