How to build a computer
MY SUPER PC
How To Build A PC - A Computer Building Guide
Rob Williams - contact via the forums
Last Updated: 7/3/2014
How to build a computer
Making PCWorld's "Best Free Stuff On The Web Guide - 101 Great Sites" as the favorite Build A PC site!



What You Need To Build A Computer

You can build a computer that's affordable, high-quality, and with eye-popping performance like My Super PC! If you're thinking of building your own PC and you'd like to see specific recommendations for components, actual costs, tutorials on how to assemble, help with BIOS and driver settings, what performance results you should expect, and all of this information for free - then you're at the right site! This site is dedicated to help you in building your own computer.

So Welcome! It's good to have you here to share my experiences researching and building My Super PC. The information on these pages should streamline your research and save you hours of time, a fair amount of money, and you'll end up building your own super computer. Although technology changes quickly, I update this site frequently to keep it up-to-date. This site provides:

  • Free tutorials on how to build a computer from start to finish - from component selection to assembly to testing.
  • Help in selecting quality, compatible components for building a PC.
  • The best places to buy top-quality components from reputable resellers at unbeatable prices to use to build your own PC.
  • Detailed Build A Computer guides providing step-by-step instructions describing how to assemble the computer.
  • Instructions on configuring BIOS settings and video card drivers to get the most out of your PC.
  • How to update and upgrade your computer.
  • PC support help, such as troubleshooting tips for during and after building your computer.
  • Official and unofficial FAQ's (Frequently Asked Questions) for building a PC.
  • What benchmark tools to use to measure computer performance.
  • What diagnostic tools to use to look for computer problems.
  • What I used to build my computer into a super computer.
  • In short, everything you need to build a computer.
My Tutorials
Computer Memory Upgrade
Hard Drive Upgrade
Video Card Upgrade
 
 
My Super PC Forums
Special message insert from Rob

The following great deals are available right now! This message box highlights deals you really shouldn't miss. Enjoy!

MySuperPC - How to Build an Affordable, Quality, Fast PC! - Printed!

Now you can have my full assembly tutorial in printed format! The book contains the same information as the assembly web-pages. It has over 175 pictures, with many pictures enlarged for the book. The cost is less than any computer component, $29.95. And no sales tax for most (sorry, New York and North Carolina). Shipping destinations include North America, Europe, Asia and the Pacific Rim. It is a soft-cover, full-size 8.5 x 11 version that is up-to-date with the web version. It takes you from parts list and component breakdown, through step-by-step detailed assembly, entering the BIOS settings, installing the operating system, installing each hardware driver, testing performance, and trouble-shooting common problems. The book is spiral-bound so it will lay flat when you have it out next to you as you work. Now you don't need a computer to read the tutorial!
MySuperPC - The Book!
Crucial Memory! Free shipping!

All Crucial memory is available with free shipping! Their prices and quality are already unbeatable, and now you get free shipping, too! Crucial makes outstanding memory and it's what I use in My Super PC!
Crucial
My Super PC - Build Computer - Laptop Deals

Unfortunately, it is not an option to build your own laptop computer. Here are links to top sellers of laptops and their current specials.

Newegg Laptop Deals      Dell Laptop Offers      HP Laptop Deals
 


How To Build A Computer

This first page lists the components I recommend to build a computer today, including the reputable online retailers where I would get them. Following web pages go into more detail regarding each component within a computer, such as the computer case, motherboard, processor, memory, video card, hard drive and so on, describing what type of technology is currently available and what features and capabilities to look for in each component. Finally, my free, detailed, step-by-step assembly instructions provide the most comprehensive guide available anywhere on how to build a computer, with hundreds of pictures and listing every single part that was used, right down to the cables and screws.

Here are the highlights of My Super PC today!

