It takes our technicians minutes to build a computer these days – a learned skill – but even that first-time build is completable within a span of hours. Cable management and “environment setup” (OS, software) generally take the longest, but the build process is surprisingly trivial. Almost anyone can build a computer. The DIY approach saves money and feels rewarding, but also prepares system owners for future troubleshooting and builds a useful, technical skillset.
Parts selection can be initially intimidating and late-night troubleshooting sometimes proves frustrating; the between process, though, the actual assembly – that's easy. A few screws, some sockets that live under the “if it doesn't fit, don't force it” mantra, and a handful of cables.
This “How to Build a Gaming Computer” guide offers a step-by-step tutorial for PC part selection, compatibility checking, assembly, and basic troubleshooting resources. The goal of this guide is to educate the correct steps to the entire process: we won't be giving you tools that automatically pick parts based on compatibility, here; no, our goal is to teach the why and the how of PC building. You'll be capable of picking compatible parts and assembling builds fully independently after completing this walkthrough.
Electrostatic discharge (ESD) is the only true danger present when building a PC; that is, other than the danger posed to hands by copper heatsinks. We've previously written about ESD and how it works, but now we're revisiting the topic with a solution to eliminate ESD concerns.
This how-to guide explains how to prevent ESD by grounding yourself when building a computer, specifically by making an ESD grounding wire. We've loosely recommend anti-static wrist straps in the past, but whether or not they actually work depends on how they're utilized by the builder. Simply strapping the band to your wrist and clipping it to the case isn't going to be enough to prevent ESD, though it's better than nothing. The approach we take in this guide is the very same that we use in our lab. It's a little bit of extra work, but anyone demanding certainty (or working with components more than once per build) should follow our example.
In doing so, we put together a PC that is great for streaming videos, games, and even playing less intensive games like League of Legends, Minecraft, Path of Exile, and DOTA2. This PC should not be considered a viable option if you're looking to play games like Far Cry 4 (benchmark) and Assassin's Creed Unity (benchmark). If you're looking to build the best general purpose streaming PC for the lowest price, this $299 gaming HTPC build is perfect for you.
This launch season has been one of the most hectic I can remember. The entire year has been a bit chaotic, actually; we had major GPU announcements, architecture changes (Intel & NVIDIA), several AAA game titles (Dragon Age, Warlords of Draenor, ACU, Far Cry 4, Call of Duty), and more. It's been non-stop games news for the entire year, and that's indicative of a healthy industry.
We recently benchmarked Assassin's Creed Unity and Far Cry 4, both Ubisoft titles, and found that each game is fairly graphics-intensive and demanding of system resources. This ~$1000 DIY gaming PC build allows for near-max settings in Assassin's Creed Unity and Far Cry 4, and with help from ShadowPlay, it'll stream to Twitch with relative ease.
In these “Cheap Bastard's” gaming PC builds, we put together the best build possible for less than $500; this one comes to $488 after rebates. Even though Black Friday is weeks away, we were able to find some great deals on PC components right now. We decided to go with AMD for this build, seeing how Team Red offers some of the best performance for the low-end PC user – especially for the PC gamer.
This time around, we were able to put together a formidable low-end gaming PC for under $500. We paired an AMD R7 265 with an Athlon X4 860k, which should be able to play most games out at medium to high settings. This build is perfect for those of you who are looking to upgrade for Warlords of Draenor or the upcoming Shadow of Revan MMO expansions; gamers seeking performance for the likes of Assassin's Creed Unity need to invest substantially more for a capable PC.
You didn't read this wrong. We’ve put together an ultra-budget “Cheap Bastard’s” gaming PC build for just over $400. At around the same price of a current gen console, you can build a quality entry-level gaming PC. Featuring an Intel G3258, 8GB of DDR3 RAM and an MSI R7 260, you get a great gaming PC for games like LoL, DOTA2, WoW, GRID, Titanfall and TOR.
This budget gaming PC build takes the DIY approach to building a custom computer for games like Titanfall, priced far below our usual $500 budget target.
GRID: Autosport (benchmarked) is sure to get the juices flowing for any car lover. Doubly so with the graphics enhancements that benefit from Haswell chips from Intel. But what happens when you want performance that matches a 500-horsepower car and only have a 100-horsepower Saturn budget? Simple, grab this build, add a touch of overclocking, grab a copy of GRID: Autosport, and enjoy the drive.
The focus of this build was to feature the overclockable Intel Pentium G3258, offer solid mid-to-high level graphics for gaming, and allow for easy upgrades in the future. Our last few extreme budget gaming PC builds were mostly AMD and, based on some great comments both in the forums and article comments, I felt it was time to give Intel a chance to make its mark in this price range.
For those looking to build a cheap gaming PC with the ability to run games on high / ultra graphics -- all for just around $500 -- this is where the buck stops.
The delay of Valve's Steam Machine (or Steam Box) has forced the hand of systems manufacturers. Alienware, Gigabyte with the Brix, and now Zotac have all begun shipping their would-have-been Steam Machines as DIY mini-PCs. Steam has disallowed the shipment of officially branded Steam Machines until the completion of its haptic controller, leaving system manufacturers scrambling to untie the resources dedicated to machines that were originally slated for a 2014 launch.
In an official capacity, Gigabyte's BRIX Pro and Zotac's EN760 are not "Steam Machines" -- at least, not by branding -- but they might as well be. The EN760 (Newegg page) ships in two models: The EN760 and EN760 Plus. The base model ships without RAM or permanent storage at $540; the Plus edition includes a single 8GB stick of 1600MHz RAM and 1x1TB 5400RPM HDD. Both units are outfitted with an 860M mobile GPU, i5-4200U mobile CPU, and custom board design to fit in a 7.4" x 7.4" x 2" (188 x 188 x 51mm) shell.
Larian Studios managed to release an amazing RPG gem just a few days ago. The company behind the Divinity Series has spent the entirety of last week atop Steam's best-selling games list, and that's out of the company's full catalog. We originally wrote about Divinity: Original Sin here, giving an overview of the game's tabletop-like RPG elements. To celebrate Divinity: Original Sin, we decided to do an ultra-budget "Cheap Bastard's gaming PC build" for right around $400.
With a minimalistic build like this, it obviously won't be able to play everything on max settings; however, it will be able to play most games on min-med graphics -- including LoL, DOTA2, Skyrim, Divinity, Banished, StarCraft 2, and others. You won't even need to wear a bucket on your head... but feel free to. We won't judge.
With prices and components constantly changing, it’s hard for our previous PC builds to stay up-to-date. For instance at the time of this build, AMD GPU prices were through the roof due to the cryptocurrency mining craze. By now, prices have stabilized and new products have been released, meaning it is once again time for a high-end gaming PC build.
In this $1200 mid-to-high-end gaming & streaming PC, we will be building a computer that maxes-out games at resolutions up to 1440p, has versatility in its uses, and allows for easy upgrades. Oh -- and it’ll be quiet, too. We will also mention some other small improvements or different expansions depending on individual needs.