Gone are the days when consoles were leading the gaming industry by a huge margin. Over the last decade, the PC market has enjoyed its fair share of triumphs, and as the 2017 is sailing smoothly, the PC market is not only thriving but also managing to bring in a lot of gamers who once believed consoles are the ultimate solution.
Sure, for anyone who’s strictly on PC for gaming, there are some things that you miss out on; mainly the console exclusives. However, if you are so inclined towards being the best of the best, you can keep a console strictly for what it’s good at, and that is providing exclusives.
The PC vs console war is something that has been around since the dawn of time, and to be honest, at this point, it doesn’t seem like it’s going to end. So, in order to make sure this article doesn’t turn into one of the platform wars, we are going to keep this short and cut it here.
The article’s main purpose is helping people build their gaming PCs; now most veterans are already aware of how to build a gaming PC, as well as all the things they can do with it. That’s why we are keeping this article simple and targeting the newcomers who are just starting their wonderful journey in the PC building.
The article will guide you through almost all the nooks and crannies of building a gaming PC as well as all the preparations that you will be requiring before you actually start building a PC. Considering how the article is going to be long, we are going to add in a table of contents below in order to help you navigate the article should you revisit it in not so distant future.
Table of Content
- Things to Consider Before.
- Preparing Before the Assembly.
- Building The PC.
- The PC That We Build.
Now all of this may seem very overwhelming, and while it is overwhelming, the good thing is that a successful PC build happens to be very fruitful. Now that we are out of the formalities, and preparing you mentally, we are going to take a look at some really helpful things that will help you make the most out of your money.
So, without any further ado, let’s take a look at the ultimate guide to building your gaming PC.
1. Things to Consider Before
First things first, when you’re building a gaming PC, or planning on building one, there are a lot of things that are running through your head, and believe it or not, it’s only natural. Before you go ahead and start building, there are some things that you need to consider.
In order to make it simple for you, we have listed them down so you know what you are getting yourself into.
Building a computer isn’t cheap, however, the good thing is that it can only be as expensive as you want it to be. Sure, if you are planning on putting multiple graphic cards into the PC along with custom water cooling, you are looking at an average of $6,000 of spending on a total PC.
However, if you want something like an AIO solution, as well as a single graphics card setup and the usual mix of components, you can drive the cost down to $2,000 and even $1,000. The good thing is that the PC market is spread so wide that there’s something for everyone.
Still, considering the budget is the smartest option beforehand because it helps you make the right decision when it comes to buying the components.
ii) Your Requirements
The first and perhaps the most important thing that you need to consider is your requirement from the PC. A lot of people think that high end computers are only good for gaming, but as a matter of fact, anyone who’s thinking about doing more than just gaming is going to spend some good amount of money before they can get into that.
For starters, content creators who want to stream, play games, and edit videos on their PC will require their computer to have a more powerful processor that can handle all the work load. Similarly, people who are only buying a PC for gaming can be satisfied with something that’s cheaper, and still works the same in gaming scenarios as any other more expensive processor.
iii) Picking the Components
Now that’s everything is said and decided, the next step is the crucial one. In this step, you’re tasked to pick the components that you want for your PC. If this is your first PC, we would suggest you to find some help on how you can perfectly allocate your budget.
For instance, anyone who’s willing to build a PC with a $1,000 needs to know that at least $350 should be spent on a graphics card with the rest cleverly spread across the rest of the components.
In order to help you make sure that you are not buying the wrong components, we are going to take a look at all the components below and tell you what goes with what. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the long list of component as well as any compatibility issues if they exist.
Normally people choose the CPU first and then look out for a motherboard, however, that isn’t the smartest of the idea. One should always pick the motherboard first and then go for the processor in order to avoid any possible confusions.
Now as far as the motherboards are concerned, you have 3 different platforms that are commonly known, and while this is certainly an easy decision, it can be confusing. In order to make things easier, we are going to name all the chipsets that belong to these series below, in order to help you pick the right motherboard.
- Intel’s Skylake and Kabylake Compatible Motherboard Chipsets: H110/B150/Q150/H170/Q170/Z170/B250/Q250/H270/Q270/Z270 (Consumer- Pro Gamer level)
- AMD’s Ryzen Compatible Motherboard Chipsets: X370/B350/A320/X300/A300 (Consumer to Content Creator Level)
- Intel’s Broadwell-E Compatible Motherboard Chipsets: X99. (High End Content Creator Level)
With a small list above, you’ll have a better understanding on how to pick the right motherboard to go with your CPU. In order to help the users have a better understanding, we are naming a similar list below that will help you make pick the processor in the same manner.
Now if you are looking for overclocking, below are the motherboards that support overclocking out of the box, do keep in mind that you need to have a processor that supports overclocking as well.
