Building a PC can seem like a daunting task, but with the right tools and resources it can be achievable for someone with no prior experience! As an animator and graphic designer, I was looking for a computer that could handle intensive 3D rendering and video editing software and building my own PC seemed like the most affordable and tailored option. These are the steps I followed to build my own workstation suited to those needs.
Watch Building my First PC for 3D Modelling and Gaming
Planning My Build
When it came to deciding which parts to source for my PC, the most helpful resource I found was https://pcpartpicker.com/
Here you can find a database of parts along with up-to-date prices, stock, reviews, and compatibility information.
You can use one of their pre-made build lists, browse user lists, or start from scratch. When creating my list, I started with a case then filled it with compatible parts. Another handy resource when picking parts is https://www.logicalincrements.com/. It shows a chart of common parts along a spectrum of quality and includes pricing and compatibility details as well.
Since my priority with this build was 3D modelling and animation capabilities, I was looking for a high performance GPU and CPU. Because of this, I spent less on the other parts in my build.
When looking for parts, be sure to check your local computer stores to save on shipping and support local businesses!
Tools and Resources
As far as tools go, you don't need a whole lot to get the parts installed. I used a multi-bit screwdriver and wore an anti-static strap.
Static electricity can pose a risk when your work area is conducive to providing an electrical current. If a current goes through computer parts it can cause damage. I have hardwood flooring which helps the issue, however to be extra safe I wore an anti-static strap around my wrist and clipped it to my case.
If you need advice while sourcing parts or building your PC and aren't sure where to look for answers, you can check out the r/buildapc subreddit to see if anyone else had the same issue or to ask a question. To find PC part deals, head to the r/buildapcsales subreddit for current sales and prices.
Because I wanted to use my PC for 3D rendering, my highest priority was sourcing a high performance video card. I also wanted to invest in a high performance processor. After this, I was trying to find parts that supported these two components at an affordable price. Although my GPU and CPU aren't top tier, they are well-suited to my purposes and allowed me to keep my total cost at $2000.
Find links to each of my PC parts in this drop-down
Intel Core i7-12700F 12th Gen:
Team T-Force Vulcan Z 16gb Ram:
Lian Li Lancool II Mesh CRGB Snow White:
MSI MPG A650GF, 650W ATX 80 PLUS Gold Certified: https://www.memoryexpress.com/Products/MX00115412
GeForce RTX 3060 VENTUS 2X 12GB:
Arctic P12 PWM PST - 120 mm Case Fan:
Vetroo V5 White CPU Cooler:
GIGABYTE B660 Gaming X AX DDR4:
Samsung - T350 Series 24" IPS LED FHD:
Building the PC
This is the order I followed when installing the components into my case. Each part comes
with their own set of instructions, some more helpful than others. Because this is not meant to be an extensive tutorial on the actual installation of each part, I will be giving a broad overview of the building process. For advice that goes more in-depth than the instructions for your parts, I would recommend finding a video online specific to your case or components.
Here are some general tips to follow when building a PC:
When installing each component, it's important to take your time and double-check that everything is being placed in the case properly. There are many tiny cables to connect—if something doesn't feel secure or if it hasn't "clicked" into place, it's worth patiently trying until the part is secure. There were many small cables that I fumbled with for a long time before they were connected properly.
Don't Force Anything
If something isn't fitting properly, chances are it isn't lined up right or isn't in the right place. I learned this the hard way by shoving my SATA hard drive against the case, snapping the cable inside it. In most cases, brute strength isn't needed, and if force is required, the tutorial or instructions will most likely say so.
It's really fun and rewarding and barely scary at all! I would compare building a PC to doing a puzzle. If you can finish a puzzle then you can finish this.
Operating System Installation
Welcome to operating system installation! Once everything is built and functional you’ll have to install an operating system. To do this you’ll need to have the installation tool downloaded onto a USB. I’ll be explaining how to get Windows 10, since that’s the operating system that I installed.
The first step is to source a USB stick that has a capacity of at least 8gb and another computer that has Windows.
You’ll then get online and visit the following site:
Download the installation media tool and go through the steps there, which will install everything you need onto your USB. When it’s time to boot up your new PC, stick the USB in and follow the prompts for installation.
Keep in mind that this isn’t a licensed version of Windows that you’ve just installed. You can use it indefinitely without buying a license, however there are some limitations such as a watermark on the screen and the inability to customize the wallpaper. Instead of paying for a license, I found an old computer that wasn't being used and accessed the license number using a command prompt.
It's been a few months since I finished assembling my PC and everything continues to function smoothly! The rendering speeds are astronomically faster than my old MacBook Pro and although GPU and CPU performance requirements will vary from artist to artist, the components I have chosen are well suited to my needs.
If you're worried that you're not up to the challenge of building your own computer, don't be! Before I ordered my parts, I spent lots of time looking up tutorials, researching my parts, and finding resources. This gave me more confidence when it came to ordering all the parts, as I knew I had a foundation of knowledge that would help me put it all together when the time came.
If you have any questions or comments, don't hesitate to reach out through my contact form or social media.