Building Your Own Computer Computing has changed a lot in the last decade. For many, smartphones have become the go-to method of playing games, staying in touch with friends, and browsing the Web for answers to trivia questions and viewing cat pictures. When you need something more powerful, or with a bigger screen, a tablet may be the way to go. If actual, real work is needed, the laptop is generally used. Traditional bulky desktops are increasingly rare, and when you see them, they're usually all-in-ones like iMacs or HP Envy, or decked out with designs that are meant to be noticed. Let's face it, no one really builds their own desktop PC anymore, right? Wrong, actually. DIY may not be all it used to be, but it's still a thriving sector of the PC industry, and one that any serious computer user—we mean the type of person who cares more about what a computer can do than how small an envelope it can slide into—should be aware of. Because, if you want the strongest, most adaptable, most upgradeable, and most personal computer you can possibly get, you need to build it yourself. By researching each individual component's capabilities and limitations, you can tailor your purchases to your exact needs now and in the future. And if your requirements or your mood change tomorrow, next week, next month, or next year, you can easily pull out and replace as few as one of the pieces, and your computer is perfect for you yet again. Nothing else gives you this much control or satisfaction. For some people, they’d never use anything that doesn’t have Mac somewhere in the name, but building your own Windows PC does have its advantages. Mostly, it’s the freedom to build the PC you want, not the one that Apple deems worthy, and for a lot less money. PCs these days usually fall into two broad categories, gaming and work-station. If you’re interested more in graphics then gaming is the way to go, but if you need serious computing power (such as video rendering) then you want a work-station. A workstation is a PC build that prioritizes functionality, that typically means prioritizing connectivity, collaboration, storage, and speed to make a well- rounded PC. That said, the actual power and components of a workstation depend on the type of job the user is trying to accomplish. A video editor or a programmer will need a much more powerful processor with additional SSD storage and RAM versus someone who is gaming or making Zoom calls throughout the day. A gaming machine will prioritize the GPU (graphic processing unit) over the CPU (central processing unit). That being said, if video editing is your thing, many editing programs these days make extensive use of the GPU (Adobe and Da Vinci Resolve for example), and many more will int the future so you shouldn’t skimp on the GPU too much. Building a PC is not as difficult as you might think. In fact, if you can read, watch Youtube and operate a screwdriver, you are likely qualified enough to build your own computer. But why should you bother, it’s a lot easier to just buy one ready built and it’ll be better, right? Wrong. Here are a few reasons why building is the better option; 1.It’s more cost effective 2.It allows for easier upgrades 3.You’ll get a better cooling system 4.You’ll end up knowing a lot more about how your computer works 5.You’ll get better components 6.You’ll get a better warranty 7.You can customize your PC 8.You can choose your operating system and not have bloatware 9.It’s fun. The fact is, you don’t actually build anything; you just assemble the components. Anyone can do it. The only tools needed are: You don’t actually build anything, you just assemble. Here’s what you’ll need; a #2 Philips head screwdriver, preferably magnetised, a pair of needle nose pliers and some cable ties. A dish (preferably magnetic) to hold screws is also helpful. A flat surface An anti-static wrist strap A good light source So, what components do you need? 1.CPU (Central Processing Unit or the brawn of the computer) The CPU is often described as the brain of the computer, but it’s probably more accurate to describe it as the brawn. The brain is really the program that it’s running, the CPU does the heavy lifting. The CPU matters a lot. Higher clock speeds and core counts can make a major difference in performance, providing faster completion of intensive tasks such as video editing and transcoding. Plus, the CPU you choose will also dictate your motherboard options, as each processor only works with a specific CPU socket and set of chipsets. There are only 2 brands of CPU that you can use. AMD (Advanced Micro Devices) and Intel. Until 2017, Intel led the CPU world but AMD has caught and even passed them over the last few years with its new Zen2 architecture using transistors that are 7NM (7 billionths of a metre) as against Intel’s 14NM. This results in faster and cooler processing speed but for our purposes there’s not a huge difference. For example, the AMD Ryzen 3900X has 3.9 billion transistors. Intel no longer publish the transistor count of their equivalent range of I9 processors. Intel still holds a slight lead in gaming at 1080p in some games, as many games aren’t written to take advantage of the extra cores, so if you're looking to extract the most frames-per-second possible out of your graphics card to display on your high-refresh monitor, Intel is slightly better with its slightly higher overclocking speed, but AMD has narrowed that gap considerably and tends to offer more cores and  threads, which makes its CPUs better for video editing. Cores are CPUs on CPUs. An 8 core CPU is actually 8CPUs.  