Computer Components for Noobs

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If you are looking into buying a PC or building one, the first thing you need to look into is the components of the computer. The components of a computer are what build a computer. It depends majorly on the components of the computer whether your computer is a high-performance computer or a low-performance computer. If this is your first time buying a PC, you have come to the right place. Welcome to The TechUpShot Blog! In today’s article “Computer Components for Noobs” we will discover what the roles of different components are, the different options available in the market, which components are suitable for whom, etc. After reading this article, you will know what you need to invest your hard-earned money into to get the best device for your needs. So let’s get started with a short intro of all the main PC components and then move on to the details of each.

Main Computer Components

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The main components that are necessary for each computer are:

  1.  CPU: Central Processing Unit. The brain of the computer
  2. Motherboard: The component that connects all the components of the computer.
  3. Memory (RAM): Random Access Memory. Running programs are stored here temporarily.
  4. GPU: Graphic Processing Unit. This component processes all the graphics being run on your PC.
  5. Storage Drives: Files are stored here. SSDs and Hard Drives.
  6. PSU: Power Supplying Unit. Provides the power to the computer for running.
  7. Cabinet: The box which stores all these components.
  8. Cooling Unit: The fans and coolers. Keep the PC cool to provide the best performance.
  9. Peripherals: Display, Keyboard, Mouse, Speakers, Mic, etc.

Well then, now that we know what the main components of a PC are, let’s jump right into the details! Starting with the first component from the list.

Central Processing Unit (CPU)

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As the name suggests, the CPU is the main component that processes all the programs and files being run on your computer. You may have often heard of it being referred to as the ‘brain‘ of the computer. This would be the best example to understand what the CPU is responsible for. The CPU has the main Processing Power of the computer. The faster the CPU, the faster your computer will run. So, if you are going to do heavy work like video editing, game development, or 3d Modeling, go for a more powerful CPU. That will be your first step to building a PC worthy of handling your work.

Mostly, your build revolves around your CPU. Once you have chosen your CPU, you choose the other components of your PC suitable to your processor. So, the more powerful the CPU you choose, the more powerful you will have to choose your other parts.

CPU Options in the Market

In the market, be it budget, gaming, editing, or professional, there are two brands that produce the CPUs. Intel and AMD. Both of these brands offer highly stable and good-performance CPUs. Intel takes the lead by a slight margin in most use cases. Although, if you are looking to build a Gaming PC, then AMD Ryzen processors provide a better value than the Intel processors.

If you want to read a more detailed comparison between the processors, I would recommend this article by Paul Alcorn on tomshardware.com :
https://www.tomshardware.com/features/amd-vs-intel-cpus 

Recommendation

In 2023, I would recommend at least going for an 11th gen Intel Core i5 Processor or AMD Ryzen 5 4500U Processor to get a good and balanced performance. However, if you are really tight on budget or need a PC just for casual stuff like web browsing, watching movies, etc., you could go for the Intel Core i3 or Ryzen 3 processors. These are just general recommendations, I would suggest looking more into your needs and necessities before buying.

Motherboard

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The Motherboard is the component that connects and holds onto all the components of a PC. The motherboard has slots for your CPU, RAM, GPU, Storage Disks, etc. It also has input and output ports like USB, HDMI, Thunderbolt, etc.

There are some factors you need to look into while choosing a motherboard. The socket, form factor, the chipset, and the slots and ports.

Socket

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The first thing you need to look for in a motherboard is its CPU socket. This CPU socket decides the Processors your motherboard is compatible with. So, make sure whatever motherboard you choose has the right Socket for your CPU.

Form Factor

The second thing is the form factor. Motherboards come in different form factors ranging from largest to smallest-

  1. eATX Extended ATX. The biggest motherboards that are available in the market. These give you a lot of expansion options and memory slots. Although it is not really necessary for a regular user.
  2. ATX – Usually has seven expansion slots and four or more Memory slots. That’s more than enough for a regular user.
  3. MicroATX – These usually have two expansion slots and four memory slots. The sweet spot for most regular users.
  4. MiniATX – These are the smallest motherboards with not many expansion options.

