My First Attempt at Building a Computer

Due to some problems I was having with my three-year-old Dell Inspiron 5150, I decided to get a new computer. Instead of buying from Dell or elsewhere, I ended up building my own computer from scratch. I purchased all the individual components, assembled them, installed the OS and drivers, and then installed all my software. I thought I’d share my experience as a first-time builder for those of you who have considered doing the same thing.


Here are the components I purchased:

$778 total (includes shipping and after rebates)

I purchased most of the components at and ZipZoomFly is sometimes slightly cheaper than NewEgg, but NewEgg was quite a bit faster in processing the order and having it delivered. I recommend them both, as well as and and are worth checking out as well. Of course, you may also stumble across an occasional good deal at,,, and I found out about several of the deals from and Thanks to my former Greek student Donnie McIlwain for the tip.

I already had a keyboard, mouse, speakers, and monitors, so I didn’t need to purchase them. I’m running dual Acer 22″ widescreens (great monitors for the price).


The only software I had to purchase was Windows Vista Home Premium ($90—student price). I’ve really enjoyed the stability and helpful new features in Vista.


The whole process was much easier than I anticipated. I assembled all the parts in about 2 hours (the hardest part was swapping out the plate on the back of the case with the one that came with my motherboard!), and it started up without any problems. Of course I did have to download Vista drivers for a few components, but that was easy enough. I’m very pleased with the results and the cost. Even though it was a lower-end build, it’s the fastest computer I’ve ever used. I will probably build from now on—unless I need a new laptop at some point.

The Pros

  1. Enjoyment: I enjoyed the process of finding good deals on the components, assembling the parts, and ending up with a nice machine.
  2. Ease: I had experience with adding/replacing RAM, hard drives, and video cards, but that was the extent of my building experience. I was expecting it to be more difficult than it was, based on things I had heard and read online. I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was.
  3. Education: I learned a lot in the process.
  4. Cost (or Economy, if you prefer): A comparable system from Dell would have cost me $200–$300 more.

The Cons

  1. Time: I took a little more time than buying from Dell or elsewhere. Plan for several hours of research and a several hours for assembly and setup.
  2. Rebates: Rebates are a pain and time consuming. Your time might be more valuable than the money you will save by building.

Building a computer may not be for everyone, but the benefits may make it a good choice for you.

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

4 Responses to My First Attempt at Building a Computer

  1. Donnie August 30, 2007 at 11:13 am #

    It’s a great feeling building your own computer, isn’t it? It built my first one in January (though one from before I had added and changed so much, it might as well have been built from scratch!). I used real cheap stuff (I got the case, PS, usb card, network card, lots of fans, DVD-burner, and other stuff for free after rebates), got a motherboard/cpu combo from newegg for $50 (1.73ghz, nothing fancy), a HD for about $10 (back when Office Depot would do price matches, even when there was a rebate), and 768mb of ram from tiger direct (it was $10 after rebate). I probably had less than $150 in it. I ended up selling it to a lady for a little more than I paid for it. I didn’t really have any use for it, but I just wanted to say that I did it.

  2. Phil Gons August 31, 2007 at 8:31 am #

    That’s quite an impressive list of free parts, and not a bad total price! Thanks for the tips you shared to help me along the way.

  3. Timothy Spradling September 24, 2007 at 9:13 pm #

    It is a good feeling when you put your first Pee Cee together. The company I work for sent me to an A class two years ago. I am now on my second Pee Cee that I put together. Not bad for a Mac user.


  4. Eric Fary March 11, 2010 at 12:27 am #

    Just built my first from scratch computer. Felt great. Got it going 64bit, 3 HD, Video Card, blazing speed and did all the labor myself. Feels very liberating. Gives you more confidence when you know what goes into it.

    Take Care,

    Eric Fary