If you don’t have any experience with PC building, then the process may seem daunting to you. However, with proper guidance and patience, the task becomes rather simple, and that’s why we’re here, to make things simpler.
Tech4Gamers brings you the one-stop beginner’s guide for everything related to how to build a gaming PC. From choosing the right components and tools to troubleshooting different issues and cable management, this guide explains everything in a step-by-step method.
We have divided this guide into three phases, Planning, Building, and Maintenance, and by the end, you will have built yourself a great gaming rig.
- In the planning phase, you need to consider your budget, the upgradability of your PC, its performance, looks, overclocking potential, and you also need to decide whether you should build your own custom PC or buy a prebuilt one.
- In the building phase, you have to get compatible components and build your gaming PC by connecting every component.
- In the maintenance phase, you have to monitor the thermals and performance of your PC to look for any anomalies. Furthermore, you also have to regularly clean the rig.
The Planning Phase
In the planning phase, we will walk you through the factors you need to consider before you start buying your components.
Whether you have a $1000 budget or a $5000 budget, when you’re building a PC, you need to make sure that you stay within your budget and do not overspend on any product.
You can try to look for the same component in different stores. The idea behind this is simple; you really shouldn’t just go to one place and buy all the components from there. You need to do your research and try to get the best possible prices.
So, the point is, when you’re planning a build, even after knowing what components you need, make sure to do your research on their prices. Similarly, if there is a graphics card or a motherboard that you really like, but you think that it costs a bit more and you can’t afford it, then you can also look for it in the used market.
You can refer to our guide on How to Check Used Graphics Cards Before Buying for more information.
More often than not, you will find a much better deal in terms of value for money when it comes to buying second-hand components. However, we don’t recommend going down the second-hand market route if you’re a beginner because it comes with lots of risks, and unless you really know what you’re doing and you have the technical knowledge to rigorously test the component, you might end up losing your money.
You also need to keep in mind the upgradability factor of your build. One of the biggest advantages that PC builds have over consoles is that they offer great upgradability, which is exactly what you need when you’re on a tight budget.
So, the components you select for your build should also support good upgradability; this way, your PC remains future-proof. Once you’ve built your PC, months later, if you’ve saved up enough money, you can just upgrade the RAM, GPU, or any other integral component, and without buying a whole new rig, you will get a significant performance boost.
This goes without saying that performance should hold the utmost importance when building a gaming PC. For the money, every component should offer the best possible performance, and all of them should be highly compatible with each other. This means that the gaming PC should not suffer from any bottlenecks.
It is a very simple concept. Basically, a bottleneck occurs when your hardware components are not compatible with each other, meaning that one of your components is very high-end whilst one of them is very low-end. Suppose that you have a really great graphics card but also a very poor CPU. However, the complete rig fell right within your budget, so technically, you didn’t overspend or underspend on anything.
However, since your CPU isn’t running at the level of your GPU, your GPU will not operate at its best, and hence, its performance will be limited. So, what’s happening is that your CPU is creating a bottleneck that is hindering the performance of your GPU. In fact, even a motherboard can cause a bottleneck to your CPU, GPU, and RAM.
That’s why performance is an extremely important factor to keep in mind whenever you’re building a PC. Because technically, the above hypothetical build we discussed can also come under your budget, but it is practically useless because you’re wasting your GPU’s performance.
Even though looks are not nearly as important as the other factors we have talked about, they can still matter a lot to some gamers. You might want to show off your gaming PC build to your friends, or you might just want to look at how beautiful it is.
Well, whatever the reason may be, if looks are important to you, then worry not because we will never leave you behind. The build we are going to recommend incorporates a bunch of RGB features; this way, your rig will look really beautiful with its RGB CPU cooler, RAM, and GPU.
Unless you want really want to squeeze every bit of performance out of your rig, and unless you have the technical knowledge to succeed in doing so, this factor might not appeal to you.
