What You Need To Know Before Building a PC with Your Child

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Building a PC for your child is an exciting time for everyone involved. They’re getting a new computer for school or games, and you get to build it with them, turning it into a bonding and learning experience for the both of you.

Before you get started, though, it’s a good idea to consider why you’re looking to build a PC, what kind of hardware you need to get the job done, and how best to fit it all within your budget.

Here’s a look at everything you need to know before building a PC with your child.

Why Build a PC?

Building a PC isn’t the most complicated task in the world, with most components only fitting in the slots they should, and almost all designed to be used in DIY home builds by first-timers and seasoned professionals alike. That said, there’s still lots to learn and some specific steps you’ll want to take along the way, but it needn’t be an intimidating process.

It does all take time though. Time to learn how to do it properly, time to put it together, and time to set it up with operating system installation and must-have software downloads. If time is the one resource you’re short on, there’s no shame in buying a pre-built PC instead, or picking out the parts and having someone else build it. Micro Center offers a wide range of pre-built desktop PCs for work and custom-designed gaming PCs that are ready to buy and ready to use as soon as they arrive. If you want that personal touch, but don’t have the time to actually build it, Micro Center can put your PC together for you as well.

What Is The PC For?

When it comes to building a PC, component choice is paramount. You need components that work well together, fit within your budget, and can meet the demands you place on them. That’s why the first step in any PC building journey is thinking about what the PC is going to be used for.

If it’s a machine for school or work, then a reasonable processor and plenty of memory can help, but you don’t need to go too high-end. Likewise, you won’t necessarily need a graphics card (unless that school work is video editing or art), and the power supply doesn’t need to be too hefty either (though never buy a cheap power supply or you can risk your other component’s health).

If you’re building a PC with photo, audio, or video editing in mind, you’ll need something more capable, with a high core-count CPU (six or more), 16GB or perhaps even 32GB of memory, and lots of high-speed SSD storage wouldn’t go amiss either. It would be a good idea to get at least an entry-level graphics card too, for a little hardware transcoding and the option of doing some more intensive 3D work for transitions or visual effects.

If you’re looking to build a gaming PC for your child, though, then you need to take things a step further and consider what kind of games they like to play. Fortunately, most games have recommended hardware requirements you can look to in order to decide what kind of gaming PC to build.

If your child is into casual and esports games, like Fortnite, Apex Legends, Roblox, or Minecraft, you don’t need too hefty a PC to run them. You can get by with an Intel Core i3 or AMD Ryzen 5 CPU from any of the recent generations, and an entry-level AMD RX 6000 or RTX 3000 graphics card.

You should be able to put together that sort of PC for around the $1,000 mark if you spend your money wisely and keep an eye on part deals and coupons.

If they’re more interested in AAA games, like Cyberpunk 2077, Forza Horizon 5, or Far Cry 6, then I would be looking to build a more powerful PC. Although you can get by with the same entry-level hardware, these more demanding games won’t look their best. Upgrading the CPU and graphics card may well be worth the money to play those games at higher settings and frame rates.

Faster hardware may be more expensive, but it will make the games your child plays now look a lot better, and will future-proof the gaming PC so that it can still play the latest games in the years to come.

Resolutions, Frame Rates, And Ray Tracing

Once you have an idea of the kind of games your child wants to play, it’s a good idea to consider what kind of settings you’re targeting. The kind of hardware you need to run a game at 1080p and 30 FPS is very different to what you might need to play at 4K and 100 FPS or more with ray tracing enabled.

The first point to consider is resolution. If you already have a monitor that the new PC will connect to, find out what resolution it runs at, and whether it supports high refresh rates like 120Hz, 240Hz, or even 300Hz. If it’s a 1080p display with a 60Hz refresh rate, you’ll be able to enjoy a great gameplay experience with the more modest CPU and GPU choices recommended above for casual and esports games.

If you’re looking to connect this PC to a 1440p monitor with a high refresh rate, a 4K monitor, or even want to play around with virtual reality, then you’re going to need a more powerful machine to take advantage of the hardware you already have.

If your budget is essentially unlimited, then going for the most powerful hardware you can find is an easy choice to make. The most high-end processors and graphics cards will get you an unrivalled gaming expedience for your child, with gorgeous visuals, smooth gameplay, and ultimately a gaming PC that will still play the most demanding games for years to come.

If you’re a bit more beholden to a budget, then check out some performance reviews of the games your child wants to play. That way you can judge where best to focus your money. If it’s 4K you’re going after, though, make sure you budget enough money for a powerful GPU, as it’s easily the most important component in any gaming PC.

Storage, Power, And Looking Cool

Most kids want a PC that looks cool, and fortunately, modern PC cases do that while offering great cooling. Be sure to check reviews for individual cases to make sure you aren't buying one with some fatal flaw, but as long as it has a couple of bright RGB fans on there somewhere, it’s almost a guarantee your child will love it.

Two less exciting considerations that are still super important, are storage and power. Check what power supply Nvidia or AMD recommend for the graphics card you pick to ensure it has a high enough wattage, and as for storage: just make sure you buy an SSD. Hard drives are great for long-term storage, but for boot drives and game installs, an SSD is an absolute must. 

And, with that, you’re armed with the knowledge to head to your nearest Micro Center! The associates there will be happy to answer any lingering questions you might have and, when you’re ready to put it together, check out some of our build guides, like this one on building your first PC.

More from the Micro Center Community:

Looking for more information about Building a PC? We’ve got PC Build Guides as well as articles on How to Choose Parts for you Custom PC BuildProduct Reviews, and Part Comparisons. And if you can’t find what you’re looking for, don’t hesitate to post a new discussion and the Community will be happy to help!

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