Building a PC from scratch can be quite intimidating for newcomers. If you want to build a custom PC then definitely you’ve been overwhelmed by the abundance of resources and knowledge available all over the web.
Such an abundance of information can be a bit confusing for people who are looking forward to building their first custom PC.
So, how do you get started with the process of building a gaming PC?
Well, it’s pretty simple!
All you have to do is answer a few questions and make a few decisions.
Why not buy a pre-built gaming PC?
That’s a good question.
There are numerous pre-built gaming PCs available for sale online and offline. You can easily buy one of these gaming PCs, and be done with it.
However, there’s a catch!
1. A pre-built PC is more expensive than building your own.
2. You don’t get to decide which parts are used in the PC.
3. You may have to give up on a certain part or peripheral for the PC.
So, what’s better?
Honestly, it’s much better to build your custom PC since you get to decide what specs you want and which parts go in your shiny new PC.
Also, you save quite a bit of money when building one from scratch.
The process of building an all-new gaming PC sounds intimidating and complex at first, but in all reality, it’s as simple as building Legos once you decide what parts to get.
Even if you are not entirely tech-savvy, we’ve got you covered.
This guide is going to cover every aspect of building a gaming PC from scratch.
By the end of this guide, you will be able to mix and match different compatible PC parts, understand the importance of CPU/GPU, and keep things within your desired budget.
Why do you need a Gaming PC?
Of course, you want to play games on it!
But, you need to answer a few questions to understand what kind of PC you want to build.
1. What kind of games do you want to play?
2. Do you want your PC to perform extra tasks like streaming?
Most eSports titles like DoTA 2, LoL. Hearthstone, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive work perfectly on a mid-range PC.
You don’t need to shell out big bucks for playing these titles.
However, if you are interested in playing the latest releases on the highest settings then you will have to opt for the latest parts as well.
How much does a gaming PC cost?
An entry-level PC will cost you around $500. (Can play most titles at decent settings with playable frame rates)
A mid-range PC will cost somewhere around $600-$800. (Can play even the latest games at higher-settings with playable frame rates)
And, a high-end PC can range anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000. (Highest resolutions with max frame rates while you can even stream your gameplay online)
Choose your budget and your needs!
Now, we jump into the actual process of building a gaming PC and the things you need to do so.
What parts do you need to build your gaming PC?
Fortunately, there are not a lot of components required to build a gaming PC from scratch.
Here’s a list of everything that you need to build one of your own.
1. CPU (Central Processing Unit)
3. GPU (Graphics Card)
4. RAM (Memory modules)
5. Storage (Hard-disk drive or Solid State drive)
6. PSU (Power Supply)
So, you just need these 7 components to build a gaming rig for yourself!
Word of caution: Not all parts are compatible with each other. Some CPUs don’t work with certain motherboards while some PSUs don’t have enough juice to power certain graphics cards.
You need to make sure that each part that you choose is compatible with all the other parts on your PC. PCPartPicker is the perfect website to check each component’s compatibility.
Let’s dive deep into each required component.
1. CPU (Central Processing Unit)
The CPU – brain of the computer.
Even a 5th grader will tell you that the CPU is like the brain of your entire computer. It manages and controls all the tasks in your PC.
The better the CPU, the faster and more functional your PC will be. So you need to choose the best CPU within your budget.
There are only two brand names out there with the best CPUs on the market: Intel and AMD.
Intel’s Core i9 series of processors is considered the fastest chip for gaming in the market.
AMD’s Ryzen chips are just as good, but a tad bit slower than Intel’s high-end chips.
When choosing a processor you need to think long-term.
Sure, a 5th generation Intel Core i7 can pretty much match the performance of a 7th or 8th generation Core i5, but it won’t be future proof.
If you buy old generations of processors then you will also have to buy an older generation of motherboards, RAMs, etc.
So, it’s better to buy the latest CPUs depending on your budget.
If you are looking for a budget processor then AMD offers the best value for money. Their Ryzen chips are reasonably priced while pretty much matching the performance of Intel’s chips.
Intel, on the other hand, always has more expensive CPUs, but it’s considered the best for gaming.
If your budget allows then go for Intel otherwise stick to a mid-range AMD Ryzen processor.
What do we recommend?
For an entry-level low-range build: Intel Core i3 or AMD Ryzen 3
For an upper midrange build: Intel Core i5 or AMD Ryzen 5
For a High-end build: Intel Core i7 or AMD Ryzen 7
The motherboard allows you to connect all your components like the CPU, GPU, RAM, and HDD together.
When choosing a motherboard, you need to look at the chipset type and the socket type to determine whether this specific motherboard is compatible with your CPU.
Intel’s processors use the LGA1151 socket while AMD uses the AM4 socket type.
So, get one that’s compatible with your CPU.
Also, don’t fall for any marketing gimmicks or other unnecessary features when buying a motherboard.
