Hello guys! In this tutorial, I will guide you on how to build a Gaming PC. To be precise, this will help you build just any PC but the main focus I have in this article is on a gaming PC. To get things clear, I will not by babbling about how to buy components and where to buy them from, etc. Every cheap knockoff article on the internet seem to talk about that, I would cover more of the technical side of it. Which you generally expect to come across when you search ‘How to build a pc’ anyways. So, shall we begin?
For the starters, I’d like to ask you to come up with the goal you have in mind for your PC. Like – I’d like to run Fifa 16 at ultra-settings on 1080p or I want a three monitor setup. Then you have to select your preferred operating system, if I were you then I’d say Windows 10. Now have a budget in your mind, above which you would not like to go. Finally, you have to keep the minimum requirements of your Operating System and your purpose (Favorite game for instance) in mind and this would help you select the components for your PC accordingly. With all that set and done, let me list the components you would require to build a fully functional PC of your dreams (Some of them are optional):
- Operating System
- Processor with cooling solution (Stock heatsink and fans if that works out for you)
- Motherboard (This will mainly depend on your processor)
- Graphics Card (Optional in budget builds, in case you are fine with Integrated graphics processor)
- Power Supply Unit (Do not go cheap on that one!)
- Secondary Storage (HDD, SDDs, etc.)
- Optical Disk Drive (BD-ROM or DVD/CD-ROM)
- Fans (In case you want some extra breeze in there)
- Monitor (What’s the use of all that if you can’t have some eye candy?)
- Input Devices: Keyboard, Mouse, controllers, etc.
The choice of your Operating System would rely on the purpose you are building your computer. For the most part, people go for some version of Windows Operating system but if you are the techie kind and want something different then you might want to go for some distro of Linux. Let’s say that you choose Windows 10. Now you have to keep in mind the minimum requirements (As I told you earlier) and any components which windows does not support (Which rarely happens unless you are going for Linux in which case you might run into a lot of driver issues.). If you are confused between windows 8 and windows 10 then have a look at this article – Windows 10 vs. Windows 8. No matter which operating system you choose, keep one thing in mind – that you will be working on your PC through the OS only and it will define the experience you have on your PC.
Processor with Cooling System
Next big step is choosing a processor for your PC. A processor is the brain of your computer and pretty much does all the work and control all the other components. You will have to keep the minimum requirements in mind while buying it. Now, this article will help you differentiate between Intel and AMD processors – Know the difference between AMD and INTEL processors. Keep in mind that most of the games are not so hard on the processor but rely a lot on the Graphics Card so you can cut some cost on your processor if that does not hinder your goals. However, keep in mind that your Processor should not Bottleneck your Graphics Card. For example – Do not go with a low end processor with a high end Graphics card, it will most likely hinder the performance of your Graphics card.
Now, you will require something to cool off the heat generated by your processor while doing all those computations. For most builds, the stock cooling fan and the heatsink fulfills the purpose but if you live in a place where things get pretty hot during summer or if you wish to overclock your processor then you might want to consider some aftermarket options. Such as bigger heatsinks or you may want to go all the way to water cooling for those extreme builds.
A motherboard is the component to which every other component of your computer will be connected to. If I’d have to define it in simple words then I would say that – it gives a medium for all the components of your computer to communicate with each other, it have a bunch of wires printed on its PCB which helps it accomplish that in a nice and tidy way. Now while choosing a motherboard, you have to make sure that it have the socket your processor would fit into. For example – a Skylake (6th generation of Intel Core processor) processor would fit into an LGA 1151 socket whereas a Haswell processor would go into an LGA 1150. Other than that you might also have options of chipsets to choose from (If your processor allows that). Certain motherboard also come with built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth compatibility. The chipset on which your motherboard is based on will also decide whether it will support DDR4 RAM or USB 3.0.
Since your motherboard will connect all your components together, you will also have to note the number of ports (eg – SATA ports.) and slots (Such as RAM slots or PCI-E Slots) it supports, which is basically decided by its form factor such as – mini-ATX, micro-ATX or ATX. If you wish to have more than one graphic card then make sure your motherboard would support that (Crossfire for AMD cards and SLI for nVidia cards).
RAM is a primary storage device which temporarily stores the processes you are currently running on your PC. General consensus is that – More the RAM, the better it is. But you don’t want to go ridiculously high (Such as 64GB) unless your applications would benefit from that. Generally 4-8GB of DDR3 RAM at 1600-1833 MHZ is enough for a system. After a certain point, the extra RAM is just left unused. And as for DDR4 and DDR3, if your motherboard supports DDR4 and it’s cool with your budget then go for it!
Gaming PC? Now we’re talking! If your budget is tight and the games you play are not much demanding in terms of graphics, then you can skip that one and let your integrated graphics processor handle it (For that, you might want to consider AMD’s APUs). But if an integrated card won’t just work out for you then there are three major points you need to keep in mind while choosing a Graphics card –
- Is it only for gaming? Do you wish to use it for professional purposes too? Which settings you wish to play games at? Which games you currently like and what are their requirement. Some people like to play on ultra-settings at 4k and some are okay with medium to high 1080P, it all depends upon you. Check the requirements of your favorite game (which you wish to play, can be more than one) and that card should be minimum, below which you should not go for.
