Parts Needed to Build a PC (Computer Parts List & Explanation)

CG Director Author Alex  by Alex  ⋮   ⋮   24 comments
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What Computer Parts do you need to build a PC, you ask? Does this mean you want to build your own PC? That is absolutely splendid! 🙂

Building your own Computer has so many benefits compared to just going out and buying a pre-built PC:

It’s a lot of Fun! The anticipation of the individual Parts being delivered to your House, the shiny Boxes with all the different components in them, not to mention researching what parts you actually need, which you are doing right now!

Best Computer for Animation - Corsair Case

Image-Source: Corsair

By building your own Computer you gain a lot of knowledge into the inner workings of Hardware Components, how everything fits together and you will be able to troubleshoot if any Problems occur later on much easier, than when you have no Idea what is actually going on inside a PC Case.

Knowing the ins and outs of assembling a Computer and what Parts a Computer needs will also let you upgrade your Computer in the future, and buy components that you can actually upgrade easily.

Another very important factor is optimization. He who knows how a Computer works can also optimize it as much as possible.

Optimize by overclocking, by getting the right Parts for your specific purposes, be it Gaming, 3D Rendering, Modeling, Graphic Design, Video Editing or so many other purposes you can use a Computer for.

Building your own Computer is a lot cheaper than getting a pre-built PC. You can usually save around 30% in Cost when researching and buying the PC Components individually yourself.

And the best of it all, building a Computer is so easy, it’s kind of interesting that not more people are doing it!

Anyway, we now definitely know that we are on the right track in looking into building our own Computer, that’s probably why you came here for in the first place.

If you already have a grasp on what general type of Computer you need, what specific Parts do we need to build a PC?

Let’s see:

Computer Parts List

Here is the Computer Parts List with all the basic Hardware Parts that you will need for a functioning PC:

Let’s take a closer look at them:

Case

The Computer case is nothing more than a fancy looking box that holds all of the PC’s components. It can be opened and closed and usually has pre-defined areas with screws and holes where all the other Components are supposed to be placed and attached to.

PC Cases come in different colors, sizes, with or without fans, some have LED lights some don’t, some have glass side panels, some others look absolutely crazy.

Parts needed to build a PC - PC Case

Image-Source: Corsair

Usually, you can think of a PC Case as a black (or white) Box with some buttons on top. This is where all of your components will fit into, when you are done with building your PC.

You don’t actually need a case, you could also just lay all of your components on the floor or mount them on the wall, some people do, but being able to just pick up the entire Computer by picking up the Case comes in handy at times.

Mainboard

Next up is a very important part, the Mainboard. The Mainboard (or also called Motherboard) is a Printed Circuit Board that every other Computer Hardware Component will be attached to. It is like a central Hub that manages all the other Parts.

Parts needed to build a PC - Mainboard

Image-Source: tweakpc.de

The Motherboard has connectors for cables like power cables and data cables, slots for cards like GPUs & sockets for CPUs.

There are also lots of little building blocks like transistors, capacitors, jumpers and lots of other tiny parts, that all go towards making your different hardware components work well together.

Processor (CPU)

Now, into the Mainboard Socket, the CPU is plugged in. Every CPU type has a specific Socket, that is named like 2066, 1151, AM4, TR4 and so on, and the mainboard will need the exact same socket to be compatible with the CPU.

This is usually the first step in picking new parts for your own pc build. Pick a CPU, check what socket it has, and then pick a compatible Mainboard. Continue on from there.

Parts needed to build a PC - CPU

Image-Source: AMD / Intel

A CPU is the Central Processing Unit of a Computer, and without it, nothing really works.

Almost everything you do on a Computer will have to be calculated by the CPU in some way, so having a fast CPU (high clocks and high core count) will make your PC faster.

Head on over to the Custom PC-Builder Tool, to find the right CPU and Computer Parts for the type of Computer that you are looking at assembling

CPU Cooler

Anything that draws power also produces heat and the CPU produces lots of heat.

This means it has to be cooled to be able to operate flawlessly. What do we need for cooling a CPU? A CPU-Cooler! 🙂

Some CPUs like the AMD Ryzen 2xxx Series (2700/2700X and so on) already have CPU-Coolers included in the CPU Box, but lots of others, like the popular Intel i7 8700K do not.

