How to Build a Gaming PC

July 2, 2020 • April Miller

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You’ve probably heard it said that if you want it done right, you’ll have to do it yourself. If you ever listen to the 52% of gamers who prefer to play on PC, you’ll hear something similar. Learning how to build a gaming PC is generally better than buying a pre-built one.

When you build your own computer, you can tailor it to your specific wants. You’ll also end up with a more scalable machine, should you want to upgrade it later. If nothing else, it’s a rewarding process, and it may be easier than you’d expect.

That said, if you’ve never built a computer before, you may need some help. So here’s a step-by-step guide on how to build your own gaming PC.

Selecting Parts

The first step in building a PC is selecting and buying all the parts you need. Depending on your desires and budget, what components you need can vary a bit. No matter what kind of build you’re going for, though, you’ll need:

  • A processor (CPU)
  • A motherboard
  • A graphics card/video card (GPU)
  • RAM
  • Storage (either an HDD or SSD)
  • A case
  • A power supply unit (PSU)
  • A heatsink (either a fan or liquid cooler)
  • A monitor
  • A keyboard
  • A mouse
  • An operating system (OS)
  • A screwdriver

If you want to use Wi-Fi, you’ll also need some Wi-Fi antenna. You can add an optical drive to play CDs or Blu Rays if you want, but that’s not necessary. You’ll only need a screwdriver to put everything together, but some extra tools like needle-nose pliers, tweezers and cable ties can come in handy.

It’s important to remember that not all components will work together. Before you buy anything, double-check to see if it’s compatible with the rest of your parts. You can do this by looking at product descriptions or using a site like PC Part Picker.

When you’re picking out a case, buying a bigger one is a safe bet. More space will make it easier to fit everything and will also help keep it all cool. Similarly, you may want to get a PSU that offers more power than you need, just in case.

For storage, a solid-state drive (SSD) will be faster and more reliable but will cost more. Most decisions you have to make with things like this come down to preference. All brands and models have their advantages and disadvantages, so do some research to find what works best for you.

How much building a gaming PC will cost you varies. It can be as cheap as a few hundred bucks or it could cost more than $2000 for a high-end build. The nice thing about building it yourself, though, is that you can spread these purchases out.

Putting It All Together

Once you have all your parts, it’s time to start building. With modern components, almost everything will fit together like Legos, so you don’t need any engineering skill to build a gaming PC. Just clear a workspace and follow these steps.

1. Open the Case

First things first, you need to open your case. Unscrew all the sides and panels you can so you have as much access as possible.

2. Mount the Fans

Next, attach any fans you have, making sure some draw air in while other blow air out. With most builds, you want to put your intake in the front of the case and put the exhaust on the back. If you have extra fans, you can mount them on the top for extra exhaust.

3. Install the Motherboard

Your case should have a large rectangular slot where you can attach your motherboard. Place the motherboard in there and screw it in.

4. Insert the CPU

Your motherboard will have a socket for your CPU. Depending on what brand or model you have, installing it could take a different process. Follow the instructions that came with your CPU to attach it.

5. Add the RAM

Finding the space for your RAM is easy. There are long, skinny slots on your motherboard with latches on the sides. Put the latches down and insert your RAM, listening for the click of the latches closing.

6. Install the Cooler

Next, take your extra fan or liquid cooler and install it over your CPU. Follow the instructions that came with the cooler to see how to do this. You may want to buy some thermal paste to use here, too.

7. Attach the Storage Unit

Your case may have a bracket for your storage, in which case, use that to attach it. Secure your storage with screws, and make sure the connection ports are facing an opening for easier wiring.

8. Add the PSU

Like with storage units, you may have a PSU bracket that came with your case. If you do, attach this to your PSU before putting the assembly inside. Slide your PSU’s cables through an opening in the back, then screw it in place inside your case.

9. Connect the Cables

Now look at your motherboard’s instructions to find out which cables go where. This is usually a straightforward, color-coded process. Connect all the cables and make sure there’s as little overlap as possible.

10. Install the GPU

Line your GPU up with the slots where you want to install it. Make sure the back plate on the GPU is facing towards the back of your case. Then screw it into place and connect the last few cables.

11. Check Everything and Clean Up

Make sure everything’s where it should be and move any cables out of the way if you can. That’s where cable ties come in handy. It’s also a good idea to spray it all down with some compressed air, and then put the case back together.

Installing Your OS and Drivers

After all of that, you’re done with all the hardware components of your PC. The next step in finishing your build is turning it on to make sure it works and installing your software. Your OS will come with simple, step-by-step instructions to help you install it.

After installing your OS, download any drivers for your parts. You need everything to be up to date to work properly. Once that’s done, you have officially built a gaming PC.

Make the PC You Want

Learning how to build a gaming PC lets you take gaming into your own hands. By making your own machine, you can make the one you want. Now all there is left to do is sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

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