So you’ve decided to build a computer instead of buying a pre-built one. That’s awesome! I prefer to build my own as well. You’ll get to learn all about how a computer works and you can make sure it has exactly what you want. But first, you’ll need to know how to build a desktop computer.
Building a desktop isn’t difficult, it’s mainly just fitting everything into the slot it fits in. It was a little daunting for me when I built my first computer. But I learned some valuable lessons that you can use to make your experience run a little smoother and be a little easier. Computers are always easier when you have a tech savvy friend nearby. I’m making a series of posts to talk about each of the different parts you’ll need to incorporate. Check out my other posts to see what else there is.
Before we get into the guts of the computer there are a few things you’ll need to decide. The first of which is how much you want to spend. The glory of building your computer, you can buy everything at once or you spread the cost out over months. You’ll need to decide how you handle that. But before you buy anything, you’ll need to list all the components you will be buying. This is very important because you don’t want to buy a bunch of stuff and than find out something is incompatible, or that you don’t had the space on your motherboard.
General Case Info
This may seem like a no brainier, but there are actually five different kinds of cases. The biggest difference between them is size. Depending on how much space you have to store the computer and how much stuff you want to put into the computer will determine which size you will need to pick. The main three sizes are full, micro, and mini.
Any case you buy will be big enough to hold everything you’ll need. A bigger case can just hold more. The biggest consideration is how much junk do you want to cram in there. Regardless of the size you will run out of space, and cable management will be an issue at the end.
Size isn’t the only thing you need to pick from. You’ll also need to pick if your case is going to be functional or if it will look awesome! This isn’t something you need to decide now but it’s an option you’ll want to keep in mind. This is one of those things that will come down to budget.
In addition to this, you’ll need to pick a case that has any USB ports on the front and has the number of bays that you’ll need.
Full Size Cases
These cases are huge! Don’t expect it to fit on top of your desk. They range between 24 inches and 36 inches tall. If you are looking at putting multiple hard drives and multiple video cards in there then this might be the size you are looking for. Or maybe you just want this computer to have lots of room for expansion later. In either case you need to find a place to put this beast.
Micro Cases the Standard
This is the most common size computer case. You can build a great machine with this size of case. They typically are 18 inches to 24 inches tall. You’ll still be able to squeeze a video card or two in there and two or three hard drives, but there won’t be any room for expansion and depending on how much stuff you are putting in there, there may not be enough room.
These cases are going to look much smaller than what you normally envision as a computer. They range from 12 inches to 18 inches tall. There won’t be any expanding later with this size. If this is your selected size, make sure you are going to be able to get everything to fit into it that you will need. No one wants to buy a part for their new computer only to find out it isn’t going to work.
There are other cases that are smaller than this, but I don’t have any experience with how the hardware fits into those cases. I’ll be leaving these aside for now.
Computers generate heat. It’s just a fact of electricity. I could explain the physics behind this but I’ve found that most people really aren’t interested in physics. The point is you’ll need to get the heat out of your computer. Some cases are designed to remove heat better than others, but all cases keep heat removal in mind. All of your fans will connect to header pins on you motherboard. If your case has 6 fans in it, but your motherboard only has 4 header pins, then you’ll either need to come up with a creative solution or just not use some of the fans.
There are only a few things you need to consider when looking into a case. The case provides a stable structure to hold it all together, but it isn’t actually necessary. I’ve seen some people use an entire desk as their case. Whatever you decide to use for a case it needs to be big enough to hold what you want and provide adequate cooling.