Building a gaming PC is no different than building a typical PC, and the only difference is deciding on the components and budget. In the early 1990s, building a PC was a common practice amongst technology hobbyists. The introduction of branded, low-cost, and fully assembled PCs from Dell, Compaq, HP, and other major PC manufacturers voided reasons for assembling your own PC as it was cheaper and better to buy an off-the-shelf unit. The PC makers have the buying power to bundle components into a single unit and offer you better pricing and reliability than your own defeats the purpose of building your own customized PC. Despite the fact that the economy-of-scale offered by the PC manufacturers don't sway into buying a ready-made PC, you have a couple of things to consider when you choose to build your own "gaming" PC.
Before you choose to buy or build a new PC, you'll need a understand your need and what you'll use your PC for. For example, if you'll be primarily using the PC for Internet browsing, editing office documents (Word, Spreadsheet, Powerpoint, and Email), you may just opt-in to just buy an entry-level or intermediate-level PC. It doesn't make sense to build entry-level or intermediate-level PCs as it will cost more to build a similar unit. If your intentions are video and photo editing, video rendering, and playing modern graphics-intensive gamesthen you may opt-in to build your own customized PC. Understanding your needs and the applications you'll be using and the games you'll be playing will greatly simplify your buying decisions whether you buy the entire PC or components.
If your budget is less than $1,000; I would suggest you buy a PC from a brand manufacturer. PC makers have the economy-of-scale to buy commonly used PC components in bulk at a much cheaper price than you can buy from a retail shop. In today's standards, a reasonably priced PC can be used for most applications and games without delays and performance degradation. However, requiring video manipulation such as YouTube editing, playing modern games, or even playing Virtual-Reality (VR) games, you may opt-in to build your own highly scalable PC. My personal demarcation for building a new PC will be a $1,000 price break. If you spend more than $2,000; your dollar per performance return will start to diminish.
Let's assume that you chose to spend more than $1,000 and decided to build your own PC. You'll have to decide on the individual components that will make up a PC, and they must be all compatible. Also, you'll have to balance the performance of individual components so that your CPU is powerful enough to support the $300 GPU that you intend to purchase. Besides the components, you'll also need a toolkit to assemble the PC without breaking the components. In a nutshell, you'll need the following components to build a PC.
- CPU & Heat Sink - CPU is the brain of the computer and it is measured against the model & generation, number of cores and clock speed. For example, a performance benchmark between Intel's 2nd generation i7 CPU will be different from than 6th generation i7 CPU. The number of cores (Dual, Quad, Octa, and etc.) allows simultaneous processing of instructions, and having more core will perform better. The clock speed also plays a significant role in CPU performance as instructions are processed as fast as the clock speed (sliced seconds).
- Motherboard - The motherboard must be compatible with the CPU you've chosen. The high-end motherboard allows you to overclock the CPU if you choose to overclock. The motherboard has RAM slots, USB, and default Video ports, so picking out a motherboard with an adequate number of memory slots (for maximum RAM support), USB ports and video interface is very important.
- Memory (RAM) - Random Access Memory is the memory used by the CPU. Having more RAM will perform better because it will not require swapping of data from fast RAM to slow HDD when not enough memory is present in a system. Today's standard begins with about 4GB, and having 8GB will be sufficient for an average user's performance. If you require multi-processing and play memory-intensive games, you may increase the RAM to 16GB or even 32GB.
- GPU - Graphics Processing Card is the one that will impact your video performance. If you see a delay in video performance, your GPU will improve the graphics performance. Much like the CPU, GPU has the clock speed and also offer Video RAM. For 1080p video, you can use a GPU with only 2GB but 4GB will offer you high-definition textures. And, having more than 6GB of VRAM will offer 4K video with high-definition textures.
- Storage (HDD, SSD or M.2) - You'll need an external storage space to store OS, applications, and data. The traditional HDD is the slowest storage, while SSD (Solid State Drive) and M.2 perform faster.
- Power Supply Unit - Power Supply is the unit that powers your PC. Depending on the accessories and components used, you'll need a power supply that is capable of powering all of the components enclosed. The traditional power supply has 250W power, but the higher-capacity power supplies can have 500W, 750W, and even 1,000W power.
- PC Case - The PC enclosure is more of a design than anything else. The modern PC case has a transparent case with varying lights to make it look cool. Also, some high-end cases offer cooling features.
You'll need an Operating System to run your PC, and the options are: Windows, macOS, or Linux. For average users, Windows will be the operating system of choice for gaming purposes but MacOS may be used as well. For in-depth discussion of varying options, please review Windows, macOS vs Linux article.
When choosing a monitor, you'll be looking at 3 things: Resolution, Refresh Rate, and Size. Today's typical monitor offers 1080p (1,920x1,080)at 60Hz, and you can scale up to 1080p at 144Hz or 1440p (2,560x1,440)at 60Hz or 4K (3,840x2,160)at 60Hz. Typical desktop monitor varies in size from 19" to 50" and even larger in some cases. You'll pick an adequately sized monitor for the type of desktop you have, and the resolution you're using.
Building a gaming PC is not an easy task for an average non-tech user. Understanding your application and gaming need is the first step in deciding on the appropriate PC whether you choose to purchase a whole PC, or building a custom PC with components you like. In today's PC pricing model, we recommend you to purchase a model if your budget is under $1,000.
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