- Intel’s Skylake and Kabylake Chipsets: Z170 and Z270.
- AMD’s Ryzen Chipsets: X370, B350, and X300.
- Intel’s Broadwell-E Chipset: X99.
Now keep in mind that only the aforementioned motherboard chipsets will support overclocking, and at the same time, you need to keep in mind that you are going to require adequate cooling to successfully overclock your processor.
You also need to know that motherboards are available in different sizes as well, and for your convenience, we have mentioned the sizes below. Do keep in mind that we are only telling you about the mainstream motherboard sizes.
- ITX: The smallest mainstream size that is used in really small builds and fits perfectly in an SFF case. Doesn’t have a lot of ports, but is available in enthusiast grades.
- Micro ATX: Slight bigger than ITX motherboards, won’t fit in SFF cases, and may have some additional slots.
- ATX: The most commonly used motherboard size that fits in mid and full towers, are filled with all the necessary ports and connectors required.
- EATX: Commonly used in X99 platform, doesn’t really add in a new slot if not based on the X99 platform, requires a specific mid tower case or a full tower case.
The second thing you should look at is the CPU (Central Processing Unit) also known commonly as a processor. Now this decision was rather easy last year because only Intel was controlling the majority of market, however, things are different now as AMD just released the Ryzen lineup of CPUs, and it’s important to include those too.
When choosing a CPU, you need to know what you’re going to use the CPU for; if you’re only planning on gaming, then an Intel Core i5, or a Ryzen 1700 would be more than enough for gaming. However, if you want something like content creation, as well as gaming, you can start looking at the Ryzen 1800 or Intel’s Core i7 lineup of processors.
Last but not the least, if you have some really high end video editing going on, you may want to look at AMD’s Ryzen 1800x, or Intel’s Broadwell-E lineup of processors that are currently ruling the high end market.
To avoid any confusions below are the chipsets that Intel and AMD processors will work with.
- Intel 6th and 7th generation compatible motherboard chipsets: H110/B150/Q150/H170/Q170/Z170/B250/Q250/H270/Q270/Z270
- AMD Ryzen compatible motherboard chipsets: X370/B350/A320
- Intel’s Broadwell-E compatible motherboard chipsets: X99.
Now the important thing that you need to keep in mind is that some processors come with the ability to be overclocked, and others don’t. The overclockable Intel processors as well as AMD processors are listed below for your convenience.
- Intel: Any processor that has a model number ending with “K” or “X” can be overclocked.
- AMD Processors: All Ryzen processors can be overclocked.
Once the processor of choice has been decided, you can move on and start looking at other components that you plan on buying.
Our next pick is going to the RAM (Random Access Memory) now the good thing is that most modern computers are running the latest DDR4 RAMs, so choosing the RAM isn’t really that difficult. However, the important thing that you need to know is the amount of RAM you really need.
Both Intel and AMD are currently supporting dual channel memory up with the exception of Intel’s X99 platform that supports quad channel. If you’re looking for some light to moderate gaming, we would suggest you invest in a minimum of 8 GB of RAM.
However, considering how 8 GB is something that can be utilized really quickly, the next best option is going or at least 16 GB of RAM to future proof yourself. If you’re going for a 16 GB configuration, make sure you do it in a 2 x 8 GB configuration so if in near future you need to upgrade, you can easily do so.
d) Power Supplies
Power supplies usually don’t have to be compatible with your system so choosing them is the simplest thing. However, you do need to figure out how many watts you are required. If you’re doing some light about of gaming with specs that don’t require a lot of power (especially the video card) you can be more than okay with power supplies that have 500 to 550 watts of output.
However, if you’re planning on adding some additional expansion cards like a more powerful graphics card and a cooler, you can be okay with a 600 to 700-watt power supply. An important thing that you need to know is that even if you install a 1500-watt power supply in a PC that has a maximum draw of 500-watt, it’ll only pull 500 watts from the wall and nothing more.
Some of the best power supplies available in the market are from Corsair, EVGA, and Seasonic. When choosing a power supply, simply make sure that the power supply you’re looking for has all the important connectors that are required by your peripherals.
In addition to that, there are modular power supplies, semi-modular power supplies, and non-modular power supplies. From these 3 categories, the most expensive ones are the fully modular ones, then you have the semi-modular ones, and lastly, the non-modular ones.
For anyone looking for the difference, check out how they differ below.
- Modular Power Supplies: These power supplies come with cables that can be removed completely, and even changed with aftermarket custom cables.
- Semi-Modular Power Supplies: Much like the modular power supplies, the cables on this power supply can also be changed, however, the 24-pin motherboard cable, and 8-pin EPS cable are not removable.
- Non-Modular Power Supplies: All the cables are pre-installed and cannot be changed.
