if you were to fight that you are not doing anything productive during our endless pandemic, stop. Sometimes nothing is exactly what you need. Other times it’s nice to do something with your own hands. That’s what this guide is about: how to build a computer from scratch.
It can be daunting for many reasons – it’s expensive, it’s complicated, it can get confusing. But I want to be clear: if you can build an Ikea table, bookshelf, bed, or something that comes in more than one of these deceptively heavy flat packs, you can create a computer. The hard part? I can’t tell you how to build your computer. Not exactly. Not unless I know exactly what hardware you’re using. However, I can explain what each component does and what my recommendations are for each category.
Once you’ve built your shiny new computer, it may be time to check out some other things to add extra accessories to your new partner in crime. Be sure to check out our guides for the best gaming keyboards,, the best gaming mice,, the best gaming headphones, and the best game controllers.
Updated October 2021: We’ve added new hardware to the motherboard, storage, case, and cooler categories, and updated purchase tips.
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What do you need?
No matter what your level of experience, you should use PCPartPicker. Not only does it have everything you need to buy, but it also allows you to build your computer piece by piece right on the website, making sure all your hardware will play well together. There are even a few sample compilations that you can customize to your liking.
No matter what type of computer you create (home office or games), the components you need will be the same. You will need a motherboard, CPU, memory, memory, power supply, case and monitor. The only thing you may not need if you mainly use this computer for home office tasks is a GPU (graphics processing unit), but it is needed for editing photos or videos and games. These are many things, so what follows is a small breakdown of what each component does, along with some hardware recommendations.
Before you dive in, you need to know that there is a world shortage of computer components at present, especially for graphics cards, and prices in general continue to rise. If parts are not available, the best advice we can give is to wait. Eventually, things will return to normal.
Every other component is included in this board. This is the highway they use to communicate and collaborate. They come in different sizes and configurations and each one looks a little different, but they all perform the same function. One thing to watch out for: Make sure you know which processor you want to use before you buy a motherboard.
Motherboards come in several types, but the most important thing to know is what type of socket they have. There are basically two: LGA and AM. You will always see them listed with a number after them, such as “LGA1150” or “AM3”. The exact numbers after the LGA and AM parts of these socket names will change over time to show which generation of Intel or AMD chips they support, but the current 2021 standards (which will work with the latest chips from each manufacturer) ) are LGA1200 for Intel and AM4 for AMD.