Building a gaming computer may sound daunting — like a hobby reserved for those who know a lot about computers and are tech-savvy. But the truth is, with a bit of time, patience and willingness to learn, anyone can build a computer. Sure, it’s intimidating, but so is anything […]
In addition to saving money and gaining a learning experience, you’ll find gaming on a PC is just fun. Not only do you get to choose between a keyboard and mouse versus a controller, if that’s more your speed, but you’ll have access to game catalogs from a number of different platforms, not just Sony’s or Microsoft’s game library. That means you can download games from Steam, Origin, Blizzard and Epic Games, just to name a few.
Finally, depending on your budget, you can put together a gaming PC that will far outperform any gaming console on the market right now, and it’s not even close. Or, if you don’t care about frame rates and gaming in 4K, for around $500 you can build a gaming PC that offers similar performance to consoles you’d buy — with the added benefit of being upgradeable, whereas if you buy a gaming console, you’re stuck with whatever’s inside.
A discrete GPU is far more powerful than an integrated GPU, and in nearly every gaming PC build, you’ll find either an AMD or an Nvidia GPU. There are exceptions, as we’ll talk about in a minute, however. Some integrated GPUs are good enough (barely) for basic gaming.
- Motherboard: The motherboard is what all of your components attach to. It has its own operating system, called a BIOS, that facilitates communication. It also handles all of your USB, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections.
- CPU: Also called a processor, this is the engine of your PC. You’ll end up with either an Intel or AMD processor.
- GPU: We just covered this, but to recap: You’ll likely want a discrete graphics processing unit for better performance, either from Nvidia or AMD.
- Storage: There are two types of storage: a traditional, spinning hard drive, or a solid-state drive. The former is slower and primarily used to store files and folders, while an SSD is more commonly where you’ll install Windows 10 and your games.
- Power supply: A power supply takes power from a standard outlet and routes it to various components, like the motherboard, storage devices and the GPU.
- Cooling: This is what keeps your system from overheating. While most CPUs and cases come with their own basic fans and cooling setups, you may want to invest in a more efficient and quieter cooling system.
- PC case: Let’s not forget, you’ll also need a case to put everything in. There are a few different sizes with corresponding motherboard sizes. Two of the three builds we’ll show you below are ATX towers, with a third being a Mini-ITX tower.
Hands down, the most beneficial tool we used throughout the process is PCPartPicker. You can go through and view builds that other users have created, and read through their reviews, if they’ve added them. The prefilled builds and examples are fantastic starting points that you can then copy to your account and tailor and customize to fit what’s in stock, within your budget, or if there’s a specific component you’d rather use.
Every build is different, but the main steps consist of attaching the CPU and RAM to the motherboard, then installing the motherboard into the case. Next you’ll install the fan, storage, and power supply. Finally, you’ll begin routing and connecting all of the cables to the motherboard. There are connections for each fan, front panel ports and audio ports.
Here’s what we suggest doing: Set aside a few hours to complete your build and take a break anytime you feel yourself getting overwhelmed or frustrated. YouTube is your best friend for this kind of situation. More specifically, go to YouTube and search for your motherboard along with the word “build.” For example, “ASUS X570-I ROG Strix build” locates this video, that walks through all of the connections and installing the CPU and its fan.
When this endeavor started, we had plans of building one gaming PC. However, it slowly morphed into a project of building three different gaming computers with different use cases and budgets. It’s been a long and slow process, due to the limited stock of computer components, but we finally have three gaming builds up and running.
Our favorite part about this case isn’t its size, but the fact that nearly all of the internal wiring was already routed for us. All we had to do was install the motherboard, tighten a few screws, and finalize the connections. It was the quickest build of the three.
You can fit a discrete GPU into the case, but we opted to rely only on the AMD 3200G’s integrated GPU, which does a respectable job of providing around 60 frame-per-second gaming in Fortnite and Call of Duty’s Warzone battle royale mode, as long as you’re willing to play around with the game’s graphical settings.
The bulk of the price difference between this one and the second build comes down to the GPU, NZXT’s H510 Elite case, and upgraded AIO cooling thanks to NZXT’s Kraken Z63. Not only does it run cool, it’s so much quieter than the stock AMD fan that came with the 3600 processor.