Short Reflection on the Past
I remember when I was a child and first looked inside the belly of a PC tower; taking in the green circuit board, the RAM sticks, the power supply and all the other things I had no idea about. I was curious. I wanted to know how all the parts worked, but there was not really anyone or anything that could have helped me understand more about the subject. I’m talking about pre-YouTube and Pre-Wikipedia era. I’m talking about a time when the internet was starting to become popular but it was not yet as common as having cable TV. I’m talking about the 90s. I thought about building my own computer, but for those very same reasons it was impossible for me at the time. If someone wanted to get into electronics they had to know someone else that could teach them, or you were out of luck.
Oh, how times have changed! All the information you need is just clicks away and all you need is some time and dedication to make it work. I decided to challenge myself and try to build a PC based solely on the materials I could find online. I started by watching videos about how to install the hardware, how to pick out the right parts to avoid compatibility issues and, of course, cable management.
But Whimsy, why would I build a PC when I can buy one?
For me, by far the most appealing reason behind it is the control I get over the machine. Even though I never built my own computer before, I’m very much used to trying to fix them. If my parents’ computer has any kind of problem, I’m the first person they are going to call. I’m pretty sure many of you guys can relate to this issue (automatic Windows updates, cough, cough). In the past, I mostly dealt with software relate issues, viruses, and basic maintenance, so on top of these getting a deeper understanding of what goes on inside the case is much desirable. Imagine not having to take your machine to someone else to fix it. Wouldn’t that be awesome?
The second most important reason is learning a new set of skills. By the time you make it to actually start building, you probably have done some considerable amount of research. What you learned stays with you, and you can’t measure the value of the knowledge that you gained from it. If anything, it’s a good conversation starter.
The entire process is a great confidence builder exercise. There is nothing more precious then turning on your computer for the first time to see the blinking lights and spinning fans. Your heart will melt into a bloody little puddle.
Resources and Getting Started
This guide was absolutely invaluable to me. It is divided into five lessons that break down each part of the building process from selecting the parts to installing the operating system. It gives a good, overall understanding and provides a foundation that the readers can build on by doing more research on their own.
Next, I set out to get the parts and put the actual build together. My main resource for this was Partpicker, a website that helps you create your own build by matching compatible parts together. You can save your build, change it, share it with others, and even look at what other people did. This was proven to be very useful. There are quite a lot of builds published so if you feel lazy you can just pick one that you like and give it a try. There are usually comments under each build posted by community members, and I found them very useful. The members are eager to help and they provide constructive criticism on how to make the builds better and help troubleshoot issues that you may encounter. The site also lists a number of vendors with price comparison in order to help you pick out the lowest prices. I ordered most of the parts from Newegg because it was the most convenient for me. I didn’t want to register on five different websites, and most of the prices were similar anyway. I also got free shipping for almost everything, as they were bundled together.
I received everything in a relatively short time, my first package arrived in 2 days, which I could not believe, and everything else followed shortly after. At this point, it is important to note that you should check the content of each package, even if you don’t have all the parts yet, just to make sure nothing is missing.
After I gathered all the parts, it was time to put it all together. Before I started anything, I spent some time watching videos about installing the hardware inside the case. There are tons of videos like these, but I found myself returning to LinusTechTips. I enjoyed watching a variety of the videos and the longer 30-45 min ones were especially useful because they showed step by step installation.
These were the main resources I relied on for getting started. Join me next week to see how I put everything together and what I learned from the process!