A universal principle of computing is that everything is easier when you have the right equipment. Similarly, you are more likely to successfully compete in a video game if you are using a high quality PC that has no time outs or lagging. However, if you’ve never done it before, the thought of building a gaming PC can be intimidating. Where do you even start? How much will it cost? Are specific parts best suited for certain builds?
The questions you need to ask and decisions you have to make are numerous. That being said, your chances of building a true gaming beast increase dramatically if you start with the end in mind
. If you know exactly what your anticipated outcome is, you can make smarter purchases and only buy what is needed.
There’s never been a more opportune time to build your own gaming PC. Here are a few tips on the core elements you need to pay greatest attention to.
The CPU is the single most important component of a gaming PC and is the one thing that brings the entire build together. It’s the processor that executes instructions from the video game. Yet, the CPU options you have to choose from are vast which makes it fairly easy to get sucked into a rabbit hole of endless options.
The two leading players in the processor market are Intel and AMD. Both offer a broad range of models at different price levels. While Intel has a reputation for building some of the most advanced CPUs, AMD is more impressive on the budget-friendly end. Lower spec Intel chips tend to be both inferior and overpriced compared to their AMD equivalent.
If money isn’t a major impediment or you don’t mind breaking the bank, going with a high end Intel processor is the broad consensus among hardcore PC gamers. That said, simply spending tons of cash is no guarantee of top-notch performance so you have to carefully access the specs.
You can’t really get anywhere with PC gaming if you don’t have robust memory performance. The memory (or RAM) is where the PC will hold currently running games. Modern gaming exacts a heavy toll on memory which is why 8GB RAM is fairly common among purpose-built PC gaming computers.
Ideally and if you do not have major budgetary constraints, you should be looking at 12 to 16 GB. Nevertheless, RAM is fairly easy to upgrade so if you want to start gaming but don’t want to spend too much, you can always begin with the lower spec of 8GB and add more memory later on once you’ve gotten a practical feel of the performance.
A handy tip on RAM is to always buy in pairs in order to make the most of the significant speed improvement that comes with dual channel access
Like the CPU, there are two dominant leaders in the graphic cards space: Nvidia and AMD. Whereas Nvidia is the favorite among gamers, it’s best not to get too bogged down by brand names. There are often minor differences in performance between any two same class cards by the two manufacturers.
Take a look at online reviews and listen to what ardent gamers have to say. Manufacturers will be quick to emphasize the strength of their cards which means the best way of knowing a brand’s weaknesses is from persons who have actually used it.
Given how console-heavy most high end games are nowadays, the thing you should think about most is the graphic card’s resolution. Most PC gamers will opt for 1080p, 1440p or 4K. Another consideration is memory. A 4GB card is adequate if you are on a tight budget. 6GB is perfect for an intermediate machine while 8GB is most suited if you do not want to spare any expense.
If you intend to install multiple graphics cards later on, ensure that the power supply and motherboard can support multiple cards.
The motherboard houses the most crucial components of a gaming PC. If the motherboard is faulty, nothing else will work until the board is replaced or fixed. Motherboards can be fairly sensitive and given the great demand on resources that PC gaming exacts, the reliability of a motherboard is fundamental.
For best results, identify a board that supports the hardware you intend to incorporate into your build. That includes compatibility with everything from your choice of CPU and graphics card, to RAM and bluetooth headsets (for useful tips on buying a headset, see Bluetooth gaming headset buying guide from MusicAuthority
You shouldn’t settle on a motherboard before you have conclusively established what specific hardware components your gaming PC will require. Especially important is the board’s ability to support the wattage and socket requirements of the CPU.
When it comes to the storage of a gaming PC, you aren’t simply seeking for a hulking hard disk drive (HDD). Nowadays, solid state drives (SSD) have grown in importance and are often installed and configured in conjunction with a HDD.
SSD storage is accessed quicker which is why many users will prefer to store not just their operating system but also their most commonly used games and apps. The less commonly accessed programs and files are then kept in the HDD.
Ideally, the ratio of SSD to HDD capacity should be 25/75 but that doesn’t mean you should go thin on the SSD. As at 2018, a standard OS and the main apps should take up about 100-150GB of disk space. All that should be on an SSD. Then factor your games and the apps you use on a daily basis to determine the optimum SSD space you’ll need.
While 120GB can work if you don’t have plenty of cash to spend on storage, 250GB SSD is most ideal.
Other than the above 5 elements, you’ll also need to think about a decent power unit as well as a nicely fitting case that will house everything. Overall, building a gaming PC is a double-edged sword. If you get it right, you’ll greatly enhance your game experience. If you cut corners and end up with a mediocre product, you’ll experience frustrating hang-ups that could kill your desire to play.
Therefore, don’t rush. Take time to think through what you need and create something you’ll always look back to with satisfaction in years to come.