Gaming can be an expensive hobby, especially with hardware. By building your own computer, you can save up to a couple of hundred dollars.

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In this guide, you will learn how to build a gaming computer and get to know all the computer components from a player’s point of view. Instead of telling you what to buy, we will teach you how to weigh and evaluate these individual components.

In 27 illustrated pages, learn your RAM from your processor and learn how to choose a decent graphics card. Once you’re done with that, you can buy the necessary components for your soon-to-be self-built PC.

Content

§one. Introduction

§2 — Gaming PC Components

§3 — Actually your system

§4 — External computer equipment

1. Introduction

Modern games are becoming more saturated with graphics every day. Hardware has to keep up with ever more advanced graphics and more powerful game engines. Because of this, gaming equipment has become obsolete at a tremendous age; what was considered «new» a year or two ago should already be left behind.

Every self-respecting gamer needs a computer to keep up with the growth of today’s games. Due to constant updates, games can become a very expensive hobby. By building our own computer and reducing the cost, we can save up to several hundred dollars.

Money aside, building your own PC also comes with customization options that are never found on store-bought systems. By carefully selecting all of your computer’s components, you can create a machine that perfectly fits its purpose, without flaws or exuberance.

In this guide, we’re not just going to focus on what’s there, but what’s important to a gamer and how to get a PC that really suits your needs.

2. Gaming PC components

In this chapter, we will cover all the necessary components for a computer. The thought process can be rearranged differently than you will see in other guides. We will highlight the parts that are important to the player and try to build the rest of the system around those components.

2.1 Video card

The video card, graphics acceleration card, display adapter, or graphics card is technically a side component. However, it is one of the most important parts for a gaming computer.
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A video card is an add-in card with a GPU (graphics processing unit) chipset designed to render graphics. Their main purpose is to render and display (3D) images on a monitor. While most motherboards (more on those later in the guide) have built-in GPU chips, they are usually not enough for gaming. Rather, we’d like to use an external component that can be switched and upgraded without having to buy a whole new computer.

This is also one of the main reasons why you should buy gaming laptops. When the integrated GPU chip becomes obsolete, you will have to buy everything again, without the possibility of reusing most of the other components.

There are a few things we need to pay attention to when choosing the right graphics card:

• How powerful a card do I need?

• What additional features do I want?

Following the «no kinks» philosophy, these two options will be simple. However, most wallets require their owner to weigh functionality against costs and look at what you need rather than what you want.

We won’t tell you which cards are good because that would be pretty useless and just a temporary statement. Instead, we will try to teach you how to look for good ones.

2.2 GPU manufacturers

At the moment, the two main manufacturers of GPU chipsets are NVIDIA and ATI (AMD graphics department). It’s hard to say which one is better since there is no right answer to this question, although most people prefer using NVIDIA.
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In stores, you will often see video cards from other manufacturers. They are made by other computer companies, but most of them still use ATI or NVIDIA chipsets.

2.3 How powerful is the card?

Thinking ahead, you should not only buy a powerful card now, but also a card that will still be powerful enough in the near future.

Most often, the best choice is to buy a mid-range card. High ranked cards often have too much price difference for the graphical superiority they offer, and as proportions are redefined over time, this small graphical difference will matter even less as the gaming industry progresses again. The only reason to buy a high rank card is the almost fanatical seriousness about games and the abundance of cash.

On the other hand, low to mid range cards that are strong enough at the moment will be the first to be left behind. The gaming industry won’t even require a big leap to make these cards obsolete. The gaming business is complex, and no matter which map you choose, chances are you’ll end up disappointed. Those good cards suddenly aren’t as good anymore, or they cost half what you paid for them a few months ago. It’s something you just have to accept, a sacrifice you have to pay.

2.4 How do I know which cards are powerful?

Once you understand this, the trick is to be able to compare these graphics cards with the competition. This is not easy to do — unlike most other components and electronic products, graphics cards cannot be judged by one variable. There are many factors that play a role here.

