When looking to build a PC, there are primary and secondary groups of components that one should take note of. The process in itself can be as simple or complex as the owner wishes it be. This is dependant on the intentions the owner may have for the system – be it for casual use, productivity, gaming or enthusiast-class modding meant for the intentions of demonstrating one’s skill in crafting a system for the purposes of being a visual showpiece.
Regardless of the intended use for the PC however, the essential components required to put the system together remain the same.
Commonly referred to as the MOBO, is the primary component that delivers communication and installation between every other component. It consists of a CPU socket, RAM slots, PCIE slot, and data drive connections. It also contains the chipset, this enables operation between internal and external connections such as USB drives, peripherals, display output connectors, audio solutions and networking features.
Motherboards come in a wide variety of sizes, most common of those are mini-ITX, micro-ATX, and ATX (or full ATX), which cater for differing needs and performance requirements.
Commonly referred to as the CPU, is the primary processing chip of the computer. It is responsible for running instructions, allowing functionality of programs and delivering information to other components. Designed in a structure which involves a number of cores and clock speed, the greater the number of cores – the greater number of simultaneous tasks and instructions that be run, the higher the clock speed – the faster the CPU can run the instructions.
Also known as RAM, this component is responsible for storing temporary data and managing data that’s in use, such as web pages, open documents, image software, operating system processes, and required files game such as streaming data, animations, characters and environmental assets.
DDR3 is the current standard for the type of RAM that’s available, while DDR4 is the newest technology looking to be the norm in place of DDR3. The larger the amount of available RAM, the more temporary data that’s available to be stored while in use by the user. This is measured in GB. The faster the speed of the RAM, the faster the data can communicate with the CPU and storage drives. This is measured in MHz.
Commonly referred to as the GPU, is the primary piece of hardware for processing image data. For gamers, this component stands to be the most important factor when dealing with how well the game performs in terms of framerates – FPS, and how well the game can look in regards to visual quality. Gamers looking to purchase graphics cards should take a look to the aspects of core count, clock speed, bus width, memory speed and VRAM.
GPUs with greater core counts and high clock speeds can process information faster, while the bus width and memory speed determine how fast the onboard memory – VRAM, can move and store data such as textures, resolution, anti-aliasing and post-processing effects. Photographers and users who work with image software will also find benefits in a powerful GPU, as all information regarding image manipulation, multiple-monitor productivity, colour properties, video editing and 3D rendering require graphics performance.
Providing two primary options for choice, the storage drive is where all of the user’s files, documents, games, video, programs, and operating system is stored. When called upon for use by the user, data is transported from the storage drive in to memory, where it sits to be processed by the CPU. Given the choice between a Hard disk drive – HDD, and a Solid state drive – SSD, both components operate is largely similar fashion while each holding their own benefits.
A HDD functions using moving mechanical parts, most akin to a spinning disk which stores data on a platter, with data being read as the disk comes into contact with a head. This can result in audible operation, while its benefits reside in cheaper pricing for larger amounts of storage space. A SSD operates much similar to a USB flash drive, consisting of no moving parts, instead, storing data on memory chips where fast-access times, boot times, and read and write operations perform at a much faster rate, allowing for increased performance as time goes on, along with programs having instant response times.
Allowing every other component to operate, all the while managing wattage and voltage in order to maintain appropriate functionality, the PSU is the deciding factor as to which components as well as the quantity of components that can be installed. Rated within a system of 80+ Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Titanium, a PSU with a higher rating will result in more energy efficiency with less heat being wasted while it’s in operation.
For gamers looking to install multiple graphics cards, enthusiasts intending to do extreme overclocking, or those intending to use a great number of storage drives for extended hours of operation, it’s always best to choose a PSU with a higher wattage than what’s required for the amount of components, as well as one that’s of a high rating. This ensures efficient power being delivered to the components, with headroom to spare for additional components.
Network Cards Allow users to add wireless functionality and communication between other PCs on the network, this components proves to be of most use when dealing with multiple traffic and data transportation across more than two computers.
Allowing users to backup data to DVD and Blu-Ray disks, and viewing media such as images and video, the optical drive serves as an alternative means for data storage and transferring files.
For users lacking audio functionality on their motherboards, sound cards give way for multiple solutions for audio connectivity. Allowing for 7.1 surround sound, a variety of input solutions, headphone and amp connectivity, sound cards also feature dedicated processors and audio profile settings with direct control through software or external components.
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