Just about every household in the US has a computer these days. Many of them have more than one. Students need them for their studies and research, many working adults need them for both personal and professional use, and just about everyone uses them for entertainment. From email and word processing to streaming online videos to playing games that require tons of computing power, there are many different uses for computers. Despite this, there are not many companies to choose from that provide them pre-built.
Apple computers are expensive and provide a more user-friendly experience at the cost of minimal customization. Dell provides generic home computers with basic computing power to fulfill the simpler needs of the common household as well as workstations for businesses that prefer Windows computers for their productivity. Hewlett Packard (HP) is another provider of basic home computing systems. Alienware, a child company of Dell, provides gaming desktop and laptop computers to those who can afford the hefty price tag for a name brand system. There are few others who provide home computers and more powerful machines, but the list is short and the customization options are limited.
For those that want systems more suited to their specialized needs, or that simply want something with a unique appearance to fit their style, there are not many options. Some companies offer a custom-built machine with more options than those provided by Dell or HP, but these can come at a higher price thanks to the labor involved. What many people do not realize is that computer parts can be bought from many online retailers and assembled very easily. There is little to no experience or training required. To prove it, I am going to explain the steps taken to do exactly this.
Planning the Build
Before you can build a computer, you first need to determine what it will be used for. For the purpose of this instructional blog, I will simplify the different uses of computers into three categories. These will be basic productivity, gaming and entertainment, and development. As we continue to work our way through the steps of building a computer, I will reference each of these three computing needs and what may differ between them when planning and building the machines.
Home and Office
The basic home or office PC might be the least likely type of computer that needs to be custom-built. This category includes basic tasks such as viewing and writing emails, student homework and research, or just surfing the web. These tasks can be fulfilled just as easily by any super cheap netbook or laptop, which are computers that cannot be built from scratch. In some cases, it could actually be more expensive to custom-build this type of computer and only offers the benefit of choosing the unique look of your minimalistic machine.
Gaming and Entertainment
Gaming and entertainment computers are normally the type chosen as a custom build. These computer types are used for streaming videos connected to a home theater system, or most commonly as gaming rigs that need the power to handle today’s modern games. Alienware and more expensive Apple computers can handle these requirements, but thanks to the brand name and its reputation the purchaser will end up paying hundreds or even thousands more than the machine itself is even worth.
Development computers have the greatest reason to be custom built. These types of computers may be used for large scale programming and application development, 3D processing and modeling, or video production. Just as with gaming and entertainment computers, there are name brand providers a purchaser can buy these types of machines from, but they will have ludicrous price tags attached. It is nearly impossible to make the argument that a development machine is better being bought pre-built from a retailer than to be put together with your own hands.
When you are ready to take the next step and learn about the components that belong in each of these types of builds, head over to part 2 of this instructional blog series. In the next part of the series, we will take a closer look at what components are necessary for every build, which ones are used for more specialized purposes, and what role they fulfill.