Put simply, the overclocking potential refers to your PC’s ability to handle high thermals in order to deliver more performance than it was meant to by default. Basically, when you overclock your PC, you feed it with more power, and in turn, you hope that your system runs stable and delivers higher performance.
However, in doing so, your system will also generate extra heat. So, it must have great cooling in place that can take care of the extra heat. Similarly, your system must also have a capable power delivery system that can feed the additional power that your CPU, GPU, RAM, or any other component might require smoothly without any interruptions.
All things considered, a build with great overclocking potential means that it has an incredible power delivery system and thermal solution in place, all of which are must-have features in a gaming pc build. That’s why our recommended build incorporates a great CPU cooler and superb power supply along with a durable motherboard, all of which support overclocking.
Also Read: 12 Best GPU Overclocking Software
Pre-Built Systems Vs Custom Gaming PC
If you have no experience with building PCs, then should you build this rig yourself? or should you get a pre-built system? In this section, we will talk about a few pros and cons of Custom Gaming PCs and Pre-Built ones and discuss which one you should go for.
There are quite a few differences between Custom Gaming PCs and Pre-Built systems. In fact, one might consider them the exact opposite of each other. If you don’t know which one you should go for, let’s discuss the two briefly first.
Pre-Built Gaming PC
As mentioned earlier, you can call Pre-Built Gaming PCs the exact opposite of Custom Gaming PCs. Because, in Pre-Built Gaming PCs, you go to a store and just purchase a pre-built system that falls under your budget.
There are a few advantages here, like:
- Provides a hassle-free experience. You can just go and buy a PC without having to select individual products. So, in just a matter of hours, you will have a fully functional gaming PC.
- Similarly, the entire process saves a bunch of time. So, even if you don’t have lots of free time at hand or the expertise to do so, you can get a Pre-Built Gaming PC.
- The store you buy from offers its warranty. This way, you don’t have to go after individual manufacturers if anything fails.
There are also a few disadvantages surrounding Pre-Built Gaming PCs:
- First of all, Pre-Built systems cost more than their Custom Built counterparts. So, if you’re on a tight budget, then it’s highly recommended that you build the PC yourself to save some bucks.
- Additionally, you don’t get as many customization options with Pre-Built systems. Yes, you might ask the store to replace a component or two, but that option is very limited, and some stores might not offer it. Not only that, but you might also be charged more for replacing the components depending on the component itself.
- Since every component isn’t handpicked by you, the system may pose an upgradeability issue in the future. I mean, you are likely to have room for some upgrades, but definitely not as much room as you would get in a custom PC.
Custom Gaming PC
The idea behind a Custom Gaming PC is simple: you buy particular components from different places or just a single store (depending on your preference), and you build the system yourself at home. Of course, you can ask a friend of yours to build it with you, but in a nutshell, that’s the concept of a Custom Gaming PC.
There are a bunch of advantages surrounding this methodology, so let’s go over them quickly:
- First and foremost, the range of customization is unparalleled in Custom Gaming PCs. You can decide exactly what component you want, and you can go and buy it (as long as it is compatible).
- In the same fashion, it is also rather easy to upgrade a Custom Gaming PC. For instance, you have built the computer yourself, and you know all about its insides, so you can plan future upgrades better and swap out the components with the latest ones depending on your budget and needs.
- Since you’re purchasing each component individually, you can get a better deal on them and save a bunch of money. You can specifically decide which component you want, and your decision can be based on various factors, including budget.
As with the advantages, there are also a few disadvantages of building a Custom Gaming PC, like:
- It takes time and expertise. You really need to know what you’re doing to build a gaming PC, and you also need to have a bunch of time to invest in this hobby. However, building a gaming PC is not a difficult task; with the right amount of knowledge and guidance, you can do it safely.
- Since you’re buying parts separately, if something goes wrong, you will have to contact the particular manufacturer for a warranty claim, which can be a headache since they are different components and have different warranties.
