How to Build a Gaming Computer
Nowadays, a lot of people are choosing to build their own gaming gear rather than buy it, and it has never been easier and more affordable to do so.
The opportunities for just how perfectly you can customize your computer so that it’s just how you want and need are practically endless.
- Why Not Just a Buy a Gaming PC?
- Should I Go for a Console Instead?
- How Much Does It Cost to Build a Gaming Computer?
- How Long Does It Take to Build a Gaming PC?
- How Hard Is It to Build a Gaming Computer?
- What Else Can I Use a Gaming PC For?
- Should I Upgrade My Gaming PC?
- Things You Need
- Building the Gaming Computer Step-by-Step
- Step 1: Get the Tools Ready
- Step 2: Get the Case Ready
- Step 3: Install the Processor into the Motherboard
- Step 4: Install the Heatsink
- Step 5: Install the RAM Cards
- Step 6: Install the I/O Shield
- Step 7: Attach the Motherboard to the Case
- Step 8: Install the Graphics Card
- Step 9: Install the Storage Drive
- Step 10: Install the Power Supply
- Step 11: Connect the Power Supply to Other Components
- Step 12: Attach Cables
- Step 13: Attach the Storage Drive to the Motherboard
- Step 14: Turn on the Computer
- Gaming Accessories
- Other Things to Consider
This article will give you comprehensive information on how to build your own gaming desktop.
Read below to find out whether you should buy a gaming PC, build your own, and whether you can actually do it on your own:
Why Not Just a Buy a Gaming PC?
Indeed, it seems simple to just buy a gaming PC than to build from scratch a DIY gaming PC.
You can even buy affordable gaming PCs these days that won’t cost more than $500.
There are downsides to buying a gaming PC that most casual gamers won’t notice.
Most gamers prefer to build their own PCs because that’s the best way to get the specs exactly as desired.
When you buy an assembled PC, you will nearly always have to give up on a desired spec.
You may give up on storage to get an SSD, or choose more spacious RAM over a GPU model.
When you build your own gaming PC, you can get the specs exactly as you want them. You can get all the specs you need without sacrificing any.
Another major reason gamers like building their own PCs is the price.
It may seem rather affordable to buy a trending gaming laptop under $1,000. Then again, when you calculate long-term costs, gaming PCs are always more affordable.
You can equip your gaming rig build with state-of-the-art components without paying extra.
When you buy an assembled computer, you will be paying for unnecessary things like the brand name, store profit, and so on.
Building your own gaming PC is the best way to cut out the middleman and get what you want without paying a cent more.
Custom-built gaming PCs are also easy to upgrade. You can individually upgrade components as needed anytime you like.
This isn’t possible with assembled gaming PCs. It’s nearly impossible to upgrade a gaming laptop.
Those are just a few reasons why you should build a gaming PC.
However, if you are a casual gamer with little technical knowledge, it would be convenient to buy a gaming PC.
Should I Go for a Console Instead?
Gaming consoles are really great for a variety of reasons.
PlayStation and Xbox offer great titles and multiplayer capabilities. Wii is still great for highly interactive gameplay.
It’s hard to compare playing games on computers with consoles because each of these gadgets offers a different gaming experience.
If you are a truly hardcore gamer, though, getting a PC is probably the best option. Online games, like World of Warcraft and Minecraft, can only be played on computers.
Consoles are cool, but the titles available to you will be limited depending on the type of console. On the other hand, nearly all game titles are released for PC.
Once you find the right components, you will notice that you can play games much faster on a computer.
You can upgrade a custom gaming PC anytime you want, whereas you will have to wait for a new console release.
Gaming PCs are highly backward compatible, while consoles are not so.
That’s not all.
Above all, you will have a computer at hand to do whatever, unlike consoles that are only suited for playing games.
You can buy a console if that’s what you really want. But a gaming PC offers more functionality and versatility.
How Much Does It Cost to Build a Gaming Computer?
The cost of building your own gaming computer will largely depend on how much you are willing to pay:
You can build a casual range gaming computer from scratch with a budget of about $500.
Building a mid-range gaming computer would cost you up to $1,000.
Building a real high-end, hardcore gaming computer would cost over $1,000.
The components you choose will affect costs as well.
