When it comes to video games, many hardcore players will agree that gaming on a PC platform is significantly superior to its closest console rivals – PlayStation and Xbox. However, when it comes to building your very own custom gaming rig completely from the ground up, is it as difficult as many people claim it to be?
Building a custom gaming PC is not difficult once you understand the general steps involved. It’s similar to building legos, but you must have the correct hardware tools and read motherboard manuals and instructions carefully, and do not use bruit force to avoid damaging any crucial components.
When it comes to building your own gaming computer, it is always important to remember that basic hardware tools will be needed for most of the installation procedures, which are mentioned below.
I will explain all the necessary tools and the essential components you need to create a killer gaming PC and how much it should cost you, depending on which tier setup you want. Read on to find out.
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What You Need To Build A Gaming PC
- Screwdriver – if possible, prepare a utility screwdriver that can fit many different screw heads for various potential use (just in case) (Get an 80 in 1 screwdriver kit for a bargain on Amazon here.
- Cable ties – ensure proper placement of wires and cables (Get cable ties on Amazon here.)
- An empty tray – a magnetic screw tray works wonders to place your dismantled screws in one place
- Needle-nose plyers – to grasp onto, and even cut, certain parts of the wiring (get it on Amazon)
- Flashlight – this comes in handy during night-time installations, or if the surrounding environment is badly lit (You can use your phone but it’s more convenient to use a dedicated flashlight
- Thermal paste – this is only for precautionary reasons if you would need to reapply some thermal cooling paste onto your CPU (to prevent it from overheating) (Get it on Amazon don’t take the risk of overheating!)
What are the Essential Components of a Gaming PC?
To build your own custom gaming PC, these crucial hardware 7 components will be required to ensure all parts of the computer are running properly and sufficiently:
1.PC case/ Chassis
This is the exterior body of your gaming PC (Take your pick on chassis on Amazon)
This is the foundation for every other hardware to be installed on, you don’t want to go cheap with this!
3.Central Processing Unit (CPU)
The ‘brain’ of your PC, examples of CPUs are Intel Core i7 and AMD Ryzen. Take your pick from various CPUs including Ryzen on Amazon.
4.Graphics Processing Unit (GPU)
The primary hardware which controls your computer’s 3D application software (especially video games!) Make sure you pick the best one for your budget. If you want crispy visuals you need to go with a high-end GPU, MacBooks have terrible GPU’S for gaming which is one reason why they are not good gaming machines
5.Drivers (HDD/ SDD)
A drive is where are where all your software applications will be installed (example: C-drive, D-drive, etc) I recommend getting an SSD over a HDDs as SSDs are faster and more power-efficient than HDDs.
HDDs are priced lower but SSD prices are quickly falling. Xbox Series X/S and PS5 have an SSD, you don’t want consoles to have better tech than your gaming PC!
6.Random Access Memory (RAM)
RAM is the component that stores cache memory files for better application loading speeds and process power which reduces the load on the CPU to reopen applications, etc). Corsair is one of the best brands, and you can find them on Amazon.
7.Power Supply Unit (PSU)
–This will be the ‘power generator’ of your computer, having the correct voltage input is an important factor to ensure your computer works properly. Make sure you get the best one on Amazon.
As referred to the above, all these hardware components play their respective roles to ensure your gaming PC’s optimum performance and longevity.
Nevertheless, if you do have some extra budget to invest on other PC accessories, then buying some of these secondary components may yield better experiences for your gaming endeavours:
6 Useful But Not Essential PC Accessories
1.Sound Audio Card
Most motherboard configurations are already pre-installed with audio capabilities, a dedicated sound card can help elevate the audio quality by reducing sound ‘noise’, and even be used as a substitute if the built-in audio hardware doesn’t work properly.
Sometimes certain motherboards do not have integrated wireless configurations built-in, thus a wireless card would definitely be needed for you to enjoy multiplayer gaming as well as streaming purposes. You can get one for a great price on Amazon.
Even though fans are not major components for your gaming PC to work its wonders, cooling fans are vital to providing ample airways and cooling temperature to dispel the trapped heat within your computer case. Overheating and electronics equals a bad time, so take the time to pick the right fan for your budget.
A dedicated gaming mouse will provide more DPI (higher sensitivity for gaming) and certain mice like the Razer death adder(picture above) have 5 different programmable buttons with mechanical switches. These features are crucial if you play any real-time strategy game like StarCraft.
These special keyboards are specifically designed to provide extra comfort and clicking responses to ensure smooth gameplay experiences. The prices vary a lot; they start at around $40 going all the way to around $230; as your just starting, I reccomend spending the cash on your PC; you can upgrade to a better keyboard later down the line.
Take a look at your options on Amazon here.
The vast majority of PC gamers will use a mouse and keyboard, but for many games, especially if they are emulated console games, using a PC makes sense. Imagine seeing a prompt that says, “Press [A] to jump” it’s just better to use a controller.
This works well with multi-platform games like rocket league or Fortnite as they are designed with a controller in mind, whilst the Xbox Elite 2(picture above) is the best PC controller you can get, any old DualShock 4 or a controller with Bluetooth will be good enough.
