Build a Gaming PC

build a gaming pcAre you interested in learning how to build a gaming PC? Heck ya you are! I personally built my first gaming PC in 2003 and have been hooked ever since. Between my own builds and being involved in dozens of others I have came to know not only how to do it but what tools and guides to reference newcomers towards.

On this page I will have some references to help you get started with building your own gaming computer as well as a brief written guide. I will also give you my reasons as to why it is better to build your own PC over buying a pre-built gaming PC. We will have you on your way to building your own insane gaming rig in no time!

Because I fell extremely strong about this, let me just get it out of the way now. If you have any interest in buying a pre-built PC for gaming…Please DON’T! Build your own instead you will be much more satisfied all around.

While I do recommend checking out my written guide below I also suggest that you watch these videos. For my self, learning though video is one of the best ways and sometimes it gives you a bit more confidence by watching another person do it. I know these specific videos helped me and a lot of my buddies when we first got going. I will put the videos closer to the top here so when you reference them later you won’t have to scroll down to the bottom of the page to see them. First off lets set a little groundwork.

 

Gaming PC Myths!

 

 

How To Build a Gaming PC – Part 1

 

 

How To Build a Gaming PC – Part 2

 

 

My Process for Building a Gaming PC


 

To preface everything I will tell you that this is my general process for building a PC. You don’t have to do everything the exact way I do them but I’m hoping that by you seeing how I do it you may gain a good direction to run towards. Building your own PC is not something that is difficult or something you should be scared to try. If this is your very first build I would just order your parts and follow along with the above videos as well as referencing my guide below. You will come to learn that building your own is a great alternative to buying a pre-built gaming PC.

 

Getting Started – Cases


When I am first setting out to build a computer I will start off by searching for cases. This may seem strange but you need to start here because this is the foundation upon which you will be building everything else.

There are many aspects to a case that may make one or another better such as fans, windows, material, inputs, buttons. input/button locations, design, ect. I have to say this stuff is all pretty much subject to your taste so pick something that looks cool to you.

The reason here is because you want to pick out something that you would enjoy looking at every day. The other thing to look for is that the case has decent ventilation and fans setup because a gaming PC produces heat and we wish to keep it cool for better performance.

ATX, Micro-ATX, Mini-ITX oh my! These terms are referring to which format of motherboard the case will accept. Honestly, for a first build I would pickup an ATX Mid-Tower case which should be able to accept both ATX and micro-ATX formats.

These are the most common and a case like that will suit your needs just fine. The Mid-Tower is also large enough to give you the room inside that you need but not massive like a Full sized tower which may be hard to find the room to store it.

 

Chapter 2 – Motherboard / CPU


The motherboard and CPU or processor are the next things you need to pick out because the rest of the build will depend on these two parts. Are you getting excited yet? You should be! This is where it starts to get fun :). You also really need to decide whether you want to run an Intel CPU or an AMD CPU.

I have always been a fan of AMD, especially for budget or “bang for buck” builds but when you get into more expensive builds Intel really starts to shine. Both brands have their perks so you really just have to figure out what suits your specific build better.

Let’s say you pick out an Intel CPU. Now you need to pair it with a motherboard that supports it by making sure the MB you get allows for the CPU’s socket type. You can also get an aftermarket cooling system for the CPU but for a beginner I suggest just using the stock heat-sink / fan that is provided by the manufacturer. You can always upgrade this at a later date. Everything else from this point on is pretty strait forward.

 

Chapter 3 – RAM / HDD / SDD / Optical Drive / PSU


Like I said earlier the rest of these things depended upon your motherboard of choice. To start off with let talk about the RAM, HDD (Hard Drive), SDD (Solid State Drive) and Optical Drive. You are going to have to decide how much RAM and storage space you want and then look to the motherboard to see what specs the board supports.

For a budget system I suggest you get at least 8GB of RAM and a 1TB Hard Drive. Then I’d probably pick out a smaller Solid State Drive to install your operating system on to but if you want to simplify things you can leave that part out. Of course this is a baseline and if you have a bigger budget then you will be able to build a more stout machine.

An optical drive is just your cd/dvd/blu-ray drive. Again it just depends on what you want here but I’d recommend an inexpensive DVD-R/W. You can pick those up usually for around $25 and now days is mostly handy for installing your operating system on your new gaming PC. There are ways around this such as installing the OS from a USB drive but it doesn’t hurt to have that DVD-R/W just in case for down the road. Or if you prefer buying physical games over the digital downloads.