- Look at your budget and see which cards can actually come at that price, if your budget is low, you can go for a used card or wait for prices to go down or try to increase your budget a bit but never settle for something you might regret later on!
- Now consider the price/performance ratio, if a card costs twice as much as another one, that doesn’t mean that it is twice as better or powerful. As the price goes up, the performance boost or the extra muscle you get decreases. And generally, the top-end cards are least value for money.
If you take my tip, then it is better to buy a mid-range card and replace it every few years as it gets old by another mid-range card of that time than to buy a high card costing about 2-3x the price of a mid-range card as there is nothing as being ‘Future-Proof’, both the graphic cards will get old just as quick – may it be high-end or mid-range cards. So unless you have plenty of money to waste or want best experience with three monitor setup and stuff, there is no reason to go for high-end cards. However, I’m not against them, it’s just if money is a constraint then no need to consider high-end cards.
Power Supply Unit
A healthy PSU is the key to a healthy computer. Just like you do not go for unhygienic food, do not go for cheap PSUs. A bad PSU can destroy your major components such as the motherboard. While buying a PSU, you will be catered with various power options starting as low as 250W to 1500W. It is best to calculate the power requirements of your PC and buy PSU rated for 1.5x the power as it will run cool and PSUs are most efficient when they are running at around 60% of their maximum capacity. Other option will be of Modular, Semi-Modular and regular PSU, if you don’t know what that means – a modular PSU have detachable cables so you only plug those which you require, it does wonders for cable management. I’d advise you to go for a Semi-Modular one as they are cheaper and only the major cables are permanently attached to them.
A Secondary storage media stores all the stuff you have in your PC. Ideally, you should buy a 1TB HDD (at least) and a 64GB-128GB SSD to store your OS and some important programs. Use of an SDD will give you a ‘significant’ boost in your computer speed and performance. I personally use two Samsung 840 Evo 120GB SSDs (In RAID 0) in my computer and they are really great. They reduce the boot time of a computer, their file seek-time is significantly small and even during Multiplayer games, you experience faster loading times. Overall, in every situation where storage drive is accessed, an SSD gives 2-3x performance than a conventional HDD. However, if you cannot afford an SSD right now then you can always migrate your OS later on. This guide will help you out – How to Migrate Windows OS to SSD without Losing Data
Now the other components would include:
- Cabinet: You can choose a cabinet as per your liking, just make sure that it supports your motherboard and can fit in your graphics card and other components. Additional perks would include some room for cable management.
- Monitor: Choose a monitor as per your need, 1080p or 4k. My advice would be to go for an IPS LED monitor of your preferred resolution.
- Fans: Although your PC cabinet should come with at least two fans – one on the front for intake and other on the back for exhaust. It never hurts to buy a few extra fans for some ventilation (If your cabinet have space for them)
- Input Devices: This would include a keyboard, mouse or a gaming controller. If you are into FPS games then I would recommend going for a high DPS mouse with extra re-configurable buttons for better precision and accessibility.
If you need any advice on buying PC components or have gone slightly over budget with all these components then you might want to have a look at this – How to Save Money When Building Your Own PC
Now to the fun part, putting it all together! Even though you can have an engineer build the PC for you but given how awesome the experience you will have, it makes it worth the effort to build it yourself.
- First of all, keep a Philips screwdriver and all the components within your reach and have some flat surface (Non-conducting, wood preferred) to build your pc on. All the wires you need would be in your motherboard case, the screws required will be in your cabinet (In a box) and PSU will have all the power cables. These things would be more than enough for you to put it all together. Make sure you have your cabinet’s and motherboard’s manual in handy.
- Screw in the standoff screws supplied on the required holes in your cabinet. This will depend upon your motherboard’s form factor. The manual supplied with the cabinet will have a diagram to show the points you need for your motherboard.
- Put your motherboard on the standoffs and the holes in your motherboard should match the location of the standoff screws. Screw your motherboard to the standoff using the screws that pair with the standoffs.
- Now screw in the PSU in the cabinet. The right place of PSU for your cabinet will be in your manual.
- Now the next step is to open the CPU bracket, a plastic will pop off (Keep it somewhere, you might need to put it back on, in case you have to send your motherboard for warranty). Place your processor in the socket, matching the golden arrow inscribed on a corner of your CPU and then close the bracket.
- Before placing in the heatsink, connect the 24-pin power connector from PSU to the motherboard. Now connect the 8-pin connector to your motherboard. Place the graphics card in the PCI-E slot and screw it to the cabinet. Now plug in the 6+2 pin PCI-E connector from your PSU to it (You might need more than one depending upon your card).
- Plug in the HDD to motherboard using a SATA cable and connect it to the PSU using a SATA connector from PSU. Put RAM inside DDR slots.
- Now install your heatsink as per its manual, after applying thermal compound to your processor.
- Connect your FAN to your motherboard. And connect all the other components such as DVD drive, etc. as per their manuals. You will also need to connect your cabinet’s USB, audio ports to motherboard and the turn on, restart buttons.
- After you have everything connected, you can turn on your PC and install your OS using a USB or CD.
And this would conclude this extensive guide. I hope you had fun! Let me know if you have any question in your mind or your experience with the build in the comment section below.