Take a pic at the best option on Amazon here I personally LOVE the look and feel off the DualShock 5.
Now that you have understood the necessary components needed to create your very own gaming rig, how much do you really need to save to create your beautiful new machine?
Read on below, to understand more.
How Much Does It Cost To Build A Gaming PC?
These are some quick estimates of the total costs incurred to complete your PC gaming setup:
- Reasonable, yet reliable gaming PC (low – medium graphics): around $500,
- Mid-range gaming PC, with upgraded specs (medium – high graphics): upwards of $700
- Top-tier gaming PC (high – ultra settings): upwards of $1,300
- Extreme high-end PC (ultra – 4K settings): upwards of $3,500
Kindly take note that your overall price range varies significantly depending on your gaming expectations, component choices, retailer supply and sometimes even luck.
Always consult a professional technician or computer expert if you are having trouble distinguishing your gaming PC priorities and financial budgetary constraints.
Anyways, based on the earlier breakdowns of the essential PC components needed for you to build a gaming PC, here is how the budget would look like if you were to buy ALL of them, respectively:
NOTE: This list was prepared by identifying rough estimates of a medium-tier gaming PC setup, and do not reflect actual compatibility of each item to be installed together!
- PC case/ chasis = $60 – $100
- Motherboard = $80 – $150
- CPU (Intel i5, 8th generation upwards) = $150 – $200
- GPU (NVIDIA GTX 1050) = $150 – $200
- SDD (1TB M.2 SSD) = $60 – $150
- RAM (16GB) = $60 – $100
- PSU (500W and above) = $60 – $150
- Total price range = $620 – $1050
As you can see, a brief overview of a mid-tier gaming PC could cost you anywhere between the range of $600 to more than $1,000, depending on what you buy, where you buy and when you buy the parts.
If you’re looking to keep things simple, you can always buy a completed custom gaming PC like Skytech Chronos’ Mini Gaming Desktop, to save a lot of your time and energy instead.
Think you’ve got everything checked out already? If you want to know more on how to start assembling the parts together, continue reading below.
If your finding all these steps and components a bit too confusing, how about buying a pre-built rig? PC gaming master race is a company built by PC gamers FOR PC gamers that make great priced PC rigs check them out in my article.
Steps Involved in Building a Gaming PC
To kick-start your computer-building career, here are the general steps required to join together all those sweet gaming components bought earlier:
- Place the motherboard firmly on top of a smooth and even surface. Always read the instructions manual first (different motherboards may come with different configurations), and ensure that it is close by for quick reference checks.
- Properly attach/ install the CPU into the motherboard’s CPU socket. DO THIS GENTLY TO NOT DAMAGE THE HIGHLY SENSITIVE CPU.
- SSD (Driver)
- Install the M.2 SSD into its corresponding driver slot by removing an attached thermal guard cover (via screwdriver), before placing the SSD firmly into the specified slot. Reattach the thermal cover properly again, once the SSD is safely placed.
- Now, carefully attach your RAM stick into its corresponding RAM slot. If you are installing two RAM sticks together, they will need to be SPACED APART (install in the 1st and 3rd slot, OR 2nd and 4th slot). Insert them firmly but carefully, until a ‘click’ sound affirms its safe attachment.
- Attach your graphics card according to the GPU slots (also called PCIe Express Slots), and firmly push them in until a clicking sound is heard, prompting its safe attachment.
- (OPTIONAL) If you are attaching a high-end GPU graphics card, you may also be required to attach a power supply cable between the GPU and the PSU, to juice up the GPU due to its massive power consumption.
- PC case/ chassis
- Remove all screws on ONE SIDE of the PC case/ chassis only, and prepare to insert the PSU inside its allotted space (usually at the bottom).
- Once the PSU is in place, insert the motherboard (together with all attached components of CPU, GPU, etc.) in place.
- Attach all PSU cables according to their intended cable slots (motherboard, fan, etc.). Refer to the PSU explanation below for more details.
- Neatly arrange and fasten all attached wirings and cables via a Velcro attachment or cable ties to ensure tidiness and easy access to all the PC components.
- Once everything is in place, reattach the side cover of the PC case.
- Carefully insert the PSU into the PC case according to its allocated location/ slot (usually at the bottom half of the PC case.
- Attach the PSU cables according to their intended targets (motherboard, power button, fan, etc.), once all the other PC components have been installed properly inside the case. Refer to your PSU instructions manual if you are confused about the different designations of each PSU cable.
- If everything seems fine and dandy, turn on the power supply by clicking on its power switch at the back of the PSU, and everything should be set to go then!
As mentioned early on, the overall process is generally straightforward and mostly similar between all kinds of specs and configurations, barring certain unique processes which may differ from the steps explained here (due to different motherboard configurations, graphics card specs, liquid cooling installation, etc.).
Ultimately, it is always best to refer to your instructions manual first to properly identify the respective methods advised.
After all, you will certainly make some minor mistakes every now and then, along the way.
Still, perseverance is key here, if you wish to finally unlock your best gaming days with just a few screw clicks away! Why not opt for a gaming laptop instead? An Acer Nitro 5 gaming laptop would surely fit the bill, especially if you consider mobility as an important aspect of everyday gaming, anywhere and anytime.