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Hardware

Do you want to build your own powerful gaming PC, a powerful workstation, or a reliable office PC and have to no idea what to choose from the enormous range of components available? Read on for some handy tips on how to choose the right PC components. To make things even clearer, we will also show you some examples of PC systems built for specific purposes.

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What PC Components Do I Need to Build My Computer?

A full-featured PC consists of a wide range of PC components. Not sure what you need? The basic building block of any computer is a motherboard equipped with a processor, system memory, and a graphics card. All this is then inserted into a PC case with a PSU, or you can buy a power supply unit separately. Then add a hard drive for your data. Depending on what you need, you can also purchase a number of additional accessories for your new computer.

Motherboard

The motherboard is the most important part of any PC and basically the foundation for all the other components. Pay extra attention to the type of socket on the motherboard, as the socket determines what processors you will be able to install. Motherboards are available in several different formats:

  • eATX is designed for high-end PC systems with multiple graphics cards.
  • ATX is great for powerful gaming computers and workstations.
  • mATX is suitable for low-cost office PCs and multimedia computers.
  • Mini ITX is recommended for compact office and HTPC computers or Media Centre PCs - they are suitable for multimedia and light, non-demanding applications.

Processor

The processor is the brain of the whole computer. Its job is to perform the necessary computational tasks. When building a PC, you need to choose a processor socket compatible with your motherboard. Depending on the purpose of your new PC, you may also have to consider the number of CPU cores.

  • 2-core processors are suitable for low-cost office assemblies.
  • 4-core CPUs are good for playing games and working with graphics programs.
  • 6-8 core processors are designed for work with demanding applications and playing the latest, most technically challenging games.
  • 8 and multi-core processors are designed primarily for powerful server systems and dedicated computing machines.

For more information about processors, please see our What is a Processor? article.

System Memory

RAM supports the processor with computing tasks. Its capacity determines how many operations the operating system is capable of performing at the same time. So, how much RAM do you need?

  • 4GB of RAM is the minimum baseline for most operating systems today, but we recommend that you get at least 8GB to accommodate various modern applications and tasks.
  • 8GB of memory is also sufficient for more powerful office and multimedia PCs.
  • 16GB or more should be your choice if you are buying a workstation or a gaming computer.

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DDR3 or DDR4? For low-end or mid-range systems, we recommend installing DDR3 memory modules; if you want to have a powerful, high-performance PC, make sure to choose DDR4. Before buying, always check the type of memory supported by your motherboard and processor to avoid any unpleasant surprises later on.

Graphics Card

The graphics card is a must for any gaming PC, but it can also be used in workstations, including powerful office and multimedia PCs. The cards can be divided into four categories, according to their designation:

  • Multimedia graphics cards can handle less demanding tasks, such as watching movies and streaming high-definition videos, playing casual games, and browsing image-heavy websites.
  • Gaming graphics cards are suitable for Full HD gaming or video editing.
  • High-end GPUs are the best what today’s GPU market can offer and can handle demanding 4K games.
  • Professional graphics cards are designed for powerful workstations and are optimised for CAD programs. Despite their high performance, they aren’t particularly well-suited for gaming.

You don’t need anything fancy if you plan to build a PC purely for standard office work. A graphics card integrated on the motherboard or processor will be enough.

Hard Disk

Hard disks are used to store and read data. The main two categories you will encounter are classic HDDs and fast SSDs.

  • For office and multimedia PCs, you should get a classic HDD that can accommodate a large amount of data. Compared to SSDs, this type is considerably slower.
  • Workstations and gaming PCs work well with a combination of a fast SSD for the operating system and applications and a large HDD to store your files.

High-capacity solid state drives are also available. Unfortunately, they are still quite expensive.

Sound Card

Sound cards are designed for users who like to listen to music in high quality. In most cases, however, an integrated sound card will be enough - these integrated cards are usually 8-channel. Music and audio enthusiasts should consider getting a powerful sound card, suitable for work with various audio software and gaming.

PC Case

When choosing a PC case, you must choose one with an interior large enough to fit all the required components. PC cases can be divided into several categories:

  • Big Tower - as the name suggests, this is the largest type, suitable for high-performance, high-end PC systems. These cases have plenty of room for future expansion, water cooling, and several fans.
  • Midi Tower - the case you want for your ATX motherboard. This type is suitable for most gaming PCs and workstations.
  • Mini Tower - suitable for mATX motherboards; ideal for low-cost office and multimedia PCs.
  • Mini ITX and HTPC - these are designed for MITX motherboards and are suitable for HTPC assemblies.

Some computer cases come with the PSU already included. With others, they need to be purchased separately.

Power Supply

The PSU should be selected with respect to the overall performance of other PC components in the system you are building. You can use this  power supply calculator to calculate the power draw of your new PC. For a modest office system, you will need a PSU with a performance of up to 350W; if you are building a demanding gaming PC or a workstation, make sure to choose an 800W PSU or higher.

Cooling

The cooling system maintains the optimum working temperature of PC components even when your PC is under a heavy load. Unless you are building a gaming PC or a powerful workstation, you can settle for the basic cooling you get with your other components. For powerful workstations and high-end gaming computers, however, you should probably consider purchasing some extra powerful fans or even a water cooling system – the most effective PC cooling type available.

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When selecting individual PC components, you can also consult our detailed guide How to Build Your Own PC.

PC Assembly Examples

If you are looking for some tips and ideas about specific PC types, check out our custom-built Alza PC assemblies.

  1. Alza PC Enthusiast is an uncompromising, high-end product line for true enthusiasts who take their computers very seriously.
  2. Alza GameBox are powerful PCs designed for passionate gamers.
  3. Professional Alza PC workstations are designed for work, streaming, or video editing.
  4. Reliable Alza Office PCs are business-oriented computers for everyday office work and for a reasonable price.
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