Someone requested an instructable on how to select components to build a desktop computer.  Apparently I am that guy who plays requests now.  All I get are requests to play cover songs, when all I really want to do is to play my own music! ... Oh wait that is something different.

This instructable will involve some research, there is no way around it.  If you are the type of person who does not like to do research stop reading this instructable now, and buy a fully assembled computer.  I am sure that you will be happy with a Small, Medium, or Large computer.  You have to be happy with exactly the components that the company (a.k.a. the man) selected for your computer, and use all the connectors and components that you paid extra for!

Those of us smart artistic types build their own computers!  Sure it will take some research to find computer parts that work together, but the experience will be totally worth the work because you will be so much smarter than those who stopped reading and bought a fully assembled computer.  So bring on the research!

I use several web sites to buy computer components, such as New Egg, Tiger Direct, Mwave, and Amazon.  If you know of other sites please leave a comment so we all can get a good complete list.


Use the different sites to compare prices and to see what different components are available.

This Instructable submitted by the Rabbit-Hole Maker Space as part of the Instructables Sponsorship Program.

Step 1: Select the Central Processing Unit

The first decision is selecting the Central Processing Unit (CPU).

You have (basically) two choices of CPUs AMD or Intel.  This instructable will not discuss alternate CPUs because buying motherboards for other architectures is much more unique and much harder to find parts.

A CPU contains billions of transistors and a lot of time and effort went into the creation of the central processor.  Therefore the CPU is often the most expensive part of the computer.  It is the brain of the computer where all the computations are done.  Faster or more powerful CPUs are more expensive.

The advantage of picking out your own CPU is you get to decide what features you want to pay for.  Some may want to do some virutalization, others may want to overclock a CPU to get extra speed out of it, while others may want to buy a CPU for lower power consumption.


Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) is a manufacturer of processors for the consumer market.  AMD makes processors that are compatible with the x86 architecture.


The Intel corporation is another manufacturer of processors for the consumer market.  Intel is the inventor of the x86 architecture. 

Both companies make a wide range of different processors that compete very closely with each other.  Each year the processors get smaller, faster and have more features.  The companies focus on different processor features to differentiate themselves from the competition including cores, cache, and speed. 

Socket type

The CPU will connect to the motherboard in what is called a CPU socket.  A motherboard will only have one type of socket so selecting the CPU will help limit the choices of motherboards.

Select a processor with the features that are important for the anticipated use of the computer.  Once you have a CPU selected note the socket type.  The type will be needed when looking at motherboards that will work with the CPU.
<p>Nice 'ible. I built a budget desktop from bits lying around the house added to a couple of new items. I found the order for selection of components the most useful. Many thanks.</p><p>For UK PC builders try the following for parts, please post any others, that way we can all benefit.</p><p><a href="http://www.dabs.com/" rel="nofollow">http://www.dabs.com/</a></p><p><a href="http://www.crucial.com/uk/index.aspx" rel="nofollow">http://www.crucial.com/uk/index.aspx</a></p><p><a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/" rel="nofollow">http://www.amazon.co.uk/</a></p><p><a href="http://www.ebuyer.com/" rel="nofollow">http://www.ebuyer.com/</a></p><p>Ebay is always good for cheaper alternatives.</p>
Try Pc Case Gear, there Australian but it wouldn't surprise me if they have stores located over seas, they have alright prices but have a very large variety of components. A long with all the specs of each part. <br/>
I don't know if you can answer this here, but I've heard of something called a &quot;hackintosh&quot;. Is it possible/legal to use this guide to build a machine that can load some version of OS X?
great job...... <br>GooD Read for begginers. <br>... <br>It can be even better....if includes each parts detail examples(model no/name) particularly suitable for gamers, web surfers, as a media center, simple house hold desktop, super powerfull desktop...for specialized application.........etc
Wow, this is a very awesome 'ible! This is exactly how I would write it. When I saw the first diagram, I knew that you were doing it right. You used the correct hierarchy for selecting components. I am very impressed. <br> <br>I just had a few things. Explain the limitation x86 processors have on the amount of RAM you can have (4Gb max). That is very important, especially as applications become more demanding in the future. You want to be able to upgrade. <br> <br>Under storage, just mention that SSDs come in much smaller capacities, and will be very expensive to get capacities of 500Gb +. Also, make sure they know PATA is very obsolete, haha. <br> <br>Explain that PCIe has different sizes (x16, x8, etc) and that they need to watch out for that when buying graphics cards, sound cards, NICs, etc. Usually graphics cards are x16, but it varies. It is very important that they check out what the motherboard has, and what the PCIe card requires. Also, x16 cards often require an extra power cable from the PSU, so they need to make sure that the PSU they select has that extra cable. <br> <br>Also on the topic of graphics cards. Mention that if you have more memory on the card it self, it will use the RAM less. <br> <br>One thing I like to do, I add a step at the very end of my tech 'ibles that has a quick list of definitions for &quot;geek jargon&quot; which I throw out. Things like thunderbolt, SATA, etc. One point of confusion I see a lot of people getting caught on is the use of the word &quot;memory&quot;. Some might think you are talking about storage capacities rather than RAM, haha. You could have a * and explain at the end of the step, or whatever you want to do. <br> <br>Other than that, there are a few grammatical mistakes, sentence flow, but over all a very awesome Instructable! It was weird reading this, it sounds a lot like how I write my 'ibles.
Most of the modern 32 bit operating systems (Microsoft XP and newer) can handle more than 4 GB of RAM with a technique called <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physical_Address_Extension" rel="nofollow">Physical Address Extension (PAE)</a>.&nbsp; Therefore I did not put anything in about RAM limitations.
Hmmmm... I guess so.
I bet this would meet the requirements of the <a href="http://www.instructables.com/contest/icouldmakethat/" rel="nofollow">I Could Make That</a>&nbsp;competition. Rather than buying a computer &quot;off the shelf&quot;, you can build your own! I would consider adding your other 'ible as well.
It would be awesome if you added this to <a href="http://www.instructables.com/group/muggletogeek" rel="nofollow">my group</a>.

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