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What Do I Need to Build a Gaming PC?

by Evelina Fairclough
build gaming pc

Regardless what kind of PC gamer you are, chances are that you have thought about setting up your own gaming PC. It doesn’t matter if you’re into classic games or the latest immersive RPG, being in charge of all the different components is so much better than buying a pre-built setup.

Why Should You Build Your Own PC?

For one, you can save more money. It’s like when you’re buying a house. Getting a fully furnished house may end up in you not liking some of the furniture and the way some rooms were designed, so you end up doing your own work, still. It could also be that some of the pieces inside the house don’t exactly fit your needs. Likewise, if you decide to live with a pre-built setup, you find yourself thinking there’s something lacking. If you decide to change some things, you end up spending more.

Moreover, when you build your own PC, you get to customize it to exactly how you want it to be. You get to choose both the software and the hardware. Most pre-built setups will have at least one component that you will realize is either lacking or too much. Being able to hand-pick all the parts means that PC is made just for you.

Additionally, when you buy the individual parts of your PC, you will be able to maximize the lifespan of your PC. When you get parts, you can choose those that can be expanded for future developments. For instance, if the latest games can run on 16GB RAM, you can make it so that it can be expanded to 32GB or even 64GB so that when newer games come in, you’ll be able to enjoy them without getting yet another PC.

Finally, building your own PC is just plain fun to do. You not only get to choose what’s right for your desired gaming experience, you also get to learn more about the latest builds and components, which is especially useful if you’re just starting out your PCDIY journey.

Now that you’ve decided you really want to build your own gaming PC, let’s see what you’ll be needing.

The Stars of the Show – The Primary Components

These are the parts that are considered the absolute, most important components of setting up your own PC. Here, you have the motherboard, graphics card, processor, RAM, power supply, and the storage. These are the most crucial components of a PC, and if you want peak performance, you should definitely be investing in these.

Motherboard

The motherboard serves as the platform on which the other parts of the computer “meet”. This is where you connect all the wires and circuits, where all screws are connected. It doesn’t really “do” anything, but the motherboard is what brings all the other components together.

In choosing the right motherboard for you, find out first which form factor it is that you need. Form factor basically tells you the size and number of ports, slots, and mounting holes in a motherboard. If you’re looking to build an expandable setup, you’re better off with a bigger form factor, such as the EATX or the standard ATX. Both of these have multiple RAM and PCIe slots. For a more compact build, you can go for the micro ATX or the mini ITX, both of which are best for singe-GPU setups. 

Processor

One of the most important parts of a PC is the processor, or CPU. In this area, you cannot take shortcuts or convince yourself that you’re trying to save money that’s why you’re getting a cheaper one. This is one of the first things you’ll need to check if you want to find out whether your PC can run a certain software or not.

When picking out a CPU for your new PC, you need to decide what type of workload you’ll be dealing with. Simpler tasks like browsing or word processing are referred to as single-threaded workload. Video editing and rendering, photo editing, and gaming are multi-threaded workloads. This is why if you’re building a gaming PC, you’ll need a processor that’s equipped for multi-threaded workloads.

Furthermore, if you’re interested in overclocking, you need to find a CPU that allows you to do that because not all CPUs in the market allow overclocking. However, this doesn’t seem to be a big issue anymore since most of the newer CPUs allow overclocking.

GPU

Once you’ve picked out your motherboard and processor, it’s time to select a graphics card for your gaming PC. With this task, you need to consider what type of gamer you are. If you are more into older games or MMORPG that are not too demanding on your computer, you can definitely settle for a less-than-powerful graphics card. For hardcore gamers who want to keep up with the latest trend in games, such as 4K resolution, then you definitely need to save up, because sometimes you may need more than one graphics card and that changes everything in your setup.

Take a look at the different graphics card tiers and what they are best used for, so that you can better decide which ones to pick.

RAM

Now, it’s time for you to choose your PC build’s memory, or RAM. RAM allows your computer to perform tasks and a higher RAM means you can multitask or perform more demanding tasks using your computer. If you’ve got yourself one of the bigger motherboards, you’ll find that you have more breathing room. You can expand the RAM by twice to even four times as much as you could with a smaller motherboard.

If you’re a serious gamer who’s looking to play even more of the upcoming games – which are guaranteed to be much more demanding than the games we have now – then you need to gear up. Nowadays, 32GB is way more than enough to play even the most visually stunning games on PC. In fact, this is already good enough for servers and workstations. However, if you’re preparing for future games, it doesn’t hurt to be thinking ahead by familiarising yourself with the best RAMs available for gaming.

PC RAM

Power Supply

A power supply unit (PSU) is a small, box-like part found inside the CPU case that is responsible for – as the name suggests – supplying power to your PC by converting the alternating current or AC to direct current or DC. It also controls the voltage, preventing any power surges or spikes.

