Building a custom PC has become much more than a hobby for many people. The main reason behind that is the sheer range of variety available for each PC component which gives you the advantage of choosing the perfect parts for your system and getting the performance you want. On top of that, building a custom PC also allows you to cut corners in a lot of aspects which is not an option with a pre-build PC or a laptop. Therefore, almost everyone who wants a gaming system or a high-end PC decides to use the custom PC build route.
But with that being said, you should also know that building a custom PC is a lot easier said than done. There are tons of things to think about before you can even start collecting parts for your system, such as your applicability, needs, and the performance you are expecting from the build. Therefore we have decided to create this guide where we can discuss the steps to build a custom PC, the average time it takes for one to build one, and the potential problems that you may come across while doing so. So, we will suggest reading our guide until the end to understand the process thoroughly.
- Factors To Consider Before Building a Custom PC
- What Components Do You Need For A PC Build?
- Basic Timeline of A PC Build
- PC Build – FAQs
Factors To Consider Before Building a Custom PC
Before we discuss the crucial process of building a custom PC, let us first take a look at some important factors that you should know about before you begin your search for the parts. These are some handy points to keep in mind so that you can easily estimate the average amount of time you will need to build a PC as well as the expenses that await you. By considering factors like research, delivery time, and troubleshooting, you can also get an idea about whether your PC could be built or not within a particular frame of time.
Research is probably the most crucial part of the custom PC building process since you cannot even get started with the process until you have enough information about the market availability as well as the range of options available for you. Research is especially important right now since almost every brand continues to develop multiple options for each component, whether it is a motherboard, RAM, CPU, GPU, or even storage drive. So, you should always start with the research part before you decide what components you want in your PC.
The research part should also include comparing multiple options to find out which one suits your needs the best. This makes it a lot easier to choose the perfect option under your budget. Other than that, you also need to consider the compatibility of different components with one another to maintain a stable PC performance. Researching the performance on the other hand can help you choose the best ones for your specific needs. For example, if you plan to use your PC for gaming, you’ll want to choose a graphics card that can handle the latest games at high frame rates.
2. Delivery Time
Nowadays, going to a hardware store to pick up a bag full of boxes containing PC components is getting pretty old-fashioned. Alternatively, you can now order everything you need to build your custom PC online and have it delivered to our doorstep. And to compete with renowned online suppliers, many local hardware chains have also started direct home delivery of components which is also a pretty good idea, in case you wish to have easier access to returns and repairs if something goes wrong.
But, it also comes with the disadvantage of unknown delivery time or unexpected delays in shipment. So, it is important to know the estimated delivery time of components for planning the timeline of the build. If a key component, such as a motherboard or processor, has a longer delivery time than others, it may delay the entire build process altogether. By understanding the estimated delivery times, you can plan for any delays and adjust your timeline accordingly.
Building a custom PC, while being a rewarding and satisfying experience, can also come with potential issues that you may encounter during the process. While some of these issues are quite minuscule and can be resolved after a single Google search, you may need to extend the timeline of your build because of some major inconvenience in the process. One of the most common issues when building a custom PC is compatibility issues between components. Different components, such as motherboards, processors, and graphics cards, may have different specifications and may not work well together if they are incompatible. If that happens to be your case, your only option would be to replace the components and wait until the new components arrive.
Installation of the components can also be challenging. If not done properly, it can result in errors or even damage to the component or the PC itself. It’s important to follow the instructions carefully and double-check everything to avoid any installation errors. We will also recommend you to go to a professional if this is your first time building a PC and you are spending a fortune on the components.
One of the main reasons behind a lot of buyers choosing to build a custom PC instead of buying a pre-built unit is apparent from the name itself, customization. The options available for customizing your PC builds are simply as vivid as your imagination. Therefore, you will continue to see new and fresh designs for a custom-built PC, even though this is nothing new. Building a custom PC allows you to tailor the components to your specific needs and preferences. Whether you’re a gamer, content creator, or general user, you can choose components that are optimized for your particular use case. So, you can create a combination of the best components you need for your system and easily get the performance you want.
Also, customizing your PC allows you to create a unique look and feel. From the case to the lighting to the cable management, you can personalize every aspect of your PC to match your style. To make it possible, many case manufacturers have designed special models for customization. These models are usually plain white boxes made out of a heavy-duty material that you can customize in any way you want. Some advanced choices also have digital displays and interactive panels for further customization and visual improvements.
