Building your own PC might seem intimidating but if you are a gamer, you would know that this is the only way to get the specification you want.
Since you get to control what goes into your PC, you will be able to construct your PC according to the games you play. Building your own PC is easier than you think. The best part is, it is extremely rewarding as well. However, before you jump into constructing your own personal computer, there are a few things you need to consider.
By the end of this comprehensive, step-by-step guide, you will know everything there is about building your own gaming PC. Let’s get started.
Before we move on to other areas of building your gaming battle station, you have to understand the hardware requirements for constructing a complete personal computer.
Apart from screws, screwdrivers and other assembly tools, the hardware parts you need to invest in are:
- Processor (CPU)
- CPU cooler (if yours doesn’t come with one)
- Onboard storage (HDD and SSD both if you have the budget)
- Graphics card (if not incorporated in the CPU)
- Power supply
- Monitor, mouse, keyboard and other peripherals
- Operating system
The above-mentioned parts are crucial for building a gaming PC. However, there are other optional accessories as well that will make your gaming computer all the more fun. You can either add these add-ons at the time of building your PC or at later stages if you have budget constraints.
Let’s take a look at every hardware piece individually to understand why you need it.
This square-shaped central processing unit works as the mind of your PC. It sits on the motherboard and does all the calculations and resource allocation tasks for your computer. A central processing unit, after GPU, is the most crucial piece of hardware for building a gaming pc.
There are three main components or factors when it comes to choosing a central processing unit.
- Clock speed: Measured in GHz, the clock speed refers to the CPU’s processing speed. This is one of the direct measures for processor performance.
- Cores: The higher the number of cores, the better will be the processor’s performance. Each core is assigned a certain task. Some applications can utilize multiple cores at once.
- Threads: This is a process employed correspond to the cores with each other. However, the most recent cores come with hyperthreading (more than one thread) so that applications can simultaneously use multiple cores.
Also referred to as Heatsink and Fan (HSF), this piece of machinery sits directly on the CPU to keep it cool and quiet. Since most gaming applications are intensive and require a lot of processing power, keeping the CPU in optimal working conditions is necessary.
Usually, CPUs come with a built-in or pre-installed HSF. Hence, you might not have to invest in one. However, in case you opt for a CPU that does not feature an HSF make sure you invest in one.
Moreover, if you are looking to build a high-end gaming computer, it is advised that you replace the stock cooler with something more efficient and effective. Also, if you want to overclock (make your processor run at faster speeds) your CPU, make sure you add an external CPU.
The motherboard is what brings harmony between all the components of your personal computer. If you term CPU as the brain, then the motherboard can be termed as the heart of the gaming computer.
Motherboards play a significant role when it comes to the performance of your central processing unit. Whether you can overclock your CPU or not, wholly depends on your motherboard. This piece of hardware also affects the upgrade flexibility you can have in the future.
The first step to choosing a motherboard is deciding whether you want to overclock your CPU or not. Once that is out of the way, the next step is to decide the size of the motherboard.
There is plenty of size with ATX being the largest and ITX being the smallest. The size of the motherboard has nothing to do with the performance of your PCs processing. However, it does affect the RAM capacity you can add and the number of I/O ports you will have.
To make sure you find the best motherboard to build your gaming PC, esure you invest in a motherboard from renowned companies. These companies include Gigabyte, ASUS, MSI, EVGA, etc.
Random Access Memory is another extremely important component that greatly affects the performance of your gaming computer. The RAM capacity of your gaming PC specifies the amount of memory your applications will rely on while in operation.
Generally, the higher the RAM you have, the faster your programs will run. However, at this point, your budget constraints kick in. Currently, the highest RAM capacity available is 32 GB. If you are looking to build an affordable gaming PC under $1,000, you might want to look into 8 GB or 16 GB RAM.
Since RAM is directly connected to the CPU, it also indirectly affects the performance of your CPU. Some factors that you need to consider while choosing the best RAM are:
- Number Of Channels: A higher number of channels mean higher speed. It is advised you go for dual or quad-channel if possible.
- RAM Type: In the current market, you will find two types of RAMs, DDR4 and DDR3. Investing in DDR3 is ill-advised since it is slower.
- RAM Quantity: This is the most important factor. The higher the quantity the faster will be your system. 8 GB RAM gives you a good balance between pricing and optimal efficiency. Most of the games don’t require a RAM higher than 8 GB at the moment.
