We recommend starting with the CPU because it determines most of your component choices. Your motherboard, RAM, and even your need for a graphics card all hinge on what CPU you choose. This is why choosing an Intel or AMD CPU is the first and most critical step of your PC building journey.
You can think of a form factor the same way you think about the size of a car. Just like a compact, mid-sized, or full-sized car, motherboards have similar sizes. Compact or small form factor PC's use Micro or Mini-ITX motherboards, mid-sized builds use ATX sized motherboards and, finally, full sized builds use E-ATX form factors.
When choosing the size of your PC here are some things to keep in mind. Small form factor PC's present some limitations on the components you can use in your PC and, given their size, introduce build challenges. ATX or mid-sized PCs are the most common builds and provide the largest compatibility options. They are also among the easiest PCs to assemble. Finally, E-ATX provides far more options and power but the size of the PC can be daunting and will take up a lot of space. This is often the most costly build option.
The amount of RAM your computer needs depends on what you plan on using it for. At a minimum we would recommend no less than 8GB of RAM, but if you are only using your PC for simple daily tasks, like web browsing, you might be able to get away with as little as 4GB. If you are gaming then 16GB is going to be the minimum and if you are streaming or video editing then 32GB is recommended. For more information on this, read our RAM buying guide on Newegg Insider.
PC building is no more difficult than completing a Lego set or building a piece of furniture given you have compatible components. There are so many amazing guides available on online on platforms like YouTube that will take you step by step through the pc builing process. We also recommend joining a PC community like the Newegg Discord that can help you answer questions as they may come up. For informaiton on this topics, we recommend you review our PC building guide and are familiar with the step-by-step process.
We recommend a number 2 phillips head screwdriver preferably magnetic. If you are going to build on carpet or in an area prone to static then an anti-static bracelet is also highly recommended. It is also a good idea to pick up thermal paste and some isopropyl alcohol as well. Finally, zip ties or velcro cable ties come in handy when you are managing cables.
At this time, we do not offer PC build kits. This tool is meant for you to custom build a PC using all the components we offer on Newegg.com.
A computer system is relatively simple. While the individual components and storage are often examples of cutting-edge technology and feature the latest industry developments, their underlying functions remain largely unchanged over time. Let’s take a look at the computer parts that combine to make up the modern PC and help you prepare for your assembly project.
The CPU or processor translates instructions entered into the computer into executable actions your computer understands. What does that mean in practical terms? It means that when you enter a command into a program, be it via mouse click, button push, or typed phrase, the CPU takes that command and converts it into language that the other components recognize and to which they respond.
There are two dominant manufacturers of the x86 processors used in desktop computing. One of the first choices you will make in picking your computer parts is whether your system will use an Intel processor or an AMD processor.
Your CPU and
Manufacturers have developed safeguards against mixing incorrect parts, though—if a CPU isn’t right for the motherboard you chose, it literally will not fit— the chip has a pin configuration that is different from the one in the board's CPU socket. If you use a tool like the Newegg PC Builder, or buy a combo package on Newegg.com, then Newegg double checks to ensure that the motherboard and CPU you purchased are compatible, but it’s a good idea to check online and reference your user manuals to confirm that the components work together before you get started.
Some motherboards have extra bells and whistles, such as the ability to overclock your CPU or add additional lighting features. If you intend to delve into your system and tinker with its performance, a board with some of these additional features might be right up your alley.
Random access memory modules, or RAM, act as your system’s quick-recall storage and hold active applications and data to keep them available for immediate access. RAM is also called system memory. RAM modules fit into the DIMM slots on a motherboard.
The amount and type of desktop RAM you install in your system has a direct effect on system performance. For a modern gaming desktop, 16-32 GB of RAM is usually enough. The more RAM you have in your system, the more quick-access data the system can hold which comes in handy if you like multitasking.
As with your CPU and motherboard, the RAM type you need changes depending on your motherboard and processor architecture. DDR4 is the legacy standard for system memory, and DDR5 is the current generation. Consult product information pages to verify that the RAM you intend to purchase works with your system.