Getting a decent PSU is just as important as getting a good processor because it can save you the trouble of having to go through the hassle that comes along with boot failures and crashes. PSUs are generally classified by their rail specific power and wattage, and again, you need to determine what exactly it is that you need out of your gaming PC in order to find the right one that’s fit for those needs.

Storage

The final main component of a PC that you need to pay close attention to is the storage. The size of your PCs storage is entirely up to you but you need to decide between two basic types. One of them is the hard disk drive, or HDD, and the other one is the solid-state drive, or SSD.

The HDD is the more mainstream, albeit older choice. It stores your data and you can install more than one if you want to compartmentalize the contents of each. An SSD, on the other hand, does everything an HDD does but with much more style. This is because it utilizes memory chips that allow the PC to boot faster. If there’s one thing we hate, it’s staring at a booting PC for minutes that often feels like forever. If you want more reliability and you’ve got the funds for it, don’t waste your bucks on an HDD.

The Supporting Cast – Peripherals

Peripherals are the things outside of the computer, the things that you attach to the computer to put to work everything that you have put inside. They serve as the medium for both input and output work. Having the best components will mean nothing if you don’t have the peripherals that are equipped to handle them.

Monitor

The monitor is in charge of the display. Even if you have the best graphics cards, it would all be for naught without an equally powerful monitor. Let’s say your graphics card can run 4K resolution, that would mean you need a 4K monitor as well. You don’t want to fry your computer while playing a graphically demanding game, now, do you?

You can choose a monitor – or monitors – based on its display resolution. Nowadays, 1080p is by far the most mainstream choice. You can view full HD on this resolution, especially on bigger monitors. However, anything beyond 24 inches could already give you some form of in-game aliasing. 1440p is more commonly referred to as 2K resolution, which is a huge upgrade from 1080p, and 2160p, or 4K resolution is the best one there is. 4K is not that common yet, but it is expected to be a more popular monitor choice in the years to come.

PC MONITOR

Keyboard

When building a gaming PC, you will benefit greatly from choosing a mechanical keyboard. They offer precision and speed, which are both necessary if you’re looking for responsive keys while playing. They also have gaming-specific keys that can often be programmed to make playing games so much easier than when you’re using a run-of-the-mill keyboard.

Mouse

They say the sign of a true gamer is the blister on your wrist from dragging the mouse back and forth for long periods of time. Well, if you’re using a gaming mouse, you’ll find that it is much more ergonomic and easier to maneuver, especially in games that require the mouse for navigation or mobility during gameplay.

Like a gaming keyboard, a gaming mouse allows you to program specific functions to the extra buttons. You can also adjust the sensitivity depending on what you need for your games.

Speakers / Headset / Headphones

Alas, these are the audio output devices. If you’ve managed to get yourself a decent sound card that lets you improve the quality of the audio, you might as well get the tools to get the full experience. Headphones, in particular, are extremely useful for gamers who are interested in multiplayer games that require them to communicate with other players.

PC HEADSET

The Cameos – Minor Components

Now, we’ll be moving on to the minor components of the PC. We call them minor because they don’t have a drastic effect on your overall gaming experience and they’re not always required, but they can still be important if you’re looking for more out of your PC.

Sound Card

A sound card is really not of that much importance because most of the newer motherboards have already integrated chips dedicated to take care of the audio input and output. However, you might still find yourself itching to upgrade to that surround sound that will make your gaming experience more cinematic. Let’s face it, playing as Geralt of Rivia on 4K resolution is just way better when you can also have an equally stunning auditory experience to pair it with. It just makes the game feel more immersive.

Optical Drive

To the younger generation who have not had the pleasure of seeing one of these before: No, it’s not a cup holder. We know that newer PCs no longer have an optical drive because most – if not all – games can already be installed digitally. Also, with the cloud and flash drives, there’s pretty much almost no use for CDs anymore. However, if you do own disks that you want to use, then getting one can’t hurt.

Fans

Fans, just like an optical drive, are completely optional. They do not affect the gaming experience directly. However, they provide additional cooling to the inside of your computer by drawing air from the outside. Most users typically put in 1-2 fans. Especially with a powerful PC build, you can expect your computer to produce a lot of heat. Leaving that as is might cause your computer to be unstable and potentially shorten its lifespan. However, a lot of the components inside the computer also come with built-in fans.

Case

After you’ve picked out everything that goes inside, it’s time to put them together and enclose them in a case. Picking out a case shouldn’t be too difficult, but you do need to make sure that the motherboard of your choice is size-appropriate. You need a mini tower for a mini ITX board, a micro tower for a micro ATX board, and a mid tower for a standard ATX board. You can save the mammoth-sized full towers for EATX boards which, unless you’re using your PC as a workstation or server, is not really something you’ll need.

Additionally, if you’re planning on adding graphics cards or using a bulky one, then you might want to skip getting a mini or micro tower.

Conclusion

Finally, these are pretty much all that you will need to setup your very own gaming PC. Just remember that better performance requires a higher budget, so you better be prepared to commit to it. As long as you understand what kind of gaming experience you like, you’ll have no problems picking out the right components.

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