Whatever power supply you buy, make sure it’s made by a good manufacturer, in order to decide, check out power supply tier guides to have the necessary help. Power supplies are available in 2 major form factors that are listed below for your guidance.
- ATX: This is the most standard form factor that is used in the majority of builds, and fits in easily in any case apart from an SFF case.
- SFX: Power supplies that are suitable for SFF builds, or mini-ITX builds, aren’t really required for medium or full towers.
e) Graphics Cards
Next up, we have the graphics card that is also known as video card, and GPU. This is one of the components that is absolutely necessary if you want to play some proper games on your computer. Choosing a graphics card isn’t really difficult considering how PCI-Express is the commonly used slot on all the modern motherboards.
However, choosing which graphics card you want is something extremely important; for starters, if you’re looking for some casual gaming at 1080p, you can take a look at AMD’s RX400 series, or Nvidia’s GTX 1050 lineup.
If you want something better, you can take a look at AMD RX480, or Nvidia’s GTX 1060. However, if you are aiming at resolutions like 1440p or ultrawide, then you have the expensive options like the GTX 1070, GTX 1080, and the newly launched GTX 1080Ti. All of these graphics cards have some sort of power to perform even at 4K.
Now the graphics cards don’t really suffer from compatibility issues because of the PCI-Express slot being the standard, however, you do need to know that having an adequate power supply is necessary. In case you are wondering, for anything like GTX 1070 or below, you need to have at least 500 to 550-watt configuration.
However, for GTX 1080 or above, it’s usually suggest to have at least 650 to 750-watt power supply at hand. Then you can even Crossfire or SLI the graphics cards which means basically adding more on another PCI-Express slot. If you’re doing some sort of 2-way SLI, or 3-way Crossfire, then you at least need to have 800 to 850-watt power supply at hand.
Check out the comparison between SLI and Crossfire.
- SLI: Supported on Nvidia cards only, requires an SLI bridge to connect 2 cards together.
- Crossfire: Exclusive to AMD only, doesn’t require any bridge to connect the cards together.
Another important thing to note is that if you’re planning on doing SLI on Nvidia cards, you can only use 2 cards. Adding a 3rd one will create issues in your game. However, this rule only applies to the GTX 1000 series.
As for AMD cards, there aren’t any limitations in terms of how many graphics cards you can add.
Next thing you need to know is the cooler that you’re looking for. Now this is important because a cooler is going to keep your CPU cool, however, most Intel processors do come with their stock heatsinks and if you don’t mind the aesthetics then you can stick with that.
However, for anyone who’s looking for some cooling performance, great looks, and the ability to overclock, having a cooler is important. Now the coolers are available in 2 different tastes; air coolers, and AIO liquid coolers.
Air coolers are able to live longer, but are huge, and in most cases ugly and loud as well. AIO liquid coolers are susceptible to failure if you buy a low quality one, but are quitter, minimal, better looking.
AIO liquid coolers are available in 120, 140, 240, 280, and 360mm radiators, the bigger the radiator, the more efficient the cooler, however, it is important for the cooler to be compatible with the chassis you’re going to buy later.
You can also go for completely custom water cooling, but that’s only if you are planning on building a really high end, enthusiast grade PC. Choosing a cooler shouldn’t be a difficult thing to be honest, simply pick the one that fits your budget, but do make sure that fits your chassis.
g) Hard Disk Drives
Hard disk drive is important because they are cheaper, and come in larger capacities. Sure, you can buy the much faster, smaller, and quitter SSDs, but they are not cheap. Whenever building a gaming PC, the simplest way is to pick a hard drive in at least 1TB capacity, and then pair it with an SSD as a boot drive.
Choosing a hard drive shouldn’t be a difficult task, just make sure that whatever hard drive you’re choosing has enough storage for all your needs because running out os space is something that is very annoying.
h) Solid State Drives
The main difference between solid state drive and a hard disk drive is that instead of writing data on mechanical discs, the SSD writes data on NAND flashes; the data stored in an SSD is safer because the hard disk drives are more susceptible to failure.
Another important thing you need to keep in mind is that SSDs are a lot faster than a traditional mechanical drive. If it’s your first gaming PC and you have the money, you should pick at least 256 to 500 GB SSD.
Now when it comes to SSDs, they are available in multiple interfaces, for your convenience, we have listed them down below.
- SATA Interface: 2.5” inch drives that use SATA power connection, and SATA data to work, are comparatively slower.
- PCI-E Interface: PCI-E based solutions that plug in the PCI-Express slot on your motherboard, doesn’t require any SATA power or data connection.
- 2 Interface: Gets plugged directly into the M.2 slot available on most high end motherboards, is considered as one of the fastest SSDs.
Simply choose the SSD that fits your budget, and make sure you use it as your boot drive, and if you happen to have some more space left, you can use the remaining for your gaming library.
