Building the Perfect PC (3rd Edition) Review

Lots of Photos & No Techno-Babble Make This a Winning PC-Build Book Choice

A picture of the 3rd edition of the book Building the Perfect PC
Building the Perfect PC, 3rd Edition. © O'Reilly Media, Inc.

Building the Perfect PC, 3rd Edition, by Robert Bruce Thompson and Barbara Fritchman Thompson, is an incredibly well organized and complete guide to building whatever kind of PC you'd like to have, exactly how you'd like it.

Want a gaming PC? How about a media center for your HDTV? Want to build a cheap computer for the kids to surf the net on? Building the Perfect PC has you covered.

If you're planning on building a computer system and you don't have this book, stop what you're doing, buy it, and read it.

Your custom built computer will be even better than you imagined after applying the knowledge in Building the Perfect PC.

Pros & Cons of the Book

A few things I really liked:

  • Staggering number of clear, full-color photographs of important steps
  • Six of the most common PC building projects are outlined from start to finish
  • Language is clear and understandable enough for any beginner
  • Troubleshooting section covers all the common pitfalls when building a new PC

...and one thing I didn't:

  • Lack of glossary could make parts of the computer building process difficult for some novices

A Quick Look at Building the Perfect PC

  • Building the Perfect PC contains every bit of know-how needed to build a complete PC system just the way you want it.
  • Unlike many computer and technology how-to books, Building the Perfect PC doesn't assume you have a degree in IT.
  • Preparation is key to any project and Building the Perfect PC helps makes sure you're ready to take on a computer build.
  • Need an inexpensive computer? The "Budget PC" project has you covered with a complete solution from design, to purchase, to assembly - all for $350.
  • The "Mainstream System" project will walk you through building a computer that should last you several years.
  • If you need a computer for serious game play, video editing, or other intensive computing, the "Extreme System" project will help you get the kind of computer that's hard to buy at the store.
  • Have a specific need for a computer, like network storage or home automation? An "Appliance / Nettop System" is just what you need.
  • A "Home Server" might be just what you need if you have multiple computers at home that need access to the same data like videos, music, files, etc.

    More of My Thoughts on Building the Perfect PC

    On the front cover of Building the Perfect PC, 3rd Edition it reads "The perfect PC is the one you build yourself." I couldn't agree more, nor could I recommend a better book for completing a successful build.

    The problem I have with most books that walk you through some kind of technology related task is that they are often very technical and not very practical. It's as if the author is trying to convince you of his or her intelligence instead of being of help.

    That's not the case at all with the third edition of Building the Perfect PC. It's clear, understandable, and actually accomplishes its goal of helping you successfully build your own computer.

    The bulk of Building the Perfect PC is the six computer build project walkthroughs. The projects include:

    • Budget PC
    • Mainstream System
    • Extreme System
    • Media Center System
    • Appliance / Nettop System
    • Home Server

    Everything, and I mean everything, that you might need to consider when building one of the systems above is included in the project tutorial, as is detailed assembly instructions. You could scour the Internet for weeks trying to determine the right about of RAM to buy or if the motherboard you think you want will fit in the case you think you want. Prevent, or end if you've already started this process, your frustration and just get this book. It's all you'll need.

    From my perspective, being the proprietor of a website that helps people fix computer problems, one of my favorite parts of Building the Perfect PC is the troubleshooting section. Just about every question I've ever been asked concerning a problem with a new build is addressed in this book.

    It doesn't matter if you've never built a computer system before or if you've built PCs for your entire extended family, you need this book if you want to be confident that you're doing it right and for the right price.

    Be sure you're purchasing the latest edition available of Building the Perfect PC so you're working with the most up to date information available. This review is based on the 3rd edition, published in November 2010, currently the most recent edition of the book.

    Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.