Guide to Choosing a
Cheap Computer Part

Step 1: Acquiring your Cheap Computer Part

A cheap computer part is one of many components required to build your own cheap computer. These computer parts are readily available at many online and 'brick and mortar' stores.

When acquiring your computer parts, some questions that will come to your mind are :

  • What computer parts do I buy?
  • Where can I get the best parts at the cheapest price?

To purchase these cheap parts(components) for your computer, click here to view some cheap computer parts.

Below is a list showing each computer part that you will require to build your cheap computer:

Computer Case:

Computer cases come in different designs and form factors. Your choice of a computer case will depend on your available space and purpose ...... whether it be a gaming, multimedia, workstation or home theater PC (HTPC).

Depending on the build, it could be a cheap computer part.

It can be in the form of a desktop or a tower. A desktop case usually sits horizontally on the top of the desk while a tower case stands upright underneath or beside the desk.

Click here to view A variety of computer cases.

My personal choice is the following:

Rosewill ATX Mid Tower Gaming Computer Case, Tempered Glass Panels, Up to 420mm GPU, 360mm Liquid-cooling, 4 120mm Fans Pre-installed

Tempered glass side panels with ample ventilation and three front mounted blue LED fans add beauty to this case.

Strategic design enables proper placement of components at the same time enabling proper ventilation.

This is a case I would recommend especially for gaming enthusiasts.

Click here to read more about computer cases.

Choosing a 'nice' case is very important because it adds style to your build. For instance, for your Home Theater PC (HTPC), a flashy design with a touchscreen adds 'bling' to your AV (audio video) component system.

The fanatic gamer wants that 'outer space' imposing looking tower with ample cooling to house the powerful and heat-producing components. Popular now is the mini-ITX form used mainly for gaming and HTPC builds.

Some cases are equipped with power supplies while some aren't. The enthusiast would rather install his own since most installed power suppy units (PSUs) tend to be sub-standard.

Form factor which is a measure of the dimensions and the design is also very important.

The popular form factors are mini-ITX, small form factor, micro-ATX and ATX. BTX also appeared but disappeared in no time.

The case or chassis houses your prized computer parts and is very often overlooked. This is a serious error because without efficient cooling and design, your system would be one huge 'furnace'. If you have serious gaming in mind, outfit your system with an efficient liquid cooling system. Otherwise, go along with air cooling. Purchase one that is upgradeable.

If purchasing a case with a pre-installed power supply unit, I would recommend a minimum of 450 watts with at least 80% efficiency. Browse here for some power supplies and here for case fans at fantastic prices.

Click here to read more about computer cases.

Choosing a 'nice' case is very important because it adds style to your build. For instance, for your Home Theater PC (HTPC), a flashy design with a touchscreen adds 'bling' to your AV (audio video) component system.

The fanatic gamer wants that 'outer space' imposing looking tower with ample cooling to house the powerful and heat-producing components. Popular now is the mini-ITX form used mainly for gaming and HTPC builds.

Some cases are equipped with power supplies while some aren't. The enthusiast would rather install his own since most installed power suppy units (PSUs) tend to be sub-standard.

Form factor which is a measure of the dimensions and the design is also very important.

The popular form factors are mini-ITX, small form factor, micro-ATX and ATX. BTX also appeared but disappeared in no time.

The case or chassis houses your prized computer parts and is very often overlooked. This is a serious error because without efficient cooling and design, your system would be one huge 'furnace'. If you have serious gaming in mind, outfit your system with an efficient liquid cooling system. Otherwise, go along with air cooling. Purchase one that is upgradeable.

If purchasing a case with a pre-installed power supply unit, I would recommend a minimum of 450 watts with at least 80% efficiency.

The Motherboard is not a Cheap Computer Part

Motherboard:

The motherboard or system board is one of the most important computer parts for your system. It can be a cheap computer part depending on the type of PC that you want to build. It acts as an interconnect for all the other components and peripherals. This board holds the main processor (CPU).

Choosing the right motherboard is of utmost importance and you should get one that has a lot of features and possibility for future upgrades. Features such as DDR3 or DDR4 memory, multiple USB ports, gigabit ethernet, firewire, multiple SATA ports, digital audio ports, PCI Express X16, E-SATA and M.2, etc. M.2 drives are solid state with extremely fast transfer speeds of up to 3,500 MB/s.

Compatibility with the case or chassis is critical to ensure a proper fit for your computer parts and ample internal cooling which can be either air or liquid. Click here to browse some motherboards.