5. Cable Management
Cable management is something that a lot of PC builders seem to miss out on. While it may be a tedious and tiresome task, we can assure you that proper cable management inside your cabinet is as important as the installation of the components itself. Proper cable management can improve airflow within the PC case. By organizing the cables and keeping them out of the way of fans and other components, you can reduce airflow restrictions and improve cooling. This can help prevent overheating and extend the lifespan of your components.
Good cable management also makes it easier to perform maintenance on your PC. By organizing the cables and keeping them neat and tidy, you can easily access and replace components without having to navigate through a tangle of cables. Another benefit of proper cable management is that you get much better aesthetics on your PC. By organizing the cables and keeping them out of sight, you can create a cleaner and more professional look. This can be especially important if you plan on showcasing your PC or using it for professional purposes.
6. Water Cooling
Water cooling is a method of cooling the components of a PC using a liquid coolant, typically water. While it was not as popular before, the new lineup of powerful PC components also brings the disadvantage of added heat generation which somewhat creates the need for a water-cooled system. Water cooling can provide better cooling performance than traditional air cooling. This is because water has a higher heat capacity than air, which means it can absorb more heat from the components. Additionally, water cooling can allow for more efficient heat dissipation, as the coolant can be circulated through a larger area of the radiator than a heatsink.
Eliminating mechanical fans from your system also makes your system a lot quieter. Fans can be noisy, especially if they need to run at high speeds to provide sufficient cooling. Water cooling systems, on the other hand, typically have larger radiators and slower-moving fans, which can provide the necessary cooling while operating at lower noise levels. And with the added heat dissipation, water cooling can also allow for more aggressive overclocking of components. Overclocking refers to running a component at a higher speed than its rated speed, which can improve performance but also generates more heat.
7. RGB Lighting
RGB lighting or illumination is one of the core features of any custom-built PC nowadays. And rightfully so since it brings a whole new visual aspect to your custom PC, making it stand out of the crowd. It can provide a unique and visually striking look that sets your PC apart from others. With RGB lighting, you can customize the color, intensity, and pattern of the lighting to match your personal style. And you also have a lot of options to implement the illumination in your system. You can get a case or components with built-in RGB illumination for an effortless setup. Or you can create your own visual design by using RGB LED strips with remote control for customization.
Apart from the visual aspect, you can also pair the RGB lights with the integral components or the feedback you are getting with the monitoring software to give it a more practical approach. For example, it can be used to highlight certain components or provide visual cues for system status or temperature. With a wide range of software and hardware tools, you can create complex lighting effects that are synchronized with other components in your PC, such as fans or liquid cooling systems. This can create a cohesive and impressive lighting experience.
While you are spending time on other factors, make sure that you do not compromise on the airflow inside your case. If you want your PC components to have a longer life expectancy, then it is crucial to offer an ample amount of airflow inside the cabinet. Proper airflow helps to keep temperatures within safe limits, which can extend the lifespan of the components. Good airflow can also help to reduce noise levels in a PC. When components get too hot, fans need to work harder to provide sufficient cooling, which can result in increased fan noise. Proper airflow allows fans to operate at lower speeds, which can reduce overall noise levels.
Apart from the noise and performance, adequate airflow can also help to manage dust buildup in a PC. Dust can accumulate on components over time, which can reduce cooling performance and increase the risk of component failure. Proper airflow can help to remove dust uniformly from the system or prevent it from building up in the first place.
What Components Do You Need For A PC Build?
Now that you are ready to start your custom PC-building journey, let us dive into the list of components that you need to assemble your PC from scratch. These components are the least necessities for a computer without which you cannot have a finished PC build. So, it is important to know the importance of each of these parts and why you should take your time in picking up the perfect option for each of these components.
When building a custom PC, choosing the right processor is important as it determines the capacity and compatibility of the system. A more powerful processor can handle more tasks at once and perform them more quickly than a less powerful one. The choice of processor will also impact other aspects of the system, such as the amount of RAM and the type of motherboard that can be used.
When selecting a processor, there are several factors to consider, including clock speed, number of cores, cache size, power consumption, and others. Clock speed refers to how many instructions the processor can execute per second, while the number of cores determines how many tasks the processor can handle simultaneously. The cache size is also an important factor which refers to the amount of high-speed memory that the processor uses to store frequently accessed data.
