Written by Alex Maidment (nSanity Beach)
Building your own gaming PC is awesome. The whole process, from researching the components through to carefully putting everything in the right place through to the moment of satisfaction when it boots up and you can enjoy your brand new build is just great.
BUT… a quick word of warning: PC building can be extremely frustrating and takes patience, especially when it doesn’t boot properly the first time and you can’t figure out what’s gone wrong.
It can also be expensive, time-consuming and somewhat addictive – if money was no object, I would be building a new PC every 6 months just for the sheer fun of it!
Now, make no mistakes, this is not a step-by-step guide as to how to build your PC, but there is plenty of that about on the internet, so don’t worry! Instead, this is a few helpful tips for those that are either considering building their own PC or are in the process of researching and buying the components.
Tip 1: Follow the instructions
If you have never built your own PC, please follow the instructions that come with the components, or find yourself a decent step-by-step guide online that means you won’t miss anything. The number of people I know and see online complaining about something breaking or going wrong and then reading that they’ve treated their brand new gaming build like a piece of Ikea furniture or a puzzle is upsetting.
Some PC components can be incredibly fragile and more so, just fiddling about until something fits can be damaging to the components, especially when it comes to the power supply and plugging everything in. Plus, if you don’t follow some form of instructions, it’s amazing how easy it is to leave something out or forget something and then have no audio, or the display won’t work properly.
It might seem boring, but just do yourself a favour and follow the instructions!
Tip 2: Don’t skimp out on the PSU (Power Supply)
There’s a good chance you’ve read this thousands of times already, especially if you follow the ‘Build a PC‘ sub-Reddit, but I’m still shocked by how many people don’t invest in a decent Power Supply Unit (PSU). Far too many first time gaming PC builders only care about the CPU, GPU and RAM and then fill the rest of their PC with the cheapest components possible, including the PSU.
Keep some budget aside to invest in a decent PSU and make sure you do a few things:
– Use online tools to get a rough estimate of the power consumption of your intended build
– Buy a PSU that is slightly higher wattage than needed (if possible) – this allows for upgrades in the future
– Do your research and buy from a known and trusted vendor
– Keep in mind the 80 PLUS certification (See this article to learn more)
Remember that the PSU is the lifeline for your new PC build and buying cheap can mean buying twice, and I don’t just mean the PSU, I have literally seen someone have to replace multiple components after buying a cheap dodgy PSU for their expensive build.
Tip 3: Take time, take care and consider your environment when building
When it comes to actually building your PC, as well as following the instructions, keep in mind the environment you’re building in. PCs are susceptible to dust, water, static electricity and one of the worst, bad handling of components.
While not always possible, try to build the PC in a relatively dust free environment and keep the components covered when you’re not using them and in the process of building. Similarly, and although not always avoidable, just be wary of static electricity as it can damage components. You can even buy antistatic wrap, which is essentially a wristband that helps reduce the risk of static electricity building around components during the build.
The best thing you can do though is take care when putting components into the case, attaching things to the motherboard and connecting all of the cables. A key example is the CPU. Not only is it a challenge getting everything in place and not bending any pins, it’s successfully placing thermal paste and a cooler onto the CPU. Don’t rush it.
For the thermal paste, I’m a firm believer in the ‘X’ method whereby you put a little bit of thermal paste in a line from one corner to the other (although, not necessarily all the way, leave some space for spread) in the shape of an X – this seems to allow for good spread when you attach the cooler.
Other thoughts and tips:
As alluded to in the 2nd tip about the PSU, don’t blow all of your budget on a CPU and GPU, consider every component and make sure the build as a whole works together. Also, don’t forget monitors and peripherals if you don’t have these already – there’s no point building a super gaming machine if you can only afford a 720p monitor with low frame rates…
Keep in mind that the beauty of building your own gaming PC is that it’s upgrade-able, so if that means building something solid with your budget and then saving up for new components over time, it’s a good way to get started. For example, you might not need an RTX 2080 if the rest of the components are going to throttle performance and slightly less RAM might suffice in the short term!
Another thing to remember is that as cool as it can look, RGB doesn’t improve performance on whole but can come with a high price tag.
With any first gaming rig, consider what you want to be able to play, what your budget is for EVERYTHING and then use online tools like PC Part Picker to make sure everything works together as it should. Take your time with the build and follow the instructions, and most of all – enjoy it! It can really fun, interesting and the satisfaction when it works at the end of it all is pretty great!