How to Build a Gaming PC
How to Build a Gaming PC
Table of Contents
Chapter 4: 23
How to Spec Your PC
Chapter 5: 28
Chapter 6: 30
Building Your PC
Chapter 7: 38
BIOS & Getting Started
Chapter 9: 41
References, Tools, & Deals
Why We Build Instead of Buy
Since you are reading this, it is safe to assume that you have already decided on building your own PC, but if for whatever reason you are still on the fence, this chapter is for you.
When I first decided I wanted to move away from my MacBook Air onto a desktop PC the first thing I said was “I absolutely don’t want to build one, I will gladly spend more money for someone else to do it for me.” I was headstrong too, it took me weeks to finally give in and learn about building my own, as opposed to just buying one built.
It seems that the only advice anywhere you look on the internet when searching “What’s the best prebuilt gaming PC?” is to “build your own.” Mind you, I knew nothing about computers prior to building my own; hence my apprehension to build one. I had no idea where to start. I didn’t know what parts I needed, what they did, or how much they cost. I didn’t even know what tools I would need (only a small screwdriver). So when I dove into learning about parts and started reading about I7-6700K CPUs I had no idea what was going on. It made any sort of article/guide seem like interpreting another language. I was going nowhere fast, and I honestly didn’t truly understand some of the purposes of components until after I had already assembled my PC. That’s when I realized I cut some corner and already needed some upgrades.
Regardless, my research still shifted from best PC to buy to how to build one when I realized just how absurd the markup for prebuilt PCs was. They charge almost double what the specs are worth when selling prebuilt. My PC cost me roughly $600 to build and can run Dark Souls 3 at 60fps at high settings – I could also be running some great graphic design software, if I were artistic in anyway. The point being, a PC with similar specs to mine is worth nearly $1,000. It took me four hours to build, having absolutely no idea what I was doing (aside from two or three YouTube tutorials).
That’s the first reason we build instead of buy, it’s much cheaper. However, there is another reason. Building a PC helps you understand it better, especially if you come in with absolutely no knowledge about computers. I was never very tech savvy until I built my first PC. It also just shows a sort of respect for the machine, knowing where every part belongs and what it does. It also makes upgrading a breeze. It is so much nicer to buy a new $250 graphics card when yours is outdated than it is to buy a new $800 machine. I have friends who will recruit other friends to upgrade their machine, because they can’t be bothered to learn how their PC goes together. Don’t be that person.
As I said, I skimped out on my CPU (central processing unit- backbone of your PC) because I was unsure what all it did, and what its importance to the overall quality of my computer was. A few months in once I had learned a ton more about computers I realized my mistake. I’m working on replacing it now, and it’s only going to cost me around $250 to ‘fix’.
The goal of this guide is to help you understand what you are buying and what it does. I made several mistakes when building my PC merely because I was a beginner, what I hope to do for you is bypass some of those rookie mistakes so you won’t have to replace anything for years. While there are many videos on YouTube on how to put everything together, they never do a great job of explaining what each part is, and how to actually spec out a PC. This book puts a huge focus on understanding how to spec out your PC before you build it. Putting it together is easy, it’s just like Legos – some simple instructions. Making sure your money goes towards pieces that will last you years is where it can get tricky.
In the next chapter I’ll talk about what your specific needs for a desktop computer are, giving you a better idea of the quality of specs you’ll need inside it.
Deciding What Your PC Will Be for
This is a fairly simple step in the process of building a PC but it is an important one. I built my PC for gaming, with the idea of using it for school sitting in the back of my head as a justification. My main reason for wanting a PC for gaming is because I wanted to play all of the old Xbox and Xbox 360 games I never played as a child. Knowing this I knew I wouldn’t need an extremely powerful graphics card right away to play these older games at max settings. This helped me save some money, that I ultimately ended up spending on Windows 10 – otherwise it would have gone to a better CPU, had I known more when I was getting the specs for my PC.
There are a few different main functions of a desktop I’ll outline, and I’ll add what specs should take priority for each build. If you are like me and at this stage have a very lose understanding of what goes in, or none at all, just revisit your build once we’ve gone over what each spec is and what it does in the next chapter.
Standard Desktop (for school or everyday use):
This will be the simplest, and cheapest of all the builds I will talk about. This build is perfect for a family computer, especially with younger children. If you don’t plan on playing any high demanding games (most of the games on steam) this build doesn’t even need a graphics card, which saves you about $150-$300 right of the back. CPUs have a built in graphics processor as well, so you would still be able to run some low demanding games and software. So for this build you would just need a motherboard, power supply, average CPU (i3/dual cores are fine), and a hard drive. Add in an optical drive for reading CDs and you’re golden. This build is normally around the $300 mark. I built my mother a simple desktop with these parameters and it was much easier than going out to buy one prebuilt. Admittedly we did save some money by recycling an old monitor, mouse, and keyboard.
