How to Choose the Right MEMORY for your DIY PC computer

How to Choose the Right MEMORY for your computer
In building your own DIY PC Computer, one of the undeniable necessary ingredients is MEMORY.

Be it a desktop, laptop, or handheld devices, knowingly or unknowingly, we come into usage of memory, be it volatile memory such as DRAM, SRAM or non-volatile memory such as ROM, flash memory.

Some common examples of non-volatile memory includes: CD-ROM, DVD-ROM, SD cards, and your typical thumbdrive. As for volatile memory, your computer memory will be a good example.

Insights into the Computer Memory - What is DRAM ?

The memory utilized in computers is commonly known as DRAM (Dynamic Random Access Memory)

The definition of DRAM according to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia is as follows:

"Dynamic random access memory (DRAM) is a type of random access memory that stores each bit of data in a separate capacitor within an integrated circuit. Since real capacitors leak charge, the information eventually fades unless the capacitor charge is refreshed periodically. Because of this refresh requirement, it is a dynamic memory as opposed to SRAM and other static memory."

To make it simple, the DRAM is used by the computer to hold temporary instructions and data, hence facilitate fast access to stored instructions and data. It means that programs are loaded faster, running faster, with increase in efficiency and user experience.

Memory Technology has gone a long way as like computers, so it is cool to know the past history of DRAM.

1987 FPM 50ns
1995 EDO 50ns
1997 PC66 SDRAM 66MHz
1998 PC100 SDRAM 100MHz
1999 RDRAM 800MHz
1999/2000 PC133 SRAM 133MHz (VCM option)
2000 DDR SDRAM 266MHz
2001 DDR SDRAM 333MHz
2002 DDR SDRAM 434MHz
2003 DDR SDRAM 500MHz
2004 DDR2 SDRAM 533MHz
2005 DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz
2006 DDR2 SDRAM 667 - 800MHz
2007 DDR3 SDRAM 1066 - 1333MHz
2008 DDR3 SDRAM 1333 - 1600MHz

How Much Memory Do I Need ?
Based on different user requirements, different amount of workload is required of the computer, hence to enhance the efficiency, different memory configurations are also recommended as per below guidelines.

Extract from Kingston Technology website, the below is a summary of the baseline and recommended memory levels for different Operating Systems:

Requirements Entry Mainstream Performance High-end
Desktop 1GB – 3GB 2GB – 4GB 2GB – 8GB* 4GB to System max**
Notebook 1GB – 3GB 2GB – 4GB 2GB – 8GB* 4GB to System ma

Baseline: 128MB - 256MB
Optimal: 512MB - 1GB

Baseline: 128MB - 256MB
Optimal: 512MB - 1GB

-->WINDOWS® 98
Baseline: 64MB - 128MB
Optimal: 128MB - 256MB

Baseline: 512MB - 1GB
Optimal: 1GB - 2GB

Baseline: 512MB - 1GB
Optimal: 1GB - 2GB

Baseline: 2GB
Optimal: 4GB - 64GB


By and large, the most common DRAM memory seen for computers nowadays are commonly known as DIMMs(Dual In-line Memory Modules). They install vertically into expansion sockets, and come in various form factors and are specific to different DRAM technologies.

DIMMs transfer 64 bits of data at a time and are typically used in computer configurations that support a 64-bit or wider memory bus. However, the distinct difference between desktop and notebook DRAM is in the number of pins of the DIMM chip. A desktop computer nowadays uses a 240-pin DIMM while a notebook uses a smaller 200-pin SODIMM (Small Outline DIMM).

When we buy memory either online or at a local retailer, we are always presented with info in the following manner:


4GB 4096MB-1600MHz DDR3 PC12800 240p DIMM

1GB 1024MB-667MHz DDR2-667 PC2-5300, 200p SODIMM

What exactly does all these numbers mean?

