ST Digital PC 2017

Building your own personal computer

Aim for a balanced and versatile PC that can handle gaming and work-related tasks well

Decking out the PC chassis in dazzling RGB LEDs will cost more but the LEDS have become the trend among PC enthusiasts now.
Decking out the PC chassis in dazzling RGB LEDs will cost more but the LEDS have become the trend among PC enthusiasts now.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

AMD is back as a competitive force in the computer chipmaking business. The company released its Ryzen series of processors to positive reviews in March.

And, at last week's Computex Taipei trade show, it announced that top PC makers Acer, Asus, HP, Dell and Lenovo will be using Ryzen chips in some oftheir upcoming desktop PCs by the end of the second quarter of this year.

Therefore, we are basing our long-running Straits Times Digital PC build this year on an AMD theme.

Previous builds had revolved around other themes like a 4K gaming rig and an Intel Skylake system. Besides providing ideas on PC hardware builds, these guides highlight certain PC trends. For instance, the Skylake edition discussed new memory and storage technologies.

For our latest build, we used AMD's Ryzen processor, an AMD-compatible motherboard, as well as the company's latest Radeon graphics card. The goal here is to build a balanced and versatile PC that can tackle both gaming and work-related computing tasks competently.

While the final bill for our system worked out to almost $3,000, you can reduce the cost significantly by opting for the alternatives cited in the guide. The cost of my build is also inflated by my secondary goal, which is to deck out the PC chassis in dazzling RGB LEDs.


These multi-coloured LEDs have become very popular in gaming peripherals.

This trend has since spread to PC components, with motherboards and even memory chips outfitted with RGB LEDs.

The PC components mentioned in this guide can be found at Sim Lim Square, which is the place to go to for computer hardware.

If you are not confident of installing the hardware, the retailers can assemble the system for you, especially if you bought most of the components from them.

In fact, for our PC, we had help from a retailer, Fuwell, in the form of the loan of various components and installation.

Five top tips for first-time PC builders

• Crowdsource ideas for your PC build. Unsure what PC components to get for your budget? Get ideas from the hardware gurus lurking at online forums such as or Reddit communities such as r/buildapc.

• Assemble your system outside the chassis. Ensure that all your components are working flawlessly before you install them in the chassis. This reduces the hassle of having to unscrew and remove components in the event of hardware issues. It is also easier to install components out in the open, compared with the cramped confines of the casing.

• Look out for bargains at online retailers. If you are planning to build a PC in the next couple of months, you should start looking out for online sales of components like solid-state drives and graphics cards at retailers such as Qoo10 and Lazada. These parts may come in handy later when you are building your PC.

• Learn to use the Basic Input Output System, or BIOS. This is the firmware that boots up when the computer is turned on. It is stored on a memory chip on the motherboard. A modern BIOS is extremely powerful - you can configure and monitor your PC hardware using it. The first thing is to find out how to reset the BIOS to the default settings. Knowing how to update the BIOS to the latest version from the motherboard manufacturer is also useful, as it could fix bugs and other hardware issues. Such information is usually found in the motherboard manual or online.

• Go easy on the thermal paste. Heat-conductive thermal paste is used to optimise the heat transfer from the CPU to the fan or cooler. But it is recommended to use just a pea-sized dab. Slathering your CPU in thermal paste could be counter-productive and possibly even lead to higher operating temperatures.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 07, 2017, with the headline 'Building your own personal computer'. Print Edition | Subscribe