It used to be a commonly held belief that if you wanted the best bang for your buck in a PC, you had to build your own. But times change. PC prices have dropped and people have started buying laptops as tools, using them for up to four years before buying a replacement.

But how much does it cost to build a PC? Is it still possible to get a high value system for less money? If there are savings, are they enough to be worth the effort? Let’s take a look at some prices to know.

what the average pc needs

Building your own PC is a long process consisting of several steps. To estimate the cost of building a computer from scratch it is important to start with a basic understanding of what parts you will need for an average PC.

processor

The CPU is the brain of your system, and it’s the first component you should choose—unless you’re building a gaming PC, in which case you’ll want to start with a graphics card.

There are a mind-boggling number of processor options available, but for most users, the choice usually boils down to Intel Core i3 (entry-level), i5 (mid-range), and i7 (high-end) processors.

motherboard

The motherboard is the backbone of your system and the part to which all your other components connect. It also includes USB ports and other ports, and possibly Wi-Fi and Bluetooth radios. You need to make sure that your motherboard is compatible with all of your chosen parts and that it fits in your computer case.

RAM is one of those areas that PC makers are notorious for skimping on, which is sad because it’s one of the most cost-effective and cheapest upgrades you can make for your PC. If you want extra RAM in a pre-built machine, it’s almost certain that you’ll be paying more than market value.

Depending on the type of system you’re building, a graphics card may be optional. If you’re building a gaming PC, you should choose a good graphics card first so you can build the rest of your system around it. But note that high-quality graphics cards drive up the cost to build a PC.

For non-gaming PCs, modern Intel and AMD CPUs have integrated graphics support and this will suffice. Most low-end to mid-range PCs make do with it.

storage

For storage, your choice is between a traditional hard disk drive (HDD) — inexpensive, very high-capacity, slow — and a solid-state drive (SSD) — smaller, low-capacity, very fast.

Some high-end systems use both, with the operating system stored on an SSD for better performance and data stored on a larger but slower HDD. For the average user, this is enough to get one. Whether you should choose an HDD or an SSD will depend on your personal preference.

Power Supply

If the final cost of building a PC exceeds your budget, the power supply is another area where it’s easy to cut costs. Benefits of paying more include getting a modular unit—which improves airflow within the case—and greater energy efficiency, which could save you some money in the long run. Most importantly, you must have the correct wattage for your hardware.

If you’re looking for recommendations in this area, check out our list of the Best PSUs for PC Builders.

You may or may not need additional fans to help keep your system cool. Most computer cases have at least one fan pre-installed, and most processors and graphics cards, and power supplies each have dedicated fans as well.

If your computer case becomes too poor at airflow, you can always install more fans later. Thermal paste is another option for keeping the processor cool.

There is a wide range of case sizes and styles. The most important thing is that it fits into your motherboard and all the components connected to it. Here are the best PC cases we recommend.

In addition to the basics, you may need to add a few additional items. These can include a wireless card if your motherboard doesn’t have one built-in and an optical drive (such as a DVD drive), but only if you need one.

We’ll assume you already have a monitor, mouse, and keyboard, but you’ll need to factor in their cost if you don’t.

Operating System

When pricing your custom-built PC, you shouldn’t forget to include the cost of an operating system to run it. You can run a Linux distro like Ubuntu for free, but if you want Windows you’ll have to pay retail prices for it—and retail Windows isn’t exactly cheap.

Windows 10 Home costs about $100 for consumers. If you manage to get your hands on Windows 10 and your PC is compatible with Windows 11, you can upgrade to the latest version of Windows for your device for free.

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