Make sure you have a CPU-Cooler that is compatible with your CPU and Socket. It is the same as with Mainboard Socket and CPU Socket. The Cooler has to fit the CPU and Socket.

Example: Are you planning on buying an LGA 1151 v2 CPU like the Intel i9 9900K? You need an LGA 1151 v2 Mainboard and an LGA 1151 v2 CPU-Cooler too. Easy as that!

Parts needed to build a PC - CPU Cooler

Image-Source: bequiet

There are two mainstream CPU-Cooler types. One is the Air-Cooled Tower Cooler and the other is an AIO Closed Waterloop CPU Cooler.

The latter cools better but might be noisier and needs more room in your PC-Case, as it is attached to the side walls of the case, connected to the CPU with some Water Pipes.

The former (air-cooled tower CPU cooler) usually does not cool quite as well but is nice and quiet and needs less room in the case. It is just placed on top of the CPU where it sits and goes about its cooling-work.

Graphics Card (GPU)

Next up is the Graphics Card. Its purpose is the calculation of anything having to do with visuals and outputs these visuals (Images, User Interface, GUI) onto the Monitor.

There are two main types of GPUs, the integrated GPU (iGPU) and a discrete GPU.

The integrated GPU is integrated into the CPU. This means, some CPUs already have a graphics chip built in and you will not need an additional GPU to attach a monitor to.

When your CPU has integrated Graphics (like the Intel i7 8700K CPU) it will output to the display Adapter on the Mainboard. The thing with integrated GPUs though is, that they are very limited.

They are usually good enough for light tasks such as Word-Processing, some minor Games and the like but as soon as you want to dive into graphic-heavy tasks such as 3D GPU Rendering, High-End Gaming, Video Editing, Graphic Design or lots of others you will have to get yourself a discrete GPU.

Parts needed to build a PC - GPU

Image-Source: Nvidia

A discrete GPU is a GPU that is not part of the CPU. It usually comes on its own little Printed Circuit Board (like the one in the Picture above), that is then plugged into a PCI Express Slot on your Mainboard.

Some modern GPUs include Nvidia’s RTX generation such as the RTX 2070, RTX 2080, RTX 2080Ti and so on. The competitor AMD also has a solid line-up with RX VEGA Series and RX 5xx Series GPUs.

The two Manufacturers, Nvidia and AMD are fighting a fierce battle in getting a lead over the other, but at the moment it seems as though NVIDIA would be the Brand to pick over AMD if you are looking for the maximum performance you can get out of a GPU.

Memory (RAM)

Random Access Memory (RAM) is the temporary thinking storage part of the Computer if you would compare it to a brain.

The RAM stores Data that is actively being worked on by the CPU. It can read and write very fast but loses everything it had stored once the power is turned off.

Parts needed to build a PC - RAM

Image-Source: gskill

RAM kits consist of RAM Modules. You can get just one Module or 2 Modules / 4 Modules or even 8 Modules for Mainboards that support this many RAM Modules.

A Mainboard has RAM slots where RAM gets plugged in to. RAM comes in different sizes starting around 4GB and going up to 32GB per Module on current systems. Having more Modules of course will multiply your RAM amount.

Storage (HDD / SSD / NVME SSD)

Because RAM can’t store anything without power and we do want to be able to turn off our computer from time to time, we need a storage medium that retains its stored data, even when the power is off.

There are 3 main mass-storage types:

The HDD, the SSD and quite a new type of SSD, the NVME SSD.

All three do pretty much the same, they store data for you. The main difference between the three is the speed.

An HDD (which still has mechanically moving parts) is the slowest of the three and will usually read and save Data at about 100MByte/s.

An SSD will already read and write at around 500MByte/s and an NVME SSD currently reads and writes sequential Data with up to 3500MBytes/s.

So, yes, if you can swing it, get an NVME SSD such as the Samsung 970 Evo!

Parts needed to build a PC - Samsung 970 EVO

Both HDDs and SSDs are plugged into a SATA plug onto the Mainboard via a SATA Cable. They also need Power that they get through a Power Cable from the PSU (Power Supply Unit, I’ll talk about that later!)