It is often difficult to know which ones are best based on specifications. By reading the back of the box, we can learn three things:

Series — cards are almost always released sequentially (for example, NVIDIA GeForce 9600 and NVIDIA GeForce 9800 belong to the 9000 series). What series the card belongs to is important to look at. It is almost always recommended to choose a card from the last possible series. One of them can sometimes outperform a more powerful card from the junior series.

Memory — all cards have a portion of memory allocated for graphics. Obviously, the higher the number, the better. The amount of memory is most often indicated in the specifications, if not in the name of the card.

Suffixes — the study of existing suffixes is also important. In the case of NVIDIA, GTX marks the best cards, then GTS, and the weakest cards are designated with the GT suffix. ATI cards use the same suffixes, plus a few additional ones that are often a bit more straightforward. The HD suffix is ​​what you want to look for, as well as X and XTX. To ultimately choose our graphics card, we’re going to use that knowledge and look at benchmarks.

2.5 What are tests

Breakpoints in this part of the digital world are data that shows how cards perform during intensive graphics testing, such as frame rates during a particular game sequence when running at various screen resolutions. With this we compare the characteristics of each card.

The best place to look for benchmarks is probably Tom’s Hardware. You can find an extensive benchmark table and comparison tool here [Больше не доступно]where you can view the total sum of the tests or choose to view the results of a specific test.
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Be aware that these charts include most, but not all, of the latest graphics cards. For those who have gone missing, Google is a great tool.

2.6 Thinking about the future

To stay in business we need to take into account recent developments and count on any of them as soon as possible. Staying connected to old technology is one of the best ways to stay behind in the long run. Therefore, there are a few additional things we need to pay attention to.

Exit

There are two types of connectors on the market: VGA (older, analog output) and DVI (newer, digital output).
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While you can get away with both, it’s best to get a card with a DVI connector. Aside from better DVI imaging, many new screens are already dropping VGA support, and chances are you’ll be stuck with a bunch of converter cables. If you’re short on cash, you can also opt for cards with additional S-Video or HDMI connectors.

DirectX

It’s also a good idea to choose cards that support the latest versions of DirectX (currently DirectX10) if you don’t want to miss out on cool new stuff like the latest shading technologies.

motherboard interface

There are several possible motherboard connection services. The main ones are:
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• PCI

• AGPx1 / x2 / x4 / x8

• PCIex1/x4/x8/x16/x162.0

PCIe (or PCI Express) is currently the newest and fastest connectivity interface on the market. You can barely get by with PCI these days and you’ll have to head to the flea market if you still want to win an AGP card. So go with PCIe — non-negotiable.

The PCIe card provides not only faster speed, but also compatibility with newer motherboards. Choosing an older connection may prompt you to upgrade to older motherboards and therefore all old clothes.

Record your slot in the Component Reference Guide at the end of the manual once you’ve made your choice.

SLI and Crossfire

Other books may devote a chapter to this. Here I’m just going to lay out the basics for you. In my experience, people who are interested in this usually don’t need or read these manuals. If you’re really interested after reading this, don’t forget to click Google.

If you really want your gaming PC to kick your polygonal ass, you won’t be satisfied with one of those mid or high tier graphics cards they’re trying to sell you. At least it won’t be enough. SLI and Crossfire allow you to take several of these cards and have them work together for (hopefully) optimal performance.
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You will need an SLI or CF compatible motherboard. This basically means that it has two graphics card slots. But be warned — it’s really worth spending some money here, as older motherboards tend to split the maximum data flow between these two PCI Express slots, thus making sure that neither is being used to its full potential. If you go down that path (and you know it’s hardly necessary for graphical superiority), you’ll end up paying extra for almost every other component on your system. Conclusion? Only for true professionals.