Since a CPU can only perform one task at a time, having a task split between 8 CPUs will be much faster providing the program takes advantage of having the extra cores. If only one or two cores is being used (such as a lot of gaming) then clock speed may be more important, however if many tasks are being performed at the same time (like video editing and rendering) then more cores are much better. Threads are the number of independent processes a chip can handle at once, which in theory would be the same as the number of cores. However, many processors have multithreading capability, which allows a single core to create two threads. Intel calls this Hyper-threading and AMD calls it SMT (Simultaneous Multi-threading). More threads mean better multitasking and enhanced performance on heavily-threaded apps such as video editors and transcoders. As an example, the AMD Ryzen 3900X has 12 cores and 24 threads compared to its Intel equivalent I9 9900K with 8 cores and 16 threads. 2.Motherboard (The central nervous system) A motherboard is a printed circuit board (PCB) into which everything plugs. It creates a kind of backbone allowing a variety of components to communicate, and that provides different connectors for components such as the central processing unit (CPU), graphics processing unit (GPU), memory, and storage. A motherboard is characterised by two things: the type of CPU it supports (which will determine the motherboard’s chipset), and the physical fit. A motherboard also includes things like the disk controllers, USB, sound and networking. There are three sizes, ATX, Micro ATX and Mini ATX. They all do the same thing but the larger they are, the more components they’ll support. A PC's chipset controls the communication between the CPU, RAM, storage and other peripherals. The chipset determines how many high-speed components or USB devices your motherboard can support. Chipsets are usually comprised of one to four chips and feature controllers for commonly used peripherals, like your keyboard, mouse and monitor. 3.GPU (The Graphics Processing Unit) The CPU is the main powerhouse of an editing PC. But it has just a few very powerful cores, while graphics cards have thousands of less powerful cores. These many small cores are perfect for tackling these tasks which can be easily broken down. It’s the difference between one really strong person moving items versus hundreds of average-strength people moving the same things. For tasks that can be broken down, it’s better to have lots of small cores rather than one big one. Graphics cards help with certain aspects of video editing. 3D tasks, rendering graphics effects and animations, and rendering at higher resolutions. Today, most GPUs connect via PCIe slots (Peripheral Component Interconnect Express) slots, and most use PCIe x16 slots. The GPU should support 4K resolution. For editing video, GPU frequency and VRAM are important, but GPU frequency has a higher impact on rendering times. Make sure it will fit in the case as modern GPUs can be very large. With hardware-accelerated rendering on Premiere Pro and DaVinci Resolve, having a powerful GPU is more important than ever. 4.RAM (Random Access Memory or short term or volatile memory Today’s RAM plugs into a motherboard via a rectangular slot that’s named for the kind of RAM in use today: the dual in-line memory module (DIMM). The number of DIMM slots in a motherboard determines how much RAM you can add, and it most commonly varies from two to eight slots but generally four. You can add one RAM module at a time, but you will get the best performance when you install RAM in matched pairs, e.g. 2 x 16GB rather than 1 x 32GB. How much RAM do you need for Video Editing? 8GB of RAM: Only if you are editing smaller than 1080p projects and are ok with closing down other Programs that are using up lots of your RAM in the background. 16GB of RAM: Good for editing 1080p – 4K 8bit Projects, with minor usage of background Programs 32GB of RAM: Good for any type of editing with heavy use of background hogs, such as editing large images in Photoshop. 64GB or more: This is recommended if you are editing 8K footage in 10bit or more and rely heavily on having several RAM-hogging Programs open at once such as After Effects. 5.PSU (Power Supply Unit) PCs run on electricity, of course, and that’s not provided directly from the wall to every component inside a PC’s case. Instead, electricity routes from the alternating current (AC) provided by the electricity supplier and transformed into the direct current (DC) used by PC components at the required voltage. It’s tempting to buy just any power supply to run your PC, but that’s not a wise choice. A power supply that doesn’t provide reliable or clean power can cause any number of problems, including instability that can be hard to pin down. In fact, a failing power supply can often cause other problems such as random resets and freezes that can otherwise remain mysterious. There are three basic types of power supply cabling. Whether you choose a hard-wired, modular, or hybrid system will determine how clean the inside of your case will be and how much work you’ll need to put in to keep your PC uncluttered and organized. Wattage is just one measure of a power supply’s performance. Another is its efficiency rating, which is a measure of how much DC power it sends to the PC and how much is lost primarily to heat. Efficiency is important because it affects how much you’ll spend on running your PC. Consider a PC that requires 300 watts of power. If you use a power supply with an 85% efficiency rating, your PC will pull about 353 watts of input power from your power company. A power supply that’s only 70% efficient, on the other hand, will pull 428 watts of power from the wall. Choosing the more efficient power supply will save money on your power bill. At the same time, a power supply with a higher efficiency rating will allow your PC to run cooler as well. Every PC component generates some heat, and that tends to work against top performance. A more efficient power supply will dissipate less heat, which will mean a quieter system thanks to fans that don’t have to run as fast or as long, better reliability, and a longer lifespan. As you’re searching for power supplies, you’ll see many that carry  80 PLUS certification labels. 