The NVME SSD though is just plugged into the Mainboard directly, it is very small and needs no extra cables.

Your Mainboard, of course, has to support NVME SSDs and have an M.2 Slot available. But almost all modern Mainboards nowadays have at least one of these. Highly recommended!

More Cooling

We talked about CPU Cooling a bit already. The CPU is not the only Part that needs cooling in a Computer.

The GPU of course also needs cooling, but every discrete GPU that you can buy already comes with an attached Cooler on top of it, so we don’t have to worry about extra cooling for the GPU.

Now, as the PC Case is usually closed and the Components inside the Case need preferably cool(ish) Air to be able to be Cooled, there should be a way to blow (usually) colder air from outside of the pc-case into the pc case.

This is done by attaching Case Fans to the inside of the case. These usually pull in cool air at the front of your PC and blow out the hot Air in the back of the PC.

This way the inside of the PC-Case ideally stays nice and cool.

Parts needed to build a PC - Case Fans

Image-Source: bequiet

So do you need to get extra Case Fans?

Usually not, as the Cases are shipped with extra fans that will do just fine for this purpose.

If you are thinking about building a really quiet/silent PC though you might want to get higher quality Case Fans than are shipped with a standard case.

Power Supply Unit (PSU)

We have got ourselves a bunch of nice PC Components already, but nothing much usually happens without a power supply to supply power.

There are so many PSU brands with different wattage or efficiencies out there, that it can be quite difficult to decide which one to buy.

The important thing is to know how much Wattage your current PC Build will need to run stable and maybe how much you will need in the future if you are planning on adding more components, like extra GPUs or Drives.

You should then of course (now already) buy a stronger power supply, that will later also be able to handle the extra components.

Parts needed to build a PC - PSU

Image-Source: Corsair

If you are unsure of how much Wattage your current or future PC Build actually needs head on over to the Wattage Calculator here that tells you exactly how much you need.

Some good PSU brands I can recommend are Corsair, bequiet, Seasonic, but of course, there are others that you might prefer.

That’s about it for our Computer Case. Everything that goes into the Case we have already discussed. We can close our case now and see what else we need to finish our PC Build.

Monitor

You will, of course, need some kind of display device such as a monitor to be able to see what’s going on. Monitors come in all kinds of sizes, color, resolutions, aspect ratios and so on.

A popular modern Display usually is a 24” Full HD Monitor from Brands such as Asus, BenQ, Samsung, and many others.

If you are looking for a Gaming monitor you might not need the IPS type Panels that have better color display and contrast.

Parts needed to build a PC - Monitor

Image-Source: Asus

If you are into Graphic Design and Professional Color grading or Video Editing you should probably invest more into a good Monitor.

The Monitor is attached to either the discrete GPU or the Mainboard, depending on what type of GPU you have.

Operating System

Windows 10 is the currently leading Operating System that will operate your PC-System. Lots of online Stores offer Volume License Keys that usually don’t cost you more than 15$ per license.

Image-Source: Microsoft

Of course, you will need to install the OS onto your Computer.

There are several ways to do this. You can use a DVD, but of course, you will need a DVD Player. Nowadays the OS is usually either downloaded directly from the Internet or you are given a USB Drive that you can install Win10 from.

Input Devices

Don’t forget a Mouse and Keyboard! 🙂 There are lots of other Input devices such as Graphic Tablets or Pens that you can also use, of course.

Image-Source: Logitech

That’s pretty much it. You now have all the parts needed to build a PC. To actually assemble a PC you will need a Phillips head screwdriver (a magnetic one for finding those dropped screws) and you are all set!

Custom PC-Builder

Ready to pick some PC-Parts? Head on over to the Custom PC-Builder Tool for some great suggestions.

Select the main purpose that you’ll use the computer for and adjust your budget to create the perfect PC with part recommendations that will fit within your budget.

Be sure to check it out and please feel free to send feedback my way!

CGDirector PC-Builder Tool

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Alex from CGDirector - post author

Hi, I am Alex, a Freelance 3D Generalist, Motion Designer and Compositor.

I have built a multitude of Computers, Workstations and Renderfarms and love to optimize them as much as possible.

Feel free to comment and ask for suggestions on your PC-Build or 3D-related Problem, I'll do my best to help out!

