Assembling a custom gaming PC is one of the easiest tasks. You do not need to be an expert to build your computer. It is as easy as buying parts and putting them together like Lego bricks.
However, the difficulty arises in choosing the proper parts and then, the actual assembly may also need some guidance. Today, we will tell you everything there is to know about building a custom gaming PC.
How To Build a Custom Gaming PC
Building a PC consists of two parts- deciding the components and the final assembly. We will talk about both in-depth and even gloss over why a custom gaming PC is better than buying a pre-built one.
Why Should You Build a Custom Gaming PC?
There are several reasons why you should build your custom gaming PC rather than buying a pre-built.
- You get more flexibility in choosing parts and customizing your PC to your liking.
- Building a PC is a unique and thrilling experience. Gaming on a PC you made is a great feeling. You get attached to the machine. Further, it has a great learning curve it meaning that you will learn new things in the process.
- If you build your custom gaming PC, you can keep upgradability paths and can further upgrade on that itself.
- Pre-builts are usually horrible. Unless you are buying a very high-budget pre-built, chances are that cheap parts will be used in the PC. For example, the company will put a cheap power supply unit on the PC that may give you problems later on.
- The companies which make pre-builts often price them at a much higher price than what the components are worth and gain a huge profit margin. You simply do get the performance you paid for.
- Pre-builts also have mismatched parts many a time. They will throw a really powerful processor along with and extremely weak GPU. The processor will attract you but the computer will lack the graphical power necessary to run modern games.
- Finally, the companies use outdated parts that will just be able to run today’s game. Usually, they use outdated motherboards only enough to support normal parts. Future upgradability is killed.
How to Choose Parts for your Custom Gaming PC
Firstly, decide on your budget and what games you want to play. What games you want to play will influence your budget. We will address this later on in this article. This is the list of parts you will need to build any PC.
- A CPU or the Processor.
- A GPU or the Graphics Card.
- A Motherboard.
- A Storage Unit (HDD or SSD).
- A Power Supply Unit (PSU).
- A Case.
Let us talk about each one by one.
The processor is the brain of your computer. You will need a good processor to run games smoothly. Choose your processor wisely as it is the most important part of your computer.
Earlier, Intel used to rule the CPU market but AMD has destroyed the monopoly. It offers the best processors at more affordable rates than Intel and they perform better than Intel’s processor. In the budget segment, AMD has blown Intel out of the water. We would recommend buying AMD processors only.
The Graphics Card
For a gaming PC, the graphics card is equal in importance to the CPU. It provides the graphical processing power necessary to run games smoothly at good graphics and resolution.
Nvidia and AMD both provide great cards in the budget segment but Nvidia takes the edge here. While AMD has put out great cards RX 570 and RX 580 in the budget segment, they are old and Nvidia cards like the GTX 1650 and the GTX 1650 Super are new and more future proof. Nvidia dominates the GPU market in all price segments.
Further, do not buy extremely weak graphic cards like the RX 550 [and below] or GT 1030 [or below] you will just waste your money. GTX 1050 Ti is the bottom line as of today.
The latest 3000 series of Nividia has been a shocker. It gives better performance than its previous generation at a baffling half the price!
Now, let us talk about why your choice of games should influence your custom gaming PC. Games are mainly CPU demanding or GPU demanding. Games like CS: GO, Valiant, the legendary Minecraft are all CPU dependent. If you want to play such games, you can compromise on the GPU a bit and invest in a better processor.
If you want to play more graphically demanding games, you should invest more in a GPU. If you want to play all games from all genres, keep your CPU and GPU balanced.
Now, please choose the motherboard wisely. Usually, what people do is buy good components but compromise a lot on a motherboard and end up buying a very basic model. This is a great mistake.
While building your custom gaming PC, remember to use a good motherboard that has a fairly recent chipset so that all your components can run at their maximum potential and you remain future-proof. If you have a good motherboard, you can also overclock your components.
Further, your motherboard will depend upon your CPU. If you have chosen a processor, make sure that the motherboard supports it. As simple google search will give you the list of supported processors for a motherboard. (NOTE: The chipsets of AMD and Intel are different. You cannot run AMD processors on Intel chipset or vice versa.)
MSI, Gigabyte, ASUS and Asrock are the best brands for motherboards.
As of today, 8 GB ram is the bare minimum for any respectable gaming PC. 8 GB is enough for almost every game out there. However, a 16 GB kit (8 GB*2) clocked at 3000 mhz is advised. Anything above 32 GB is overkill and unnecessary if you are not operating heavy 3D rendering software.
Make sure your processor and motherboard support the frequency of the RAM you want to use. Sometimes, the old processor won’t support very high-frequency RAM.
Corsair, Adata, HyperX, and G.Skill are the best companies for buying RAM.
A hard drive is the primary storage unit you should use in your custom gaming PC. If you want to consume media along with playing games, a 1 TB hard drive is enough. A 1 TB hard drive clocked at 7200 RPM is a very good option. However, you can go bigger and faster if you want.
