Congratulations on deciding to finally take the plunge and begin building your very own custom gaming PC!
It’s an exciting route to take for anyone who is hoping to truly make a statement about their intentions as a gamer but like anything else, meticulous planning is needed to ensure that you take every necessary step as you begin your journey down this road.
This guide will serve to give you a rough overview of how you should proceed when attempting to build yourself a gaming PC.
In just three steps, we will outline the key steps in ensuring that you have covered all of your bases as you plan out your route towards a custom-build that is entirely your own.
So with that out of the way, here is our guide to building a gaming PC.
Step 1: Establishing Your Budget
The first, and perhaps the most pivotal step in planning out the road that lies ahead, will come in the form of your decision to set a budget.
If money is no object, you’ll no doubt have a lot of fun in the later steps. But as a general starting point, you should be looking at no less than $300 for the most basic of custom gaming PC setups.
But even with that type of investment, there is no guarantee that the latest and most demanding titles will play on your system.
For an average but capable gaming PC, look to the $400-600 range as a decent starting point – one that will offer you the power to keep up to date with modern titles, even if it comes at a slight loss in terms of graphics.
Within the $700-$900 range is where the real gold starts to emerge. Once you get over that $700 barrier, you’re going to be going to be entering premium build territory.
Not only will you be sufficiently powerful to enjoy even the most cutting edge of titles, but from there, room to branch into VR and even streaming/general content creation becomes an option.
Once you do hit $1000 and above – you truly are stepping into the luxury range, a place where performance peaks will be reached and any excess spending is done purely for reasons that are unique to your own taste and requirements.
Step 2: Understanding What It Is That You Desire
At this point, once your budget has been established, your next port of call is making it clear to yourself what you’re looking for in a gaming PC.
Sure, your budget gives you an estimate of how flexible you are financially in achieving that goal, but having a firm idea on what it is that you’re hoping to achieve by building a custom gaming PC will help you tremendously in the next step.
Are you a casual gamer who is simply looking to be able to keep up with the leading annual releases in terms of power and graphical capabilities?
Or do you fancy yourself a professional or even a competitive gamer in-the-making? One who perhaps could be looking at a dive into the world of game streaming before too long?
Knowing this will help you single out the specific points of emphasis when you start looking at hardware and as a result, it is an invaluable step in the overall process.
Step 3: Outlining The Necessary Purchases
Here’s where the fun begins – the part where you can truly begin to stamp your mark down on the custom gaming PC of your dreams.
Here are the seven key ingredients that will make up the core system you’ll end up with.
Prices will vary based on each component and, of course, you are free to place different levels of priority financially on each at your own discretion.
The CPU – or central processing unit, is the focal point of any computer system – the component that pulls all of the strings no matter what it is you are doing at any given time.
Though secondary to GPU in terms of gaming, investing in a strong CPU is the perfect base to build everything else upwards from.
Pricingwise, you’re looking at around $150 for an entry level piece of kit that will do the job, while more powerful models will come in closer to $400.
Without complicating it too much, the motherboard is the spine of your PC – connecting each of the system’s vital processes together smoothly to allow them to function as one cohesive unit.
When it comes to buying a motherboard, care must be taken to make sure it is compatible with your chosen CPU.
Your choice of motherboard will also have a great bearing on your ability to customize your PC down the line and for a serviceable MOBO, you’ll be looking at around $200, give or take.
Graphic Card (GPU)
Perhaps the single most important facet of your custom PC will come in the form of the graphics card.
Now, here’s where you can truly decide to splash the cash.
Although some interesting budget and mid-tier options are available, this is the piece of tech that will likely end up defining your overall experience.
While options priced as low as $150 exist and ones as high as over $1000 – anything within that sweet spot of $400-$700 will do you just fine in your pursuit of pure gaming bliss.
RAM is another crucial ingredient to any powerful custom gaming PC.
It basically allows your computer to access files quickly and run several processes at the same time – with extra RAM reducing the possibility of lagging from your system as you go.
4GB of RAM is a probably the lowest amount you should opt for, in this day and age, and anywhere from there up to 16GB would be perfect in helping your PC run smoothly.
Pricewise, in order to add a few extra gigs of RAM to your system, you shouldn’t be looking at more than around $100 –a price that will get you two sticks of 8GB each.
Storage (SSD or HDD)
Storage, of course, is a very important part of any gaming-heavy PC.
But even still, it is perhaps the most easily upgradeable part of the computer given the vast number of options that exist out there.
For a 250GB SSD, expect to pay around the $80-$90 mark – something that will give you more than enough room to manoeuvre as you begin filling it up with the games that inspired you to build this machine in the first place.
Power Supply Unit (PSU)
It may come as a surprise to some to discover that buying a PSU is not quite as cheap as you might imagine.
With prices coming between $200 and $400, it is important to understand the value in picking a PSU that is both efficient in terms of its energy usage and also reputable in terms of the brand you sourced it from.
Keeping your own system’s specs at the forefront of your thoughts is also wise when buying – especially if you’re thinking about overclocking.
And finally, for the actual case that will house your masterwork, all that needs to be taken into account is the size of both your motherboard and your GPU as well as an included cooling system and USB capabilities.
From there, you can look into build quality and size where it suits you but no matter what, you’ll be expected to pay in and around $100 to $300 for a PC Case.
From then on, it’s all simply a matter of filling in the gaps in terms of everything that doesn’t live under the hood.
You, of course, need a monitor, speakers, a keyboard, mouse, and potentially some extra case fans to keep the entire system cool as it works for hours on end.
Once you get all of these external products out of the way, the choice of OS – or operating system – will then stand as the final ingredient, one that will once again shape your entire gaming and overall computer-using experience.
Happy gaming folks!