Building a gaming PC is all the trend nowadays. You can find various YouTubers that build a PC in a certain budget using compatible parts they chose. And you too must have been enticed enough by them to finally feel confident enough to build your own gaming PC.
But how exactly do we do that? This will be a guide for building a gaming PC in 2021. We’ll walk you through the step-by-step process of building your own PC build. What we need is you to read this guide till the end, some patience, and a zeal to create something of your own (and not buy it pre-built from Amazon).
The reason we encourage PC building on your own is that it’ll be entirely custom-made by you. You take parts that you need. You decide the budget. And in the end, you get the feeling of accomplishment and pride of building your PC for the first all on your own. Also, the problem with pre-built PCs is that most of them are scams. Especially on Amazon, most pre-built PCs are designed in a way to loot you off your money in one way or the other by giving extra parts you don’t need or pricing the entire rig more than it was actually built for. That’s why we recommend you build your own PC. It’ll take time, a lot of research, and patience, but in the end, it’ll be all worth it. Promise.
But how exactly do you start building a PC? Well, before you start with anything you’ll need to decide the exact parts for everything which are –
The CPU is the brain of your gaming rig. It handles all the processing and tasking of your gaming system. It sends out instructions to the rest of your PC and tells them what they do. As such, you don’t wanna skimp out too much on the CPU.
The main competitors in the CPU market are Intel and AMD. You’ll be buying the CPUs from either of these companies. The companies keep getting ahead of each other periodically. Right now, Intel CPUs offer a better price-to-performance ratio than AMD, but this may change in the coming months so keep your research up to date. In AMD, you’ll want to buy a Ryzen 3 (or 5) 3rd or 5th generation for your setup and in Intel, you’ll want to buy an i3 or i5 5th generation upwards at the minimum.
This is the hardware that’ll give your games the most impact and also consume most of your gaming PC budget. It is recommended to spend at least 30% (or more) of your budget on a GPU. It’ll boost your gaming performance immensely and you’ll notice the difference immediately if you are switching from integrated graphics.
There are a lot of varieties in GPUs right now. Each version of GPU has different versions from different companies. The GTX 1050 Ti, for e.g., alone has about 10+ versions with each offering some unique feature of its own. That’s why it can get confusing which GPU you should buy. Keep your head cool, and refer to the internet to check which GPU is the best buy according to your budget. However, make sure you don’t skimp out on a better deal just because you stuck too hard with your budget. A GPU is something you don’t want to skimp out on.
A motherboard is the body that accommodates all your parts in one single place and connects them together. It is through the motherboard that the CPU sends its instructions which are then separated and sent to different parts of your PC. An ideal motherboard should support enough RAM if you feel like upgrading in the future and should also be the ideal size for your cabinet.
Most importantly, it should have a socket that supports the exact version of your CPU. For e.g., you’ll need an LGA 1151 motherboard for an i5 with 1151 chipset. This is the most important compatibility that you need to look out for while buying a motherboard. Not only that, but also make sure what’s the maximum amount of RAM and RAM frequency the motherboard can support. If you end up buying RAM that has more frequency than the motherboard can support, you’ll need to underclock it to the supported frequency making you miss out on potential performance. There are lots of motherboards you can choose from, with Gigabyte being one of the most competent and reliable providers out there.
RAM is where you’ll get all your short-term memory from. Insufficient ram will cause your system to malfunction and give loading or booting errors. To avoid that make sure you get sufficient RAM for your system. About 16 gigs is enough RAM for your gaming system. If you need more for your editing or animating task, you can always add more RAM to your system till the limit your motherboard allows it. Another important aspect of RAM that people are unaware of is RAM frequency. RAM frequency can range from 512 MHz to anywhere about 4166 Mhz (and even more).
It can get very confusing about which RAM frequency does your system actually needs. And we have the answer – 2666 Mhz. Anything above 2666 Mhz gives extremely little to no improvement in gaming performance. However, you may need higher-frequency RAM for video editing and animating. Make sure you do enough research about how much RAM you actually need for your system. Corsair and HyperX are reliable companies that sell quality RAM chips.