The onboard storage of your gaming computer defines the number of games you can store on your computer. The same piece of hardware is responsible for storing your operating system and programs like.
Just like all other parts, onboard storage also comes in different types. Two types of most commonly used onboard
- HDD (hard disk drive): This type of onboard storage is most commonly used. It is budget-friendly and works reasonably. If you want more quantity, go for HDD.
- SSD (Solid State Drive): SSDs are currently gaining popularity thanks to their fast performance. They are more durable but are pretty expensive.
For optimal performance, most individuals use a combination of both. The most common combination is 1 TB HDD and 256 GB SSD.
SSD is used to hold the operating system and a few favorite games since it has a higher response rate.
It is recommended that multi-player games are stored in SSD storage and non-multi-player games along with media are stored in the HDD.
The star of any gaming computer is a graphics card. This piece of hardware also termed as the Graphics Processing Unit will do all the graphics rendering. Without a decent graphics card, you will not be able to view and run your games at the best.
Most gamers advise that you allocate a good chunk of your budget to the graphics card. However, this does not mean you can neglect the CPU.
A CPU is responsible for keeping track of the player’s actions. The GPU, on the other hand, takes the information from the CPU and converts it into graphics.
Just like the CPU depends on RAM, GPU depends on VRAM (Video RAM). The most basic VRAM available in the market is GDDR5. Anything lower than that is garbage. If you want something better, you can go to GDDR5X, GDDR6, or HBM.
GPUs come with 2 GB, 4 GB or 6 GB VRAM capacities. If you want basic 1080p performance a 2GB VRAM will work fine. Finding a GPU according to your needs can be pretty daunting. However, reading reviews from renowned technicians can help.
To know all about GPUs refer to this link.
The power supply is responsible for providing power to all parts of your computer. Newbies usually overlook the PSU which can result in damage to the expensive parts of your PC.
Even if you are looking to build an affordable gaming PC, don’t go for a cheap PSU. If your power supply dies, it could take other expensive parts of your gaming computer down the well as well.
Contrary to common belief, a bad or cheap PSU is a huge liability. While buying a PSU make sure you invest in a device from a reputable manufacturer. There are many no-names manufacturers who claim to provide the same services at a cheaper price. Be rest assured, it’s a scam.
Wattage is another factor that plays an important role in determining the best PSU for your gaming PC. Make sure you know the wattage requirement of your PC before you invest in a power supply unit.
Last but not least is the efficiency of a power supply. Invest in a PSU with at least 80% efficiency. Higher efficiency PSUs don’t consume extra power and don’t heat up a lot.
All the above-mentioned units are the core parts of building a gaming PC. While building a budget PC, it is advised that you don’t compromise on any of the core units.
Peripherals, on the other hand, can be slightly compromised. However, without peripherals, your PC is a hopeless piece of hardware.
Without these units, you will neither be able to control your PC nor enjoy the games that you have built the PC for. Peripherals can be termed as the input and output devices required to run the core units.
A monitor provides you with the output of whatever is running on your PC. Without a good HD monitor, you will not be able to enjoy your game.
A general rule of thumb is that your monitor should coincide with the build of your PC. If you have invested $1,000 in your PC, don’t go out buying a 4K display.
The market is loaded with high-end, low-end and mid-range monitors that vary in price, features, sizes, and resolutions.
Picking the right monitor can be pretty tricky. However, it is best you stick to renowned manufacturers and don’t go overboard with the features.
This input device is required for handling your computer. Most newbies believe that all mice are created equal, which is not true.
The main differentiating factor is latency. The time in which the mouse sends a response to the computer makes a huge difference for gamers.
For shooting games, the mouse makes a huge difference; however, for other games, you need a good keyboard with high latency. Just like other peripherals, you get mice in all price ranges.
Another input device critical to gamers is the keyboard, especially for strategy and royale-based games.
If you don’t already have a keyboard, it is important that you get one with high latency.
Top of the line gaming keyboards come with high quality keys with extra programmable macro buttons, and sometimes cool LED backlighting. The backlighting color, in most cases can be customized.
Speaker & Microphones
Some gamers are big on music and sound effects while others don’t give it much thought. You can invest in good quality speakers for the extra boost but commonly, gamers like investing in top-notch gaming headphones.
They not only provide good quality audio but also have in-built microphones for the multi-player gaming experience. If you are looking for good headphones, you can easily find high quality ones for less than $200.
