If you're looking for a high-octane computer to edit videos or create animations, Apple's Mac Pro workhorse comes in at $ 6,000 this fall. Or a full-featured, custom PC from a computer manufacturer like Puget Systems could cost about the same. But if you're ready to roll up your sleeves and do a bit of research, you can build a beefy PC that will cost you hundreds to thousands of dollars less ̵
Of course, a self-made PC is not for everyone: If you're mainly writing, watching videos, and surfing the Internet, a good, affordable laptop might be just what you need. If you're thinking about battery life or needing a bit more power, powerful laptops should work as well.
However, if your work or your hardcore gaming requires a lot of computation and space, choosing the individual components and building a custom workstation or gaming rig may be the better way.
This is the path that CNET video producer Oliver Padilla made when he developed a high-performance PC workstation for the CNET video team. Here's how Oliver picked the components and then built the workstation. As part of the CNET video team, of course, he made a video of the whole process.
Let's look first at the various components you want to consider when considering building your own PC and then how they all fit together.
Gather the parts you need to build a PC
Once you've decided to build your own PC, you'll need to do some research, assemble the components, and then assemble the PC yourself. It really is not as scary as it sounds.
Balancing cost and performance for each component can seem difficult. However, if you're looking for guidance on where to spend your money, Reddits r / buildapc subreddit is a helpful and active community that provides advice and answers to questions about specific components.
If you need instructions on building a complete machine, the Subreddit r / buildapcforme is an excellent source for complete parts lists for everything from budget PC to top-end gaming rig. If you do not want to post, PCPartPicker has some great guides for people who may be too shy to ask questions in a forum.
Although we can not decide which component combination is right for you, here's a general list of the parts you need to think about:
Motherboard. You will plug your components into the motherboard that governs the communication between everything. Make sure your components are compatible with your motherboard and fit into your case.
Storage. Not long ago, the choice between a hard disk drive and a solid state drive (SSD) may have been worthwhile. But now that SSD devices are about as expensive as hard drives, the place where you can save a few bucks in your build is probably not storage. Opt for a fast and reliable SSD storage, unless you need to store terabytes of data. Then you should consider a hard disk drive.
case. Choose one that is big enough to hold all your components and any upgrades to the base model.
CPU. There are essentially two brands to choose from when you buy your CPU, the brain of your computer. You have the choice between processors from Intel and AMD. Here you should look with the PC Subreddits, which processor manufacturer fits better to your requirements – from a cheap PC for the web browser up to a highly charged gaming rig.
graphics card. The processor or motherboard you select may have an integrated GPU (see below) to handle graphics and image processing. However, if you're more than just surfing the Internet, you'll most likely need a separate graphics card that can run at $ 100 and over $ 1,000, depending on the purpose (such as video editing or animation).
memory. For the memory of a PC, DIMMs are plugged into memory slots on the motherboard and offered in different speeds and memory sizes. For the custom machine we made at CNET, we had to pay close attention to what memory slots we used and left open to take full advantage of the system's memory architecture.
CPU cooler. You may have one or two fans in your case, but you also need a dedicated cooler for the CPU. Most CPUs will be equipped with one, but buying a better one could improve performance.
Power supply. You can choose a power supply that comes with detachable cables – so you can only use what you need to avoid clutter – or one that has all the cables already connected. Make sure your power supply provides enough power for your components. Newegg has a helpful power calculator that calculates the power needed based on your components.
Windows 10. Of course, you will need to install a copy of Windows 10 ($ 126 at Walmart) on a flash drive. Use the Windows Media Creation Tool from Microsoft to create the installation media on the drive that you will then install on your PC when you are ready.
Tools and aids. To assemble your PC, you'll need some tools, some of which may be nearby, and others that you may need to search. If a particular component requires a special tool for the PC, it is usually supplied by the manufacturer.
Below is a brief list of the tools and other items that you want to have at hand before you begin assembling your PC:
- A Phillips screwdriver, preferably with a magnetic tip.
- A flash drive with Windows 10.
- An antistatic wristband. If you do not have them, regularly touch a metal part of the case to dissipate any static electricity that you have built up in your body.