Storage is where all your files will go – your games, movies, personal data, etc. It’s thus crucial that you don’t end up buying any cheap hard drive out there or you put yourself at risk for loss of data.
With storage, you have two options – SSD and HDD. Both have their pros and cons. HDD offers large amounts of space at a cheaper price but at the cost of slow loading times. SSD on the other hand offers a worse price-per-size ratio but makes it up with much, much faster loading times. It’s important to note that your storage won’t affect your gaming performance except faster loading time – that’s it. In the end, it’s your decision what you want – more size or faster loading. Most setups run a duo of small SSD and medium-sized HDD, by keeping their operating system in the SSD and one or two select games, and the rest of it in HDD. This way is more expensive, but it’s also a very viable option for those who don’t want to spend all their cash on SSDs. Seagate and WD are reliable brands to buy HDDs from.
Your CPU is going to get hot doing all the task-intensive work and setting out all those instructions we were talking about. To avoid your CPU not burn into a toast from overheating, we need a good cooler to cool it down.
Most CPUs come with a stock fan/heatsink that provides basic cooling to the CPU. If your plans for the CPU are keeping it in normal factory conditions, then the stock cooler works just about fine. However, if you plan on overclocking or using it under constant heavy usage, it would be time for you to think about going for something more effective. A better air-cooler or liquid cooler will provide much better cooling performance than a stock cooler, allowing you to increase your CPU’s overclocking potential and getting more juice out of it. You’ll also need to think about getting coolers for your PC cabinet for your GPU if the GPU temperatures are hitting 80 or 90 degrees, which may damage your GPU.
For all the above-mentioned components to work, they need power. Your PSU, or power supply unit, provides just that. It has 6-pin and 8-pin connectors through which it powers the HDD, motherboard, and occasionally your graphic card.
Because of this, you need to make sure your system is not having a lack of power supply or it’ll start malfunctioning. After you are done deciding all your parts, check the power supply if they consume on a wattage calculator online. According to that, you can buy a PSU fulfilling the requirements. Most low-end builds don’t require more than 450W to run. I’ll say that it’s a good idea to buy a 650W or a 550W PSU to future-proof your PC. Antec, Thermaltake, and Corsair are all reputed companies that make quality PSUs.
When your PC parts are assembled, they’ll be put in a PC cabinet. This PC cabinet can hold extra fans as well to provide more cooling for your GPU and motherboard. Choosing your PC cabinet is an important final step to completing your PC. No matter how expensive your parts inside are, if the cabinet outside looks cheap and dingy, all your expensive parts will lose their charm and won’t be worth it.
Thus it’s worth investing in a good decent looking cabinet that is sturdy to make sure your PC gets its final cherry on the top for looking great. It’s also worth getting a cabinet that has RGB because if your RAM and GPU have them, then it’ll compliment them well. Many companies provide amazing cabinets. You should be on the lookout for a cabinet that is minimum a mid-tower so all your parts fit, with slots for extra fans and a design that appeals to you.
How to Build Gaming PC?
Now that you have chosen your parts correctly and bought all of them, it’s time to put the PC together. This part is scary for many people as they worry about what’ll happen to their components if they do something wrong. Worry not, because we’ll be guiding you through exactly that. Before we start you’ll need –
- A magnetic screwdriver for small screws (or a normal one works as well, provided you are extra careful).
- A space to work at, like a big table.
- Non-carpeted floor so you don’t produce static electricity and damage the components.
- A USB drive with an OS installed on it and ready to boot.
Once you have all the components ready, take your motherboard out of its packaging and put it on your work surface.
First, we install the CPU. Note where the CPU socket is on the motherboard. It should be covered by a protective plastic cap. In one corner of the cap, or on the socket itself, there’ll be a small arrow. Not the position of that arrow as it’ll decide the side your CPU goes in.
You’ll see a lever next to the CPU socket. Press down on it and pull it gently to the side (away from the socket) to open the socket tray. Now open the CPU from its packaging.
Hold the CPU very carefully on the edges, never on the bottom or top of it as the dust and oil on your hands may damage it. Put it down slowly by lining an arrow you’ll see on the CPU with the arrow on the socket. Once it’s gently seated, lower the lever down and push it back into place. It may require a bit of force.