A cheap $50 motherboard will suffice for all your gaming needs.
A high-end motherboard that costs a couple hundred bucks is not necessary for gaming unless you are interested in overclocking your CPU/GPU.
As a beginner, you should steer clear of overclocking entirely
There are different formats of motherboards.
Mini ITX: Smallest form with the lowest number of RAM and PCIe slots.
Micro ATX: Medium form factor with up to 4 RAM slots and up to 3 PCIe slots.
ATX: The standard form with 4 RAM slots and up to 6 PCIe slots.
3. GPU (Graphics Card)
The GPU or the Graphics Processing Unit is the reason why your gaming PC is called a GAMING PC.
It singlehandedly puts the gaming in your PC.
You should also note that GPU and Graphics card are not the same thing.
The GPU is a processing unit while a graphics card is a host to other elements as well which include, but not limited to the VRAM, Fans, and of course, the GPU itself.
Two brands are popular for making the best GPUs: Nvidia and AMD.
AMD focuses on low to mid-budget graphics cards while Nvidia’s offerings range from mid to high-end graphics cards.
Check out UserBenchmark to see how different GPUs perform and how these stack up against each other.
These benchmarks will also show you how these GPUs perform in various different games.
Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti or AMD Radeon RX 560 would be suitable for low to mid-range gaming PCs.
Nvidia GTX 1060 (6 GB) or Radeon RX 580 would be enough for upper mid-range PCs.
If you really want the top-notch GPU then the latest Nvidia RTX 2070 provides the best bang for the buck.
The RTX 2080 Ti costs upwards of $1,000 so if you really want the best of the best, then that’s the one you should get.
Ultimately, it all boils down to what kind of games you want to play and what’s your budget.
4. Memory (RAM)
RAM, also known as Random Access Memory is another important component for a gaming PC.
It’s the fastest type of memory out there that the PC uses to store information. However, it’s volatile so when the power goes off, all data is lost.
Today, the most prevalent RAM technology is the latest DDR4. This is what you should get as it’s compatible with all the latest motherboards.
It’s better to use Dual-Channel memory rather than Single-Channel. It’s much faster and effectively doubles the speed of your memory operations.
The main things to look at when buying a RAM is the capacity.
There are different capacities for RAM.
4GB – This is the bare minimum you should have. It’s not enough for modern games though.
8GB – This is the balanced point. Most games will work fin, but it’s not future proof as there are more demanding games coming out every year.
16GB – A Future-proof setup. 16GB RAM is enough for at least 3-4 years as there won’t be any games that consume that much RAM.
Anything above 16GB is just overkill for a Gaming PC.
5. Storage (HDD/SSD)
There are two types of storage drives for a PC: HDD and SSD.
HDD stands for “Hard-Disk Drive” and it’s one of the most popular forms of storage for a PC.
SSD stands for “Solid-State Drive”, it’s nearly 10x faster than HDD, but also way more expensive.
So, which one do you get?
We suggest you get a 1TB (TeraByte) or larger HDD for your gaming PC. You can store all your data in this drive.
You should also get a 500GB SSD. This is where you install your Operating System and most of the games.
Having your Operating System and Games on an SSD will tremendously cut down the loading times and provide you with the snappiest operations.
However, if your budget only allows one storage then stick to a single HDD as it provides you with a larger capacity for a cheaper price.
6. PSU (Power Supply Unit)
PSU, also known as the Power Supply Unit does exactly what the name implies. It supplies power to your entire PC.
When buying a PSU, you don’t have to worry about a lot of things. Your focus should be the wattage only.
PSUs range anywhere from 300 to 1800 watts, but it the amount of wattage that you need depends on your other components.
Each graphics card requires a different amount of watts to power up.
Check out PCPartPicker to see how much wattage does your chosen GPU require.
Mostly a PSU with 500 or 600 watts is more than enough for a gaming PC.
Also, there are power supplies built for different form factors so choose one that fits into your gaming PC.
Word of caution: Always buy a PSU from reliable manufacturers like Corsair, Thermaltake, etc. As a low-quality PSU can wreak havoc on the insides of your computer. 80+ ratings mean the PSU is power efficient. So, only opt for PSUs with 80+ efficiency ratings.
You could literally place and connect all the PC components inside a Pizza-box and it would work fine, but that’s not how it’s done.
You need to put all your components in a compatible casing.
Now, there are hundreds of PC casings out there. From standard metal casings to the flashiest glass casings with LEDs and what not.
When choosing a casing, all you have to keep in mind is the form factor.
Some casings may not be big enough to house certain graphics cards, so it’s better to go with a Mid ATX casing as it’s compatible with ATX motherboards and most of the graphics cards out there.
There are different casing sizes available out there.
Mini Tower: Compatible with mini ITX motherboards.
Micro Tower: Compatible with micro ATX motherboards.
