So you’re ready to build your gaming PC from scratch. You have your money lined up to purchase all CPU parts necessary, but you have doubts if your shopping list is complete. We can’t blame you.
Building a PC from scratch is intimidating the first time you do it because you don’t have the confidence just yet. You’ve seen those videos on TikTok where someone built a PC and all of a sudden, the GPU catches fire.
Now we’re not saying that this is what will happen to your computer components after assembly. Your nerves are probably getting the best of you because this is your own gaming PC and you don’t want all the other components to just go up in flames.
Don’t fret because this article will go over what you need to do and what parts you need to build your first gaming PC.
We’ve decided to break it down into four steps:
- Identify What You Want To Build
- Get All Your Tools Ready
- List Down All Computer Components
- Read These Guidelines First Before You Start
Identify What You Want To Build
No two gaming PCs are made equal, and we say this with confidence because the build of your own computer will depend on what kind of machine you want and how big your budget is.
If you’re a content creator who edits and uploads gaming content on YouTube or if you stream on Twitch, then you need something more robust and powerful than your average gaming PC. You’ll need top of the line processors, a high-end graphics card, and a storage device with higher capacity.
Once you’ve identified what you need out of your gaming PC, your next consideration will be your budget. Depending on what your budget will allow you to purchase, you’ll want to adjust the specs as you start to finalize the build.
Then there’s the issue of available stocks for your PC parts, which greatly affects your ability to build a PC and your budget. Graphic cards aren’t exactly accessible to a lot of people at this time of writing. The Covid-19 Pandemic plus the hoarding of GPUs by cryptocurrency miners caused a shortage of GPUs worldwide. But with cryptocurrency mining slowing down, it might take a while before you’ll see graphics cards returning to their MSRP.
Get All Your Tools Ready!
All right. Now that you have an idea on what you want to build, you’ll want to secure the tools as the next step.
First, you need a large workspace that allows you to work without any hindrance. You need to make sure that this workspace isn’t on any carpeted surface because static discharge can damage components. You can also secure your workspace with an anti-static mat.
Then you’ll need two screwdrivers, specifically a Phillips #2 screwdriver for all the parts and a Phillips #0 for installing an M.2 device. You can make use of magnetic screwdrivers so you don’t accidentally drop screws in different crevices.
The magnet from a magnetic screwdriver is weak so you shouldn’t worry about damaging your components with it.
You’ll also need scissors and cable ties for the cable management aspect of building a PC.
List Down All The Computer Components
Okay, now let’s get down to business. It’s time to gather all the parts that you need to build your gaming PC from scratch.
Here’s a list of what you need:
- Computer Case or PC Casing
- Random Access Memory (RAM)
- Graphics Processing Unit (GPU)
- Storage device
- Power Supply Unit (PSU)
- Cooling System (CPU cooling and GPU cooling)
- Input Devices
- Operating System (OS)
Let’s look at the individual components and what they do:
The computer case or PC case acts as your component’s housing. Computer cases help secure motherboards, power cables, fans and cooling systems, and some parts.
There are different PC case sizes, each of them with their own features and advantages. The kind of casing you’ll need will depend on your motherboard, desktop space, and aesthetic preference. Usually, people will just determine what kind of case they want to use based on their motherboard and available desktop space. Most motherboards would fit inside mid tower cases, but you might opt for a bigger computer case if you are planning to accommodate more case fans, liquid cooling, or possibly a bigger graphics card (we’re looking at you, Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080!).
The CPU, or central processing unit, or commonly known as a processor, comprises the first half of your PC’s central nervous system. Considered as the brain of modern computers, a CPU is the part responsible for handling and calculating information and instructions that it receives from the other components’ software.
Desktop computers will never be able to run without a processor, so that’s how important they are.
The motherboard, or mainboard to some, is considered as the second part of your your PC’s nervous system. You’ll find your primary circuit board, slots to attach your components to, and a central hub that manages these different parts.
Your optical drives or storage drives, CPU, graphics cards, RAM, and fans are installed into the motherboard. The motherboard will combine your components’ unique functionalities to give you a cohesive functioning PC.
What kind of motherboard you’ll choose will limit the PC parts you’ll be using, from RAM modules you’ll need to use to the available CPU socket, and other nuances. Motherboards also somewhat dictate the kind of PC case you’ll need to use, so there’s that to consider as well.
RAM, or Random Access Memory, is responsible for determining how fast your PC is able to execute certain processes. A higher RAM capacity means that your PC will be able to handle more processes at a faster rate.
RAM can affect how many browser tabs and how many programs you can open, to put it simply. If you want to switch between a browser and a video game without lagging, you’ll need a RAM capacity of at least 8GB.
Graphics Processing Unit (GPU)
The Graphics Processing Unit, or graphics card, is responsible for displaying images on your monitor. The chip on the GPU performs computations that will allow the PC to render and display images, which is why people usually refer to it as a video card.
There are two types of GPUs: Discrete Graphics Processing Unit and Integrated Graphics Processing Unit.
- A Discrete GPU is a separate GPU that’s installed into a PC that will allow you to handle heavy tasks involved with gaming, video editing, and rendering.