You will want to install games that you play on the HDD along with any media like movies and pictures on the hard drive.
Western Digital (WD) and Seagate are the best brands for a hard drive.
An SSD or a Solid State Drive is another storage unit you should use in your custom gaming PC. This is significantly faster than a hard drive. I will not go into technicalities but this speed is due to how information is saved in it.
You would want to install your operating system and games that you are passionate about on the SSD. Anything installed on an SSD will load way faster than what is stored in the HDD.
Even in SSDs, the most popular are SATA SSDs and M.2 NVME. The M.2 NVME SSDs are even faster than SATA SSDs but cost equally more. A 240 GB SSD is the best option today.
Adata, Samsung, WD, and Kingston are the best brands for SSDs.
Power Supply Unit
You will need a power supply to give power to every component in your custom gaming PC. Check the power requirement of all parts and simply add them up. Buy a power supply that is at least 50 watts higher than the sum. If you can, buy a power supply that is 100 or so watts higher giving yourself another upgradability path.
As of today, most budget builds do not need more than 500 watts of power and hence, a 550-watt power supply will be enough.
Corsair, Coolermaster, Antec, Thermaltake, etc. are the best brands for a PSU.
This part has the highest aesthetic value in your custom gaming PC build. Choose your PC case according to your liking. There are tons of companies offering great and beautiful designs at an affordable price.
Only make sure that the case supports the form-factor of the motherboard that you have chosen and has plenty of airflows.
Corsair, Antec, Ant E-Sports, NZXT, etc. are the best brands for buying a good PC case.
Several websites offer PC-exclusive services. Keep checking prices everywhere online and at local stores (you can bargain a bit at a local store) to get the best price. Saving a couple of bucks here and there will go a long way. Or you can invest this saved amount in a better processor or GPU.
Now, a bonus tip. You can save a lot of money by buying non-RGB components in the case of RAM, GPU, etc. However, you do want to have that feel to your custom gaming PC, you can use a simple RGB/ARGB strip. Most motherboards today support external RGB/ARGB strips.
How to Assemble the Custom Gaming PC
Now, you have all the parts handy and have to assemble it. This is not a daunting task at all. All you need is a patience concentration and a set of screwdrivers. All other equipment will already be given with the components. If you can, wear insulating gloves. Wash your hands thoroughly before beginning.
I will be using a B450 motherboard for demonstrations.
Firstly, unbox the motherboard and keep it on the box itself, keep the anti-static cover it was wrapped in below it. Be careful to not touch the bottom of the board if you are not wearing gloves.
Along with the board itself, you will receive an IO shield/plate and some cables. You will need them later in the build.
The static from your hands has a slight chance of damaging the motherboard. Open the socket for the processor by gently unlocking and pulling the lever upwards.
Installing the processor
Now, unbox the processor. In most cases, it will come with a cooling fan itself. Keep the fan aside for the moment. On the processor, you will see a yellow arrow on a corner. The motherboard socket will also have a similar arrow on one of its corners. Align the arrows on the processor and the motherboard and gently keep the processor in the socket.
The processor will sink and fit inside the socket perfectly. Do not press the CPU downwards in any circumstance. Only align, keep, and adjust the chip until it fits into the socket. If you apply pressure on the CPU once it is inside to socket, it may get damaged and not work. After this, slowly pull the lever down and lock it.
In Intel-based motherboards, there will be a black plastic lid on the socket which will pop off when pulling the lever back down. Keep that lid with you for later if the motherboard needs to be sent for servicing.
Installing the CPU Cooler
Now, you will need the CPU cooler fan. Just above and below the CPU, you will see two brackets with screws. Use a screwdriver to unscrew them and take the brackets out. Keep the cooler above the processor and align its corners with the holes given on the motherboard. Use the screws you unscrewed previously to fix the cooler in place.
Assuming you are using the stock cooler or a cooling fan from companies like NZXT, you will not have to apply thermal paste on the processor. Yet, be sure to check if the cooler has the thermal paste pre-applied. However, there is a technique to be used when installing the cooler. When you screw the first bolt, screw in the bolt in the opposite corner.
Screw A, C then B and D. This is the proper way to install a cooler ensuring that the motherboard does not come under stress. In some cooling fans, all you have to do is align the legs and the hole and simply push the buttons on the top. These coolers don’t need screws.
Now, look around the motherboard until you find pin headers labeled as CPU cooler. It will be close to the processor. Simply take the wire from the CPU cooler and fit it on those headers. They will only fit the proper way so, don’t worry.
It is time to install the RAM. For this, simply open the slot by pushing the buttons on either side of it. Align the groove on the RAM stick with that of the board and apply pressure till it fits. Do not worry, your RAM won’t fit in any other way than the proper way.