2.7 Finally — choosing a map

Make sure you understand everything and that you have a clear idea of ​​what you are looking for. You should already be confident in the interface and output and have a semi-firm budget limit. With that in mind, you should start looking at the tests and weigh your options. A good choice won’t cost a fortune, but is still comparatively high in tests.

2.8 Processor

The central processing unit, central processing unit, or simply processor, is the most central part of every computer. It is the bonding agent between all your computer components. When one part of your system tries to send data to the other side, it always goes through the CPU — which is why having a decent CPU is the most internal thing. A slow processor can and will ensure that not all of your components are being used to their full potential.
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As with graphics cards, we again have two options: AMD and Intel. Both options are valid and popular in the computer community. However, Intel still seems like the more popular candidate. Don’t be confused by the numbers they tend to put in their product names, these are not specs but low level competition.

Below we will look at the various aspects that you need to pay attention to when buying a processor.

While you will need to keep your budget in check, I would advise you to opt for a mid or high range processor if you want it to last at least 3 or 4 years. You will often be able to make a decent selection, hovering around $100.

When choosing a processor, you will also select a specific processor socket. This will limit—and therefore somewhat determine—your future motherboard options. You’d do well to write this CPU slot in the component reference table we’ve included at the end of the guide.

Clock frequency

Clock speed, expressed in GigaHertz, is how we measure the speed of a processor. This is the size of the supported data stream, or in other words, how fast the processor can process information. Obviously, if your clock speed is too low, other components in your computer will be held back.

The clock speed can be used to evaluate two processors from the same series. However, since the other two factors — cache and bus speed — also play a reasonable role, the final performance may differ from the clock speed.

Look around and see what the current rate is. If you look at the current requirements of the game, you can quickly make out if you’re thinking too low or aiming too high. At the time of writing, you should be well above 2 GHz.

cache

Since clock speed is the main factor, you don’t have to spend too much time copying to each processor’s cache. It’s right, you don’t need to know since in most specs a higher number means a better processor, but it will help you understand how some processors can be slightly better and why.

Because some data needs to be re-accessed, it may not be efficient for the CPU to reach (far) behind it, over and over again. This is why all processors these days have small memory margins, which are divided into the first (L1 cache), the second (L2 cache), and very rarely the third (L3 cache).
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The L1 cache contains the most frequently accessed data, followed by L2 and L3, respectively. The processor always looks in the L1 cache first and then moves on to the others. To create the most time-efficient searches, each deposit is noticeably smaller than the next. The increased cache size means more storage space, but also means your CPU will spend more time idling before it can «keep running».

Multiple cores

Multi-core processors are becoming an increasingly popular trend. They contain several semi-independent agents to enable faster communication between different computer components. It’s like two people at the table instead of one fat man. This technology is more and more present in new processors and we highly recommend using this process.
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Although we started with two, we have already moved to four cores in one processor. For the casual gamer, a mid-to-high-range dual-core is a smart and cost-effective solution. However, prices for quad-core processors are coming down and this is now a very realistic solution. If you can afford it, go with it. Please note that if you have a 2GHz quad-core processor, you will now have four 2GHz cores!

ADVICE In the Intel camp, «Core 2» is just the name of a series of processors, so you’ll have to look for Core 2 Duo for dual-core and Core 2 Quad for quad-core. Their latest Core i7 series has at least 4 cores.

Boxed and non-boxed processors

Technically, box processors are retail and either Intel or AMD wants you to buy them. And rightly so, because, unlike boxed processors, boxed processors include a heatsink and/or fan, often not included in the former and thus creating additional costs and problems. Watch out, go boxed.
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2.9 Motherboard

The motherboard is your computer’s battlefield. It will host all your hardware components and allow them to communicate. Below, we’ll go over the things you should consider when choosing a motherboard.
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CPU socket and graphics card slot

Your choice of motherboard will not only be limited by your budget, but also by your previous choice of graphics card and processor. While most people will do it the other way around, we’d rather limit the array of motherboards than those in the previous two components.

