Do you plan to do a DIY build, upgrade, or repair your computer? Before you start buying computer components, you need to consider a few things first.
Three-quarters or over 164 million adults in the US play video games. Most of them find that building a computer is a great hobby since built computers are more flexible. Like playing video games, building computers can be fulfilling and satisfying, too.
Upgrading or building a computer isn’t like replacing a lost phone charger. There are some things you need to be more aware of when you start shopping for computer components. In the guide below, we’ve got a list of 12 things to look for when you buy computer parts.
Keep reading to learn what they are and why you need them.
1. Learn How to Pick the Right Parts
Whether you’re planning to upgrade, repair, or build a computer, you need to know how to choose the correct parts. Computers are very complex machines with unique components.
Each manufacturer creates components that may only work with specific parts. For example, not all RAM will be compatible with your motherboard.
2. Is the Price Right for Your Budget?
One advantage of building a PC is that it’s more cost-effective than buying a pre-built computer. The same applies if you only need to perform simple computer repair.
However, while we say it’s cheaper, building and upgrading a PC can still feel expensive. For example, when you’re having issues with your computer, one solution is to replace the processor or CPU. In the market, a brand new CPU alone can cost you anywhere between $200 and $1000 or more.
Before you buy, make sure you know your budget and if it’s enough to get you the part you need.
3. Check for Compatibility Between the Computer Components
When you build or upgrade a PC, always make sure that the components are all compatible with each other. Before you buy, do your research on whether the parts that you plan to buy are compatible with what you have. Otherwise, you’ll be wasting money and time on buying parts that won’t even fit together.
For example, many components of a PC are backward and forwards compatible. It means you can pair them up with components of older and newer models. Although most motherboards are like this, it’s best you check if the parts match with one another.
4. Research and Read
The best thing about living in this time is that information is free, available, and easy to access. Don’t waste your opportunities to do extensive research. Open your resource pool to online guides, blog posts, video tutorials, and forums.
The Reddit threads called BuildAPC and BuildAPCForMe are excellent places to start. You can also sift through forums created by manufacturers, tech review sites, and more.
Don’t forget one crucial step: read the manual, too.
There’s no use asking about the best way to do a computer upgrade if you don’t open the manual. Not all the information you need is available online. Yet, the manual holds basic details, including the specifics, especially installing the motherboard.
5. Find Out What You Can and Can’t Buy Used
Building a PC can take a lot out of your finances. You may get tempted to buy second-hand parts so you can save money. A few parts that you can buy as second-hand include:
- Graphics card
- PC case
- Power supply (depending on rating and brand)
- Coolers (except liquid coolers)
However, you’re better off buying certain computer parts brand new. Those computer components include hard drives, SSDs, and peripherals like keyboards and mice. Check out these desktop deals if you prefer brand new computers.
Some components that you can get as used or brand new include monitors and motherboards. When you consider used items, make sure all parts work well before paying for them. For example, a motherboard may work well, but individual parts of it can fail.
6. Know What You Want
It’s not enough to know that you want to build a PC. You also need to know what you’re looking for in the PC you want to build. Consider the things that you plan to do once you finish building the PC.
At the end of 2020, 71% of employed adults did their work from their homes using home computers. Will you use your PC to edit videos, graphic design, or other heavy-resource work? Or will you use it for simpler processes, like study research and making simple documents?
Do you want a computer that you can overclock? Or a computer that you can use for playing resource-hungry video games? Knowing what you want and what you need narrows your options for PC components.
7. Consider Your Overclocking Needs
Overclocking isn’t a necessary action when you use your PC. However, if you want to overclock your PC, make sure you look for the right processor. Certain processors or locked CPUs can’t handle overclocking.
Overclockable processors often are those that remain relevant longer. They are high-end models and cost more than the average processor. You will also need a powerful CPU cooler and motherboards that can catch up with your CPU.
8. Look for the Right Motherboard Chipset
Everything in your PC connects to the motherboard, so it must have the right chipset. Some chipsets offer extra features, ports, or better quality. If you want to get an affordable one, cheaper chipsets are often those with fewer features.
A good rule of thumb is to always match your processor with a motherboard of the same generation. Most motherboards on the same socket are backward and forwards compatible. This means it’ll be easy to match them up as long as you purchase the components of the same generation.
It’s best to double-check whether you have the right processor-motherboard combination.
9. Consider How You’ll Manage Your Cables and Ventilation
A PC with messy wiring can cause overheating due to poor ventilation. If you want your PC to last longer, organize your cables with Velcro strips and twist ties.
Good cable management also allows you to dust and clean your PC with more ease. Don’t forget to make sure you route the cables to their respective ports while avoiding clutter.
10. Assess Your Computer Use
How do you plan to use the computer you’re building? Are you building a PC because you want to know what it’s like to build a PC? Some people are only after the experience and will often sell the PCs they built.
If you’re only after the PC-building experience and don’t care for its caliber, you can use cheap parts. However, if you plan to sell it as a gaming PC after you build it, you may as well get quality components.
Are you the type of person who wants to use the PC for heavy-duty use?
Playing video games is the common thing people do on the PCs they built. After all, video games are remarkable for developing emotional awareness and de-stressing. You may also plan to use the PC for other heavy-duty actions like video editing or graphic design.
11. Seek Expert Help
If you’re new to the PC-building world, everything you see and read may feel overwhelming. Our tip for you is to take it one step at a time. Start from the basics, and as you learn more, you’ll get exposed to the best models and brands out there.
If you still find it difficult to understand where components stay and why they stay that way, talk to an expert. You may have a friend who is a PC enthusiast. You can also talk to a professional who can recommend which parts to buy and avoid.
12. Get Ready to Troubleshoot for Many Hours
Finally, don’t think that the journey stops once you buy a computer component. You still need to check the component if it fits right into the puzzle that your computer case contains. After you fit all the hardware together, you need to check if they work once you turn on the computer.
Sometimes, it doesn’t always work after the first press of the power button. You may have missed or miscalculated something when connecting the components. Until you’re sure that everything functions as it should, which can take hours and hours, your work isn’t over yet.
Shop for the Right and Best Computer Components Today
These are the twelve things to consider when you’re shopping for computer components. We hope you learned something from our guide to buying computer components. Be sure to list down everything you need to have a complete computer setup.
Do you want to keep reading about computers or computer parts? We have other content offering the Dos and Don’ts of building a PC and such. Check out our other guides now for content on computers, building them, and more.