Dispelling the myth: Building computers is hard?

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There is a myth that building your own desktop computer is hard. In reality, building your own computer is like making something from Lego. The difficulty is buying the right parts to fit together. Oh and although you can build your own laptop, and some people have, that is far more complicated. Without further ado, let’s begin!

Think of lego

Lego is a popular building system used by children and young adults to create stuff. A computer is a bit like a lego set, where certain parts fit together.

A processor plugs into a motherboard, memory fits into a motherboard and the motherboard fits into a case. Hard drives and DVD drives also fit into a case and a power supply goes in to complete the computer.

It’s very easy in theory and in practice if you’ve bought the parts as a set it s also easy.

Installing the operating system and software is an extra step, and that is easy too, you just follow on-screen instructions for the most part.

The difficult bits

If you’re building a computer with all the parts bought together as a self assembly, it’s easy.

However, if you are building a custom computer then there are different rules you have to follow:

  1. The size of the motherboard is important when choosing the case.
  2. The motherboard is important when choosing the processor, always choose a motherboard that is the same generation as the processor. If you chose an Intel motherboard, then you need an Intel processor; and if you chose an AMD motherboard you need an AMD processor, they are not interchangeable.
  3. Memory dimensions are important, as some desktop motherboards take the smaller laptop memory. Additionally, buy the right type for your motherboard – DDR4 will only fit newer motherboards.
  4. Orientation is important too, everything only fits one way around.
  5. Match shapes – You will see that everything has it’s own shape, you just plug them in.

The Front Panel connections are usually fiddly, often the connectors can be inserted either way around but the LEDs have to be a certain way around or they won’t light up.

USB connections have one of the holes filled up, so you can’t plug it the wrong way round or in the wrong place.

Choosing the right power supply can be tricky. If you are building a computer as a hobby, then a cheap power supply will be enough. If you are building a serious gaming computer, then you need to work out what power each part uses and multiply by 1.5 to get the right wattage power supply so your computer doesn’t crash when you are in the middle of something important.

All in one barebone PC

All in One barebone PC

An all in one computer is a case built into a monitor and with a webcam built in.

It is an expensive direction to go and you need a certain type of motherboard (low height mini-ITX) that connects to the screen because it doesn’t use standard monitor connections like HDMI.

The advantage is that the computer doesn’t take up any more space than the screen. Some models have touch screen.

A cheaper alternative is using the VESA mounting holes to mount a slim case at the back of the screen and an external webcam. You can also get a bigger screen for your money.

Laptops

You cannot buy a bare bones laptop off a shelf and install your own motherboard, memory or processor in it, as laptop manufacturers don’t follow standards and build boards specifically for their laptop.

Conclusion

Anyone can build a computer, it’s just a case of seeing it as a different form of Lego. If it doesn’t fit one way round, take it out and try a different way around. Don’t force things in, you will break something.

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