The motherboard is one of the primary components you will need when building a custom PC, as it serves as the foundation for all the other components to connect and communicate with each other. In fact, it is pretty much impossible to start a custom PC build before you accumulate a motherboard that can support all other components of your choice. It is a large circuit board that contains various connectors, slots, and sockets for components such as the CPU, RAM, graphics card, storage devices, and other peripherals.
The choice of motherboard is crucial when building a custom PC as it will determine the compatibility, expandability, and overall performance of the system. A motherboard that is not compatible with certain components can lead to compatibility issues, while a motherboard with limited expansion options can limit the ability to upgrade the system in the future.
The RAM or Random Access Memory is yet another crucial component in a PC, as it is responsible for temporarily storing data and instructions that the CPU needs to access quickly. RAM allows programs and applications to run smoothly, as it provides a fast and efficient means of accessing and manipulating data.
Choosing the right capacity and speed of RAM is important as it impacts the overall performance and speed of the system. Insufficient RAM can cause the system to slow down and become unresponsive when running multiple programs or applications. The type of RAM used can also impact the speed and performance of the system, as different types of RAM have different clock speeds and latency timings.
So when you are selecting RAM for your build, you should consider several factors such as the capacity of RAM, the type of RAM, and the clock speed. The amount of RAM needed will depend on the specific needs and use cases of the system. For example, a system used for gaming or video editing may require more RAM than a system used for basic office work.
4. Power Supply
Choosing the right power supply is important, as it will impact the stability and reliability of the system. A power supply that is too weak can cause the system to shut down or become unstable under heavy load, while a power supply that is too powerful can be wasteful and inefficient. Additionally, a power supply that does not provide clean and stable power can cause damage to other components in the system.
So when you are looking for different options available for a PSU, you should be mindful of important aspects of a PSU such as the wattage, efficiency rating, and the number and type of connectors. The wattage of the power supply should be sufficient to power all the components in the system, while also leaving room for future upgrades. The efficiency rating of the power supply will affect the energy efficiency and operating cost of the system, with higher efficiency ratings being more energy-efficient and cost-effective. The number and type of connectors should be compatible with the other components in the system, to ensure proper power delivery.
5. CPU Cooler
The CPU of your PC is going to be one of the few components which generate the most heat when your PC is running. It is because whatever you are doing on your PC, your CPU will always be functional and it creates heat while it operates. So to keep the CPU temperatures under control, CPU coolers are put in place. A CPU cooler that is not powerful enough can result in high temperatures, which can cause the system to slow down or become unstable. On the other hand, a CPU cooler that is too powerful can be unnecessary and wasteful, as it can consume more power than is needed for your needs.
You can also go with 2 different options for a CPU cooler right now, which are air cooled and liquid coolers. The type of CPU cooler can impact the cooling performance and noise level of the system. Apart from the type, the size of the CPU cooler should also be compatible with the CPU and motherboard, to ensure proper fit and cooling performance. The noise level of the CPU cooler should also be considered, as a loud or noisy CPU cooler can be distracting or disruptive in a quiet environment.
6. Storage Drive
You will also need a storage drive to install the OS as well as to store and install other programs that you are going to use on your computer. Without a storage drive, you won’t have an OS and thus, you won’t be able to use the system past the BIOS settings. Therefore, the storage drive is a crucial part of a PC. When you are choosing a storage drive for your PC, you need to check a few important characteristics as it can impact the speed and performance of the system, as well as the amount of data that can be stored on the system.
There are several types of storage drives available, such as traditional Hard Disk Drives (HDDs), Solid State Drives (SSDs), and NVMe SSDs, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. HDDs are slower and have lower capacity compared to SSDs and NVMe SSDs, but are more affordable and you can easily get terabytes of storage capacity with a cheaper drive. SSDs, however, are hundreds of times faster than HDDs but are more expensive. NVMe SSDs are the fastest and most compact in size but are the most expensive compared to the other 2 choices.
7. PC Case
Now that you have accumulated a lot of components for your system, you will need a decent PC case to safely install all the components while maintaining a decent look of the system. The PC case houses all the internal components and provides a means of protection, cooling, and customization for the system. The choice of your PC case impacts the size of your system, compatibility, cooling performance, and aesthetics of the system. There are several types of PC cases available, such as Mini-ITX, Micro-ATX, Mid-Tower, and Full-Tower.
