Computer Parts: Shop PC Parts and Build Your Own | Micro Center (2023)

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Computer components like the CPU, GPU, and motherboard each play pivotal roles in creating a competent PC. The quality of ones PC parts directly impacts the capabilities of a computer, whether one decides to use it primarily for gaming or as a workstation.

And with so many different computer components on the market today, selecting parts for your build can sometimes feel like a daunting task. When shopping for PC parts one needs to consider costs, compatibility between parts, resale value, and more. Lets go over some of the more major components, and what attributes you should look for when shopping.

Get the Most Out of Your PC with a Powerful Processor

The computers Central Processing Unit (CPU) is the first component that one should focus on when building a computer, as it determines most components that a computer can use. Most desktop computers use Intel processors or AMD processors.

Some factors to take into consideration while shopping for a CPU include clock speed, the number of cores and threads, overclocking capabilities, and the amount of processor cache. If you are looking to build a PC that is highly overclockable, then be sure to select an unlocked processor and add an adequate CPU cooler and power supply.

Gamers will likely want a CPU with at least six cores, as the more cores or threads a CPU has, the better overall performance it will provide. And as games advance over time, the number of recommended cores and threads will only go up. Speaking of gaming, some CPUs feature integrated graphics, which essentially is a GPU built in to a processor unit. However, those who are looking for an optimal gaming experience will still likely want to purchase a discrete or standalone graphics card.

Level Up Your Gaming Performance with a New Graphics Card

Graphics cards range wildly in both price and performance. Serious gamers looking to maximize their PCs gaming performance will likely look for GPUs that offer higher memory, overclocking support, and the ability to tinker in depth with card features.

But of course, for those of us who use PCs for more than just gaming, there are even more factors to consider. Workstation graphics cards are designed to handle power intensive programs outside of games with maximized performance. While entry level GPUs support basic computer tasks such as surfing the web and using word processing programs, more powerful cards handle more demanding programs with much greater ease. As previously stated, many CPUs now come with integrated graphics, so for those who do not plan on using graphically intensive programs, this might be an adequate option.

Gamers may want to opt for more powerful cards, as they offer several features that and lead to benefits including higher frame rates and graphical settings when playing games, VR game support, and future proofing ones system. A few select NVIDIA graphics cards can also be connected to be used in tandem, via Nvlink. Multiple video cards can further boost your systems graphical performance, though this may also require additional case space, fans, and a better cooling system.

There are a few specs that gamers should take into consideration when shopping for a GPU. The first is the memory, which is the amount of data that can be accessed by the GPU at any given time. GDDR5 is currently the most popular type of graphics memory, however upcoming cards may feature GDDR6 or even GDDR6X instead. Another spec to consider is VRAM, which is similar to system memory but dedicated specifically to graphics processing.

The number of displays that a GPU can support also matters, as it determines how many displays a user can use simultaneously with their PC. Those who like to play games on their TV and computer monitor simultaneously will want a GPU that can support at least three displays.

The Motherboard Offers a Home for Your System

The motherboard is the central home of a computer, where all of a systems components including the CPU, GPU, RAM, hard drive, and fans all connect and interact with one another. The motherboard allows all PC parts to work together properly, and is the glue that holds them together.

Shopping for motherboards can be tricky mostly due to compatibility between PC parts. Intel and AMD processors are only compatible with their respective motherboards, though there is some overlap in manufacturers. Companies such as ASUS create motherboards for both Intel and AMD. Be sure to check compatibility between your processor and motherboard before you build!

One should also consider whether a motherboard supports quad channel memory versus dual channel, its power delivery, and VRM.

One other spec to look out for is the number of connections, including SATA ports, NVMe slots, PCIe ports, and USB headers. These connections allow for the use of hard drives, SSDs, optical drives, graphics cards, and more. Most motherboards come with at least one of each, however high end boards can offer more.

There are also several different form factors to consider when shopping for boards. Motherboards have three main form factors: ATX, micro ATX, and mini ITX, though other, less common versions exist. ATX motherboards are the most common, regularly found in family desktops, workstations and gaming rigs. Micro ATX boards are smaller than ATX motherboards, which means that they can fit in much smaller PC cases and are great for minimalist builds. Mini ITX boards are some of the smallest motherboards out there; they are the best option for tiny cases, but can also be a bit more of a challenge to build with. They are fantastic for those small, subtle builds, but offer their own set of challenges.

Access Your Data with a Hard Drive or Solid State Drive

Storage is sometimes overlooked when building a new PC, but is incredibly important.

Hard disk drives are the oldest and the cheapest type of storage still used in modern PCs, and offer a great balance between price and capacity. These hard drives feature magnetic platters that store data via physical means. Disk rotational speed and cache are things to consider when buying a HDD; the faster the spindle speed, the better overall performance, the more cache generally the better performance. Spin speeds can also affect temperature, which may be something worth considering depending on where you will put your PC case.

