Building a gaming PC from scratch is a technological investment that ensures the system you choose to develop satisfies your personal preferences. You have the freedom to determine all components that go into your PC, from the power supply to the casing. Another benefit of a home-built PC is that it gives room for upgrades, considering how advanced technology has become.
Still, it can be incredibly daunting and intimidating for beginners, but we are here to help break down the process into manageable and digestible parts. In this piece, we will look at all the nitty-gritty details of what you need to know to build the gaming PC of your dreams. Let’s get started!
PC Build Tools And Accessories
The first thing you need to do is gather and prepare all the tools you need to complete the build. Preparing these tools beforehand will ensure a smooth sailing process.
You will need the following tools:
Start by allocating a clean and large surface that lets you work without interruption and distraction. Ensure that the workspace chosen has plenty of light to see the more intricate work in the process. We also recommend working at an uncarpeted surface to avoid accidental electrostatic discharge to your PC’s more sensitive components.
A screwdriver will be your trusty assistant in the PC build process. It is also good to keep a range of screwdrivers that differ in size and head shapes because you will never know which ones might come in handy. The most common screwdrivers that you may need to assemble a gaming PC include but are not limited to Phillips (cross head), Slotted, and Tri-point. A magnetic screwdriver will also prevent you from dropping the tiny screws into your case.
Anti-Static Wrist Straps.
Though this is optional, it is still a good idea to have an anti-static wrist strap to ensure that the body’s electrostatic discharges won’t damage any sensitive parts. This situation isn’t a common occurrence, but it is still better to be safe than sorry.
Tip: You can avoid using the Anti-Static Wrist Straps by touching the power supply when it’s on so they could ground themselves first, and don't go running around the carpet with socks!
With so many wires that go into a PC build, it can be messy, and mistakes could happen during the process. Although this is optional, tying your cables together will make the inside of your PC look neater and tidier, especially when it is transparent on one side. Sometimes cable ties are included in the PC case that you purchase.
It is not a must, but wearing gloves can prevent your components free of any microscopic dirt as you assemble your PC. Aside from the anti-static wrist straps, ensuring your gloves are static-free could also avoid any damage to your components from electrostatic discharge.
You probably also need a pair of scissors to cut cable ties and unpack the components during the process.
Having an organizational system in place makes the job a lot easier. The approach differs for everyone. Some may prefer to have all tools laid out according to height on the workspace’s right side. This method prevents all components from getting mixed up with others. (Can use those compartmentalized squares or even a magnet to hold all screws in place, as long as you know which screw you need.)
Gaming PC Case
Next, you’ll need to pick out a case for all the components you will install. There are many PC cases to choose from, which usually depend on an individual’s personal preference. It’s up to you, big or small, but make sure the motherboard and GPU fit the casing you’re installing it into.
The main thing to consider is your PC’s final location, which ultimately determines its size and the type of casing you prefer. For instance, if you want to invest in a tempered glass casing that showcases the internal components and aesthetic purposes, you probably want to put it out somewhere open where people can see it.
There are also three main types of case sizes that you can choose from between Full-Tower (ATX), Mid-Tower (m-ATX), and Mini-Tower (ITX). These case sizes typically are based on the motherboard size. If you want, there are also E-ATX PC cases that are much larger to store even more hard drives or handle much larger components - AIO coolers, liquid cooling systems, etc.)
Gaming PC Parts And Components
Now it’s time to gather and choose the components that will go into your PC. In this step, you can be as hands-on as you’d like to research each part to create your gaming PC, or you can always search for premade builds that are readily available. We recommend setting up a budget before picking out the components, and remember that there is still room for upgrading the individual parts later.
You should also keep in mind to make a build list and ensure that the components you pick out are compatible with each other, such as the CPU, RAM, and Motherboard.
Here are the components that you will need to build your gaming PC. We will go through each of them separately and in more detail to help you understand what each of them contributes.
Graphics Card (GPU)
Power Supply Unit (PSU)
Operating System (OS)
The processor, or known as the Central Processing Unit, is essentially the brain of a computer. The processor is in charge of enabling the computer to interact with all the applications and programs installed. There are two direct performance metrics of the processor that can help you choose the right CPU: Clock Speed and Core Count.
Clock Speed: The clock speed, also known as the clock rate, is a measure of the processing speed in gigahertz (GHz). It represents how many cycles per second it can execute.
Core Count: A CPU core is a CPU’s processor. In the earlier days, each core can only perform one task, but modern CPUs have multiple cores that allow the CPU to perform various tasks. In simpler terms, it shows how many tasks the CPU can perform simultaneously.
