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While laptops and tablets have become a larger part of the computing market, a fast desktop computer is still the workhorse for processor-intensive tasks such as video encoding and gaming. Many computer enthusiasts assemble their own desktop computers from parts ordered online or purchased from a local computer hardware store. Prospective builders should begin by estimating a budget for their new PC and determining if they have any existing parts that can be reused in a new build. The builder should then select a central processing unit (CPU) and motherboard to match the computing needs of the end user. Finally, the builder should select storage, a graphics processing unit (GPU) and the amount of random access memory (RAM) for the system.
The case and power supply are basic elements of any desktop computer. In most instances, a case can be reused between upgrade cycles, though some builders may want to purchase a new case to better support features such as liquid cooling. The power supply can also be reused, but one should make sure it can supply enough power for the GPUs on the market at the time. Buying a high-quality, reliable power supply can ensure a steady level of current to the CPU and help avoid system errors.
Once a builder has figured out which parts he needs to buy for the new desktop, he can then create a budget for his new system. Most computer components are subject to the law of diminishing returns, so it is important to select parts that will provide the most power for the money. For a fast desktop computer, a builder should concentrate on a quick CPU and GPU, and enough RAM to support the processor.
The CPU is the heart of any computer, and the rest of the hardware should be built around it. If the computer is going to be used for video editing and encoding, the builder will want to select the most powerful CPU his budget will allow. Gaming systems may only require a mid-range processor. Next, the builder should find a motherboard that is compatible with his CPU and supports the fastest and most recent interface standards. The motherboard should also fit easily inside the PC case.
The CPU will need some sort of cooling system to function properly. Most CPUs come packaged with a stock cooler consisting of a heat sink and fan. To get the most out of a fast desktop computer, some users may want to overclock the CPU to get faster processing speeds. This may require the use of a more efficient fan assembly or a liquid cooling unit. One should use caution when installing liquid cooling, because it can leak and damage other components.
Some desktop systems will use a combination of solid-state drives (SSD) and hard drives for data storage. Generally, the operating system will be installed on the SSD and allow for faster booting and load times, while the hard drive will be used for storing larger files. It’s also a good idea to invest in an external hard drive to back up or transfer important data.
There are many GPU or video card options for a fast desktop computer. The builder may wish to purchase a high-end card that will last for several years or buy a cheaper card and replace it more often. In some cases, he may wish to have two or three cards installed in the system to support multiple monitors or for GPU-intensive tasks. The GPU will be the most important component for gaming enthusiasts. One should always make sure the power supply is providing enough wattage for this component.
RAM should be matched to the motherboard and CPU. Different CPU types will usually have different optimal amounts of RAM. While more RAM is always better, very few specialized applications will need the maximum amount of RAM allowed on the motherboard or even half that amount. RAM prices tend to be volatile, so it’s usually a good idea to look for deals or wait for price drops when buying memory.