- An Integrated GPU is prebuilt into the PC and takes a portion of its computing power from the processor. However, iGPUs are limited in terms of performance so you won’t be able to do gaming, rendering, or video editing.
When it comes to gaming, you’ll need to know about three types of storage devices: HDD, SSD, and NVMe SSD. All three have the same function of storing data, but the difference lies in their speed. HDD stands for Hard Disk Drives and SSD stands for Solid State Drives.
HDD storage devices are the slowest with a rate of 100MB/s for reading and saving data. Solid State Drives or SSDs have about 500MB/S and NVMe SSDs have up to 7000 MB/s.
An HDD and SSD utilizes SATA cables through a motherboard and gets power from the PSU. An NVMe SSD is an individual component in itself and attached directly into the motherboard. The NVMe SSD doesn’t draw any power from the PSU.
NVMe SSD can be installed on a standard PCIe slot (Peripheral Component Interconnect Express), so as long as your motherboard has available PCIe slots, you can install NVme SSDs.
If you want faster load times for your games and transferring data, an SSD or NVMe SSD is the ideal storage device for you.
Power Supply Unit (PSU)
Contrast to their name, a PSU does not supply power to the entire system, but rather, they convert power. A Power Supply Unit or PSU is responsible for converting high voltage current or AC into direct current or DC. The PSU is also responsible for regulating DC output according to the power tolerances of modern computer parts.
When your CPU draws in power, it generates heat. You’ll need a CPU cooling system or CPU cooler to help manage the heat. This is necessary if you want your CPU to operate smoothly.
When a CPU gets too hot, it will automatically reduce the number of cores operating to dissipate heat. When this happens, performance becomes severely affected.
But it’s not only the CPU that needs cooling. Other parts such as the GPU will need help to dissipate heat from the motherboard. This is made possible by installing computer fans that blow in cool air and expels hot air to the back of the case.
Apart from fans, there are also other cooling options available such as liquid cooling (but this is a bit more expensive and not exactly meant for first time builders).
Part and parcel of building a PC is to get input devices, ranging from mice, keyboards, to monitors. These devices are plug and play, so you don’t have to worry about compatibility.
Personal preference is the biggest factor when it comes to choosing what kind of mice or keyboard or monitor you want to use.
Other PC parts that fall under this category are tablets, cameras, and microphones. You might need additional software to make sure that these devices function properly.
Operating System (OS)
Windows 10 is one of the best operating systems that you can use on your PC. You can purchase a physical copy of the OS or you can download it from the Internet.
There’s also the option of Windows 11, which comes from upgrading your Windows 10 operating system.
Read This Section Before You Build a PC or Shop For Computer Components
This section is important because we’ll tell you what else you need to do before you build a gaming PC or shop for parts.
This guideline is meant to point you to the right direction especially if it’s your first time building.
A video tutorial on building a PC is a lot better than reading a comprehensive guide. You actually get to see what’s being done when assembling a PC.
A tutorial video will give you a better understanding of the basics of PC building and its nuances. For example, you’ll probably see a video that talks about what kind of GPU is best for a particular processor.
Some tutorial videos will also go into more details in terms of PC components and their functionality. For example, a video might talk about maximizing clock speed or how to optimize storage devices so they store data efficiently.
Invest In a Processor and Graphics Card
The CPU and GPU are two of the most important parts of a gaming PC. You might try to cut corners if you’re on a tight budget, but trust us when we say it’s better to invest in both CPU and GPU.
Just because you’re saving money doesn’t mean that you’re getting a good gaming PC.
High-end CPUs and GPUs need sufficient power, so a cheap PSU might become troublesome in the long run. You also shouldn’t get a PSU that’s too powerful for both CPU and GPU because you’ll simply waste unused power.
Using a high-end GPU with a mid-range CPU might cause bottlenecking, meaning your GPU might not reach its full potential because the CPU can only render so much.
Avoid Static Discharge
Static discharge can damage computer components, and a lot of the video tutorials will constantly remind you about this.
An anti-static bracelet or wrist wrap is recommended to use for first time builders, but experienced builders won’t need one. Though they’ll probably still use it for best practices.
One of the best tricks to avoiding static discharge to not touch any metallic surface while touching a computer part. You also shouldn’t be working on carpeted surfaces.
Ask the Experts
Before you shop for PC components, it’s best to ask around and get recommendations from experts. We’re not talking about experts such as Linus Tech Tips, mind you. But rather, we want you to ask around experts in your area about PC components.
There’s probably a small community of PC builders in your area that will help you with your PC build. They might even recommend PC parts that match your budget and needs.
The Wrap Up!
And there you have it. Everything you need to know and do before you build a PC. If you are still feeling doubtful about your abilities to build a PC even after reading this article, then you might be better off with a prebuilt gaming PC.
Sure, you end up spending a bit more than having a custom PC build, but you do get that peace of mind.
However, if you are up to the challenge and feel that it’s time for you to take up your mantle as one of the more serious gamers, then build a gaming PC. Having your own computer is one thing, but building it is a completely different experience.