- Unless you know which components to go for, finding the right and compatible components can be difficult. However, if you follow our guides, you will know exactly which component to go for.
Also Read: How Long Does it Take to Build A PC?
Which One Should You Go For?
With that said, which PC should you for? Should you build a Custom Gaming PC yourself? Or should you go with a Pre-Built System that offers similar specifications at a higher price tag?
Well, we recommend that you go with a Custom Gaming PC and save yourself some dollars. Plus, it’s a really rewarding experience, and you might just discover a new hobby for yourself. However, if you don’t have the time or the energy to build a PC, then you should definitely go with a Pre-Built System.
Also Read: How Much Does It Cost to Build A PC
As far as building a Custom Gaming PC is concerned, even if you don’t have any experience, then you can follow this guide and learn how to build a PC.
If you have a friend or know someone who has built a PC before, then we highly recommend you contact that person to avoid some of the rookie mistakes people make when building their first PC.
Tool Required For Building PC
Building a PC is not that difficult. In fact, with a couple of Phillips Headscrews and a few other tools, you can get right down to business. Here are a few of the most important tools required for building a gaming PC:
- Phillips Screwdriver (Number #1)
- Phillips Screwdriver (Number #2)
- Standard Flathead Screwdriver
- Hex Nut Driver
- A magnetic screw tray or magnetic mat (to stay organized)
- Anti-Static Mat or Anti-Static Wrist Band
- Zip Ties
- Thermal Paste
With these tools, you should be good to go with your PC-building experience. It is highly recommended that you go for magnetic screwdrivers, as they can be a lifesaver when it comes to staying organized.
Remember, the key here is to stay as organized as possible, read the proper manuals, and follow the guides. Also, don’t forget to enjoy the process as you are going to reminisce about your first ever PC building experience throughout your life.
The Building Phase
Once you have completed the planning phase, you will have a rough idea in mind as to what type of gaming PC you’re after and what’s your budget. With these answers in mind, you can finally move to the building phase.
Get The Components
The first step of the building phase is to get the components, and as simple as it may sound, it is probably the most important step. Every component you select must not only fall within your budget but also go perfectly with the rest of the components.
To nail all components accurately, you need to do lots of market research and select the ones that offer the perfect blend of performance and price. To get an idea of the compatibility and pricing of each component, you can head over to PCPartPicker and select the parts and see how your build turns out.
To further ease up the process, Tech4Gamers has compiled various buying guides, including guides on the Best Gaming PC Under $1000 and Best Gaming PC Under $1500. By following these guides, you can skip the headache of selecting every part yourself. In addition, we also have a ton of guides regarding the best components for a specific CPU or GPU. Hence, you can also check them out.
Avoid Basic Mistakes
If you’re a beginner, then you’re likely to make a bunch of mistakes throughout your first PC-building experience. However, you can read our PC Building Mistakes To Avoid guide and get an idea of what to watch out for.
First and foremost, make sure you’re assembling your rig on a flat and suitable surface, and by suitable, we mean that you need to stay away from any metallic surface because that can short your components.
Furthermore, make sure you’re equipped with an anti-static wristband, or you’re working on an anti-static mat; this way, you and your components won’t get a static shock. Apart from this, there are many other rookie mistakes that you can make as well, and we will warn you about them as we progress toward our finished rig.
The first component you are going to put together is the CPU. However, before you do so, you need to unbox the motherboard and place it on a suitable surface. Next up, follow these steps:
- First, push down on the small metal lever that’s next to the socket and then slide it away; this will open the socket. For older AMD CPUs, lift the metal lever up.
- After that, remove the plastic cover from the CPU socket.
- Take out the processor from its box and hold it gently from the edges (Never hold it from the bottom). Make sure you never apply any force in the next step.
- If you have an Intel processor or an AMD 7000 processor, then you will find marking around the edge of the processor. You will also find a similar marking on the CPU socket. Orient the processor according to the marking on both the chip and the socket, and gently insert the processor into the socket. If you have an older AMD processor, then make sure the pins at the bottom of the processor and seated into the holes in the socket.
