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Designing Your Own Desktop Gaming PC - Part 2

4. Hard Drives and DVD-RW Drives

Drives are probably the easiest thing to shop for and buy. You want all your drives to be SATA drives because they are faster than their IDE counterparts and you probably will have very few IDE connectors in your system.

Hard drives should be capable of 7200 RPM and at least have some memory cache to speed up disk reads and writes. You only need 1 hard drive, but two or more drives are better so one drive can back up the other . If you have any interest in RAID (redundant array of inexpensive disks) you will need to use at least two drives with the same storage capacity.

I also suggest you include a SATA DVD-RW in your build. The DVD-RW can read and write DVDs and CDs and will not use up one of your legacy IDE slots.

5. Don't Skimp on the Power Supply

You've painstakingly designed your dream system, but it will not last very long without an appropriately matched power supply unit (PSU).

If you are trying to build a gaming rig, or a top of the line workhorse computer, you should not even consider putting a wimpy power supply in your dream system. The days of buying a computer case with an already installed power supply are pretty much over. Now you need to give the power supply some thought, as you do not want your computer trying to pull more juice than the power supply can deliver --- instant BSOD otherwise.

So how much power supply do you need and what type?
While you can find some web sites where you can get rough estimates of how many watts your power supply should produce based on the specs of the computer you are building, I'm going to give you some basic rules to get started.

The amount of watts your PSU should supply should be as follows.

450-550 watts - for a basic system with a modern CPU, one so-so video card, a few drives, and some system fans.

600-700 watts - for a good system with one very good video card or 2 so-so video cards in SLI or crossfire mode.

750 - 1000 watts - a high-end system with 2 or more very good video cards in SLI or crossfire mode.

+1000 watts - more than 2 video cards, or 2 of the best video cards out there in crossfire or SLI mode.

In addition to the wattage requirements, you want your PSU to use a single rail system (multi-rail PSUs are OK but require you to figure out what to connect to each rail - and who wants to do that?), not be modular (having removable cables = less power efficient, however those that like neatness or better airflow may want modular anyway), be 80% certified for power efficiency, and it should be from a good name brand manufacturer (not a cheap bundled no-name PSU).

If you have never purchased a quality PSU before, believe me you will be very satisfied when you actually see what a quality PSU looks like.

And one last word of advice, make sure your power supply will fit in the case you want, which is a nice lead in to our next topic.

6. Choosing a Computer Case

This is another component that could be considered first, or at any other stage in the build. I saved it for last because it is a good component for wrapping up this article as it houses all the other computer parts.

Computer cases are very important because they have to have room for all your current and future computer parts, and they also determine the available options you will have to cool your system.

The form factor (size) of the motherboard you want to use will be one of the major determinants of the size case you need. The main form factors you will run into building a performance PC are ATX, and microATX. For ATX motherboards you will need a mid-size or full tower case, microATX motherboards should fit in any case.

Of course it is not as easy as just picking out the size of a case, cases have very different dimensions and features. Once you have made your choices on all your computer peripherals, you have to buy a case that is capable of safely housing all your parts. Also, keep in mind your system and CPU cooling requirements when shopping for a case, and buy a case big enough to house the cooling system you decide on e.g. over-sized CPU coolers, water cooling, or multiple case fans.


If you plan out your computer system correctly, it should bring you many hours of enjoyment and you will have the added satisfaction of having a faster than average computer system that you built yourself.

Happy System Building!!!


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