One thing that I wish more people would do for themselves is learn how to build their own desktop computers, there is absolutely nothing that you can get from a pre-built machine that you cannot get with better overall specs and for less money by building one yourself. I will list what you will need to get started building your own desktop as well as good places to start looking for your best bargain.
Central Processing Unit (CPU): Essentially the brain of your computer, the 2 major companies that produce CPU’s are AMD and Intel. When building your computer do not automatically assume that you are going to do best by getting the best CPU on the market, a Pentium i7 is a great processor but there is no need to overspend if you are going to do nothing more than utilize your new desktop as a media streaming device.
Motherboard: If the CPU is the brain then consider the motherboard to be the skeleton, whereas you do not want to overpay on the CPU, a better motherboard will lead to the ability to upgrade your desktop at a later date.
Memory(Random Access Memory – RAM): One of the recurring issues that I find with pre-built machines is that they either skimp on the CPU or the RAM, but they will advertise the positive spec while neglecting to mention that your 8GB of RAM is coupled with a Pentium i3.
Hard Drive (HDD or SSD): An HDD is the traditional storage device where an SSD is essentially more of a larger USB storage drive. SSD’s are far faster than HDD’s but the advantage of an HDD is going to be that they are cheaper to purchase. There are different sizes of hard drives so make sure you are getting one that fits your motherboard (2.5 or 3.5 inch).
Video Card (GPU): This is one area you are going to need to splurge on if you plan on building a gaming computer. You could get by with a game’s minimum system requirements but you are going to end up with console quality graphics, in addition to game mods one of the biggest advantages with PC gaming is that modern consoles cannot even come close to PC graphics.
Power Supply Unit (PSU): You are going to need some way to power your desktop, there are more advanced options where you could use a rechargeable battery for you desktop like the ones found in laptops, but for first time builders remember that simpler is better.
Case: This is one area that I have seen people go crazy with different LED lights or image projection. You can get as advanced of a case as you want but the most important thing to keep in mind is that everything is going to need to fit inside the case.
Other Peripherals: You will absolutely need at least one fan, or given where your vents are located on the case, multiple fans to prevent overheating. There is also liquid cooling available but again, simpler is better for first time builders. You can add an additional sound card but in most cases the motherboard will have you covered. One thing you should not overlook is cables, the last thing you are going to want to have happen is you finish your build and realize that you cannot plug it into your tv/monitor.
Software: You are going to first and foremost need an Operating System, you can either pay for a Windows or MAC OS or you can use a free Linux OS. Note that you can have more than one Operating System on your computer, known as dual-booting, but again this is something you can get to after you finish your first build.I would also recommend getting an antivirus sooner rather than later, I like Avast’s FREE Antivirus.
Now where exactly can you go to get these parts? Well Amazon, Newegg, Ebay and Tigerdirect are great places to start. Also I would recommend reading, and referencing, TomsHardware and checking out PCPartPicker.