The Complete Guide to Upgrading & Building Your Own PC & More

I try to explain this in a way that new users can understand, but experienced users won’t be up in arms about, so if you have questions ask and I will clarify.

Want to learn more than these guides offer? Check out these threads too!

Hey guys, thanks for checking out this guide. We will be covering the selection process and decision process of upgrading and building your own computer. We will cover the whole PC part by part and I will provide descriptions, brands, and what to look for, so without further ado. Remember if you have any questions, suggestions, or comments, just post below.


[/u]The Complete Guide to Upgrading & Building Your Own Computer[u]

[/u] [size=25][b]Part 1: Introduction[/b] [/size] If you are upgrading or building, you should ask yourself these questions:

What is the use of this computer?
If you’re a gamer what kind of games will you be playing? FPS, RTS, RPG
Are you a heavy multitasker & gamer? Or just gamer a only?
What is your budget?
How much storage space is adequate for you?
How long do you want this rig to last?
What resolution will you be playing on?
Will you overclock? If so how far?
Each question can point you in the right direction. Take the first one, "What is the use of this computer?” a gamer will want to look into a more powerful video card, and doesn’t need huge amounts of RAM. A video editor will want a computer with large amounts of RAM, a quad-core CPU, a CUDA enabled GPU, and possibly some scratch disks. Once you answer these questions you can look into finding the parts you want to upgrade or build with. You may not know what these questions mean, but for a person who can guide you this will give them just about everything they need to hook you up with a sweet system.

Part 2: The Parts

Where I should get these parts?
There are many good places to buy components, I am going to just list a few American retailers, if you need some more in other countries, just ask me. There are a lot more in America too.

  • Newegg
  • Mwave
  • Tiger Direct
  • Frys
  • Amazon
  • Jab-tech
  • Microcenter
  • Directron

Farther down you can find a much larger list of retailers, and international retailers.

CPU aka Processor

The CPU, or the central-processing unit, is what carries out the instructions that computer programs send it, and easily perform basic arithmetical, logical, and input/output operations. CPU’s are sorted into sockets, which are mechanical components that provide mechanical and electrical connections between the CPU and motherboard. Some common sockets are LGA 775, 1156, 1366, the new 1155, and for AMD the AM3, AM2, and AM2+.

Really only 2 viable ones for most consumers, Intel and AMD. Both companies provide a plethora of great choices. Intel’s offerings range from low range to the extreme, and claim the highest priced and highest performing medal. AMD is more associated with great low end and mid-range choices, and can often hold their own with Intel equivalents. Right about now, we are seeing the phase out of many dual cores processors, which have rained king and have now lost their crown to quad cores. Both brands are fine, and it all depends on your budget.

What to look for
Are you a gamer, a professional media editor, or other?
Gamers should look for a mid-level CPU that can handle the games you need. Search for benchmarks, today the new quad cores from Intel and AMD will work great. These days more and more and more games are fully optimized for use with quad cores, so buying a dual core for gaming is not the best decision for the future. Just make sure to pick a matching motherboard, which will cover next. Media editors will want a quad core to beef up render times and increase their ability to multi-task.

Here is an awesome CPU comparison chart for gamers:

[details=Open Me]

[/details]Thank you Tom’s Hardware for this wonderful chart!
Motherboardaka Mobo

The motherboard, board, mainboard, or in Apple computers the Logic board, is the central hub for all of your computer components. It is printed on the PCB or printed circuit board and provides most of the connections for other hardware.

Unlike processors, there are a lot of good brands, and quite a few not so good brands. We’ll try to run through what to look for and what to avoid. These are not ordered in any particular way, so don’t try to read into it.

The quick rundown:

  • Gigabyte
  • Asus
  • EVGA
  • Biostar
  • Most MSI


  • Foxconn
  • AsRock
  • Intel
  • Zotac

First off Gigabyte, these are some of the best motherboards out there, though some come for quite a price premium. They are some of the world’s best overclockers, and can’t be beat when it comes to reaching the highest FSB’s on CPU’s. Second we have Asus, another great brand, they are known for their Rampage line which is another amazing overclocker. Asus has a lot of great features, and good prices, and will be a good motherboard for any user. Third we have EVGA good motherboards with plenty of features and are good overclockers. Another good brand. Fourth MSI, in the past MSI hasn’t had the greatest motherboards, but they have really stepped up their game. They put out good overclockers and quality motherboards. Biostar is another good brand which puts out some decent overclockers, and a few absolute stars.

In another tier of motherboards, there are some brands which are ok, or inconsistent. Foxconn, well they have a few gems, and few pieces of crap. Watch out, but they’ll work for a user not overclocking for the most part. Intel, for the non-overclocker the motherboards are great. They are very solid, and will stay running for a long time, but don’t try to overclock with these. For Zotac motherboards, well if your building a SFF or small form factor build go with Zotac. They put out awesome ITX boards.