If you have noted down these two types of slots, you can rule out a few motherboards and move on.

Some new processors are not yet supported by all motherboards. If you are playing with multiple cores, be sure to check the compatibility of the processor — even if the socket is correct. This information should be posted on the motherboard page of all decent online retailers and is available at most hardware stores. The increase in instantly available information is one of the reasons why online shopping pays off.

Additional slots

Obviously, you are planning to add more components than just a processor and graphics card. If this is the case, you must make sure that the motherboard you choose has not only the correct number of slots, but also the correct number of slots.

PCI and PCIe slots designed for expansion cards in general, not just graphics cards. If you want to add an extra internal network card, TV tuner, sound card, or USB hub, you’ll need a few of these to save money. How many you need depends on your requirements, and you probably know the answer to this question yourself, but a minimum of three is recommended.

IDE and S-ATA used to connect hard drives and CD/DVD/Blu-Ray drives. If you want to reuse old parts from a previous computer, you must check the connections you will need. In an open scenario, focus on faster S-ATA connectors. IDE clothing production is already on the decline and will soon come to a complete halt.
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USB and FireWire can be used to connect external devices. FireWire is used less, but you should have enough USB ports. They can be increased by purchasing special expansion cards (see PCI/PCIe).
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Internal audio and network functionality

The functionality of some of those expansion cards we discussed earlier may already be included in some motherboards. Sound and network cards are obvious examples.

Today you can hardly find a motherboard without an integrated network card, and rightly so, because almost every computer is designed to connect to the Internet. The sound card is often slightly less visible. Sure, you’ll find audio functionality in all motherboards, but if you keep your eyes open, you can have a built-in 5.1 surround sound system for just a few extra bucks. If you’re not going to use headphones, you’ll need these if you’re serious about gaming.
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2.10 RAM

RAM, short for Random Access Memory, is best described as «temporary memory». This is where data is stored if it is relevant for a short time, as opposed to almost static data on a hard drive.
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The advantage of RAM is that, due to its architecture, the data transfer rate is infinitely faster than that of a hard disk. On the other hand, it is also infinitely more expensive per gigabyte, and since data is stored with electrical charges, information cannot be stored. or saved if your computer is not working.

If you want apps and games to run smoothly, you need to give them enough RAM. Due to the lack of RAM, games will not be able to use large amounts of data, resulting in lag and visual deficits.

How much RAM do I need?

With the price of RAM these days, you almost can’t buy too much. However, you should be aware that once you exceed the 4 GB limit, you will no longer be able to work in a 32-bit environment. The future is 64-bit, but 32-bit is currently still much more stable and more widely supported.

My advice is to stay below 4GB until 64-bit systems become more stable, especially when it comes to gaming. However, you should have 2-3 GB at your disposal. The times when we used to say «Megabytes» are long gone. By the way, with most new motherboards having up to four RAM slots, you can simply expand your RAM in the future.

DDR, DDR2 and DDR3

We currently make three distinctions in the active SDRAM standard; DDR, DDR2 and DDR3. In plain English? Three successors of the same type of RAM. Each generation has managed to develop a higher operating frequency and lower power consumption. Although DDR has been left behind, DDR2 is the current standard while DDR3 is slowly emerging.
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Currently, DDR3 is still too expensive for these minor differences, so you should use DDR2. You’ll also be happy to hear that DDR2 has the lowest price, both below DDR3 and older DDR.
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Various RAM modules

After the difference between the generations of the GDR, there will be another choice. Looking around you come across different types of RAM, specifically DDR2-400, -533, -667, -800 and -1066 (in the case of DDR2).

They indicate the data transfer rate, more specifically, the number of transfers per second. They also vary in size, so most motherboards will only support one or two of the standards. However, if you have chosen a relatively new motherboard, it is unlikely that you will lose your balance.

While using low-range RAM is not recommended, for most people, if not all, mid-range and high-end RAM standards should suffice.

