Have you ever thought about building your own computer system? Maybe you’ve heard friends talking about doing this sort of thing, but you were never sure what was involved. This article attempts to answer two questions. First, why would you want to build your own computer system? Secondly, how hard is it to do this?
Why Build a Computer System
First we will look at why you would want to build a computer system. There are three main reasons often cited for building a computer system. The first is that it will save you a great deal of money. The second is that you will get exactly the computer system that you want. And finally, the third reason is that you can easily repair the system if anything goes wrong.
Building a computer to save money is most likely not a realistic goal. These days you can get some really inexpensive computer systems. With complete systems selling for under $500, it would be hard to build a computer system yourself that is going to beat that price by much.
However, there are some cost cutting options available. You might use many of the parts from your old computer system. This would save money, as there is probably no reason to replace such devices as the CD-ROM drive, floppy drive, or even case of the old computer system.
Additionally, once you have built your computer system, you can easily upgrade it. A computer system you built yourself can always be upgraded more easily than a “mass market PC". For example, if you need a faster processor just upgrade the processor and/or motherboard.
I think the biggest reason for building your own computer system is the second reason that I previously mentioned. You are able to get exactly the computer system that you want. If you want a certain type of graphics card, you can select it. You can pick the RAM that has the best access time for the money, and not what some large computer manufacturer got the best deal on that week. For the true computer enthusiast, this is the only way to go! For me, just being able to pick the exact case I want makes the process worthwhile.
Finally, computer systems that you built yourself are much easier to repair than “mass market PC’s". For one thing, this is a computer system that you built. You know where everything is at, and what it is for. Secondly, the computer system was built from common parts, so finding replacements will be easy. Very often large computer manufacturers will build computer systems with proprietary parts, which you can only obtain from the computer manufacturer.
How Complex is it to Build a Computer
Building a computer system is not as complex as you might think. The only tools that you will need are screwdrivers. If you have ever added an expansion card to your computer, you are almost half-way to building your own system.
The most complex part is making sure that everything is compatible with everything else that you buy. You need to line up the specs exactly between your parts. For example, if you buy a motherboard with DDR2 RAM memory, you need to make sure your RAM is DDR2.
Once you get all of the required components together you have only to assemble your new computer. You will have purchased a case, motherboard, RAM, hard drive, CD-ROM drives, floppy drive, video card and audio card. Now you have only to assemble them. This usually takes only a few hours and no tools other than the screwdrivers you likely already own. Plus, it is very hard to damage anything. Most cables are keyed so that you are not able to plug them in backwards.
Heaton Research has a complete tutorial, including many photos, of how to build your own computer system.
Jeff Heaton is an author, college instructor, and consultant. Jeff lives in Chesterfield (St. Louis), Missouri. The author of four books and over two dozen journal and magazine articles, Jeff specializes in Internet, socket-level/spidering and Artificial Intelligence programming. A Sun Certified Java Programmer and a member of the IEEE Jeff holds a Masters Degree in Information Management from Washington University in St. Louis.