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Stem Camp: How to Build a PC Video Series

Early this summer, Laptop Magazine's parent company, Purch, endeavored to begin a series of editorial projects that support the concepts around STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). Our company is made up of sites like Space.com, Live Science, and on the tech side Tom's Hardware, Tom's Guide, and Laptop Magazine, so naturally championing and helping our audiences understand STEM topics is in our company's DNA.  But STEM initiatives are intended to educate our youth, and our projects are aimed at helping kids understand these topics at an earlier age, and hopefully in an entertaining and instructional way.

Recently, we published -- with the help of our colleagues at Space.com and LiveScience.com--a quick, easy way for kids to make an Eclipse viewer. Now we've created a video-based guide to help kids build their own PC.

Derek Forrest, who is a contributing writer for Tom's Hardware, and also a professional PC builder, worked with a couple of local youngsters to teach them how to build their very own PCs. Both shopping carts were packed to the brim with some of the best parts we could find to fit within a $1,500 budget. That might be a little pricey for some, and you can certainly find cheaper builds in our Best PC Builds guide, but we also wanted to make sure we gave each child a bit of a runway, so they could use these PCs for multiple purposes for at least a couple of years or more--and then of course, like many of the experienced PC builders in our audience, start upgrading parts piece by piece.

We had two kids, each about the same age, one girl (Ruby), one boy (Chase). One build was Intel/Nvidia centric, and the other was loaded up with AMD components.

Derek walked them through the process, but the kids did all of the work. We captured it all on video, and we've created episodes for each step of the process, 12 in all, which are viewable below.

These instructional videos are intended mostly for kids, but we assume any beginner could also use them. And for those of you with kids, these might be good to watch together as you usher your own prodigy into the world of technology we know you love.

Choosing PC components is always a tricky task. You've got to know up front what you'll be using the PC for. Ruby and Chase, our two lucky PC recipients, wanted the PCs for a mix of gaming, homework, and general fun and practicality. So our choices were about building balanced systems, with strong CPUs and graphics (within reason). We also knew that the kids would want to show these off to their friends, so we picked a case that would allow them to showcase their components, give them room to build for the first time, and then ultimately to add some bling in the form of...well, RGB everything (the case, the fans, the memory).

In the end, Ruby and Chase were pretty thrilled with having done this themselves. It may not turn them into engineers overnight, but it certainly gave them an appreciation for how technology works, and that building their own PC wasn't scary at all.

Below are all of the parts for each build.

Intel/Nvidia Build

CaseCorsair CC-9011101-WW 460X (opens in new tab)
 CoolingDeepcool Gammaxx 400 CPU Cooler (opens in new tab)Corsair SP120 RGB LED Fan Kit (opens in new tab)
CPUIntel Core i5-7600K
GraphicsAsus GeForce GTX 1060 STRIX-GTX1060-O6G-GAMING 6GB
MemorySkill RipjawsV RGB 16GB DDR4-2400 (opens in new tab)
MotherboardAsus ROG Strix Z270F Gaming ATX Intel LGA1151 (opens in new tab)
Power SupplyCorsair CX550M (opens in new tab)
StorageWD Blue 1TB HDD (opens in new tab) Plextor M8Pe M.2 NVMe 256GB SSD (opens in new tab)
SoftwareWindows 10 Home 64-Bit (opens in new tab)
CablesPhanteks PH-CB-Y4P (opens in new tab)

 

AMD Build

CaseCorsair CC-9011101-WW 460X (opens in new tab)
 CoolingDeepcool Gammaxx 400 CPU Cooler (opens in new tab)Corsair SP120 RGB LED Fan Kit (opens in new tab)
CPUAMD Ryzen 5 1600X
GraphicsXFX GTS Black Core Edition Radeon RX580
MemorySkill RipjawsV RGB 16GB DDR4-2400 (opens in new tab)
MotherboardAsus ROG Strix Z270F Gaming ATX Intel LGA1151 (opens in new tab)
Power SupplyCorsair CX550M (opens in new tab)
StorageWD Blue 1TB HDD (opens in new tab) Plextor M8Pe M.2 NVMe 256GB SSD (opens in new tab)
SoftwareWindows 10 Home 64-Bit (opens in new tab)
CablesPhanteks PH-CB-Y4P (opens in new tab)