80 Plus is a certification program that manufacturers can utilize to provide some assurances that their power supplies will meet certain efficiency requirements. 80 PLUS has various levels ranging from the basic certification to Titanium, and power supplies are rated by independent labs to provide the following efficiency levels for consumer 240-volt power systems: 6.Storage (Long term and “permanent” memory, SSDs and Hard Drives) Both internal and external storage components are secondary storage since they are not directly accessible to the PC’s CPU. HDDs or hard disk drives are mechanical drives that spin between 5400rpm and 7200rpm. The higher spinning ones are faster. They have been around for years and are reliable and the cheapest way to store large amounts of data. They should be the first choice for storing “backups”. SSDs or Solid-State Drives come in different forms and although more expensive than HHDs are more reliable and much faster as there are no mechanical parts. The Operating System should be stored on an SSD. They come in various forms, the most common being; 2.5in Form – Installs just like a hard drive. After mounting your SSD, the data SATA cable plugs from the device to the motherboard’s SATA port. The SATA power cable goes from the SSD to the PSU. PCIE Form – PCIe (Peripheral Component Interconnect Express) solid-state drives are connected via “teeth” to a compatible motherboard slot. They look just like a printed circuit board that plugs into the Motherboard. M.2 form - An updated form of PCI-E and the current standard for top speed and reliability. It slots directly into the Motherboard and is the fastest of the SSDs. It’s installed in NVMe or Non-Volatile Memory Express slots. How fast?  SSDs read around 5 times faster than HDDs and M.2s read around 5 times faster than SSDs, so an M.2 is around 25 times faster than a HDD. That makes a huge difference in boot-up times. 7.Cooling.   Fans and/or water cooling. The CPU must be cooled. If it doesn’t come with its own cooling system supplied then it must be added. The case too must be cooled, how much will depend on what components are running. GPUs and PSUs often come with their own cooling fans but not always. If over-clocking the CPU, water cooling is the way to go, otherwise fan cooling with a CPU heat sink is fine. If you want your PC to look really cool, get fans with RGB colours that can be software controlled. You can control the colors (16.8 million) and the patterns. The PC will light up like Luna Park or you can turn off the lighting via software. 8.Case. The box that holds it all When choosing a case, you must take into account the size, the cooling, the aesthetics, the components. How big is the motherboard How big is the GPU How many fans mounts does it come with Do I want an optical drive, an externally mounted card reader, etc Do I want to see inside Do I want it to light up and look really cool or I don’t care. 9.Other.   Non-essential components. Non- essential components are those that aren’t necessary for the PC to run. These include such things as built-in card readers, optical drives (DVD or BluRay) and internal components such as a Firewire card which you’ll need if you have old digital tapes and you want to edit them. 10.  Operating System and other essential software Without operating system, your new hardware is kind of useless. The operating system (OS) is the software that ensures that all hardware and software are correctly operated. The operating system ensures that programs can be started, data can be entered, and applications can be terminated. If you have built a PC yourself, although you can use Linux, you’re more likely going to be using Windows 10. If you’ve built a Hackintosh, check google to find where to get the operating system. You used to be able to download it from the Mac App Store but not anymore. You will also need to install anti-virus software and anti-malware software. You’ll probably also want to install Microsoft Office or Open Office. Good (and free) anti-malware which can be run at the same time as your anti-virus can be downloaded from  11.  Finished Build. So building your own PC is not as hard as you might have thought. There is plenty of help on the internet and Youtube, so if you can read and use a screwdriver, you can build one. Below is the list of components I used to build my PC. The final cost was around $2700 but the final outcome was a computer that was as future-proof as I could make it. CPU:  AMD Ryzen 9 3900X Motherboard:  ASUS ROG Strix X570-E Gaming AM4 ATX Motherboard GPU:  Gigabyte GE Force 1660ti RAM:  Patriot Viper Steel Series DDR4 32GB (2x16GB) 3200MHz PC4-25600 Dual Memory Kit - PVS432G320C6K PSU:  Corsair CP-9020179-AU RMX Series. RM750x 80 Plus Gold Fully Modular ATX Power Supply, Black, 750W Storage: 2x M.2 SSD Silicon Power 1TB NVMe PCIe Gen3x4 1 x 250GB SSD Sandisk Ultra 3D SDSSDH3-250G, 250GB                                          1 x Seagate Barracuda Internal Hard Drive 4TB                                                                              1 x Seagate Barracuda Internal Hard Drive 2TB                                                                                                                                    Cooling:  Thermaltake Pure Plus 12 120mm LED RGB Radiator Fans - 3 Pack Case:  Thermaltake Versa C21 RGB LED Lighting SPCC ATX Mid Tower Other:    ASUS Computer International Direct Blu-Ray Writer BW-16D1HT U                 USB 3.0 Hub eSATA Port Internal Card Reader PC Dashboard Media Front                 PCI-E FireWire 1394a IEEE1394 Controller Card