If you’d like, you can read more about CPUs in our article here.
The motherboard is the main circuit board where all the hardware in your computer is connected. The most important thing to note is your motherboard’s compatibility with the components that you choose as they get integrated into the motherboard. The most common motherboard sizes are typically the ATX, Micro-ATX, Mini-ATX, and Extended ATX. We recommend picking a large enough size to fit all current and future hardware into the motherboard.
A Graphics Card is the most crucial component of a PC build and is generally more expensive. Its core function is to take information and then render images and graphics from your PC to your monitor. GPUs were designed to process many pieces of data simultaneously, making them useful for other applications, not just gaming but also video editing. One of the main specifications that you will come across on a graphics card is the VRAM (video RAM).
GDDR5 was the older standard that still features a lot in an entry-level GPU. However, the new standard is the GDDR6 that features the latest AMD and NVIDIA cards. Generally:
4GB of VRAM is sufficient for decent performance of 1080p resolution.
6GB of VRAM is adequate for decent performance of 1440p resolution.
8GB+ of VRAM can expect a good performance of VR titles and 4K resolution.
Pro Tip: If you’re looking to cut costs on your GPU, look to the last generation GPU as they may offer similar results but at a lower price!
The Random Access Memory (RAM) is your PC’s short-term memory. It is fast and easily accessible, but as the name suggests, it is temporary. This is where your PC stores data that are actively in use. With that said, figuring out how much RAM you will need can be difficult. Having more RAM than you need would not be an added advantage as it would just be a waste of money, but having too little RAM will affect your overall rig performance. You may also see the term DDR when purchasing RAM. Ensure you choose the latest standard, which is the DDR4.
A general rule of thumb to follow:
4GB of RAM is the bare minimum you will need; suitable for light gaming and other fundamental computing tasks.
8GB of RAM works fine for handling most gaming and productivity tasks.
16GB of RAM would be the perfect amount to improve your overall gaming experience for years to come.
32GB of RAM is more than what you will need for gaming, and while it’s nice to have, the cost wouldn’t be worth it.
There are two main types of storage devices: Solid-State Drives (SSD) and Hard Disk Drives (HDD). As discussed in one of our earlier articles on HDD vs. SSD, there are pros and cons to choosing between these two. Typically, the bigger the drives, the more storage space it has. Hence, you can store more files, games, media, and so forth.
SSDs are faster, smaller, and durable, but it is also much more expensive. Whereas HDDs are cheaper and offer more storage space. The excellent news, though, is that you won’t have to choose just one. You can install both SSD and HDD into your PC! Most people use SSD as a boot drive for their gaming applications and other programs and an HDD to maximize their storage capacity.
Power Supply Unit (PSU)
The Power Supply Unit (PSU) is a relatively short term for the component that supplies power to your entire system. The PSU needs to be powerful enough to handle all current and future parts of your PC. You may want to consider purchasing a PSU with an 80 Plus efficiency rating. It is an industry-standard certification, and you will find that it comes in bronze, silver gold, platinum, and titanium certifications.
Pro Tip: Gold is sufficient for most gaming rigs, and even though platinum is the highest grade, it is more expensive and may not be worth it.
PSUs also come in three different styles, non-modular, semi-modular, and fully-modular.
Non-modular PSUs are the cheapest option that comes with all cables permanently attached. You may need to find a place to store unused wires, or it may result in poor performance due to poor cable management.
Semi-modular PSUs are the best option to go for as they come with the necessary cables attached.
Fully-modular PSUs are easier to work with, but it usually results in a higher price point.
In case you’re concerned about your components overheating, it’s not a bad idea to invest in PC coolers. After all, long gaming hours result in a rise in the internal temperature of your PC. There are two main ways to cool your PC: Air Cooling and Liquid Cooling.
Air cooling uses fans to funnel hot air from your system away from the components to prevent overheating. It is easy to install and is also cost-effective. However, it has its limitations. Air cooling depends on the efficient airflow inside the case so that it can move hot air away. If there are any airflow restrictions, it can be an issue. More often than not, entry-level or mid-range CPUs would already come with a basic air-based CPU cooler. If cooling isn’t much of your concern, the bundled air coolers would already be sufficient for day-to-day use.
Liquid cooling uses a liquid coolant, such as water, and acts as a thermal conductor to dissipate heat from the components. It is more expensive and complicated to install, unlike air coolers. They absorb heat instead of circulating cool air.
Some CPUs also come with attached coolers in both air cooling or liquid cooling form factors to prevent overheating. But if you want to overclock (boosting your PC’s CPU against its default clock speed) your PC, you might need an additional cooler.