I recommend:

ASUS ROG STRIX B350-F GAMING AMD Ryzen AM4 DDR4 HDMI DisplayPort M.2 USB 3.1 ATX B350 Motherboard

This is an AMD AM4 board built for Ryzen and 7th generation Athlon processors.

Features NVMe M.2, USB 3.1, gigabit LAN and up to 64GB of DDR-4.

Optimized for overclocking, made with AURA Sync RGB lighting and industry-leading 8-channel HD audio.

If you need to upgrade your memory (RAM), you first have to check to see what type your motherboard uses and the maximum it will support.

Some motherboards come with integrated sound and video. In the future, if you need to install a sound card, you will have to ensure that the on-board sound can be disabled. Also, if you wish to install a video card, the motherboard should be equipped with an AGP or PCI Express X16 slot.

Motherboards also have PCI expansion slots which will enable you to install other computer parts such as sound cards, modems and network interface cards (NIC).

Another important computer part of the motherboard is the chipset - this is the 'controller' of the motherboard so it is very important that you know what chipset is installed on the motherboard.

The chipset is responsible for the different types of hardware that your motherboard will support now and in the future.

View additional information on motherboards here.

The processor is a very important computer part

Processor (CPU):

The processor (CPU) is the 'brains' of the system but may not be a cheap computer part depending on your buid. One of the most important decisions you are going to make when building your cheap computer, is your choice of CPU. After giving serious thought about the duties you require your system to perform, choosing the right processor will dictate the type of motherboard and other computer parts you will require and how fast your system will handle applications. Click here for some cheap processors.

There is a mind boggling number of CPUs available today and the right choice is important regardless of your budget.

Processors are available in approximately 3 main categories. These being low-end, average and high-end.

  • Low End - This cheap computer part is used for simple computing like word processing, internet browsing, email and other light business applications. These include Intel Dual Core, Intel Core 2 Duo and AMD Athlon X2s and have clock speeds in excess of 2 GHz.
  • Average - These processors are used for light video processing, multimedia and light gaming. Among these are the Intel Core 2 Quad, Intel Core i3, AMD Athlon II X2, AMD Phenom X3 and AMD Phenom X4 and attain clock speeds above 2.5 GHz along with large L2 cache.
  • High End - These processors are the top of the line and are used for extreme CPU intensive applications, heavy video editing multimedia and high resolution gaming. In this group of computer parts are the Intel Core i5, Intel Core i7, AMD Phenom II X4 and AMD Phenom II X6 (six cores). These 'beasts' run at approximately 3 GHz and have modest L3 caches.

The two giant chip makers (AMD and Intel) have introduced multicore CPUs with integrated graphics. Intel calls their chips 'second generation' or 'Sandy Bridge'. AMD on the other hand refers to their chips as 'AMD Fusion' APUs (Accelerated Processing Unit).

Both these chips are more energy-efficient and cooler running.

Among all those incredible CPU specs, choosing the right one will be up to you. View information on computer processors here .

CPU Heat Sink/Fan Assembly is a Cheap Computer Part

CPU Heat Sink/Fan Assembly:

Today's modern processors (CPUs) pack millions of transistors into a tiny amount of space. As a result, they are not just highly advanced silicon "brains", they are also intense 'furnaces' that generate massive amounts of heat. Heat reduces performance and can damage or shorten the life of the processor. For this reason, a good heat sink, which is a cheap computer part, is essential for the prolonged life of your processor. Click here to view installation guide.

CPU cooling can either be air cooling or liquid cooling. Air cooling uses a heat sink with an attached fan assembly. Air coolers vary in types from passive cooling to fan cooling.

Passive coolers are just heat sinks without fans. Meanwhile, by the addition of a fan to a passive cooler, it is transformed into a heat sink fan assembly.

Liquid cooling consists of a water block, hoses, liquid, a reservoir and a pump. They can be susceptible to leaks if not properly built. Having leaks in your computer is certainly not good since liquids and electricity do not mix; hence, short circuits and a 'dead' computer.

To alleviate this problem, all-in-one liquid cooling systems are recommended.

Before installing the heat sink fan assembly, heat sink compound is applied to the chip's heat spreader. The heat sink is then mounted directly to the processor. Its main purpose is to remove heat from the processor as quickly as possible and efficiently dissipate that heat into the air. Click here for liquid/air CPU coolers.