1) XX GB : Refers to the amount of actual memory. 1 GB = 1024 MB, and the more memory available, the more data that can be stored and the faster the performance.
2) DDR2/3 : Indicates the generation of DDR SDRAM (DOUBLE DATA RATE SYNCHRONOUS DRAM), with each improved generation, we are seeing higher memory bus clock rate, which improves the data rate.
2) DDR2-xxx: Denotes data transfer rate, and describes raw DDR chips
3) PC2-xxxx: Denotes theoretical bandwidth. Bandwidth is calculated by taking transfers per second and multiplying by eight. This is because DDR2 memory modules transfer data on a bus that is 64 data bits wide, and since a byte comprises 8 bits, this equates to 8 bytes of data per transfer. Eg: DDR2-667 --> 667 * 8 = 5300

Standard name Memory clock Cycle time I/O Bus clock Data transfers per second Module name Peak transfer rate
DDR2-400 100 MHz 10 ns 200 MHz 400 Million PC2-3200 3200 MB/s
DDR2-533 133 MHz 7.5 ns 266 MHz 533 Million PC2-4200
4266 MB/s
DDR2-667 166 MHz 6 ns 333 MHz 667 Million PC2-5300
5333 MB/s
DDR2-800 200 MHz 5 ns 400 MHz 800 Million PC2-6400 6400 MB/s
DDR2-1066 266 MHz 3.75 ns 533 MHz 1066 Million PC2-8500
8533 MB/s
Standard name Memory clock Cycle time I/O Bus clock Data transfers per second Module name Peak transfer rate
DDR3-800 100 MHz 10 ns 400 MHz 800 Million PC3-6400 6400 MB/s
DDR3-1066 133 MHz 7.5 ns 533 MHz 1066 Million PC3-8500 8533 MB/s
DDR3-1333 166 MHz 6 ns 667 MHz 1333 Million PC3-10600 10667 MB/s
DDR3-1600 200 MHz 5 ns 800 MHz 1600 Million PC3-12800 12800 MB/s

Note: Although higher memory is always better, you also need to check other factors such as the memory bus clock rate versus the CPU clock rate, if the CPU cannot transfer data as fast as your memory chip, it would practically be a waste of money to buy something that is overspec. For example, your CPU runs at 800MHz, but the memory is running at 1600MHz, so the overall data transfer rate is still at 800MHz maximum. Get the picture? It is okay to be underspec, but meaningless and costly to be overspec.

Installing your Memory Chips
In building your own DIY PC, after installing your CPU, and motherboard, the next item will be your memory chips. You should spend some time planning and researching on memory which is compatible with the new CPU and motherboard you have installed to bring out the best overall performance. To install the RAM modules, you need to unfasten the clips located on each side of the memory slot. Align the RAM module in the socket, such as to match the indent located on the memory chip and the memory slot, for the right facing direction. Push down on the memory module until both clips refasten and a click sound is heard. To change memory, simply press down the both clips at the same time, and the RAM will come out easily.

TIP: Start adding RAM at the slot labeled “Bank 0” or “DIMM 1”. If you don’t, the system will think there is no memory available and wont boot.

TIP:For newer systems supporting hyper treading technology, you are encouraged to use the dual channel memory functionality by placing 2 sticks of the same memory on alternate slots (i.e.: slot 1 & 3 or Slot 2 & 4, often differentiated by color as well. ) This has been proven to enhance the performance as well.

For a better illustration, I have embedded a video to show you how you can install the computer memory easily.

With that i end off with a High Note: Have Fun Building Your Own DIY PC Computer !!

Review of Intel Processors - Inside a Central Processor Unit (CPU)

Review of Intel Processors - Inside a Central Processor Unit (CPU) ================================================

In this second series of building your own DIY PC computer, we are going to delve more in depth into the main component of a computer which determines the level of performance: i.e the CPU (Central Processor Unit)

There are many models of CPUs in the market, and there are also pros and cons to each. Every often, a certain model of processor will require a corresponding compatible type of motherboard to support, so this is the first thing to take note when choosing the motherboard and the CPU. These 2 have to be compatible. i.e: AMD processors go with AMD compatible motherboard and Intel processors go with Intel compatible motherboard.

Although there are two major CPU manufacturers (AMD and Intel), in this article, we will be looking mainly at Intel processors although discussion for AMD processors will also be of similar nature.

