What Makes a Great Computer?


Sophomore Gage Cook has a custom built computer that he uses for both school work and gaming

Building computers is a fun hobby to have that gives you access to the internet when it’s finished.

When building a computer, you need to know what parts to use to make the computer and how to connect the pieces.

Key components to a computer (PC) include the central processing unit (CPU), motherboard, memory (RAM), graphics processing unit (GPU or Graphics card), storage unit (SSD and/or HDD), power supply unit (PSU), system cooling, a case, monitor, keyboard, mouse, and finally an operating system, according to Intel Computers.

A CPU is the most important piece to a computer because it sends signals to the rest of the parts making the computer work. Computers cannot function without a CPU.

The motherboard allows the CPU to communicate with all the other parts of the computer to get them to work with each other.

Memory, better known as RAM, is a short term information bank that holds all applications that need to be opened quickly such as browsers or other frequently used downloads.

A graphics card gives the computer an image to produce onto the monitor or screen you are using and works with the CPU to change the image shown on the screen depending on what programs or actions you make on your computer.

An SSD is a mass storage unit that holds all back up information like logins, saves for downloads, and more download types. It saves downloads to a bank that can load saves offline unlike with the RAM that requires a connection to access the downloads.

A power supply unit, better known as a PSU, gives the components the power needed to get the computer to turn on and for the pieces to start working with each other to get your computer to work. It is an on and off switch for a computer, much like a light switch.

System cooling for a computer can come in three kinds of coolants: liquid, air and passive. Cooling in a computer stops the computer from overheating and using less voltage to keep the power up with the heat.

In liquid cooling water or other computer safe liquids run from the engine of the coolant to all parts that need to be cooled which then is pushed by the heat produced into the radiator where it then cools off and recycles through the computer, liquid cooling is the riskiest to a computer because it can ruin the computer parts if not placed on the computer correctly.

Air cooling is the most common form of coolant along with the easiest to use. It uses fans on the case of the computer to push hot air out of the computer and let cool airflow into the PC. Cases for PCs often have an open or grated back for the fans to push air back and forth into the computer.

While passive cooling is very similar to liquid cooling in the sense that it uses liquid to cool the computer. In a passive instead of a system running through the computer passive cooling submerges the computer into a non-conductive liquid such as mineral oil.

An operating system in a computer is what the computer runs on such as Microsoft, Linux, or Apple if you buy one of their desktops, it’s the system the computer runs on and what connects your computer to the internet, printers, and other things you’d connect your PC to.

While the rest of these parts make the computer work a case store all the pieces you used to make the computer and depending on the case it can limit what parts you get because in some cases the components are too large or too small for some cases. While it isn’t common it can still happen so you have to be careful when you buy a smaller computer case to avoid the risk.

Some basic necessities for a computer that you don’t need to build include a keyboard and, depending on what you want to do, you can choose a keyboard to your liking. With a mouse, there’s wired and wireless which both work well and don’t really make a difference to your computer. The last thing you need is a display for the computer can run images to, this can be a tv a monitor or any screen that can connect to the computer.

Some students at AAHS have built computers themselves and use them constantly, But they cost a pretty penny.

“I built my computer with the best possible Specs such as 64gb of ram, an RTX 2080ti, and an i9 extreme and it cost me around $3500,” said junior Chase Hurley.

While some students don’t have as good of a PC as other students still have built a computer that they use at home.”I built a workstation computer that has an I-5 9600k, 2070 graphics card, 16 gig ddr4 and it cost me around $1100,” said junior Evan Slavens.

While both computers have some room to be upgraded, one computer will need upgrades more soon than other PCs, “If I could upgrade my computer right I would get an SSD with higher storage capacity,” said Evan. 

Depending on parts, you can spend up to $500 to $5000 on parts that suit the kind of computer you want to use.

Most people who build a computer typically build a gaming computer and use the parts that are best for running games at a high frame rate and video quality. The higher quality you want the more pricey your computer gets because the best parts take the most time to make and will last longer than older pieces.

If you are looking for everyday use or school work desktop there are versions you don’t have to build. Such as Dell Computers make a desktop good for editing pictures and videos that have high storage and enough processing power to run the programs you need. These are also known as prebuilds which are computers that are built by the company with the parts they chose to go into a computer. Other than Dell some well-respected computer companies include Alienware, Intel, Microsoft, Omen, Acer and HP.

Many prebuilds become outdated after seven years because the processor will not be able to run newer programs because they can only do so much and aren’t meant for people who use their computers for long time use. Most schools including AAHS have prebuilds for computer classes and student use and are not used for anything not school-related, while companies like Omen offer an option on their prebuilds where you can make upgrades to individual pieces when the time comes, but Omen computers are meant for gaming or mass loading programs and not for casual use like Dell or Intel computers.

Getting the needed parts for a computer and building the computer is a lot of fun for many people across the school and world.