Quick Guide to Building Your First Gaming Computer

If you feel confined by game consoles in regards to graphics, upgrade options, and cheaper games, it’s advisable to build your own gaming computer. This kind of PC will also offer other notable advantages, such as a wider game selection.

Given there is no contest between PCs and consoles, let’s go directly to discussing what it takes to build your first gaming desktop. Armed with the right information, building your own desktop is surprisingly easy and fun.

Important: This guide is far from exhaustive and detailed. It’s solely meant to help you know the basics of what you need to have a successful 1st build. 

What parts do you need?

To get started, you’ll need:

I. CPU

CPUs (Central Processing Units) act as the “brain” of any computer. When building a computer solely for gaming, there are countless CPU options varying by price, among other factors. Intel and AMD CPUs are currently the best. However, there are other CPU brands that will get the job done. If you pick an AMD CPU, consider high-end options like Ryzen or Threadripper processors. For Intel CPUs, 8th or 9th generation processors will work perfectly.

II. Motherboard

You also need a motherboard to connect all your PC hardware together. Like processors, there are many options in this regard ranging from simple to feature-rich motherboards. Your processor should guide you when selecting a motherboard to avoid compatibility issues. You should also consider features such as CPU overclocking capabilities, connectivity options, and lighting.

III. GPU

You need a graphics processing unit or video card to enjoy a great visual experience. GPUs give computers the power to solve complex graphics calculations that make computer games look great. While most CPUs come with integrated graphics, you’ll need a GPU to enjoy modern video game experiences. Nvidia and AMD offer great GPUs. There are many considerations depending on factors like resolution and frame rates. Cost is also a factor with low-end modern options like Nvidia’s GTX 1050 Ti and AMD’s Radeon RX570. For cutting-edge experiences, the Radeon RX Vega from AMD and RTX 2080 Ti from Nvidia are good picks.

IV. RAM

RAM is critical for short-term computer memory. When playing video games, more RAM is “KING”. Ideally, 16 -32 GB is enough for most applications currently and in the next few years.

V. Storage

You’ll need to store files for your OS, games you download, among other files/data. While hard disk drives are still viable, SSDs are better in regards to speed, durability, and noise (they are quieter). However, they cost more per GB. A combination of a SSD and HDD can work. You can also consider external storage.

VI. Casing

Once you have the above parts ready, you’ll need to house them. Computer cases come in many shapes, sizes. However, most will share similarities in regards to layouts. Every case has a provision where different parts are supposed to be placed/installed. Unless you’re looking to have custom cooling, among other features, you can choose based on preferences. While most cases come with fans, it’s recommendable to choose a casing that offers a provision for cooling solutions, if need be. A big case is always better for custom work in the present and future. Consider other preferences like lighting and ventilation.

VII. Power supply

All the different parts above need power. A PSU (power supply unit) powers all components. While most power supply units will work, you should research on quality, wattage, and efficiencies. The PSU you select should have enough wattage to power everything, including custom cooling loops and additional video cards, if any. It’s good practice to calculate your power requirements beforehand to ensure you get a PSU that will serve your needs perfectly.

VIII. Fan and Heatsink

A gaming computer is bound to produce more heat than a typical PC. As a result, you should think of how you will keep the entire system cool. While most CPUs are sold with coolers, there are other options like fans, heatsinks and liquid cooling solutions. Your first PC build can work perfectly with a fan or all-in-one liquid CPU cooler for gamers planning to overwork their systems.

Installing cooling solutions is easy though it varies from one product to another. Typically, you’ll need to attach your cooling system to your motherboard via thermal paste. Cooling systems come with detailed instructions. The most critical factor is compatibility. Your cooler should be compatible with your motherboard and CPU. You also need room inside your case.

IX. PC gaming screen/monitor

A good screen/monitor is crucial to complete your PC gaming experience. Entry-level monitors like (1920 by 1080) can work. However, there are higher resolution options bound to offer a greater experience, i.e. 2540 by 1440 or 4K for crystal clear images. Resolution aside, you should consider refresh rate. A higher rate i.e. 144Hz or more, will give a smooth viewing experience. Other factors to consider include aspect ratio and display size.

You need many other parts like keyboards, mouse, joysticks, etc. to complete your build. However, the above parts are the most important. You can always invest in accessories as the need arises. With the above parts, you should be guaranteed a great video game experience for a few years before technology changes, and newer/better PC parts emerge.

Assembling your first gaming PC

If you get compatible parts, you shouldn’t have a problem putting everyone together like a puzzle. However, you need some tips to avoid common pitfalls.

When installing RAM, use the memory guide to ensure you install correctly (the right orientation). Installing RAM is as easy as pushing open either sides of the RAM slot located on the motherboard and pushing down the RAM down in place.

When installing your processing unit, do so before placing the motherboard inside the case to give yourself enough room to work with. However, exact processes come with clear instructions. You should take extra caution when installing the motherboard. Since motherboards are delicate, they should be handled with care and secured firmly in place.

If you manage to wire up everything, power your power supply and turn on your gaming PC, you should get a motherboard BIOS screen if everything is connected properly. Finish up by installing the OS and start playing. If you get error messages, don’t worry. Such messages come with information on what needs to be fixed. What’s more – detailed installation instructions and debugging guides are readily available online.

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