For Intel, their processors are categorized into 3 main groups: namely notebook processors, desktop processors, and Internet Device Processors.

Since majority of "build your own DIY PC" enthusiasts are aiming for desktops upgrades, it is great time to explore more on Intel Desktop processors currently in the market in this article.

Intel Desktop Processors Selection

Different needs call for different products. Be it the need for web surfing, or entertainment/gaming or managing team projects, there is some suitable processor which can handle this task for you.

4 main processors have been created by Intel:
i) Intel Core2 Duo
ii) Intel Core2 Quad
iii) Intel Core2 Viiv
iv) Intel Core2 Extreme
v) more...

These names sure sounds exciting, lets find out more details on the basic terminology within the CPU chip, and then what differentiates the different type of processors.

Basic Terminology

Processor models mainly vary according to number of cores, Front Side Bus, Cache size, Clock speed, RAM speed and chip technology.

Different needs call for different specifications. For example: For gaming, streaming video or watching movies, a high clock speed and FSB is recommended, while for resources-intensive programs, the more L2 Cache available the better. If focus is on multi-tasking activities, more processor cores are preferred for better seamless parallel operation.

Great but what does each of these terminology mean to us? Lets check out more next.

Small Note: Intel processor numbers are not a measure of performance. Processor numbers differentiate features within each processor family, not across different processor families.

For higher efficiency, multi-core processors are introduced which consists of two or more distinct processors in the same integrated circuit. Each core can work separately or together on one large task. With threading introduced, instructions passed by programs can now be concurrently processed by more than one processor. This technology enables the user to perform several multi-tasking tasks at one go, saving you time and costs in the long run.

Clock Speeds
Simple: Higher clock speed = Higher Processing SpeedClock speed measures how fast a processor performs an activity. It is expressed in gigahertz (GHz) which means the number of billion cycles per second.For example: A 2.66GHz computer is expected to perform faster than a 2.4GHz computer, but other factors also need to take into consideration such as front side bus, number of cores, speed of memory chips get the idea: these components are interdependent.

Front Side Bus
This acts as the data transfer interface between the CPU and the memory. The higher the Front Side Bus (FSB) values, the faster the data transfer rate, and better computer performance. A point to note is that the FSB values should be matched to that of the processor for maximum efficiency.

L2 Cache
Cache works like a storage bank. It stores the information most often used and accessed, and retrieves them very fast when needed. More cache means less system lag. More advanced systems are even talking about L3 Cache as well. So Cache is also an exciting area of development in processors.

Chip Technology
This part of knowledge may not so important to a typical computer user, but it is cool to know the technology that is driving the miniaturizing of dies and hence the increase in processors performance either through more cores, or higher clock speed, FSB, cache or improved data communication and transmission.

Technology Transition for recent years have gone from 65nm to 45nm. Benefits appears in more densely packed transistors, with innovative material used which leak less energy, produce less heat, and switch faster hence providing higher efficiency and processor performance.
After understanding the backbone of processors, it is also exciting to know that there is a dedicated group of software and hardware developers to support ever-growing technology needs, so there is definitely something for everyone.

Next, we take a look at the different type of processors developed by Intel, and their core benefits and usage.

Differentiation between the different type of processors ==============================================

Different CPU has different benefits, so the key benefits have been listed below (Quoted from Intel Website )

Intel Core2 Duo Benefits
The Key Benefits using Core2 Duo as highlighted from Intel Website is as follows:

Energy-efficient performance -->Enjoy increased overall performance without increasing power consumption with Intel® Intelligent Power Capability built in.Mega multitasking -->Game, download music, run a virus scan and edit photos—all at once—with next-generation Intel® Core™ microarchitecture. Intel® HD Boost delivers up to 70 percent higher performance when encoding high-definition memories from your HD video camera.Protect yourself -->Get an advanced level of hardware-assisted security and maintenance technologies built in with Intel Core 2 Duo processors.Rich video quality -->Intel® Clear Video Technology, a built in feature of the latest Intel® Graphics Technology, lets you enjoy an enhanced video experience with smoother playback. With new Intel® HD Boost, you’ll experience up to 70 percent faster performance when encoding high-definition memories from your HD video camera.The ultimate Windows Vista* experience -->With Intel Graphics Technology, you can enjoy the full spectrum of visual advancements offered by Windows Vista* Home Premium edition.

