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I want to assemble my own computer. I think I need the following parts, correct me if I am wrong.

  1. CPU cabinet
  2. Power supply -- 500 watt
  3. Motherboard
  4. Processor
  5. RAM
  6. Hard disc

And then

  • Monitor
  • Keyboard
  • Mouse

Is that all? And if I purchase all those separately, can I assemble a working computer?

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1  
If you're new to building PCs, you might want to get a good tech reference such as Upgrading & Repairing PCs by Scott Mueller. –  Joe Internet Jan 13 '10 at 6:43
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You forgot to add, 20+ hours of research. Even if you have all of the "correct" parts you could possibly waste a lot of money by purchasing out-dated parts, or just bad parts in general. You can also run into compatibility issues. You're going to need to do A LOT of reading to make sure you don't go out and buy junk or unneccesary parts. Don't expect too much help from the employees at computer stores either, a few years ago I went to Fry's and the sales rep tried to sell me an Intel motherboard with an AMD CPU. Avoid Bestbuy if possible, go for an online vendor like newegg.com –  grooveDexter Jan 13 '10 at 9:49
    
All of them... ;) –  joeqwerty Sep 8 '10 at 18:28

5 Answers 5

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Yes and no, it depends on purpose. Assuming "CPU Cabinet" means, well, the case, then yes that is all you will need to make a functioning system. Depending on your use case however, you may need some other optional extensions, such as a graphics card.

It may also be worth purchasing an anti-static wrist strap, and some thermal paste for your first PC build. (The strap to make sure you don't accidentally damage components, and the paste for when you insert your new CPU).

That said, you have to realise you cannot just buy any old CPU, and any old motherboard, and hope they fit together - you must buy compatible components, which can be a pain to figure out what works with what.

If i were to build a system, i would generally work out the compatibility like this:

  1. Choose a CPU

  2. Find a motherboard that matches the Socket of the CPU (Will be listen in the spec of the CPU as well as the spec of the motherboard. Also make sure the motherboard supports what i need, for example, has on-board graphics and sound, has an Ethernet port, etc. Also make sure it has the right connector for the HDD technology you want, and enough sockets for any other items like a CD drive.

  3. Choose compatible RAM. This can be tricky, essentially however you can work it out then ask somebody to confirm they will work together. Remember that when you buy RAM, its speed will be limited to the lowest speed of either the Motherboard FSB or the speed of the RAM itself, so if you buy fast ram, be sure the motherboard supports the speed!

    4.Choose a hard drive (or more than one). Make sure that the motherboard supports the connector on the hard drive (e.g. SATA).

  4. Choose a case to mount it in that fits the form factor (generally, any case will work with any motherboard, but do double check)

  5. Choose a power supply. Make sure it's from a reputable maker, as a bad power supply can fry everything in short order. 500w should be enough unless you have extension cards.

  6. Choose any extension cards, making sure your motherboard has the correct slot for them (AGP, PCIe, etc). These are things like Network cards, Graphics cards, etc.

As you can see, there are a vast array of things to consider with regards to compatibility. Definitely find somebody who is knowledgeable about all of this to verify the parts you have chosen before spending cash on them.

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Aside from little things like power cords, you either need a video card or be sure your motherboard has a video output built-in.

Depending on what you need this computer for, you may need a DVD drive or a wireless network card (most motherboards have an Ethernet port but not wi-fi).

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Add to that list audio. –  Joe Internet Jan 13 '10 at 6:41

read about assembling your own computer by reading 'jeff atwood' and 'scott hanselmann' and how they build their computer.

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The usual method is to take a few old computers apart, and note what you find in them. It would look very much like your list.

Pretty soon, you get the idea "If I just buy these parts, I could make a new computer."

Give it a try. Pull some computer apart and put it back together; then, when you know what goes in there, and how to make it work, buy new parts.

Don't start with cutting-edge technology, though, it may be an expensive failure.

For example, don't connect the power until EVERYTHING is assembled. I've killed motherboards that way.

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If you're doing this to save money - don't. It's very difficult these days to build a computer from separately bought parts that's less expensive than the ones you can buy at a reputable computer store. I'd go so far as to say impossible if you're a beginner and if you value the time you're investing in the process. If you're doing this for fun and/or to build your experience level (so you can get a related job for instance), then go for it. While there are many many people with a lot of experience on SU this isn't really the best place to get shopping advice. It's supposed to be more oriented to solving specific problems. But best of luck in any case.

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