The perfect plan
Research, plan, budget. Those are the first things you need to do when your mind wanders toward building a new rig.
A little knowledge can go a long way when it comes to building your perfect PC. And the best place to start is reviews. You can look at all the build guides in the world, but if you don’t know what gear is right for you, you’re going to end up sorely out of pocket and with a system not fit for purpose. Reviews are a huge source of information. Whether they’re online, on YouTube, or in good old APC, you can learn how something works, how to install it, and how it performs when push comes to shove. Second to reviews are manufacturers’ websites. Reading PDFs and install manuals ahead of time will make the build process far easier and help you set everything up after, too.
Next up is the planning phase. This is more of an environmental and aesthetic decision-making process than anything else. Figure out how much space you have for your new rig, where it’s going to be situated, what form factor you want, and what chassis is right for you — remember, airflow and ambient temperatures are key. Then you’ve got to think about what hardware will fit where. Do you want a 240mm AIO up front? Will it conflict with your GPU? What will internal temperatures be like? Can you install it on the roof? Or perhaps an air cooler is better? All of these things can be answered long before you even take the first step into an online purchase.
Taking the plunge and choosing what hardware is right for you relies heavily on the first two tips. Look at what cash you have and allocate it accordingly. Make sure you buy hardware that’s either appropriate for what you do today, or what you will do tomorrow. Don’t allocate half your budget to cooling and aesthetics if you can get 30% more performance out of it elsewhere. And make sure you don’t waste cash (on faster memory kits for Intel, for instance) where you don’t need to. If a sale is coming up, wait for it — they’re usually worth it. Hell, you can drip-feed hardware, too; buy one or two things per month instead of going all-out in one go.