Intel Core2 Quad
The Key Benefits using Core2 Quad as highlighted from Intel Website is as follows:

Do more of everything at once -->Experience revolutionary desktop computing powered by four cores of pure performance.Empower your need for speed -->Encode HD video over 50 percent faster with Intel® HD Boost built into Intel® Core™2 Quad processor.Edit, alter, and create faster -->Run a multitude of demanding HD multimedia applications with up to 12 percent more speed for photo editing, retouching, and publishing.Prepare for the future -->Enjoy performance in the games and software of today while being prepared for the multi-threaded applications of tomorrow.

Intel Core2 Viiv
The Key Benefits using Core2 Viiv as highlighted from Intel Website is as follows:

Sensational high-definition experience -->Discover sharper images, smoother playback, and unbelievable processing performance.Multitaskers, meet your processor -->Watch HD video while running compute-intensive applications like virus protection in the background without slowing down.Outstanding surround sound -->Experience stunning audio for movies and music with support for up to 7.1 surround sound with Intel® High-Definition Audio (Intel® HD Audio).Vibrant visuals -->With Intel® Graphics Technology, enjoy 1080p video playback for movie clips, media streams, and the latest generation of HD video cameras.Need a boost? -->With an Intel® Core™2 Duo processor inside, gain 70 percent more performance when encoding HD footage from your video camera with Intel® HD Boost.

Intel Core2 Extreme
The Key Benefits using Core2 Extreme as highlighted from Intel Website is as follows:

Almost too real -->Get stunning realism on immersive multi-threaded games with advanced artificial intelligence (AI), particle systems, dynamic physics, and texture generation engines with four cores of pure performance.Expect everything—and get it -->Get the ultimate engine for advanced multimedia with Intel® HD Boost (Intel® HDB) built into the Intel Core 2 Extreme processor. It delivers up to 40 percent higher performance for intensive multimedia applications like HD video encoding.Take control -->With overspeed protection removed, you can tune your system for maximum performance to go where no gamer has gone before.Get it done fast -->Maximize your system performance with the latest in cutting-edge processor technologies.


To conclude, we have taken a more insightful look into the "heart" of a computer system i.e: the CPU processor without delving too much into the technical details.

More importantly for DIY PC Enthusiasts, we have looked at the 4 major categories of processors created by Intel, the basic terminology behind the processors architecture, and the benefits of different processors as quoted from Intel.

Stay tuned to my next exciting info sharing by Subscribing to my feeds. With that, BEST WISHES AND GOOD LUCK TO DIY PC ENTHUSIASTS ==> "BUILD YOUR OWN DIY PC COMPUTER" today !!


Build own DIY PC Computer - PC Assembly Made Easy With Videos!!

Build Own DIY PC - PC Assembly Made Easy

Written by flashG
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Click here for flashG Beginners Guide to DIY PC Assembly


DIY PC Assembly Steps

When you have the new PC components items available, next step is to Assemble the PC together. This is the most interesting part and also the most rewarding part when your system is up and running, all credits to Yourself!!

Essential Tools required:
1) A screwdriver (Cross-shaped)

Optional Recommended Items:
1) Torchlight (To illuminate hard to see areas)
2) Antistatic wrist strap (To discharge of any static charges)

Let’s start now. Firstly, discharge yourself of any static charges by touching the metal casing or attaching the other side of the antistatic wrist strap to the metal casing.

1) Open the case

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2) Install the motherboard
Find the motherboard standoffs that should have come with the case. Insert the I/O Shield that came with your motherboard. Now locate the screw holes on your motherboard and find the corresponding holes on the motherboard plate (or tray) in the case. Put a standoff in each of these holes on the tray and position the motherboard so that you can see the holes in the top of the standoffs through the screw holes in the motherboard. Now fasten a screw through each of the motherboard screw holes into the standoffs underneath. These screws should be snug but not tight. With the motherboard in, we are now able to start adding in other components.