Monitors, headphones, mice, keyboards, headphone stand, mouse pad, and other peripherals all come down to personal preference. You can opt to purchase these together with your components or take it one step a time; it is all up to you. Take your time with research to find out which are the best gaming peripherals that caught your interest.
Operating System (OS)
Last but not least, you’ll need to think about which software you need for your gaming PC. An operating system is a software that manages communications between your computer’s hardware and any other programs. There are three main types of operating systems that you can choose from Windows, Mac OS, Linux. It depends on your personal preference, but the more popular option would be Windows.
Installing And Assembling The Gaming PC
Alas, it is time to start building your gaming PC! Here is a step-by-step guide that will help you in your build. Without further ado, let’s start building!
Step 1: Prepare Motherboard.
Parts/Tools Required: Motherboard
The very first thing you need to do is to prepare the motherboard. This will make your PC build experience much easier to deal with. Remove the motherboard out of its packaging and lay it out on your workspace. As a general rule of thumb, you should install as many parts as possible before installing the motherboard to your PC case. If you’re unsure of anything during the process, always refer back to the user manual that it comes with.
You may also come across certain parts that may require some force when plugging them in, and that is entirely normal!
Step 2: Install CPU.
Parts/Tools Required: Motherboard, CPU.
Next, remove the CPU out of its packaging and lay it out on your workspace. Search for the CPU socket where you’ll see it covered by a protective plastic cap on the motherboard. In either the socket itself or the plastic cap corner, you will see an arrow and note the direction it is pointing. Next to the CPU socket, there will be a small metal lever. Push down on it and gently pull it aside to open the socket tray.
It is a reminder to be very careful with the CPU and the CPU socket as they are easily damaged if not cautious. Hold the CPU from its edges and try not to touch the pins on the bottom or on top of the chip to avoid any microscopic particles from getting in (we recommend wearing gloves for this part).
In the corner of the CPU, there will be another arrow. Align this with the indicator on the socket and gently place the CPU inside. Once the CPU is seated, you can lower down the lever and push it back in place. It may feel like the lever has a lot of tension and requires some force, but it is normal.
Step 2.1: Install CPU Cooling.
Parts/Tools Required: Motherboard with CPU installed, CPU cooler, thermal paste, CPU user manual.
Every cooler features different brackets and installation processes. We recommend reading the user manual that came with your CPU cooler to make this step easier.
Some coolers require a mounting bracket that slots in from the motherboard’s back, whereas some motherboards have brackets pre-installed. In some cases, you may need to remove or replace the frame. Once attached, the cooler is ready to go.
You should also check the cooler’s base to see if it has a thermal paste pre-applied or not. If the cooler doesn’t have a pre-applied thermal paste, you would need to apply it manually before seating the cooler. To apply, squeeze a small dot onto the middle of the CPU and then place the cooler on top. The pressure will spread the thermal paste equally.
Parts/Tools Required: Motherboard, M.2 SSD, screwdriver, motherboard user manual.
Locate the M.2 slot on your motherboard. It is a small, horizontal slot with tiny screws across. Then, remove the screws with your screwdriver and remember not to lose them. Gently slide the M.2 SSD into place. When it is installed, the device will stand at a 35-degree angle. Push the SSD back down and screw it down to lock it in place.
Step 4: Install GPU
Parts/Tools Required: Installed motherboard, GPU, screwdriver, screws, motherboard user manual.
Search for the PCIe* x16 slot on your motherboard. It is usually the most extended slot and may come in different colours. If your motherboard has more than one space, check the user manual to see which slot can be prioritized. The slot that you pick generally depends on where the other components are placed. You’ll want some breathing space for the GPU.
Ensure you remove the plastic wrapping from the GPU before installation. Next, you’ll need to remove the metal covers on the back panel of your PC case so that you can plug in the GPU’s I/O (HDMI or DisplayPort). Align the GPU with both the rear retention clip and the PCIe slot and slide the GPU in until you hear a click sound.
Once the GPU is seated, lock it to the back of the casing with the required screws.
Step 5: Install Memory (RAM).
Parts/Tools Required: Motherboard, RAM, motherboard user manual.
Most motherboards have either two or four RAM slots available. If you’re going to fill up the open spaces, line up the memory stick and snap it in place. If you’re not going to fill up all the RAM slots, check your user manual to determine which space your RAM goes.
Step 6: Install Power Supply
Parts/Tools Required: PSU case, PSU cables, case, screwdriver.
