If you want to build a computer lab in your home, you will need to start with a personal computer. But with so many ways to get good computers these days, you’ll need to make a decision:
Are you buying a pre-built computer? Or do you buy your own parts and build the computer with your own hands?
Over the past 10 years, I’ve made both choices, so I’m in a great position to guide you through the process. Let’s talk about what you’ll need to build your own, and what it’s like to order a pre-built PC online, which I recommend.
What do you need to build your own gaming PC?
Building a computer is hard work, but it can be very rewarding. It gives you complete control over the process, and makes your computer look like your own creation. It makes upgrading your computer easier, too, because you know exactly how each piece and part fits together.
Speaking of the parts, let’s start with everything you need to build a complete PC and be able to test it yourself:
- Processor (CPU)
- Processed cooler
- Multiple memory (RAM) cards
- hard disk
- graphics card (GPU)
- power supply (PSU)
- thermal paste
- screw driver
- Anti-static wrist strap (optional, but recommended)
- A copy of Windows (or another operating system)
For the parts, I recommend PCPartPicker. It’s a great resource for beginners and will let you compare different parts so you can get exactly what you want (and will also tell you if any of your parts aren’t compatible with each other). You can also take the checklist above and buy individual parts from an online retailer like Amazon, or get them at a local store like Micro Center.
When going into this process, you need to know that computers are complex and fickle. A wrong step can cause problems when trying to turn on your computer for testing. And if you’re not careful about static buildup, you could accidentally end up frying one of your expensive ingredients.
This process takes hours of focus and precision. If this is your first time, I recommend bringing a trusted friend with you – especially if they’ve made a computer before.
For the build process, you’ll want a flat surface and an iPad, laptop, or phone so you can watch a tutorial. The best way to build a computer is with an accompanying video that shows you exactly what you do and the order of your operations.
The above video by ECPU is a great tool for beginners. They start by detailing the parts and why they are important before moving on to the actual construction. There are also timestamps in the video that are easy to skip. I love this tutorial from PC Centric too.
It’s worth noting that all PC designs differ slightly depending on which parts you select. If you’re struggling with a part that the person in your tutorial video doesn’t have, try reading the instructions or – even better – finding a video with your case, motherboard, or processor.
How do you get a custom PC pre-built?
Outside of building your own computer, you can either buy a pre-built device that comes out of the box at a store like Best Buy, or you can customize one at an online storefront like iBuyPower. The first can be good, but I recommend you buy a custom one.
All you have to do is go to the iBuyPower website (there are many websites like this one, like CyberPowerPC) and open their PC customizer. You can select your parts from a long list and even test how to run the default build of popular modern games like elden ring.
As long as all your parts fit together – it will warn you if the graphics card you want is too big for your case, for example – you can check. Then, an expert will assemble your parts for you, build the PC, and ship it to your home. All you have to do when it arrives is remove the strange and giant packed peanuts inside the can and connect it.
It’s all very convenient, and it also made the massive financial burden of a new computer so much easier for me to swallow. I was able to purchase my iBuyPower PC using the Affirm Partnership included with the site. Affirm managed my balance and gave me a cheap price and 12 month payment plan. Overall, I paid an extra $189 for my $2,324 PC, but it was well worth it for being able to upgrade my old desktop a full year ago.
If you have cash on hand – or a really good credit card – you can of course buy everything up front. But if the cost of a PC is your biggest obstacle, getting a custom may make things easier if you go the route you took with monthly payments.
What do I recommend?
Over the 10 years of using construction machinery, I’ve never had a major problem during one of my buildings. I’ve never fried anything, and my computer always boots up on the first or second try. Many talented PC builders I know have had no luck, but I’ve had great experiences. I really enjoyed the process, and originally imagined it would be something I would do every few years for the rest of my life.
However, after multiple builds and upgrades – plus a pandemic – I wanted to try something simple and easy. I wanted a design perfect for work and play, and that’s exactly what I got from the custom PC I got in 2021. I still picked out all my parts, but didn’t have to do any of the work. Most importantly, I was able to pay for the computer over a year rather than paying up front, which has been really helpful for my family during the pandemic.
When I get a new computer several years from now, I’ll buy a dedicated one again, without a doubt. It’s simpler in almost every sense of the word, and I had an excellent experience with iBuyPower. However, I still really appreciate the experience I had building previous PCs. I know how they tick, and I will eventually be able to upgrade my existing PC because I know how to carefully install PC parts.
If this is your first computer and you love to learn, you will really appreciate the experience of doing it yourself. However, if you really want to play with your friends or take advantage of Steam sales, buying a custom build is the simplest way to get into PC games. It’s fast, easy, easy and it just works.
#build #computer #give #buy