What to look for:

Well what do you want? Do you want support for USB 3.0, E-SATA? How many PCI-E slots. What type of RAID support would you like (if onboard)? What socket does my CPU use? These are some of the questions to ask yourself when selecting a motherboard. You’ll need PCI-E slots for add ons like video cards and sound cards, or PCI cards for older sound cards or some RAID cards. If you will be using a multiple video card setting you’ll want to look for full 2x or 3x PCI-E 2.0 x16 lanes, and not 2x PCI-E 2.0 x8. x8 will be fine for lower end cards, and it is still under debate whether the bandwidth of PCI-E 1.1 lanes are fully utilized by modern video cards, but most motherboards will offer this. Look around, motherboards are something that will be different for everyone, so ask an expert to help you select the perfect choice, because there is way to much for me to cover here.

Power Supply aka PSU

The power supply is one of the most important parts of your computer; it supplies power to the other components in a computer. More specifically, a power supply unit is typically designed to convert (AC) power to usable (DC) power for the internal components of the computer. If you select a bad PSU it could destroy all your components, and you would be left with nothing. PSU’s come in a few form factors, but currently the most supported and common is ATX.

There is a problem with selecting brands for CPU’s. What manufacturers do is create the product and give it to companies who slap their own labels on them who then sell them. These manufacturers include Channel Well, Win-Tact, Seasonic, FSP, and so many more. Manufacturers put out good and bad power supplies, so to get a low down on good power supplies. There is one definite place to go: - Jonny puts out the best, most detailed, and he knows what to look for. Trust his reviews, and read them!

Once again there are quite a few good brands, and a lot of bad ones. I’ll point out the ones to look for:

  • Antec
  • Silverstone
  • Cooler Master
  • Corsair
  • Enermax
  • Most OCZ
  • PC Power & Cooling
  • SeaSonic
  • XFX

What to look for:
Well you’ll want to make sure you have the right amount of wattage, connectors, and amps to support your components. To figure out what kind of wattage you need go here: eXtreme Power Supply Calculator v2.5

Most power supplies and almost all the power supplies listed will have plenty of connectors and amps. But you’ll need SATA PSU cables for HDD’s, DVD drives, and a few others, PCI-Express Connectors x6 and for some x8 for mostly your video cards, MOLEX for assorted fans, lights, and cooling components. All other cables needed will be standard.

There is an argument over single rail vs. multi rail, but both will server you fine, so don’t worry about this.

Case aka Chassis, tower

Simply the case houses you components, they come in many form factors. ATX, E-ATX, micro ATX, and mini ITX, all to match the size of your motherboard. You will most likely be looking for ATX cases.

Since there are numerous brands, and the best way to select a case is to know what to look for, we’ll start with that first.

What to look for:
You’ll want a case that can fit all your components, and has a good build quality. You may have to worry about size and portability if you are making a LAN build, or media center PC. The other thing a lot of people overlook is cable management. Guess what, there are a lot of cables in your PC, and you’ll want to manage them well. Wires restrict airflow and create a mess, so you’ll want to keep you cables in order. Secondly, avoid a large amount of plastic. Some people like flashy LED’s and shiny plastic, but guess what it falls apart way to easily. I personally like the classy standard look of Lian Li’s and Silverstones, not to mention, they offer some of the best build quality in the business. Once you use one of these high-end cases you’ll never go back. The third thing you’ll want to look for is air flow. Select a case with a good fan setup which can support plenty, and if you’ll have the PC on carpet, dust filters are a must. With airflow, you should also look at the pressure you’ll create. When intake fans combined airflow is greater than exhaust, a positive pressure is created inside the chassis. Conversely, when the airflow is greater for exhaust than it is for intake, a negative pressure is created. Always try to go negative though when possible. Fourth is well room, you’ll want to make sure all your components fit, and you have room for things like advanced CPU cooling, HDD’s, your motherboard, and other peripherals.

Here are the good brands, with high quality cases and good airflow.

  • Windy - Undisputed highest quality, and amazing looking cases. Only made in Japan, so they come at a steep price
  • Lian Li
  • Silverstone
  • Antec
  • Cooler Master
  • Zalman
  • NZXT
  • Corsair

Memory aka RAM

RAM, random access memory, isn’t like the memory on your HDD. It’s known as volatile memory which means each time it loses power all information stored on it is lost. The idea behind RAM is that data can be returned in a constant time no matter where the physical location. In layman terms RAM is like the short term memory for the CPU. It takes bits and pieces and holds them until the CPU requires them and then dumps them. Your hard drive is the long-term memory. It stores info for a long time or until you delete it. That’s the easiest way for me to explain it.

Here are some good brands where you will find quality products. Remember, only buy RAM with lifetime warranties, it should be standard though.

  • G-Skill
  • Corsair
  • OCZ
  • Mushkin
  • Some Patriot
  • GeIL
  • Some Kingston
  • A-Data - for non overclockers

What to look for:
RAM are like PSU’s in the fact that manufacturers of the RAM chips bin the chips and send them to the companies who do the finally assembly of them and sell them. The RAM chips are really what you need to look into if you are a hard core overclocker. Micron is the undisputed champion, but you’ll also find Samsung, Infineon, Hynix, and others making chips. Don’t worry about this unless you’re a hardcore overclocker.

