How to Save on Building a Home PC

A personal computer – a PC, to keep it short – is one of the most versatile tools you can have in your home. Although it has no specific destination as many other devices built to do something, it can be used in the most varied ways.

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You can use your PC as a media player for audio and video, you can use it to process your photos and videos, to keep in touch with friends and relatives, to work – in short, for everything that involves data processing in one way or another. But this is hardly any news for you.

There are two ways for a user to get a new PC – either buying a ready made configuration provided by a branded manufacturer (such as Apple, Asus, Dell or HP, to name just a few), or build one from scratch. I often have trouble deciding which of these solutions is better. In the first case you get a PC that works from day one, but its price is usually higher, and leaves you with not much choice when it comes to its hardware configuration or the software that runs on it. A PC built from scratch is usually cheaper and a more flexible solution – but to build a powerful configuration you will need a considerable budget, knowledge about hardware and quite a bit of research. But the end result can be much more satisfactory.

If you have a limited budget for a new PC built at home, you will need to make a series of tough decisions on the components to choose. Let’s take a look at basic components of a PC, and see where you can make amends and were you should not.

1. Mainboard

As its name suggests, this is one of the basic components of the PC, on which you build the whole thing. When choosing a mainboard for you your computer, you should choose one that is capable of supporting a wide range of processors, lots of RAM and enough extension cards for your future use. This is one of the components you should not make amends about.

2. Processor

This is one of the components where you can invest in a cheaper version at first, and switch it for a stronger one after you further consolidate your budget. Still, you shouldn’t buy the cheapest variant you find – it’s cheap for a reason. Choose a balanced option – cheap enough to fit your budget, and powerful enough for your needs.

3. Storage, optical storage

Ideally you should choose an SSD as your system drive and a larger traditional hard disk for data storage. Today’s mainboards can use quite a few storage devices, so you can later mount multiple hard drives in your PC, when you gather the funds to buy one.

When it comes to optical storage, you should only invest in one if you have a CD or DVD collection, otherwise USB drives are the better option. I, for one, haven’t used my DVD writer for ages.

4. Video card

It depends. Even the most basic video cards are fit for handling everyday social media, internet browsing and office applications, but the latest games need a powerful (and expensive) GPU. Think of what you plan to use your computer for, and choose depending on your needs.

5. Chassis and power supply

When it comes to the chassis, think of where you will keep your computer. Mine is hidden under my desk, so there is no use in it being visually appealing – and most computers are in a similar situation.

When choosing a power supply, do your math: calculate the approximate power consumption of the components of your PC, and add at least 50% on top. Choose a power supply that can provide a sustained level of power for your needs, and take into account the possible future upgrades you might make.

6. RAM

You should not make amends here, as memory tends to be dirt cheap today.

7. Peripherals

Only buy a printer if you really need to. If you are buying a PC on a tight budget, choose a cheap, but decent keyboard and mouse – you will have the choice to buy a new one later. Add a pair of basic speakers and a headset to the total.

8. Monitor

Once again take into account how you plan to use your computer. A smaller screen is great for everyday use, but might not serve you well when watching movies and working in design.

9. Software

This is where you can save a serious amount. For everyday home use you might want to choose Linux, which is a completely free and community supported operating system. It is perfect for browsing the web, social media and multimedia, but when it comes to gaming, it is quite limited. If you plan to use your PC for gaming, you might want to invest into a Windows operating system, as most games are released for it.

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