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How to Build a PC! 2011 Style Part 3


Well well well, we have some idea that we can put together a smoking system for very little $$$. and its been this way for some time.

I believe we have consoles slowing down graphic development for this. Of Course trying to play Arma II at full settings at 1920x1200 is near impossible... damn those European developers for actually taxing hardware...

SO what do we have left? Well all the non-core components. These are things that can stick around for years and years and years. So lets check these out and hopefully help you pick some good stuff!

We are getting closer to the final build result and we can see just how spendy it can be.


In case you didn't know a computer case holds all the computer crap. Cases come in all sizes and colors and prices... and this can be confusing. Since you can buy a case for $35 or spend as much as $300 or more. So what do we spend or select?

Form Factor
Cases come in 3 flavors known as form factors:
1. ATX: This is the standard case AND there are three flavors of ATX cases:
- Full Towers
- Mid Towers
- Mini Towers

All of these cases hold an ATX mother board. Full towers usually have about 7 bays, Mid have 4, and Mini have 2. Bays hold hard drives and optical drives. Most of us don't need more than 2 hard drives and the truly frugal only need one.

2. Micro ATX: A Micro ATX case holds a Micro ATX mother board. These are small cases and can look like cubes or small towers. A Micro ATX mother board can also be placed in an ATX case (see above)... yeah it can get a little confusing. An ATX MB CANNOT go into a Micro ATX case.

(This is the size of case I used when building a machine for your editor and chief...)

3. Mini-ITX: These are ultra small mother boards and there are a variety of cases that can house them. Since Mini-ITX is one of the newer form factors there are not as many options for hardware. Do NOT get a Mini ITX case WITH a power supply, you need to buy that separately. IF the case does come with one, its most likely a small supply that does not have the ability to power your system and power hungry video card.

Suggestion: For more room go with a mid tower ATX or a Mini ATX. Also there are more choices in these. Also i would suggest trying to find a case between $60 and $100. These cases are usually built well enough to last for many years.

These manufactures make nice cases:
- Antec
- Thermaltake
- Lian Li
- Silverstone
- Corsair

I like these cases:

Micro ATX

Mini ITX

Just be sure the case has two slots for the Video Card. Most new video cards require two rear slots.

Total Price: $50 to $200

Power Supply

The power supply is arguably the most important part of a computer. A nice supply can last for years. There are two types of Power Supply Units... or PSU.

1. Single Rail: These PSU's supply all their power on one "circuit". This means that all the draw of the computer is taken directly by one circuit. These supplies tend to be more expensive since they need more parts to control the power.

2. Multi Rail: These PSU's spread the power they provide across multiple circuits. This means that if a supply provides 30 amps of power and has two rails, likely each rail will supply 15 amps. The problem is that if you need to run 20 amps of stuff, and your video card takes 10 you are wasting the other 5 amps on that rail. When using a multi rail just check to be sure that any single rail is enough to run your video card. In many newer PSU's the manufacturer has taken this into consideration.

Also PSU's can come with "modular" as an option. A modular PSU allows the user to plug cable into the back. Many don't like to use these as the plug could become loose and interrupt or lose power. However, these PSU's allow for the extra cables to not be used

For a mid to high rang video card a 500 to 750 watt PSU should be just fine.

I like this one for $50:

Hard Drives

Hmm... Just get one that runs at 7200 RPM. It a good idea to get two. One for Windows and the other to store games. This can be important as if you use Steam you can reinstall the system on the OS drive and Steam will rebuild all of your games!!!

Also be careful when you buy a small case that you can put two standard size internal drives which are 3.5". Sometimes small form factor cases only allow the space for laptop 2.5" drives.

If you choose to do this be sure to get a drive with at least 80GB for the OS.

You can get a 1 Terabyte drive for

Total cost HDD $75:

Optical Drive

There are two choices for a cheap system:
1. BluRay Player: $56
2. DVD Burner: $21

Ummm. BluRay seems good for the price... you don't need light scribe or anything like that.

Total Cost

SO far the total cost of the system is:

MB: $100 to $125
CPU: $100 to $150
RAM: $50 to $100
Video: $125 to $175
Case: $50 to $100
PSU: $50 to $85
HDD: $45 to $75
Optical Drive: $21 to $56

Total Price: $550 to $870

So a whole new computer cheaper than a new release console. It can be plugged into an entertainment system and easily upgraded. It makes sense to go lower or higher, but CPU prices tend not to drop as fast as video cards.


No matter what you build you will need put upgrade just like buying the next gen console or when you have to replace a console bc of red ring like only 54% of XBox 360's did.

So my suggestion is to replace the Video Card only after 2 to 4 years and do this twice. The core should last 4 to 6 years and the auxiliary components should last indefinitely. Optical drives tend to die faster like those who bought PS3 found out.

If you choose to replace or upgrade core components leave the mother board alone and just get a newer or faster processor. With cheap RAM prices you can always add more RAM whenever you like.

See its not so hard or expensive.

I hope this helps. PM me with any questions. I can help with all types of Intel builds. I know AMD builds can run even cheaper!!

and good gaming!
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About Lockeone of us since 11:35 PM on 10.20.2009

I am a PC gamer. I have a water cool completely custom case that I hand crafted from raw materials and PC DIY parts. The case is one of the smallest 3 120mm radiator cases that exists. I have a modest computer inside. The non-water cooling parts cost about $650 dollars and I upgrade the system about every 3 years and the video card about every 2 years.

I have been gaming all my life. I started with simple LCD portable games and we eventually got an Atari which I played the dickens out of. NES was too played until my fingers had blisters. I bought a PC in 1988 and have not looked back since (well except to play karaoke with my ex-wife). Games like Civilization, Battle of Britain, Ultima IV, Leisure Suit Larry, and Wing Commander took my heart.

Sytems I have owned:
Atari 2600
Atari 7200
Nintendo NES

I am also an avid technical scuba diver and have logged dives at 170' deep. I play paintball, softball, football, and all sorts of table tops games that include DnD and Axis and Allies. I am also in the process of writing my own table top RPG and have spent three years working on it. I have a woodworking shop and can make furniture, picture frames and the like.

I have a degree in Industrial Design. This makes me a designer of products, architectural way finding, POP displays, and user interfaces. I have also taught design at the college level.
Steam ID:locke913


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