Building a gaming PC is the only surefire method to make sure that your system can accommodate all of your specific tastes. You can be sure that you’ll be able to play the games you want at the frame rates you desire when you choose everything that goes into your PC. A home-built PC also leaves room for improvements as technology advances, your preferences and needs change, or your financial situation permits.
Although you can feel scared of building a gaming PC, you could discover that it’s simpler than you think, especially when broken down into manageable steps. Because of this, we’ve created this thorough, step-by-step guide to building your first gaming PC, replete with advice.
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PREP 1: PC Build Tools
Getting the tools you need to finish the build is the first step in getting ready. The tools listed below should be prepared to help ensure a smooth build.
Workspace. To build a PC, you will want a big surface like a table. Make sure you stand on a non-carpeted surface to avoid an unintentional electrostatic discharge, which might harm delicate components.
Pro-tips: The magnetic tip of magnetic screwdrivers is quite weak and does not impact your components, but it will stop you from losing screws inside your case.
PREP 2: Gaming PC Cases
You should notice a case, or at the very least, the size of the case, before you begin choosing the components.
The location of the computer is the primary consideration when choosing a case. The eventual location of your PC will decide how big you can (or cannot) go and whether or not specific premium case features are worthwhile investing in. If the computer is put under your desk, for instance, you probably don’t want to spend the money on a tempered glass side panel.
The three sizes of cases are full-tower, mid-tower, and mini-tower. They are based on motherboard size (case sizes are not the same as manufacturers).
PREP 3: Gaming PC Parts
To build a gaming PC, you need to prepare:
A central processing unit (CPU)
Graphics processing unit (GPU)
Power supply unit (PSU)
Operating system (OS)
Let’s examine what each component accomplishes, why it is essential, and what to look for shopping around.
STEP 1: INSTALL CPU
Preparation: Motherboard, CPU
Put the motherboard on your work surface after removing it from its antistatic package. Locate the CPU socket, which should be hidden by a plastic covering for protection. You’ll notice a little arrow in the corner of the plastic cap or, more frequently, on the socket itself. Take note of where this arrow is.
You’ll see a little metal lever next to the CPU socket. To open the socket tray, depress the lever and gently move it to the side (away from the socket).
Open the CPU’s packing, then take it out. When handling the CPU, exercise extreme caution since both the CPU and the CPU socket are particularly prone to physical harm. Never contact the pins on the bottom of the chip since your fingers might add dirt or grease, and avoid touching the top of the CPU. Instead, hold the CPU by the edges.
You may notice an arrow in the CPU’s corner. Insert the CPU into the socket by aligning this arrow with the arrow on the socket. The retention lever may be lowered and pushed back into position after the CPU has been carefully inserted. While placing the CPU won’t take much force, reducing the lever would!
STEP 2: M.2 SSD INSTALLATION (OPTIONAL)
Preparation: M.2 SSD, a Phillips #0 screwdriver, a motherboard user manual, and additional components
This is an excellent opportunity to install an M.2 SSD if you wish to. Locate the M.2 slot on your motherboard first. It has a little screw just across from it and a minor horizontal groove. Consult the user guide with your motherboard if you can’t locate it, if you find several M.2 slots, or if you want to install more than one M.2 SSD.
Use a Phillips #0 screwdriver to remove the little screw. Please don’t lose it.
Gently insert the M.2 SSD into the slot. It will be roughly 35 degrees away from the motherboard when adequately seated. To lock the SSD in place, push it down and reinstall the little screw.
STEP 3: INSTALL CPU COOLING
Preparation: Motherboard with installed CPU, CPU cooler, thermal paste, CPU cooler manual
Different kinds of CPU coolers exist. We advise you to refer to the documentation with your CPU cooler for precise installation instructions.
Some coolers need a mounting bracket. The motherboard could already have a bracket installed; if your cooler doesn’t require one, you’ll need to remove it; if it uses a different bracket, you’ll need to replace it. Before inserting the motherboard into the casing, carry out this.
