How to build your own Gaming PC!

  • I built my first PC about a year ago and was also pretty overwhelmed when I started out. I knew pretty much what I wanted and how much I wanted to spend and just looked at a lot of different sites/forums and went off of reviews on newegg or amazon, etc. I also took advantage of a lot of Black Friday and Christmas sales and saved quite a bit on some of the pricier items.

  • You have to pay close attention to the dimensions of your case, whether it'll fit certain video cards and/or cooling setups. Also read lots of motherboard reviews to make sure it doesn't have a high failure rate or other design shortcomings.

  • I've been exclusively building my own PCs since 1997. :)
    My current build is about 4 years old and really needs a new GPU, but other than that, still running like a champ!

    Most of the resources I used to select components for builds are defunct, it seems, but Tom's Hardware is still chugging along. That's a pretty good place to start.,4390.html

  • Alright everybody, prepare for some amateur level questions here!

    I've been interesting in buying/building a PC for quite some time now, but price is really the thing holding me back. Is there a significant price difference between building/buying? I assume you save money by building, but if it's only $50 savings or so, I'd rather save myself the time. How much does building a rig usually cost? I can't imagine I'd ever fully switch to PC as I love my PS4, so I wouldn't need the latest and greatest, just something that can run most games on average settings. Finally, how long does it normally take to build a PC and does it require any specialized tools, like a solder?

    Thank you PC master race, I appreciate your help.

  • You get a lot more bang for your buck if you build. Pre-built PCs cut corners like crazy. You also get to pick exactly what you want, and that includes software. Prebuilts are usually filled to the brim with useless junk software. Installing and configuring the OS from scratch, although it takes quite a while, also means it will work exactly the way you want it.

    And no, you don't need any special tools. It's like putting together a simple puzzle. Part A goes in slot B, after which you plug in cable C. You just need to make sure that everything will work together. Pay close attention to chipset/CPU socket/RAM controller/PCI slot variations when picking a motherboard.

  • @SabotageTheTruth

    That's kind of a hard question to answer in some ways. It CAN be much cheaper to build a PC than buying one, There's super overpriced prebuilt PC's and bargain priced prebuilt PCs out there...

    It's kind of like asking whether it's cheaper cooking at home vs eating out.
    Cooking at home is not always cheaper than eating at restaurants. But you know what you put into the food and you can control the quality of the ingredients you use when you cook at home. The food at fast food restaurants can be cheaper than what you can cook yourself, but it can also be of suspect quality, and frequently shortcuts are taken in ingredients to reach that price point. You can get a good pre-built PC's but things like proprietary connectors/parts, bulk purchased parts that are close to end of life, etc. are all issues I've had with pre-built pc's I've worked on.

    The link I posted earlier has tested pc builds at many different price-points. I've built PC's from $250-1800, depending on what I want it to do. Building a rig that runs "most games at average settings" will probably cost you somewhere in the neighborhood of what you're paying for a console, but average settings is kind of varied and subjective, obviously :)

    Once you get all the parts assembled and in front of you, a first time builder will probably take a few hours to put the hardware together. Non-magnetic screwdriver in like a size 0 or size 1, and a static electricity grounding strap (or just being super careful with discharging static while handling parts) is pretty much all you need. All the parts are going to snap together without tools. There's generally only one way part A will fit into slot B. So if something doesn't fit right, don't force it!

    Building a PC isn't rocket science or even car mechanics. It's kind of like advanced legos.
    There shouldn't be any soldering or anything involved.

  • This is a general overview of building a pc. It may vary depending on your actual parts, but it's generally correct.

  • @TokyoSlim @Oscillator thank ya both for the replies. I've got several months of research ahead of me until I can afford to undertake this project... unless any of you also wants to fund my adventure? Think of the joy of being someone's computer daddy!

    Okay, I'll stop now.

  • @tokeeffe9 Well then! Now is the time to start paying attention to trends in the market for hardware. It will make picking things out easier when it comes time to build. :)

  • @Oscillator said in How to build your own Gaming PC!:

    You have to pay close attention to the dimensions of your case, whether it'll fit certain video cards and/or cooling setups. Also read lots of motherboard reviews to make sure it doesn't have a high failure rate or other design shortcomings.

    This is absolutely true! I made the mistake of not paying enough attention and had to modify my case and leave out one of my three HDDs to fit my GPU. But I got it to work. This is one place where PCPartPicker really shines. It helps catch those mistakes.

  • @TokyoSlim I'll have to check this one out! I'd never looked at it before.

  • In my limited experience, building a PC is all about getting a balance you like between a few of the more expensive and specific components. These components are the CPU, the GPU (graphics card), and the Motherboard (MoBo).

    The first big question is, "which one of these three is most important"? If you are gaming, the GPU is probably the most important. If you are wanting to do batch photo editing, you probably want a screaming CPU. If you want to hang a gajillion things off the MoBo, then you might want to pay more attention to it's available connections.

    Assuming you are after a gaming PC, your first stop is Tom's Hardware Best GPU (or the latest version of this article.) Here you will find the latest and greatest of the gaming GPUs. You may also want to look at their best budget GPU line up as well.

    Key things to pay attention to for your GPU selection is how it attaches to your MoBo, and what kind of outputs it has. If you want HDMI, you are in luck, almost everyone has that.

