This reference guide is aimed to get you up-and-running swiftly with building your own computer. We've posted several articles about the general process, even pre-configured PC build lists for your ease, but this will be the first step-by-step "build a PC" guide (including a video PC building tutorial).
We've got a 15-minute video guide that gives a brief-but-comprehensive walkthrough of the system installation process. That's embedded immediately below. If you need further tips & advice or would like to check out our other pre- and post-build resources, those are also in the written part of the guide.
In this "how to build a gaming PC" tutorial, we'll walk through the process of grounding yourself (ESD-free), installing the CPU, RAM, power supply, storage, video card, and all the cabling (and other components), as well as basic testing options.
This guide is split into pre-build, assembly, and post-build sections. Keep in mind that we have already written articles on many of these topics, so the sections may be truncated and linked elsewhere for full depth.
Video: Build a PC Tutorial - Assembling the System
Components Used in Our Demo Gaming System
Here's a list of what we used in our demonstrative gaming PC build, as found in the photos herein and the video above.
|Gaming Parts List||Name||Price||Courtesy Of|
|CPU||Intel i7-4770K CPU||$320||GamersNexus|
|Video Card||EVGA GTX 760||$260||GamersNexus|
|Memory||Kingston HyperX Predator||$120||Kingston Tech.|
|Motherboard||MSI Z87-G45 Gaming||$145||MSI|
|Power Supply||Antec High Current Pro 1300W Platinum||$320||Antec, Inc.|
|SSD||Samsung 840 250GB SSD||$195||GamersNexus|
|HDD||WD Black 1TB 7200RPM||$110||GamersNexus|
|Optical Drive||Generic ASUS Optical Drive||$18||Who cares? (Sorry).|
|Case||NZXT Phantom 530||$130||NZXT Corp.|
|Anti-Static Wrist Strap||Rosewill Anti-Static Strap||$5||GamersNexus|
Getting Started with PC Building - Pre-Build Preparation
When building a system, the first thing to do is define your requirements as a user. We've already written that part of the guide (found here), but in short:
- Are you playing games exclusively?
- Are you producing any video content or using professional applications?
- Do you want to experiment with overclocking? (Guide here).
- Does it have any special requirements? Examples: low noise, small form factor, extra large, LAN-portability, liquid support, etc.
- Do you have a budget in mind?
Once you've answered these questions, it's time to pick the components.
Component Selection - Compatibility Concerns
We strongly recommend consulting our forums (where you'll find me, Mik, and other experts on-staff) for compatibility checks. It's always free to ask a question! Additionally, reference our PC builds for known-compatible parts.
This section will be for quick-reference resources. See the links on the final page for further detail on each topic.
Although there are many smaller facets of component operability (frequencies, DevSleep for SSDs, etc.) we really only have a few top-level items to check for basic compatibility. We're primarily concerned about these specs (treat this like a checklist) -- seek further support in the comments or forums if you have specific concerns:
- CPU socket type. The CPU's socket must be identical to the motherboard's socket. At the time of writing, this is commonly:
- Intel: LGA115X, LGA2011.
- AMD: AM3+, FM2, FM2+.
- Chipset selection: Make sure the motherboard's chipset offers the features you need; for instance, SLI/CrossFire or overclocking.
- RAM: If using an IGP or APU for your graphics, you'll want faster memory to prevent bottlenecks (because APUs don't have on-card RAM, like a video card). Make sure the DDR spec matches that of the CPU and motherboard. All current (end of 2013) processors and motherboards are using DDR3. This is normally not a concern, except DDR4 is being slowly introduced in 2014 & 2015. You'll also want to check if the RAM is dual- or quad-channel. The only consumer CPUs that are quad-channel right now are Intel's Extreme units (IB-E); everything else is dual-channel.
- Video Cards: If using multiple video devices, ensure the motherboard's PCI-e configuration will allow at least x8/x8 configurations. PCI-e 3.0 far-and-away exceeds the throughput of our current cards, but it will be desirable in the next generation or two of video card advancements.
- PSU: Make sure you're not supplying too much or too little wattage. Check on our forums for advice on PSU wattage or use an online calculator (not always perfect).
- SSD: Not much to worry about here these days. Just make sure the motherboard has SATA III (6Gbps) connectors for your SSDs.
Continue to page 2 for the steps!