I recommend the following all-in-one liquid cooler:

Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML240R Addressable RGB All-in-one CPU Liquid Cooler Dual Chamber INTEL/AMD Support Cooling (MLX-D24M-A20PC-R1)



i recommend this Noctua air cooler:

Noctua NH-D15 SE-AM4 Premium-Grade 140mm Dual Tower CPU Cooler for AMD AM4


Computer Memory:

RAM (Random Access Memory) is required by the CPU to perform its operations. This is not necessarily a cheap computer part. The more memory your system has, the better its performance. There are different types of memory modules and most motherboards today require dual-channel DDR2, DDR3 SDRAM and DDR4 SDRAM. The dual-channel configuration requires the installation of two identical memory modules which enhances the overall system performance.

Today's operating systems require a minimum of 4GB of RAM for efficient operation. Click here for a wide selection of some cheap memory modules.

Hard Drive:

Most computers have a hard drive. Once considered an expensive computer part, it has now become a cheap computer part. It is the largest capacity non-removable storage drive located in the computer. The hard drive stores the operating system, system files and programs. View a wide selection of cheap computer hard drives (HDDs) here and solid state drives (SSDs) here.

When purchasing this computer part (hard drive), get the largest that you can afford since nowadays hard drive prices have fallen drastically.

Older drives were equipped with a Parallel ATA (PATA) interface. This interface was connected by a 40-pin 80-conductor data ribbon cable and powered by a 4-pin Molex connector.

Click here to read 'What are Computer Hard Drives?'

Always endeavor to purchase a new hard drive and ensure that it has a manual. If the manual is not available, ensure that there is a jumper installation diagram printed on the drive itself. This jumper enables the drive to be installed as a 'master' or 'slave'.

Present drives use the Serial ATA (SATA) interface and are jumperless. This enables faster access times and also improves overall performance when compared to the old IDE (PATA Interface). I would recommend that you get a 7200 RPM, 64MB cache drive since the older 5400 RPM, 2MB cache drives are considered slow for today's PCs.

SCSI drives are the fastest at 15,000 RPM but are not cheap computer parts.

The new 'kid on the block' - Solid State Drives (SSDs) are the fastest and most efficient drives now available. They are Solid State because they have no moving parts. Data is stored in flash memory chips. Because of this technology, they are less susceptible to damage and consume minimal electricity. This drive is quite expensive and is, therefore, not a cheap computer part.

A new type of SSD named PCIe SSDs were introduced and are extremely fast. Hard drives have spinning disks with close tolerances that stores data. Because of this feature, they are more susceptible to damage than SSDs which have no moving parts. SSDs stores data and flash memory chips and consume minimal electricity.

Got money in your pocket? Check out these Solid State Drives. Click here to view some Solid State Drives (SSDs).

DVD-Rom Drive is a Cheap Computer Part

DVD-Rom Drive:

The DVD-Rom drive is an optical drive that was once considered a cheap computer part. Although they are generally inexpensive, these drives can cost up to $100.00 since the introduction of the Blu-Ray drive. Optical drives followed the hard drive by also upgrading to the Serial ATA (SATA) Interface. Click here to read 'What are DVD Drives'?

There is really no need to install more than one drive since these drives are super-multi formats and perform all the duties of recording to Blu-Ray discs, DVD-R/RW, DVD+R/RW discs and CD-R/RW discs. They also play back Blu-Ray, DVD video and Audio CDs.

Installing your operating system, programs and applications require an optical drive be it internal or external. Please remember that to play DVD video, a software player such as Cyberlink PowerDVD is required since Windows Media Player requires a video decoder to play video. Windows operating systems up to Windows 8 provided Windows Media Player but it was dropped from Windows 10. Therefore, anyone needing to play DVD or Blu-Ray disks will require a software Blu-Ray Player.

Average prices of these drives classify them as being a cheap computer part with the exception of BluRay drives which have elevated prices. Therefore, purchase the best one possible.

Click here to browse some optical drives.

Video Card:

The Video Card (although not necessarily a cheap computer part) performs an extremely important function for your system. It's an expansion card and its main function is to generate and output image to the display. It goes by other names such as video adapter, graphics-accelerator card, display adapter and graphics card. It also has its own processor, memory and cooling device. Having its own processor enables it to take the load off the computer's main processor.

Video hardware can be integrated on the motherboard and would be referred to as onboard video. Discrete or external video cards are installed in appropriate motherboard slots.

Some other functions enable accelerated rendering of 3D scenes and graphics and the ability to drive multiple monitors.

PCI Express x16 is the name for the present graphics card slots. This socket provides increased band width and scalability over its predecessors achieving throughputs in excess of 4GB/s.

