I once built a cheap tower with clearance parts from Micro Center. See if you can guess how long ago it was from the specs:
I haven’t done much DIY electronic stuff since then except for some IoT tinkering and playing around with drones. So when I realized I need a Windows machine for work, I decided I was gonna get back into the DIY game and build one from scratch.
Here’s my story.
If computers are your profession, it’s nice to choose all your tools so you get exactly what you need. Just like if you look in a carpenter’s toolbox you’ll see tools from tons of different brands. They chose exactly what they need to do their best work.
Also, you have to put time and work in up front but you come out with a completely custom computer for cheaper than what you can buy off the shelf. And you know all the ins and outs of the thing, so you can upgrade individual pieces in the future.
Luckily I knew the basics of a computer, so I sketched out the pieces I need. If you’re unfamiliar, here they are with crude definitions:
I started by thinking about the main reasons for this computer. I don’t game and this was gonna be for work, so my needs were mostly compiling code and running lots of VMs. That means more CPU cores and memory and you can skimp on the video card (which can be a big cost). More CPU cores usually means a more expensive motherboard too, so I had to budget for that too.
My big purchase was an AMD Ryzen Threadripper CPU. I had been saving up for a while so I could get one. Most of the work was figuring out what kind of motherboard I would need and how much power I would need from the PSU.
Once I had a more specific idea of what I needed, I went to NewEgg to look at general prices for things. They also have some nifty tools like the power supply calculator that can help you decide what to buy.
I also went to
/r/buildapc on Reddit to see reviews. You can also ask questions there if you want.
Amazon had cheaper prices so I bought everything there. I would have gone to a physical store like to look at parts, but there wasn’t a good option in my area.
During the COVID pandemic, please research and buy everything online so you don’t have to go out, even if you do have a parts store near you that’s open
I made too many mistakes to list here, so I’ll share the advice I learned from it all:
I got all my components in January and I’ve had the thing running since February. As I said, I made a bunch of mistakes along the way. I still have things to improve (liquid-cooling and a bigger PSU for example!), but I’m actually happy I do. This is both a tool and a hobby!
I’m really excited to get creative and keep my machine healthy and up to date as time passes.
If you do a build, I hope you get the same amount of joy out of it as I am 😊