Want to know how to build your own gaming PC?
Building your gaming PC has never been easier, and if you had been thinking about building your own system from scratch and found this post, you have come to the right place. I will provide you with a detailed guide to building your own gaming PC by elaborating on which PC parts to focus first, what parts need special attention and on which parts your money should be primarily spent.
With the variety of PC parts on the market, it can be overwhelming to find the right ones for your gaming needs. I know it firsthand, as I have been there myself trying to figure out all the necessary details about PC building. That is why I wrote this post, to save you from the frustration and help you build your PC with budget and time constraints in mind.
Starting off, we will be focusing on 10 crucial things you need to consider before even thinking of buying PC parts:
1. Never buy a pre-built gaming PC
Pre-built PCs might save you the hustle of going through the building process, but you are overspending on parts that would be much cheaper if you were to buy them separately. Moreover, getting an already assembled PC lacks the most important aspect of PC building: the desire and passion for enjoying the fruits of your labor. Nothing compares to the satisfaction of finishing your first self-assembled PC. There are some benefits to buying a pre-built gaming PC, as you can see here, but those advantages are overshadowed by a price premium and the fact that you cannot choose the parts yourself and build a gaming PC according to your specific needs and desires. Better stick to buying every piece individually or at least find a company that lets you choose the parts yourself, and let them build it at least. Many even do it for free, if you search around.
2. Do not buy high-end components if you do not intend to overclock
The question you should ask yourself is: Am I willing to overclock my processor? There is nothing wrong with overclocking your CPU if you know what you are doing and you can yield a good performance chunk out of it, but it comes at an extra price. Along with an increased price tag on the CPU you also have to choose a more expensive motherboard, but more to that later. For now, let me just emphasize that overclocking comes at a price and you should make up your mind whether it is something you might consider doing before going into the buying phase.
Here is a detailed analysis on how to overclock your processor effectively.
For an in-depth overview on how to overclock your GPU, check out this link.
3. Spend 40-50% of your budget on your graphics card
Okay, this is a mistake I see many first-time builders do. A gaming PC’s primary use is gaming, and the component that will boost the gaming performance the most is your graphics card. A balanced overall system is still necessary to give your GPU enough operating headroom, but your GPU should be your primary focus and the part you should not be shy spending the most of your budget on.
Take a look at the best GPUs for 2018, HERE.
4. What resolution do you intend to game on?
The resolution goes hand in hand with your GPU purchasing decision. Clarifying what resolution you will play on, will determine how much you will spend on your GPU. Getting a GTX 1080Ti, for example, to play in 1920×1080 is wasted potential, and expecting a GTX 1050 to be sufficient for 4K gaming is going to lead to disappointment. Find the right balance between your monitor (resolution) and your graphics card. The higher the resolution, the higher the price. 4K gaming is going to cost significantly more than 1080p gaming, so keep that in mind.
5. Choose your gaming monitor wisely
Besides resolution, there are some other important factors you need to consider before choosing your gaming monitor. Do you enjoy high-refresh rate gaming? Is FreeSync or G-Sync something you want to invest your money in? Do you do other stuff besides gaming? In that case, choosing a more expensive IPS panel instead of a TN one would be a good idea.
Check out my complete monitor guide as well as my top 10 recommendations for the best gaming monitors in 2018.
6. When it comes to motherboards, more expensive does not mean better
While getting the most expensive graphics card is a clear indicator for the best performance (except the Nvidia Titan GPUs), overpriced motherboards are not always guaranteed to give you extra performance or features that you need. An underpriced motherboard (below $100) should be avoided at all cost, as those will severely underperform and lack qualitative standards but if you go for a $300+ motherboard, you usually pay for features that are of no value to you. In general, looking for a $150-200 motherboard is your golden balance between price and performance. On the flipside, if budget is not your concern, you might as well go for the most expensive board. You will not regret it as long as you keep in mind my next point below.
7. Choose your processor before choosing your motherboard
This is utterly important, and I will point it out once more: select your processor before choosing your motherboard. Many gamers make the mistake of finding a good-looking motherboard without knowing anything about chipsets and which motherboard models accommodate which CPUs. That is why you should always choose your processor and then orient yourself around the right chipset motherboard. Nothing worse than realizing that your CPU does not fit in your motherboard.
If you had been thinking about picking up a Ryzen CPU, check out the best Ryzen motherboards in 2018, at this link.
Don’t know which CPU to buy? Check out my best CPU picks for 2018, HERE.
8. If you think that the GPU is the most critical component, you are mistaken
Your budget is wisely spent on your GPU for the most performance gains, but the most essential component is undoubtedly the power supply (PSU). The power supply is responsible for the power delivery to your system, and therefore should be of high quality. Never go cheap on your power supply as, without one with quality standards, you could fall prey to incidents like a failed power state or even fried PC components. You should never choose a PSU that is not included in Tier 1 or Tier 2 category of this list.
9. Balance is key when buying PC components
An imbalanced gaming PC will not yield you great gaming performances. Stuttering, crashes, and poor performance are the results of imbalanced hardware. A few tips on how to make sure to have a balanced gaming system are the following:
- The two most vital components that will affect your PC’s performance are the processor and graphics card. Your processor should be able to keep up with the frame output of your graphics card and vice versa. Buying an underpowered CPU and an overpowered GPU or vice versa will lead to poor gaming performance and system instability. Here you can see a quick overview of what CPU should be combined with what GPU.