The conductive material (which rests on the CPU) on some coolers already has thermal paste applied, although it is not the case with others. Before seating the cooler, you must manually apply thermal paste if it has not already been applied in the cooler. Squeeze a tiny dot of thermal paste, no bigger than a rice grain, onto the CPU’s center. The pressure from the cooler will distribute the thermal paste effectively after it is placed on the CPU.
STEP 4: INSTALL MEMORY (RAM)
Preparation: Motherboard, RAM, motherboard user manual
Count the number of RAM slots on your motherboard (most have either two or four). Snap the RAM into place if you plan to fill all of the available slots. Consult the user manual to determine the proper configuration. If you aren’t using all of the RAM slots, then fill the RAM slots following that arrangement.
STEP 5: RUN A TEST OUTSIDE OF THE CASE (OPTIONAL)
Preparation: Motherboard with CPU and CPU cooler installed, RAM, GPU, PSU, screwdriver, motherboard user manual, PC monitor (attached to GPU)
You might wish to conduct a short test of your components to verify sure they all function after installing the CPU and CPU cooling. Once everything is put into the chassis, performing (and troubleshooting) this test becomes more challenging. Install the GPU and connect everything to the power supply to accomplish this (for instructions on installing the GPU, see the section below). Before plugging it in and turning it on, confirm that the power supply is connected to the motherboard (both CPU 8pin and 24pin) and GPU.
Power buttons are included on a few high-end motherboards, but not many. If there isn’t a power button, look for the power switch pins, tiny pairs of prongs that protrude from vibrant nodules. It’s possible to identify the power switch pins with anything like “PWR ON.” By simultaneously tapping both power switch pins with a screwdriver, you can power on the motherboard.
Now, you ought to be able to determine which parts of your system are broken or dead. Your motherboard is likely attempting to communicate with you if it is beeping or flashing lights at you. Certain motherboards incorporate a post-code display (two digits) to aid in issue diagnosis. Consult your user manual to see what it is attempting to communicate. Connect a monitor to the GPU and check to see if your system “posts” or starts up, and show the motherboard’s logo if your motherboard lacks a postcode display.
To ensure no remaining power is in the system after the test run, turn off the power source and watch any LEDs on the motherboard go dark. Before moving on to the next step, remove the GPU and disconnect any power cables.
STEP 6: MOUNT POWER SUPPLY
Preparation: PSU, case, PSU cables, Phillips #2 screwdriver
If you choose to perform a test run, unpack the PSU and remove its cables from the components (if you can).
Examine your case and determine where the PSU should sit (likely on the bottom, next to the rear) and how it should be orientated. The PSU should ideally be placed such that its fan is facing away from the casing (via a vent). You can mount the PSU upside down if your case includes a bottom vent as long as the bottom vent will have sufficient airflow after the PC is built.
Make sure the PSU has enough clearance and install it with the fan pointing up (into the case) if your case lacks vents.
Using the four screws that come with the PSU, secure it to the casing.
Now is the time to route the wires connecting to the power supply through the casing to where they will need to terminate if you’re using a non-modular or semi-modular power supply (make use of cable management features if your case has them).
STEP 7: INSTALL THE MOTHERBOARD
Preparation: Case, motherboard, I/O shield (if not attached to the motherboard), Phillips #2 screwdriver, screws, motherboard user manual
If your motherboard has an unattached I/O shield, a rectangular piece of metal with ports cut out of it, you should first snap it into place in the case’s rear (ensure it’s appropriately orientated). I/O shields sometimes have jagged edges, so be careful with your fingertips.
The motherboard can be installed once the I/O shield has been set up. Place the motherboard after ensuring all your wires are positioned correctly (by lining them up with the I/O shield). Install the first screw, the center screw, to keep the motherboard in place using a Phillips #2 screwdriver. Make sure your motherboard does not touch the standoffs fastened to the chassis.
Depending on the board, you may need more or fewer screws to attach to the motherboard. However, an ATX full-size motherboard typically requires nine screws. Completely enclose all screwholes.