Next you are going to need a PSU or power supply. This is pretty self explanatory. To continue on with my recommendations, for a minimum you will want a 500w-600w PSU for powering a budget gaming machine. The more parts you add, that require more power, the more robust (and expensive) of a PSU will be needed in your build.

 

Chapter 4 – Wait you forgot the Video Card!


 build a gaming pc

Hah! I never. I was just leaving the best for last…or 2nd to last. This GPU or graphics card…or video card (yes many names) needed a whole section because it is king. That’s right. In a gaming PC the GPU is absolute king. Sure the CPU, RAM and other components all contribute towards the overall performance of a computer but a good portion of your build’s budget should be allocated towards graphics processing.

Again I can not stress this point enough. I know it is fun to say you have X amount of RAM or X terabytes of hard drive space or the latest and greatest CPU. But just remember if you need to skimp on some of these things to make sure you can get a better graphics card you will be farther ahead when it comes to playing your games on max settings.

 

Chapter 5 – Operating System


OK. Lets not beat around the bush here. You are getting the latest Windows OS or Operating System and installing it once your PC is built. Unfortunately there just aren’t a lot of options out there in this department which is alright. We like supporting Bill Gates right? Well kinda haha. Whatever you think about Microsoft you can’t argue that Windows isn’t a good OS. My only complaint is the lack of choice.

There is one choice but it isn’t the best for beginners. This other OS choice is Linux which is a pretty cool open-source operating system and can be pretty useful for various uses. The biggest problem is that not all the games you will want to play will support Linux.

The thing is none of us want to shell out the doe to buy a fresh copy of Windows at the market price of around $100. There are many ways of acquiring a copy of the OS if you do a simple search i’m sure you can find out various methods.

HOWEVER, I personally always just buy the darn thing for each computer I build and can not endorse the act of pirating intellectual property. If you are a creator then you understand fully. Now lets transition into the actual build portion. This is where things start getting really fun! If you can’t tell I absolutely love building PC’s.

 

Chapter 6 – Beginning The Actual PC Build!


Imagine this. You have already ordered the parts for your very own gaming PC build. They have arrived at your door and now you are ready to unpack them and create a true master piece. Well maybe computer hardware isn’t quite art and more of a science but hey science can be sexy too!

The construction process is going to work in a fairly similar manner as the design process. I suggest working over a wooden table or desk but you can work over a rubber mat, plastic surface or any other non conductive material.

This just makes the safety of your hardware a priority while installation ensues. Before the work actually begins there are a couple of tools that you will like to have handy. If you don’t already own them here are some options.

You are going to want a non-magnetic Phillips screw driver, preferably with a rubber grip:

Klein Tools 603-4 No.2 Profilated Phillips Tip 4-Inch Round Shank Screwdriver

This wrist band is optional but a good idea to help keep the static electricity down:

Lsgoodcare 2 Pack Anti-Static Wrist Strap Grouding Wrist Strap Band

Both of these items are really cheap and recommended in my humble opinion.

Chapter 7 – Getting the Case Ready


Next thing on the agenda is to plop that brand new shiny case of your on your work surface and take both side panels off. This will make life a lot easier as you will access to the front and back of everything throughout the build. After this is done find the input / output plate (where the cables plug into the computer) and firmly press that into place.

The last thing you need to make sure of is to check and see if your case already has the motherboard mounts in place. These look like little golden or brass screws with threads on the inside as well. If these are not already in place you need to find them and install them in the appropriate locations for your motherboard. You may have to reference the MB and/or case manual for this.

 

Chapter 8 – Motherboard / CPU / RAM Setup


The easiest way to install the CPU and RAM is to do it before the motherboard is installed into the case. It can be done either way so why not make it a little bit easier on your self. Lets start with the CPU. Usually on the motherboard there will be a small level you need to lift up that’s function is to move the plate that locks the CPU into place.

After you do this you will have access to where the CPU is placed. Bear in mind that you can refer to your motherboard manual to see exactly where everything is located. Once access is granted you simply place the CPU into the slot allocated for it. To know how to proper align the CPU there should be a small arrow/triangle located on one corner of the CPU and also a similar indicator on the MB itself.

Make sure you are extremely careful with the pins on the back of the CPU as they are fragile and easy to bend. You also don’t want to touch those or the top of the processor so only handle it by gripping the sides. This is the best way to keep your paws off of everything else. Once in place firmly press the bar back in and lock it. You should have an installed processor now! Next you can install the CPU cooler or wait till the motherboard is in the case. I’d typically wait until after.