What most will need to look for is the amount of RAM you’ll need, the speed, the voltage, latency/timings, and the type.
Size wise, you’ll be fine with the standard 4-6GB of RAM. You’ll almost never use 4GB unless you are running very RAM intensive software like video or photo editing programs, and 3D rendering. Next, speed, RAM is given default speeds that it can run at, this coincides with the CPU’s FSB (intel) or HyperTransport (AMD). You’ll see speeds for DDR2 most commonly marketed at DDR2 800 and 1066, and for DDR3 1066, 1600, and 2000. These speeds make almost no difference for most users, so select the memory that best fits your budget. Secondly, for latency and timings, select a kit that has a CAS latency of around 4-7 and timings like 4-4-4-12, 5-5-5-15, or 7-8-7-24/20. If you’re buying newer DDR3 RAM higher CAS latency are completely ok, 8,9,10, and 11 won’t really hurt anything. And type should be simply compatible with your motherboard, most commonly DDR2, and DDR3. Most motherboard manufacturers provide lists of memory that has been tested to be compatible, so always try to check that out.

Voltage is another important part of RAM to be wary about. You’ll need to match the correct voltage range to make sure you motherboard, CPU, and RAM are compatible. Historically LGA 775 boards could easily support a large range of voltages, but after the release of socket, 1366 motherboards have been requiring a more restrictive range. So look for the recommended voltage specs for the RAM and make sure it fits the motherboard specifications (which are made to support the CPU).

The Video Card aka the GPU

The video card is a specialized micro-processor dedicated to rendering visuals too take a load of the CPU. There are two main developers of video cards these days, AMD and Nvidia. Each develops the cards and gives them to manufacturers who can enhance, change, and improve on these designs. The two companies trade blows back and forth for the best performance spot and it changes often. All new cards run in PCI-E slots, but used to also use PCI or AGP.

Here are some great brands for you to choose:

  • EVGA
  • XFX
  • MSI
  • Asus
  • Gigabyte
  • Palit
  • Sapphire
  • VisionTek
  • HIS

You really cannot go wrong with these awesome brands, but if you are looking to save some money PNY, PowerColor, and ECS can also get the job done.

What to look for:
There are two major types of video cards Desktop/Gaming cards, and Workstations cards for professionals. We’ll be discussing the Desktop cards. Your first choice will be the developer of the card, AMD or Nvidia. Certain games run better with Nvidia drivers, and some with AMD. If you want a CUDA enabled card with lots of uses, you’ll want to select Nvidia. Each company has its own set of drawbacks, and to find out which one is best for you, you will just need to look at reviews that test with the software you use.

After selecting the developer, you’ll need to look into the specific card you want. The best way to do this is simply what fits into your budget. If you are playing at lower resolutions, you can afford to beef up on other components, while if you have a larger screen you’ll want to put a little more cash into the video card. Standard cooling is adequate for non-overclockers, and will give you good cooling, however if you want to push and stress the card make sure to look for a card with a quality cooling solution. You will see cards with different types of memory (GDDR2, GDDR3, GDDR5, etc.) and amounts (256 MB, 512 MB, 1GB). Generally, if you run at a large resolution with multiple monitors you’ll want to select a card with more memory. The type of memory really won’t make a difference for you here. All new cards run PCI-E 2.0 for now, but will work on PCI-E 1.1 and 1.0 slots, but higher end cards may be bandwidth bottlenecked. You also need to make sure to balance out your GPU and CPU. A slow can CPU can also bottlneck your GPU so make sure to select a CPU that has enough power to support your GPU. This won’t be a problem for anyone who is building an new computer, but if you upgrading with an older CPU you should look into this. When selecting a GPU it is important to simply look at reviews and benchmarks and find the best one for you.

Here is an awesome GPU comparison chart for gamers:

[details=Open Me]

[/details]Thank you Tom’s Hardware for this wonderful chart!

Hard Drive Disk aka HDD, Internal Hard Drive

The HDD is a non-volatile form of storage meaning when the HDD loses power, data isn’t lost. The HDD contains platters which is what the HDD is all about. Different platters have different speeds, and storage amounts. What you really need to know is that this is where data is stored. Larger HDD’s will have more platters and larger platters. The platters are read by read/write heads that float on a film of air. HDD’s come in multiple sizes, but for desktop computers, you’ll want a 3.5.

Here are the brands too look for, each brand has some that are better than others so read reviews, and look for failure rates.

  • Western Digital
  • Samsung
  • Seagate
  • Some Hitachi’s

What to look for:
Storage, speed, and cache. First off cache: hard drives utilize algorithms to pre-cache data, or to leave data in the cache memory in case it is requested again. SATA drives also require a certain amount of memory to store incoming commands, because most products are capable of reorganizing these in order to process them as efficiently as possible, requiring little physical head movement.

