How do I start building a PC on a budget?

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Answered by: Philip, An Expert in the Do It Yourself Category
If you’re tired of paying full retail price for a PC that performs average at best and leaves you’re bank account empty, you might want to consider building your own machine to spec. For the purpose of this article, I’m going to teach you how to build a mid to top of the line range gaming rig, but you can always tweak things to your own personal preference. So if you've ever wondered about building a PC on a budget, you've came to the right place.

You can easily assemble a very powerful PC for about $750 that would cost normally around $2000 or more. Alienware is the retail standard most hardcore gamers choose. But because of its high specifications and no assembly required, you’re going to start looking at that dreadful $2000 mark.

You have two options when building your own computer. You can shop online and order the parts separately from one individual website such as Tiger Direct, or multiple sites. The second option is to walk into a retail store such as Micro Center, grab a shopping cart and go to town. I suggest you start off looking for a dual or quad core system board. The Asus Intel Core2 Quad is a decent affordable quad core board. If you opt for a dual core then my recommendation is Asrock 775Twins. After deciding on the board you want, the next thing you will need is a decent processor. The two boards I mentioned are Pentium boards, so just remember you’re going to need an Intel Pentium processor for compatibility. If you decided to pick up an AMD board, be sure to choose that type of processor, otherwise you’re going to be taking another trip to the store, or worse, a return to sender if you bought off the internet.

If you don’t have an existing hard drive, I suggest any Samsung 160-200 gigabyte capacity. If you opt to keep you’re old drive just unplug you’re computer, open the case and unscrew the drive and remove. When it comes time to choose you’re RAM, I would suggest 8 to 12 gigabyte memory be installed, and make sure it’s DDR2. I personally use 12 gigs of Crucial RAM, and my machine runs smoothly when playing high end games.

Make sure to pick up at least 500 watt power supply to make sure you’re the system can handle the taxing stress put on it. This next part is very important. There is no right or wrong choice when it comes to graphic cards, just a matter of what you prefer. The two big competitors are NVIDIA and RADEON. I have only used NVIDIA Gforce, and I have always been very happy, but others swear by RADEON. One thing is sure; you can’t go wrong with either. There are so many types of each that I couldn’t even begin to list all of them. If this is you’re first time building your own computer, I suggest you go to a store to do it, because depending on what kind of specs you’ve decided on at this point, an employee should be able to help you determine what kind of card will be compatible. Just be sure it’s PCI Express, not AGP. It’s old technology.

Once you’ve chosen a case that will look good on you’re desk, it’s time to take everything home and assemble it. Clear a large area in your living room or den, open all the boxes and place the components on their static bags. Make sure to ground yourself with a bracelet before starting the process to avoid ruining the electronics, especially in cold weather. You will need a Phillips head, and flathead screwdriver. Place the system board in the case and line up the screws. After securing the board, you’re going to put the processor in the slot and tighten the flathead screw, and place the heat sync / fan directly on top.

Locate the memory slots and lock the RAM in their appropriate locations all facing the same direction. The compartments that reside in the front of your case are for your hard drive and dvd-rom. Place the hard drive in the compartment and secure it with your screws, and connect the power supply to the back of the case. Now, connect the power cable to the system board, and hard drive along with the SATA cable from board to hard drive. Avoid using IDE cables and drives. It’s now time to hook you’re graphics card to your PCI Express slot that’s located on your system board. It’s as simple as locking it in the slot, securing it with a screw and connecting the video cable to it’s back.

Here comes the fun part, turning it on. After you’ve plugged in all proper plugs and cables to the back of your PC, hit the power button. If your using an existing hard drive with windows installed, you’re all set. If not, then you will need to locate your copy of windows to install fresh. An upgrade version of Windows will not work; you need to have a FULL version for a clean install. Just place the disk in the drive and follow the onscreen instructions. There you go, building a PC on a budget is easier than ever.

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