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7 things I learned once I built my first PC

Ben Patterson | July 7, 2016
Let my minor traumas be your teachable moments.

Handy though it is, PCPartPicker didn’t make it easy when it came to recreating my ChooseMyPC build. Searching for a particular component often came up with multiple hits, and I was puzzled with even the most generic searches (like “Intel Core i3”) came up empty. (The reason: PCPartPicker’s “compatibility filter” screens out parts that won’t work with your current build.)

Little did I know that I could have saved lots of time and frustration with a single click. (Cue the forehead slap.)

Once you’ve created your ChooseMyPC build, look for the “PCPartPicker Link” button at the bottom of the parts list and click it. The entire build will automatically be transferred to PCPartPicker, no searching required.

2. Size matters when it comes to the case

It’s easy to get distracted by bright, shiny things when it comes to picking a PC case, and I mean that quite literally.

Size matters when it comes to the case
Ben Patterson

There’s nothing wrong with choosing a jumbo case if you’re a first-time PC builder.

In your research, you’ll find plenty of cases with flashy, neon-lit windows, perfect for showing off the innards of your custom-built PC. Cool though those side windows are, though, another feature meant much more to me: space, and lots of it.

Why the need for space? One of your main tasks when it comes to building your PC is dealing with all the cables connecting your various components. Not only do you want to make sure all your cables go where they need to go, you also need to make sure they’re tucked inside in a fashion that allows for plenty of unobstructed airflow. Proper cable management will keep the inside of your PC neat, tidy and cool. Sloppy cables, on the other hand, could leave you with a melted CPU.

Expert PC builders pride themselves in picking just the right case for their particular build—not too big, not too small. Indeed, perfectly weaving all those cables into a cramped PC case can be akin to building a ship in a bottle.

As a novice PC builder, though, I wasn’t shooting for a work of art. I just wanted to get through it—and for me, that meant having plenty of room to work. I wanted to go big.

Generally speaking, PC cases come in three sizes: ATX (the biggest), ATX Mini (smaller), and ATX Micro (even smaller), with variations within each category for “full tower,” “mid tower,” “mini tower,” and so on. In my case, I went ahead and sprang for an ATX Full Tower case.

Now, did I really need a case that big? Of course not. After all, the motherboard I eventually picked was a smaller ATX Mini form factor, I was only installing a single video card, and I wasn’t even dealing with any bulky after-market CPU coolers.

 

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