1. Introduction
  2. The Computer


  3. The Case
  4. Inside the Case
  5. The Motherboard
  6. The Microprocessor
  7. The Memory
  8. The Hard Drive
  9. The CD-ROM
  10. Other Storage
  11. The Monitor
  12. Keyboard and Mouse


  13. Buying Parts and OEM, where to get manuals
  14. Shopping Smart
  15. Manufacturers
  16. Websites for Shopping

Computer Parts

Why should I assemble my own computer?

Below is a list of advantages and disadvantages of building your own system.


  1. I believe there is some price break in buying component parts through discount dealers on the web.
  2. When you buy from a retail store or a complete system, you do not get to choose your own parts. In many cases, you may get a lower quality motherboard, monitor, CD-ROM or other parts. When buying your own parts you choose the best quality and features of parts for the money. For example what dealer sells computers with Intel PIII microprocessors, the Asus P3B-F motherboard, and the LG Electronics 995E monitor.


  1. There is no dealer to stand behind the computer with a warranty or service agreement if something goes wrong.
  2. You have to put it together yourself and install your operating system which can take several hours.
  3. You must do more research, but that is part of the fun.

Please be aware that a disadvantage listed above is there is no dealer warranty. If you purchase a name brand quality computer component, however, and it is installed properly, there is a manufacturer's warranty. Depending on the product, it may be anywhere from 30 days to 3 years. Another thing to consider is that many vendors have what are called "bare bones" systems that you can buy the motherboard, with the microprocessor, and memory already assembled, then you can buy your own video, sound, and other cards along with hard drive and add it to your system. Also you can buy your monitor separately from your main system and still get a quality monitor of your choice.

A Computer Parts List

  1. Microprocessor - 600Mhz Intel PIII = $350
  2. Motherboard - Asus PIIIB-F Motherboard = $120
  3. Memory - 128Mb PC100 SDRAM 3.3V unbuffered = $95
  4. Case - Cheap=$30, Quality=$80
  5. Hard Drive - 16G = $150
  6. CD-ROM = $35
  7. Floppy Drive = $10
  8. Read/Write CD-ROM = $210
  9. Video Card = $30-$300
  10. Sound Card = $20-$120
  11. Keyboard = $20
  12. Mouse = $10
  13. Monitor - 19 inch .26mm dit pitch = $350
  14. Modem = $50
  15. Operating system - Win98=$98 Win2000=$130 Linux=$10 or free if you download it.

The above prices are approximate prices and are just to give a frame of reference for the reader. Please be aware that when buying your system some vendors will offer the operating at a discount "OEM" price if you buy a motherboard and a hard drive. This way you still can get a good operating system at a reasonable price with your system.

What is OEM?

OEM stands for original equipment manufacturer. When you buy an OEM part, it means you may not get any manuals, or software that accompanies the product in a retail box. An OEM part is shipped as though it is sent to a dealer who already knows how to install it and who would have the software to install it. This may be significant depending on the part you are purchasing. If you are purchasing a hard drive, floppy drive, or CD-ROM drive it is not a serious concern. In this case it is better to get the price break. If you buy an OEM disk drive, you can always get installation instructions and any necessary drivers from the the service and support section of the manufacturer's website.

If you are buying a sound card or video card, you may or may not want to make your purchase an OEM purchase. For instance there may be special software with a sound card that lets you write your own music. If this is the case and you want the software, you should make the retail package purchase. Also some video cards come with special game or other software packages. In the case of a sound card or video card, buying OEM software is a matter of preference.

When buying a microprocessor, I always choose to buy a retail package. This is because a retail package will come with any required hardware such as a fan and heatsink. The warranty and return policy is also better. You may choose to save money and buy the OEM package if you are confident that you won't have any problems with your microprocessor.

Other items not listed above such as a motherboard have always come with a manual and associated hardware so there is not an an issue of buying OEM. The monitor is also sold as a standard package. The mouse, keyboard and CD-ROM also do not discriminate between OEM and retail packages.