You just need to keep in mind that the smaller the motherboard, the fewer the slots and expansion options. See if the slots and connectivity options suit you and go for the motherboard.

Chipset

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The third thing is the Chipset. All you need to know about the chipsets is 

  1. Z-series/X-series: High-end motherboards. If you are buying an expensive processor and plan on doing a lot of heavy work, you can go for these.
  2. B-series: The sweet spot for most people. The B-series gives ample performance while also coming at a good price.
  3. H-series/A-series: Basic Chipsets. Good for people looking for a PC just for some casual use and some light gaming. They come at quite an affordable price.

Slots and Ports

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And the fourth most important thing you should look into is the slots and expansions of the Motherboard. Let’s go through some of the essential slots you will need.

Slots

  1. RAM/DIMM slots: As the name suggests, these slots connect the RAM to the PC. The more slots, the more you can extend your RAM.
  2. PCIe Slots (x16, x2, x1): The PCIe slots are the expansion slots. Your graphic card or RAID (if you are using one) will be attached here.
  3. M.2 Slots: These are the slots that harbor your SSD Storage.
  4. SATA ports: These connect your motherboard to Hard Disk Storages and older versions of the SSD.
  5. USB Headers: These are used for connecting any external ports that may come with your cabinet or if you want to attach some extras.

Ports

  1. USB ports: One of the most essential ports. USB port connects your keyboard, mouse, headphones(if USB ones), and a majority of other devices you may want to connect to your PC.
  2. HDMI, VGA, or DisplayPort Ports: Connect your PC to the display.
  3. Ethernet/ RJ 45: For a wired connection to the internet.

Some of the other things you may want to consider:

  1. WLAN card: This connects your PC to the Wi-Fi. Although I wouldn’t really recommend going for it as it’s not really necessary for a desktop and increases the cost quite a bit. A wired Wi-Fi connection would be a better option as it is more stable and a lot cheaper than a wireless connection.
  2. Audio card: Most motherboards have an audio card inbuilt. The audio card processes audio on your PC. Your speakers, mics, and headphones won’t work without this.
  3. Bluetooth Card: If you plan on using Bluetooth on your PC, you should get this one.

And that is more than enough things to look into before buying a motherboard. Let’s move on to the RAM.

Memory (RAM)

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RAM stands for Random Access Memory. Apps and Programs are temporarily stored here. What do I mean by temporary? Exactly what it says. When you open your computer, the OS (Operating System) is loaded into the RAM and your computer starts running. This is from where your processor accesses information. Any program you load in your computer is loaded into the RAM and then the processor reads it. When you close the program, it is erased from the RAM. Just like this, when you close the computer, your OS is no longer in the RAM.

Which and How much RAM to Buy? 

While buying RAM, just look at which type of RAM it is. There are 5 types of RAM form DDR to DDR5. In 2023, you will want at least a DDR4 RAM. If you can get DDR5, great. Although, DDR4 is more than enough. Also, keep in mind that the type of RAM you get should be compatible with your motherboard. For example, if you are getting DDR5 RAM, you will want a DDR5-compatible Motherboard too.

When it comes to how much you should get, the answer is simple. The more, the merrier. Although you should get a minimum of 8GB RAM in the current age. If you can get 16GB, that is the sweet spot for most people. Also, getting RAM at least double your VRAM (we will talk about this later in the article) is a good decision.

And that’s actually all you need to know about RAM. Just get 16GB of DDR4 or DDR5 RAM and you are set (unless your computer is a really high-end one, you may need 32GB then). The next component we will go through is the GPU.

GPU (Graphics Processing Unit)

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The Graphics Processing Unit is the component of a PC that processes all the graphics you see on your display. The Graphics Card has VRAM (Video RAM) which is basically the same as RAM, but here graphics are stored. Just like the programs are first loaded into the RAM before you use them, Graphics are first loaded in the GPU, and only then can you see them on your display.