SSDs increase the boot time, and make sure the overall performance of the PC remains as snappier as possible without really having any issues. Plus, another great thing about SSDs is that even if there’s a sudden power loss, the SSD won’t be susceptible to any data loss or corruption due to the fact that there are no moving parts in them.
i) Optical Drives
While there’s no denying that optical drives are largely out of fashion, and in case you doubt the statement we just made, then look at the most modern cases; they don’t even come with optical drive bays. However, a lot of people still widely used them, so it was necessary for us to actually add them instead of completely omitting them.
Optical drives aren’t really hard to choose, you simply need to know whether you are looking for something that can read Blu-rays or something that can read DVDs, and that’s it. However, you do need to make sure whether or not the chassis you are going to buy has an optical drive bay.
In case you buy a chassis like the NZXT S340, or H440, you won’t be getting any optical drive bays; this formula is followed by a lot of other companies too so it’s important for you to keep that in mind.
So, if you are still on the lookout for an optical drive, the best way to get out of the situation is by simply investing in an external solution that will get the job done without really creating a fuss.
Now this bit is important because a casing is going to be the place where all your expensive, precious hardware will be sitting in for the foreseeable future. Many people say that casings are basically 1 time purchase so make sure that your investment is on the right case.
Just like the motherboards, the casings are available in different sizes that you need to look for. In order to help out the readers, we have listed the common sizes below.
- SFF Towers: The smallest cases that are used for SFF builds that use ITX motherboards.
- Small Towers: Best suited for micro ATX builds with full sized power supplies.
- Mid Towers: Can fit full-sized ATX motherboards with full sized components and some good amount of cooling potential.
- Full Towers: Pretty much ready for all the EATX motherboards, and compatible with large graphic cards, also allowing plenty of AIO liquid cooling solutions, and fan mounts.
- Ultra Towers: Best suited for running at least 2 different computers out of one case, or completely equipped with full custom liquid cooling potential.
Now full towers, and ultra towers are something that can be considered a luxury, so it’s best to stay away from them unless absolutely needed. When looking at the case, simply make sure that the one you’re looking for is supportive of all the hardware that will be going inside it, and has the required fan and radiator mounts that you require.
If you want something flashy, you can even go for something that comes with a tempered glass side panel instead of the traditional one. However, just keep in mind that if you do plan on going for tempered glass, you’ll have to take care of it very carefully, otherwise there’s a potential risk of breaking the glass.
The last bit there is choosing the peripherals, and believe it or not, this is something that can be difficult. Now when it comes to peripherals, there are 4 major peripherals that you need, for your convenience, we have listed them down below.
Choosing the keyboard is rather simple, most gamers nowadays prefer mechanical keyboards that are responsive, but at the same time, quite expensive to be honest.
Then as for the mice, there isn’t any mechanical or membrane fuss there, but when choosing a gaming mouse, you need to keep the sensor in mind, and in addition to that, you also need to make sure that you’re fully aware of the DPI that you’re looking for in a mouse.
As for the headset, you can try going for some high end studio headphones, but when it comes to gaming, it’s better to choose something that can provide directional audio for your convenience. So, make sure that you’re aware of the headset you are looking for, and if you want to play online, make sure the microphone is good enough.
Monitor is the last peripheral that you will be needing, you need to make sure that the monitor you’re looking for has the required resolution and other features as well. Gaming monitors are often the ones that has a higher refresh rate, lower response time, and features like AMD’s Free Sync or Nvidia’s Gsync.
Gaming monitors can be expensive, so make sure that you are already planning on saving the money that would go on a monitor.
l) Miscellaneous (Optional)
This section is completely option, but considering how you are spending so much on a custom built PC, you may want to spend some on custom sleeved cables, as well as LED lights. However, do keep in mind that these are completely for flare, and add no performance value whatsoever, so it’s completely okay to skip these.
We are also going to skip these from the final assembly as these are some things that are added after the build is finished, up, and running. Plus, the installation method is absolutely no brainer.
2. Preparing Before the Assembly
Once you’ve gathered all the parts, you are ready to assemble, however, you need to make some pre-build arrangements that are incredibly necessary. Having all the things in place will help make your whole build process a lot easier. Below are some of the things that you should have when you are about to build a PC.
- Large Table: Make sure you have a large table that is capable of accommodating your PC chassis, along with all the parts.
- Anti-Static Gloves: Static discharge can kill your expensive hardware, make sure you have anti-static gloves on before you start touching the expensive hardware.
- Phillips Head Screwdriver: You’re only going to need a single Phillips head screw driver to make sure the whole installation process goes without any issue.
- Zip Ties: In case your case doesn’t come with cable management Velcro straps, having an abundance of black zip ties can be really helpful.
