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Common problems to avoid when building your own computer

Are you planning to build your own computer? It can be an exciting project, as you get to choose the components that match your needs and preferences. However, building a computer from scratch can also come with its own set of challenges and errors. In this article, we will discuss the common problems to avoid when building your own computer.

Common problems to avoid when building your own computer

Having built and serviced many custom-built computers, there are certain things I watch out for. The tips outlined in this article are meant to assist you in building your own computer. For the basic steps to building a custom computer, check out How to build a computer.

Choosing components: One of the most common mistakes people make when building their own computer is selecting the wrong components. You must choose components that are compatible with one another. For example, if you choose a motherboard that only supports DDR4 RAM, you won't be able to use DDR5 RAM, no matter how much you want to.

How to find compatible computer parts online

Enough space for components: When building a computer, it's essential to make sure that you have enough space for all the components. If you're building a Small Form Factor computer, make sure that all the components you choose can fit inside the case. It's also essential to make sure that there is enough space for adequate cooling and airflow. Remember, you cannot install a full-size ATX motherboard into a microATX case.

Things to keep in mind when building a custom-built computer

Motherboard IO shield: If your motherboard comes with a separate IO shield, remember you have to install it before the motherboard. Also, be careful when installing the motherboard so you do not bend any of the prongs on the IO shield.

Photo of a motherboard IO shield showing the grounding prongs

These prongs are meant to ground the various ports but often get bent out of shape. Install the IO shield in the case and then test fit the motherboard into the case. If you place the motherboard at an angle in the case, you can get the ports on the back underneath any IO shield prongs that need to be on top of them.

Cable Management: Cable management is often overlooked, but it's essential to keep your computer tidy and organized. Proper cable management can help with airflow, reduce dust buildup, and make it easier to troubleshoot any problems. Make sure that all cables are neatly tucked away and secured to avoid any damage or interference with other components.

Photo of plastic coated wire tie and plastic zip tie side by side

When performing cable management, use only velcro or plastic zip ties. Never use plastic-coated wire twist ties since they contain wire, which, if used too close to any exposed circuit board or bare metal, could cause a short.

Power Supply Requirements: The power supply is one of the most critical components of a computer, and it's essential to make sure you get the right one. A power supply that isn't powerful enough can cause your computer to crash, and one that is too powerful can waste energy and increase your electricity bill. Make sure that your power supply can handle the wattage required by your components.

Also, use a modular power supply if possible. With a modular power supply, you only have to attach the cables required for the components inside your case. For example, if you use only M.2 SSDs (Solid State Drive) for storage, you would not need to attach any SATA cables to the power supply, thus saving space inside the case.

How to estimate the power required for your custom-built computer

Cooling: The components inside your computer generate a lot of heat, and it's essential to keep them cool. If your computer overheats, it can cause damage to the components, shorten their lifespan, and even cause them to fail. Make sure you have enough cooling, either through fans or liquid cooling, to keep your computer running at optimal temperatures.

When it comes to the airflow direction, I usually will have air coming in through the front/bottom of the case and going out through the top/back of the case.
Photo of a case fan with directional arrows highlighted
Case fans typically are marked with the direction of both the fan blades and airflow.

In conclusion, building your own computer can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it's essential to avoid these common problems. Take your time, do your research, and make sure that you choose the right components that are compatible with one another. Always double-check that everything is installed correctly and that you have enough cooling and space for all the components. With the right approach, you can build a computer that meets your needs and performs well for years to come.

How to find compatible computer parts online

Updated March 15, 2024

Building your own computer or upgrading your existing system can be a dream or a nightmare. Simply finding parts that are compatible with each other can be challenging. But some really helpful websites can make finding the correct parts easy.

How to find compatible computer parts online

There is no greater satisfaction than being able to say you built or upgraded your computer yourself. Whether upgrading your computer's memory or drive or building a new system from the ground up.

However, finding compatible computer parts can be daunting. Every part has a specific set of requirements and features, and it's essential to ensure they match up with the other components in your build.

For example, a CPU requires a specific type of motherboard socket, and each motherboard supports particular types of memory. It's essential to cross-check each component's specifications before purchasing to ensure compatibility.

If you're working on an older PC, say five to ten years old, you will have to use the different component specifications to find compatible parts. When looking for parts to upgrade an older computer, the best place to start is the motherboard/system manual. This is where you find all the specifications for finding compatible components for your computer.

If you are considering upgrading a relatively new computer or building a new one, the following websites are extremely helpful. Just enter a few details on your component or computer, and they can tell you what hardware will work with it.

When it comes to finding compatible computer parts, the websites are divided into two categories: complete computers /separate components and memory.

Complete computers / separate components

Let's start with websites that can help you find every part of a custom-built computer. Several websites will list components that work together, but only a few genuinely allow you to customize the different components.

The following websites allow you to select any component (motherboard, processor, etc.) and assemble a list of compatible parts for a complete system. You can also use them to find compatible parts to upgrade your existing computer.

PC Part Picker

Build My PC

PC Builder

Another website is Newegg. It has a section specifically for custom PC building, similar to the ones above. The only difference is that it links to products it or its affiliates sell.

The PC Part Picker, Build My PC, PC Builder,, and Newegg websites can also help find individual components. As long as the manufacturer still sells the component, you can use any of these websites to find compatible parts for your computer.

Let's say you recently built a computer and want to upgrade the processor. You would have to find your specific motherboard, and these websites will show you what processors are compatible with it.


But as I always say, the biggest bang you can get for your buck is a memory upgrade. Most memory manufacturers have what they call memory finders. Just find your computer's or motherboard's make / model; their websites will show you which memory modules will work in it.






FYI - If you are trying to get the lowest price on a component, you can check a vendor's website to see if they match prices. I have used price matching to get some terrific deals on hardware.

Please let us know if you found a website with a computer parts configurator we have not listed. Just leave a note in the comments at the bottom of this article.

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