When Buying Computer Components

I'm doing a workshop on putting together computers in two hours, and rather than do hand outs I figured I'd toss the links up on my blog. When buying components for a computer, I usually read:

Ars Technica

If you are buying the components for a machine, they do systems guilds that are a useful report on the state-of-the-art each December-ish.  The one for 2012 is available here:


Video Card Benchmarks

They have performance statistics and a useful ranking of video cards by performance per price that I find particularly useful.  It is helpful to remember that many of these are relatively arbitrary, so if you have some specific game or application in mind it is useful to find reviews specifically for that application.



This is the easy way to find the RAM that goes with your motherboard.



Tom’s Hardware 

Has comparative reviews of various components, like hard drives, though I find their comparisons less easy-to-read than the video card benchmarks site.



The components that you'll be interested in are:

  • CPU
  • A Motherboard that is appropriate for the CPU, and will probably include networking and sound card
  • RAM that matchs your motherboard
  • Optional: a video card (or two) that fit on the CPU
  • A hard drive (or two, or more)
  • A cd and/or dvd drive
  • Optional: wireless cards
  • A case that is big enough for the motherboard and video card
  • A power supply that is powerful enough to run all those components, which may have come with the case.
  • Additional cooling components
  • Any cables that weren't included with the components (most often to connect the hard drives.)