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Thunder Builds a Computer: A beginner’s guide to not wasting money

B(u)y: ThunderHeavyArm

So some of you may have noticed that I haven’t been around very much the last few months. Was I off of some spiritual journey of self discovery? Perfecting some ancient art of attack that would destroy my enemies in a single blow? Searching for rare star metal to forge into stronger weapons?

Sadly, none of those happened. Mostly work and home stuff getting in the way. But during that time I was saving up to build my first computer over the Easter break. I was both nervous and excited about doing this. Fear mostly from me worrying I would cause something to catch on fire and watch as months of overtime and savings burnt to crisp. But almost nothing bad happened, and I’m writing this first document on my new computer to help those of you that want to build your very own gaming machine with these handy tips.

Use a part picker. There’s a few sites out there that will help you find the best parts for your computer. Especially if you’re on a budget. Even better, plenty of them have a compatibility check for size, power and whether or not the parts will actually work together. More on that part a few tips down.

Shop around. It’s really important that when you want to build your computer to shop for deals. This is especially true even if you’re using a part picker that searches out the best prices. Turns out, that the part pickers don’t always account for coupons. So sign up for newsletters from electronic shops so that you can be aware of the best deals.

Plan out a day. Building a computer is time consuming, especially when it’s your first time and you’re not sure what you’re doing. Be sure you’re well rested and that you eat well before putting your machine together. The last thing you need is shaking hands from low blood sugar.

Turning it on for the first time. This is the scariest part. No doubt some of you may think that if you connected something wrong, this is where your computer will fall apart, or explode or any number of crazy catastrophic events. Turns out, the most frustrating thing that will likely happen is your monitor won’t turn on because of a boot error.

Make sure your parts are compatible! The one truly frustrating snag that I dealt with was at the end. My computer wouldn’t boot at all and after three hours of trouble shooting I could not figure out what went wrong. Seventy dollars later, I learned that the RAM I had purchased was incompatible with my motherboard. Another forty dollars later, I had the correct RAM and my computer was working. But there was at least seventy bucks that didn’t need to be spent if I had done my research or the store I had gone to had actually performed a compatibility check..

End of the day, I’m happy with my computer. The increased speed and the fresh clean design were well worth the pains and trials that I went through. The biggest type I have is don’t trust the sales person grabbing parts off the shelf. In an age of smart phone, before you buy something make absolutely certain that what you’ve gotten will all work together. Otherwise, you may as well pay the store the build fee to put your computer together for you. At least then they have to give you a working computer. See you guys on the webs!

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