How to build an everyday or gaming computer that will not cause your wallet to go completely extinct. If you are looking for How to build servers or powerful CAD workstations, you are in the wrong place.

Please note! All monentary values are given in US dollars (USD).

Before we get started, here is a little word of warning that can save your computer:  make sure that there is no static electricity on you when you touch the electric-sensitive components of your computer. You can do this (grounding yourself) by touching something metal touching the ground or by plugging in your PSU(provided it as a metal outside) and touch that. Alternatively, you can find an anti-static wristband. Not grounding yourself can potentially short one of the components, which are quite expensive and a pain to replace.

Part one: Choose your parts:


1. Determine what CPU you want. (Skip to Step: 5  if you are using an AMD CPU, for Intel continue)
2.  If you are buying an Intel CPU, find one that suits you. Or check out our CPU benchmark page at
3. Now, determine your socket type, this is where things get difficult. The easiest way, to determine your socket type is by googling. What is (insert CPU name here)’s socket type. Or shoot us an email using this form:
4. Once you know your socket find a motherboard that supports the socket. We recommend that you check or

5. AMD. When choosing an AMD CPU, there are two major options:
Straight CPU, mainly for high performance. This is the FX series (FX 4170, FX6300, FX 8350, to name a few) and the aging Phenom IIs and Athlon IIs (they are indeed very aged by now)
APU (Accelerated Processing Unit) for improved graphics performance and budget computers. These include the A-series (A4, A6, A8, A10).

6. Now, determine your socket type, this is where things get difficult. The easiest way, to determine your socket type is by googling. What is (insert CPU name here)’s socket type. Or shoot us an email using this form:

7 Once you know your socket find a motherboard that supports the socket. We recommend that you check or

8. Choose a decent chipset; this can be the most limiting part for upgrading.

9. Make sure that it is SATA III if you intend on getting a fast HDD or an SSD.

10. If you are overclocking, we recommend you get an aftermarket cooler. If you are going to use a fan, we recommend you also get thermal paste, although this sometimes comes with the package. If you are going to watercool, Corsair has a some good self-contained ones. (

Graphics Cards:
1. Determine the graphics card you want.
2. Use our graphics card hierarchy chart to determine which best suits your need. (
3. These can get quite pricey, so beware! Many lower end Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) can still play newer games at lower details and resolutions.
4. Make sure you have a compatible slot on your motherboard that can fit the GPU.
5. Make sure your motherboard supports multiple GPU’s (SLI or Crossfire), if you plan to use them.

Random Access Memory (RAM):

1. Make sure your motherboard and CPU and RAM clock speeds match up, or if you don’t want to worry about that, we recommend an ASUS “MemOk” board.
2. To tweak performance you can go with a anywhere from 1333Mhz, 1600Mhz, 1866Mhz or 2133Mhz (not all support this)
3. Also check the timings: this determines how fast the RAM is per clock (9,9,9,24 signifies how many clocks it takes )
Necessary components:

1. Also make sure your Power Supply Unit (PSU) can power it.

2. Case: Most cases will be fine, just make sure you get a Mid-Tower or bigger. Beware, they can range from $50-$500. Some have integrated PSUs, so you don’t need another PSU.

3. Form Factor: If you want your motherboard to fit or hang in your case, it should support its type (ATX, mATX, mITX). The most standard is ATX, and tends to have the most features, though mATX and mITX tend to get cheaper, while still sporting the same sockets as larger variants.

4. Hard drive: Pick one that suits you the best. We recommend a 64GB Solid State Drive (SSD) as a boot drive(although higher capacities tend to be faster in read and write times) (try to make sure it is SATA III if your motherboard comes with SATA III), and a 1TB 7200 RPM drive as a storage drive. Although, we recommend this setup. Most will change it to suit their price/needs/wants.
There are also a few (very pricey) PCI SSDs that allow for significantly higher read/write speeds, as an option to consider if you are going for full-out performance.

5. Extra fans: these can increase airflow in your case and lower temperatures, increasing performance.

Part two: Wait for the parts to arrive.

Part three: Connect the parts (you will need a Phillips head screwdriver (+) )

1. Install, the CPU to your motherboard and attach the fan, both as instructed by the manual.

2. Install the RAM in the RAM slots to the right (and sometimes left) of the CPU. Make sure you refer to your user manual to find the idea placement of the RAM (It’s different for AMD and Intel).

3. Make sure you refer to your case’s manual to find out which screws are needed for your motherboard.

4. The top PCIE X16 slot is normally the fastest, but always refer to your user manual for help.

5. Find a slot in the chassis to put your hard drive(s) in. Some SSDs go into PCIE slots.

Part four: Install an Operating System (OS) (optional):

If you are installing Linux:

1. Download Linux (Kubuntu recommended) on another computer

2. Burn to USB drive or CD or if you know how to, do a network installation.

If you are installing Windows:

1. Get a copy of Windows.

2. Insert the Windows install DVD.

3. Follow the steps on your screen.

4. Install motherboard and graphics card drivers.

(If you need any help, just refer to youtube/google, there are TONS of how to install an OS tutorials).

Optional Sidequest: WiFi and Sound cards
WiFi: Intel makes some pretty good WiFi cards (beware of their drivers, though). Just make sure that it fits in your motherboard and that you have a WiFi router; without it is no good. 802.11n is quite fast, but the newer 802.11ac will be even faster if you like fast internet. A few motherboards have integrated WiFi, though.

Sound cards: You would only want to go with these if you are a die-hard audiophile. Integrated sound is usually quite decent.

Though we didn’t mention keyboards/mice/monitors in this guide, they give the feel of the computer: behind the OS, you don’t really feel anything from inside your computer, except perhaps you may notice the performance. Mechanical keyboards are growing in popularity, although they are heavier and more expensive than the standard keyboard. For keyboards, mice, and monitors (and speakers), it all comes down to personal preference and being accustomed to them: if you use a decent keyboard long enough, it may eventually also become your favorite.

Happy building!

-PCAW team


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