“This is my PC. There are many like it, but this one is mine.
My PC is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life.
My PC, without me, is useless. Without my PC, I am useless…”
It seems that, with all of these gadgets appearing day after day, tablets, smartphones, smart watches etc, we have forgotten of the one who was by our side all these song years and who is still alive and kicking: the humble PC. Yes, it’s big and not that mobile, but where else do we have the power to satisfy our need for performance? In tablets? They are useless (I sincerely believe that, they are utterly useless in every way possible, but this is my own opinion). In smartphones? They are good for talking and sending emails or talking on social networks, and that’s about it.
The Desktop PC Hasn’t Lost Its Charisma
No, these devices, regardless of what everyone thinks, will never replace the PC. I love my PC, I consider home wherever my PC is. And with all the commotion going on in the mobile market, with new devices springing out every other day, the PC seems to be a more feasible option if you want to have a powerful machine for a long period of time.
Some might say that a good PC will cost more (if you follow our PC buying guide, it might cost you less) than other devices, and that might be true, but in the long run, a PC is more economic. If you build it well from the beginning, it will require just a few minor upgrades from time to time to keep it working at a high enough level to satisfy our every need.
Building a good computer is the challenge it used to be. Now you have a vast array of components and accessories you can install and the technology is more inter-connectable than before. Also, even if the technology advances, you can still upgrade your computer more easily than you would a laptop for instance.
Build, Upgrade Your PC Without Spending a Lot
I will start from the surface of the PC and move downwards to its inner components and give you the information you need so you will be fully prepared when you will make your next build or upgrade. What you need to understand before we delve into the makings of a PC is that the more money you invest at first, the better it will be. Of course, you might argue that computer technology changes with time, but some aspects remain the same and having the latest tech will ensure that you won’t have to make a full upgrade in the future.
1. The Case
The case is one of the most important components of a PC. Get this wrong and you will have to invest more money in the future to accommodate newer models of motherboards, coolers or Video Cards (and these get real big, so try to find something that has a minimum of 30 cm inner space for Video Cards). For this, you might want to take a look at bigger cases that accommodate all the motherboards today (even as far as XL-ATX or E-ATX). Also, space for CPU coolers and plenty of hard drives is benefit. Orient yourself to find a case that offers lots of cooling for your build and for future upgrades, and also support for water cooling.
2. Power Supply
The power supply is the one that gives your computer life. I won’t even bother with low end power supplies because of the low quality and low efficiency they have. Some Power Supplies offer a efficiency of over 90%. But it’s good to have a Power Supply with a Silver or Gold efficiency of minimum 80%. And as power goes, to accommodate future upgrades, look for something with a minimum of 850W. A modular PSU would also be a good idea because it lets you use only the cables you need and make a better wire management in your case.
3. The Motherboard
If the CPU is the brain of the PC, then the motherboard is its backbone. On it you will install all the components and future upgrades. Look towards a motherboard that has the latest features, such as USB 3.0, SATA III (6GB/s), PCI Express 2.1 or above (Intel will launch the new 22nm Ivy bridge microprocessor very quick, which has native PCIE 3.0 and 6GB/s SATA, so it might be a plus if you find some that have these features). Also, nothing under Dual Channel DDR3 is worth the money, so look for a minimum of this, or even Quad Channel and with a maximum of over 16 GB of RAM supportable.
The socket of the motherboards is also very important. Both Intel and AMD have switched a few sockets over time (Intel has developed a passion for this until the Ivy Bridge), so if you are fan of Intel, better stick to 1155, it promises lots of future upgrades and it also supports both Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge architecture. AMD also have FM1 and FM2 sockets (they might also release something for the AM3+ platform), and it seems that they want to stick the these, so an FM2 socket would be a great idea.
The CPU is the brain of the PC. And here is where you have to look towards a real powerful one. According to Moore’s Law, the power of computers doubles every 2 years, but a good processor can keep you going for even more than that. So try to get a latest socket and with all the new technology and with some power under the hood.
5. DDR Memory
DDR Memory is what makes your computer run faster. It’s basically a memory where your processor writes instructions to the memory to use them later. So with more memory, the more instructions the CPU can write on it. DDR3 is now the standard memory installed on computers, and a minimum of 4GB is recommended to run just about application. But I recommend to get no less than 8GB to keep you running for a few years to come.
6. Hard Disks
If you are like me, then the space on your PC is never enough. I manage to fill up any hard drive I have, and so, it’s natural to recommend the biggest space possible, and if budget permits, an SSD drive for your OS and multiple hard drives for storage, maybe even in RAID configuration.
7. Video Card
The Video Card is most probably the most expensive component you will buy for your PC, and most probably the first to be outdated. For gaming purposes, I would recommend the very best video card you can buy. This will keep you going for another 2-3 years before needing a an upgrade. But if you are not an avid gamer, then a mid level video card will be enough for you.
How to Plan a Cheap PC Upgrade
These are the main things to look for when buying a new PC. If you keep to this, then you will most likely use it for over 3 years with no need for upgrades. But what do you do if you only want to upgrade an old computer? Well, I don’t recommend buying a better component than what you have if it’s not modern technology. You will end up having to get even more. But a few pointers when upgrading:
1. More RAM
An increase in RAM memory can make your computer faster and more responsive. If you are fine with the actual RAM, don’t rush for the latest beasts in the market, wait for prices to fall down and plan a budget for that. Only buy what you think you really need.
2. Bigger HDD
A bigger hard drive will allow you to store more information on your old PC, and it can also be transferred to a new computer if you have the same interface. Just like with the RAM, don’t be deceived by the big amount. Select only the HDD that you need and remember that you can still store your files using free cloud storage.
3. Better CPU Cooler
If your CPU is working overtime, then better cooling will make it run a little bit smoother, but not something noticeable. You need to look through our list of top CPU coolers to choose what you like the most. The biggest advantage of a good aftermarket cooler is that you can use it for the next computer you build, thus saving some money (and they can be quite expensive).
If you follow these guidelines, you can save some money on your computer build or upgrade. however, this saving is not immediate, you will notice it in time.
“My PC is human, even as I, because it is my life. Thus, I will learn it as a brother. I will learn its weaknesses, its strength, its parts, its accessories, its connectors and its frequencies. I will keep my PC clean and ready, even as I am clean and ready. We will become part of each other. We will…”