2.11 Power supply

The computer power supply is one of the simplest and most delicate components. This is due to one simple reason. If your PSU fails, it may fry some or even all of your precious components with it. Don’t worry, this doesn’t happen very often — just make sure you’re buying from a reputable manufacturer and not from a budget oriental online gadget store with no manufacturer.
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Power

First of all, you must make sure that your power supply has enough power to animate your system. Most components mention a minimum power in their specifications. It’s a simple matter of adding numbers.

Always leave a margin of power, in addition to what you see fit. A modern gaming computer should have at least 500 watts.

Correct Connectors

As you may have noticed, the computer power supply has about a dozen different connectors. Many of your components and other computer equipment may require different connectors. Check the specs and make sure you have enough of each. If you don’t succeed, you can always go to eBay for converters, but you don’t have to worry about that.
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2.12 HDD and DVD-RW

The hard drive (HDD) is where you store your data, and without it, you won’t be able to retrieve anything from your system. If you’re building a gaming PC, you may want to invest in a bit more storage, as multiple installs can quickly fill up your system. If laptops require 2.5″ drives, you’ll need a 3.5″ desktop (gaming) drive.
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Your DVD-R, DVD-RW, or perhaps even Blu-Ray-RW device will allow you to read and, depending on your choice of device, write to optical media. If you’re planning on installing games on your system, and I understand that, you’ll probably need one or two of these.
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IDE vs. S-ATA

As discussed earlier, there are two possible connections for hard drives and DVD drives; IDE and S-ATA. In addition to buying your (correct) motherboard, you should also keep a close eye on ordering new components. IDE (also known as PATA) is the older of the two. It is not only slower, but also less and less supported. If you are buying new, it is highly recommended to use S-ATA.

2.13 Case and case mod

It’s not technically a component, but you’ll probably need it if you’re planning on building this gaming PC.
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While some people prefer a case as shown on the cover of the manual, with flashing lights and a puff of smoke when you remove one earbud, most people prefer a plain, simple case. It’s up to you to give it a personality or, well, don’t.

Mini, Midi, Large

There are three standard «tower» sizes; mini, midi and big. Unless you’re doing something special, you’ll need a Midi Tower. The big towers are for people who want to add a little to their PC if you’re sticking to the bare minimum and want to save space.

Fans and ventilation

It is important to pay attention to the ventilation of your case. You need to consider the number of fan slots as well as the number of already built-in ones. It’s often easier to pay an extra ten bucks and have decent ventilation already installed. Otherwise, this is an additional component that you will need to order.

modding your computer

It’s not required in any way, but if you want to impress your friends (or yourself), you can make a few changes without spending too much money.
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Find yourself a fashionable case, perhaps even with one side made of Plexiglas. You can buy colored LED fans at most online retailers and hardware stores for just a few dollars, as well as case lights and glowing cables if you want your own red-light district.

If you’re ready to put away power tools, you can do some pretty cool stuff, but I can’t help you with that.

3. Actually building your system

In this guide, I wanted to focus primarily on introducing you to various computer components and looking at them from a gamer’s point of view. We won’t go into detail on how to assemble your system.

If you’re technologically gifted (read: nerd), the type of guy or girl who usually skips product manuals and has broken enough things in your life to become «skilled», you can do it without help. In the end, it’s just tightening a few screws and connecting a few cables.

If you’re not sure, you shouldn’t. It is so simple. You don’t want to break all those beautiful things you just bought. has written a guide to building your own system in the past and will almost literally hold your hand during the process.

4. External computer equipment

Of course you have a computer, but what are you going to do with it without a display, without a mouse? In this chapter, we will focus on external computer hardware, the last things you «need» to run this gaming system.

4.1 Computer display

While this is an important part of your system, you have a really wide range of choices here. There are several different classes of displays, but you can completely follow your own personal opinion here. While the joy of gaming may be partly visual, it’s definitely not necessary to buy the best display on the market. On the other hand, it would be useless to spoil the visual effects of your graphics card with a mediocre screen.

