Since the beginning of the pandemic, the popularity of gaming has skyrocketed. So more and more people are after a decent gaming PC. But gaming PCs tend to be very expensive; not everyone can afford one, especially on a student budget. If you want to get a good PC (not necessarily for gaming) without breaking the bank, follow these tips.
Consider what you need a PC for
Sure, most people who want to build a PC themselves are gamers. Gaming PCs have to be powerful, so the prices for them can be insanely high. The motivation to build one’s own, with great yet affordable components, is clear in this case.
But not all students are into gaming. Some may want to build a PC just for studies. This is perfectly understandable too. A lot of students are on a tight budget, especially among those who pay their tuition themselves and have to work their way through college. They may be able to afford a paper writing service PaperWriter.com to improve their grades, but a PC is a much more serious investment.
If that is the case for you, you might want to buy a preassembled used PC. Some are decent and quite cheap. But building your own, even if it is not for gaming, can be so much fun. If nothing else, it is a great exercise for problem-solving and technical skills.
Buy the parts you want
Anyone who would like to build an affordable PC will need a bunch of critical components. Aside from the case (pick basically any you have at hand), a student who wants to build a PC on a budget will need:
A central processing unit (CPU). A CPU is arguably the most important part of a PC (or any other device). It is the PC’s brain responsible for processing the instructions and reacting to them. A good CPU for a gaming PC costs about $300, but it is possible to find a decent one for about $200.
Motherboard. A motherboard connects all other components of a PC and makes sure that they work together. It is like a group coordinator for PC parts. The sky is the limit when it comes to the prices for motherboards. But expect to spend at least $80 or so.
Random-access memory (RAM). RAM, the part responsible for the PC’s memory, is critical. If it is not good enough, it slows the PC down. Prices vary and can be as high as $300, but you can totally find okay RAM for only $40-50.
A solid-state drive (SSD). Everyone knows what storage is for. It goes without saying that no PC is complete without it. Budget SSD options are available for as little as $40-50, but gamers might need to spend as much as $200-300 if they want something top-notch.
A power supply unit (PSU). No PC is complete without a PSU. It is a hardware component that converts the voltage into a lower yet steadier direct current. Luckily, even high-quality PSUs are rarely expensive. Anyone can buy one for about $40.
Or embark on a hunt for cheaper alternatives
There is a way for students who need a PC for studies instead of gaming to spend even less even despite a very tight budget. It is possible to buy the cheapest components available and assemble them, which will end up quite affordable.
But to buy used parts for a PC is an approach that frugal PC builders will probably appreciate even more. Electronics recycling centers and thrift stores often sell the PC parts they receive. While used, many of them are still perfectly workable (and cheap).
Keep in mind, though, that shopping like this requires serious tech expertise. A student who has never built their own PC before will hardly be able to recognize good PC parts and assemble them later on. They might be better off with affordable but new components from Amazon.
Get ready to spend hours with a screwdriver and YouTube tutorials
Once you have all the parts at hand, it is time to assemble them. Sounds scary, but it is actually not as impossible as some rookies seem to believe. YouTube, the home to millions of amazing do-it-yourself videos, is very helpful. No matter what their expertise level is, a student willing to build a PC on a budget is guaranteed to find at least a couple of channels that suit them.
First, consider looking for channels about hardware (this might be a good idea to do before you buy all the parts). Hardware Canucks, Science Studio, Tech YES City, and Paul’s Hardware are great places to start.
Next, find a YouTuber or two who create content specifically about building a PC. They offer helpful tips about assembling a PC and can help a beginner avoid a lot of mistakes, some of them potentially fatal. JayzTwoCents is one of the best channels in this niche.
Or get an inexpensive pre-assembled PC
A lot of students thinking of building their own PC might get dizzy because of all this information. Also, choice overload can get intense when shopping for PC parts. Once again, consider getting an inexpensive pre-assembled PC. Some of the best options are:
RTX 3060 Ti Alienware. A more or less affordable option for gamers (about $1,400 at the moment).
Acer Aspire TC-895-UA91. This one is certainly not for gamers. But it is more than enough for any student who needs a PC for studying (approximately $500).
Apple Mac Mini. Not for gaming, either. But all Apple products are good investments in that they remain productive for up to a decade after their release. And Apple Mac Mini is surprisingly inexpensive (less than $900).
Is building your own PC worth the effort?
Building one’s own PC is a good idea for a gamer or a student who wants a cheap PC and has at least some tech expertise. It is an awesome way to save a little (or a lot, depending on your skills) as well as improve your tech knowledge. But if you only need a PC to study and are the opposite of tech-savvy, getting a pre-assembled PC might be a smarter choice.