Building a PC is a right of passage for gamers, but it has benefits outside gaming. Some professionals working from home may find it easier to build a PC than to look for a pre-built option that meets their needs.
Custom-built computers aren’t necessary for every job, but they’re a great way to maximize performance. It can also give up-and-coming business leaders a sense of accomplishment. With all that in mind, here’s how to build a PC for your home office.
Should You Build a PC or Buy One?
Before getting started, it’s important to determine if it’s worth it to build a PC. Now that remote work is growing, fewer people have access to commercial-grade equipment through their jobs. You must rely on your own devices, and off-the-shelf consumer electronics don’t always have the power you’re looking for.
At the same time, building a computer is expensive. If your work doesn’t involve many computationally heavy tasks, the effort and expense likely aren’t worth it. You won’t need top-of-the-line performance, so you’ll get a better deal buying a cheaper pre-built PC.
By contrast, if you must perform a lot of intense computer work — like video editing or heavy data processing — custom PCs may be worth it. They also let you upgrade individual parts for more cost-effective future improvements. You can tailor every aspect to your preferences, too, which can make working more convenient.
What Do You Need to Build a PC for Work?
If you decide to build a PC, you’ll need the right components. Here’s a glimpse at what you’ll need.
All computers need a motherboard for the other components to plug into. Generally speaking, more expensive options come with more slots for RAM or USB accessories, which you may not need much of for work. If you don’t want to use an ethernet cable, you may also want one with built-in Wi-Fi support.
The processor (CPU) delivers most of your PC’s power, so it’s worth buying a good one. There are two main companies to choose from — Intel and AMD. Which one you need depends on what your motherboard supports, and both offer many excellent options.
The ongoing global semiconductor shortage may make newer CPUs expensive or hard to find. However, many older CPUs are still sufficient for most work processes. If your processor doesn’t come with a cooling unit, you’ll need a CPU fan, too.
Storage and Memory
You’ll also need storage and memory (RAM) to build a PC. Now that most workloads run on the cloud, you likely don’t need much local storage. The big choice is between hard disk drives (HDDs) and solid-state drives (SSDs), the latter of which is more expensive but faster.
Work PCs don’t need as much RAM as gaming computers. As long as you have at least eight gigabytes, it’ll be enough.
Everything in the computer needs electricity, so a power supply (PSU) is also necessary. The only concern here is that it provides enough voltage. Check the power consumption of the PC’s other parts to determine the appropriate PSU rating.
Software is also important. Windows is the standard, though some developers may prefer open-source operating systems (OS) like Linux. Many PC users are loyal to Windows 10, but it’s losing support in 2025, so Windows 11 will provide more longevity.
Another essential component to build a PC is a case to put everything in. Cases are mostly a matter of aesthetics and preference, but options with built-in fans or cable management systems are more convenient. Larger cases are often easier to work with, too.
Your computer also needs a display so you can see your work. Workstations typically don’t need the definition or refresh rates of gaming monitors, but higher-definition options can be helpful when working with media. Remember that improper screen viewing can harm your eyes, so highly adjustable and glare-reducing screens are ideal.
If you don’t already have a keyboard and mouse, you’ll need those, too. Any other accessories are a matter of personal preference and work demands. Some things to consider include speakers, lights and headsets.
When building a gaming PC, graphics cards (GPUs) are essential. However, most workstations don’t need these additional processors.
GPUs will run visual processes faster and in greater detail, but that’s not a must for most workflows. If you’re starting a business from home, you’ll have much else to spend on, so it’s best to save your money here.
How to Build a PC
Learning what parts are necessary is one of the most important steps in building a PC. Once you understand that, here’s how to put it all together.
Choose the Right Parts
Before buying any components, compare multiple options. Many components from different manufacturers have the same underlying technology but vastly different prices. In light of that, you can save a lot of money by looking for cheaper alternatives with the same core parts.
Compatibility is another concern. Not all components work together, so it’s important to double-check before buying anything. Use a site like PC Part Picker to create a parts list and check everything for compatibility and power consumption.
Piece the Parts Together
Next, it’s time to actually build a PC. You’ll need a clean, level surface, a small screwdriver and preferably a can of compressed air to clear debris. An anti-static wristband is also helpful but not necessary. If you don’t use one, touch a piece of metal before handling any electronic components.
Start by attaching the CPU to the motherboard. Follow your motherboard’s instructions to unlock the pins around the CPU socket, then align the CPU, lower it into place and latch it. Apply a pea-sized amount of the thermal paste that came with your CPU to the center and screw in the heatsink on top of it.
Next, install the RAM. This is as simple as placing the memory sticks into the motherboard’s vertical slots and closing the latch. The motherboard’s instructions should tell you which specific ports to use. Then, check the instructions to see where to install your HDD or SDD and screw or latch it into place.
From there, you can locate where to screw in your motherboard and all its attached components in the case. Similarly, there should be a dedicated space for the PSU. If you have a GPU, connect it to the motherboard now, and if not, it’s time to address cables.
Refer to your motherboard’s instructions on where to attach cables between the board and the PSU. The same goes for your GPU. Try to keep cords out of the way of other components if possible. Just as cable management impacts airflow in data centers, it can do the same for your PC. Once everything is connected, close the case.
Install the OS
You’ve now built a PC. The only thing left to do is make it functional. Plug it into the wall, turn on the PSU, connect your keyboard, mouse and monitor, and get the flash drive or disc your OS comes on.
Plug the drive in or slide in the disc, then follow the developer’s instructions to install the OS. Once you’ve done that, your computer is ready to use.
Get More Out of Your Workstation
Learning to build a PC opens your remote work options. You’ll be able to run more processes and work faster with devices that meet your specific needs. While not every job requires a custom-built computer, having one can take your work-from-home experience to the next level.