PSU: Aerocool Integrator 700W
Build: Turn to page 78 to start preparing your PC case
Making Your Choice
As with any purchase, there are several things you need to consider before you choose a power supply. Getting things wrong here could mean a difficult build or additional expense later.
PC POWER REQUIREMENTS
The first thing to consider is exactly how much power your PC build will require as a minimum. The exact power requirement will vary depending on the components you have chosen. If you are using a 4GHz i7 processor and an Nvidia GTX 1080 graphics card, you will need to look for a PSU with a higher wattage than if you are using a 3.2GHz i5 and a GTX 750. As a basic rule of thumb, add up the power requirements for CPU, GPU and HDD; you can find this in the documentation or on the manufacturer’s website. Then add on 250W, which is the average power requirement of a base system, and finally add on 100W.
WIRED OR MODULAR
A modular power supply is simply one that has the cables separate to the main unit. This allows the end user to pick and choose the exact cables they need to attach (a large selection will be supplied with the PSU) and avoid the problem of excess cables. A modular power supply is usually more expensive than a wired counterpart, although this is usually down to the convenience it will offer rather than build quality. You can also buy semi-modular PSUs, which have the main power cable wired in and then several ports for connecting other cables.
The selection of power connectors your chosen PSU has is more of a concern if you are using a wired unit. The main things to check are whether it has the correct connector for the CPU power socket (4 or 8-pin) and that it has the correct connections for your chosen graphics card. Many modern graphics cards will need two PCIe power connections and they could be either 6 or 8-pin, and even one of each. You will normally have a lot more options with a modular PSU but even if you buy a wired power supply with the wrong connectors, you might be able to buy an adaptor.
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The Right RAM
A fast and easy way to add a performance boost to your PC is to install high quality, fast RAM (Random Access Memory). DDR4 is the latest variation of PC memory and is the fastest and most efficient yet but just like many other components in your build, RAM isn’t quite as simple as it might at first seem. Different motherboards support different maximum amounts, as do different operating systems and it is available in many different speeds and configurations.
Expansion Cards and Extras
Expansion cards are technically any printed circuit board that can be added to the system to add functionality or features. This means that a graphics card is an expansion card, albeit a fairly fancy one, and you can run a PC without including one, assuming the motherboard has on-board graphics. Here we will look at some of the other expansion card options you may want or need in your build.
Do You Need An Optical Drive?
Building a PC a few years ago without an optical drive would have seemed like madness. It would have made using the PC fairly difficult as most software was supplied on discs and Internet speeds were not really up to the task of downloading large files such as games. Nowadays, almost everything you might want to install on your PC can be bought electronically and discs are becoming somewhat obsolete. So do you actually need to install a CD/DVD drive?
Troubleshooting Your Build
Hopefully, if you have followed all of our instructions carefully, you won’t have any problems during the first boot of your new PC. However, problems can and do occur, even for experienced builders. The difference between a beginner and an experienced builder is the ability to solve problems and troubleshoot the PC build. If you have a problem with your computer, it will likely be one of these.
Preparing the Case
Choosing a case used to be almost an afterthought when building a custom PC. One grey box was much the same as another grey box. Thankfully the days of grey boxes are well and truly over and our choice of PC case ranges from tiny media boxes designed to go next to a TV, to bespoke glass towers aimed at those who want to show off their perfectly co-ordinated components. However, whichever case you choose, some preparation is needed before beginning your build.
Upgrading to Windows 10 from Windows 7 or 8.1
If you have an existing copy of Windows 7 or 8.1 on disc, not being used on another active PC, you can use this for the initial install of Windows and then upgrade to Windows 10 afterwards or at a later date. You have missed the deadline for the free upgrade to 10 but it is quite likely that Microsoft will reopen that offer, or run similar discounted offers, for their new OS in the near future. This guide assumes you are taking this route to Windows 10, rather than a fresh install.
Need More Power?
The role of a PC power supply unit is to convert the AC electric power that comes from the mains to the DC power that the computer requires. However, it can do much more than that. A good quality power supply can make your system more efficient, stable and reliable. The power supply is often the first component to fail in an older system, so making sure you understand the full role of the PSU in your build is very important.
Navigating Your Motherboard
We will be referring to specific parts of the motherboard in detail as we work our way through the build but for now it is a good idea to familiarise yourself with how a standard motherboard is laid out, where the sockets and ports will be, and what they look like. There will be some slight variations in location of sockets and features between different motherboards but most will follow this general layout pattern.
Final Checks and First Boot
If you have followed all of the build steps thus far, you should now be at the point where the first boot up is looming. Before you do, it is worth going back and checking that everything is ready, all cables are connected and everything is looking good. First boot doesn’t mean that you can’t go back and change things later but you can avoid problems by doing a few simple checks.
Fitting the Memory Modules
The DIMM’s, or Dual In-line Memory Modules, are modules that contain several RAM or SDRAM chips on a small circuit board. Most motherboards will have multiple memory module sockets, usually arranged in pairs. When you buy memory modules, they are usually sold as a matched pair; this ensures that they have the same latency, or in other words the same memory reaction time.
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