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building a pcWARNING!  Building a PC can cause the following symptoms – despair, rage, violence against inanimate objects, poverty, feelings of regret and worthlessness, depression and suicidal thoughts. Fortunately, websites exist that take the pain out of custom building a computer.

This article details how four such websites can save you a great deal of time, money and sanity when you build your own PC. These sites find better prices, faster. They take the pain out of finding compatible components and they give tips on the build process.

For further information on how to easily build a computer, check out MakeUseOf’s guide on the subject.

SubReddit: /r/BuildaPC

building a pcThe subreddit r/BuildaPC offers the most comprehensive source of information for rolling your own PC. The site possesses three primary points of interest – the search feature, the right column, and making a post.

  1. Search Function: Behind Reddit’s dull, text-only interface lie a tremendous number of posts relating to almost any PC issue, such as building tips and pre-built computers. If you ever experience a problem getting a freshly built PC booting, chances are someone else experienced the exact same issue.
  2. The Right Column: In the right column the mods of buildapc keep a list of important resources for computer builders.
  3. Making a Post:  In addition to its vast depository of information, r/buildapc readers provide support for those with questions, many of whom possess expert knowledge on building PCs. To ask a question, simply make what’s called a “text post”. Just click on Create a Submission.

When making a post, such as asking a question, remember to select text. You will also want to tag the question appropriately. In the title, write the following: [Build Help]

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For those looking for a comprehensive, albeit time-consuming, read, BuildaPC trumps the competition through sheer volume of data. No other site competes in breadth and depth – but also chaff. Unfortunately, the majority of users may not make an account in order to ask questions. This same group will find vast amounts of reading quite disagreeable. Such audiences should seek an automated solution.

PCBuildGenerator

PCBuildGenerator automates the PC building process. Its automatic PC build assembler blends aesthetic quality with ease of use. To get started, simply indicate the kind of build that you want (multimedia, office, gaming or general use) and the size of your budget. PCBuildGenerator spits out a complete build, optimized for both price and function.

The site organizes itself around three selectable components:

  1. Country: Unfortunately, there’s support only for the USA and UK.
  2. Budget Slider: Moving this slider to the right will increase the total size of your budget.
  3. PC Design: Either multimedia (video editing), office, gaming or general use.

When you finish, hit the Generate button in the center of the page.

I prefer using PCBuildGenerator as a means of creating build guidelines. For example, after choosing “Gaming” as the primary function of the computer, the generator selects the best GPU that we can get for the money. Conversely, “Multimedia” computer builds emphasized stronger CPUs.

On the downside, the website recommended primarily Intel products, even though many video editing tasks get performed dollar-per-dollar better with AMD products. Even so, the builds recommended offer great performance and value. Also, it doesn’t put together computers less than $450 in value, which for the budget minded, is something of a disappointment.

In case you want to know more about video editing or gaming components, in particular the GPU, check out Matt’s article on some of the newer innovations in graphics 5 New Video Card Features You Should Know About [MakeUseOf Explains] 5 New Video Card Features You Should Know About [MakeUseOf Explains] Computer games are not difficult for most modern video cards to handle, but that hasn’t stopped the performance war between AMD and NVIDIA. It’s only raised the bar. 1080p is now a mundane resolution. To... Read More .

PCPartPicker

PCPartPicker actually got its start on BuildaPC – its developer paid close attention to feedback produced by Reddit’s vast base of users. The end product gives us four core features worthy of examination – finding low prices on custom computer builds or PC parts, streamlining the computer building process, price-tracking of parts, and sharing on Reddit and other forums.

  1. Low Prices: PCPartPicker does not automatically assemble your computer – instead, it allows you to pick from a list of parts, filtered by specification.
  2. Streamlined Build Process: It will only show parts compatible with your build, although you should exercise discretion when purchasing anything.
  3. Price-Tracking: After choosing a PC component, at the very bottom of the screen a chart displays the price of the part in question over time. Meaning, if you read the chart correctly, you might determine whether the price may dip in the future. However, this form of prediction hardly rates as a science. You’d be making an educated guess, at best.
  4. Sharing: After finishing, you can output a specially formatted text used to display your build on message boards, such as Reddit. I highly suggest posting your build to an online forum before making any purchases.

