Build a Gaming PC
Are 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!
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:
This wrist band is optional but a good idea to help keep the static electricity down:
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!