- Your PSU should have enough watts to power your system. Check how much power you need by calculating your power needs, with this calculator.
- Choose high-speed RAM modules (3000+MHz). The sweet spot is 3200 MHz. All CPUs nowadays take advantage of high-speed RAM, especially Ryzen.
- PC components are more important than peripherals like mouse, keyboard, and headphones (again only for budget-oriented builders). Focus on building out your PC first and then on peripherals.
- $50 system fans and a GTX 1050 are not a good indication of a balanced system. Once again, focusing on parts that will give you performance is more important than the visual aspect of your system.
- The best CPU air cooler will give you identical or even better performance than liquid coolers that cost significantly more. Aim at performance instead of aesthetics until you have enough cash to spend on cosmetics like RGB. If you still insist on getting a liquid cooler, check out an aesthetically pleasing and powerful liquid cooler.
10. Ask a friend to help you out if you do not feel confident about building it yourself
No shame in admitting that you are not up to the task yet. Asking a friend for help, who is more knowledgeable about computers than you is a great decision. Besides avoiding crucial mistakes, you could share the first-time building experience with a friend. The satisfaction after building your first PC is enormous and sharing your experience with a friend will double the joy. I wish I had someone show me the way around computers when I first started out. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depends on how you view it) I had Youtube university as a guide.
List of all PC parts in order of importance (including peripherals)
1. Power Supply
2. Graphics Card
7. PC Case
8. CPU cooler
11. Headphone or Headset
Buying your parts in that order will ensure that your budget is being spent in a manner that favors performance over aesthetics, which should be your focus especially if you want to have an excellent gaming performance. I am not implying that this is the only way to shop for PC parts, but it is the order I would buy my PC parts if I were to buy them separately today.
A few more important things to know before assembling your gaming PC
1. A Solid State Drive is obligatory
That does not only apply to desktop PCs but laptops as well. When someone asks me to fix their laptop, the first question I ask them is whether they have their Windows installed on an SSD. If the answer is negative, I know I am in for many hours of frustration and boredom. SSD’s are five times quicker than hard drives and therefore process all the information stored on them much quicker. Hard Drives (HDD) are still valuable for storing data, but no one should install their copy of Windows or favorite games on an HDD anymore. Additionally, if you are looking to revive an old laptop, the quickest and easiest way to do it is by installing an SSD.
There are triple benefits to installing an SSD in an old laptop:
- It will open and operate insanely quicker than before.
- Even if your laptop dies, your SSD can be reused on a new laptop, meaning that you can buy a cheaper laptop with an HDD and install your already purchased SSD.
- Your HDD, if there is some life left in it, can be used as an external storage device for backups, photos, videos or even games that you do not play that often.
A gaming PC without an SSD is a waste of money, and even the lowest budget PC should have some financial room for an SSD.
If you are looking for an SSD, check out the best gaming SSDs for 2018, HERE.
2. Do not buy the most expensive PC case you can find
The first thing that the eye catches in a new gaming system is the PC case. However, overspending on a case will have no advantages besides bragging rights. Find a case that aesthetically appeals to you and then dive into reviews of the case. No need to spend more than $100 on a case as you can find beautiful, ergonomic and large enough cases that will meet your every demand without question. A too expensive case will not add anything worthwhile and is a waste of money. Again, that largely depends on your budget. You can check out the top 10 cases, and I am sure you will find something that you like in my PC Case Buying Guide.
3. The way you install your system fans matters a lot
Great air circulation is a significant factor in the longevity of your gaming PC. You need to take into consideration the way you install your fans, as you generally want a positive system airflow. The general rule is that you set up your front and side fans as intake fans and the rear and upper fan(s) as exhaust (outtake) fans. Positive airflow means that there is more air coming into the case than leaving. Positive airflow is excellent for an optimal cooling performance although leading to slightly higher temperatures inside the case. The advantage is also less dust accumulation, but cleaning out your case once in a while in inevitable, so you should not worry about dust even if you have negative air pressure as long as you clean out your system every few months.
Negative air pressure, on the other hand, is great for pushing air out of the case but since air has to find its way into the case somehow, it will enter through unfiltered spots and increase the accumulation of dust. Temperatures will be a bit lower than positive air pressure, but it should be avoided for optimal performance.
The best scenario is to find the right balance between intake and exhaust fans. Since temperatures are almost the same in both positive and negative airflow, and neutral air pressure is virtually unachievable, having a few more intake fans than exhaust (outtake) is ideal for better airflow and less dust.
In the video below by Techquickie, you can see why balancing air circulation is of high importance:
So, what is the resume?
Educating yourself before making a purchase decision is very important especially before buying components for your first PC. Spending your budget on parts that are not important is very common, and in this guide to building your own gaming PC, you can look up some crucial advice on what mistakes to avoid that most beginners make. Asking for help and educating yourself is wise and you finding this post is the proof that you will avoid most of those mistakes. For those of you who are not budget limited, focus on finding components that match (CPU and motherboard) and bear in mind that a balanced system is still something you should be after.
If you liked my PC building guide, make sure to follow me on Social Media, share my content or drop a comment below. Do you still remember your first build? I certainly remember mine. Thanks for dropping by.