Looking for a guide on how to build a gaming PC without boring a hole in your pocket? You’ve come to the right place! With the performance of various PC parts constantly on the rise and their dropping prices, it’s easier than ever to build a gamer’s PC that can handle moderate to heavy gaming like a boss.
From processor, video card, RAM, and all the way to the optical drive – this custom gaming PC guide covers it all, component by component. So you can spend less time shopping around, and more time playing your COD 2, Borderlands 2, DOTA 2, Starcraft, and other PC games.
(price as of May 27, 2013)
Considered the brain of the computer, the processor is one of the components that you want to invest some top dollar into. Any custom build gaming PC that wants to have a healthy lifespan should have a high-powered processor to keep up with the latest PC game releases.
Our recommended processor for this “Build A Gaming PC” project is the Intel Core i5-3570K Quad Core. It’s not as powerful as the latest third generation Intel i7-processors, but it packs a lot of punch.
Games like Total War, Empire, and Shogun 2 are fairly difficult to run smoothly at the highest quality settings. The incredible particle and shadow effects, unit density, etc. make the visual experience really stunning and just as demanding. However, the Intel Core i5-3570K Quad Core, backed up by a good GPU, handles it like a boss.
If you play older games that are not as demanding like the ones mentioned above (Crysis, Max Payne 3, Half-Life etc.), you’ll get even better performance and significantly higher frame rates.
Tech-savvy gamers will also love the fact that it can be easily overclocked to 4.3-4.6GHz. On the other hand, if you don’t want to mess up with your BIOS settings, the Built-In Turbo Boost feature lets to overclock this processor up to 3.8GHz. Not as fast compared to overclocking it manually, but still more than decent.
The motherboard – it’s the piece that holds everything together. Your PSU, video card, processor, and everything else are pieced together by the motherboard. Asus motherboards have been the standard choice for folks who want to build a gaming PC.
However, AS Rock is on the rise lately with their high quality and much more affordable motherboards. The recommended motherboard in this build is based on the latest Intel Z77 chipset (allowing you to take advantage of the latest 3rd generation processors from Intel). It integrates native USB 3.0 connectivity on Intel platform, and showcases a very reliable build topped off by excellent overclocking potential.
The unique feature that this motherboard brings to gamers is the CrossFireX support combined with PCIe 3.0 capabilities. It lets you push the graphics performance to another level. And for gaming, the graphics experience is always HIGH on the list.
Sleek and easy to navigate BIOS, plenty of options for overclocking, easy to understand manual, one-click install for the software CD, and it comes at a price that’s not too hard on your budget – what’s not to like about this motherboard?
(price as of May 27, 2013)
If the processor is the mastermind, then the graphics card is the muscle. Whenever gamers talk about custom gaming computers, a long conversation about the latest graphics cards and their feature-set is inevitable, and rightly so!
It dictates the visual experience you have when you’re gaming. It’s logical that you a lot a good portion of your budget for your video card.
Our recommended video card will be loved by users who play Far Cry 3, Crysis 3, Call Of Duty 2, Borderlands 2, and other graphics-intensive PC games.
Far Cry 3: You can play at the highest settings possible, use 2x MSAA, and get 50-60 FPS out of the EVGA GeForce GTX 660Ti 2048MB GDDR5.
Crysis 3: Again, you can play with every setting switched to high quality. You can add motion blur and lens flare, and the video card still delivers 50-60 FPS.
Call Of Duty 2 & Borderlands 2: Play it on completely maxed out settings and still get 100-140 FPS and 60-100 FPS respectively.
Not to mention it has good overclocking potential. You can OC it to 1150MHz and it will still be stable. Long story short, this video card has all the power and performance you need, and the price is definitely worth it.
The memory, or RAM as some would call it, is another component that directly influences your gaming experience (like the processor and video card). It lets you access important data easily. The greater RAM you have, the greater the data you can access in an instant.
With 8GB of RAM from this Corsair memory kit, your budget-build gaming pc should pass the minimum system requirements of today’s PC games with flying colors. Combined with the other recommended components, it performs really well. If you want to get more out of it, you can bring its performance up another notch from 1333MHz to 1600MHz. All it takes is a quick visit to the EFI BIOS, one single click, and VIOLA!
Oh, was it mentioned that it’s great looking, too?
The hard drive is where your operating system, basic productivity applications, PC games, personal files (video, images, documents, etc.), and others get stored. While you want a hard drive that’s spacious enough for storing tons of games, you want one that’s also fast enough when accessing these programs.
The chosen hard drive from Seagate is NOT an SSD. Unlike SSDs (which are more expensive and provides less space), it is still affected by seek times, it has moving parts, rotating platters, and more susceptible to wear and tear.
However, it’s still suited for storing and accessing large files like high-definition movies, music or sound files with high bitrate, PC games, graphics editing software, and others. These programs are in connecting blocks so your PC can start running them minus the longer seek times.
If you are a die-hard fan of SSD, you can easily add one and it greatly complements this Seagate hard drive. A good example is the Intel 510 Series 120GB SSD. The SSD stores the operating system and other basic programs (Firefox, MS Office, etc.) for faster access, and the Seagate HDD would store the larger applications (games included).
No, your chassis is not just a piece of plastic or metal where everything else fits in. Look at it as a suit of armor. No manual on how to build a gaming PC should neglect this component. It protects your computers very sensitive components; it plays a crucial role in the cooling process; and it dictates the longevity of your system.
NZXT Technologies Source 210 Black Computer Case costs only $50, but its value is way MORE than that. The steel used is very robust and the case has no sharp edges. Even the plastic components, such as the front panel, have a very premium feel to it. It comes with fans that are almost noise-free, but do a great job of keeping the insides well-ventilated.
Other Core Features:
– Showcases an almost tool-less design.
– Includes 2x120mm fans located at the top and back ensuring great air flow.
– It comes with cable management holes in the motherboard unit’s plate.
– The rear has water-cooling holes together with rubber grommets.
– It has more than enough space for 4x120mm additional fans.
– The internal cables are all black – it’s uniform with plus points in the aesthetics department
– Comes with enough ports to get the job done – USB2.0 and 3.0 at the front panel.
Very important but almost always overlooked – the power supply unit handles the electricity demands of all your PC components. Whether you are trying to build a gaming PC specifically or want one for everyday use, your PSU needs to be high-quality.
The SilverStone PSU recommended in this build is highly efficient with more than 80 certifications. The 120mm fan (with 18dBA minimum) runs silently in the background and won’t mess with your gaming. It delivers 500W of 24-hour continuous power output, and it keeps the temperature at 40-degrees. All in all, this power supply is a very good deal for the price.
The optical drive is where you play DVDs and CDs, and it’s the final component of our custom build gaming computer. Usually, an optical drive that lets you read and write DVDs is good enough. However, if you want to take it up a notch and turn your gaming PC to a complete entertainment machine, you may want to look into getting a Blu-Ray player.
For our gaming computer build though, we’ll stick with one that’s been proven to be reliable yet affordable. While it doesn’t say it’s from Samsung on the unit, it is from Samsung. This DVD drive / burner combo does what it’s supposed to (and does it well) without the engine-like noise.
Installing it to your PC is as easy as it could get, and so far, it’s hassle-free when reading and writing DVDs. Just take note: there’s no SATA cable included, but you can easily get that anywhere for chump change.