High performance graphics cards produce a lot of heat; therefore, heat sinks were added to the GPU (Graphics Processing Unit). Heat sinks are either passive or active. Passive meaning fanless or active including a fan mechanism.

The two main chip makers Intel and AMD produce processors with an embedded GPU (Graphics Processing Unit). AMD refers to their system as an APU (Accelerated Processing Unit). View some Video Cards at great prices here

Older low-end video cards 64MB of RAM were considered cheap computer parts compared to today's prices. Resolutions of video cards define the amount of memory required. High definitions of 1080P and below require approximately 2GB DDR5. Higher than 1080P requires 4GBs and UHD/4K requires 6GBs.

When buying a video card, ensure that this it is compatible with your PCI Express X16 motherboard slot. If you are into heavy gaming and using multiple monitors, ensure that you purchase one that is capable of driving multiple monitors.

There are two (2) main manufacturers of graphics (video) cards: AMD and nVidia.

Sound Card:

A sound card or audio card can be a cheap computer part. It is an expansion card that plugs into a PCI or PCI Express port on the motherboard that enables the input and output of audio signals to and from a computer. They are either connected by PCI, PCI Express or USB. Basic uses of the sound card include providing sound or music from multimedia and entertainment applications.

Some computers have built in sound cards while others employ discrete expansion cards for audio production. Click here for view sound cards

Keyboard & Mouse:

The keyboard and mouse are the two most used input devices in your system. They are peripherals.

The keyboard allows you to input data such as word processing and the mouse enables you to select and open files and show options. Choose an ergonomic pair; be it corded or cordless. You decide on the type.

Replace that old mouse which has the ball with an optical one. Dust build up on the ball requires periodical cleaning. This causes malfunction and erratic movement of the cursor. Regular dismantling and cleaning of your mouse is eliminated by using an optical mouse. It is more costly than a regular mouse but is so much more convenient.

Click here to view some excellent prices on keyboards and mice.

IDE/EIDE and SATA Drive Cables:

A PC cable is a cheap computer part. Extremely old computers used the IDE/EIDE cables. When acquiring your computer parts, ensure that you have all the drive cables required for connecting the hard drive, floppy drive and CD-Rom to the motherboard. These cables are usually shipped with the motherboard or the drives. They are now replaced with the thinner and smaller SATA cables which enhances and increases the transfer of data.

IDE cables are flat 80-conductor 40-pin ribbon cables while SATA cables are small, flat 7-pin cables.

When building your own computer system, build one that uses SATA compatible computer parts. IDE/EIDE cables have been replaced by SATA (serial ATA) cables.

Click here to view some SATA Cables

Surge Suppressor:

The surge suppressor, which is not a computer part, is an electrical plug used to connect your computer to the electrical main.

It minimizes and protects your prized PC from over/under voltage, brownouts and not too serious lightning strikes.

Check here for my guide on surge suppressors.

UPS (Emergency Backup System):

This is not a cheap computer part. A backup system consists of a battery and inverter that provides AC voltage when there is a utility power outage. When utility power returns, it has a rectifying circuit that recharges the internal battery. It functions both as a Surge Suppressor and an emergency backup system to protect your valuable data during a power outage. You, therefore, would not need to purchase both systems. Check here for my guide on (UPS) Emergency Backup Systems.

Click here to view power protection equipment.

Operating System:

Although it is not a cheap computer part, your new PC is worthless without an operating system. The operating system is a software program that manages the basic functions of a computer such as controlling peripherals, scheduling tasks and performing applications.

There are quite a few operating systems (OS) but the two main ones are Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X. Microsoft Windows is more popular than Mac OS X and presently features Windows 7, WIndows 8 and Windows 10. Windows 7 has proven to be quite stable with minor bugs unlike Windows 8. They are available in 32-bit and 64-bit versions. I would recommend Microsoft WIndows 10 Home 64-bit. Click here and browse a wide range of computer operating systems.

Rescue Disk:

This is not among your computer parts list but it is prudent that you have a rescue disk ready in the event of a system 'crash' or if your computer refuses to boot. Prepare this disk for the specific operating system you plan on using.

If you have another computer, you could use it to make such a disk; otherwise, ask a friend to make one for you.



I do hope that you found this list 'Acquiring your Cheap Computer Part' helpful.

You will now be moving to the next phase to Build Your Own Cheap Computer. If you have acquired all your computer parts, Click Here and go to Step 2 - Prepare the Computer Case .

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You may also visit another Web page on this site which will give you more detailed information on each computer part.
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