Mid Tower: Compatible with ATX motherboards.
Other secondary things include the number of buttons, USB ports, fan openings, etc.
A PC casing is your way to express yourself. So choose one that you like the best or the one that compliments your room decor.
You’ve got yourself a Gaming PC!
Well, that’s all you actually need to build a fully-functional gaming PC. However, there are still some secondary parts that you may or may not want to include in your PC.
1. Optical Drive.
2. Casing Fans.
3. Liquid Cooling Systems.
4. Expansion Cards.
1. Optical Drive
Back when USB storage was non-existent and the Internet was slow as a turtle. Every PC used to have an optical drive in the form of a CD or DVD drive.
Nowadays, optical drives are not mandatory for a PC as you can easily use USD drives, Solid States drives, or just the Internet to download or transfer data.
Still, if you’d want your PC to have an optical drive then go for a Blu-Ray drive as it’s the standard disk format today.
Only get an optical drive if you truly need it. Otherwise, there are no reasons to have one in 2019.
2. Casing Fans
Mostly your casings will come with pre-attached fans that provide ample cooling for your system.
However, if you are living in a really hot location or want to show off with beautiful LED fans then you can always purchase extra casing fans.
Make sure that your casing actually has the room to mount extra fans.
3. Liquid Cooling Systems
If you think that LED fans are the way to show off then you are completely mistaken.
Liquid cooling systems look like something out of a Sci-Fi movie and they keep your system as cool as a cucumber.
However, if you are not overclocking your PC or mining cryptocurrency then you definitely don’t need a liquid cooling system.
They may look fantastic, but they also put a serious dent in your wallet.
Only use one if you really need it. Or, if you have the budget.
It’s optional so you get to choose if you want it or not.
4. Expansion Cards
Normally a motherboard will have a built-in sound card, but you can always buy an external sound card to further enhance the audio of your gaming PC.
There are other expansion cards available as well like Wifi or Bluetooth cards. These will add wireless capabilities to your PC.
These are entirely optional and most of the latest motherboards will already have these feature built into them.
Now, you have built yourself a complete gaming PC, may be added a few of the optional parts as well, but there are some other accessories and peripherals that are mandatory for a PC.
These peripherals serve as the input or output devices for your computer. These include,
3. Game Controller
The monitor is definitely one of the most important and integral parts of the entire setup. What good is a mighty GPU if you can’t actually see the graphics at all.
The monitor makes sure that you get to enjoy the display of your shiny new PC.
When buying a monitor you need to focus on the size, resolution, and refresh rate.
The size of the monitor is a personal preference. If you are going to sit 3 feet away from your monitor then a 50-inch display is definitely not going to work.
The resolution determines how many pixels are available in it. The higher the number of pixels, the sharper and better the image.
- 1080p – If your monitor size is up to 24 inches then 1080p will look extremely fantastic on this display.
- 1440p – Normally known as the 2K display. Looks great on all display sizes and add extra clarity to the images. Requires a mid-range GPU (GTX 1060, RX 580, etc)
- 2160p – 4K display. Most newer TVs have adopted this resolution, but monitors are still lagging behind. Only the most powerful PCs can handle this resolution.
We advise you to stick to a 144Hz refresh rate for the sake of future-proofing. Otherwise, a 60Hz refresh rate is perfectly fine. Higher refresh rates are only necessary for competitive eSports players.
The good old computer combo. Even with the popularity of touchscreens out there, the keyboard/mouse combo still outshines every other input device out there.
If you are interested in playing competitive games that require a keyboard and mouse (Shooters, MOBAs, etc) then invest in a gaming keyboard and mouse.
Gaming keyboards and mice are designed to provide you with an advantage in the game.
Otherwise, any regular keyboard/mouse combo will suffice.
3. Game Controller
Well, you built yourself a gaming PC, so you are definitely going to play games.
If your games require a controller (Racing, Fighting, 3rd Person, etc) then get yourself a gaming controller.
Both Xbox One and PlayStation 4 controllers work on a PC. So, get the one you feel comfortable with.
Most monitors will already have a built-in speaker.
But, if you want to limit the sound to your ears then you can buy headphones.
Also, if you are interested in playing multiplayer games and voice chatting with your buddies then a pair of headphones is mandatory.
Buy headphones with an in-built microphone to easily communicate over voice.
Get a comfortable pair of headphones as you will be wearing them for your entire gaming sessions.
Now, you have the ultimate guide to building your very own gaming PC.
Doesn’t matter if you want to build a complete gaming PC with all the peripherals or just the CPU, we’ve covered everything in detail.
Hopefully, now you understand that building a gaming PC is not as hard as it sounds.
Now, go ahead and assemble all the parts together to create your shiny new gaming PC.
Got stuck? Ran into a Problem? Or, just want some expert opinion? Feel free to comment below and let us know!