PC Part Picker: An Invaluable Resource for First-Time PC Builders
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Are you thinking about building your first PC, but you’re not sure where to start? Or are you worried about whether you’ll choose the right components to create a balanced and functional build?

In that case, using the website PC Part Picker can help. The site gives you tons of information about PC components so you can make the right choices for your first build.

Why PC Component Compatibility Matters and How to Check It

If you’re building a PC for the first time, an important issue you need to be aware of Building Your First PC? Use These Tips to Avoid Common Issues Building Your First PC? Use These Tips to Avoid Common Issues There's nothing quite like powering on a PC that you've assembled, especially considering how much money you saved and PC knowledge you gained during that sweet, sweet bonding time. Read More is compatibility. Not every processor works with every motherboard and not every cooler will fit in every case. You need to make sure the parts that you buy are compatible with each other.

It used to be the case that you’d have to do a lot of research to find out which parts were compatible. Even then, you’d sometimes buy several components only to find that they didn’t all fit in the case you’d chosen.

Fortunately it’s now easy to check part compatibility before you buy any hardware. Sites like PC Part Picker allow you to add your chosen hardware to a list and will warn you if there are any incompatibilities.

How to Check Part Compatibility Using PC Part Picker

To check part compatibility of the hardware you’re thinking of purchasing, go to the PC Part Picker website. Then select System Builder from the menu at the top. Here you’ll see a list of components like CPU, Motherboard, and Memory.

To add a component, for example a CPU, hit the blue button which says Choose a CPU. Add all of the different components you are thinking about buying for your build.

Using PC Part Picker - system builder

Now look at the colored bar under the link for your build. If everything is compatible, the bar will be green and labelled “Compatibility: see notes below.” The notes will advise you if there are any compatibility issues that can’t be checked (for example, some coolers only fit into cases with particular configurations). But generally, if the bar is green then you are good to go.

Using PC Part Picker - incompatibility

If there are compatibility issues, such as the motherboard not supporting the processor you’ve chosen, the compatibility bar will be red and will say “Compatibility: Warning! These parts have potential issues or incompatibilities”. If you click on details you can see exactly which parts are incompatible.

How to Budget the Cost of Your Selected Components

As anyone who has a built a PC knows, the costs of all the different components can quickly add up. As well as the basic components like CPU, motherboard, RAM, power supply, graphics card, and storage, there are other costs to consider.

Perhaps you want an after-market cooler, or maybe you’d like an expensive case to show off your build. You also need to remember to budget for extras like fans, case lighting, or a sound card. Not to mention the cost of shipping if you’re buying your components online. All these little costs can add up.

That’s why it’s useful to keep a running total of the budget for your build. As a rough guide, spending less than $1,000 total would be considered a budget build. Spending $1,000 to $2,000 would be mid-range. And spending more than $2,000 would be a high-end build.

To check your budget on PC Part Picker, scroll to the bottom of the System Builder page. There you’ll see a total cost, with a base total for just the cost of the components you have selected so far, along with additions for shipping and subtractions for rebates.

How to Select the Components You Need

Using PC Part Picker - browsing for a component

If you’re not sure exactly which components to choose, then PC Part Picker can help you with this too. If you go to Browse Products, you can select component types such as Power Supply. Then you can see a list of available power supplies.

This list shows you key information like features, price, and form factor. There’s also a Compatibility Filter option which will show you only parts which are compatible with the components you’ve already selected.

Most useful of all, you can see the prices for components from different online retailers. Click on the name of a component and you can see how much it costs at different websites, as well as a graph showing how much it has cost historically. You can also check reviews on this page to see if other people were satisfied with their purchase.

How to Check the Total Wattage of Your Build

Another useful feature of the site is that it will tell you the total power requirements of your system. Many people end up buying power supplies with a much higher wattage than they need because they overestimate their power requirements.

When you’ve put a build together on the site, at the top of the page it will show you your estimated wattage for the system in a blue box. You can use that information to choose an appropriate power supply.

Considerations When Choosing a Power Supply

Remember that you don’t want to underpower your system, so do give yourself some wiggle room in your wattage when choosing a power supply.

Also, just because you don’t need high wattage doesn’t mean you should buy the cheapest power supply you can find. The power supply is an important component and can damage other components if it goes wrong, so buy one which is reliable and from a reputable brand, even if it is low wattage.

To learn more about wattage, check out our guide to building your own low-wattage PC Build Your Own Low-Wattage PC with Three Simple Design Rules Build Your Own Low-Wattage PC with Three Simple Design Rules After a few failures and experiments building my own fanless, highly efficient computer, I can share three low-wattage builds designs that dispense with most moving parts and minimize the number of fans used. Read More .

Share Your PC Build With Friends

If you’re new to building PCs, it’s a good idea to get feedback or advice on your component selection before spending a lot of money. Once you’ve selected your components you can share your build with friends or on forums to get advice from experienced PC builders.

To share your build, you can use the link at the top of the System Builder page. In the light yellow box, next to the link icon, you’ll find a link in a form like https://pcpartpicker.com/list/hLK8Hh.

You can copy this link and send it to other people to let them view your build and send you feedback.

PC Part Picker Makes Building Your First PC Easy

Using a site like PC Part Picker can help you build your own PC for a better price by getting you good deals and making sure you don’t buy any incompatible parts.

But sometimes it’s cheaper to buy a pre-built system instead. Check out our article about whether it’s cheaper to build your own PC Is It Still Cheaper to Build Your Own PC? Is It Still Cheaper to Build Your Own PC? How much does it cost to build your own PC these days? Compared to pre-built models, are the savings worth the effort? We investigate. Read More to learn more.

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  1. Ap
    May 23, 2019 at 3:28 pm

    Agreed. Great resource even if you don't buy the parts through there. Haven't found a part yet that isn't listed. I would recommend learning what makes all the parts compatible and only use a compatibility service as confirmation. I don't think with diligent price shopping you can find a pre built cheaper part for part. Just my experience.