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PC Building Blocks: Critical Components for Building Personal Computers in 2020

PC Building Blocks: Critical Components for Building Personal Computers in 2020

Image with Building Personal Computers in 2020 displayed on it. Learn more about component procurement in 2020 from Sourcengine's e-commerce marketplace.

So you run a PC build business in 2020 and things are booming while everyone works from home. As demand goes up for bigger and better systems, you're faced with two simple questions: Which components are absolutely essential and where do I procure them from?

The good news is that there are answers to both of these questions right here on this page.

Let's tackle the first.

PC Building Blocks in 2020

The parts that make up a typical personal computer in 2020 aren’t that much different than those Dells and other models of yesteryear… right?

While the fundamental building blocks of today’s PCs are generally considered the “same” as accessories from 20, 10, or even five years ago, the performance characteristics have completely changed. And thanks to advanced technology with microchips, cooling devices, and other internal components, the increasing miniaturization has allowed designers and engineers to utilize that precious extra space for faster, more reliable data processing.

Ingredients for Innovation: The ABCs of PCs

Modern PCs still resemble many of the basic components of computers from a generation ago. Memory, cases, the mouse, the motherboard – all of these parts are still around, but they’ve been refined and re-engineered to offer speed, reliability, and performance that 1990s-era designers could not even fathom.

For a general comparison, let’s look at a high-end PC from the mid-1990s vs. a typical laptop in 2020:

1995 PC

• Memory: 8 MB

• Hard drive: 700 MB

• Processing unit: 33 MHz

• Monitor: CRT

• Modem: for internet connectivity

Today’s Laptop

• Memory 4 GB (1 GB = 4000 MB)

• Hard drive: 8 TB (1 TB = 1 million MB)

• Processing unit: 32 GB

• Monitor: 3072 x 1920 resolution, LED backlit, wide-angle view

• Modem: obsolete

Today's laptop stands in stark contrast to yesteryear's desktop PC. Now, just imagine how much more powerful today's desktop PC is when one doesn't have to worry about miniaturization and confined spaces. The sky is the limit when it comes to CPU, GPU, memory, as well as peripherals and anything else you can think of when it comes to building your own unit to end all units.

Clearly, personal computing has come a long way. What follows is a breakdown of each of the physical components that go into that PC build.


Will your computer offer DDR2 memory, or more? What about storage form, modules, and other interfaces (USB drives, card readers, etc.)? It’s all determined by the motherboard, which is the building block for all PC design. Basically a printed circuit board (PCB), the motherboard coordinates all connected devices to ensure everything runs smoothly.

Central Processing Unit (CPU)

The CPU is the brains of any PC. The CPU socket must be compatible with the motherboard, so you’ll want to make sure your processing requirements align with the type of PC you’re looking to build. Processing speed is all about gigahertz (GHz). The more GHZ, the more you have to account for energy consumption, cooling, and other factors.

CPU Cooling Unit

Air-cooled and closed water loop CPU coolers are the two most common types of this important component. Just like the CPU, the cooling unit requires compatibility with the motherboard.

Graphics Processor / Card

Everyone wants the computer’s user interface (UI) and other graphical elements to display high-quality images, colors, and the like. The graphics processing unit (GPU) is the most important computer accessory for display and rendering. In other words, after a long day of work by your clients, who wouldn't want to switch over to some good old PC gaming like League of Legends, Rainbow Six Siege, Valorant?

Random Access Memory (RAM)

The more RAM in a PC, the more efficient it can process active data processed by the CPU. The CPU and RAM work in tandem to create fluid, fast information processing. RAM isn’t permanent; all data is lost once power is turned off.


Today’s PCs typically use a solid-state drive (SSD) rather than a hard disk drive (HDD) to permanently store data. SSDs use flash memory to keep all of your files and other important data stored for use later. SSDs are more efficient and reliable than HDDs, and are recommended as the preferred permanent storage device for today’s PCs.


In order to interact with and display PC data, you can’t do without the so-called peripheral computing devices: monitors, mice, card readers, USB drivers, and more.

Get Your Components from Sourcengine

And what about that second question? How will you procure high level components at great prices? Demand is going up for more robust PC builds during this pandemic. Supply chains are jammed and sourcing has become a full-time job. PC builders are looking for reliable ways to procure components for timely builds.

If you find yourself in this spot, and if you're ready to start rebuilding your components supply chain today, browse Sourcengine’s e-commerce marketplace for high-quality components at the lowest possible prices.

Our powerful supply chain management tools include traceable sources, accurate data sheets, BOM resources, and much more to help you find the right accessories for any project. Check out a demo or sign up today!

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