- Do the reverse of step 2, that is, lower the metal lever down and slide it into its place. For older AMD processors, all you have to do is push down the metal lever.
That’s it, you have just installed your CPU, and now you can move on to installing the rest of the components.
With the CPU in its place, let’s move on to installing the RAM. We are installing it before the CPU Cooler because there is a chance that once the cooler is installed, you might not have enough room to install the RAM sticks comfortably.
Before you dive right into plugging in the RAM, we recommend you go through your motherboard’s manual once and check out its DIMM Slots configuration for optimal performance.
Conventionally, if you have 4x DIMM Slots and you want to install 2x RAM sticks, then the first stick should go in the first slot furthest from the CPU socket, and then the second stick should go in the second slot away from the CPU socket. Basically, the RAM sticks need to be installed in alternate slots.
Here’s how you can install RAM:
- First up, make sure the plastic clips at the ends of each DIMM slot are unlatched.
- Take the first RAM stick, and orient it according to the DIMM slot. You will notice that there is a space on the RAM’s connector; that space needs to match the DIMM slot.
- Next, gently press down the RAM while keeping the orientation intact. If needed, apply light force with both thumbs on each end of the RAM until you hear a very satisfying click noise. That’s the noise of the plastic clips latching on the RAM.
- Repeat the same process for the next RAM.
That’s it, now the RAM is in place, and you can move on to the CPU cooler.
Install CPU Cooler
It is time we put in the CPU cooler and come one step closer to finalizing our build. Before you continue, it’s time to bring out a Phillips screwdriver and some thermal paste because you’re gonna need both of them.
The exact instructions for installing a CPU cooler can vary a lot depending on your motherboard socket, your cooler type, and your platform. It is highly recommended that you refer to the installation guide that came with your CPU cooler, as it will contain information about retention clips, the backplate, standoff screws, and more.
Nevertheless, here’s what you will have to do to install the CPU Cooler:
- First, you need to install the backplate that’s compatible with your CPU socket to the motherboard. The backplate goes on the back of the motherboard, and it helps the cooler to screw into the motherboard. You will likely use standoff screws to install the backplate. If your cooler doesn’t come with a backplate, then you can ignore this step.
- Next, check if your cooler comes with pre-applied thermal paste. If it does, then you don’t have to apply thermal paste on the CPU yourself. If it doesn’t, then apply thermal paste the size of a pea onto the CPU.
- You might need to remove the fan from the cooler for this step. Hold your cooler above the CPU socket, and orient it according to the standoffs of the backplate you installed in the first step. If you didn’t install a backplate, then orient the cooler according to the holes around the CPU socket.
- Now it’s time to install the CPU cooler over your CPU. Make sure the protective film at the base of your cooler is removed. While keeping the cooler aligned with the holes or the standoffs, place it onto the holes gently, so the thermal paste is spread evenly.
- Now, start tightening each screw. The process for tightening the screws isn’t straightforward. You need to tighten them in an X pattern; that is, install the top left screw first, then the bottom right, then the top right, and then the bottom left. Make sure you don’t tighten any screws all the way; you need to tighten all of them gradually, bit by bit.
- Even though the CPU cooler is finally in its place, the process isn’t over; you still have to connect it to the motherboard. For the cables, head over to the CPU cooler’s manual again and see which cable goes where. Generally, you will have to plug the fan’s cable into the CPU_FAN header; it is a 4-pin header that can be found somewhere around the edge of the board’s top side or below the CPU socket. If you have RGB fans, then refer to our guide on How To Connect RGB Fans To the Motherboard.
With the CPU cooler in place, you can move towards installing SSDs.
Install M.2 SSDs
Installing M.2 SSDs is fairly simple. However, before you dive into screwing the SSD in, first refer to your motherboard’s manual and check the location of the M.2 slot on your board. It’s a horizontal slot that is roughly an inch long with a screw on one end. You may find it in the lower half of your motherboard, near the CPU socket or the PCIe slots.