- Wire Cutters: Wire cutters are really useful when building computers because you may have to use them to cut the excess of zip ties.
- Screw Holder: There’s a lot of involvement of screws in a PC build, and you need something that can hold all the screws, and although most cases come with screw boxes that are even labeled, if yours didn’t, simply get yourself a magnetic screw holder. Believe it or not, it’s a total nuisance losing screws.
Now that you have all the required things, you can start building your PC. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at all the instructions that you are going to require.
3. Building the PC
Make sure you’re following this properly because every single step is as important as it gets. Don’t make any hasty decisions, because you can damage your components that way. Take the motherboard out of the box, and place it on the motherboard box, this will be our building station before we put the components into the casing.
Once you’ve done that, take a look at the second step in which we will teach you to install the CPU.
a. Installing the Processor
Carefully lift the metallic latch on the CPU socket, and make sure that your hands don’t touch the socket. Bent motherboard pins can potentially kill the motherboard. Once the latch has been lifted and the socket is exposed, take out the processor from the box.
When you take out the processor, you’ll see that one corner will have a small golden arrow on it, align the golden arrow with the arrow on the motherboard or the socket itself, and gently put the CPU there. Once the CPU has been properly seated, lower the latch and lock it in place; the black socket protector will come off.
This is considered one of the most crucial steps because installing the CPU is difficult for people who haven’t, and one bent pin can raise hell. Once the CPU has been installed, we are going to move on to the next step, which is installing the cooler.
b. Installing the Cooler
There’s no universal way of installing the cooler, the whatever cooler you’re choosing, simply take out the cooler installation guide, and follow that. However, since you may be confused, we can help you out by telling you the basics.
It’s simple to say that your cooler will come with a back plate that goes at the back of the motherboard, simply install the back plate and tighten it with the screws provided. Make sure the back sure that the back plate you’re installing is compatible with your motherboard’s socket. Once the back plate is installed, you have to prepare your cooler for installation.
Install the fans on the cooler in the orientation you prefer using the supplied installation tools, and make sure they are properly secured in place. Now all the AIO liquid coolers come with pre-applied thermal paste on the copper base, but air coolers don’t.
In case you are going with an air cooler, make sure you use a thermal paste that is either supplied with the cooler or purchased from the market. Take just a tiny bit (pea sized) and place it on the center of the processor that you installed in the first step.
Once that’s done, gently put the cooler on top of the processor, and start screwing the cooler with the screw driver. If the cooler uses screw on all 4 corners, make sure you screw in a cross-pattern to make sure that the pressure is evenly divided.
Once the cooler is in place, take the cooler cable, and simply connect it to a fan header on the motherboard labeled CPU_Fan. Installing it any other fan header may cause the PC booting issue.
c. Installing the RAM
RAM installation is probably the simplest thing there is, simply take the RAM out of the packaging, align the RAM with the cuts on the slots on your motherboard, and press them until you hear a click. Make sure that you’re installing the RAM in the correct fashion though.
If you are installing 2 sticks of RAM, make sure you install the RAM on 1st, and 3rd slot from the left, or right. This way your RAM will be running in dual channel mode. In addition to that, make sure that the RAM is properly seated on the slots because if it’s not, there are chances that your PC may not boot at all.
d. Installing the Motherboard
Now that the motherboard is equipped with all the important components, it is time to install it in the chassis. Before we do that, there are some preparations that we have to make inside the chassis. First, take the IO plate from the motherboard box, and install it in the chassis.
The installation of IO plate is simple, you have to carefully press all 4 corners until the plate is secured in place and properly aligned. Once the IO plate is installed, you can go ahead and install the motherboards.
Now the good thing here is that most modern casings come with motherboard stand offs installed, and for those who don’t know, stand offs are basically installed on the casing, and are golden in colour. These are installed to make sure that the motherboard’s PCB doesn’t come in contact with the chassis because that can create a short.
If the stand offs are installed, simply put in the motherboard and align it with the chassis, and start screwing where the holes on the motherboard are. If the stand offs are not installed, install the stand offs on the chassis, then put the motherboard in, and then install the screws in the necessary holes, and you’re done.
e. Installing the Power Supply
Now that the motherboard is installed, it’s time to install the power supply. Now different chassis have different power supply installation methods, but they are largely very easy. If your case has a retention bracket for the power supply, unscrew the bracket, screw it on the power supply and slide your power supply into the power supply area.
However, if the case uses a simpler method, simply slide in the power supply and screw it. Do keep in mind that it’s important for you to make sure that the power supply fan Is oriented properly, if you have a case with proper feet for the height, the fan side should be down, however, if your PC is on a carpeted surface, then the power supply should be installed fan side up.
