First Time Builder Guide: Parts and Avoid Compatibility Issues


This article will be going over the very basics of compatibility issues some encounter when building their first PC. I aim to prevent any of these issues from occurring to you, but remember, even the most experienced builders may encounter some issues. We will review the basic components of any PC while also looking at other parts other PC may not have.

CPU: Central Processing Unit


Choosing your CPU is a very important decision.

Without going into details I’m going to give you a quick summary of the most frequently asked question of AMD vs Intel. In reality there is no complete winner. Both CPU’s have their pros and cons in different applications and uses. If you have a tight budget AMD is the best bang for the buck for lower level computer rigs. Intel is the king of mid to high level rigs if you’re willing to pay a bit more for performance. But choosing your CPU will depend on what motherboard you choose due to the socket type.

 Note: More cores doesn’t always mean better performance. Most programs today don’t take advantage of multiple cores/threads of the CPU’s.


APU: Accelerated Processing Unit

An APU could be a good choice for some people who don’t have a big budget but would like to run common games like MineCraft at a reasonable frame rate. An APU is a CPU built together with a graphics processing unit. These chips paired together with low grade video/graphics cards can be a powerful combo if one is on a tight budget.


CPU Aftermarket Cooler/Stock Cooler

Your CPU or APU should come with a stock cooler which will work fine for most applications of everyday use. If you plan to overclock/enhance the CPU performance you will want to keep it cooler by purchasing an aftermarket cooler.  Water Cooled vs Air Cooled. When purchasing an aftermarket cooler be sure to check what CPU sockets it supports. Most coolers today support almost all sockets. If you are upgrading from a prebuilt PC from major retailer like Dell; make sure the motherboard doesn’t have custom mounting holes for the CPU cooler and follows the standard mounting styles.


Note: Be sure your case can house which ever cooler you pick. This applies to both water and air cooled. Some cases can only mount certain radiators sizes and thicknesses. The width of the case can affect the choice of one’s air cooler system.



Once you picked your CPU or APU you need to pick a motherboard. First you have to determine the socket of the CPU and make sure it’s compatible with your motherboard. Examples of these sockets are AM3+, AM3, AM2+, LGA 1155, LGA 1150, LGA 2010 and many more.

Don’t go out and buy the most expensive motherboard you can find. Today a $30 motherboard can perform just as well as a $300 motherboard, but that doesn’t mean to cheap out on one too. Some more expensive motherboards are for people with much more experience with computers and a first time builder will run into more problems. What you are paying is the features on the board. If you have any questions about a specific motherboard you can check out and create a free account and ask experts on the topic, or look for detailed reviews online.

Motherboards come in different shapes and sizes:

ATX (standard size)

mATX (Smaller size board)

mITX (Very small board)

eATX (Very Large board)

Make sure your Power Supply Unit and case is compatible.



Read my SSD vs HDD Article to learn more:



Make sure your case choice can house what you want to put into it. Look at the manufacturers website to find exact measurements of the case. Different cases only support certain types of motherboard sizes.

Example of what to check measurements for: Power Supply Unit, Aftermarket cooler(optional) , DVD drive (optional), Graphics/Video Card (optional), storage devices (if you have more than one), and motherboard.


There different types of cases out there.

Super Tower (Extra Large): Cases that have extra components to be added to the main tower.

Full Towers (Large): Larger mid size towers. Most times has extra drive slots.

Mid Towers (Medium): The most commonly used tower.

SSF Case: Small Form Factor

Mini Tower: A very small case.

Cube Case: A case shaped like a cube.


RAM: Random Access Memory

What is RAM? Click Here to find out.

What to remember before purchasing RAM: There are different types of speeds of 1333 megahertz to 3200 megahertz. With increased speed of the RAM there is more latency of the RAM. Which make buying more expensive high frequency less appealing. 1600-1800 mhz RAM cards appear to be the sweet spot when it comes to RAM.

There are three types of RAM slots in major use today. DDR2, DDR3 and DDR4. DDR4 is going to cost you much more and less motherboards as of this guide have DDR4 RAM slots. DDR3 is the more common cheaper selection. While DDR2 isn’t recommended, it can still be found from older computers.


Note: RAM size matters when dealing with certain air coolers due to the large size.


PSU: Power Supply Unit

 Never cheap out on a PSU. Always purchase a well made power supply. Power supplies come with their own standard of 80 plus, 80 plus bronze, silver gold, platinum, and titanium. This tells you the power supply efficiency rate of the unit with 80 plus as a standard and titanium as the most power efficient.

For most builds a power supply from 400-600 watts is a good choice. You may want to get a larger PSU so one doesn’t have to worry about power consumption in further years.


GPU: Video Card or Graphics Processing unit

 If you only want to browse the web type a few documents on your computer, you do not need a GPU, the onboard graphics will be sufficient enough.

For light gaming I would suggest getting a second hand older generation GPU which can be purchased at fractions of a retail GPU. Make sure the card works and there are no issues if buying a pre-owned card. If you don’t like buying used items you can choose many AMD options or a Nvidia 750 series card.

If you want to play games at 1080p I suggest purchasing a card of around $150-200 price range.

For high end gaming and 3D rendering many of the top level cards are available. Just be aware of card size and power consumption.


Misc: DVD Drives and Networking Cards

You may need a networking card to connect to the internet via wifi.

If you are not installing your Operating System from a USB you will need a DVD drive if it’s on a disk.

Help From an Expert:

I suggest once you have a full list of components go to and in the correct forum list your parts and the use of your un-built computer and listen to some of the feed back that people post. Many computer experts look over the forum daily and I have personally used them in the past.


This entry was posted in Hardware, Other. Bookmark the permalink.