Still not convinced? Here’s a great way to find out for sure. Intel is holding master classes for PC enthusiasts at the biggest LAN party on the planet. Yup, that’ll be DreamHack Winter, otherwise known as the world’s biggest festival for PC gamers, eSports enthusiasts and digital artists, and other DreamHack events are held in countries all over Europe including Sweden, France, Romania and Spain, with one coming to Austin next season.
At the most recent instalment of Dreamhack in London, hands-on hardware expert and OC3D.net founder Tom Logan took a few groups of DreamHack attendees through the full process of PC building.
The minimum you’ll need to build a PC is a case, power supply, motherboard, CPU, heatsink or cooler, memory and a storage device, be that a conventional hard drive or an SSD. Yup, just eight primary components, though it can get more complicated if you want dedicated graphics, multiple storage devices and so on.
What’s more, desktop PCs are modular devices built up from standardised components. With the exception of the motherboard and CPU, which require fairly careful matching regards compatibility, there will be at least some flexibility and cross compatibility with many of the components.
It’s important not to fall foul of the temptation to cut corners on some of the less snazzy components
The main compatibility issue that you need to be aware of is with your choice of chip and motherboard. For example motherboards using the new 6th Gen Intel Core processors, formerly known as Skylake, now support the faster DDR4 memory and the processor itself requires a new design of socket. These are things that, if you are building your own PC, that you have to bear in mind.
You might think it would be easier to go for the cheaper DDR3 memory over the more expensive DDR4, however, you will soon find out that your board and chip won’t support it. And as for the chip itself, it will only fit the socket type that it’s designed for, if you try and put it into a different one you risk breaking it and the motherboard too.
It’s also important not to fall foul of the temptation to cut corners on some of the less snazzy components. For example, you might think that a power supply doesn’t matter much so long as it just works. Not so, according to Logan.
“When choosing power supply, stick with a decent brand. If a cheap one goes wrong, anything that’s attached to it can be killed in the process. Think all the components in your rig – you can lose any of them thanks to cheaping out just a little on the power supply.”
You might be surprised to learn even the scariest bits of the build aren’t as precarious as you thought. “A lot of people are scared of fitting the CPU,” says Logan, “and especially of spilling the thermal paste which is applied to the CPU and the cooler itself. But the important thing to know is that it’s not conductive, so a little spillage isn’t going to kill anything.”
It probably doesn’t take as long as you think, either, even for a first-time newbie. “Reckon on two hours tops for your first custom build at home,” says Logan.
Apart from being fun, home building also gives you total control over mixing and matching the components you prefer instead of being limited to what the system vendor has on offer. And you’ll be better informed about your PC and more able to perform upgrades and fixes in future.
So why not get involved with thousands of other PC lovers at the next instalment of DreamHack. To find out more about DreamHack for a list of upcoming DreamHack events around Europe, head for http://dreamhack.se/. — Jeremy Laird (@lairdinho)