Overall, PCPartPicker always provides a great starting point for saving money on a computer build. For the more hardcore of deal savers, I suggest using these methods The Secret To Getting The Best Deals On All The Stuff You Want The Secret To Getting The Best Deals On All The Stuff You Want If you make frequent online purchases using big-name retailers, such as Amazon, BestBuy, and Walmart, then you probably know about the deal finding sites SlickDeals and Fatwallet. A little known secret is that all the... Read More of getting great deals on all kinds of goods.

ChooseMyPC

ChooseMyPC functions much in the same way as PCBuildGenerator. It offers automated build recommendations based on a handful of criteria. Just punching in your budget, whether or not you plan on overclocking, whether you want Windows and/or an optical drive and it automatically spits out a completed build.

building a pc

On the positive side, the zen-like, black-and-white interface distracts very little.

Another great feature is its ability to integrate with Reddit, and other forums.

On the downside, it doesn’t suggest builds below $420, which is a shame, since most media centers could probably be built in the $200 range. Thus, you should use discretion. However, the recommended builds generally display great value and functionality.

Conclusion

I prefer using a combination of these tools. First and foremost, consider at least looking at Reddit’s BuildaPC. In particular, try searching through its vast database of information for interesting builds and critiques. After that, I recommend using one of the automatic PC building sites to generate a “Reddit Markup” and posting it to Reddit, for additional advice.

Building a PC, while frustrating, saves considerable amounts of money. Using the right method will not only save you time and money, but also your sanity.

Image Credits: Computer via MorgueFile.com, Psychedelic background via MorgueFile.com

  1. bardwso
    April 6, 2013 at 7:23 pm

    I like these sites but you still have to the legwork-which I enjoy despite the frustrations.

    Amazon / amazon resellers for example often don't want to ship to Hawaii. It was extremely annoying for my last build. It was a newegg/ amazon hybrid.

    Would have gone with amazon 100% because of the return policies-but often some, lightweight pieces wouldn't make it out of the 48 states.Rather have cheaper shipping than new egg to plow back into my build- ie. would buy more/ more expensive components.

    • Simon Mitchell
      April 8, 2013 at 12:32 pm

      Hi I'm the creator of PCBuildGenerator.com feel free to let me know if you need any help getting started with a build or have any feedback on my tool. The criticism about lack of AMD builds for multimedia applications is fair and I'm working to address this.
      Thanks,
      Simon ( Simon@8bit.co )

      • Kannon Yamada
        April 8, 2013 at 5:04 pm

        Hello Simon, you did a great job with your site!

        I noticed that when we say "multimedia" PC, we're actually talking about the software it uses, as the hard provides simply a vehicle for the software.

        If it's Adobe Premiere Pro CS6, then the more cores the better. But for CS5, this is not so. I think nowadays AMD has fallen into certain niches where they offer great deals - but only if a very specific criteria is met, like if you edit video using CS6 or Sony Vega. Or if you want a low wattage, low heat build in the $300 range.

        • Simon Mitchell
          April 9, 2013 at 8:31 am

          Thanks for the feedback. I agree, and my initial development on the app was designed to be useful to as many people so I've neglected some of those niches. It's difficult because I don't want to clutter the interface asking too many questions about what software people will be using etc.

  2. Aditya Salve
    April 6, 2013 at 7:09 am

    thumbs up for r/BuildaPC ..

  3. Nez
    April 6, 2013 at 4:45 am

    I don't need these sites as much as some, since I've been building my own for years now. However, I have shared them with family and friends, they are very handy, and even for quite a few, keeping updated on computing technology(parts wise).
    As well as price checking, nice post.

  4. Chris Marcoe
    April 6, 2013 at 3:37 am

    I love PCPartPicker.com. In my IT class, I brought it to several people's attention as they had never heard of it before. Several of them were having compatibility problems...mainly with MoBos, Memory, and Processors. However, the memory speed is not used in the compatibility so you have to look at it manually.

    I also follow /r/buildaPC. some great ideas. And many peoploe on there also use PCpartpicker.

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