Our last article about the incredible hobby of PC building was a brief introduction into how it got started, as well as some starter information on processors, motherboards, and cooling. We're going to delve in a little further with this entry, outlining some more information about your hardware selections including the ever-important graphics card. If you haven't read part 1 of our basics of PC building guide, be sure to stop by and take a look. If you're ready to move on to part 2, click to read more.
So you've got your motherboard and processor selected, now it's time to find something to put them in. This will be your case or enclosure. This element of your new custom PC will allow you the most leeway in creativity, with veteran builders often times creating their own custom cases to showcase their engineering prowess. If you're just getting started, you will probably want to purchase a case rather than crafting your own, and this is still a big decision with many choices available. Your motherboard will mount inside the interior of the case, often times raised on brass offsets. Be sure to have measurements of all of your hardware to allow plenty of room for everything in your case! You will also need to consider how many drives you will be using (Just one? Are you getting a SSD for your system and a HDD for storage?), the size of your graphics card (These things, especially the top of the line ones, can be huge!), and how many fans you will need based on your cooling method chosen. You want to allow room for easy air flow through your components for proper cooling, as well as the fans to allow this. Some cases come with a primary fan installed already, but others do not and you will likely still want to install more. You can also choose to have some open-air elements of your case, but this does open up your new PC to possible damage from environmental issues such as moisture, wear-and-tear such as spills, and so on. We recommend seeking out reviews of cases and enclosures with your motherboard and cooling solution to make the best possible decision.
For your gaming performance, arguably the biggest decision to make is which graphics card to go with. Much like with the processor choice, you have two major manufacturers here to go with: AMD or nVidia. Fans of each manufacturer will tell you how much better one is over the other, but the truth is that these two companies produce great hardware and the advantage varies slightly and often. nVidia's biggest and baddest offerings for consumer PC gaming come in their GTX series, while AMD offers their Radeon series for avid gamers and PC builders. There are variations within these card lines, offering different levels of performance at different prices. There's a lot to consider here, as the biggest and the best cards will be very expensive and you could end up paying for horsepower you're not going to use. What games do you plan on playing? Do you want to run your games at 4K resolution at the highest framerates? Are you interested in VR gaming? You're probably not going to need a GTX 1080 to play League of Legends, but you're also not going to run the newest AAA titles at 4K and 60+ frames per second with outdated hardware. These are all questions that you will need to answer before deciding on which graphics card to go with. Once you have decided, you will need to ensure that your rig can support it with your power supply, or PSU.
You're going to need some serious power for your new rig, and this is where you choose your PSU. Power supplies are available in a ton of variations in wattage in order to supply sufficient juice to your powerhouse parts, and of course there are variances in price as well. Be sure to get your specs from your hardware before making this decision, as insufficient or incorrect power can damage hardware. Also, most power supplies come in a standard size to fit most cases, but it never hurts to take measurements to ensure that everything will fit nice and neat. Once you have made your choice to meet the power needs of your gear, you will need to connect it. Pretty much everything that will use power will require a connection to the PSU, and there will be no shortage of wires coming from it. There will be a ton of connections that need to be run to your motherboard, but many of these are clearly labeled on the board itself. These will include your fan power, your CPU and heat sink, as well as other components. You will also need to connect any drives you may be using, as well as your graphics card. These will have dedicated lines from your PSU, and will be easy to connect into place. Once again, make 100% sure that your power supply is rated appropriately for your hardware!
We've still got tons of territory to cover, so keep your eyes peeled for part 3 of our crash course in PC building. You still need to select your RAM, review your storage drives, and build everything and get ready for your first boot and OS installation. We hope that you've enjoyed what we've provided so far, and happy building!