Connect the motherboard and power supply. There are two primary connections: a 24-pin connector from the side and an 8-pin CPU connector towards the top of the board.
STEP 8: INSTALL GPU
Preparation: Motherboard, GPU, Phillips #2 screwdriver, screws, motherboard user manual
On your motherboard, locate the PCIe* x16 slot. It could be a different color from the other slots and will be the longest PCIe* slot. Check the user manual to determine if one PCIe* x16 slot on your motherboard needs to be prioritized if it has more than one. If more than one slot is available, choose one depending on the placement of other components; you want to give your GPU room to breathe.
To fit your GPU’s I/O (HDMI, DisplayPort, DVI, etc.) and make it accessible to the outside of the chassis, you might need to remove I/O covers (little metal tabs obstructing the rear panel of your case).
After being removed from its antistatic packing, the GPU should be appropriately aligned with the rear retaining bracket and the slot itself. The GPU should be gently pushed into the PCIe* x16 slot (you may hear a click). If you need to reinstall the GPU, the PCIe* tab on the motherboard can migrate into a locked position.
Use one or two screws to fasten the GPU to the case’s rear after being wholly seated. Connect your GPU to the power source if it needs auxiliary power connections.
STEP 9: INSTALL STORAGE
Preparation: Motherboard, SSDs, HDDs, Phillips #2 screwdriver, screws, case/chassis user manual
Examine your case first. The number of drive bays varies a little bit depending on the casing.
Inside your case, you have to be able to locate a stack of bays in various sizes. They could appear like metal brackets, or they might include little plastic switches, in which case they are tool-free bays.
Storage typically comes in 3.5-inch and 2.5-inch (HDDs and SSDs) (HDDs). Although some 3.5-inch bays have trays that aren’t made for 2.5-inch drives but can still accommodate 2.5-inch bays, most 3.5-inch bays can accept 2.5-inch drives but not the other way around. Additionally, your case may include more oversized bays intended for larger devices like optical drives and are often found at the front of the case, close to the top.
Each tool-free bay will have its plastic lever or switch if you have them. You should be able to lift out the tray if you can open or unlock the lever or switch. Put your drive within the tray; some 3.5-inch trays may accommodate 2.5-inch drives. If so, you must secure the 2.5-inch drive to the 3.5-inch tray with screws to prevent it from moving.
Reposition the tray inside the bay. It ought to snap into place.
If you don’t have tool-free bays, you’ll see a large, sheet-like metal bracket with slats or holes. Slip the drive between the metal bracket and the side of your case and secure it with a screw to place it in one of these “bays.”
Connect the motherboard (using a SATA cable, which should have arrived with either your drive or your motherboard) and the power supply once your disks have been installed.
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STEP 10: INSTALL OPERATING SYSTEM
Preparation: PC, monitor, mouse, keyboard, OS saved to a flash drive
Now is the perfect moment to prepare your operating system (OS) on a USB flash drive if you haven’t previously. (For further information, see “PREP 3: Select your components” above in the section on operating systems.)
Turn on your PC, and connect a monitor, mouse, keyboard, and the USB flash drive containing your operating system.
You’ll be instructed to hit a key to access the system configuration, or BIOS, on the first screen you see. To start the BIOS, press the key. (Check your motherboard’s user manual if the screen flashes off too rapidly for you to know the key.)
You should first ensure that all your components are installed and recognized. Check to see whether the system recognizes everything you’ve installed so far by finding the page in BIOS that displays information about your PC’s system (various motherboards have different BIOS layouts, but you should be able to locate a screen that provides this information).
Then, explore BIOS until you locate the Boot page (which may be called “Boot Order” or “Boot Priority”). You should install the OS here if you’re using an SSD as your boot drive. If not, change the boot order such that your flash drive is first and the drive you wish to install your operating system on is second.
Switch off your computer. When your computer uses the USB drive, the OS installation will appear. To complete the installation, adhere to the instructions.