Build a future-proof PC… for £200

Sadly, there’s never been a better time to build your own PC. Whereas a decade ago there were numerous British PC manufacturers willing to build precisely the system you wanted, now not only is the choice of manufacturer limited, but so is the spec of PC you can buy. While the systems available from the likes of Dell can be extremely good value, their low price is partially a result of volume deals with component manufacturers. As such, you can only specify from a much smaller pool of options.

Build a future-proof PC... for £200

So these days, if you want a specific combination of components, you’re probably going to have to build a PC yourself. In this feature, we guide you through all the necessary decisions required to build precisely the system that fits your specific needs, with advice on how to choose the main components.

Although the best thing about building your own is the freedom of choice, we’re going to base our advice around three main examples, to illustrate the decisions involved. We’ll be building one PC primarily intended to be as quiet as possible for under £700, one aimed at ultimate gaming performance for under £1,200, and a cheap system for the truly budget-conscious, which could be yours for £205 if you don’t plan to play games on it, and under £300 if you do. Wherever possible, we’ve kept an upgrade path in mind. Extra memory, a newer processor, and keeping your graphics options open will allow a few future updates to provide an extra year or so of useful life.

Note that we’ve left peripherals out of the equation. If you want to create an entire new PC, with monitor, speakers, keyboard and mouse, these should be factored into your budget. We’ve also left out the operating system, as you may already have a copy of Windows you can use, or intend to run Linux.

Building your PC requires few tools. The most important one is a Philips head screwdriver, preferably one with a magnetic shaft for retrieving screws that fall into locations fingers just can’t reach. An anti-static band, available for a fiver from Maplin (, is advisable when handling processors and RAM. But other than that, all you need is a firm idea of what you want to do with your bespoke system, a few hours free – and this month’s feature.

Graphics cards
Cases and power supplies
Hard disks

Gotcha! Handy tips for smooth PC building

How to build it: We provide a video guide to building a PC at

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