Types of GPUs

There are two types of GPUs. Dedicated and Integrated. A Dedicated GPU is a Graphics Card that you buy separately and attach to the motherboard. An Integrated one, on the other side, is built-in your CPU. Note that it is essential for a PC to have a, either an Integrated one or a Dedicated one. So if your CPU does not come with an Integrated GPU, you must buy a Dedicated Graphics Card.

Should you get a Dedicated Graphics Card?

If you are someone who does graphic extensive work like gaming, video editing, 3d modeling, etc., you should get a Graphics Card with at least 4GB of VRAM as it provides you with a lot more power compared to an Integrated GPU. However, getting 8GB of VRAM is recommended. But if you don’t plan on doing any graphics extensive work, you can settle for an Integrated GPU. Graphics Cards are expensive after all

Buying Options

You will find two major brands in the Graphics Card Market. Nvidia and AMD. Graphics Cards from Nvidia are the more popular option in the market with their features like Ray Tracing and all. Although AMD Graphics Cards are also a good option. Pair them with an AMD Graphics Card and they work just as well. You will also notice that there are different companies selling the same Nvidia Graphics Cards. No need to worry, the same models even when coming from different companies perform almost the same with negligible differences in performance. You can go with any of them.

Talking about use cases, if you plan on gaming or video editing, I would suggest getting an RTX 3050 or higher for smooth sailing. And for 3D Modeling and game development, getting at least an RTX 3060 would be better. However the 3050 will also do the work if you don’t have the budget. I would not recommend going with the 20 or previous models as they are quite old and perform low compared to the newer ones.

Now that we are done with the graphics card, let’s see where we storing them files.

Storage Drives

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Storage Drives are the components that store the data on your computer. All the files including your Operating System, programs, software, videos, pictures, etc. are stored in the storage drives.

Types of Storage Drives

There are two types of Storage drives that you will need to consider. SSDs and HDDs. The SSDs (Solid State Drives) are the newer and faster storage drives. HDDs (Hard Disk Drives) are older and slower storage drives. Most PCs nowadays come with an SSD for storing the OS and programs and an HDD for storing stock-like data. Like videos, images, etc. which you literally just keep as storage and view once in a while.

Which Storage to get? And how much?

Well, for which storage to get, I would recommend following the same lineup we just discussed. Get an SSD for storing your OS and Programs, and an HDD for videos, images, and other static files.

For the question of how much to get, to be frank, it completely depends on you. If you have need for a lot of storage for videos and all, get a big HDD. If you want to download big games and applications, get a big SSD. My recommendation is, in 2023, you should get at least a 512GB SSD and more if you need it. You can even expand the storage in the future if you feel the need. No biggie!

That does it for the Storage Drives, now comes the Power Supply.

PSU (Power Supplying Unit)

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The Power Supplying Unit is, well, the Power Supplying Unit. I mean, does this even need an explanation? The Power Supplying Unit is the Component that is plugged into the socket and then supplies the power it receives to all the components of the PC.

After you have chosen all the components of your PC, open a Power Supply Calculator (you will find this online) and put in all the components. The calculator will give the amount of wattage required for your PC. To keep room for future upgrades, it is a common practice to purchase a PSU 100 watts above the required wattage. Do this and you are done with the PSU.

Cabinet

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As many think, the cabinet is not just a box to keep the Parts in. Although that is also a major function of it, it also plays a major role in keeping the System cool by regulating airflow inside the PC. So, the Cabinet is responsible for storing the system as well as regulating the airflow to keep the system cool.

Choosing a Cabinet is quite simple. First, see the size of your motherboard. This will help you decide the size of your Cabinet. Next, see if it provides good airflow for your Components. And if you need some extra ports, look for a cabinet that provides them and you are done. As I said, quite simple. Cabinet done. Now to keep that PC even cooler, let’s get a cooling unit.

Cooling Unit

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As a PC, or actually, any electronic device gets heated up, its performance gets affected. So the more heated a PC is, the slower it works. And that is exactly why we use cooling units. To make sure the PC stays cool and fast. The Cooling Unit is the computer component that provides cooling to your PC to ensure the best performance.

Types of Cooling Units

There are two major types of Cooling Units in a PC. Air Coolers and Liquid Coolers. Air Coolers provide less cooling but come at an affordable price compared to Liquid Coolers. Liquid Coolers provide a high cooling effect and enhance performance better compared to air coolers.

