Our Custom PC Guide
We understand choosing a custom PC is often a difficult and time consuming process especially with an industry that is moving so fast. This is why we have devised a quick guide to helping you on your way.
Probably the most important issue surrounding custom PCs is the brand of components that go into them. Non descript and cheap branded components will be the difference between a top performing PC and an expensive paper weight! You should be looking at brands such as Antec, ASUS, Coolermaster, Corsair, Creative, Microsoft, Razer, Logitech, Seagte, Samsung, Western Digital, OCZ, Intel, ATI, Nvidia, AMD, Xigmatek, MSI, Gigabyte, Sony, LG, Akasa, Noctua, Coolit, Zalman, Sennheiser. Undescribed and “premium brand” are not brand names. Check carefully that the following components have a brand listed;
Power Supply (PSU) – This is where most manufacturers scrimp on their builds. Check the brand carefully. It is the most likely part of a PC to fail. Corsair and Antec are the industry leaders here, and their power supplies are that good they come with a 5 year warranty as standard.
Case – Same again, a lot of manufacturers use dodgy units that not only have poor cooling properties and will soon fall apart after touching it a few times. Antec, Coolermaster, Xigmatek, Lian Li, Corsair and Silverstone make the good ones.
Processor – Make sure this is of Intel or AMD brand. Most are. RAM – Check for a quality brand name associated with it. Poor choice in RAM will affect the overall speed and reliably of the PC as a whole. Corsair XMS RAM dominates the market by a long way. Other brands to consider are Kingston and OCZ.
Hard Drive – Another common corner cutter is the brand of hard disk. Cheap hard drives will affect the performance of the whole PC. You also would not one of these to fail as you would be likely to lose any data stored on it. Western Digital, Seagate and Samsung are the brands to look out for here.
The main “Engine” of a computer – The faster the better! Speeds are measured in Gigahertz (GHz) ranging from around 2.0GHz right up to nearly 4.0GHz. As a general rule of thumb, Intel processors are faster than AMD processors despite the higher gigahertz speeds.
RAM is like a turbo is to a car. It helps the Processor along with more being better. It is measured in gigabytes (GB) and ranges from 1GB right up to 12GB or even 24GB! Generally, 4-6GB is plenty even for the most demanding applications or games. DDR3 RAM is now the normal so choose a PC with DDR3 Technology. Least important is the memory speed, this is measured in megahertz (Mhz) where the higher the Mhz number the better so consider this when choosing RAM for your PC.
Good branded motherboards will usually have everything you need here. Choose a motherboard that has the right features for you. This maybe something as simple as onboard sound cards, network cards or the amount of expansion slots.
An often underrated part of a PC. As mentioned earlier, many manufactures use substandard power supplies so pay particular note to its brand. The industry leaders here are Corsair and Antec, try to make sure your PC has one of these units. When a Power supply fails it can not only destroy itself but can damage all the other components, or worse, cause a fire. The measurement of how powerful a Power supply is measured in wattage (W). The higher the wattage the more powerful parts can be chosen for a custom PC.
Yet another part of a computer where manufactures cut costs. A decent case will last you year and years and will withstand upgrade after upgrade. It is not uncommon for a decent case to last 10 years! The general rule here is go for the best you can afford. Choose a case that has ample cooling fans, is of a good size and looks good. Antec, Coolermaster, Xigmatek, Lian Li, Corsair and Silverstone make the good ones.
Mainly specified for the amount of data they can hold. Like RAM this is measured in Gigabytes (GB) and a thousand gigabytes, Terabytes (TB). The more the better but generally users are not going to need more than 500MB – 1TB. Hard Disk speed is also worth considering, Seek Times, Spindle speeds, Cache size and Data Transfer Rates define how fast a hard disk. High performance demanding users are now starting to use “solid state drives” (SSD) which are around twice the speed of normal hard disks.
This is the part of the PC that defines how good a visual output you get. The Things that define how good a graphics card is, is clock speed (measured in MHz), the amount of stream processors and finally how much on board RAM the graphics card has to itself. When choosing a custom built PC for gamers this is one of the most important choices.
This is not too much of a hard choice to make. The standard is a CD and DVD Read/Writer/Re-Writer whilst an upgrade would be considered a blu-ray drive which plays/burns blu-ray disks. Whatever you opt for make sure it is has a SATA interface as the older IDE interface is pretty much had its day.