How to build a desktop PC: A reference guide

If you’ve ever spent any time looking for recommendations on a new computer, chances are someone has told you to “just build a desktop.” There’s a reason: building your own desktop is almost always cheaper than buying one from a manufacturer.

The problem, of course, is it that you need to get your hands dirty. But building a PC in 2017 is probably not as difficult as you imagine; it’s kind of like putting together a lego set. And we’re here to help.

One disclaimer: this is not meant to be an exhaustive guide for absolute beginners. There are plenty of those on the interwebs; I like this one by Lifehacker and this one by Tom’s Hardware. Instead, this is for the tech-saavy user that already has a solid understanding of PC hardware (do you know what a PCI-E Slot is? Does DDR4 mean anything to you?), but has never taken it upon themselves to build a PC – or hasn’t done so in a while.

Before you start

One of the more daunting aspects is making sure all the components you buy actually, you know, work with eachother. So before you get started, you should head on over to PC Part Picker. It’s an excellent resource that allows you to collect your parts, view recommended builds, and see pricing from various sellers. PC Hound is another popular one.

More importantly, these sites will warn you if the components you are putting together are not compatible with one another. They are not foolproof though, so if this is your first time building a PC, I suggest you begin with one of the recommended builds, and tweak from there.

Lastly, don’t worry too much about getting the latest and greatest. Trying to extremely future-proofing your PC isn’t a very good idea; the most expensive components provide diminishing returns. You’re better off getting mid-to-high end components that offer more bang for your buck.

What you’ll need

Motherboard

Your computer’s circulatory system, this is…

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