Computers: More than the Sum of Their Parts

My Computing Experience #2

(Make sure to read Part I, where I go over why I chose to build a PC, as well as my first steps on the journey!)

It might be hard to justify spending a lot on a new computer, but think about it: how much time do you spend on your computer? And how much of that time is spent waiting for things to load, trying to install new drivers, and being just plain frustrated? Most people now use their smartphones for quick searches, messaging, and simple games. However, the more complicated stuff, such as making spreadsheets, heavy gaming, and graphic design, should be handled by a PC. If you spend so much time on the device, why not upgrade so that it’s a more pleasant experience? Personally, I spend a lot of time on electronics, so I want to be able to have a much quicker system to browse on and game with, among other things. Even if computers aren’t your thing, there’s really no point in wasting time with a slow computer, especially if you just want to work and be done.

I’ll spare you the minutiae of the rest of my part-choosing process, but here are some stories and general advice I’ve got to share.

First off, it was incredibly helpful having a brother who knows about tech to help me out with this. It’s good to bounce ideas off of someone before you buy parts to make sure that you are getting not only the most bang for your buck, but also to learn more about the many different options that are out there, and why your choice is good (or not). Building a PC can be truly fun nowadays. The range of available parts is basically endless, which makes tailored building so much easier than in the past. When you build your own PC, it’s yours. You know what’s in it and why it’s there. This is an awesome feeling that leaves you with a sense of accomplishment.

Staying organized is key. Bookmark your top picks. Watch reviews and look at benchmarks or comparisons. Know what you are looking for and know what it can do. It’s terrible to have everything arrive, only to realize that the parts are incompatible. I would highly, highly recommend this site here. Not only does PC Part Picker make it easy to lay out the different components of your build, it also gives useful pricing info, including where each part can be bought for the cheapest price. Furthermore, it shows price graphs over time, helping you to decide whether or not you should buy now or wait for a price drop.

Finally, remember that your PC is something that you shouldn’t cheap out on. Most likely, it will be getting a lot of use, so you want high quality parts. Buy within your budget, but don’t buy something just because it is the lowest price. If you take advantage of mail-in rebates, you may be able to save yourself some money as well. On a somewhat related topic, I’d recommend staying away from used parts. You usually don’t know how long they have been used, making such purchases risky.

Now, info more specific to my buying. I decided that most of my budget should go towards my GPU and CPU. Something like RAM is necessary, but can be upgraded in the future easily. On the other hand, a new CPU might mean getting a new motherboard (due to different CPU socket types) and a good GPU is required for smooth, good-looking gaming. I went with an AMD CPU (YOU WHAT?!?) because, honestly, it did what I needed it to do and was affordable. Speaking in general terms here, AMD tends to make less-powerful CPUs than Intel, but they’re more cost-effective at lower levels. As for RAM, eight gigs of ram is enough for daily use, although I might upgrade in the future. Honestly, though, if you think you need 64 or 128 gigs, think again. That much RAM is good for heavy image/video editing, 3D modeling, or super-high-end gaming (or just to show off), but isn’t really necessary for most people. For storage, I decided to stick with my old configuration for the time being: three 80-gig hard drives (don’t worry, I got a 120-gig SSD later). Finally, I chose my motherboard, mainly because it could hold my CPU and was compatible with the rest of the build. Its blue coloring kinda matched my build’s color theme, which was a nice touch!

Cool story about the case I bought. I decided on a snazzy-looking case to house my build. Although flashy with blue fans and a sleek design, it actually was a good price. It came with not two, but three fans, and I really liked its look. So after I had narrowed down my choices for a case, I did quite a bit of flipping between tabs to look at each one. Suddenly, as I opened up the page of the one which I ended up getting, the price was clearly higher than I remembered it. You know what it was? The website could track your activity and therefore, your potential interests. Due to my constant visiting of this page, the price had been raised up (not for everyone, just me). If I hadn’t known better, I would’ve just begrudgingly accepted this annoying price raise and moved on. However, I had the idea of using private browsing mode (meaning that search interests/stats could not be tracked by sites). Sure enough, the price was back down. Just . . . wow. Very sneaky. So be careful when ordering not just computer parts, but lots of other things online. I’ve heard that this is even done sometimes by sites that sell airline tickets, so . . . yeah.

When my parts all arrived, I made sure to test it before putting it all inside the case. Oh wait, the case hadn’t even arrived . Things tested fine so I just had to wait for the case to come so I could assemble it.

It was an exciting day when my case finally came. I spent several hours putting things in, getting annoyed, and solving problems (something always goes wrong with computers, so just deal with it). It felt great when the build was finished after all my work. Problems continued (driver installation, operating system issues, etc.) but it was usable and so much better than what I was using before.

I know that I wasn’t too specific with my exact parts, so here’s a list of what I bought:

 

 

Thanks for reading and stay tuned! Next issue will be more of a showcase of the build (yes, you will finally get pictures) along with the rest of my setup (peripherals and the likes). I’ll also talk about its general performance for things such as gaming.

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