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 cases.
Below is a list showing each computer part that you will require to build your cheap computer:
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.
Here are some of my recommendations. Click here to view.
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 view this awesome case
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'. Purchase one that is upgradeable.
If purchasing a case with a pre-installed power supply unit, I would recommend a minimum of 450 watts. Browse here for some power supplies
Click here for case fans at fantastic prices
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 DDR2 or DDR3 memory, multiple USB ports, gigabit ethernet, firewire, multiple SATA ports, digital audio ports, PCI Express X16 and E-SATA, etc.
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.
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.
The processor is a very important computer part
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.
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.
This is comparatively a cheap computer part.
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 heat sink/fan assemblies at great prices.
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 and DDR3 SDRAM. The dual-channel configuration requires the installation of two identical memory modules which enhances the overall system performance.
With the introduction of the triple channel configuration, the installation of three identical DDR3 memory modules are required. This configuration greatly improves access times and bandwidth.
Today's operating systems require a minimum of 2GB of RAM for efficient operation. Click here for a wide selection of some cheap memory modules which is also a cheap computer part.
I have had good luck with this memory configuration so why not check it out?
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 hard drives 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.
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, 32MB 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 expensive.
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.
Got money in your pocket? Check out these Solid State Drives. Click here to view some Solid State Drives (SSDs).
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 upwards of $200.00 since the introduction of the BluRay drive. Optical drives followed the hard drive by also upgrading to the Serial ATA (SATA) Interface.
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 BluRay discs, DVD-R/RW, DVD+R/RW discs and CD-R/RW discs. They also play back BluRay, 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.
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
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. 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.
This computer part also has other added functions such as accelerated rendering of 3D scenes and 2D graphics and the ability to drive multiple monitors. There are basically three types of video cards:
- PCI - Installed in the PCI slot, this type is mostly found in old computers and is on its way out.
- AGP - This card is installed in the AGP 8X slot on the Motherboard. It is still around in older systems but has given way to the PCI Express x16 technology.
- PCI Express x16 - This graphics card provides increased bandwidth and scalability over its predecessor the AGP 8X technology achieving throughputs in excess of 4GB/s.
View some Video Cards at great prices here
Older low-end video cards using 64MB of RAM were considered cheap computer parts compared to today's prices. Mid-end cards now use up to 1GB DDR memory while high-end cards use up to 2GB.
When buying a video card, ensure that this computer part is compatible with your motherboard slot and that it is 3D capable.
If you want to splurge on this computer part, you can purchase an HDCP compatible one with DVI or HDMI for HDTV connection.
There are two (2) main manufacturers of graphics (video) cards: AMD (ATI) and nVidia.
A sound card or audio card can be a cheap computer part. It is an expansion card that enables the input and output of audio signals to and from a computer. 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. Older computers use 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.
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
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. 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.
Although it is not a cheap computer part, your new PC is worthless without an operating system - Microsoft Windows in this case.
Click here and browse a wide range of computer operating systems at great prices
The three present flavors are Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7. The new Windows 7 has proven to be quite stable with minor bugs unlike Vista. They are available in 32-bit and 64-bit versions. I would recommend the Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit operating system.
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 Computer Case
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you more detailed information on each computer part.
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