The Ultimate PC Building Guide: Part 1

Building a desktop can be quite daunting for first timers. I know this firsthand. I also know how expensive it can be, but it doesn’t need to be that way. When looking for budget PC building guides online, most online articles tend to just blurt out some combination of part names and expect the readers to understand what they represent. This is why I’ll be trying to explain all the model numbers and what each number means for some of the main parts of a PC in this article for those intending to build their very first Personal Computer.

Processors

Intel

The Intel Skylake 6700k processor. (Source: Overclockers UK)

First  I’ll explain how Intel names their processors. Let’s take an example; the Intel Skylake 6700k. Skylake is the name of the generation, the following 4 digits also have a meaning. The first number represents the number of the generation, in this case our example CPU is of the 6th generation.

The next number usually represents what class a processor is within a given generation. For our example, the processor would be an Intel Core i7 class processor.

Usually, the higher the hundredth number is, the faster the processor and more expensive it is. Core i3 or lower end processors are usually numbered more than 400 in the their model numbers, while Core i5 is usually numbered in between 400 and 700 in the hundredths, while a Core i7 is more than 700. I’ve added a little table to help understand this better below, with the examples given from the Intel 7th Gen. Kaby Lake processors.

Note:  The “K” letter added at the end of some model numbers for certain processors indicates that this processor can be manually overclocked.

 

Model name

Speed Number in the hundredths
Intel Core i3 7300 Processor 4.0 GHz                           3
Intel Core i5 7600k Processor 3.8 GHz – 4.2 GHz                           6
Intel Core i7 7700k Processor 4.2 GHz – 4.5 GHz                           7

AMD

AMD’s Ryzen 7 1700X processor. (Source: ABGB Online)

Secondly, I’m going to cover AMD processors. These processors follow a similar naming style but with some slight differences. For example, the latest line-up of AMD Ryzen processors. The first number in their names would indicate the generation, such as the processor we will explaining about, the AMD Ryzen 7 1700X. “Ryzen 7” would indicate the branding of the processor. The “1700X” would be explained by the first number indicating the generation of the processor, in our case it’s a 1st generation processor of this particular line. The 7 after that indicates the performance level of the CPU. Last two numbers would indicate model number, and the letter at the end indicates what is called a power suffix. All of the previously mentioned is explained really well in this post here. I’ve also included a table to better show the differences when it comes to performance levels.

 

 

Model name Speed Performance level
AMD Ryzen 3 1300X 3.5 GHz – 3.7 GHz                 3
AMD Ryzen 5 1600X 3.6 GHz – 4.0 GHz                 6
AMD Ryzen 7 1800X 3.6 GHz – 3.7 GHz                 8

Graphical Processing Unit (GPU)

Next up would be the second most important thing on any PC builder’s mind, especially if they are interested in using it for gaming: the Graphical Processing Unit (GPU). Let’s start with Nvidia.

Nvidia

The GTX 1080 Ti graphics card by Nvidia. (Source: Nvidia)

The nomenclature for this brand of graphics cards is pretty simple. The first word would represent the line of cards, the first 1 or 2 numbers would indicate the generation, and the last 2 numbers would represent how powerful a graphics card is. Sometimes, Nvidia adds a “Ti” at the end of a name to indicate that this version is more powerful than its non-Ti counterpart. As usual, I’ll add a table to better represent this.

 

Model name

Generation

Performance
GTX 960 9th            60
GTX 980 9th           80
GTX 1080 10th           80

With Nvidia graphics cards, a new generation performs better than its predecessor. Hence, keep that in mind when you’re purchasing your first computer. If you’re upgrading your existing computer though, I wouldn’t recommend you upgrade as soon as the new Gen. is out, especially if you have a higher end GPU of the current generation.

AMD

Next up is the AMD line of graphics cards. AMD follows a very similar naming scheme as Nvidia with only a slight difference. That difference is that the last number in the name, if a 5 instead of a 0 would indicate that this GPU is a revision of a current line. An example would be the AMD RX 260 and the AMD RX 265. A great Reddit post here includes a chart explaining both AMD and Nvidia naming schemes.

We’ll be looking at more components in our next installment, so keep your eyes peeled, and happy building!

By Mohamed Said Mohamed Elsayed

Featured image obtained from Pexels

West Malaysian spirit of magniloquence, periphrasis and procrastination. I have half a mind...

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