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3) Install the CPU.
As I mentioned earlier, the processor (CPU) and motherboard go hand-in-hand, so you should spend some time planning and researching what you really desires and buy compatible CPU / motherboard components, just like the importance of buying the right shoe size for yourself. Given that this is a minimum system upgrade, you are saving up quite a bit through reusing other components; I suggest you build a better performing system so that it can serve you for several years to come.

Before start, please read the manual provided with the motherboard/CPU carefully, understand the different parts, and the installation diagrams before proceeding. Then again, it is not very difficult with only 3 simple steps to success.

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1st step to success: Install the CPU
I will be using Intel Socket 775 as illustration as it is the latest socket used so far.
-Remove the protective socket on the new socket protecting the pins
-Open the lever and lift up the metal flap so as to install the CPU
-While carefully holding the CPU at the edges, look for the notch in the corner and match it up with the socket. Slowly lay down the CPU in the socket, before lowering the metal flap, and closing the socket lever to secure the CPU.

2nd step to success: Install the CPU heatsink
If you like to go to a cool place to enjoy some aircon when you are hot, the same can be said of the CPU which you have just installed. We need to dissipate the high heat generated by the CPU so that it would not overheat and fry.
-I am recommending getting hold of some thermal paste which you can apply evenly on the CPU surface for better heat conductivity and dissipation. (To note: Intel® boxed processor already come with their integrated thermal solutions, and so does not need extra efforts)
-Align heat sink onto the Socket containing the CPU, with the fan cable orientated closest to fan power connector, and check for any entanglement.
-Press down on fastener caps with thumb to install and lock. Repeat with the other 3 fasteners.

3rd step to success: Power up the heat sink
This is done by connecting the fan cable from step 2 to the CPU_FAN connector located on the motherboard, which is located very close to the CPU. Tie up excess cable to prevent interference with fan operation or other components.

Congrats, by the time you finished this, the rest should be a breeze already =)

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4) Install the Memory

With a new motherboard and faster processor, we will then need more RAM (random access memory) to enable and facilitate this faster performance. Again, you should spend some time planning and researching on memory which is compatible with the new CPU and motherboard you have installed to bring out the best overall performance. To install the RAM modules, you need to unfasten the clips located on each side of the memory slot. Align the RAM module in the socket, such as to match the indent located on the memory chip and the memory slot, for the right facing direction. Push down on the memory module until both clips refasten and a click sound is heard. To change memory, simply press down the both clips at the same time, and the RAM will come out easily.

TIP: Start adding RAM at the slot labeled “Bank 0” or “DIMM 1”. If you don’t, the system will think there is no memory available and wont boot.

TIP:For newer systems supporting hyper treading technology, you are encouraged to use the dual channel memory functionality by placing 2 sticks of the same memory on alternate slots (i.e.: slot 1 & 3 or Slot 2 & 4, often differentiated by color as well. ) This has been proven to enhance the performance as well.

After installing the new motherboard / CPU, and memory, you are already DONE installing the New essential items you have bought. YEAH!! Now that is left is to migrate the remaining items from the old pc to your "Brand New" PC. =)

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5) Install the Power Supply

There will be a bracket at the top of the case where you can mount the power supply, and secure the power supply using screws. The power supply will consists of the following connectors: ATX power connector, ATX_12V connector, IDE power connector, and FDD power connector. Look for the 20 or 24 pin ATX power connector, and plug it into the motherboard allocated power slot. There may also be an additional four or eight pin power lead on the motherboard that needs to be plugged in, which is usually located near the processor socket. Do double confirm with the motherboard manual for details.

TIP: You might want to consider getting a new power supply which rating is at least 300W so as to support any future upgrades you have in mind.

TIP: You need to select the right power supply settings (115v or 220v) depending on your country settings. For newer power supplies, it is equipped with automatic detection, so that will not be an issue at all.

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6) Install the Floppy drives/Hard-disks/DVD writers

Floppy disks, Harddisks and DVD ROM/writers communicate with the CPU through data cables commonly called FDD/IDE cables, although newer harddisks now connect via SATA cables for faster data communications.

