1. Motherboard for either an Intel or AMD processor
ATX or Micro-ATX form
2. Processor for either Intel or AMD motherboard
3. Memory for motherboard
4. Case to hold the motherboard CPU and Memory
Full tower, Mid-tower, or Micro
5. Power supply if the case does not include one
6. DVD RW drive
7.Hard disk drive (AKA HDD)
8. Video card if your motherboard does not have integrated video or you plan on playing games.
9. CPU cooler AKA heatsink. if its not included with the processor (Retail box units include the cooler)
10. Thermal compound for between the CPU and heatsink
11. Operating system Normally Windows either XP or Vista. 64 bit or 32 bit. There are also several versions of Linux to consider
13. Keyboard and mouse
First let's define Retail and OEM. Retail means it comes with all of the goodies, i.e. manual. cables, and maybe some extra software. OEM means you get the part in a black plastic bag.
Depending on your budget and brand loyalty Intel is currently top performer in the CPU category so an Intel core 2 duo would be a good choice. AMD processors while slightly slower are MUCH cheaper. Motherboards I usually look for price and options I want and then manufacture. Stay away from low-priced, lower end motherboards. They can be a headache.
Memory, I usually do the same thing unless you are going to do some serious over clocking pretty much any memory will work good brands include Kingston, Crucial, Patriot, PNY, Corsair. The amount of memory will also depend on what the primary purpose of the computer will be usually 2 gigs is sufficient. If you plan on installing more than 3 gigs or more you will need a 64 bit operating system.
Cases is all up to preference if your building an extreme gaming system with multiple video cards you will want one with good cooling (2 120mm fans at least) other than that its looks and price that are the determining factor.
Power supplies are an important part of the system and depending on the number of drives and the type of video card in the system you will want a good 400-500 watt power supply. Maybe more if you're going with a dual video SLI setup. Good brands include Cooler master, Antec, Thermaltake, and Rosewill.
Hard disk drive(s), you will want to decide on SATA (a little more expensive but faster) or IDE. Top two and most recommended brands include Western Digital (AKA WD), and Seagate.
Video card, it depends on what your building the computer to do. Playing games MMORPG (Mass Multi Online Role Playing Games [Everquest]), FPS (first person shooter [Crysis]) I recommend Nvidia cards. If you just going online and playing browser games (yahoo games) integrated video will work.
For a CPU cooler the unit included in a retail box is more than adequate for normal operating systems. If you are going to overclock or you purchased a OEM processor you may want to look at an aftermarket unit. Recommended units are MSI/Watercool Hydrogen (liquid cooling), Zalman Reserator, Coolermaster Hyper TX2.
Some heatsinks/CPU coolers come with thermal compound and some might not.It's important to use the compound. It fills small, microscopic voids in the surface and allows better heat transfer from the CPU to the heatsink. Arctic Silver is a well known, respected brand. Some heatsinks come with a double-sided, wax-based sticky pad. Most builders prefer to use the compound.
Installing thermal compound
Building your own computer means you will have to purchase an operating system. For the time being, XP is still available and of course Vista. They both come in 32-bit or 64 bit. You need to figure out which to use before selecting a CPU and motherboard. Also check compatibility with any other software you intend to install on your computer
Another operating system to consider is Linux. It comes in many versions and best of all, it's free
When choosing a monitor it is best to go out and look at retail stores and actually compare what different types of monitors look like.
Selecting a Keyboard and mouse its all up to personal preference, but remember gaming keyboards are larger than standard keyboards and require a large keyboard drawer.
When your parts arrive, be sure to open them up and check for any missing parts. Especially the stand-offs and I/O shield for the motherboard.
Before you start your build, take the time to read all of the instructions that came with everything. Especially the motherboard manual.
Be sure to mark the spots where the motherboard stand-offs go and only put them in those specific mounting holes. Make sure they do not contact any of the printed circuitry on the underside of the board.
Many of the newer Fan/heatsinks take quite a bit of pressure to mount on the motherboard. It is much easier to do this while the motherboard is fully supported on the kitchen table, than mounted on the stand-offs.
When you're done putting the parts together,reread the motherboard manual pertaining to the BIOS set up
Here are some websites to help you on your way to building your computer:
Reviews on various hardware:
Remember, when buying online, be sure to check out to whom you're sending your hard earned cash:
Edited by garmanma, 06 May 2008 - 07:02 PM.