This series of articles will cover the basics of what knowledge and skills you will need to design and build your own personal computer. The tasks involved are covered in a seperate article which can be found here. Each article in this series will follow this headline format “Computers 101: BYOPC ‘article topic’. The following is a brief overview of what you will need to know and where you will need to begin.
All computers (PCs) have various hardware and software components that work together to allow your computer to do what it does. Most hardware components are necessary for every PC. However, some hardware and software components are only needed for specific situations.
A complete computer system usually consists of:
- a computer case that houses most of the necessary hardware (motherboard, cpu, memory,etc.)
- input devices for getting information into the computer or navigating within programs (keyboard, mouse, scanner, etc.)
- output devices for seeing or hearing the results of what the computer is doing (display device, printer, projector, speakers, etc.).
Step 1 When designing your computer, you need to know what exactly you want it to be capable of doing as well as what software programs or applications you want to be able to run on it. Do you want it for general purpose uses such as writing letters, sending e-mails and surfing the internet? Do you want it for your home office to assist you with your everyday business needs? Do you want it to be able to play the latest video games? How about using it as your media hub? Or maybe something else not mentioned?
What you want your computer to be able to do, along with the programs or applications you want it to be capable of running, will, for the most part, be the controlling factor in determining which parts you will need and the types and amounts of each hardware component you will need. A computer for doing basic things doesn’t require high performance components such as video cards or high resolution displays. But a computer that will be doing high-end graphics applications such as photo and video editing or playing the latest games at their highest resolution and maxed-out settings will require these and possibly other additional high performance hardware.
Many times, just knowing the programs or applications you want the computer to be able to run will give you a good start. They usually have a minimum and recommended list of hardware and software requirements listed on the product box or somewhere in the product advertisement. These requirements will often include cpu type and speed, amount of memory necessary, what level of graphics capability your computer must have and what operating systems that it is compatible with, just to name a few.
Computers can be classified into four major types: (click on the computer type to find additional information)
- the low-end or general purpose (sometimes called budget) computer
- the home office or small business (sometimes refered to as a corporate) computer
- the gaming computer
- the home theater or media hub computer
There are many websites and forums that are dedicated to assisting would be computer builders with whatever needs or questions they may have. Or you can do a search on the internet for whatever question(s) you may have or topic(s) you would like to know more about.
The next group of articles in the BYOPC series will provide an overview of common PC hardware and software components, a brief explanation of their purpose and some of the questions about each that you will need to answer in order to design and build your dream PC. The first follow up article will be Computers 101: BYOPC ‘hardware- the case’