Motherboard Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UD5H
Processor Intel Core i5-3570k 3.4GHz (quad-core)
Ram Crucial 8192MB (8GB) PC3-12800 DDR3
Video Card eVGA Geforce GTX 760 2GB DDR5 PCI-E
Solid State Drive Crucial M4 128GB
Hard Drive Western Digital RE4 1000GB 7200rpm SATA 3
Optical Drive ASUS Blu-Ray 12x DVD RW
Sound Card ASUS Xonar D1 (but the motherboard built-in sound is very good)
Operating System Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-Bit
Monitor Dell UltraSharp 2001FP 20.1-inch Flat Panel LCD Monitor

It wouldn't take long for My Super PC to become just an average PC. But My Super PC was built with upgradeability as a primary consideration and it's as upgradeable as it gets!

Which brings me to the first rule of building your own PC which I call the "six month rule of delayed acquisition". Only use hardware and software that is at least six months old. There are three big reasons. First, as you may guess, is that prices drop drastically in even as short a period as six months. Second, as you may guess again, is that any problems will shake out in this time. But a third very important reason is that in only six months there will be volumes of information about an item from how it performs to how you can best use it.

My Super PC is built entirely from high quality components in the "sweet spot", meaning each component gives the most bang for the buck. This also means that the ultimate money-is-no-object component is not used. Doing so could easily double the cost, while only marginally improving on the final result.




Cost To Build A Computer

The components in My Super PC are outstanding in terms of quality and performance, and all were in the "sweet spot" at time of purchase. Today there are upgrades or alternatives for some components that are even more attactive given the current technology-price curve. In addition, there are alternatives to some components that are acceptable if the price is right or depending on your own situation. For example, I wanted a case that was not over 20 inches tall, but you may have a taller space available.

For each type of component, here are my recommendations for specific components and resellers. This may be the same as the component that I currently have in My Super PC today, or it may be a component that I would choose today if something better has come along. I also include other choices that may be better for your situation, or that I would prefer myself were I buying today. For each item, the price shown is the lowest price you can find it today from a reputable, well-established reseller. The resellers listed do not play games, such as overcharging for shipping and handling. You should have no trouble at all purchasing the items listed if you click on the link provided and follow the instructions under Comments. If you run into any trouble purchasing an item then don't hesitate to contact me via the message boards on the forums.


The Case And Power Supply

Description Where I Would Get It Today Today's Price Comments
Antec Sonata III with 500-Watt power supply
Amazon
$119.99 Free shipping! Clicking the link takes you directly to it. I've used this case in many versions of My Super PC. It has front port connections for USB 2.0 (two connections), an audio jack, a microphone jack and one eSATA port. It has plenty of open bays and it's not imposingly tall. It features low-noise cooling, including vibration absorbing drive mounts. It includes a high-quality 500-watt power supply.


The Processor

Description Where I Would Get It Today Today's Price Comments
Intel Core i5-4570K 3.2GHz
Amazon
$196.98 Free shipping! Retail box. Quad-core LGA 1150 processor. Includes a standard CPU cooler. Clicking the link takes you directly to it.


The Motherboard

Description Where I Would Get It Today Today's Price Comments
ASUS Z97-A LGA 1150
Amazon
$143.99 Free shipping! The Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UDH5 motherboard I'm using has outstanding quality and is a top performer. Unfortunately, it's been discontinued. This ASUS motherboard is very similar and would be my choice today. One difference is that the ASUS does not come with IEEE 1394, but it is cheaper and FireWire can be added for low-cost with a plug-in card.

Bundles, Barebone Kits
Motherboard Bundles
TigerDirect
Varies Clicking the link takes you directly to the page for bundles and systems. All of the components in My Super PC were purchased separately so that I got exactly what I wanted. But if you come across a bundle you like then you can be sure that all of the components are compatible. Bundles typically include at least the processor and motherboard, but can include much more.
Combo Deals
Newegg
Varies Clicking the link takes you directly to the combo deals page. Once there you can search by category, such as "AMD Motherboards" and brand, such as "Gigabyte".


RAM

Description Where I Would Get It Today Today's Price Comments
Crucial Ballistix 8GB Kit (2x4GB) PC3-12800 DDR3
Amazon
$99.98 Free shipping! Clicking the link takes you directly to the right Crucial web-page for the RAM best suited for an Intel socket LGA1150 motherboard like the ASUS Z97-A motherboard. The "Ballistix" memory is high-speed memory. RAM prices are very low and that makes the decision for how much RAM to get for the computer much easier.
All Crucial RAM
Crucial Memory
Varies Free shipping! Click the link to get to the Crucial web-site and follow the easy steps to find the right RAM for your motherboard or computer.
Crucial Memory UK/European
Crucial Memory UK/European
Varies Free shipping for UK orders! Click the link for UK/European pricing.


