Have you decided to take the plunge and build your own PC? Maybe you’re tired of the bloatware that comes on pre-built PCs. Perhaps you have a friend singing the praises of their own build. Whatever your reason, it can be hard to know where to start. That’s where a resource like PCPartPicker(Opens in a new window) comes in handy. Here’s how to navigate the website and pick out the parts you need to build your dream PC.
What Is PCPartPicker?
First developed by Phillip Carmichael in 2011 and redesigned in 2015, PCPartPicker—like rival sites Pangoly(Opens in a new window) and Logical Increments(Opens in a new window)—is a comparison shopping website, but it’s not a direct supplier, which means it’s not as limited as something like Newegg’s PC Builder tool.
You can look up a particular part, compare pricing across a number of different retailers—like Amazon, Best Buy, and Newegg—and track those prices over time to make sure you’re getting the best deal. The site can also track compatibility with different parts, limiting the amount of returns (and refunds) you’ll need to deal with.
How to Get Started
Use PCPartPicker’s Build Guides if you don’t know where to start.
If you’re not sure what to put into your build, there are two places to start. Build guides are designed by the PCPartPicker team to encompass certain tiers of PC builds, from the Budget Home/Office Build(Opens in a new window) of around $500 to the Glorious Intel Gaming/Streaming Build(Opens in a new window) that will cost you about $3,000. Opening a build guide will give you a rundown of what each component in the build is and why they were selected for that particular machine.
PCPartPicker’s Completed Builds page
Under Completed Builds, you can also view the builds other users have made on PCPartPicker; see the included components, a full price breakdown, and any additional notes. There are also a number of filtering options that can help you fine-tune your search for a particular build.
By signing up for an account, you can rate builds and post comments and questions. As an additional flex, users can post stats for their builds, including internal core temp and clock rate. If you think someone’s build is perfect for your needs, you can add their parts list to your own build.
Select Your Parts
PCPartPicker will label each component and adjust pricing as needed.
To create your own PC from scratch, head over to the PC Builder section. It may look daunting, but it’s only about two steps more complicated than online shopping. You’ll see a list of component categories; click one to view a list of products.
From this page, you can narrow down your search by selecting different filters like color or power needs and using the product ratings and lowest price as references. Click Add to select an item. As you select pieces, PCPartPicker will keep track of the price and number of parts, among other things. The site will also automatically filter out components that are incompatible with choices you have already made or issue a warning when necessary.
You will be notified when a component is incompatible with your build.
If you need a breakdown of why certain pieces are considered incompatible, the site will explain why a piece was flagged. This is especially useful because certain pieces require special mounting adapters or screws to fit in certain cases.
Further down the PC Builder page is a diagram that will help you visualize certain specifications of your build, such as the number of PCI Express slots on your motherboard or hard drive bays on your case. Need to know if the motherboard will support a capture card or a few extra sticks of RAM? Make sure there’s a slot for it here.
Spec diagrams will help you visualize the components within your build.
If you want a second opinion on your selections, create a shareable link at the top of the PC Builder page. Send it to a tech-savvy friend, and they’ll be taken to your curated parts list. You can also export the parts page to Reddit or the PCPartPicker forums.
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Buy Your Parts
A graph shows the pricing history for the components of the build.
You now have everything in place; you’ve shown off your build and your friends are jealous. It’s time to buy, and PCPartPicker can direct you to the appropriate retailer. By default, the site will select the cheapest option for each component, but you can also buy everything together from whichever supplier has all the components.
If you’re not ready to buy, you can save your build and come back to it later. Or, if your picks are still too pricey, set alerts for price drops.
As useful as PCPartPicker can be, it’s ultimately just a tool. Like any other tool, it helps when you use it correctly and have some general knowledge before starting. If you’re a newbie, ask friends for assistance if they’ve built computers before and follow some guides(Opens in a new window) online.
Most importantly, once you’re done, help others. PCPartPicker is only around because a group of PC enthusiasts saw a need for it and jumped in to offer their expertise.
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