Another important thing you should keep in mind is that if you are using a fully modular, or even a semi-modular power supply, then you should have all the cables plugged in beforehand, because if the power supply is plugged in alone, and cables aren’t, the whole process of installing the cables afterward is going to be really taxing, and in many cases, may not even work. So, make sure it’s taken care of beforehand.
f. Installing the Graphics Card
Just like RAM, the whole process of installing the graphics card is really, really easy. You just have to plug it in the right slot, and you’re done.
Suppose that you bought a dual slot graphics card, start by removing the 2nd and the 3rd bracket on the on the PCI-express section of the chassis, once that’s done, simply plug in your graphics card on the top PCI-express slot until you hear a click.
Now put those screws back, and keep the PCI-express slot covers somewhere safe. One more thing, the modern graphic cards are quite heavy due to the coolers they are using, and you may notice that your graphics card is bending down. Do keep in mind that it’s nothing serious, and happens with the majority of cards in the market. The phenomenon is known as GPU sag.
Simply make sure that the screws are tight enough, and if you are having some troubles with the GPU sag, you can guy a custom GPU bracket that installs in a slot below the graphics card to support the weight, and completely get rid of the GPU sag. Now that we are done installing the graphics card, we can move on to the hard drive installation.
g. Installing the Hard Drive
The hard drive installation is one of the final steps and is rather easy; simply take out the hard drive cage, and put your hard drive in it. Most cases have different installation methods but it shouldn’t be really difficult to be honest.
Just make sure that the hard drive is properly held in place with screws that are necessary.
h. Installing the SSD.
The whole SSD installation is almost the same as the hard drive installation, however, considering how the SSDs are smaller, they are going to go in the smaller drive bays. With that said, if you have a PCI-E based hard drive, that it’ll go into the PCI-Express X1 slot, and in case you have an M.2 based SSD, it will go on the M.2 slot that can be found on your motherboard.
Once you have installed the SSD, simply use the screws to hold it in place, and move on to the next step.
i. Installing the Optical Drive (If Any)
The next step is to install the optical drive, but in case you didn’t choose an optical drive for your PC, you can skip the step. However, if you have, then simply slide your optical drive in the 5.25” drive bay, take one SATA power cable from the power supply and connect it there, and one SATA data cable from your motherboard box, and connect one end onto the motherboard, and the other one to the drive itself. It’s that simple.
j. Cable Connection
Okay, you can now relax knowing that you have installed everything correctly. The next step is rather simple, now you have to make some cable connections, and after that you’re done. Now when connecting the cables, you have to be very careful. Especially with the 8-pin EPS and the PCI-E cables since they look identical in most cases.
Start by plugging in the 24 pin cable on the motherboard, this cable connector is found on the top right on the motherboard, and can be easily identifiable. Do keep in mind that it may feel a bit difficult to plug in, but apply enough pressure and you’ll feel that the connector is finally in place.
Next up is the 8-pin EPS connector, now this connector is usually placed on the top right side of the motherboard, and the EPS cable is usually split in to the 4+4 fashion, the installation is rather simple, and you have to connect the connector until you hear a click and it’s fully seated.
Next up, you need to connect the PCI-E connectors, these connectors depend on the amount of power requirement of your GPU. For instance, if you have a GPU that requires an 8+8 power delivery, then simply take the two 6+2 connectors, and plug them into the GPU headers.
Then there is the USB 3.0 connector; the header is usually located below the 24-pin connector, however, be careful as this connection uses pins as contact points and the pins happen to be very fragile and can break. Carefully plug in the connector until seated.
You also have to install the USB 2.0 header that’s found on the middle-bottom of the motherboard along with the HD audio cable; these 3 connections come from the casing, so you’ll know what you’re doing.
Last but not the least, you need to plug in all the tiny connections that will deliver power from the motherboard to the power button on the casing. Now most modern motherboards come with jumpers to help you connect all these connectors.
However, if your motherboard doesn’t come with a jumper, simply open the motherboard manual and see where those small wires are going to be plugged into. Once that’s done, you have to plug in the hard drive, and the solid state drive.
Since we are using two drives in our build, take out two SATA data cables from the motherboard box, connect them to the SATA headers on the motherboard and connect the other ends to the drives. Then take two SATA power cables that are coming from the power supply, and connect them into the drives.
Let’s not forget the optical drive, in case you have installed one, you are going to need a SATA power cable, and a SATA data cable, follow the same steps as you did when installing your hard drive and SSD, and you’ll be good to go.
k. Connecting the Peripherals
Even if you’re not ready to close off the PC case, and start setting it up, you’re going to need the basic peripherals to be connected. Start by connecting the keyboard and the mouse into the USB ports; considering how we are about to start a test boot; it doesn’t matter where you connect them.