Video Card

Description Where I Would Get It Today Today's Price Comments
eVGA GeForce GTX 760 2GB DDR5
Amazon
$249.99 Free shipping! Retail box. Clicking the link takes you directly to it. A GeForce GTX 760 video card like this one is great for demanding graphics environments, including digital video and top-tier gaming, without spending too much. Very quiet and powerful. DirectX 11 support built-in. PCI-E 3.0 compliant. SLI compatible. Fast DDR5 memory. Power supply of 500-watts or better recommended. Does use an extra slot. Uses one 6-pin plus one 8-pin PCI-E power connectors from the power supply (the Antec Sonata III comes with both).


Sound Card, Computer Speakers, and Computer Headphones

Description Where I Would Get It Today Today's Price Comments
ASUS Xonar D1 PCI
Amazon
$79.99 Free shipping! Retail box. Clicking the link takes you directly to it. This model inserts into a PCI slot on the motherboard (not the newer PCI-E slots, called PCI Express). An add-on sound card is not needed by most. The built-in sound provided by motherboards such as the ones I recommend will satisfy most listeners, including me. But a sound card provides noticeably better sound and improves performance. Most motherboards come with at least one PCI slot, but otherwise there is a PCI-E version.
ASUS Xonar DX PCI-Express
Amazon
$87.60 Free shipping! Retail box. Clicking the link takes you directly to it. Identical to the ASUS Xonar D1 except it uses a PCI-E slot on the motherboard. The DX also uses a 4-pin power connector from the power supply.
Description Where I Would Get It Today Today's Price Comments
Logitech S2220 2.1 Speaker System
Amazon
$29.99 Free shipping! Clicking the link takes you directly to it. This is a three-piece speaker system. Two satellites and a sub-woofer. Very compact and they sound great.
Sennheiser HD 202 II Headphones
Amazon
$28.19 Free shipping! Clicking the link takes you directly to it. Sound is much more detailed and directional with headphones like these. The difference is amazing. I describe my own computer headphones on this page.


Solid State Drive

Description Where I Would Get It Today Today's Price Comments
Crucial M500 120GB SATA 6 Gb/s
Amazon
$71.99 Free shipping! Clicking the link takes you directly to it. This size is roomy enough for the operating system, commonly used applictions and the current games you're playing, speeding up almost everything.
Crucial M500 480GB SATA 6 Gb/s
Amazon
$227.99 Free shipping! Clicking the link takes you directly to it. This size is large enough that a hard drive is not necessary.


Hard Drive

Description Where I Would Get It Today Today's Price Comments
Western Digital 1TB RE4 SATA 3 Gb/s 7200rpm SATA 3
Amazon
$65.00 Free shipping! OEM version. Serial ATA III hard drive. Clicking the link takes you directly to it. Plenty of storage with 1000GB. Quiet, reliable and very fast.

Backup Tips - Protect Your Valuable Data.
Westerm Digital 1 TB External Hard Drive
Amazon
$69.00 Free shipping! Clicking the link takes you directly to it. This external hard drive connects to the computer via a USB port. Then copy over critical files periodically using software like SyncBack.
2BrightSparks SyncBack
2BrightSparks
Free Free download! Clicking the link takes you directly to the download page. The freeware version is near the bottom of the page. Use a freeware utility like SyncBack to schedule automatic copy operations to your backup hard drive. SyncBackSE, a feature rich version, costs $30. See the SyncBack version comparison chart for details.
Online Backup
Mozy
Free Off-site backups give maximum backup protection. Mozy is free for under 2GB with no credit card required. Unlimited backup space is available for $4.95 per month.