You will hear a soft click of the lock automatically sliding into place as the RAM fits into the slot. Done, your RAM is installed. If you have 2 Ram sticks, be sure to place them in the 1st and 3rd or the 2nd and 4th slot. This gives you better performance.
POST or Power On Self Test is a test the computer does every time you boot it up to check whether all its parts are working or not. However, after you have installed the CPU and RAM, simply connect the power cable from your PSU to your motherboard. Connect the main 24-pin power cable and the CPU power cable. Plugin the PSU on a wall socket.
Connect your motherboard to your monitor and switch the monitor on. A ‘No Signal’ message will appear. Switch the PSU on. Now, look around the motherboard till you find something like this:
This is where the cables from your computer case will get attached. Read all the labels until you find two headers labeled ‘PW’ or ‘Power’. Short these two pins using a simple screwdriver. Your system will boot up and your motherboard BIOS will appear on the monitor. If BIOS doesn’t appear, recheck if everything is installed properly once again.
The BIOS will disappear after a short while.
Installing the Motherboard into a Case.
This is probably the most difficult part of the PC building. Before proceeding, detach PSU wires from the motherboard.
After unboxing the case, open up its side panel. In most cases, you will have to unscrew two to four bolts and simply slide it. Keep the case horizontal for convenience. Now, take the IO shield you got from the motherboard box and fit it in the rectangular hole you will find at the backside of the case from the inside.
The part highlighted in red in the image below should come at the bottom.
Now, install the PSU in the case and pull its wires to its backside. This may sound confusing but a quick look at the manual, everything will be clear. Now, secure the PSU in place with screws provided with the case.
Depending on your motherboard’s form factor and your case, you may or may not have to use a standoff. Generally, you will have to use a standoff if your motherboard is anything below a full-sized ATX but refer to the manual again just to be sure. A ‘standoff’ is a singular screw-like piece provided with the case itself.
After you have placed the motherboard properly and aligned it with the IO shield, secure it in place with screws.
Installing a Graphics Card
It is time to install the heart of your custom gaming PC. the backside of your case should be looking a bit like this:
The orange part is the IO shield and the motherboard inputs. For older cases, you will have to break the red part of the case. All you have to do is apply a bit of pressure on the panels and they will break off. For newer ones, you just have to unscrew two screws and it will come off.
Now, you can install the graphics card.
Simply unbox it, open the latch [highlighted in an orange circle] as you did in Ram, and insert the graphics card in the first PCI Express slot [highlighted in red rectangle].
The installation of a graphics card is almost the same as RAM. Align the groove on the card with the slot and insert. This will also only fit the proper way. After this, a simple bolt has to be screwed in to keep the card in place.
Installing Storage Options
A special place called the storage bay is reserved in the case to place all the storage options. Simply fit the hard drive in one of the tool-less drive bay and slide it back into the storage bay. Refer to the manual if you have any confusion. Do the same with the SSD.
If your SSD is an M.2 one, there will be a slot on the motherboard directly where you can fix it. In some motherboards, there will be a cover over the M.2 slots. Unscrew the cover, fit the SSD in the slot given, and secure the cover back again. In others like the ASUS TUF Gaming B450 Plus motherboard we took for demonstration, there is no cover. You simply slide the SSD in place and screw it in.
Now, everything is installed in the case and the time for wiring has come.
Wiring the components is tricky yet very simple. Firstly, take the 24-pin power connector (this cable is very thick and you simply cannot miss it) and bring it from the back of the case and connect it to the motherboard headers. They will only go in the right way so, do not worry.
Next, if your graphic card needs external power, take another wire and connect it to the card. Now, you will need another couple of PSU wires for powering the storage. You can easily figure out what goes where by just looking. You can refer to the manual again if you are in a fix.
(Weaker graphic cards like the GTX 1050 Ti and below take power directly from the motherboard while more powerful ones have to draw it from the PSU itself)
All components now have power. If a few PSU wires are still loose, shove them at the backside of the case. Or if your PSU is semi-modular, you can simply detach them and keep them safe somewhere else. You will have received a few SATA cables along with your motherboard. Connect them first to the motherboard (several pin headers will be labeled as SATA) and take those cables from the back of the case and connect them with the units.
Finally, take the cables that are attached to the buttons and ports on the case and connect them to the motherboard. All things will be written on the motherboard and you can easily figure out which cable goes where. The places of these ports are different on different motherboards.
Again, please refer to the manual if you are stuck anywhere.
The backside of your case will be a mess of wires by now. Use the zip-ties that come with the case to manage them and give it a neater look. You can leave it like that but managing the cables right now will help later.
Now, simply slide the case cover back and screw it in place. Done! Your custom gaming PC is ready!
After installing the Windows or any OS you want and the drivers for the various components, your custom gaming PC is ready to rock and roll.
You can also watch this video:
Peripherals include other accessories like a monitor, a keyboard, a mouse, a chair, and headphones. These are completely your choice and can be chosen according to your liking.
We hope this article helps you out and that you have a fun PC building session.