I love video games, and had been a console gamer since Day Dot, but during my Leaving Cert I sold my Xbox One. This resulted in a period of about a year, where my gaming consisted of mobile games and Football Manager on my laptop. This summer I worked as a Night Porter/ Bar Man in a hotel, and in one of my late-night shifts, tiredness took control and I went onto pcpartpicker.com, and selected a part list for myself online. Building a PC can seem very intimidating, and I’ll admit that I was intimidated. So… here’s my advice on what to do.
The single most basic thing that you have to do is look at exactly what you want to spend. For me, and many others, budgets change. I started with a soft upper limit of €700 for parts. In terms of parts, what you’re going to need is a CPU, a Motherboard, a Graphics Card, RAM, a power supply, either an HDD or SSD and also a case. Of these parts, the first things that you should pick are your CPU and your Graphics Card. Prices for older graphics cards have sky-rocketed recently, due to Crypto Currency Mining, but a fantastic place to source good parts is on pcpartpicker.com. Make sure that you do your research. Know exactly what you would like your PC to do. If you budget €400 on parts, you’re going to get a €400 PC. Building a PC isn’t magically cheap, there is expense, but it is an up front and upgradeable investment.
I had absolutely no idea what the difference between a GTX 1050, 1050ti or a 1060, so I watched various YouTube tutorials and I would urge anyone else to do the same. Most of these tutorials will show you exactly how well each card can run different games and it is a great indicator to show you exactly what you will need and want. There are similar comparisons for CPUs and once you have selected these parts you’re essentially done. You now know exactly what your PC is capable of and you must just pick the other parts to suit this. If you put your CPU and Graphics Card into the compatibility checker on pcpartspicker, you should be now more than able to select the rest of your parts. The best part of the site is the fact that it includes a compatibility checker to guarantee that your PC will actually work!
So you’ve picked the parts, your mouth is watering, here comes the big PC. You can actually get very creative when building. Some people love to pick a theme, or a colour palette and it can lead to some very creative designs. Go onto the subreddit r/battlestations and you will not be able to help but be inspired. Don’t forget to include some peripherals, a nice new mouse, a fancy keyboard maybe even a new headset. Buying all these things new can be ridiculously expensive, but don’t forget to look second-hand. Second hand computer parts can be a minefield at the best of times, but after a fairly short few days on Facebook Marketplace, Done Deal and so on, I managed to source a high-quality keyboard, mouse and mouse-mat for less than half their RRP.
Once you’ve ordered your parts, the actual construction of the PC itself is far from complicated. It can look very intimidating, wires everywhere, and so on. In fact, it is quite simple. All of your parts will come with manuals, and there’s no real possibility of a mistake unless you force parts to go where they shouldn’t go. Everything should fit together with minimal force and there you go. You have built a PC. One huge benefit that UCC students avail of is the fact that we can get a copy of Windows entirely free through the UCC website, saving you money which can be invested elsewhere.
In summary all I can say is, do it. It is one of the most fulfilling experiences that I have had in my entire life. Building a PC was one of the most stressful things I have ever done, but when it actually turned on, the feeling of relief made it all worthwhile! Use the various resources online, get inspired and get building!