Are you new to PC building? Maybe a friend’s put together their computer and you want to learn more. Whatever your reason, building your own PC is a lot of fun! So, let’s learn how to build a PC in 2022, this is your beginner’s guide to building a PC.

Disclaimer, this is not a step-by-step article, but more of a general guide to approaching how to build a PC. I am not an expert, please check with a professional before buying anything.

Goal, Budget and Expectations

First and foremost, have a clear reason why you want a PC and what you need it for. It’s going to help with part selection, so make sure you understand your use case. Some reasons may be work, school, gaming, video editing, game development, programming or more.

Second, you need a budget, some sort of dollar amount when purchasing parts. This is a personal decision, balance what you’re comfortable spending with the amount you can afford. Your budget can change over time if you’re able to save money, so you can research parts while you save.

Thirdly, expect to compromise as the PC market is ever-changing. Certain parts might be in a worldwide shortage, crypto miners may surge prices or vendors may just not have stock. Go into the building process with an open mind and listen to experienced PC builders. There’s a lot of insider knowledge, so read forums, ask questions at your local PC store and either work colleagues or friends you have in the IT industry.

PC Parts – Definitions and Considerations

Before selecting anything, you need a basic understanding of each PC part. Let’s discuss what each part is, considerations on selecting parts and how they connect to each other. Note, this does not cover every possible element of selecting parts, but the basics to get started.

  • Central Processing Unit (CPU), the brain of your PC. This is responsible for all user tasks, meaning, anything you do on your PC, this part organises, calculates and executes it. Two considerations, 1) the number of cores which determines the amount of tasks it can handle at once, e.g. two, four, eight or more. And 2) the clock speed, which is how fast it processes, measured in Mega Hertz (MHz) e.g. 3.2MHz, 4.0MHz or more.
  • Motherboard (MoBo), the nervous system. This is the main board all parts plug into and is responsible for their connection. Four things to consider, 1) the size or form-factor e.g. min-ITX, Micro ATX, ATX or more. 2) The CPU socket e.g. LGA 1700, AM4 or more. 3) The chipset which assists transferring data between other parts. And 4) other features such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, amount of storage devices and more.
  • Power Supply (PSU), the stomach of your PC. This is responsible for taking in power and converting it so PC parts can operate. You need to decide on the amount of wattage so all parts have enough power and the level of efficiency. There are many variations of PSUs like Bronze, Silver, Gold and more.
  • Random Access Memory (RAM), short-term memory. This assists your CPU in multitasking which allows more application switching. Four factors to consider, 1) the amount of RAM measured in Gigabytes e.g. 8GB, 16GB, 32GB or more, and 2) the speed of RAM measured in Megahertz, e.g. 1600MHz, 3200MHz or more. 3) the type e.g. DDR3, DDR4 or DDR5 and 4) the size or form-factor DIMM, SDIMM or more.
  • Graphics Processing Unit (GPU), the visuals. This renders 3D objects and most video tasks for a your PC. Four factors to consider, 1) amount of cores, 2) clock speed, 3) power consumption and 4) physical dimensions.
  • Hard Drive Disk (HDD) or Solid State Drive (SSD), long term storage. This part allows user data to be stored and accessed, like movies, music, word files etc. Three considerations, 1) physical size or form-factor e.g. 3.5”, 2.5” or M.2, 2) speed of drive, and 3) the capacity or amount of storage e.g. 500GB, 1TB or more.
  • Case, the body of your PC. This houses all of your parts to protect them and cool them. Three areas to think about, 1) physical size or form factor e.g. mini-ITX, Micro ATX, Mid Tower, Full Tower or more. 2) Included features such as pre-installed fans, amount of USBs, side window or more. And 3) general appearance and personal preference of design.
  • Other parts to consider can include wireless modules, sound cards, ethernet cards, case fans, CPU coolers and much more. Consider your unique use-case and the features included on your motherboard to determine if you need any other part.

Note, almost all parts have various brands and manufacturers who make the same or similar parts. This can cause an overwhelming amount of choices for a single part. Take your time and go back to what you need to clarify what you’re looking for.

Selecting and Purchasing Parts

There’s no exact method for selecting parts, you might find a great deal on something which becomes your focal part and build around that. You might have some parts given to you that you want to incorporate into the build.

Let’s take a closer look at how to select your PC parts. I recommend starting with PC Part Picker and take some time to see example builds. This will give you a good idea of compatibility, prices and build your own preference.

You can use the System Builder to assist in the process. The following recommendations are in a general sense and based on my own experience and opinions, use them to assist if needed.