Mini-ITX cases are compact and portable but have limited space for components and cooling. Micro-ATX cases are slightly larger than Mini-ITX cases, but still somewhat compact and offer more space for components and cooling. Mid-Tower cases are the most common size for PC builds right now as they offer a balance of size, compatibility, and cooling performance. But for gaming PC builds, a Full-Tower case has always been the preferred choice for most PC builders. These are the largest PC cases and offer the most space for components and cooling. But, it also means that these cases are a lot less portable as well as more expensive compared to other options.
8. Graphic Card
A lot of people might argue that a graphics card is more of an optional PC component for a PC build since you can boot your system without a GPU and use it for basic applications without any restrictions whatsoever. But considering the increasing demands of normal programs and applications, we have decided to include the GPU in our list of the crucial components of a PC build. Moreover, if you decide to go with a CPU that does not have a built-in GPU, then you won’t get any display output without the GPU, making it crucial in your case. So, we will recommend going with at least a mid-range GPU for your build, if you are planning to upgrade in the future.
With that being said, it would not even be a debate to consider the importance of a GPU when it comes to building a gaming PC. For any game you pick up which was released after 2018, you will find it pretty difficult to render at a decent FPS without a GPU. So if you are going for a gaming PC build, you should definitely consider getting a powerful GPU. In fact, a lot of gamers start their build specification list with a GPU and collect the rest of the components accordingly.
Basic Timeline of A PC Build
Now, let us dive into the actual time it’s going to take you once you have all parts available within arm’s reach. Here, we have a sample timeline of a PC build where we are going to cover the expected time needed for each of the steps to build your PC. Keep in mind that this is more of an approximation and the actual time you need varies based on your expertise.
|Unboxing the components and getting ready with the tools (screwdrivers, magnetic plate, driver tips, protective gear, etc)
|5 to 20 minutes depending upon the availability
|Setting up the motherboard
(Includes installation of CPU, RAM, storage drives, and CPU cooler )
|30 to 40 minutes
|Installing the motherboard inside the PC case (Includes motherboard fitting, cable management, and cable connections)
|20 to 40 minutes
|Installation of power supply
(Includes PSU cable management and connections)
|10 to 20 minutes
|GPU installation (Includes removal of I/O shield, GPU placement, fitting, and other aspects)
|10 to 15 minutes
|Finishing up the build (Includes checking up all the installed components and securing the cables)
|5 to 10 minutes
|Additional component installation and setup (RGB lights, extra cooling fans, custom liquid coolers)
|Varies depending on the complexity of the build
PC Build – FAQs
Ans: The time it takes to build a PC can vary depending on several factors, such as the complexity of the build, the experience of the builder, and the availability of the components. Generally, building a PC can take anywhere from a few hours to a full day, depending on the specific circumstances. And if this is your first time building a PC, then you should also consider the added time of following guides and instructions which can extend the timeline to a couple of days.
Ans: The overall cost of your custom PC completely depends upon the type of PC you are going for and the components you are choosing for it. A basic PC that is supposed to be used for office work or casual entertainment and content streaming can be easily built within a budget of $500. But, a high-performance ultimate gaming build may raise up to thousands of dollars, and that is if you are planning to cut costs on some unnecessary components and choose budget options. You can also find a lot of fancy PC builds out there which have an approximate costing of $5000, or above.
Ans: Generally, we will recommend building your own PC if you have enough knowledge about the procedure and patience to complete the build all the way through. If not, there are still a lot of good options available for a custom PC build that offer decent performance, affordability, and in most cases, a great visual attribute as well. But again, building the same specification custom PC will always be somewhat cheaper. And, you can have a lot of fun while building your PC and you may also come up with some good ideas during the process to further improve the performance or the looks of your system.
Today, we have talked about the very basics of building a custom PC, starting from the factors to consider before starting your build, the component list you need for your PC, and even the approximate time you need to finish up your build. So, it is safe to say that you are now equipped with all the information you need and you can start browsing options for components for your own custom PC build. In the end, we will suggest you first recognize your needs and decide what type of PC build is going to be perfect for your usage. Only after that you can decide on a budget and start with the process of building your custom PC.