Next we move on to the RAM which is probably the easiest piece of hardware in the whole kit to install. Motherboards are all different so you need to check the manual real fast to know exactly how it wants you to configure your application. This especially comes into place when working with more then one stick of RAM. If you have just one stick easy. If you have a dual channel kit (2 sticks)… STILL easy. If you have 4… well you get the point.

You only need to make sure the locks on the DIMM slots are unlocked, check that the slots on the bottom of the sticks of RAM are lined up and then gently push the sticks of RAM into the motherboard. You are done when the side latches click into place. RAM is fairly hardy so don’t be scared to press it in firmly. Just make sure it’s lined up properly before you do.

Now that we have all of this in place tip your case down on its side so it is ready to work on. Grab your motherboard and place it, with everything facing out of course. Find your screws and simply screw the board to the case. Make sure you tighten them down but not over tighten as you can either strip the screw or break the motherboard. Be careful with it!

 

Chapter 9 – PSU, HDD, and Wires OH MY!

 

Our next steps will be to install the Power Supply and Hard Drive into your PC case. The power supply will have a really obvious spot to call home. Place it there with the power button on the outside and the cables on the inside (of course) and then from the outside screw it to the case. There are typically 4 screws that hold the PSU in place.

After this is done grab your hard drive and find the drive tower. In most cases you simply slide this into place in the most convenient spot allowing for your SATA connection. Then there will be 4 screws for this as well with 2 being on either side of the drive tower. Once the HDD is secure you will move on to connecting all of your cables.

To figure out how all of this is done I highly recommend that you refer to the video that I provided above as well as having your physical hardware manuals handy that came with the parts you bought. It will seem daunting at first but really takes no time at all to connect all of these.

A written explanation will take too long for this page but I may include it in a more detailed ebook at a later date. I also think it will make more sense to just watch someone do this and you can learn it much faster for this part of the build.

 

Chapter 10 – Your Beastly Graphics Card

 

As usual I save the best for last and the graphics card is really the most exciting piece of the gaming PC puzzle in my eyes. Installing is last is usually the easiest as well. The GPU plugs right into a PCI-E slot located under the processor. You will have to remove a plate from the back of the case usually. This is where the graphics card’s external connections will reside.

Next you firmly press the GPU into the PCI-E slot until the lock clicks into place and BADABOOM! We have lift off my friends. Well not completely, we still need to plug in the VGA PCI-E power connectors to the card and then we are done.

 

Chapter 11 – No, you aren’t filing bankruptcy!

 

The last step after all the hardware is installed plugged into power and connected is to install your OS of course. You can do this from a bootable disk or USB drive depending on your preference. Either way I am sure you have installed windows before but if you haven’t it is a very simple process and virtually walks you through it. Simply plug the USB drive into the PC or put the disk in the optical drive and wait for the OS to boot into the installation interface. If for some reason your PC isn’t booting up from the OS bootable files you will need to go into the BIOS and change the boot method to the one you are using.

 

The End of an Era but the Beginning of a New Age

 

Hey at this point you will have completed your new gaming PC build. Congrats buddy you made it! This is truly exciting times and if its your first it will be something you remember the rest of your life.

What’s even more exciting is you have a new toy to show off to your buds not to mention a new gaming PC to play on! In my opinion PC gaming is such a greater experience then console gaming (I do some console gaming so I am not entirely knocking it).

You get a lot more bang for your dollar and it is a much more custom experience. I hope I have helped you in some way learn how to build a gaming PC and if you need anything just shoot me a comment below. Thank you again!

 

Anthony

levelupyourgear.com

16 comments

  • Nick

    Windows is where you gotta be if you want to play them vidya games.

    My brother built his own gaming computer a while back, but almost by accident. He had to buy a new mother board – it was too big for the case, so he had to buy a new case – now the power supply would work with them, and so on and so forth until he had a completely new computer.

    It looks very cool though. Plus there is so much more pride in building your own computer rather than buying a pre-made one in the store.

    In addition to your tower, do you ever get into gaming laptops? Just curious.

    Thanks!

    • Anthony

      Thanks for the comment Nick! I do a bit of laptop gaming my self as well as desktop. It’s hard to reccomend that to beginners though because you get a lot more bang for your buck with building a desktop gaming PC.

  • Dejan

    Hey there!
    This website is going straight to my basket 😀 I have designed my current PC and ordered it at the local shop so that they built it for me. I probably over-payed the damn thing. The next time I decide to get a new computer, I’ll definitely build it myself. Much cheaper and much more fun!
    Thanks for the article!

    • Anthony

      Hey Dejan,

      That is cool man thank you. You may have paid a little more then if you had built it your self but hey a new PC is a new PC. That is sweet for sure. Your going to love it. If you need anything feel free to ask away. Take it easy!