CRT, LCD, TFT

When you’re in the market for display, you’ll be buried under these terms, so it’s worth knowing what they mean.

CRT is the oldest of all. These are classic, bulky displays that are often thicker than wide ones. Colors are often of lesser quality and the image may be slightly distorted on the sides. On the plus side, you can already get one of these for five to ten dollars. So, if you feel like you’ve already spent enough money, go for a CRT.
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LCD and TFT are both flat screen monitors, the latter being an improvement over the original LCD. The difference (not excessive) is price and color quality, but both are infinitely better than CRTs. If you agree that a good show deserves your budget, take one by eye so you don’t get left out.
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3:4 vs 16:9

This is the difference between the classic «square screen» (3:4) and widescreen (16:9). Like TVs, most new displays follow the widescreen trend. While this is a personal choice, I suggest you go for it. Widescreen displays will be better when watching a movie, but also when playing a game.
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VGA vs. DVI

VGA and DVI are two display connector interfaces. The older of the two, VGA, is an analog connection and will be known to many. DVI upscaling, digital alternative. DVI is superior to VGA and provides better image quality and higher resolution.
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DVI is the best choice, but you have to take into account what kind of output your graphics card has. There is nothing good about buying a DVI display for a VGA graphics card.

4.2 Mouse

Contrary to what most people think, serious gamers shouldn’t spend a hundred dollars on this gaming mouse. It all depends on how you are going to use it. For anything but first-person shooters, you’re probably fine with an optical mouse for five to ten dollars. Believe me; they will work much better than you expect.
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For more serious gamers and those planning to compete in first-person shooters, this gaming mouse might be the way to go. The companies with the best value for money are probably Logitech and Razer. For $50 to $100, you’ll have a pretty good variable-speed optical mouse and a few custom buttons. Personally, I use Logitech MX 518.

A custom gaming mouse pad is something everyone should consider. It may cost you fifteen instead of two dollars, but the difference is incredible. Take a look at SteelSeries for some of the best mouse pads.
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4.3 Keyboard

While dedicated gaming keyboards exist, only a minority of people will use them. All in all, I would advise you to buy one that feels good. Instead of buying online, go to your local hardware store and start typing on broken keyboards. It doesn’t matter what it does or what purpose it was intended for, what matters most is that you feel good typing on it.
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4.4 Audio

The importance of a decent audio installation once again depends on what games you will be playing. For everything but first-person shooters, you can follow your own personal preferences. In some other games, you use both your ears and eyes, and a $10 audio kit won’t be enough.

Stereo vs Surround

I’m sure most of you know that stereo only has two audio sources. Surround (5.1) has five sound sources (front left, front right, center, rear left and rear right) and a subwoofer.
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Surround sound will make you feel like you’re part of the action. In games you can hear, where the action comes from, and if you’re decent enough at it, you can use it effectively. However, the prices of surround sound kits have dropped dramatically and are now available for everyday use. I grabbed mine for 30 bucks and while most audiophiles frowned, I’ve always been completely satisfied with it.

Headsets

An alternative to full surround sound—often even better in sound quality and fidelity—is headphones. No, not those little fragile things that barely fit.
on your ears. I mean bulky in-ear headphones. If you go with a decent brand, you pay extra money, but you pay for quality. Good headphones will give you the benefit of full surround sound.
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Another benefit of decent headsets is that they often come with decent microphones. If you play online — FPS or MMORPG — it will be a huge advantage if you can communicate with your teammates or clan; in game or with Ventrillosoftware.

Good headsets can cost you some money, but it’s worth taking a look at the Logitech and SteelSeries models. I bought mine for 80 bucks, but that’s way more than most people pay — 30 to 50 is a very reasonable price.
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Further reading:

Guide Published: May 2010

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