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The hardest part in building your first computer is overcoming the fear of building your first computer. There's a huge misconception that you have to be a computer nerd and wear a pocket protector to build your own computer. That is not the case. Building your own computer can be rewarding on many levels and very exciting. Along with the sense of accomplishment and pride you'll feel in building your own computer, you'll also be better prepared to tackle any computer issues you may face in the future.
The first step in building a computer is doing a little computer part research. You probably think this would be a given, but believe me when I say that this is the most important step. You want to build a computer that will fit your needs for now and the future, so choosing the right parts is very important. There's sometimes a fine line between what you need, and what you can afford. By balancing those two objectives you can build a computer that will be both cost-effective and useful for years to come. A couple of websites that are great for computer technology research are: www.TomsHardware.com and www.NewEgg.com. The latter is a computer parts retailer, but features a helpful review system for each computer part that can aid you in making a buying decision that you'll ultimately be happy with. Also, if you're a computer novice, you'll want to look at some pictures of computer parts to get acclimated to what they look like, and how they correspond with each other.
Of course, none of this research will do you any good if you don't know what you're trying to accomplish with the computer you build. Do you intend to use it just for surfing the internet? Do you want to play the latest computer games? Or maybe you're into video editing? You should try to tailor your computer to what it's going to be used for. For example, for video editing or computer gaming you'll want to have a lot of RAM (2+ GB), hard drive space (250+ GB), and processor speed. If you're just going to use the computer for surfing the internet, then you won't have to spend as much money on RAM or the video card. Still, you should try to buy a somewhat fast processor and at least 512 MB of RAM (depending on your operating system you may want over 1 GB), even if the computer's primary purpose is just for you to putz around with.
After you've done a little research, it will finally be time to purchase the parts needed for building your computer. One of the best places to purchase your parts from is the aforementioned NewEgg.com, which offers some of the best prices around. Or, you may want to check out www.PriceWatch.com, which offers a directory listing of computer parts sorted by companies with the lowest price. Whether you decide to shop at NewEgg or another retailer, an invaluable website to check out is www.ResellerRatings.com, which offers consumer ratings of numerous online stores. The main parts needed for your new computer are:
- Computer case (with power supply)
- Processor (CPU)
- Hard drive
- Floppy drive
- System memory (RAM)
- Heatsink fan
- Case fans (not needed necessarily, but highly recommended)
- CD-rom drive
- Windows operating system(or other operating system)
Also, some motherboards come with on-board sound, video, and modem (which means that each device is integrated into the motherboard itself), but you'll probably want to opt to buy a standalone sound card and video card for better performance. The main thing to look at when choosing these parts is to make sure they're all compatible with each other. For instance, you want to make sure that your motherboard is compatible with the type of CPU and heatsink you choose. There are two main CPU brands: Intel and AMD. Both Intel and AMD make different types of processors that fit different types of motherboards. Don't worry, it's really not as confusing as it sounds. You'll just want to make sure that if you're buying an AMD Socket AM2 processor, that you buy a motherboard that's a Socket AM2 board. The description of each product will give you the information you need to be able to tell if it's compatible or not. After choosing a compatible motherboard and CPU, you'll want to make sure you choose a heatsink fan that'll fit your CPU. The heatsink fan is a device that connects to the motherboard and covers the CPU, while absorbing the heat from the CPU and cooling it down. The importance of a heatsink cannot be overstated, without one your CPU would be toast within a matter of seconds.
Other than the CPU and heatsink, most of the computer parts are compatible with any type of configuration you choose. Just to be sure, you'll want to look at the description of your motherboard to make sure it has all the features and ports you want and need. Since every part of your new computer connects to the motherboard, it can sometimes be seen as the most influential piece of the computer building process.