Next, if you have an M.2 SSD, then this is a good time to install it.
Find the M.2 slot on your motherboard. It should be small, horizontal, and will have a tiny screw across from it. Remove the tiny screw slowly and slide the M.2 SSD into the slot very gently. If it’s not going in properly, you are doing it wrong. Once the SSD is in the slot, push it down and replace the screw to lock the SSD there.
The next step is installing whatever cooling you have bought. Thing is, each cooler is different. Some require a bracket, some don’t require a bracket, and some coolers use a different bracket altogether than the one supplied. Make sure you refer to the manual closely and set your fan up in a proper way. Also, some coolers come with thermal paste pre-applied on their conductive material on the top of the CPU. In that case, you won’t need to buy thermal paste. However, if your cooler doesn’t have that (like, if you are using a stock cooler) then you’ll need to buy thermal paste and apply it before you apply the cooler. About a pea-sized amount of thermal paste will do.
Next, we install the RAM. There will be either holder (in old motherboards) or automatic slots that accept RAM directly with just a bit of force. It is a good idea to refer to the manual of your motherboard to find the idle configuration for setting up the RAM on it.
Next, we install the power supply or PSU. Unpack the PSU from its packaging. Take one decent look at your PC cabinet and you’ll figure out where the PSU is supposed to go. In most cabinets, the PSU goes on the bottom, near the back. There will be a vent there specially made for the PSU. Mount it there with its fan facing outside the case. Attach it with the four screws that came with the PSU.
Next, we attach the motherboard to the cabinet. If your motherboard came with an I/O shield, a rectangular sheet of metal, apply it first on the back of your case. When the I/O shield is in place, you are ready to install the motherboard. Make sure your cables are managed and threaded in a suitable way and then place the motherboard by aligning it with the I/O shield. Mount the motherboard at the center screw first to hold it into place. Then fill all the screws step-by-step slowly to fix the motherboard in its place. There will be approximately 9 of them. Connect the power supply to the motherboard now, with one 8-pin connector for the CPU and one 24-pin for the motherboard.
Next, we install the GPU, our crown relic. Find a PCIe x16 slot on your motherboard. It should be longer than the other PCIe slots. If your motherboard has multiple PCIe slots, attach it to the highest version available which is usually PCIe 3.0 x16. Also, make sure the slot you are attaching it to gives your GPU some breathing space. Remove the GPU from its packaging and align it with the rear bracket and slot itself, and gently push it in. You should hear a click. Once it’s seated, secure it to the case with one or two screws. If your GPU requires extra connectors from the PSU, then connect those to the GPU.
Next, we install storage. Inspect your cabinet to check where the stack of bays are, separated by either trays with plastic switches or metal brackets.
It is important to note that some HDDs and SSDs come in 2.5″ size. These have separate trays of their own and, logically, can’t fit the 3.5″ HDDs. However, the vice versa is also true.
If you have tool-free bays, each bay will have its own plastic lever or switch. Open or unlock the lever and you should be able to pull out the tray. Place your drive in the tray and slide it back. It should click into place.
If you have metal brackets, put a drive in one of these bays and simply screw it into place with as many screws as you can spare. Make sure the socket section of the hard drive is facing the side of the motherboard.
Once they are in place, connect them to the motherboard using a SATA cable and to your power supply.
And that’s it, you are done!
Plug in your monitor, keyboard, and mouse. Now simply plug in the bootable USB driver to load your operating system.
You’ll be asked first to check your BIOS at startup. Press the key to do so, usually displayed on the screen while loading. In most cases it’s F5.
You’ll want to check that the BIOS recognizes all your devices properly, which you can check in your PC’s system info.
The next crucial step is going through the BIOS until you find the Boot Order or Boot Priority option. Make sure your USB flash drive is prioritized first, and then the second drive is the one you want to install your OS on (preferably your SSD).
Restart now, and your computer will start the OS Installer from the USB. Follow the instructions and install the operating system you want.
And with that, you have successfully built and started your own very first gaming PC. Pat yourself on the back, because you deserve it. If you need more quality content like this on your feed, make sure you follow your website for regular updates.