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Anthony Trudeau

A couple of months ago I made the decision to build myself a new computer. The intended use is gaming and for using the last real version of Photoshop. I was motivated by the poor state of console gaming and a simple desire to do something I haven’t done before – build a PC from the ground up.

I’ve been using PCs for more than two decades. I’ve replaced a component hear and there, but for the last 10 years or so I’ve only used laptops. Therefore, this article will be written from the perspective of someone familiar with PCs, but completely new at building. I’m not an expert and this is not a definitive guide for building a PC, but I do hope that it encourages you to try it yourself.

Component List


There was a lot of research necessary, because building a PC is completely new to me, and I haven’t kept up with what’s out there. The first thing you want to do is nail down what your goals are. Your goals are going to be driven by what you want to do with your computer and personal choice. Don’t neglect the second one, because if you’re doing this for fun you want to get what you want. In my case, I focused on three things: performance, longevity, and aesthetics.

The performance aspect is important for gaming and Photoshop. This will drive what components you get. For example, heavy gaming use is going to drive your choice of graphics card.

Longevity is relevant to me, because I don’t want to be changing things out anytime soon for the next hot game. The consequence of performance and longevity is cost.

Finally, aesthetics was my next consideration. I could have just built a box, but it wouldn’t have been nearly as fun for me. Aesthetics might not be important to you. They are for me. I also like gadgets and that played into at least one purchase for this build.

I used PC Part Picker to put together my component list. I found it invaluable during the process and I’d recommend it to everyone. One caveat is that I wouldn’t trust the compatibility aspects. It does a pretty good job of not steering you wrong, but do your own research.

The rest of it isn’t really sexy. I started out with what appealed to me and then I made changes and additions as I dived deep into researching each component and interaction I could find.

The resources I used are innumerable. I used reviews, product descriptions, forum posts (praises and problems), et al. to assist me. I also asked friends into gaming what they thought about my component list. And when I got near the end I posted my list to the Reddit /r/buildapc forum. I cannot stress the value of extra sets of eyeballs and first hand experiences.

Some of the resources I used:

PC Part Picker
Tom’s Hardware


PC Part Picker favors certain vendors. You should look at others too. In my case I found their favorites to be the best. My priorities were out-the-door price and shipping time.

I knew that once I started getting parts I’d want to start building. Luckily, I timed it well and everything arrived within the span of a few days. Here are my opinions on the vendors I ended up using in alphabetical order. is a good, reliable choice. They have excellent customer service in my experience, and I knew I wouldn’t have trouble with them. However, shipping time is often a problem when you use their free shipping unless you order expensive items (I’ve found items over $100 ship quickly). Ultimately though, price wasn’t always the best and their collection of sales tax in my state turned me off them.

I did purchase my case from them. I ordered the mouse as well, but I cancelled after it was stuck four days in a “shipping soon” state. I purchased the mouse locally.

Best Buy is not my favorite place to do business. There’s a lot of history with poor, uninterested sales representatives and they used to have a lot of bad anti-consumer policies. That’s a lot better now, but the bad taste is still in my mouth. I ended up purchasing the accessories from them including mouse (locally) and headphones.

NCIX is a company that I’ve never heard of before. It popped up as a recommendation for my CPU cooler on PC Part Picker. I didn’t do a lot of research on the company, because their policy on you buying insurance for your orders turned me off. That policy makes it clear to me that the company finds me responsible for the shipment once it leaves their dock. That’s not right, and may run afoul of state laws. Regardless they shipped my CPU cooler quickly and I didn’t have a problem. is a well known company. I had never done business with them, but I’m glad I did. They shipped quickly and provided good visibility over everything. The prices were also the best in most cases. My main complaint is that they have a lot of exchange only return policies on components. To their credit those policies are listed in the cart underneath each item. The visibility tells me that they’re not playing any shenanigans and made me comfortable dealing with that risk. The vast majority of what I ordered came from them.

Coming Next

In the next part I’ll tackle my build experience.

Posted on Tuesday, August 5, 2014 11:20 AM hardware | Back to top

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