Last Updated: Apr 24 2013
Many people do not realize how easy it is to put together a computer system from parts. In fact, many systems that users build can outperform purchased desktop computer systems. The biggest challenge of putting together a computer system is typically finding what parts to buy. That is where this guide comes in.
This is really a guideline for those looking to put together their own computer system but don't want to break the bank. For around $500, it is possible to to put together a highly functional computer system that works extremely well for general purpose computing such as internet access, office applications and even digital photography. Below is a list of parts that I have selected that can be used to put together such a system. It includes all of the parts that are internal to the computer plus the operating system. It will be necessary to buy a monitor and other peripherals such as speakers to complete the system.
Many of the parts on this list are sold as OEM products. They are the same items that would come in a retail package but have less material as they are sold in bulk typically to builders. They should carry the same warranties and protections as retail box products.
Remember that this is just a guide of recommended products. There are many alternative components available that will perform just as well. In addition to the name of the item, a link is included for shopping for the components.
The Budget PC Components
- Case - Rosewill R218-P-BK
A well designed low cost steel desktop mid-tower case that also includes a 450W power supply. The case has many great features that make it very easy to work with.
- Motherboard - ASRock Z77M
They are certainly more affordable Intel Socket 1155 motherboards on the market but the ASRock Z77M uses the Z77 chipset that provides it with some additional feature support such as Rapid Start that can help with performance down the road. It is a smaller microATX board to fit into the case which does limit a few of the slots.
- Processor - Intel Pentium G2120
While this is just a dual core processor from Intel that lacks a couple of features, it uses the same Ivy Bridge core as the latest Core i processors and provides more than enough performance for the average user.
- Memory - Crucial Ballistix Sport 8GB PC3-12800 DDR3 Kit
DDR3 is the defacto memory strandard now and the 1600MHz speed is the most common. With prices having dropped in the past year, it is now possible to afford 8GB of memory to allow a smooth experience in Windows.
- Hard Drive - Seagate Barracuda 1TB SATA
This drive from Seagate offers some solid performance thanks to the 7200rpm spin rate and large drive cache.
- DVD - LG GH24NS95 24x DVD+/-RW DL SATA
This low cost DVD burner supports all of the current DVD media standards and has 24x speeds for DVD+/-R media.
- Keyboard and Mouse - Logitech MK120 USB Keyboard and Mouse
This keyboard and mouse combo is very inexpensive but provides a good overall feel.
- Operating System - Windows 8 System Builder 64-bit
The most recent version of Microsoft's operating system is a major departure but if you want to be current, it is the version to get.
or Windows 7 Home Premium 64-Bit
While Windows 8 is the latest, it is a pretty major change that many people would rather have Windows 7 which they are familiar with and like. It thankfully is still available although generally slightly more expensive.
What Else is Needed
This list of components will make up the heart of the computer system but it still needs a monitor. There are a wide range of monitor sizes but the most afford tend to be the smaller ones. I would recommend looking at my Best 24-inch LCD Monitors list for a good low cost display but prices have dropped such that 24-inch LCDs offer higher resolution at roughly the same price.
Putting it All Together
Once you have all the parts, the computer system will have to be assembled and installed. Tutorials on the various steps required to install the parts together into the computer system can be found in one of two ways. I have available a 5-day E-mail Newsletter Course that puts the steps in a logical order or you can just dive right into the individual Tutorials themselves.