Once you have located the M.2 slot, follow these steps to install the SSD:
- Unscrew the small screw from the M.2 slot. Make sure you don’t lose it.
- Hold the SSD from its edges, and slide it in the slot with its connector end first.
- You will notice that the SSD is not seated completely. In fact, it is poking upwards from the other end at an angle of roughly 30°. Don’t worry about it; just take the screw you removed in the first step and gently screw it in place again.
After following these steps, your PC will have the storage installed. If you have more than 2 SSDs, then follow the same procedure for the 2nd SSD as well.
Before we move toward the motherboard, it’s best to install the IO Shield first. The process is quite simple, and you can pull it off in about a minute. Just place the IO Shield in its position on the case and gently press each corner till its snaps into its place.
With the IO Shield good to go, here’s how you can install the motherboard:
- Make sure there are no internal cables around the motherboard tray. After that, check if the PC Case has standoffs pre-installed. If not, then install the standoffs yourself.
- First, lift up the motherboard gently, and hover it over the motherboard tray of your PC. Align the motherboard’s rear IO ports according to the IO Shield you just installed. Also, align the holes on the motherboard with the standoffs on the case. Gently place the motherboard on the motherboard tray.
- Start screwing the motherboard in its place. However, just like with the CPU Cooler, never tighten a single screw all the way in. Instead, you have to tighten all the screws gradually, one by one, in each pass. This way, no single screw will apply too much pressure on the board.
That’s it; in just three steps, you have your CPU, RAM, CPU Cooler, and your motherboard all inside the PC case.
After installing the CPU Cooler and the motherboard, you will find installing the PSU as easy as ABC. All you have to do is:
- Unplug all the cables from the PSU if it’s modular.
- Figure out where the PSU is supposed to go in your PC case. Usually, the PSU slot is located at the bottom.
- Next, figure out the orientation of the PSU. You want the PSU to get proper ventilation; for this reason, you should orient it in such a way that the fan on the PSU faces the vent on the back of the case. However, if your case comes with a bottom vent, then you can also face the fan of the PSU on that side.
- Put the PSU into its slot with the orientation you decided in step 3, and screw it in its place with the 4 screws that it came with.
- Take the 24-pin connector, and plug one end into the PSU and the other end into the motherboard. You will find a 24-pin connector on the side of the motherboard.
- Repeat the same step for an 8-pin connector which is used to power the CPU. You will find an 8-pin connector near the top of the motherboard around the CPU socket.
- Make sure you are using the cable management features like velcro straps that your case comes with.
After following these steps, the PSU will be installed, and you can move toward the GPU.
To install the GPU, first, you have to identify the x16 PCIe slot. It should be colored differently than the other PCIe slots, and even if it’s the same color, it should be a bit long in length.
However, if you can’t identify it, then refer to your motherboard’s manual just to be on the safe side. Once you know which one is the x16 PCIe slot, follow these steps to install the GPU:
- First of all, unscrew the PCIe slot brackets from the case. These brackets ensure that dust does not enter from the back. However, you have to remove them to install the GPU. Once it’s placed, you can put them back on.
- On one end of the PCIe x16 slot, you will find a plastic latch; push it down.
- Hold the GPU firmly, and push it down gently into the slot while aligning its connector with the x16 slot. You will hear a satisfying click sound once the GPU has latched onto its place.
- After that, you will notice that the GPU’s bracket fits perfectly in the PCIe slot bracket you removed in the first step. Screw in the GPU’s bracket so that it is secured. If you removed other PCIe slot brackets in the first step, then you should screw them back now.
With your GPU connected, all you have to do is plug it in with the PSU using the relevant connector. You can refer to your GPU’s manual to figure out exactly which connector and/or adapter you need.
Now you have finally built your gaming PC. However, to make it tidy and clean, you should do some cable management.
