Ten Steps to Building Your First Computer

Geek!This is Joel Parker’s submission for the HP Magic Giveaway. Feel free to leave comments for this article as you see fit – your feedback is certainly welcomed! If you’d like to submit your own how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are not necessarily my own:

Step 1

What user category do you fit in? Questions to ask yourself:

  1. What will I use my computer for?
  2. What is my budget?

After answering those questions it’ll make this next step really easy. You have three basic user categories to choose from, so it shouldn’t be too hard to choose.

  • Mainstream – Mostly anyone not wanting to game or do any kind of rendering. (budget: $250-$600)
  • Gamer – Those guys that go to LAN parties regularly and spend late nights on the computer. You guys know who you are. 😉 (budget: $600-$2000)
  • Enthusiast – They are crazy. They enjoy spending money on the top of the line products for benchmarks, gaming and high end rendering. (budget: $2000+)

Step 2

Which reseller should you choose for the parts? If you’re going by trust, reliability and fast shipping, here’s a few main choices:


  • http://ebuyer.com

My favorite reseller has to be Newegg.com. Newegg has been my favorite for a few years now just because of it’s awesome customer service, amount of products and cheap shipping cost.

Step 3

Choosing the parts – this is the hardest step for the entire build, no joke. You have to take in consideration your budget, your user category and the reviews of the product(s).

5 tips for choosing the parts for you:

  1. Choose name brands. (ASUS, HIS, XFX, crucial, etc)
  2. Make sure the products have 4-5 star ratings. (If they aren’t at least 4 stars, find out why and move on)
  3. Cheapest and/or most expensive isn’t always the best choice.
  4. Make sure all of your parts are compatible. The best way to find that out is to look at the motherboard specs.
  5. Make sure you are choosing the parts for you and your user category. If not, you will loose your budget.

The next 5 steps explain which components to look for depending on your user category.

Step 4

Search Google for “Power Supply Calculator”. This will determine your choice of correct wattage. This list will show how much wattage you will need for each user category:

  • Mainstream = 100w-500w
  • Gamer = 500w-800w
  • Enthusiast = 800w+

Step 5

Motherboard/CPU – These two components are the most important choices for the entire build. Make sure you read all 5 tips on the 3rd step! Here are the things to look for in a motherboard and CPU, depending on your user category:


  • 2+ SATA ports
  • 2-3 PCI slots
  • Onboard graphics and onboard audio
  • 1.6GHz-2.6GHz dual-core or single-core CPU

  • 2+ SATA ports
  • 2 PCI slots
  • 2-3 PCI-e 2.0 slots
  • Your choice of onboard audio or a high definition PCI slot audio card
  • 2.6GHz-3.2GHz dual-core or quad-core CPU

  • 6+ SATA ports
  • 1+ PCI slot(s)
  • 3 PCI-e 2.0 slots
  • 1+ PCI-e x4 slot(s)
  • High Definition PCI slot audio card
  • 3.2GHz quad-core CPU

Step 6

Graphics Card – Here we are, choosing the core to your powerhouse machine. What should you pick? Well it’s really up to you and it really depends on the year I will give you some choices based on the here and now: (this step doesn’t really apply to the user category “Mainstream”, so you guys can skip on along to step 7.)


  • ATI (CrossfireX) – 4870, 4850
  • NVIDIA (SLI) – 9800 GTX+, 9800 GTX, 9800 G92, 9800GT


  • ATI (CrossfireX) – 4870×2, 4850×2, 4870
  • NVIDIA (SLI) – 280, 260 core 216, 9800 GTX+

Step 7

The memory and the HDD is one of the easiest decisions out of the whole build. But really this is all totally up to you, just remember your budget.

  • Mainstream – RAM: 2GB-4GB, HDD: 80GB-160GB
  • Game – RAM: 4GB-8GB, HDD: 160GB-320GB
  • Enthusiast – RAM: 8GB+, HDD: 320GB-1.5TB

Step 8

Rom Drives/Case – These components are the shell of your computer.


  • Case sizes: MicroATX, Mid-Tower ATX
  • Rom Drives: CD/DVD burner combo drive (everyone should have one of these)


  • Case sizes: Mid-Tower ATX, Full-Tower ATX
  • Rom Drives: CD/DVD burner combo drive, Blueray Reader drive


  • Case sizes: Full-Tower ATX
  • Rom Drives: CD/DVD burner combo drive, Blueray burner/reader drive

Step 9

Building your computer – Once you’ve chosen all of your computer parts. You’re probably asking yourself, How do I put all of these parts together into a computer? Well, the only way to find that out is Google, YouTube and your motherboard manual. Believe me, it’s really simple. I’d go on to say it’s almost like building a complex Lego creation.

Search for “How to build a computer” in any major search engine and you will get tons of results on how to do it. Good luck and have fun!

Step 10

Should I overclock? Well, it totally depends on what parts you chose and if you want to take the risk. I recommend you checking out the overclocking community over at http://overclock.net for more info on the subject. And if you wish, join http://geeks.pirillo.com for a whole community with overclockers, gamers and computer builders!