While most newbies consider building a gaming PC a difficult task, the reality is that building is far easier than the steps that precede it. Even though the assembling process is just an hour-long process, reaching this stage can take several days or weeks depending upon the user’s knowledge about computer parts and their working.
If you are a complete newbie or know little about computers, I recommend keeping 7 things in mind when building your gaming PC. Most of these are required before the assembling process but are universally applicable, making them highly crucial and beneficial in building a powerful gaming computer every time.
But before that, let’s take a look at the 7 crucial things you need to know to build a PC.
1. Learn about the essential and non-essential components
Most of us already know how many parts make a fully functional computer but it is necessary to differentiate between the essential and optional components. You might have seen PCs with a lot of fancy RGB lights, custom coolers, and multiple fans. If you assume that this is what a Gaming PC looks like, then you are mistaken.
The Processor, Motherboard, RAM, Storage Drive, Power Supply, And Case enclosure are the parts that you will always find in every computer regardless of its type. To make it a gaming PC, you will just need a Graphics Card. Even though many processors come with integrated graphics, you cannot call those PCs as “Gaming PCs” unless they have a powerful enough GPU to render the images quickly.
The computer parts listed above are not just limited to only 6 or 7. However, these 6-7 parts are the most essential ones where the Processor and GPU combination matters the most. Gaming performance mostly depends on how these two components work together in order to process the app/game information.
While the processor assigns the instructions, the GPU executes them. If one of them is too weak, the other will suffer from bottlenecking. Similarly, the system RAM or Memory also plays its own part in providing your processor with sufficient data every second. Failing to do so will result in frequent stuttering and FPS drops.
Storage drive will store your data, the power supply will power the components, and the case will host all the components in one place. Everything except these belongs to the secondary or non-essential category. Some of those components may or may not be necessary depending upon the type of gaming PC the user is building but won’t necessarily affect the performance.
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2. Building a PC requires preparation
“Starting the assembling process just after you receive your parts is not the ideal thing to do. Many inexperienced builders get stuck in the process just because they didn’t do the basic preparation and this preparation does not even take 10 minutes.” – as suggested by Sarfraz Khan in one of his recent articles. Sarfraz is an expert in computer hardware and also the editor-in-chief of Xtremegaminerd.com.
PC building requires just a #2 Philips screwdriver for securing all types of screws. So, whether you are installing a motherboard or a power supply, you won’t be needing another screwdriver. However, this screwdriver needs to be magnetic in case your screws fall inside the case, then it will be painful to get that back with your bare hands.
You also need a big space to build your computer. It’s best to have at least a 24”x48” desk or something similar that allows you to keep your stuff on one side and the case on the other.
Other tools that come in handy are zip ties, a hex key Allen, nose pliers, or a cable cutter. Hex key Allen comes useful when you have to install your motherboard standoffs. Generally, some of these come pre-installed in your case but you may need to install more depending on the type of motherboard you are using.
You can also use pliers to install the standoffs but it’s much easier with an Allen. Zip ties and cable cutter helps you tie all your cables together and cut the extra zip tie respectively. This is an optional requirement but manages your cables like breeze making your build tidy.
Lastly, make sure you stand on an uncarpeted surface or use a static wristband for avoiding any damage to your components.
3. Take the advice of experts
If you have already decided on the PC parts, then there is no shame in researching more and taking the advice of the experts. There are quite a good number of sources and PC community forums that are ready to help you with almost every problem related to PC building and choosing the parts.
Tomshardware, Gamers Nexus, Hardware Unboxed, Guru3D, and Techpowerup, just to name a few are some excellent sources of advice and provide in-depth reviews of various PC hardware and accessories. While considering a single source for the reviews might be sufficient for many, you should always cross-check the numbers on other sources just to make sure you are opting for the right choice.
In case you still have doubts, you can open up a new thread in their forums to ask questions and take advice from experienced community members.
4. Keep yourself updated with the latest market prices
Building a computer from scratch and selecting the parts based on their performance do help in getting the best bang for the money but value for the price you are paying is what matters the most.