Now a day you’ll want to select a hard drive with 32MB of cache or 64MB of cache. It won’t make a difference for the standard user, but stick with these. Next up storage size, decide how much you need. Do you download a lot, have a lot of movies, photos, and other.

I’m not necessarily going to talk about the RPM of the disk, just go with 7200RPM disks. Don’t go more or less, if you go more just buy a SSD. The last thing to look at is the speed of the disks. Once you’ve determined the size and cache look for models that fit these specifications from different manufacturers, and look up reviews and benchmarks comparing them. Subsequently you can choose the best one.

Solid State Drive aka SSD

The SSD is another storage device that uses microchips that retain data in non-volatile memory chips and contain no moving parts. SSD’s are known to be more reliable then HDD’s and will have much lower access times and latency, use less power, and are much quieter then conventional drives.

And SSD isn’t for everyone, SSD’s will vastly decrease boot times, and increase the speed of launch for all applications. They aren’t cheap, but they are getting more and more worth it, and the prices are getting far cheaper. They make applications launch as if nothing else is already running. SSD’s do come at the price premium, but in the next few years, I’d definitely suggest picking them up now that most of the original problems had been fixed.

The prices of SSD’s are really dropping fast, and for $100 you can get an amazing SSD in the Crucial M4, and I’d say it’s well worth it to get one. The prices are down, and the speeds are amazing. If you’re looking for an upgrade, this is a great option.

The SSD is probably the most noticeable upgrade you’ll ever make to your computer, and it’s something you should definitely consider, and definitely try to pick up.

There are quite a few but here are the top:

  • Crucial
  • Intel
  • OCZ
  • Transcend
  • Corsair
  • Kingston
  • G-Skill
  • Patriot

What to look for:
Well first off will be size, how much room do you need and what do you want to store on here? I’d suggest storing only your OS and commonly used software that take a while to load. This will fully utilize your SSD. The next is speed and the controller, a big difference in SSDs today lies in the controller technology, which handles data protection as well as writing, erasing, and wear leveling. An SSD’s controller is responsible for a great deal of critical activity, and some controllers simply perform better - and faster - than others do. For SSD’s you’ll also want to look at benchmarks to find the top performers in it class and go from there.

Here are two amazing articles for learning more about SSD’s:
The SSD Relapse: Understanding and Choosing the Best SSD
The SSD Anthology: Understanding SSDs and New Drives from OCZ

The Optical Disc Drive aka DVD/CD/BR Reader and Burner

ODD’s are disk drives that use laser light to read or write data onto discs. Just your for burning your favorite DVD’s, ripping your CD’s, and a whole lot more.


  • LG
  • Samsung
  • LiteOn
  • Asus

What to look for:
Really you’re just going to want to look for the features you want, and buy the best one for yourself. Features you might want to look for are Lighscribe, support for specific type of discs, a higher cache, support for dual layer discs, higher speeds. DVD drives are cheap and Blu Ray drives are becoming more and more affordable every day, so these usually aren’t too expensive.

After Market Cooling Air and Liquid Cooling

PC users are always looking to get the best out of their computers, and that often means overclocking, which for most means heat. For the budget minded gamer or enthusiast, air cooling offers great overclocking head room at an affordable price. But guess what? Everything in your computer generates heat, your CPU, motherboard, GPU, RAM, and just about everything else. Therefore, to keep your components running at their max performance, lasting longer, and running better you have to do something with all that heat. You also have to prevent your components from cycling from hot to cold too fast, because repeated cooling and heating of any component is bad. When something heats up it expands, and it will contract when it cools down. If this process is always repeated, you risk cracking the device. But thankfully the newest components usually don’t have this problem for most users.

Air Cooling Heatsinks, fans and more


The first step in your air-cooling is your computer case, I have covered just about everything you really need to know about airflow in the case in the case section, so if you haven’t read it yet I suggest you do know.

The most important non-electrical component in your computer is the CPU heat sink. Without it your CPU would overheat in no time, and your expensive little chip would be destroyed. However, with a good heat sink you can overclock your CPU to great heights. CPU heatsinks are made of two main metals, Aluminum and Copper. Copper has around twice the conductivity of Aluminum, but it also is much more heavy and expensive then the Aluminum alloys used in the majority of heatsinks. Diamond can also be used as it has even better conductivity then copper (about 5 times better), but as you might assume, this would be extremely expensive. But diamond will be found in thermal compounds (that will be covered later).

One tough thing about heat sinks lately has been the fluctuation of technologies and top spots for the heatsinks. It’s tough to give a winner and a lot will work great for you, so the brands will only be the top. To keep track of the best heat sinks here are my two favorite review sites for heat sinks: FrostyTech & Benchmark Reviews. There are more, but those are my favorite.