There are many cables that you will have to connect throughout your system. From the PC case’s front IO header to RGB fans, if you cannot figure out which cable goes where, then always refer to the instruction manual.
Managing all of these cables can be quite a hectic job. However, it is highly recommended as it makes further upgrades, maintenance, and troubleshooting easier.
When building your rig, you need to use velcro straps and zip ties throughout the build to manage the cables properly. First of all, group together the cables that seem to be going to the same place or near each other, then tie them up with a velcro strap or a zip tie and route them in such a way that they neither block the airflow nor are they visible.
You should route the cables through the back of the motherboard tray; this way, most of the cables will be tucked away neatly, and your PC will look more beautiful than ever.
First, you need to plug in all the peripherals to get your newly built gaming PC up and running. Make sure you plug in the monitor’s HDMI cable to the GPU’s HDMI port. After that, power up the system.
To install the OS, you need to have a bootable USB drive with Windows Setup in it. Plug in the drive and power up the PC. In the first screen, look at the top corner, and you will see text that says, “Press F12 to Enter Boot Menu” the exact key may vary depending on the motherboard, but mostly its F10, F11, or F12.
Once you have pressed the Function key and you’re in the Boot Menu, navigate to the USB drive you have inserted using the Arrow keys and press Enter. After that, follow the onscreen instructions to install Windows.
After Windows is installed, you will have to activate it using a license key. You can use your old PC’s license key to save a few dollars or purchase a new one.
The Maintenance Phase
Now that you have built your gaming rig, you must be very excited to enjoy it and run some games. However, it is best to do a thorough check to see if everything is connected and working properly. Furthermore, it is also advised that you learn a few tips to maintain the computer, so it doesn’t face any issues with time.
First, head over to the BIOS and see if all the components show up. For instance, check if all the RAMs are detected and if all the storage you have installed is showing up. If all is good and well, then you can move to the next step, that is, to monitor the temperatures and performance.
Monitor Thermals and Performance
You can use software like MSI Afterburner to monitor the thermals of your PC. After installing such software, play a few games and notice the performance. Is it running smoothly, as expected? Is there a fluctuation in performance? How are the thermals doing?
If your PC is facing any thermal problems, then it might be due to improper installation of the air cooler. Recheck if it’s seated properly and if the thermal paste is adequate or not. You can also refer to our guides on How To Lower GPU Temperature and How To Lower CPU Temperature for more troubleshooting techniques.
Now that your PC is good to go, you will likely spend a lot of time gaming on it. However, as time passes, you need to give your system a thorough cleaning to prolong its lifespan and get the most out of it.
What happens is that, with time, dust will begin to accumulate on the motherboard and other components, and now that the component is covered with dust, it will trap more heat. Not only that, but dust in the fans and the heatsink can also mess with the system’s airflow.
As a result, your PC will not perform as well as it used to. On top of that, if any component begins to overheat, then you also risk damaging it or decreasing its lifespan. Therefore, it is necessary to clean your PC every now and then to keep it up and running for a long time. You can also read our guide on How Often Should I Clean My PC? to get an idea of how regularly a PC needs to be cleaned.
For more information regarding PC maintenance, read our guides on:
- How To Clean A Motherboard
- How To Clean PC Fans
- How to Clean Your PC Without Compressed Air
- How to Clean Tempered Glass
If you are new to the world of PC building, then you might feel overwhelmed by the entire process. After all, who knows which components to go for and how to build them together? However, with proper guidance, anyone can build their own PC. In fact, the actual building process isn’t that difficult; consider it a bunch of really expensive legos that you need to put together.
Before you start purchasing components for your next build, always consider the points we have discussed under the planning phase. Once you have gone through those factors, purchase the components and start building.
It is also quite important to keep your PC in check with regular maintenance. Therefore, always keep an eye on the thermals and the performance, and clean your PC periodically. All things considered, you should always enjoy the PC building experience, especially if it’s your first PC, because you will always remember it.
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