Basic Parts Needed to Build a Computer

The basic parts needed to build a computer all have distinct purposes. If you want to build a custom computer, make sure you understand how the parts work together to assemble the right system for your needs.

Motherboard: Motherboards are arguably the most important components in your computer. When you're shopping for motherboards, think about whether you want an AMD processor or an Intel processor. Motherboards have specific slots designed to fit processors, so most motherboards work only with one processor, or with a particular series of processors. Consider the features you get with motherboards, such as onboard video, Ethernet connection, onboard sound or RAM capacity.

Processor: When it comes to processors, there are two schools of thought: Intel or AMD. Both processors have pros and cons, so evaluate your options and consider your computing style when you're selecting a processor. You should shop for processors while you shop for your motherboard, as the two go hand-in-hand, and your choice in processor significantly reduces your motherboard selection.

RAM: Once you've got a motherboard and processor picked out, you'll need to add some RAM. Make sure the RAM you select is compatible with your motherboard. 4GB of RAM runs most programs comfortably, and is ideal when running Vista; less than 4GB is functional, but may reduce the speed of your computer.

Hard Drive: A computer is nothing without a hard drive, and most hard drives these days are big and fast. Make sure you get the right parts needed to build a computer. Consider the connection type for your motherboard; some run on IDE or SCSI connections, while others run on the faster SATA. Make sure the hard drive has enough storage to meet your multimedia needs.

Video Cards: Some motherboards offer onboard video cards, and, if you're doing basic computing, that's a fine option. However, if you're gaming or rendering videos, or doing anything else that could be graphically taxing, you may want to consider video cards. Again, make sure the video card you select is compatible with your motherboard; the majority of video cards these days are PCI Express 2.0.

Case And Power Supply: All these components are useless without a case and a power supply to hold the rest of the equipment together. Different motherboards have different form factors, so choose a case that matches your motherboard. Do you want an ATX tower, or a mini-computer? It's important to consider all of the parts needed to build a computer. Some cases come with power supplies, or you may have to select your power supply separately. For a modern computer, you should have a minimum of a 500W power supply; depending on your needs, you might need more power.

Beyond The Basic Parts Needed to Build a Computer: You must shop for computer monitors, keyboards and mice and computer speakers. You'll need all these components for a functional computer. You can add optional components to enhance your computer's functionality, such as sound cards, wireless network cards and USB and FireWire cards. The options are endless; decide how you want to use your computer to help narrow down the components you'll want to add.

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