  • Noctua
  • Promlimatech
  • Xigmatek
  • Thermolab
  • Titan
  • Zalman (There newest offerings)
  • Cogage
  • Scythe
  • Titan
  • Spire
  • Thermaltake
  • Be Quiet!

There are so many this list will probably be updated a lot. Please tell me if I am forgetting any, because I know I am.

What to look for:
Well first off, you’ll want to look for quality metals, make sure it’s either made of Copper or Aluminum. There are also some technologies like HDT (Heatpipe Direct Touch) which means the heatpipes are not just passing through the cooler base they are physically touching the CPU and can provide much better cooling. You also need to consider how loud your fans are and how large your case is. Not all cases can accommodate all CPU coolers, so you might want to do some measurements if you are using a smaller case. Moreover, if you have an HTPC or a computer where you sleep you’ll want to consider silent fans for better movie watching experiences.


What to look for:As we’ve talked about before in the case section, there are three types of air pressure, positive (more air going in than out of your system), negative (more air going out than in of your system), and of course equal (well… its equal). Negative air pressure will most often provide the best temperatures as hot air is removed quickly and cold air is forced in through because of the pressure, however you’ll end up with more dust. For those who are bit lazier, the positive pressure system will help keep your system air free. By creating positive pressure, the air will want to escape from the case slipping out the cracks of your case and help with dust. However, the differences between each is very minimal, and not something to fret over. There are a few main properties to look at when purchasing fans: fan power, noise, and size.

First, we’ll cover fan power, which is measured in two different ways, its electrical consumption, or the amount of air it moves. Power is measured in watts. Typically power and air movement increase together, but some fans are more efficient than others. Power draw should not be a huge concern though, what you should be more concerned about however, is the air movement. The airflow provided by a fan is measure in CFM, which are cubic feet per minute. This is how much of a volume of air in an equal pressure environment a fan can move under ideal circumstances at its rated speed and power. Just to get a few benchmarks, 25 CFM is about equivalent to a decent breeze, 50 CFM would be more like a firm wind, and 200 CFM is more or less what a hair dryer moves.

The biggest factor for fans though is often the noise, which is measured in decibels (DBA). Here’s a nice guide for comparison: click me. As far as fans go you’ll want to aim for somewhere between 20-35 decibels, or maybe a bit higher if you really want performance. A fans noise though, is quite closely related to both airflow (the more air moving, the louder the noise) and the size of the fan. Larger fans are able to move more air quieter, the larger the fan, the more efficient in terms of noise it is. PC fans come in every size imaginable, commonly you’ll see these sizes: 40mm, 60mm, 80mm, 92mm, 120mm, 140mm, 200mm (this refers to the side length). In cases you’ll mostly see 120mm fans these days (80mm have been phased out, and larger fans like 140mm fans and 200mm fans have been beginning to enter the market more and more often. The depth of fans is usually 25mm, but thicker 38mm also are can be found, the thicker the fan the more air it will move. Fans can often also be controlled, if your fan has a 3 pin connector and is plugged into the motherboard, then you can almost always adjust its speed, so that’s something you definitely want to check out, otherwise, fans work perfectly fine hard wired into the power supply.


  • Noctua
  • Fractal Design
  • Scythe
  • Yate Loons (if you but the real ones)
  • Cooler Master (some)
  • Delta (extremely loud and powerful)
  • Arctic Cooling
  • TFC
  • Noiseblocker
  • Xigamatek

The Thermal Compound aka Thermal Paste & Thermal Grease

Because heatsinks do not have perfectly flat bases (having very small scratches all over the base) something needs to fill the microscopic air gaps present due to these imperfections. Thermal paste has far greater thermal conductivity than air and aids a heat sink in thermal dissipation. Many people don’t fully understand that it is a mistake to think that the more thermal compound you apply the better. Thermal compound is a much worse heat conductor than copper and aluminum, so by putting on too much you are lowering the actual cooling performance of the heat sink. You’ll want to put on enough to fill the gaps, but not too much as to where it impedes the processor. I always suggest a pea sized amount in the center and spread it around a bit, the heat sink will take care of the rest once mounted.


  • Zalman
  • Arctic
  • Prolimatech
  • Antec
  • Noctua
  • Thermalright
  • Tuniq
  • OCZ
  • IC

What to look for:The world of thermal compounds is constantly changing with companies constantly putting out new products trying to capture the top spot. In all honesty thermal compounds will really only differ by a few degrees Celsius in between themselves, but for those looking for the biggest overclock, this can make a big difference. Thankfully there are constant reviews and round ups of all the top thermal compounds like this one (here) where you can find the best thermal compound for you.

PeripheralsThe Monitor aka Screen and LCD

The monitor, it’s what you look at :laughing:. Modern monitors are based off TFT technology which is Thin Film Transistor, and describes the elements that control the pixels. Each pixel can emit just about any color, and LCD’s change the color by having liquid crystals changing their molecular structure. Hence, LCD stands for Liquid Crystal display. There are three types of LCD’s, TN Panel, VA Panel, and IPS Panel. TN panels are the most common and the cheapest, while IPS will be the most expensive and give you the best colors of any LCD. VA is somewhere in the middle, and offer better color in than TN panels, but worse compared to IPS.