Should you get an Air Cooler or a Liquid Cooler?

Most of the CPUs come with a low-profile Air Cooler. These are called Stock coolers. If your system isn’t that heavy, these will do for you (up to i5 or Ryzen 5 when paired with a 4GB GPU). Although, getting an Air Cooler would be really helpful. And if your system is a more powerful one, i5/Ryzen5 or higher with a decent GPU, you should consider getting a liquid cooler. Also, if you plan on overclocking then a liquid cooler is a must for you. Overclocking without a liquid cooler can damage your components and is highly not recommended.

And now that we are done with the cooling unit, we have our PC set up! All that’s left now is plugging in those peripherals, installing an OS, and getting the system running!

Peripherals

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Peripherals mean the external devices we connect to the PC to input inputs and get outputs. We won’t talk much about the Peripherals in this post, since this is a whole topic in itself(We will have a dedicated post for them soon). I will just give you the peripherals you must be buying for your PC.

  1. Display: A display or monitor is the screen of your PC. You should research and buy one according to your needs since this is one of the most expensive peripherals.
  2. Keyboard: Input for typing is provided through the keyboard. From my perspective, a Mechanical Keyboard is the best choice if you can get one. It gives fast feedback and is fun to use.
  3. Mouse: The mouse is used to navigate through your PC. If you are a gamer, artist, or content creator, I would suggest getting a mouse with at least 6-button mouse with adjustable DPI settings.
  4. Speakers/Headphones: You will need headphones or speakers for multimedia. Some of the monitors come with built-in speakers, although getting some dedicated speakers is the better option. They ain’t that expensive either.
  5. Mic: If you plan on doing meetings, calls, or recording on your PC, you should get a microphone. Many headphones and Speakers also come with built-in Microphones which are enough for most people. If you need better voice quality, go for a professional microphone.

These five are the basic and essential Peripherals you will need for your PC. Others like a pen tablet, webcam, etc. are optional and it is up to you if you want to buy them or not. Consider your needs and purchase the peripherals you need.

And with the peripherals done, just install the OS(Windows, Linux, etc.) and you will have your PC all up and running. Let’s wrap it up by having a quick and short summary.

Wrapping Up

Okay, let’s get this short and crisp summary down so that you may retain more of what you learned today!

Components you are gonna need:

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Images taken from freepik

You will need a CPU, a Motherboard, RAM Sticks for Memory, a GPU, Storage Drives, a PSU, a Cabinet, a Cooling Unit, and finally Peripherals to complete your Build.

CPU

The brain of the computer with the main Processing Power. Your build will revolve around this.

Motherboard

Connects all the components. Check the socket for your CPU compatibility, size and chipset according to your needs.

Memory (RAM)

Running programs are stored here. The more the better. At Least 8GB, preferably 16GB of DDR4 or higher is recommended.

GPU

Processes your Graphics. Get a dedicated one if you need it. An integrated one is generally enough if you don’t plan on doing any graphics work.

Storage Drives

The storage of your computer. At least get a 512GB M.2 SSD, and more if you want.

PSU

Calculate your power usage with a PC power calculator and buy with a margin of 100 watts for future upgrades.

Cabinet

Stores your Components and regulates airflow. Get one with good airflow and cool looks.

Cooling Unit

Keeps your PC cool and enhances performance. A stock cooler may be enough for you or you may need a separate air or liquid cooler according to your need. Liquid coolers are a must if you plan to overclock.

Peripherals

The devices that are connected to your PC for inputs and outputs. The essential peripherals are a display, a keyboard, a mouse, headphones/speakers, and a mic(mostly built-in speakers or headphones).

And we are done!

That’s it! Wrapped up with a quick summary. With this, we conclude today’s article. Hope you found this helpful.

Also, if you are interested, you can check out my Article on Operating Systems (OS) where I discuss in detail and compare different operating systems.

Don’t forget to subscribe to our mailing list! We keep making exciting and informative articles like these. See you in the next blog.

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