Generally speaking, it doesn’t cost a lot. If you are on a budget, you can still build a gaming computer without breaking the bank.
How Long Does It Take to Build a Gaming PC?
Once you have gathered everything needed to build a gaming PC, the timeframe will depend on your level of expertise, skill, and commitment.
Technically speaking, the physical assembly shouldn’t take a pro more than an hour. Even a novice can do the basic assembly in an hour or two.
But putting all the parts together and deciding which goes where will definitely take some time.
You should put aside at least a weekend to build your own gaming PC.
What’s that now? You’re a complete noob?
Well, then you may require several weekends.
But keep in mind though that the most time-consuming tasks would be finding all the components you need, ordering, and waiting for the shipments to arrive.
How Hard Is It to Build a Gaming Computer?
Building gaming PCs have gotten really easy over the years.
It’s not like in the nineties anymore, where the even a minor problem in the orientation could cause an error like data corruption.
These days you only really have to worry about the physical assembly of the computer, and nothing else.
So anyone can build a gaming PC with some basic knowledge of computers.
You can watch YouTube tutorials (there are many) and read online guides about building gaming PCs. With some initial research, it won’t be awfully difficult.
What Else Can I Use a Gaming PC For?
Gaming PCs are just like regular computers. The only main difference is that gaming PCs have advanced GPUs and possibly sound systems.
When you are not playing games, you can use your computer for other things like typing work documents, surfing the web, making Excel spreadsheets, and so on.
Can a gaming PC be used for work?
Gaming PCs are great for multimedia purposes like watching movies.
Because they are already equipped with high-end video cards, you can use a gaming PC for things like photo editing and video editing.
Should I Upgrade My Gaming PC?
In case you are wondering when to upgrade your gaming PC, this will depend on your needs.
If your gaming PC is older than 5 years, then it’s definitely time to upgrade.
There will be faster graphics cards and better drivers that you can use to make your PC speedier and cooler.
It’s best to check for new upgrades every two or three years.
You can upgrade your gaming PC anytime you want. But for practical purposes, plan for a new upgrade at least once every 5 years.
You can, of course, choose not to upgrade at all if you are cash-strapped.
Things You Need
There will be a number of things that you need other than the PC components when you build your own gaming PC.
First things first!
Get an anti-static strap. You may not realize how much static has been building up around you.
There could be static on your clothing, either remaining from the dryer or from sitting on a plush couch for long.
The point is, static can ruin the delicate computer parts you are about to handle. The motherboard, particularly, is highly vulnerable to static.
Therefore, make sure you wear an anti-static strap to protect the components you have possibly spent hundreds of dollars on.
Assembling your computer is over 90 percent of the time screwing something on. Therefore, you will need a great set of screwdrivers.
Keep in mind that regular household screwdrivers may not do. The computer parts you will be handling will be very small and delicate.
You may need to buy a new screwdriver set with drivers that can fit into tiny knobs.
You can also consider borrowing or renting one if what you have around the house is not adequate.
Also, don’t forget to add a good amount of patience to your gaming PC checklist.
What do you need to build a gaming PC? Surprisingly enough, there won’t be that many parts you need to build a gaming computer from scratch.
But what you do need to get will be crucial.
Here is a list of the parts you’ll need to build a gaming PC:
The processor, or the CPU, is like the brain of your computer. This is the part that controls all the computer tasks in your PC.
Like your brain is the most important part of your body, the processor is the most important part of your gaming PC.
The better your processor is, the speedier and more functional your computer will be. Therefore, be willing to spend adequate sums of money on the processor.
There are all kinds of processors you can choose for your gaming PC. However, the rat race boils down to two brand names: Intel and AMD.
So get this.
Intel’s Core i7 processor is currently considered the speediest and the best processor for gaming.
AMD’s newly released Ryzen chip is slightly less speedy, but is just as good.
But you can choose Core i5 or AMD FX processors, which are less speedy but suitable for gaming.
It’s best to avoid low-end processors like Core i3, which won’t let you play high-def games.
When you buy a processor, pay attention to the number of “cores” available. These cores make the processor more efficient overall.
Hardcore gamers prefer to buy processors with eight or more cores. If you can get at least a quad-core processor, then your money will be well spent.