Brands(Things vary so much in between brands, you’ll have to look specifically at each panel):

  • Samsung
  • LG
  • Asus
  • Dell
  • HP
  • Hanns G
  • BenQ

What to look for:
, simply check the size of the panel and see what fits for your desk, wherever you’ll put it. Resolution, this is the number of pixels that can be displayed by the screen, you can’t run an LCD above its native resolution, but you can below. Response time, this is the time it takes a pixel to change from black to white to black. Often the listed response time will be from gray to gray so be wary. Lower response times will prevent blurring and ghosting when playing movies and games. Anything under a 5MS response time should be ok. Contrast ratio this is the difference between the darkest black and the brightest white. The bigger the contrast ratio, the better, you’ll almost always see the dynamic contrast ratio, which isn’t always so helpful, but keep your eye out for the static contrast ratio. Viewing Angle this is the field of view in which you can still easily make out the screen. IPS panels will have the best viewing angles, but for most people who sit directly in front of their screen this won’t be a problem. Refresh rate this is the rate coming from your graphics card and monitor. Many people wonder what Vsync is, it is related in that when gaming this will synchronize the frame rate with the refresh rate of your graphics card. This will prevent tearing of the image, but is not suggested to be run unless you can run the game at a high frame rate. There are a few other things to look at like color depth and reproduction, pixel pitch and backlighting, but these won’t concern he average gamer.


What to look for:First thing to focus on with mice is the grip. There are three classifications: claw, fingertip, and palm. Each has varying degrees of contact with the mouse and hand. Here is a diagram to explain them:

Open Me

Each type has its advantages and disadvantages, but depending on what you want you’ll want to select different mice. Someone who uses the fingertip grip will want a smaller and lightweight mouse, which is easy to control with their fingertips, while a palmer will want a larger mouse with plenty of space to rest their full hand on. While I don’t have time to go into a huge amount of depth, you’ll want to figure this out, Razer has done an amazing job with this and you can check it out here to learn more about all the types of grip: Razer Gaming Mouse Advisor | Razer’ | For Gamers. By Gamers.’

The next thing to consider is the sensitivity. It’s kind of like the sensitivity that you set in Call of Duty, it defines how far your cursor moves compared to how far the mouse moved in real life. So in an FPS game you may have to move the mouse 50 CM to turn 360 degrees in game. This brings us to DPI or dots per inch, which is the measurement of the number of “counts”, read by the sensor over an inch of physical movement by the mouse. A high dpi means that more movement data is produced by the sensor, subsequently the cursor will move greater distances without requiring the operator to move the mouse as far. Those who need quick precise movements like in FPS or RTS games will want a higher DPI.

Finally there are multiple types of sensors for the mice, but for gaming you want laser or optical. This is a sensor that uses a laser diode or LED (optical) to illuminate the surface it is tracking on so successive pictures can be taken to determine the movement of the mouse it is contained within. Lastly, get a wired mouse, end of story. There are a few other things to consider like pooling, interpolated DPI, and acceleration limits which you can consider, but for the sake of length we won’t be covering them (they’re not a huge deal until you really need a performance mouse).

Lastly, when looking for a mouse, consider what games you play most, what kind of extra buttons you’ll want, make sure to feel different types of mice and get the right type of ergonomic grip for your hand.


  • Logitech
  • Cyba Snipa
  • Razer
  • Cooler Master
  • Corsair
  • Gigabyte
  • Saitek


What to look for: The first thing you should be concerned with when buying a keyboard is the types of keys, either membrane keys or mechanical keys. With membrane keys, the keycaps are placed above rubber domes. With mechanical keyboards, the keys have individual keyswitch mechanisms that register keystrokes instead of sharing the membrane sheath with all other keys like membrane keyboards. Mechanical keyboards are much higher quality, and much more expensive and mechanical keyboards come in multiple types of switches. The most common are the cherry switches, which include the black, brown, blue, clear, and red. Each has different types of tactile feels and you can learn more about them here: Keyboard Switch Guide

The next things you’ll want to worry about key rollover or NKRO. NKRO is when you can press as many keys as you want at the same time and they all go through. However often most keyboards have limits to the number can only press 6 keys at once, these are what USB keys have. Only PS/2 keyboards can have full n-key rollover. However, most gaming keyboards apply rollover to the WASD cluster so you won’t have conflicts there. If you can remember, always by PS/2 it wins over USB all day long.

As far as other features go they’re mostly up to you, extra keys, macro keys, incline angle, and wrist rests are all personal preference.