Optical Drive

Description Where I Would Get It Today Today's Price Comments
ASUS Blu-Ray 12x DVD RW (Black)
Amazon
$69.99 Free shipping! Retail version. Clicking the link takes you directly to it. Read and write Blu-ray DVD's, standard DVD's and CD's. Uses a SATA connector. Does not include software. The front panel color is black.


Keyboard And Mouse

Description Where I Would Get It Today Today's Price Comments
Logitech MK 520
(Keyboard and Laser Mouse)
Amazon
$36.99 Free shipping! Clicking the link takes you directly to it. Stylish with a nice feel to both keyboard and mouse. Uses a 2.4GHz wireless connection for greater reliability. I like the standard keyboard layout and shape, and soft click of the mouse scroll wheel. But keyboard and mouse are very much a matter of personal taste. Personally I'm fine with a wired keyboard and mouse arrangement, too. Wired connections come with LEDs for things like Caps Lock and Num Lock.


Monitor

Description Where I Would
Get It Today
Today's Price Comments
Viewsonic 24-Inch Widescreen LCD Monitor Full HD 1080p With Built-In Speakers
Amazon
$159.99 Free shipping! Clicking the link takes you directly to it. This is a wide screen monitor. Monitor choice is between regular and wide screen. The regular monitor has a 4:3 aspect ratio, such as a 1600 x 1200 native resolution and is rather squarish in appearance. A widescreen monitor is rectangular and often has an apsect ratio of 16:9, same as an HDTV, with a native resolution like 1920 x 1080. Either one is fine, just a matter of preference. Widescreen monitors tend to be less expensive because a 22-inch widescreen monitor has less viewing area than a 22-inch regular monitor. A 20-inch regular monitor is about the same height as a 24-inch widescreen monitor, but the 24-inch widescreen monitor would be much wider. Here are the best selling LED and LCD monitors at Amazon.


Software - Operating System

Description Where I Would Get It Today Today's Price Comments
Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64-Bit
Amazon
$89.00 Free shipping! OEM version, which is fine for building your own computer. Clicking the link takes you directly to it. SP1 means it includes Service Pack 1, so it already has the first set of patch updates for Windows 7.

Next: Build A Computer Like My Super PC - Price Considerations

Thank you for enjoying my site! Did I save you lots of research time? Did I find you great deals? I hope it helped you build your own computer and keeps you informed as technology changes! A delightful practice is to recognize quality, personal service such as this through tipping. If you would care to do so then I thank you very kindly and provide this PayPal tipping button for your convenience. The amount is up to you. It's been my pleasure to help you!

Biggest tip last month: $50.00 - Thanks, Nancy!
Biggest tip ever: $250.00 - Thanks, Robert J.!
One good tip deserves another! I bet you already know that Amazon.com is a great low-cost reseller, and not just for books but also for Computer Components and Computer Software. But did you know:
  • Just about any order for $25 or more ships free!
  • There's no sales tax in most states.
  • There's no restocking fee on returned items.
  • Are you a "My Super PC Graduate"? If I helped you build your own computer and you're agreeable to a little recognition for your accomplishment then check out the My Super PC Graduate message board forum.




    Skip Ahead
      Introduction/Cost To Build A Computer
      Computer Building Price Considerations
      faq: OEM Definition
      Case And Power Supply
      Processor
      Motherboard
      BIOS Settings
      RAM
      Video Card
      Sound Card
      SSD - Solid State Drive
      Hard Drive
      faq: Can I Use My Old Hard Drive With A New Computer?
      CD-ROM And CD-RW
      DVD
      Change The Front Panel On The DVD RW
      Flat Panel LCD Monitor
      Other Computer Hardware
      Windows Operating System
      Firewall
      Sharing Cable Modem or DSL
      CPU Cooler And Case Fans
      Overclocking
      How Fast Is It?
      Assemble
      What Problems Were There?
      More About How To Get A Cheap Computer With Top Quality And High Performance
      Changes For A Game Computer And Enjoying Computer Games
      Changes For A Computer With MP3 Music As A Priority
      Media Center PC
      Help And Support
      faq: How Can I Tell What I Already Have In My Computer?

    © 2001-2014, Rob Williams, all rights reserved.

    Comment, question, suggestion?
    Head over to the My Super PC forums!