      -Anthony

  • Torrey

    Hey Anthony
    I’m wondering if you have any experience in building laptops for gaming? I have an acer laptop that I’m wondering if I could turn into a gaming machine. Do know that I have zero experience with this and you are actually only the second guy I’ve met that was all into building computers. I’d love to hear from you. Torrey

    • Anthony

      Hi Torrey!

      You can’t really build a laptop and the best way to get one for gaming is to buy it pre-packaged that way such as this 15.6″ ASUS gaming laptop. It is OK that you are new to all of this. You have to start somewhere after all. I really recommend that you look deeper into building a gaming PC. A good specific build to start with would be this $700 option. Please let me know if I can help you at all going forward.

      Take care,

      Anthony

  • Paul

    Thanks very much for this detailed guide on how to build a gaming PC. What I know about building custom PCs I’ve more or less learned from my dad who has been doing it for many years, but at this point I’d say I still wouldn’t be comfortable doing it on my own from scratch. I’d like to eventually become completely independent when it comes to building PCs, and this is a excellent resource for achieving just that. I’ll bookmark this page right away. Thanks again.

    • Anthony

      Hello Paul,

      What an amazing relationship you must have with your father. Building your own computer becomes very easy once you have done it a couple times. Thanks for the visit and if you need any help just let me know.

      Thanks again,

      Anthony

  • Diane

    Anthony, I read you article about Building a Gaming PC and it was very easy to follow. I agree with you, sometimes it’s easier to comprehend when you have visuals such as videos along with instructions. Other than some typo’s in this article, it was very easily read and understood. Would you say that you could save money by building your own gaming PC and having on it just what you need than buying one prebuilt?

    • Anthony

      Hello Diane,

      I will get on fixing those typos! haha. I think there is definitely money to be saved in building your own PC. The real benefit lies in gaining a ton of customization as well as bang for buck value. Whether you are building a gaming PC or a standard home desktop PC the same rings true. I appreciate you reaching out and if you need anything at all going forward just drop me another comment!

      Thanks,

      -Anthony

  • Diana

    This is some pretty useful information for PC gamers. My cousin used to build his own PC’s. It’s interesting that you mention using AMD over Intel to save some money; do you think it’s possible to build a powerful PC with AMD even if you’re not on a budget?

    I agree that Linux is a better OS than Windows; but like you said, a lot of those games are only available for Windows. I’m interested in building my own PC but not for games; primarily for business… Is this something that’s a similar process to building a gaming PC? Also what’s the price range?

    • Anthony

      Hello Diana,

      Appreciate the comment here, let me see if I can help. As far as AMD processors go, yes you can use it in a full array of budgets the only thing is at the higher performance ranges Intel tends to shine a lot more. But a lot of people are hardcore AMD fans and won’t stray. Typically I use the AMD chips in the lower budget builds like I’ve said before. If you are interested in building your own PC for and reason the process is exactly the same the only difference being that you will want to focus on different parts depending on what you will be using the machine for. If it is just primarily for business and not video editing or graphic design then you don’t need to worry about things like a powerful graphics card and can save some money in that department. I’d just recommend a strong CPU with on board graphics in that case. When you end up building your PC let me know what it will be used for and I can help you decide what hardware would be best for your purposes.

      Thanks again!

      -Anthony

  • meherbani

    I know someone who would love your site, my grandson!
    He is big time into gaming and I’m sure he’d love the challenge of building one himself.

    Have you had bad experiences with buying a pre-build gaming system?

    I know there are many out there but it seems building ones own would be the best way to go.

    • Anthony

      Hello,

      Yea buidling your first gaming PC is a pretty good challenge but also doable for beginners. Like anything you just need to put the time in to learn. I have bought pre-built gaming PC’s and all the consoles and there’s nothing wrong with any of them. It is just a different experience. I believe you just get more machine for your money when you build your own.

      Thanks again,

      -Anthony

  • Kyle

    Great article. I have always wanted to build a PC, but always chickened out because I’ve never done it before. I’m not much of a gamer, but I do some CAD drafting and my wife likes to play with Photoshop so we have always wanted/needed (mostly wanted) a high end computer. Definitely going to build my own on the next go around.

    • Anthony

      That’s awesome Kyle!

      You can save yourself some doe building your own PC even for editing in photoshop and CAD design. Depending on your budget you can get a really nice setup for fairly cheap. If you need any help just let me know i’d love to know what your planning to build. See ya next time.

      Thanks again,

      -Anthony

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