  • Ducky
  • Logitech
  • Razer
  • Gigabyte
  • Saitek
  • Steelseries
  • Rosewill
  • Das
  • Thermaltake
  • Felco
  • Topre

Where to buy from North America and Beyond

Well after the creation of this guide I never really covered where the best places to buy from are. Here I’ll try to highlight the top sites to choose from, and give you my top 3 for the countries slash areas, so here we go:

United States:

[details=Open Me]Top 3

And here are some more quality sites in no particular order:



[details=Open Me]Top 3

And here are some more quality sites in no particular order:



[details=Open Me]Top 3

And here are some more quality sites in no particular order:



[details=Open Me]Here’s my favorite, I just love it: PC Case Gear



More Countries (LOTS):

Open Me

Thanks to the user Shadowclock for his user submitted database of great sites for other countries.

Motherboard | Mainboard | Arbeitsspeicher | Grafikkarten | Samsung & Seagate Festplatten | Intel CPU
DiTech Computer

Belgium - Accueil - PC, notebooks, logiciels, réseaux, média CD/DVD, imprimantes et consommables
ALTERNATE. Hardware - Software - Entertainment

CROATIA: - homepage
Acquisitum Magnum d.o.o. , Acquisitum Magnum d.o.o.
Protis - Naslovnica
M-Computers :: Pregled ponude
Unusmedia d.o.o.
Prodaja Ra
Ventex Web Shop - ponuda i cijene proizvoda Search Tool

Velkommen til Zitech Technology - eShop (Not owning cheap) (Modding)
Velkommen til Proshop
EDBpriser - find og sammenlign de bedste priser og tilbud på danmarks bedste prisguide
Sammenlign priser med PriceRunner Danmark - og find de bedste tilbud online price search engine Great site for buying teflon tape for the mouse (aka skatez). Currently only a bit of Europe.

Dutch sites:
ALTERNATE. Hardware - Software - Entertainment (also German) (also German)

RueDuCommerce *– Achat et vente : les 1 euros, ordinateur portable, électroménager, GPS, mode, décoration, maison - RDC - Ordinateurs, pices et priphriques pour PC - Achat et vente : ordinateur, PC portable, composant et périphérique informatique, télévision LCD, plasma ou LED, appareil photo numérique, console, jeu vidéo, etc.

Germany - Computer Resources and Information. This website is for sale!
Computer Shop, Notebook Shop and more | - TFTs, Computer Komponenten, Notebooks, PCs, Server, Drucker, Software, LCD-TV und Home Entertaiment - Home - Online-Shop für Modding, Gaming, Gehäuse, Kühler und Hardware Zubehör

Hong Kong
Wai Fong Co. Ltd, DIY, HTPC, Cooler, Heatsink Fan, highend PC parts
Centralfield Computer Ltd. -
Jumbo Computer Supplies

Lynx Chandigarh - Largest Audio , Electronic And Computer Online Superstore In India (considered pricey) - Buy Tech Online Now!!!

Bhinneka No. 1 Computer Webstore in Indonesia, Toko Komputer Online

Middle-East and parts of Africa:
Welcome to

ALTERNATE. Hardware - Software - Entertainment
4Launch Shop
Salland Webwinkel |
IKBENSTIL.NL de beste hardware voor een stille computer (no longer in business?)

New Zealand
search engines
staticICE - Compare Prices - New Zealand - Price comparison for gadgets and computer hardware (Best prices Search Engine)
PriceSpy - The new generation of price comparisons

Norway: (computers/hardware) - Nettbutikk: TV PC Mobil Foto Spill. Test vinnere og bestselgere (computers/hardware) - Nettbutikk for datautstyr, PC, bærbar PC, TV, foto, video og spill. (computers/hardware/whatever) (computers/hardware)
GameZone (games and whatnot)
MULTICOM / Velkommen (whatever hardware, camera whatever…)
Forsiden - Netshop
Hjem - MicroPlex

Philippines | Buy and Sell Computer Hardware, Parts and Peripherals

ChipSite – preços imbatíveis em computadores, informática, som e imagem, redes, domótica e muito mais
F13PC - Índice da Loja Online F13PC
nanoChip - Informatica

Laptop Notebook Racunari prodaja - Kompjuteri akcija -Gigatronshop
Racunari.NET - online hardware shop
Laptop i desktop racunari po najboljim cenama u Srbiji, najveci izbor, najbolji uslovi placanja
Prodaja ra
* Qbit Computers Centar *
Racunari laptopovi komponente - List Computers
PC Konfigurator - cenovnik za kompjuterske komponente Search Tool
Viphouse prodavnica ra

South Africa (only)
Sybaritic - South African Online Computer Store
welcome to Sahara website
Electronics : PC Components -
Landmark Computers cc
TAKE2 - Electronics Online Shopping in South Africa
iKonic IT
High Performance Custom Gaming Desktop Computers, Intel & AMD Gaming PCs
Rebel Tech cc, For all your Computer needs
Computers! Online computer shop & notebook sales South Africa - Computers, laptops, notebooks and software sales. Computer sales, notebooks and digital projectors at better prices.
NIVO Interactive Shopping

