Building a PC in 2017


Tech Report has a system guide:

I don’t even consider AMD these days.


I’m going to give you an idea that I think will be much better.

Go onto Craigslist + find someone selling a desktop system. Be very picky on the powersupply and case. Everything else you can choose to upgrade later.

I haven’t looked at a dell lately, but several years ago, their cheaper desktops were cases that were highly custom to hold very cheap parts that were not interchangeable. Eg, no room for high end video cards, or better power supplies.

This way you can start out with something at a decent price, but able to expand it later.

EDIT: I’d recommend an mid-sized ATX case with the newer drive bays that allow you to snap in drives without screws + where power supply is at the bottom.


Personally, I wouldn’t buy a used PC on Craigslist unless you’re willing to inherit someone else’s problems with no support. A case however isn’t a bad idea.


I did it several years ago when contemplating a build for my then 13 year old son. Of course, I knew how to put it through it’s paces before paying to ensure nothing serious was wrong with it. Thinking about that, there should be some program you could run that’s on a USB stick that could do the same thing - like a performance test, but tests everything. Anyone know of something like that?


I got mine for $170 on Black friday. was only a 4GB model, but it was hard to justify $80 more to step up to an 8GB card when I’m only running 1080p.


Both of these things are also suuuuper easy today, compared to 2005-2008. Quiet machine? Cake. Small machine? Cake.


I suspect this is what I saw, and had in my head as the going price. Sorry if I got anyone’s hopes up!


I’ve been needing to upgrade my pc for awhile now, however the last 2yrs have been financially trying to say the least. My last build was 07 or 08, i have a dfi lanParty mobo with phenom 9600 2.3ghz quad core which are both very outdated. A Radeon HD6850 gpu and the damn thing lags so badly I can’t play anything hardly. Is there a cheap way to upgrade the mobo to utilize my other components? I wish I could afford a simple $1500 build but that’s not happening soon. Thanks for any advice.


I’m pretty sure AMD motherboards are pretty damn backwards compatible still and you could grab an AM3+ motherboard to go with that CPU and it would still work. You’d need to check the manuf. CPU compatibility list and make sure it used the same RAM you have already though.

Thing is, you probably wouldn’t see much improvement from such a move. :/

Edit: Nope, AM3 is not backwards compatible with AM2. I think I was getting confused with the AM2/AM3 boards back in the day. There is one desktop motherboard on newegg that supports AM2 and it’s probably not an improvement on your existing board:

Do you have an SSD? If you don’t, that’ll be a somewhat cheap and very helpful improvement for you.


My gaming rig is a 4-yr old mediocre laptop. I’ve been thinking of getting a better gaming PC. I can build it (already have a 1 TB SSD in a drawer) or I’d be ok with buying something pre-built, if it’s a good deal. Any thoughts about whether there are good systems available, pre-built, for a reasonable price? I’m not even sure where to look since it’s been so long since I last bought one specifically for gaming.


My biggest issues with the prebuilt are generally really crappy and obnoxious cases (read plastic, loud and not good airflow), and they usually skimp on PSU. By skimp I don’t mean wattage, they love to advertise Watts actually but the quality is not anything to write home about.

I thought right now though everyone is kind of waiting to see how AMD does with Ryzen. My info could be out of date. I don’t track this stuff as closely as I do right before I build myself.


I’m very happy with my Powerspec from Microcenter though with Kaby Lake’s release it’s less of a deal. However, the recent news that Intel is going for another optimization cycle on the next gen of processors extended the shelf life a bit. All the parts are name brands except the case which is kind of flimsy, and the mobo is a bit lacking in expansion ports – only four SATA two of which are taken by the SSD and the DVD drive.

Before I picked that up, I was looking at something like this for a build:

A bit pricier because I was going for a smaller form factor.


On the build-it-yourself side, I’ve been looking at some of the configurations over at PC Part Picker. Looks like there are some good options there. I’m not super keen on assembling the computer myself, though I guess I should just get over it and make that a legit option since it’s likely to save me a significant amount of money.


Assembling is really not hard at all. If you can build a lego kit you can build a PC. Pick a case that is rated as easy and accessible for building, though!


What @wumpus said. Years ago it got a little dicey with AMD chips being especially fragile but these days, there hundreds of you tube videos that walk you through it. Having said that, some times the prebuild machines can do better in price than you can pricing them out individuals. In that case, you kind of price the components out yourself, see what you can find out about he company in terms of support and see if you can deal with the plastic cases they tend to use that look like they came straight out of a 70s movie.


Yeah, it’s less about the assembly than the convenience and the management of two small children who will terrorize me as I do it. :)


How old? You can involve them in the building. Age 4 or 5 is where it
starts to be viable.


Alternatively, give me a $5 gift card to Dairy Queen and the parts and I’ll build it for you and drive it back swaddled in pillows and blankets, @Clay

More or less serious man; I enjoy the process. I don’t claim to be some sort of uber cable manager super whizkid or able to setup a sickass LED-lit custom water cooling run or anything, but if you just want some parts plugged into other parts in a quiet, safe, pet-and-child-free environment, shoot me a PM.


The shipping back and forth is quite onerous. Back in the day (2008? 2007?) some guy paid me $1000 to build a PC for him, based on my blog.


We share a city, luckily :-)