Complete List of Parts Needed To Build a Computer

I’ve built a few computers over the years and the components you need for each build varies depending on your budget and purpose of the computer. Therefore, the list of parts that you need to build a computer depends on what type of computer you are trying to build. Because giving you a list for a super computer will do you no good if you only have a couple hundred dollars I’m going to provide a couple different lists. This way you can choose which list suits you best, get all the components you need, and build yourself an awesome machine. The three different lists will be Essential, Basic, and the Gamer.

Essential v Basic v Gamer Component Lists

The essentials list will be only the absolutely required parts, this is also known as a bare bones build. The basic list will be a good computer, like the one I built for myself and something you wouldn’t be ashamed to own, and would serve as a low budget gaming computer. The gamer’s list of computer components will be top of the line and built for graphics and speed.

List of Essential Parts Needed to Build a Computer

You may ask yourself, “What do you need to build a computer?” Well I’m here to tell you that despite what Newegg or other retailers are trying to sell you, the parts that you absolutely have to include in order to have a functioning computer are as follows:

Essential Components
Motherboard with built in GPU
Case and Power Supply combo
Hard Drive
Optical Drive
Operating System

Even though the operating system, or OS, is required to use a desktop computer you don’t have to purchase it. There are many free OS’s available. My favorite free OS is Ubuntu. Simply download, burn to a DVD, and install. It is true that many people will choose Windows 7 as their OS, but it is not required. If you want to save around $100 on the most basic of computers then Ubuntu is very good choice.

Another way to get an operating system is to get the product key from an old machine, say the computer you are replacing. It is as simple as finding a free product key finding program and running on the computer you are getting the operating system from. You can then download the Windows install disks for free and then install

There are also things that are necessary to you using the computer but that you may already have (or be able to get used for really cheap):

Needed Peripherals

Example of a Bare Bones Build

You should note that a bare bones build is the cheapest desktop computer you can get.

Foxconn H67S Micro ATX Motherboard$54.99
Intel Pentium G620 Sandy Bridge 2.6GHz$72.99
G.SKILL Value Series 4GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333$24.99
Rosewill R363-M-BK Black Computer Case with 400W Powersupply$49.99
Western Digital Caviar Blue WD1600AAJS 160GB 7200 RPM Hard Drive$33.99
LITE-ON Black 18X DVD-ROM 48X CD-ROM$17.99

With the operating system either being from an older computer or a free version of Ubuntu.

List of Basic Parts Needed to Build a Computer

The main difference between a bare bones computer and a basic computer is that you getting a discreet graphics card and a better processor. A motherboard upgrade is also included, but that doesn’t improve your machine on the same scale the graphics card and processor will. You also get to pick a power supply independent of the case, but that doesn’t really affect performance that much. The parts that a basic, low end gaming computer would need are as follows.

Basic Components
Video Card
Hard Drive
Optical Drive
Power Supply
Operating System

I’ve already written a post about how to build a mid range custom desktop computer. I helped an old roommate of mine build that one and as you may have noticed it had no discreet video card. That is because it uses one of the new AMD accelerated processing units (APUs) which gives you the performance similar to a high end video card with just the processor. It saves you a lot of money and gives good performance.

List of All Computer Components that can be used to Build a Gaming Desktop Computer

The gaming computer is what all other desktops aspire to be. It has the fastest processor, the fastest GPUs, the fastest hard drives, and best of everything else. There are two main configuration differences with this custom gaming rig and the two other builds I’ve shown, first is multiple video cards and second is multiple solid state hard drives as well as a traditional hard drive.

If you are a serious gamer then its all about performance. By adding two, three, or even four video cards to your system you are ensured that you can run the most visually demanding game on the highest settings without a drop in your fps, frames per second. This is a must, especially if you want to use multiple monitors to give you a truly immersive experience.

The second big change is the upgrade to solid state drives (SSDs). By going solid state your load times will be vastly improved and you won’t be left waiting for practically anything. Of course you still have a giant standard hard drive for storing all your music and movies on. But the operating system and all of the games go on the SSDs. By using two of them in a RAID 0 configuration you can increase the speed even further.

Gaming Components
Video Card x 2 (or 3 or even 4)
Solid State Hard Drive x 2
Hard Drive
Blu-ray Burner
Sound Card
Power Supply
Operating System

Example of a High End Gaming Build

ASUS Rampage III Black Edition Motherboard$559.99
Intel Core i7-990X Extreme Edition Gulftown 3.46GHz$999.99
ASUS MARS II GeForce GTX 580 X 2$1499.99
G.SKILL Sniper Gaming Series 12GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 Memory$189.99
G.SKILL Phoenix Pro Series 120GB SATA II Solid State Drive X 2$393.98
Seagate Barracuda XT ST33000651AS 3TB 7200 RPM Hard Drive$179.99
ASUS Black 12X Blu-ray Burner$91.99
Antec High Current Pro 1200W Power Supply$279.99
SILVERSTONE RAVEN RV01-BW Black Computer Case$229.99

While everything in this build is expensive, the majority of the cost comes from the dual top of the line graphics cards and the 6 core extreme edition of the Intel i7 processor. But if performance is top priority and price is of no importance, then a build very similar to this would be top choice.


The differences between the essentials only, basic, and gamer’s list of computer components are huge. Make sure you know what you need and know your budget so you don’t end up with something you can’t afford or something that doesn’t do what you need it to do. Most people will choose something along the lines of a basic build. Only the people on the tightest budget will get an essentials only build. Only an extreme gamer will be able to afford the high end gamer’s build, but he will have a machine in the top echelon of all custom built PCs for his efforts.

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