South Africa (may also include Southern Africa):
Computersonly computer hardware South Africa,Shopping,online,repairs
bidorbuy - Bid, Buy or Sell cameras, computers, diamonds, coins, cars & more on auction at cheap prices (discount computer parts first and second hand)

Tienda de informática - Hardware, Modding, Watercooling, Ordenadores y Portatiles - Coolmod Informática S.L. - Great prices too, and free shipping on orders above 150€)
Tienda de informática online: venta de Ordenadores - (This one is Top 1 by quite far, great shop, 24hour delivery after order, its an awesome shop and has best prices in Spain)

Dustin home - Hemelektronik på Internet - 221 - laptop - dator - datorkomponenter - tv - smartphone mm

PChome Online

…:: G

Homepage |, … sleeve it and they will come
Computer Liquid Cooling & Premium Air Products, Parts, Kits & Accessories | Sidewinder Computers
Chilled PC, Water Cooling, Modding - One stop shop for all your Watercooling and PC Modding
Aquatuning - Der Wasserkhlung Vollsortimenter

That’s all for now. I’ve put a lot of time into this so far, but would like to go ahead and begin to share this. I’ll be flushing out this writing with even more, so check back often for more info.Soon to come:

  • Hard Drives and Solid State Drives
  • Heatsinks
  • Where to buy
  • Fans
  • Liquid Cooling
  • Optical Disc Drives
  • Sound Cards
  • Mice
  • Keyboards
  • Thermal Paste
  • Monitor
  • Peripherals
  • Sound Setup
  • Multi Drive Setup & RAID
  • Assembly
  • Basic Overclocking

Thanks for taking your time in reading this, I hope you enjoyed this and learned a lot. If you see any spelling errors or mistakes, just notify me. I was up late.

Change Log

01/01/2011 - Guide Created
01/02/2011 - HDD & SSD portions added
01/02/2011 - Updated memory section with voltage information
01/09/2011 - Optical Disc Drive portion added
01/15/2011 - CPU Heatsink portion added
02/25/2011 - Where to buy section added
03/26/2011 - Revised and edited syntax
04/03/2011 - Updated where to buy from section.
04/22/2011 - Added thermal compound portion
05/02/2011 - Updated the CPU section, and added an awesome CPU comparison chart for gamers
05/11/2011 - Added the monitor section
08/16/2011 - Example builds added
08/28/2011 - Bat **** Crazy build added
02/27/2012 - Really Budget Gamer build added
03/04/2012 - Fan section added
03/05/2012 - Savings gamer updated
03/05/2012 - Mice section added
03/06/2012 - Keyboard section added

Add some spoilers, but other than that, great post man! Keep up the awesome work your putting out here at XboxMB! Thanks for this awesome guide. I can’t wait to see more guides and tutorials from you!

Forgot we had those :laughing:, I’ll get on better formatting soon, and I’ll finish writing it tomorrow.

And thanks for the compliment :smile:

Thanks I might make a computer soon so this might help.

Awsomness in a bottle! Better than the othes I’ve seen.

very nicely put together very detailed and informative

Thanks for all the compliments. After re reading I’ve noticed some horrible syntax, I’ll make sure to fix it soon. Sorry.

This is extremely useful. This is a sticky in my eyes.

Agreed, thanks dabears. You helped me even before you posted this guide!

I’d love a sticky too. Oh mods…:wink:

No problem, I’m glad I could help.

I’m writing the HDD and SSD portion now.

Updated with the SSD and HDD portion, I’ll be creating a change log now too.

Change Log

1/1/2011 - Guide Created
1/2/2011 - HDD & SSD portions added

sorry to say you missed out the voltage that RAM and run and and that certain motherboards will only run the ram at certain voltages meaning that higher voltage RAM ill run at a lower voltage :smile:

but i love this thread can help out alot of first time builders and Solid state drives are FTW !

Wow, I definitely missed that I’ll update it now, can’t believe I forgot that hah. Thanks


Change Log

1/1/2011 - Guide Created
1/2/2011 - HDD & SSD portions added
1/2/2011 - Updated memory section with voltage information

Glad i could help and looking forward to the after market cooling part soon to come :smiley:

this definitely deserves a sticky, well detailed guide and very helpful nice job


I agree, and so do some others. I hope we can get one :thumbsup:

And I just got home from Florida so expect more updates soon!

Very nice guide that you have put together. I have been wanting to build a new desktop, but have been indecisive about what to buy but I can’t go wrong from this!

Great tutorial. You beat me to it :stuck_out_tongue: I was actually going to make one lol

Anyways I haven’t read the entire thing word for word yet but I was just gonna post some things I saw in the CPU section. Is the new 1155 for the new Intel Sandy Bridge processors?
Also you suggested the 2500K. Did you mean because you think it will be a better deal? or did you type the wrong number?
The new Core i7 will actually be the 2600K. I think the 2500K is the new i5
Intel® Core
I want one. Now. It looks amazing.

Mistype, thanks for catching it :thumbsup:

And yes 1155 will be for the new Sandy Bridge processors.