Of all possible common PC-building mistakes, forgoing a compatibility test for PC components might be one the most inconvenient ones. To check if computer components are compatible should be a necessary part of the pre-planning phase of building a gaming PC.
Some of the best gaming PCs are the ones that are upgraded as newer parts come along; each part is compatible with the whole in such a way that at no point is your time or money wasted.
In this article, we’ll talk about the importance of your PC components’ compatibility, what you can do to make sure of it, some tips, and the specifics of how different parts work (or refuse to work) together. If you’re doing all your PC-building on your own instead of engaging the help of, say, out there who’d already know these ins and outs, this will be essential reading for you.
Why Check For PC Components Compatibility
The main issue is the specific characteristics that a lot of the parts have, such as the CPU. Only specific hardware is supported when it comes to the CPU – take the example of having an AMD socket motherboard and trying to install an Intel CPU into it.
This is why the best custom PC builders start with the motherboard and the CPU. The motherboard has to work with the CPU, RAM, and all the different connected hardware, so its specifications and requirements and those of the corresponding hardware connecting to it need to be thoroughly and satisfyingly checked.
There are several ‘best practices’, luckily, or some simple tips and tricks that can help us when it comes to managing computer components compatibility from the POV of the motherboard:
- Is the power supply unit capable of supporting the motherboard (and the CPU, GPU, and so on)?
- What RAM can the motherboard support? (And simultaneously, check what RAM the CPU can support).
- How does the motherboard CPU socket compare against the processor you intend to use?
- Will the motherboard support a GPU SLI configuration?
- Have you checked the ATX size and dimensions?
Ultimately, we must check if these computer components are compatible with each other: the motherboard, CPU/processor (as previously mentioned), the GPU, RAM, drives (hard drive, storage drives, and boot drives), cooling units, power supply unit, chassis, and the display.
Compatibility Test For PC Components
Luckily, a lot of the guesswork can be taken out of the equation with the use of online compatibility “tests” for PC components.
These are dedicated websites that take your input and then run your needs and specs through their powerful database to comb through all the options and rate your compatibility and how well your PC build is put together.
Some websites, such as BuildMyPC, even give you the option of creating your custom PC for you, which pretty much eliminates any rookie or unfortunate mistakes from your side. You get shown the prices, links to buy the product (which might be affiliate links), and all of this is done on a country-based basis, so you won’t be stuck with a missing piece that’s not readily available in your country.
There’s also the PC Builder at PC-Specs, as well, which also rates your build.
However, the most popular is the PCPartPicker website. PCPartPicker is especially helpful for those totally new to building PCs as well as anyone who just wants to save their time or to double-check their research: it shows you only those parts that are compatible with the other parts you’ve picked, and also notes potential problems you might encounter alongside the information it provides.
If you make an error that can threaten the whole system, the website will alert you with an error warning. You can also share your builds with the community, and when all is done, PCPartPicker will estimate how much juice your PSU will need to pump out to keep the system up and running.
Checklist for PC Components Compatibility
Finally, remember that we’re all prone to mistakes – the best of us and the rest of us. In the end, here’s a quick reference sheet to go over what you need to keep an eye on, to check in case you missed something:
- CPU/Motherboard: Chipset, form factor, socket type
- RAM: Channels (double/quad), speeds, XMP profile
- Graphics cards: Capability for crossfire/SLI in case of multiple graphics cards
- Storage: HDD/M.2/SATA
- Cooling: Radiator size for liquid cooler, socket type for aftermarket cooler
- Power: adequate supply and output, the right pin connectors
- Casing/chassis: fan placement slots, form factor, GPU clearance, radiator support