Building a gaming PC from scratch is primary a selection process of compatible hardware, which requires some knowledge about how a computer works.
The whole process is fun and will save you some money while maximizing the computer’s specs.
If you have no idea about what you need for building a PC, this guide will help you understand what you need to do in order to build a gaming PC.
Research is the key factor in building a system that will last for years. Before buying a product, you must compare it with others of its kind and pay attention to the features of each, and also you have to read the buyer reviews for pros and cons of each component.
Step 1 – The CPU
One of the most important components that go into a computer is the CPU, or processor. This will handle all the computing tasks you throw at it so it would be wise to get a good powerful processor.
When it comes to choosing a brand, you only have 2 options, either AMD or Intel. With Intel you’ll get top performance from a renown brand, but with AMD you’ll get about the same level of performance but at the fairest price.
Your choice should be based upon the number of cores/threads the CPU has, the clock speeds, L3 cache and the overclocking capability. Keep in mind the processor socket, as this will influence your decision regarding the motherboard which must use the same socket.
Step 2 – The Motherboard
The motherboard is the main linking component where all the other hardware will be installed.
As mentioned before, the motherboard should be on the same socket as the processor, otherwise the CPU won’t fit in its place and you’ll end up with incompatible hardware.
It should support a lot of features and allow for future upgrades, so you don’t miss out when a new piece of tech is released.
Some of the features to take note of would be the implementation of the new PCI Express 3.0 slot, the USB 3.0, RAM slots for up to 16-32GB and the support for setting up a SLI / CrossfireX configuration.
Step 3 – The Graphics Card
When building a computer for games, you’ll want to add the best GPU you can possibly find. The graphics card takes care of the visual side of a game, so the better the card, the more realistic the game will look.
If you’ve decided to go for a motherboard that’s CrossFireX or SLI ready, then you have the option to to add multiple video cards in parallel and benefit from an increase in performance.
Like processors, the graphics cards are introduced by two main competitors: ATI and NVIDIA. Whether you choose NVIDIA for superior graphics performance or ATI for a similar level of performance but at a reduced cost is up to you.
Step 4 – The System Memory
The system memory will affect how well the system responds to demanding tasks like computer games. Since applications and games rely heavily on the hardware, one component you don’t want to overlook should be the RAM.
How much RAM is enough? Well, if you were to check up on most system requirements games have today, you would reach the conclusion that about 8GB should suffice at first.
But if you want your first computer build to run games that will come out in the near future, you’d better go ahead and get an 16GB kit. Prices for these kits have decreased recently and the performance they provide will surely benefit your gaming habits in the future.
Step 5 – The Hard Drive
The hard drive is where you’ll keep all your data and it would be wise to get an HDD that’s both reliable and fast. If you require tons of storage, then you’ll opt for large capacity hard drives which can go up to 2TB in storage. But be careful since these hard disks are a lot slower than smaller capacity ones and can cause a drop in performance.
If instead you’d like performance, you’ll most likely settle for nothing less than a 10,000rpm Velociraptor. These are fast hard drives that can be good additions to any gaming computer. They cost a bit more than standard 7,200rpm or 5,400rpm hard disks, but every cent is worth it if it means a decent increase in performance.
On the extreme side there are the SSD drives. These don’t use spinning disks as regular hard drives do so they aren’t so prone to mechanical shocks and they don’t heat up as much. In terms of speed, they can go up to 10-12 times faster than regular hard drives, so you should consider getting one for your build.
One configuration which could work great is getting an SSD for the operating system and the installed programs and a large hard disk drive for storage. This way you don’t have to sacrifice performance and you still get plenty of storage.
Step 6 – The Case
People always leave this component last when they build a new computer. You don’t want to overlook the case when you’re shopping for components. A good case will accommodate all your internal hardware and still provide enough room for proper airflow and decent cooling.
If you started your computer from the motherboard or the internal hardware, make sure you check which type of motherboard you bought, more specifically the form factor, so you don’t run into any trouble when ordering the case. Nobody wants to be that guy that bought a smaller case and nothing fits in.
The case should also have plenty of room for additional fans in case your system heats up too much and you decide to upgrade. Also, it should provide easy access to some ports like the audio, USB ports and so on.
The looks matter to some people, so you’ll be glad to know that there are tons of cool case designs out there from the simple black design to the outlandish alien types.
Step 7 – The Power Supply
The power supply keeps everything well… powered up. It’s a critical system component which you should seriously consider.
After you’ve decided on all the other components, make sure you do a bit of math and see how much power all the components draw. In case of gaming computers, the power consumption can range from 600 – 1200 W, depending on how many hardware components are jam packed together.
If you’re going for a simple gaming computer, a PSU with a 700-900W power rating should suffice in most cases, but if you’re going for extreme setups with multiple GPUs hooked up in parallel CrossFireX or SLI configurations you should consider getting a supply that’s over 1000W, preferably one with a 1200W power rating.
Step 8 – The Cooling System
The cooling system helps your system remain under normal temperature working conditions. Hardware heats up during intensive tasks, so it would be wise to provide sufficient cooling so you don’t experience any malfunctions.
There are a number of cooling options you could choose from. The air cooling option is the standard one, where fans are mounted on the computer case as well as on the CPU’s cooling fins. This is the standard option and most computers come equipped like this. But for demanding tasks like modern games set on high resolutions, it would be wise to opt for a liquid cooling system.
Liquid cooling systems use liquids to cool the heating components instead of fans and cooling fins. This is a better option if you’re thinking about overclocking your processor for higher performance.
Step 9 – The Peripherals
The computer peripherals are mostly everything that’s outside the case. This includes the keyboard, the mouse, the monitor, headphones or the game pad.
Since you’re building a gaming computer, you should also look for gaming peripherals. Gaming keyboards for instance have a great response time so you won’t experience any lag from when you press the key to when the action is made in game.
Gaming mice are top notch peripherals that boast high levels of precision during game play. These peripherals are most useful in FPS games where aiming decides the final score of the game. They boast high resolutions of over 4000dpi and some of them have toggles built into them for fast sensitivity switching between high, medium or low.
Headphones are also important to a gamer since you need to hear every detail of your gaming environment if you want to win the game. The very best headphones will allow you to play flawlessly from a sound perspective.
The monitor is another important peripheral. If you want a good monitor for gaming, you should consider a few features like the type (standard LCD or LED backlit), size (27 inch monitors are in high demand now) and maybe 3D capabilities.