Once that’s done, connect your monitor to your graphics card with the cable you are using; you can use DVI, HDMI, or Display Port cable, but make sure that both your graphics card, and monitor are compatible with the cable you’re about to use.
Once that’s done, you can go onto the test boot.
l. Test Boot
Now that everything is in place, it’s time to do a test boot; plug in the power cable on the back of the power supply, and into the socket in the wall. If the power supply is on, you’ll see some of the lights on the motherboard turn on.
However, if you don’t see the motherboard lights, you may want to check the back of the power supply for a power switch that’s usually turned off. Turn it on, and then power up the PC using the power button. If the f
You can take a break here as you have successfully built the PC that is working fine. We can now move on to the installation process. However, in case your PC didn’t turn on, or shut down after boot, you may want to check out the next step.
m. Trouble Shooting (In Case PC Doesn’t Turn On)
In case you press the power button and nothing happens, the frustrating part is the troubleshooting part. In this step, you basically have to double check everything in order to find out the culprit that’s causing the problem.
There are some common scenarios that we are going to take a look at in order to determine what’s wrong. So, let’s take a look at them below.
- No Display: This can either be related to the graphics card, processor, or your display cable. Simply start by making sure that the cable you’re using is not a bad one, if that’s not the case, then make sure that your monitor is set to output signal on the given cable.For instance, if you’re using a Display Port cable, make sure your monitor is set to give output on a display port cable, and not the HDMI cable. If that doesn’t work either, take out your graphics card, and run the internal graphics card to check whether or not there’s display.In case that fails as well, the chances are that there’s something wrong with either the motherboard or the processor. At this point, if you don’t have spare components, it’s best taking your computer to a shop, or having your friends help you with figuring out what to do.
- Fans Spin and Stop: This is another common scenario that happens with the PC, this problem mostly persists in the power supplies, in order to address this, simply make sure all the connectors are connected properly.Once you have checked that, turn on the PC again and it should work. In case it doesn’t, we would suggest you follow the same advice you did in the previous solution. However, if you do have a spare power supply, make sure that try that out first.
- No Response: This is somewhat easier to identify, if motherboard lights are already turned off, there’s something wrong with the power connections you’ve done, however, if the motherboard lights are on and you’re still not getting any response, you may want to check out those small power connectors that you connected on the bottom right of the motherboard and make sure they’re in order.
Do keep in mind that these are just some of the common steps that normally occur, the PC issues can be really, really strange. However, if you are failing to understand the issues and this is your first build, we strongly recommend that you take some help from an expert, because if not, your PC can be in a risk of some terrible issue.
So, make sure that you have that in mind, because if not, then you can be in more trouble than your PC not working. Just keep in mind that only start troubleshooting if you know how to properly build a PC, if not, then don’t go too deep into it.
n. OS Installation and Miscellaneous
The next step is basically the OS installation, and we believe everyone knows how to install an operating system. If you’re using an SSD, simply make sure that you install the operating system in the SSD, and keep the rest of your stuff in the hard disk drive.
Once the OS is installed, your PC will be up and running. As for the miscellaneous stuff, we’re basically talking about programs like Steam, Google Chrome, as well as the drivers for all your components. Although all the components do come with installation discs, it is always better to download the latest versions off of the internet because you get the latest versions from the internet, and not on the discs.
With that said, there you have it, you have successfully built your first gaming PC, and got it up and running. The purpose of this guide was to make sure that almost every single aspect is covered because this way, we were able to make sure that the gaming PC that you have readied is capable of running all the games.
4. The PC That We Built
With the guide complete, we thought it would be a smart idea to add in the PC that we built just because this would help give a better idea on what you should build if you have the budget. As far as the specs are concerned, we kind of went and made some compromises on some parts, but got some really good value in terms of the graphics card.
So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the PC that we built while preparing this guide.
For processor, we went with the Intel Core i5 6600K, it may seem like an odd choice to some, but it was a smart choice for us because the processor offers 4 cores and 4 threads, and comes with a nice base clock of 3.5 gigahertz.
However, considering how we had a liquid cooler at hand, we decided to overclock the processor to 4.4 gigahertz all the while we kept it stable, and didn’t tinker with the voltage at all. As far as the performance is concerned, the processor happens to be pretty powerful and offers a lot of horsepower in gaming, and we didn’t really see it bottlenecking or falling behind in the majority of games that we tested.
Now we could have gone for a 6700K but considering how this PC is purely built for gaming, the 6600K seemed like a better choice.
Our cooler of choice was a Corsair H115i, this is an AIO liquid cooler that comes with a 280mm radiator and offers an amazing cooling potential. We know we can probably get more overclocking potential out of this cooler, but considering how we didn’t want to tinker with the voltage, 4.4 gigahertz was the sweet spot for us.
