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Choosing PC Components for Your New Computer

Don't know what PC components to buy? If you've never built you own computer before, this can all seem a bit overwhelming at first. The process of sleceting your components can be a difficult one--the best way to tackle it is to sit down with pen and paper, visit the major online retailers, view the current offerings and prices, and balance your needs against your budget.

You will find what seems like endless options to choose from, and you must make sure that each of the PC components you purchase are compatible with the others. It's also quite common for first-timers to simply overlook buying one or two components.

I would start the process by deciding on which processor architecture I want in my new computer. If you decide on using an Intel processor, you will need to be sure the motherboard and other PC components are compatible with that particular type of processor. For example, if you have decided that the processor for your new computer will be an Intel Core i7-2700K/Socket H2, then you must choose a motherboard designed for a Socket H2 processor.


Once you choose your motherboard, you'll need to choose your remaining PC components to be compatible with the motherboard/cpu combo you've selected. Let's say you've chosen the ASUS Sabertooth 277 Series 7 ATX motherboard. This motherboard will support up to 64GB of RAM when running a 64-bit Operating System. The RAM supported is DDR3 1333Mhz, DDR3 1600Mhz, or DDR3 1866Mhz. I know I'll be safe ordering memory of this type. I also know the motherboard only has 4 memory slots available, so If my goal is to install 32GB of RAM, I could purchase 4 8GB memory modules, OR... I could purchase 2 16GB modules and then have 2 empty slots to expand my memory capacity later. Keep in mind that many types of memory must be installed in pairs (2x8GB, 2x16Gb, etc.).

The ASUS Sabertooth 277 Series also supports SATA II and III storage devices, external SATA devices, internal and external USB 2.0 and 3.0 devices, PCIE-x16 video cards, etc...

With all of this information, you can select the PC components compatible with the core of your system (motherboard) and be reasonably assured that it will work just fine.

If you're still not feeling confident enough to select your own parts, you can opt for a "Barebonesicon" kit. A Barebones kit is a bundle of various PC components put together for sale by a vendor. It will arrive as individual parts--just like you ordered them individually, but you'll have the gaurantee from the vendor that all of the PC components will be compatible.

Whatever your choice, I wish you luck in the process. Choose your products wisely, and I'm sure you'll have a great time!

So, as I just mentioned, the best way to begin is to make a list of parts you'll need to build a common PC. If you're interested in getting started as quickly as possible, take a look at my pre-defined parts lists for building a Bargain PC or a $1000 Gaming PC.

If you're more interested in choosing your own components, then let's look at a list of basic components common to most PCs:

(For details about each component, click on its corresponding link)


Miscellaneous Items
  • Drive Cables (Internal PATA or SATA)
  • Power cords (if not included with your new components)
  • Heatsink compound (to ensure good thermal conduction between CPU and Heatsink)
  • Screws (Usually included with the purchase of a new computer case)
  • Motherboard spacers (usually included with a Retail packaged motherboard)
  • Network cable (Cat 5/6 Ethernet needed if connecting to wired network)
  • Anti-Static Wristband