The motherboard is the part of your computer where you affix the processor, the sound card, the graphics card, and other components.
The motherboard also connects components to each other, like Facebook connects you to friends.
In case you are wondering what motherboard you need for gaming, you need a motherboard that can support your processor and other components.
Buy a motherboard that can support the processor you intend to buy, not the other way around.
You don’t need to spend a lot of money on the motherboard. Even a budget of $50 will be sufficient.
Be aware of expensive motherboards that show off a lot of unnecessary features.
The RAM cards store data when the computer is running so different programs and parts can retrieve the information needed to run.
The RAM cards have limited capacity, such as 8GB or 16GB. The more capacity the RAM has, the faster your computer will be overall.
How much RAM does a gaming PC need?
Gaming requires a lot of data processing, which means it also requires considerable amounts of RAM capacity.
You should plan on getting at least 8GB of RAM for your gaming PC. It’s highly recommended to go for 16GB of RAM. You can go up to 32GB of RAM if you like.
When you buy the cards separately, you can save a lot of money.
The Graphics Processing Unit is the heart of your gaming PC. It’s really what makes a gaming PC a gaming PC.
You can buy a graphics card as your requirements and budget allow. Unlike with pre-built computers, you can always upgrade your graphics card.
If you are a hardcore gamer, you should aim for a high-end graphics card that will over $500.
Do plan on spending some time researching the type of graphics card you want.
It will be time-consuming, but you can get an idea of what type of cards support the games you want to play.
Building the Gaming Computer Step-by-Step
This is the meatiest part of building your own gaming PC. How long gaming computers last will depend on how well you put all the parts together.
Here is an overview of the steps required:
Step 1: Get the Tools Ready
Before you start, make sure you have all the tools—screwdrivers, anti-static strap, magnifying glass, thermal paste, etc.—ready.
Once everything is in one place, you can proceed to assemble your gaming PC.
Step 2: Get the Case Ready
This is the easiest part of assembling your PC. Get the case you ordered, open the package, and unscrew it. Get a feel of the inside, where all the parts will go.
You will be able to see drive cages and shelves for all the parts. You should open the case with both sides up.
Step 3: Install the Processor into the Motherboard
The first part you should install is the processor chip. Get the motherboard in a comfortable place.
You should carefully remove the processor from the protective plastic case it comes in.
Be very careful here not to touch the gold pins at the bottom. Repeat, do not touch the gold pins!
Your motherboard will have a little lever to push before the processor is inserted. Push it and place the processor very gently.
Pay attention to where the arrows are indicating.
The processor should be inserted, then you must firmly place the CPU cover. Don’t push too hard but make sure the cover is secured.
Step 4: Install the Heatsink
The processor heatsink is installed over it. It will come with either four screws or four tabs.
Use a screwdriver if needed to secure the heatsink.
Step 5: Install the RAM Cards
This is quite easy. First, unlock the RAM slot clips on the motherboard. Then slide the RAM cards into the slots gently and firmly.
Be aware that the RAM modules have grooves that fit the slots exactly.
Once the RAM cards are placed, push them down and place the clips over them to secure the modules in place.
Step 6: Install the I/O Shield
The I/O shield is a tiny piece of metal that will come with your motherboard.
It fits over the ports of the motherboard. It’s very easy to attach by snapping into place.
However, be careful not to screw this step up. Make sure the shield is in the proper position over the grooves that fit.
Step 7: Attach the Motherboard to the Case
Now the motherboard is ready to fit inside the computer case. Carefully slide it inside so it fits the ports. It should be well secured in place without any wobbling.
You may need to screw the motherboard into place. If so, make sure you don’t screw the nails too tight. You do not want to crack any part of the motherboard.
Step 8: Install the Graphics Card
The graphics card should be placed on the back of the case. You will see an expansion slot on the back of the computer case now.
Remove it, and slide the card into the motherboard. Push in until you hear a “click” sound.
Secure the card with thumbscrews and close the expansion slot.
Step 9: Install the Storage Drive
The computer case will have a bracket for the storage drive. You should remove it from the case, and then secure it to your thermal paste.
Some screwing may be necessary. When it’s done, slide the bracket back into the case.
Step 10: Install the Power Supply
This is a very delicate step. You should definitely refer to the power supply manual for exact instructions.