24
Comments

Hishyar Mohammed

Hello Alex…
Can the gaming laptop give me the performance for modeling and rendering in 3ds max ?
If i have core i7 8750H, and GTX1070 ,16gb ram
and the type of laptop is for gaming.

Hishyar Mohammed

Hello Alex….
I’m confusing between two laptops …which of them is better for rendering and 3d work in 3ds max … specially when we have large project in 3ds max:
1/ msi gaming laptop
Core i7 8750H 2.2 GHz
32 GB Ram
1 Tb HDD + 256 GB SSD
GTX 1070 8 GB

2/ msi workstation laptop
Core i7 8750H 2.2 GHz
32 GB Ram
1 Tb HDD + 256 GB SSD
Quatro P2000 4GB

The difference is between ( gaming and workstation ) and graphic card( Quadro and GTX)

Thank you….

Hishyar Mohammed

Hello Alex
(Sorry for my bad English)
I have a problem in 3ds max … when i have large project … I can’t move any thing in since or orbit the view….
which hardware is responsible for that trouble in modeling?

jess

Hey there, I’m heading to university in September to study Creative Media Technologies. So will be working with 2D & 3D animation, motion capture, video editing, motion graphics, game dev To cut the list short, I’ll be covering a very broad array of computer graphic applications.

I’m looking to build a setup that will be sufficient in allowing me to do work at home. I have around $2200 to spend. Even after reading and researching a billion articles, I’m still no closer to complete and final build list lol.

Any help appreciated xxx

Andi

Hello people. I have a question. I just found a good price for a nvidia titan z 12 gb, but I read that my Dell precision t3500 and t5500 has just 2 x 6 spin.. is it true? Do u know any solution for this issue?

Raex

Hello alex,
(sorry for my bad eng)

I would like to build a new pc in summer while the new AMD Ryzen 3000 come out.
What do you think about the new architecture of the Ryzen 3 for what we already had (information about them)

So, I wanted to know for my own setup what should I do. If it’s better for my utilisation or now to have both setups which will be used in the same Case (Corsair 1000D) one with a regular ATX (ex: Threadripper) and the Second one with a mini ATX (ex: I9 9900k) or a single massive setup. Planning for a 6000euros ~ 6826,52$ (living in France… max for the case) and 1500e for 3 displays.

I look for a setup who will be optimised for everything (General stuff / without any specialisation) because i had a video game project that i would start and i wanted to have an optimised stuff to do it easily and for long term use.

What i’ll do : Photoshop, 3dsmax (V-ray & Arnold / Modeling, Rendering, Animating, Simulation), Substance Painter, Unreal Engine, VFX (cinematic stuff & rendering), Marmoset Toolbag, Zbrush. & maybe other thing in the future.

Wanted to know a last thing, what would be better ? Scaling 2 or 3 RTX 2060/70 or One 2080 TI ? And the fact that the rendering engin slowly switching for RT core utilisation which mean fastest iterative rendering and interactive raytraced rendering instead of doing a render in small area to see what it will look at the end.

CF : DXR, Project Lavina and Arnold GPU.
https://www.chaosgroup.com/blog/what-does-the-new-nvidia-rtx-hardware-mean-for-ray-tracing-gpu-rendering-v-ray
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9A81NeQgJFE

And for finish, i thinking about the New RTX Series didn’t do a great job for the moment about the price / Perf and maybe would be better to buy a low end RTX card and waiting the next generation for the improvement in the software to use it very well (even in a game). And maybe about the probably gap boost of the next generation.

Thanks for your time.

Ljusa

Hi, Alex
Can you give me an opinion on this configuration or a recommendation for another configuration. I’m an architect and I’m looking for a 3d rendering machine at max with vray-rt.
TNX 🙂

AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
ASUS TURBO-RTX2070-8G
COOLER MASTER MasterBox MB500 MCB-B500D-KGNN-S00
SAMSUNG SSD 860 EVO 500GB MZ-76E500B
KINGSTON HX426C16FB/16 HyperX Fury Black
KINGSTON HX426C16FB/16 HyperX Fury Black
WESTERN DIGITAL WD10PURZ 1TB
ASUS ROG STRIX B360-G GAMING
ANTEC HCG650 Gold