  • Select a CPU, start with one of the two major manufactures Intel or AMD. It’s a good idea to check the latest versions of CPUs to ensure you’re getting the best part at the time for your money. Note the CPU socket type, clock speed and amount of cores.
  • Choose a motherboard based on your CPU socket type, check the latest chipset and features you require. Note the form-factor as this determines the physical size and impacts your Case.
  • Check if your CPU includes a cooler, if it’s a higher-end CPU, it’s a good idea to purchase a CPU cooler, either fan or water cooled.
  • Find the amount of RAM you need and check the type and speed are compatible with your CPU and MoBo. 8GB’s is generally considered the minimum with 16GB or more being ideal.
  • Select storage to fit your MoBo, ensure to find a balance of speed and capacity that fits your budget. 1Tb can be more than enough for most users. Option, purchase a higher-speed SSD with lower capacity and a lower-speed HDD with higher capacity to save money.
  • Check for a GPU that has enough cores and memory to fit your build. Note the physical dimensions to check it will fit in the case of your choice.
  • Ensure a PSU with more then enough wattage to power the entire build. Check the level of efficiency suites your needs.
  • Choose a Case that fits the form factor of your MoBo, has adaquet part clearance like GPU length and meets your general asthetic and personal preference.

Once you’ve got a part list together, it’s time to look closer at each part, it’s recommended to go over the manufacturer’s webpage and read in detail. Note, try and find incompatibilities with parts you’ve selected that are the wrong size or form factor. This is the time to swap parts around and find the balance between your needs, wants and budget. It’s also a good idea to check user reviews and benchmark guides for each part, this may be difficult if you’re selecting newer parts.

If you’re starting to feel happy with the build, it’s a good time to check availability. You can purchase PC parts from online retailers like Amazon and eBay or find a local PC shop by searching “pc parts {local suburb}”. It’s not required but recommended to purchase parts from a single location or store, this make’s life easier in case of warranty claims or low product availability.

Building Your PC

There are many step-by-step guides out there on the inter-webs to follow, this isn’t one. However, here are some ideas to consider when building your PC.

  • Before starting, check you have all the correct parts, see exact product numbers and model names. They could look similar but in fact be different parts all together.
  • Ensure you have a clear, dedicated work space with a way to organise screw and smaller parts of your PC. Ideally you have a magnetic bowl or placemat to keep them safe.
  • Have another device like a laptop ready to search or watch articles to assist you. This will also be helpful for creating a bootable USB to install your Operating System (OS) of choice later.
  • Have your printed manuals on hand or the manufacture part webpages loaded online for viewing. Taking your time to read the instructions could save you from making costly mistakes.
  • Build a skeleton PC first, meaning install the CPU, RAM and PSU into MoBo outside your Case. Then check if everything boots to the Basic Input Output System (BIOS) to ensure there are no dead-on-arrival parts.
  • Take all the panels off your case to make the build easier, start with installing the skeleton build.
  • Install one part after the other and take the time to check everything is screwed in and secure before moving on, make sure to not over screw.
  • Do not tie down cables or worry about cable management until the very end, in case you make a mistake or need to change anything, you don’t want to undo more work.
  • Before you power up the system, double check everything is in place and nothing is touching the MoBo like cables or ties. Also check the on/off switch on your PSU is in the correct orientation, this can cause a slight heart-drop moment as nothing power’s up.
  • It’s a good idea to use your PC in it’s half-built state. Check the MoBo BIOS settings, boot to a USB and start installing your OS of choice. If you want, you can stress test your machine with bench marking software to ensure everything is working before you complete the build.
  • To complete, organise all cables and use included tie mount points in the case. Install all the case panels back to their original areas and you should be all good to go.

As you finish up, it’s your choice to keep the original packaging of your parts for warranty purposes. It does make life easier if you have to return anything, to put it back in the box it came and send it off.

PC Example Build

Lastly, let’s look at an example build for a better look at the process in action. These are my personal PC parts I’ve selected that inspired this article.

My use case is a combination of work, gaming, content creation, light programming and productivity. I have a budget of AUD$3-3.5k, which for me is a large amount, but working from home 8 hours a day requires it.

Let’s take a closer look at the parts and why I got them:

  • Intel i7-12700K CPU with 3.6 GHz and 12-Cores.
  • Cooler Master ML120L V2 CPU Cooler.
  • Asus Motherboard, with the Z690 chipset, Micro ATX form factor and LGA1700 socket.
  • Corsair RAM that’s DDR4 at 3600MHz and 32GB in size.
  • Corsair SSD, it’s 2 TB in size and uses the M.2 form factor.
  • MSI 3070 Ti GPU which has 8 GB memory and 1800MHz in speed.
  • Silverstone Case that’s Micro ATX form factor and included 3 120mm ARGB fans.
  • Gigabyte PSU, it’s 850W in capacity, 80+ Gold in efficiency and fully modular.
  • Gigabyte Wi-Fi Module which supports WiFi 5 Bluetooth 5 and uses the PCIe form factor.

The total for this build came to $3,367 which fits perfectly within my budget. It took me an hour or so for a first draft for parts, but I spent hours over the week fine-tuning each part for my budget and use case. Right now GPU prices are crazy expensive which pushed the overall price up. Currently, the newer DDR5 RAM is too expensive for my build, which would need an equally expensive MoBo upgrade.

I decided to not physically put this computer together myself due to a lack of time. I love building computers and want to put mine together, but working full-time would make it difficult. Overall, the technician and team building my PC were great to deal with and I received an added extra year of warranty.

So, that’s my PC build, I wish the best for yours and hope this article helped in some small way. Feel free to share it with a friend or family member who may need it and let me know if I could improve anything in any way, thanks.