The reason we picked this cooler was rather simple, we have always been very closely linked to the amazing products that Corsair’s provided over the last couple of years, and thought it would look really nice with the overall setup.
For RAM, we went with the G.Skill Ripjaws V in red, the kid is clocked at 2,400 megahertz, and we decided to go with 2×8 GB, that means that we are using 16 gigs of RAM on this system. Now initially we thought about using 32 gigs of memory, but considering how we needed to keep things under a budget, and we didn’t really have much use of this PC apart from gaming, it felt like a smarter idea.
Plus, with this configuration, we can easily upgrade to 32 gigs in near future if the need arises.
Our motherboard of choice can be considered bit of an overkill, but considering how the PC started turning into a colour coordination, we decided to go with Asus Maximum VIII Hero, this motherboard is from Asus’ Republic of Gamers lineup, and is one of the most feature packed motherboard in the market.
It comes with support for both SLI and crossfire, has 2 M.2 slots, 2 USB 3.0 headers, and all the necessary things that you can require, plus, it’s compatible with the 7th generation processors as well, so if we ever decide to upgrade, we can.
e. Power Supply
As far as the power supply is concerned, we went with Corsair RM750x, it’s a fantastic power supply that comes with 80 Plus Gold efficiency, and runs really, really quite. Plus, the power supply also happens to be fully modular, and that approach completely eliminated the cable clutter that is otherwise the case with most of the modular power supplies.
Another great thing about the power supply is that when not in load, the power supply remains passively cool, which means that the fan doesn’t spin until the PC is actually under load.
f. Graphics Card
We decided to go with Asus GTX 1080 Strix, the graphics card is an absolute beast in 1440p gaming, and manages to run some of the games in 4K as well, it’s overclocked out of the box, uses custom cooler, custom PCB, and custom power delivery.
On top of that, it also comes with RGB lighting known as Asus Aura, considering how that’s something big these days, it was important to point that out.
g. Hard Drive
Considering how we were building a gaming PC, and there wasn’t much to do apart from gaming on it, we went with a 1TB Seagate Barracuda drive that we have been using as our drive for storing all the games, and work related stuff on it.
The drive is moderately fast for a hard drive, and gets the job done.
h. Solid State Drive
For solid state drive, we went with a Samsung 750 Evo 500 GB, now this is an odd choice for a lot of people but considering the price we paid for this SSD, it’s almost a miracle. The SSD was available for cheap, and Samsung has a habit of creating some of the best SSDs known to the market.
Plus, the good thing is that the 750 Evo performs almost as good as the 850 Evo, and even better in some tests. We are using this drive for OS, and for our Steam library.
As far as the casing is concerned, we were conflicted between choosing a full tower, or a mid-tower. At the end, we decided to go with NZXT S340 Elite, this is an upgraded version of the original S340, but comes with some enhancements like a cable management puck, some cable management clips at the back, and the best… a tempered glass side panel that is fully tempered glass.
All the expensive hardware looks wonderful in it, the case is compact, and works really well with the available airflow.
For peripherals, we decided to match everything as far as the keyboard, mouse, and headset goes. We went with Corsair K70 RGB Rapidfire keyboard, Corsair Scimitar RGB mouse, and Corsair Void RGB USB headset. We also added a Corsair MM200 extended edition mousepad.
All of the peripherals are excellent value or money, and provide professional level of experience. As for the monitor, we decided on buying the Asus MG278Q monitor, this 27-inch monitor is based on TN panel, comes with the 1ms response time, 144hertz, and Free Sync.
The monitor choice is certainly odd because it supports Free Sync while Nvidia doesn’t have any support for it, but considering the value, the choice was amazing.
k. Miscellaneous (Optional)
All this expensive hardware required some amount of flare, so in order to make the rig look even better, we decided to add NZXT Hue+ RGB lighting system, and CableMod’s fully sleeved cables for the Corsair RM750x.
We admit that this combination was expensive, but considering how most gamers would want their gaming PC to look good, we went ahead and did it just in case. Do keep in mind that these are completely optional, so even if you don’t add them, everything will work just as intended.
So, there you have it, folks! You asked for it, and we delivered it. Building a gaming PC is certainly not an easy task, however, it happens to be one of the most rewarding things one can do. The whole process of putting together several different parts that won’t work alone, just to see something beautiful come to life is extremely satisfying.
We tried our best to make sure that almost all the points that are required in the whole building process are covered because in all honesty, the more information and material you have, the better. After all, you don’t want your first PC to end up not booting up or creating severe compatibility issues, right?
Do keep in mind that running into issues when building a computer is extremely common, just remember that it is extremely important to remain calm under such situation and not panic.
Here’s to hoping that this guide helps you in building the best gaming PC that you have been wanting to build, and in case you are feeling any issues in the whole process, feel free to let us know and we will be more than happy to help.