A GPU usually comes as a standalone card, although some motherboards do include integrated GPUs. A graphics card, especially a higher-end one, is in essence a specialized CPU. Like a CPU, it contains one or more processing cores and has an onboard memory cache to allow for rapid operations. Your graphics card also contains the ports into which you connect your monitor or monitors.
High-end GPUs, or desktop graphics cards, are used in systems designed for gaming, streaming, or media editing and are often as expensive as the rest of the computer put together. These sorts of graphics cards often take up a lot of motherboard real estate, and they can increase your system’s power consumption by a considerable amount.
There are a number of different video card manufacturers selling products today. Nvidia and AMD are the industry leaders for the graphics processing chips (GPUs) onboard the graphics cards. Most of the actual video cards you find are produced by “board partner” companies like ASUS and MSI, who build their cooling and overclocking architecture on the standards put out by the two GPU manufacturers.
Data storage drives come in two varieties: a hard disk drive, known as an HDD, is the older technology and uses mechanical means to store data. A solid-state drive, or SSD, stores all of its data in integrated circuits. SSDs are often much faster and quieter than HDDs, and they are less likely to break because they don’t rely on mechanical operations to function. However, SSDs are more expensive than HDDs, and you’ll expect to pay more per gigabyte of storage for the more-advanced drives.
A common use for an SSD is as a primary drive to hold your operating system and other oft-used and essential applications, used in tandem with a high capacity HDD that holds larger media files.
HDDs and 2.5-inch SSDs connect to the motherboard using a SATAIII connection. The latest in SSD technology are M.2 NVMe SSDs that connect to a PCIe slot on the motherboard for faster data transfers and performance.
The power supply unit, or PSU, is the energy center of your computer. Without a PSU, your PC wouldn’t be able to do anything other than sit there and look pretty. The PSU does more than act as a hub for incoming power, too—one of the PSU’s primary functions is to transform the power coming out of your wall outlet into a form usable by the system’s many components, all of which have different wattage and voltage requirements.
How much wattage your system requires depends on the components that you choose. You can calculate this using the Power Supply Wattage Calculator.
Newer PSUs often feature modular designs that can make the assembly process a bit easier. They also make cable management in your PC cleaner; your power and data cables will need to go all through the PC’s interior to connect all of the components.
Your computer case not only provides a framework upon which to attach your motherboard and other components but, along with integrated fans, also ensures proper airflow over your internal parts. When airflow is set up correctly, it pulls heat away from sensitive electronics and out of the case.
Not every computer case will work with every motherboard. The size or form-factor of your motherboard matters a lot. Please take note of your motherboard’s form-factor so that you can select a PC case that will support it.
Both Mini-ITX and Micro-ATX cases make for incredibly small PCs, at least when compared to most desktop PCs on the market. Mini-ITX is by far the more common option of the two. Most common are ATX mid-sized towers; most motherboards, either Intel or AMD, fit into these, and there are only some niche cases in which you’d need to upgrade to something larger.
While motherboards don’t generally grow in size past a standard ATX, you might need a larger power supply, more case fans to keep airflow consistent, dual GPUs, custom liquid cooling tubing including chunky reservoirs, and other add-ons.
The PC water cooling vs air cooling debate has raged on for decades. If you’re a first-time PC builder, and you’re looking to find the right PC cooling solution for your new rig, then you’ll want to carefully consider the benefits and drawbacks of each type of cooling.
Air cooling for PC is standard; you can’t get much more simple than a heat sink and fan. Plug the case fans in, mount the heat sink on the CPU with a few screws, and you’re done. If you don’t plan on overclocking your PC, then an air cooled CPU heatsink will be sufficient for your purposes.
If you like to push the limits with overclocking your components, water cooling your PC is recommended. Pre-built water cooling kits (called All-in-Ones or AiO water cooling) are the best option for beginners because all you need to do is mount it. There are no worries about filling and building. Simply mount the radiator and block inside your PC, and you’re on your way.
For experienced builders, a DIY water cooling kit with individual parts offers more flexibility. A typical DIY water cooling kit consists of a radiator, hoses, pump, water block, reservoir and fan. When these pieces are installed and working together they are called a loop and are very similar to what you would find under the hood of your car.