There are some advantages to building your own PC, like picking out the exact parts you want and building it to your own specifications. It's also going to cost less than buying a computer from a typical retail outlet.
One of the drawbacks of building your own system is that rather than the full system being under a single warranty, each individual part has a warranty under its manufacturer. If something goes wrong, it may mean contacting each company separately.
The PC we're building will be built for video editing, so there will be a lot of high-end components, but regardless, every computer needs certain parts.
The motherboard is the control centre of the PC, where most of the components and chips plug into. When buying a motherboard, make sure it has the correct number and sizes of sockets for your CPU, memory and other cards. We chose the EVGA E760 Intel X58 motherboard, for about US$420 (£350).
When unboxing components, most parts will come in antistatic bags. It's important to keep them in these bags until you're ready to assemble. Static shocks can ruin PC components, so be sure to ground yourself by touching metal before handling a component, or by wearing an antistatic wrist strap.
Next is the processor, which is the brains of the PC. We chose an Intel Core i7-980X. It's a 3.33-GHz, six-core desktop processor. It also has hyperthreading, which means there will effectively be 12 processing cores for the computer. This would be overkill on a traditional desktop, but since we'll be editing video with it, the 12 cores will be very useful. For this particular CPU, Intel included a cooling fan, heat sink and thermal paste. You could use them, but we opted to buy our own. The CPU cost about $1,000 (£870 on average).
After the CPU, RAM is one of the most important components of a PC. If you're installing a 32-bit operating system, it will only be able to use 3 gigabytes of memory. If you're installing a 64-bit OS, then memory is only limited by your budget. Memory is important, especially if you plan to run multiple high-powered applications. We chose 16GB of DDR3 SDRAM from GSkill. It cost about $730 (£530).
For our graphics processor, we chose an Nvidia Quadro FX 3800. It's designed to take advantage of the Mercury Playback Engine in Adobe Premiere CS5. That means that some of the video rendering will be off-loaded from the CPU and onto the GPU, resulting in faster export time and real-time effects processing. The card has its own built-in fan as well as one DVI and two HDMI outputs. It cost about $800 (£650 on average).
For optical drives we purchased both an internal Blu-ray player and burner as well as a traditional CD-ROM drive and burner. The benefit to having two optical drives is that it makes it easier to copy discs. With a Blu-ray burner it's possible to burn 1080p video and play it back on a Blu-ray disc player. The Pioneer Blu-ray disc/DVD/CD writer cost about $200 (£160) and the Lite-On 24x DVD writer with Lightscribe cost about $32.
Many PCs usually have a single hard disc drive, but for our computer we will be installing three. The first one is a Western Digital VelociRaptor 150GB, 10,000 RPM SATA 3Gb/s drive. That means that the storage capacity is 150GB. It spins at 10,000 revolutions per minute, which is fast for a drive, and its data transfer speed is 3 gigabits per second. We plan to install our operating system and Adobe CS5 on this drive. We also considered installing a solid state drive, but because of cost, storage capacity and reliability concerns, we decided to install a traditional drive. The other two drives are Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB 7200 RPM 6Gb/s drives. That will give us two terabytes of storage and fast data transfer. The first drive cost about $150 (£140) and the last two cost about $100 each (£90).
Our motherboard and case have some USB ports, but we wanted to add more. We bought a Rosewill USB 2.0 adapter that has five USB ports. It will plug into our motherboard and add five ports on the back of our case and one port on the inside. It cost $12.
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