Note: FDD Cable for floppy disk drives appears smaller and has fewer wires.

Note: Using multiple hard disks If you have intention on using multiple hard disks, you must adjust the settings on the multiple disks to inform the computer system which is the main disk and the other supporting/additional disks. If not done properly, the system can get confused, and the disk may not boot at all. Do read the simple instructions as shown on the harddisk surface for the right way to place the jumpers so as to distinguish between the master drive (main operating system) and the slave drives (other files/documents). This instruction varies across different harddisk manufacturers. This configuration should be done before inserting the IDE cables.

First, remove the front casing of the computer, and remove the 5.25" plate so as to expose the front of the DVD drives later. Similarly do it for the floppy drive plate. Insert the IDE cables into the floppy drive/ harddisk/ DVD data connector noting the orientation of the notch in the centre, so as to insert in the right directions. The remaining connector is to be connected to the motherboard. Next, to power up the drives by plugging in the 4 pin molex power connector from the power supply in step 5 into each hard drive and optical drive. For the floppy drive, the power plug is also 4 pins in a row but significantly smaller than that of the hard disk. Need to take note of the power connector orientation as well.

Final securing all disks and optical drives with screws before securing back the front casing cover.

TIP: Recommend that the IDE hard disk be connected to the IDE 1 connector and the optical devices connect to the IDE 2 connector. Maximum of 2 IDE devices per IDE connector. If using multiple IDE hard drives, you should enter BIOS later on and set their boot sequence accordingly.

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7) Install the Video Card

For older motherboards, we typically see AGP video card being used, which will be installed onto the AGP socket, which is often brown in color. For newer systems, PCI Express video cards are more commonly used due to better data transfer performance and better resolution performance. Both AGP and PCI Express slots can be identified easily, and is usually located adjacent to the CPU unit.

Now, insert the card into the slot with some force, and check that it is fully inserted with no protruding edges, before screwing it in at the top of the metal bracket. If it has a power connector, connect it with a 4-pin molex connector.

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8) Remaining Internal Connections
-Connect the audio cable from the DVD to the motherboard CD_IN connector (if required)
-Connect the power/reset buttons, and signal indicators (those external blinking lights) to the F_Panel connector on the motherboard. (i.e: Power indicator, hardware indicator, internal speaker, etc...). Read individual motherboard manual for clearer inserting of these signal connectors.
-Double check on proper power connection to all hardware components
- (Optional) Install extra items such as front mounted USB, firewire and/or sound ports.

At this point We are 90% done with our DIY PC Assembly already !! Do not put back the casing covers as yet.

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9) Final External Connections
-Connect back the outer devices including items like
a) Keyboard
b) Mouse
c) Monitor
d) Printer / Scanners
e) Speakers
f) External power supply cable

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10) Bring on the POWER!!
This brings us to the last stage of the PC assembly process. If you have done everything right, now is the time to sit back and savor the fruit of success.

With the casing still open, and all external peripherals connected, turn on the computer and observe for any abnormality such as fan not spinning, or beeps alarms from the PC. If so, turn off the power and spend some time checking through the connections, and also the manual for some tips on troubleshooting.

Well, if you observed no abnormality till far, and you have seen the splash screen from the motherboard, CONGRATULATIONS!! You have succeeded in building your own PC in this PC Assembly DIY guide by flashG.

Next step is to

Choose and Install your Operating System
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if using a brand new harddisk, and this can be done by changing the boot options in the BIOS to Floppy, then CD-ROM, then Hard Disc. Insert the original bootable operating system disc in the DVD drive, and start your computer and follow the instructions in the disc to install.

Once your operating system is up and running, the rest of the show is all YOURS !! =)

Essential DIY PC Assembly Guide Through Videos!! Must Watch



In this tutorial, I have shared with you valuable insights on building your own PC with minimum upgrades, so that you can customize your PC to your needs and still keep it very affordable. I have also showed you in details on the installation of various pc components, and I hope you find it informational and useful in helping you with a headstart.

With knowledge comes power, and I hope you are now Very Motivated to start your own DIY PC Assembly in the comfort of your own home. =)


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