Typically, you will have to remove the power supply bracket in the case and attach it to the power supply you have using screws.
Then, there will be cables that you need to thread through the case. Finally, the power supply is pushed into the case.
As mentioned, this is a delicate process. Refer to the images the instructions manual will have on how to thread the cables properly.
Step 11: Connect the Power Supply to Other Components
Once the power supply is in the case, you should connect it to other components, mainly the graphics card, motherboard, and storage drive.
The 6-pin PCIe connector of the power supply unit is for the graphics card. The 24-pin connector goes to the motherboard.
The SATA power cable with the protrusion is for the storage drive. There will also be a CPU power pin.
Follow the labels and connect the supply to the heatsink and cooling fans as well.
If your case comes with separate fans, follow the instructions to connect the fans to the power supply.
Step 12: Attach Cables
Now you can attach USB, audio, and any other cables to the indicated places on the computer case and motherboard. You can easily find them with the labels.
Step 13: Attach the Storage Drive to the Motherboard
Finally, get the SATA cable that comes out of the motherboard and connect it to the storage drive.
The cable would go from one end to the other connecting the parts.
Step 14: Turn on the Computer
Do a quick check to make sure everything is in place and then turn on the power supply. The computer should light up.
Connect the monitor and see how everything is running.
Now you can proceed to install software, like the operating system and drivers, to get everything working.
It’s easy enough to read about the steps needed, but actually assembling a gaming PC is something else.
You should spend time reading more about this. Read everything that’s in the instruction manuals that come with the parts you order.
We highly recommend that you watch videos of pros putting together gaming PCs before you try for yourself.
A great gaming PC requires many peripheral accessories like keyboards and headsets.
Here are several tips on how to buy the accessories you need:
You will need one of these if you don’t want to blast music even the neighbors can hear.
There are plenty of great gaming headsets you can use to listen to great audio and also converse when playing online with other gamers.
You don’t need to spend a lot of money for a headset. You can easily buy a good gaming headset with a budget of $50.
Unlike regular monitors, gaming monitors are optimized to display high-def graphics.
These also support fast frame rates so you can enjoy graphics without display issues. You can buy a moderately sized gaming monitor with a budget of $100.
If you want a large gaming monitor over 20 inches that can support 4k graphics, up your budget to about $200.
Gaming keyboards have an ergonomic design to make PC gaming less annoying.
Some have lovely features like lacking the damnable Windows key that can accidentally disconnect you from games.
Gaming keyboards are quite stylish too, and don’t look nearly as boring as regular keyboards. You can buy a great gaming keyboard for $50.
You will definitely want to buy a gaming mouse mainly because these come with additional buttons you can program as shortcuts in your game.
Gaming mice are also faster in performance. You can certainly buy a good gaming mouse on a budget as low as $20.
PC Gaming Controllers
The great thing about playing games on a PC is that you can choose gaming controllers like the ones you get with a console.
You have to buy these controllers separately and use them in place of a mouse and keyboard.
It’s up to you to decide if you want to buy a controller for PC games. Most controllers are not expensive and you can buy several with a budget of $100.
Other Things to Consider
Here’s one other important factor to consider when building your own gaming PC:
Fans and Cooling
Even gaming computers can get really hot. So when you build one, you should ask yourself how many fans you need for you gaming PC.
Your motherboard and computer case will come with cooling systems. But we highly advise you to design a separate cooling system as well, especially if you play for long hours.
There are two main ways to cool your gaming PC: air and liquid.
Air cooling is popular and is the easiest to do. All you have to do is buy a cooling fan for a gaming PC separately.
One would cost about $30 typically. The benefits certainly outweigh the costs.
A $30 fan can lower the internal temperature of your gaming PC by 20 to 30 degrees!
Cooling fans are bulky and take up space, but they are easy enough to install.
But there’s more.
The second way to cool your gaming PC is to use a liquid cooling system.
These systems come with cables that go to the motherboard, graphics card, and other heated components.
The cables come filled with a liquid that circulates in and out of the PC removing heat.
Liquid cooling looks pretty cool. However, installing such a system can be somewhat difficult.
Beginners should definitely buy a liquid cooling kit than choosing a custom set.