If you were offered the choice between buying a PC that meets all of your particular needs or one that only meets some of them, which would you opt for?
For most people it would be a no-brainer, which is why it really is worth customising your PC by buying separate components. And the best part is that you don’t need to be a hardware guru to get what you want.
The reality is that preconfigured machines may only tick some of your requirements and those left unchecked will bug you for the remainder of your time with the product.
As a lifelong desktop enthusiast, I’ve learnt that you achieve true value for money by choosing your components, as with 3D printing, allowing you to shape the experience you desire.
Whether you have a particular budget or need your machine to fit within a designated space, you can tailor your PC to suit your specific needs.
For example, if you know that you like to play games at a certain fluidity, you might invest more heavily in your graphics card and monitor rather than spending too much on storage.
I believe in the simple principle that form follows function so when going the route of customisation, you first need to decide what you want to do. No matter how much (or how little) you know about hardware, your reseller should be able to select the hardware you need based on your description of what you want.
And the more you do understand about hardware the better as you’ll be able to relate to the reseller exactly what the core of your experience needs to be. For instance, if you game, you might request a gaming rig centred on a specific graphics card. The rest of your machine can then be put together based on your lesser needs and wants.
Because of the sheer range of components available out there, it would be difficult to develop a “cookie cutter” approach to building your machine.
I usually like to start out with a check list of the necessary hardware, using the following sequence: chassis, power supply, motherboard, processor, cooling, memory, storage, graphics card, software and finally the peripherals.
Each component that you use to build your PC will have its own compatibility requirements.
For example, if you want to build your PC using the latest I7 Processor, you’ll need to be aware that it fits into a specific socket type.
Finding a board that can accommodate that socket type would then be your next priority. The board you end up choosing may be one of many different variations available out there, so you’ll need to check that all of its specifications meet your other needs.
Depending on these requirements, you might select your graphics card next. Most consumer-grade motherboards will have at least one PCI Express slot in which you’ll be able to insert your card.
You’ll then continue to assemble the different components on your list, depending on the required compatibilities. Making use of vendor websites and taking note of key compatibility tokens will also help you to be more confident in your purchase.
Pay close attention to these components
Components that you’ll need to give a bit of extra thought include the chassis. A well-designed case will give you the freedom to build your machine without any obstacles. It should also allow for simple cable management and airflow – which is particularly important in a country with a warm climate like South Africa.
You should consider your purchase of a monitor carefully as well. Bear in mind that you’ll be staring at your monitor for long periods of time and a bad product can do damage to your health. There is a range of more “health conscious” products out there which you might want to look at despite the difference in price.
Choosing peripherals is another task that can be tricky because of the unlimited amount of product available. For example, when choosing a mouse you might first want to answer questions like: what kind of games you play, the kind of work you do, the environment you’ll be using your mouse in, the size of your hands and your desk space.
Use trusted ratings
When it comes to choosing quality graphics and processors, the most trusted ratings to rely on are hardware benchmarks. These scores are based on the machine’s performance while running software that was specifically designed to put it through its paces.
Hardware benchmarks are the lifeblood of high-performance computing and can be separated into the following categories: graphics card, memory, processor and storage-based benchmarks.
Relevant scores should be easy to find online and will assist you greatly in choosing hardware that performs well, giving you peace of mind about your purchase.
The more you shop around the easier it will get and the more you’ll start to enjoy the building process.