How to build a PC: A step-by-step guide

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AMD’s disruptive Ryzen processors and Intel’s new Core i9 chips have sparked a wave of interest in PC building, but some people still hesitate at the idea of crafting a custom PC. Don’t! Building your own PC isn’t some arcane art or esoteric skill that only the most hardcore of hardware geeks can pull off. In fact, assembling a DIY PC is pretty straightforward once you’ve settled on your parts list.

Rolling your own computer offers a number of advantages that boxed desktops just can’t match. You get granular control over every single aspect of the hardware. You get to choose not only the nuts-and-bolts-level details like processing and graphical performance, but also deeply personal touches like the PC’s case design and cooling capabilities. There’s no need to settle for a boring black box, unless you want a boring black box.

Looking to build a hulking PC brimming with top-of-the-line hardware and closed-loop water-cooling? Go for it! (If you can convince your significant other to OK the expense, that is.) Or maybe you prefer a more well-balanced rig, or a potent yet affordable gaming PC. When you’re building your own computer, the choice is yours.

[ Further reading: The best graphics cards for PC gaming ]
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Brad Chacos

We built this PC with a liquid-cooled 8-core AMD Ryzen chip and Nvidia’s powerful GeForce GTX 1080 Ti.

Even better, when you’re building your own PC you can shop around for the best price for each of your chosen components, rather than paying a single marked-up cost for the whole-hog system. AMD’s new Ryzen processorshave sparked a brutal price war in CPUs. DIYers can benefit from that! The superb website makes comparison shopping dead simple. And when you’re done building your PC and successfully power it up, it feels glorious—like you’ve truly accomplished something, rather than simply yanking a prebuilt tower out of a box.

Building a PC for the first time can be intimidating, though.

Even though PC assembly’s fairly simple once you know what you’re doing, staring at a giant pile of disparate parts and knowing you not only need to piece them together correctly but also wire them correctly afterwards is enough to bring a lump to a newbie PC builder’s throat.

We’re here to help.

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