Saturday, June 9, 2012

Building Your Own Computer

You may recall that I've had trouble with my lemon computer--it's left such a bad taste in my mouth, so bad, in fact, that I will probably never shop at Worst Buy (because it definitely wasn't best) again. After a year of struggling, repairs, lots of money, and much frustration, we finally decided it was time to build our own computer.

Of course, we're not experts, but we learned a lot of things along the way. The essential pieces of a computer are as follows:

  • A Case - You'll want one that's roomy, with lots of ventilation, a dust filter, and its own fans. It also helps if you can take off both sides of the case (it helps with the wiring).
  • A Motherboard - There are tons of them out there; the important thing is that it's compatible with the other pieces you buy.
  • A Processor - The CPU (Central Processing Unit, for the tech impaired) is, as its name implies, the center of your computer. It's a fragile little chip. Putting that piece onto the motherboard is scary business. You don't want to put any pressure on it, lest you bend or break the pins underneath.
  • A Hard Disk Drive - This is where your computer stores information and programs, so you want one with lots of room. (You can also get what's called a solid-state drive, which performs the same function--but it's much faster. It's the difference between a game cartridge, which loads instantly, and a game disc, which takes some time to read. They're small and expensive, though.)
  • RAM sticks - RAM stands for random-access memory. It stores stuff that's being actively used. More memory is better. We have two plugged in, though you can also get sets of four.
  • Graphics/Video Card - A lot of  motherboards come with what's called "on-board" video, but if you're gaming, you're going to want one anyway. Ours makes Mass Effect run smooth and   look gorgeous. ;)
  • An Optical Drive - That is, if you want to be able to read CDs. I'm guessing you do.
  • A Power Supply - This is where a lot of pre-built computers skimp, but it's the thing that gets power where it needs to go, so it's pretty darn important. It's better to have a modulated one, so that you're not stuck with a bunch of random cords... unfortunately ours is not.
It's actually a pretty simple thing, when you think about it, although the first build takes a few hours. It's mostly just putting in tiny screws and routing wires. And it's messy.

Ours is a Frankenstein's monster--we stole a few safe parts from the lemon, so there are pieces from that one lying around, too.

We got some help from Newegg tutorials while doing ours, so we didn't end up breaking something or putting something in the wrong place. I'm typing on our new build now--my husband suggested calling it Genesis. A fitting name for our first creation! It's working beautifully. :D



  1. I can't believe you're making a computer!

    I didn't even know you could make one without uh, a factory I guess.

    Thanks for this post! It's quite remarkable what you can do with knowledge.

    Are you going to put up a pic of the final product?

    1. It's already finished, but I don't think a picture of it would be that exciting. The box is just a big black thing with holes all over it, and the inside is just a giant mess of fans and zip-tied wires.

  2. Virtual high-five! We built a computer! :D We definitely earned a level up from this one.