Midrange Gaming PC:
This is technically what I have, and I can testify you can stretch that midrange up into a fairly high performance. This build will have a graphics card but you don’t need to shell out enough money to buy one of the best performing ones (GTX 1080), you instead can go with something more average like the GTX 950, or the GTX 960. I have the 960, which gets me max settings on almost everything I play. The exceptions being very high demanding games such as Witcher 3 and Fallout 4. Though that is partly to blame on my CPU – both of those are very CPU heavy games. Recommending an i5 (or quad cores) as a minimum, I only have an i3 (dual cores). After this, you just need a CPU (Preferably an i5 or up, but an i3 works fine if it fits your motive for getting a PC), a power supply (always a high quality one), a hard drive (Preferably a 1TB or more), and a motherboard. With any gaming build you have the option of getting an SSD (Solid State Drive) which is a storage device that will aid in incredibly fast load times and refresh times. I don’t have one myself yet, but am looking to get one soon. Purely optional. This build is generally $500-$700.
High Quality Gaming PC:
This one is obviously going to be very similar to the above description with a few changes. Firstly, you’ll want that top tier graphics card, the GTX 1080, on top of that you are going to want at least an i5 processor, or an AMD (different brand) equivalent – anything with more than dual core is what you want. If you go with a CPU with dual cores (i3) it will bottleneck the Graphics card (GPU), hurting its performance. If you are going this far you will probably want to invest in a 4K monitor as well. Another important distinction in this build is you will want some powerful fans in there to aid in cooling. When you have a build that is going to be so demanding you want to be able to cool it down. There are several programs that let you track the temp. of your PC when it is in use to get a better idea of where your computer is at; 30 degrees Celsius is the resting temp, you don’t want it going much higher than 80 degrees Celsius. That’s when risk of component failure sets in. The more you want to push your PC the more fans you will want. When you’re asking for a better output it means it’s going to need more electricity to accomplish this, which will result in more heat. This comes into play a lot with overclocking, which is when you try to push passed the limitations on your GPU or CPU. Some parts are built to be overclocked such as CPUs marked with ‘k’ (i5-6700k). Aside from that for this build you will just need a motherboard, power supply, hard drive, and pick up an SSD. This build generally runs from $800-and up.
Graphics and Animation PC:
The last type of PC I will talk about is a graphics design one, or for animation. This is a niche market, but I’ll touch base on it anyways. This would be perfect for you aspiring Pixar animators. High quality animation takes a ton of processing power to do. You’ll want a pretty solid graphics card, like in the last build (1070 or 1080) but a key importance in a build like this is a very strong CPU. You can’t really afford to go any lower than an i7 (8 cores and hyper threading). Graphic design utilizes the hyper threading heavily, whereas it is hardly ever used in modern video games. Although recently game developers have been moving towards using hyper threading and more than 4 cores in gaming, but as of now you can still get away with using an i5 in a gaming PC.
These are the four basic classes of a PC; it is important to see where you fit in before trying to spec your computer. Really understand what you want, it’ll help you a few years down the line when you decide you want to upgrade some parts. In the next chapter we are going to learn about what all these parts are, and what function they hold within the computer.
What You Need & What it Does
This is probably the most important chapter in this guide. When I got my specs figured out a had a very vague idea of what I was doing. I knew what the parts were, but I wasn’t really sure what they would do for my gaming. That’s how I ended up with a worse CPU then I would have liked. All to save $30, and now I’m looking for $250 replacement only a year later. I basically referenced prices of similar branded products to gauge the quality of it, because anytime I tried to read about which one was stronger I was overwhelmed with a mess of things I didn’t understand. So let’s get you filled in.
Firstly, I’ll list the parts we will be going into and then I’ll go over them in the order they are listed.
RAM (8 GB)
Optical Drive (optional)
Wi-Fi PCI adapter (optional)
Additional Fans (optional)
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How to Build a Gaming PC
Do you want to buy a gaming computer and leave consoles and 30fps behind, but find they are just too expensive? Everywhere you look just tells you to build one yourself but you don't have any background with computers or their parts, and learning seems overwhelming and no one will extend a hand to help. This book is that hand. Even if you have no prior information about computers, or computer specs this book will teach you what you will need to build a PC and go into a detailed description of what each component does in easy to read and understand language. Learn the difference between an i3-6100 and a i7-6600K, and the difference between a MSI GTX 960 and a ASUS GTX 1080. This information is invaluable for novice builders, and when explained clearly isn’t difficult to understand in the slightest. $3.99 here will save you hundreds of dollars in parts in the long run. Don't go into your first build blind and waste money. Take a step back and learn how to balance your build so you end up with the computer capable of what you want. Or steal the builds of some of the examples laid out within this book, they’re all fully built and tested. Ultimately learn how to put it all together in this clear and concise guide to building a computer. Building a computer is like building Legos, and this book is your instruction manual.
Skip out on the PS4 pro/Xbox One S and put that money toward this book and get started on building a machine even more powerful!
Included in this book are several websites I use to find the best deals on computer specs, accessories, and games. Also feel free to follow my twitter (William_Ken95) for the best daily deals on computer specs & accessories.
- Author: William Kendrick
- Published: 2017-01-20 05:50:10
- Words: 9344