Part 1 | PC Build Log - WTF am I doing?

Part 1 | PC Build Log - WTF am I doing?

Welcome to part one of a three part story on building a PC from scratch - This isn't an experts tale or even a guide for anyone looking to undertake such a quest. It's more of a reflection and summary of my personal journey and experience to date.

The three parts that will likely make up this story are:

  1. Part 1 | PC Build Log - WTF am I doing?
  2. Part 2 | PC Build Log - Oooh packages!
  3. Part 3 | PC Build Log - Where the glue at? 

Why am I doing this to myself? 

I currently play PC games on a laptop. Which most of the time works perfectly well, though I've always liked the idea of being able to build my own PC. Much like being able to change the oil on your car, there is a certain prestige to building a PC. Let's call it a 'bucket list' activity.

My other main driver (no pun intended) was for the ability to be able to upgrade the components of a PC as new technology emerges. Though deep down, we all know I'm just doing it so that I can defeat a computer when the machines rise up and take over!

First question - Where do I even start?

As 'Noob' as it may sound, the idea of building a PC was initially quite overwhelming. I wasn't even really sure what parts I needed or what was compatible with what. And that's all before I even start thinking about connecting it all up.

I couldn't help but think any PC I was going to try and build would end up looking like Homer Simpsons BBQ. 

homer_simpson_bbq

My first big hurdle was - What are the parts I actually need? Sounds simple right. Though when you literally know nothing about building a PC you might as well be trying to crack the Da-Vinci code.

The first thing I decided to do was talk to as many people as possible about PC parts. I knew this was going to result in a mixed bag of information, though I wanted to learn, I was hungry for information and the fastest way to get understanding was through talking with friends.

After many conversations I started to pick up the themes of what parts I actually needed to build a PC. For the uninitiated I was going to need the following to make the whole thing work:

  • Case
  • Motherboard 
  • Memory
  • CPU
  • Cooling 
  • Hard drives
  • Video Card
  • Power Supply 
  • Operating System 

I was also going to need: 

  • Monitor
  • Keyboard
  • Mouse

Sounds simple right? Well it kind of was and it kind of wasn't. The thing with every single one of those parts in the first list was that each one had a question attached to it. And depending on the answer to that question, it had flow on impacts to the other parts.

For example, If I wanted to run an X99 motherboard it was going to change the type of processor I was going to need. Was I going air cooled or liquid cooled etc.

What type of case did I want - what size cooling will that fit? How are you going to manage airflow? Are you going for positive, negative or neutral air pressure... the list goes on! 

mind_blown

I needs moar information! 

So apart from talking to friends (who I thought had a pretty good knowledge of PC's) I also used three other sources on information in my quest for PC building knowledge. And because we're friends I'm going to share them with you. 

1 | Pre-Built Machines

I found that by initially looking at the component lists of pre-built PC's I was able to think about what type of parts I wanted. After a while I was even able to start spotting if a pre-built machine was good value, or where cost savings were occurring. 

2 | PCPartPicker

PCPartPicker is an online tool that does a primary check to see if the parts you're using for your PC build are compatible. It also helps find the best prices for different components. At the start of the process this site was invaluable - though near the end of the process I actually learnt what to look out for myself which was pretty cool.

3 | YouTube

And finally - YouTube! It's proved invaluable. Naturally you have to take any advice you get from the internet with a grain of salt, though these particular channels seem to have some pretty robust advice for the both the novice and the expert. 

These were probably my top channels that I scoured every evening - looking at reviews of motherboards, video cards and cases: 

I'm ready to order

So that's it - It was that simple. I talked to some people, I looked at some YouTube. I learnt some things. I was confident enough to start thinking about placing an order...  

In Part 2 of this story I'm going to go over the parts I decided to buy and the excitement of hundreds of packages arriving!

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