- Velcro tapes, cable ties and swivel tapes for handling cables.
- Thermal composite or thermal pads for maximizing heat transfer and dissipation. (Your parts may come with the mix already applied, but have some ready for use, especially if you use used parts.)
- A tray, a bowl, a baking tray with a rim, or something you can use to organize – and do not lose – the screws and small parts you need to assemble your PC.
Assembling Your PC
Each PC package will be different – due to the choice of components, motherboard configuration, etc. – Some components are easier to install on the motherboard before you put them in your case. So we put the PC together in-house. Watch the video for a step-by-step overview of the assembly. We list the specific parts we selected at the end of the article.
Install the CPU. Because motherboard and CPU are different, the motherboard and CPU manuals provide installation instructions for your setup. In general, all CPUs have a marker that allows them to align correctly on the motherboard. And make sure the CPU is seated properly, as you can easily damage the pins in the CPU socket.
Add RAM modules. Again, refer to your motherboard's manual for recommendations on which slots to use for your memory modules to optimize your PC's memory.
Add the storage device. Oliver installed two MVMe high-speed drives in his build. Here you should use thermal pads that were either supplied with the drives or purchased separately.
Insert the motherboard. At this point in Oliver's assembly, he is ready to plug the motherboard into the case. After properly aligning the motherboard, secure it with screws. Here is the screwdriver with the magnetic tip a blessing, because the fishing out a screw fallen out of the housing is a challenge.
Connect the power adapter. While the orientation of your power supply depends on the case, make sure that the fan points to a vent hole. Otherwise, the hot air gets trapped in the case and your computer could overheat.
Install your CPU cooler. For installation instructions, see the instructions for your cooler. Our cooler has been supplied with thermal paste, but if you have not done so, you can apply something – like a big grain of rice. You probably need to connect your cooler to the motherboard and power supply by following the instructions in its manual. If you have additional fans, connect them as well.
Connect your storage. Now connect your storage device to the power supply and the motherboard.
Connect the components to the front I / O panel. You may also need to connect audio and USB ports and the power button to the I / O panel of your chassis. Be sure to connect all fans in your case.
Install the video card. Follow the instructions in the manual again and make sure that the card is free of plastic or protective covers. Connect the appropriate power connectors to the card.
Close the enclosure and connect it. When finished, connect the flash drive with the Windows 10 installer, and then turn on the PC. You may hear a beep. The system may restart several times. that is normal. You can now install Windows 10.
Install Windows 10 from the flash drive. The installation of Windows depends on your components. Therefore check your manual for specific instructions. Here's basically how it's done.
1. Insert the flash drive using the Windows Installer.
2. Press the appropriate key on your keyboard to enter the BIOS firmware.
3. Search for "bootmenu" in the BIOS.
4. Select the flash drive and press Enter. Your computer will now boot from the flash drive and the windows installer should start.
5. Follow the instructions to install Windows.
Olivers Parts List
Every build is different, right? But here's what Oliver has chosen for his build with prizes. The final cost of his stocky PC is $ 5,063.92, about $ 1,000 less than the basic configuration of the Power Mac.
CPU (1,399 USD): AMD Ryzen Thread Ripper 3960x
Motherboard ( 849.99 USD) Asus R.O.G. Zenith Extreme II
CPU Cooler ( $ 159.99): Corsair H100i RGB Platinum
RAM ( $ 354.99 ): Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro 64 GB (2x)
Power Supply ( 239.99 USD) : Corsair HX1200
GPU ( 1.199,99 USD): EVGA Nvidia RTX 2080ti
SSD [ 299.99 USD] Samsung 860 Evo
Samsung 970 Pro
NVME ( 299.99 USD) Samsung 970 Pro
Fans ( 129.99 USD): Corsair LL120 RGB (2x)
Case ( $ 259.99): Corsair 680X RGB
If you decide to create your own, tell us in the comments which components are Si e and how the setup went.
Learn more about Windows 10 here: This will allow you to upgrade for free and watch out for this fake update that may be blocking your PC.