When you have already compared and analyzed the performance of the parts you are going to buy, it won’t hurt to check the prices of parts that are slower in performance. For instance, consider the performance difference between CPU A and CPU B. Suppose both are solid high-end CPUs with CPU A taking the lead in almost all kinds of operations by 10%.
If both CPUs were launched at the same price, it would make sense to consider CPU A. However, the prices of PC components fluctuate on a daily basis to a great extent. It is possible that the CPU B is now 20% cheaper through a deal or by getting its price slashed by its manufacturer. In this instance, even though CPU B is 10% slower, it is 20% cheaper which allows you to invest in a better GPU that eventually closes the performance gap in some applications particularly in games.
Suppose the performance difference matters a lot and CPU A is 30-40% faster than CPU B. In that case, considering CPU B even at a 60% lower price may not be a good idea considering that it may bottleneck your GPU or won’t get you your desired performance.
This is just an example of a specific component. But it applies to most parts particularly GPU and RAM that directly affect the gaming performance.
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5. Spending a lot of money doesn’t guarantee future-proofing
It’s cool to have the fastest CPU and the fastest graphics card on the planet but that still doesn’t guarantee you will have the best performance for even the next 3 years. Manufacturers release new hardware almost every year and the competition is tight that manufacturers are forced to not only release faster components but also better and revolutionary technology.
At the time of the Pascal-based GTX 1000 series, the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti was the fastest GPU. But it didn’t take even 2 years to see a brand-new Turing-based RTX 2000 series that not only beat the GTX 1000 series but also featured Ray Tracing and DLSS technologies that GTX 1000 series owners can’t use.
Even though some users are ready to upgrade their GPUs in every generation, most users won’t upgrade before 3-5 years. So, if you are aiming to play games on ultra at 1080p, there is no need to buy a 4K capable GPU thinking that it will last for the next 5 years. In the next 5 years, you could probably upgrade to a better GPU with those several hundred dollars you invested in your previous GPU.
6. Power supply is your best friend
Future-proofing your computer by using a premium and reliable power supply unit is the only thing I can approve of. The power supply is going to be your friend for a long time if it doesn’t get damaged.
Most reliable premium power supplies have a good lifespan of around 10 years. They are pretty much sufficient for numerous upgrades if wattage capacity is not an issue. Searching for the best power supply is probably the most difficult task as its performance cannot be measured by some numbers displayed on the screen.
Make sure you have a few hundred watts additional to the total requirement your PC has. So, for instance, if the total power draw of all the components combined is 400 watts, go for at least a 650W PSU. No power supply can provide 100% of the wattage as advertised and therefore, power efficiency matters a lot.
An 80-plus standard unit is the least I recommend. Getting a Bronze or Gold is the way to go. If you have more to invest, then you can go with a Platinum unit that offers more than 90% of efficiency on typical loads.
Along with a good efficiency rating, make sure you also check the voltage regulation on all voltage rails, hold-up time, ripple noise, and the number of cables and connectors it comes to power your components. There are plenty of reviews for almost all types of power supplies and it is going to be a long-lasting component that you won’t probably need to upgrade soon.
7. Don’t forget the maintenance
Building a PC can be time-consuming but maintaining is not. Maintenance ensures optimal performance and a better lifespan. It is recommended that you clean your system every 3-4 months with an air blower and an electronic brush to remove the dust and debris.
Always monitor the thermals of your components to make sure that they don’t thermal throttle. If your CPU or GPU starts to hit temperatures in the danger zone which is generally between 95° to 100° centigrade, it’s time to provide more airflow to your case by adding more fans, making room for ventilation, or changing the thermal paste.
It’s also recommended to benchmark your PC every few months to see if there is any significant difference in performance compared to the first time you built your PC.
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PC building tips are not limited to just these 7 things. But these are the crucial ones that many new builders don’t know. We advise that you should never hesitate to ask for any help. We will be happy to help you through the comments below.