If you want to go for speakers, you will get a lot of monitors with in-built speakers but most of them are not very good. For the extra oomph, you will have to invest in external speakers.
The two main operating systems used by gamers are Windows and Ubuntu (Linux). Linux is mostly preferred by programmers, but since it is an open-source operating system, many gamers also opt for it.
Windows 10 might be too expensive for you and previous versions of Windows (7 and XP) don’t get most of updates.
However, if you can afford, Windows is the most powerful OS system for gamers. If you have a fixed budget, you don’t have any other option but if you can afford to then go for Windows. Most of the games also come with support for Windows OS.
The case houses all the core units, provides the required airflow thanks to the bunch of grills and fans. Moreover, it gives your PC a chic and dandy look from the outside. There are many aesthetic PC tower cases on the market. Some feature a soft and subtle look while others come with a bright and rugged look. Most gamers prefer the latter.
The choice of casing largely depends on the size of the motherboard you have chosen. It is necessary that the case has enough space for all your core components. Make sure you don’t overcrowd the area inside the case as it will only lead to overheating.
Moreover, if you have plans to upgrade your PC, get a slightly bigger case so that you have enough space to add new components. Also, the case should have slots for the I/O ports you plan to install on your PC.
If you are going for a water-cooling system for your processor, you might want to look into a bigger case.
Most of the gaming PC cases on the market come with tempered glass so that the user can keep an eye on all the components without having to dismantle the whole case.
Choosing The Right Budget
Now that you know what core units you need to invest in, it is time for you to decide on a budget. Your budget purely depends on your needs. The type of games you play, the monitor resolution you want, the processing power required by the games you play, etc.
Usually, self-built gaming PCs can be divided into three main categories based on the budget and the type of core units used.
These cost somewhere between $300 to $500. Entry-level gaming PCs are not any more efficient than the basic entertainment PCs built by manufacturers. They come with a number of restrictions and you will have to stick with old, less demanding games.
You might also face occasional slowdown and lag since you will not be able to top 4 GB RAM with it. Moreover, you cannot expect much in terms of peripherals either. Most gamers prefer going for entertainment laptops rather than building cheap entry-level gaming PCs.
These PCs cost less than $1,000 but more than $500 and are the most commonly used ones.
They provide good resolution reasonable processing power, and a decent RAM. In terms of striking a balance between good gaming experience and a reasonable price, mid-range self-built gaming PCs hit the sweet spot.
Costing more than $1,000 these self-built PCs use top-notch core units and provide flawless performance.
High-end gaming PCs feature more than 144 Hz refresh rate and have a resolution higher than 1,440 pixels. These PCs are mostly built for/by Pro creators, producers, game streamers and artists who perform demanding non-gaming tasks including high-end video editing, game development or 3D rendering/animation. People who are not professional gamers don’t usually invest in high-end gaming PCs.
Apart from the above-mentioned types, we also have premium level gaming PCs that top $2,000 but they are extremely rare and are used by professionals who play games as a source of income.
The last step of your gaming PC building process is planning your budget and allocating a percentage to every core unit and to the peripherals. Most of the gamers say that this is the most fun part of building a PC.
Even though it is advised that you allocate the budget chunks based on your needs and requirements; it is important that you focus on the two most important parts of the PC.
Make sure you allocate at least 25% to 40% of the total budget to GPU and 15% to 25% of the total budget to the central processing unit. The more efficient these two devices are the more durable your PC and the more effective and ergonomic its performance will be.
If your final budget is $1000, at least $250 to $400 should be spent on your GPU and $150 to $250 should be spent on your processor. The rest of $350 to $600 should include the motherboard, RAM, Storage, Case, OS, and peripherals.
If you have the right knowledge then building a gaming PC will not be as daunting as it seems. Just make sure you know what you are doing.
Plan ahead for upgrades since games always evolve and with time, they need more processing power, more RAM. and more storage. A gaming PC is not something you change every year. Hence, keeping room for upgrades is extremely important.
Apart from this, it is important to make sure every device is compatible with the other. Every unit does not work individually rather, all the core units complement each other. Without proper compatibility, the units will start malfunctioning after some time.
For assembling your computer, there are many YouTube videos and step by step guides. You can refer to those or take the parts to a professional builder for assembly. Assembly costs are pretty low and will not mess with your budget.