Unpack the PSU and set aside its cables. Figure out where the PSU is supposed to go by looking into the case. The PSU will usually have labels to make this step smoother. Work out what cables you will need in your build, depending on if you have a semi-modular or fully-modular PSU, then plug them in accordingly.
Ideally, you would want to place the PSU where the fan faces outside the case through its vent. Orient your PSU fan downward if there is ventilation at the bottom or upwards if there is no ventilation.
Next, attach your PSU to the case with the four screws that came with your PSU.
Step 7: Perform A Test Run (Optional).
Parts/Tools Required: Motherboard with CPU and CPU cooler installed, RAM, GPU, PSU, screwdriver, motherboard user manual.
Now that you’ve got your CPU and CPU cooler installed, you may want to test out your components to make sure they’re working correctly. We recommend performing a test run during this stage as it may be more challenging to carry out and troubleshoot once everything gets installed.
Ensure your power supply is connected to the motherboard and GPU before you plug it in and turn on the unit. Many motherboards do not come with power buttons, but some higher-end models have them. You can locate the power switch pins (small pairs of prongs sticking out of colourful nodules), and most of them are labelled. Use screwdrivers to tap both power switches simultaneously to turn on the motherboard.
You should be able to see if your components are working correctly or if they’re malfunctioning. Some motherboards will blink lights, beep, or have codes displayed to tell you what the problem is. Consult your user manual to figure the issue out.
When you’re finished with your test run, turn off the power supply and wait for any LEDs to go dark so there isn’t any residual power left.
Step 8: Install Motherboard Into PC Case.
Parts/Tools Required: Motherboard, case, I/O shield (if not attached to MOBO), screwdriver, motherboard user manual.
If your motherboard doesn’t come with an I/O shield - a sheet of metal cutouts for the motherboard’s ports, you should snap it into the cutout at the back of the case. Be careful with the shield as you might cut your finger due to its sharp edges.
Once it is in place, lay the PC case on the side and place the motherboard atop the standoffs. This would allow the I/O connections to weave through the shield. Once this is aligned, screw the board into place using the screws required in your user manual.
Step 9: Install Storage (HDD/SSD).
Parts/Tools Required: Motherboard, motherboard user manual, case user manual, screwdriver, HDD/SSD.
Check your case to search for the best spot to mount your HDD/SSD. Different PC cases have different mounting options available. Keep in mind to have cable management when you pick a place as you want your PC build to look neat and clean. Some cases also come with a “tool-free” installation where you can just clip your drive into the drive tray.
Align your storage device against the tray. You will need to orient the device with the SATA connectors on the back panel; this is where your cables will run. Once it is aligned, screw it back into place and slide the tray back into the drive bay.
You can now connect the SATA cable that comes in your motherboard to your storage device and run it through the back and into the motherboard. Make sure it is connected to the right port. Read through your user manual if unsure.
Step 10: Cable Up The Front Panel.
Parts/Tools Required: Case cables, installed motherboard, motherboard user manual.
In this step, you should cable up the front panel of your case to the motherboard. This part might be tricky, so ensure that you have run your front panel cables out through the back before starting.
As always, if you’re unsure, check your motherboard user manual. Locate where your front I/O cables will be going before you insert the wires via its cutout hole. Follow the user manual instructions to connect the wires. Once they’re all connected, you can now connect the power supply cables.
Step 11: Install Operating System (OS).
Parts/Tools Required: PC, monitor, keyboard, mouse, operating system.
If you haven’t already prepared your operating system (OS) on a USB flash drive, ensure you do so. Plugin the USB flash drive with your OS included, along with any other gaming peripherals you need, and then turn on your PC.
You’ll be prompted to press a key to enter the system setup or BIOS (a firmware used to perform hardware initializing during the boot process) on the screen. Once in the BIOS, you may need to change the boot priority so when your PC loads, it does so from the USB drive with your desired OS.
You’ll also want to double-check to make sure your components are correctly installed and recognized.
After changing the boot priority, save your changes before exiting. Restart your computer, and it will boot from the USB, and the OS installer will pop up. Follow the instructions to complete the installation.
Building a PC on your own can be an intricate process as a whole, from finding the right components to installing it. However, the result can be gratifying because you’ve successfully built it on your own! The best thing about making your gaming PC is that there is always room for improvement and upgrades.
The PC you just built will act as the foundation to all the gaming experiences ahead, and upgrading and fine-tuning the components is how you show that you are the owner. You’ll also save a lot of money by customizing it to your preferences.
With that said, we hope this guide helps you understand a little more about building your very own gaming PC.
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