The assembly of a PC is not a witchcraft and it does not require any great talent for craftsmanship. They install the mainboard into the case and plug or clamp the CPU, cooler, RAM and, if necessary, the graphics card into the designated positions. Then mount the drive and plug in the data (usually SATA), case (Power, HDD, Reset & Co.) and power cables. Continue with the Windows installation.
In many cases the selection of the components takes more time than the assembly of the PC. That’s why we have put together three sample configurations, one each for a Mini-PC, an Allrounder and a Gaming-PC. Consider these solutions as ready-made shopping lists or as a basis for your own variant – as it suits you best. First, we’ll give you tips on the different components.
Don’t let the seemingly complicated first impression put you off. The manual shows you exactly where CPU, RAM and other components are connected to the motherboard.
The motherboard is also called the motherboard. It connects all components of your PC with each other. It comes with sockets for the CPU and the main memory, an attachment for the CPU cooler and slots for expansions, for example the graphics card.
A few functions are also typically located directly on the board, such as sound and network adapters. In addition, the motherboard provides external ports, including USB, video and eSATA. Pre-assembled connectors on the PC case can be connected via cable to plug-in posts attached to the motherboard, breathing life into them.
Motherboards are available from various manufacturers, such as Asrock, ASUS and Gigabyte. Each board has a chipset that is usually from the same manufacturer as the CPUs that fit on the board, in most cases from AMD or Intel. Boards from different manufacturers that carry the same chipset do not differ significantly in their operating speed. Pay particular attention to these points when making your selection:
The board must fit into the desired package in terms of dimensions
It’s not just a question of length and width, but also, for example, the positions of the threads in the PC case or the holes for the fixing screws in the board. To simplify matters, the manufacturers have defined various standards, such as ATX, µATX and Mini-STX. An ATX board can only be accommodated in a housing approved for this format. An STX board, currently the smallest common format, fits into a correspondingly small housing, but also into many larger housings.
Motherboard and CPU must be compatible with each other
This is also referred to as PIN compatibility, which means that the many small contact pins of the CPU fit into the socket on the motherboard. In addition, the chipset on the motherboard and the BIOS must be compatible with the CPU. You can find out whether this is the case in the manufacturer’s board description. Also looking into the specification of the chipset can help.
Despite identical chipsets, there are differences in the equipment of different models, especially in the connections, the power consumption in different application scenarios, in warranty and support and of course in the price. With an all-round PC, you can do little wrong with the choice of motherboard. With the gaming PC, however, you may want a few additional functions, such as better sound functions, particularly easy overclocking of the CPU, optimized network functions and/or RGB lighting for the next LAN party. With the Mini-PC, the comparatively small range of Mini-STX boards makes the selection easier.
CPUs from Intel currently dominate the market. The current, eighth generation is called Coffee Lake, but there are also many models from the previous Kaby Lake series on the market. According to the manufacturer, the newer Coffee Lake CPUs are between 25 and 45 percent faster than their predecessors from the Kaby Lake series, depending on the application. But they also cost more money. Within each generation you will find several processor groups:
These processors are very inexpensive and are sufficient for simple office applications, surfing, e-mailing and very simple games.
More power at a still good price. Also video editing and current games are included with Core i5 processors, the latter in exceptional cases not with maximum graphic quality.
These processors offer an enormous amount of computing power, but only really play them off if you use programs that distribute computing operations across multiple processor cores. This is limited to a few special applications and is very rarely the case when surfing, mailing, office work and playing games.
Above these three groups, the Core i9 sits enthroned for extreme power requirements. Below the Core i3 are Pentium and Celeron for even cheaper PCs.
To put it simply, AMD’s Ryzen CPUs often have a large number of processor cores and can therefore perform many tasks simultaneously. This has its advantages for video editing, virtual machine operation, software development, etc.
Intel tends to offer fewer processor cores, but they are more clocked and therefore complete the individual task faster. This is sometimes better suited to widespread applications, from office work and the Internet to games.
The CPU cooler sits directly on the CPU and dissipates its waste heat. This ensures the stable operation of the CPU, which otherwise overheats slightly and then stops working. Passive coolers merely consist of a large cooling surface that is surrounded by air, for example, by a fan installed in the housing. However, this low-noise approach is rarely sufficient for current CPUs. Here, a fan sits directly on the heat sink. It is always important to find a compromise between sufficient heat dissipation and noise development.
At the same time, the dimensions of the fan must also fit into the case. Especially fast RAM often has larger cooling surfaces – so the cooler must not get in the way. The Macho Rev. B is a low-cost but very powerful cooler in our all-round PC. In principle, it is also sufficient for the gaming PC. Nevertheless, we have chosen the somewhat more ambitious model from Noctua. The Mini-PC contains the standard fan recommended by the case manufacturer. Due to the limited space, the choice was small.