    After you have a GPU picked out, it's time for the MoBo and CPU. Once again, Tom's Hardward has the goods for CPUs . Check out what they have to say and find one that works for you. Remember to pay attention to what socket it uses, as that determines how it interfaces with the MoBo. Tom's Hardware Motherboards will help you pick out a good one, but now you really must pay attention to the socket for the CPU and the connection for the GPU.

    Once you have a GPU, CPU, and MoBo that all work together nicely, go over to PCPartPicker and put your choices into their fantastic site. Then start adding components. You'll still need a power supply, memory, a cooling system, a hard drive or two, a case, and anything else you want to attach like a WiFi card etc.

  • @Av8orGamer @TokyoSlim I just looked at this wiki. It's fantastic! Thanks for sharing.

  • IMO, the most FUN part of building a PC is picking a case. Ho-lee, is there variety or what! My favorites are from Cooler Master.

  • @Oscillator I did a REALLY poor job of this. :( a good case is really worth the cost.

  • @Oscillator I'm pretty picky about cases. :)
    I'm currently using a Corsair Obsidian 650D.

  • I am still rocking my Therlmaltake Element V from over 6 years ago... And inside is also mostly from that time... I would love to upgrade it, but I don't have the cash to do so... And now I'm studying programming for the next three years... Funfun...

  • Global Moderator

    I have built PCs for the last... 10 years or so. I as many others felt in the beginning it being VERY overwhelming and and seemed so super complex.

    But then after a while I realised it s a bit like this:

    alt text

    Most parts can only fit in 1 or 2 places and everything comes with manuals (of various quality) to show you how to do it.
    When I build, if I dont use one of those wristbands I wipe my hands a few times over a radiator or a kitchen tap, just to get rid of static electicity from my hands. I also just use normal screwdrives.

    When it comes to select parts which is the hardest bit, I first decide how much I am ready to spend and if I want to go with Nvidia graphics card or AMD. This is pretty much a select of taste and if you are going high end to compare the power and power usage of the card(s).

    When I go for Nvidia cards I normally look at its preformance and which is doing the cipset. I normally go with MSI, EVGA or ASUS. You will notice that there a slight price difference on the cards.

    Motherboards are also a jungle to try and navigate through. Instead I normally ask around on forums and with friends. I am not super sure about which english forum to go to, but I use the swedish overclockers.

    With CPU I normally read tests from some places such as PC world etc. But it also comes down to cost. a high end i5 CPU can match many of the i7 ones. - it also comes down to what you are going to do with your PC.

    Maybe the most important piece that I go to after this (so you know the size of it) is the case. a bad (not cooling) case can have serious preformance impact on your PC. look for something with good cooling, many or big fans and what other people have said. I have recently gone for In-Win cases as I feel that they are generally of high standard.

    Once I have made sure that I have all the components that I want (I always leave RAM to last) it is time to look at power supply. You want something that are powerful enough to run everything and that you know that you still have room to put in more hard drives etc in the future without risking overloading it. I personally prefer to go with Corsair's supplies as they are generally of good quality, but thats just my opinion.

    Also.... ALWAYS buy extra fans for your case, perhaps except if you go for water cooling, but thats a whole other story. But maybe a stronger CPU cooler can be worth it if you are going to push your machiene as well as some extra fans to plug in as the cases normally comes with a couple of empty slots.

    I know that this post became kinda big and feel free to nitpick it and point things out - I just wrote this after waking up.

    So what are the pros and cons from buying ready made VS your own build?

    With building it yourself you know exactly what goes in, even though that a lot of places now a days gives you a few options for each part in your PC. But also if something breaks you can change that one part instead of sending away the whole PC.

    Buying a ready made one you know that the pieces are compatable and you normally get a warranty on your PC. The problem is that you can't open the case up.

    When building it you normally know you get it well done (at least if you buy from the right places), also you save time. Even though picking the parts yourself you can cut corners and save money, it feels like this difference have gotten smaller and smaller through time.

    PS. I also would avoid buying ready made PCs from the biggest everyday stores, buy one from PC hardware stores.

  • I was poking around this morning to see if I could find a few more good PC build articles. Here are a few that might be interesting.

    1. Building a PC to match the PS4 (old).
      This article is a bit old, and the prices are probably significantly out of date, but it shows a build that will probably match a PS4 in performance and price. Given the price difference between PS4 and PC games, it might be a savings, plus, you get to build the PC! How cool is that?

    2. Here's another take on the same idea, build a PC to match PS4 or XBOne.

    3. This article compares a couple different PC builds with the PS4 Pro, XBox One S, and PS4 Slim. It's an interesting read.

    4. GameSpot went all in and built a PC to match the PS4 Pro projected performance last September. It cost them $630. Here's how they did it and what they thought things would pan out for the Pro. It might be a handy parts list for a future builder.

    In the end, PS4 will still have it's exclusives. PC will still have the ability to upgrade piecemeal for cheaper per item. It really comes down to where you want to game, and where your games are. If you have hundreds of dollars in PS games, you probably aren't really ready to drop $650 on a PC and then have to find a monitor. If you already have a gaming rig like me an don't want to blow $800 on a 4K TV plus another $400 on a PS4 Pro, then switching isn't attractive either.

    That discussion aside, building a cool PC rig can be lots of fun, and the customization options are insane. If you want to try, don't be scared of the high dollar figures for pre-built PCs. Building your own is as easy as building a Lego set. Just do a bit of research and try it out!

  • @Av8orGamer I'll be making the journey once income tax refunds hit.