Solid state drives do not use physical means to store data like HDDs do. Instead, they read and write data via electronic means. This means that SSDs are generally much faster, but also come with higher price tags. Lighting fast random access times (IOPS) make SSDs perfect for storing your OS on, while HDDs should be reserved for mass storage of photos, music, videos, programs you frequently use but not very often open. Speaking of usage frequency, it is important to consider writes per day as well as endurance - how many writes the drive can handle before it starts to wear out, which is measured in terabytes written (TBW). The differences in boot speed between HDDs and SSDs are enough that we recommend an SSD for your OS for just about every use case, no matter the budget.

Hard disks are available in either 2.5& inch or 3.5 inch form factors depending on the size of your case and overall capacity needed or preferred. With smaller PC cases gaining popularity, some manufacturers have begun offering mini HDDs which fit in 2.5 inch slots and offer higher storage capacities than typical mSATA or M.2 solid state drives at a lower cost and typically no loss in performance. These tiny hard drives usually come in either 1TB or 2TB sizes and connect via SATA cables instead of PCIe like larger hard drives do. Alternatively, you can also get them with M.2 connectors if you prefer that over standard SATA cables for a small boost in speed.

Computer storage options come in several other forms. SSDs are faster than HDDs and much smaller overall, but generally cost more for a given storage capacity. M.2 NVMe solid state drives offer even higher speeds than their SATA counterparts due to their increased CPU bandwidth and interface speed.

If you have limited storage slots, whether you are using a desktop or laptop, it is highly recommended you should use an SSD as your primary drive. The speed and stability offered by these drives makes them absolutely worth their cost. If your system supports it, an M.2 NVMe drive is an even better option. If you are looking to save on storage costs, however, a smaller SSD with a larger HDD is a great compromise that will allow for blazing speeds and stability on launch with lots of space to spare.

Boost Your Processing Speed with RAM

RAM is another very important, yet often overlooked when planning, piece of a PC build. When choosing RAM to buy, one needs to consider the frequency - how fast it will run, capacity - how much data it can store at once, and type - DDR4, DDR5, etc.

Desktop computers typically use DDR4 memory due to its higher bandwidth and lower power consumption, but some laptops can still use DDR3 or DDR4 depending on the CPU and motherboard. Frequency is usually measured in megahertz MHz or gigahertz GHz, with a higher number meaning faster memory. Most RAM today is dual channel, meaning that two sticks of identical RAM will run at the CPUs frequency instead of just one - this can improve performance.

RAM comes in two form factors - SO DIMMs or small outline DIMM, which is typical for laptops and some desktops that use smaller cases, and DIMMs or dual inline memory modules, which is used by most mainstream desktop builds due to its increased surface area and compatibility with most cases. DDR4 is the most common type of RAM used, though DDR5 has recently been released, and few systems are currently compatible with it.

RAM is also amongst the easiest PC component to upgrade. If you feel your PC is running slow, lagging behind, or just starting to show its age, simply clicking a few extra gigs of RAM into your motherboard can do wonders to keep it on the cutting edge.

PC Cases Offer Protection and Air Flow

Cases properly house computers, protecting PC parts from potential damage, and provide airflow to keep the system cool. PC cases come in a variety of shapes and sizes, with the most popular form factor being the mid tower.

Mid tower cases typically measure around 18 x 8 x 16 and offer enough space to install multiple storage devices, graphics cards, and fans. Full tower cases are much larger and can measure up to 27 x 10 x 25, making them a better fit for those who plan on installing lots of hardware or want more room for cable management. Mini ITX cases are much smaller, measuring just 6.7 x 6.7 x 3.3, and are designed for use with Mini ITX motherboards.

Computer Components, Accessories, and Peripherals

You can have the most powerful internal hard drive, motherboard, and processor, but without the right peripherals, you simply will not have the ideal experience with your new computer. Design an all in one PC with the best computer accessories and peripherals around. With basics such as keyboards, mice, HDMI cables, and mousepads to all the most essential adapters and converters, you can complete your build or update with the help of the right accessories.

We also have a huge variety of cases and their accessories to help you build your system from scratch. Find the ideal desktop case, power supply unit or PSU, drive enclosures and trays, system cables and more.

Whether you are building a high end gaming PC from scratch or revamping one you already own, you will also want to consider replacement computer parts as a budget friendly way to give your laptop or desktop the reboot it needs. Whether it be the computer case itself to accommodate better components, a replacement screen to enhance visuals, or replacement batteries to give your workspace a new lease on life, replacement parts can go a long way in saving you time and money.

The Best Options from the Best Brands

With all the best processors, motherboards, hard drives, and computer components by top brands, you can build or revamp your ideal PC with the help of Micro Center. Whether you are looking for sound cards or the latest processors, we have just what you need. AMD, Nvidia, Intel, Apple, Samsung, Microsoft, Lian, Corsair, TeamGroup, Neo Forza, and others make up our amazing selection of high end computer parts to help you build and enhance your ideal PC, whether for gaming, work, or entertainment.

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