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How to build your own PC: A complete step-by-step guide

Nathan Spendelow Ben Hardwidge
2 Aug 2018
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Whether you’re embarking on your first PC build or you’re a veteran, our in-depth PC building guide has something for everyone

If you’ve never looked inside a computer, building your own PC can be a rather daunting prospect. There are many bits and pieces you need to put together, and plenty of things to consider, but with a bit of research and planning PC building doesn’t need to be as complicated as you might expect.

By building your own PC, you’ll get a greater understanding of how everything works, so you might be less inclined to pick up the phone to an expensive technical support line the next time you run into any problems. What’s more, successfully putting together your first PC and booting it up is one of those satisfying moments no tech-loving person should miss.

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Whether you’re after a cutting-edge gaming system, a home theatre PC, or just something to write your emails on, we’ve got you covered. Even if you’ve built a system before, you’ll find handy tips and tricks that might not only save you frustration during your next build, but also help you create a cleaner, more polished PC.

What follows is a step-by-step guide that runs you through the process of putting your system together, so that, by the end, you’ll have a fully-working PC you can be proud of. 

How to build your own PC: Getting started

You might be tempted to dive right in and get your hands dirty, but it’s worth taking a few minutes before you start to make sure you have everything you need for a trouble-free build.

No. 2 Phillips/crosshead screwdriver: This is the tool you’ll be using the most, whether you’re securing the motherboard in place or simply tightening up thumbscrews on the side of the PC. Make sure to find a short one you can use in tight spaces, plus a long one that can reach between any components that are already mounted in your case.

Mini screwdrivers: You’ll need at least one of these for the smaller screws used on the mounting systems of CPU coolers and M.2 SSDs.

Cable ties: Get a big bag to keep your wires neatly tucked away. This allows adequate airflow and makes it easier to access components later.

How to build a PC: Components

Processor: The brains of your PC, manufactured by AMD or Intel and powering all its functions. We’ve picked AMD’s eight-core Ryzen 7 1700 chip for our build, which can currently be picked up for roughly £160.

Motherboard: Crucially, your motherboard must match your chosen processor’s socket and have a chipset that supports it. We’re using an MSI X370 ATX motherboard (£170).

Memory: You’ll need DDR4 dual-channel memory kits with two matched modules for the motherboard we mentioned above. Two DDR4 8GB Ballistix Sport LT’s are perfect for our build (£165).

CPU cooler: Your processor may come with one but there will be better models available that are quieter and more efficient. Check it’s compatible with your motherboard’s CPU socket and that you have enough room in your case. For our build, though, we went with AMD’s supplied CPU cooler.

Graphics: For an all-purpose PC, Intel’s integrated graphics will suffice. If you have an AMD CPU, or you want a PC for gaming, you’ll need a graphics card. We’re using an Asus Strix GTX 1070 Ti (£500) for our gaming PC, although you may be able to make do with something less extreme.

Storage: We recommend installing Windows 10 and other commonly used software on a solid state drive (SSD), while using a hard drive to store data, such as large program files. For our build, Toshiba’s 240GB A100 SSD offered the best value (£70). We’ve got it working with a 1TB Toshiba L200 HDD (£43).

Case: Make sure to buy the right size case for your build. We’re using a black NZXT H700i case (£188), which comes with a downloadable software utility that measures fan speeds and temperature levels, dynamically raising and lowering cooling intensity.

Power supply (PSU): A 550W model is fine for a standard PC with a CPU and single graphics card, while a 750W model (or above) allows for a more power-hungry dual-graphics setup. We’re using a 600W Corsair CX600M (£75).

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