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A Beginner’s Guide to Creating the Ultimate Gaming Computer
Building a gaming computer?
You’ve come to the right place. We’re here to give you the lowdown on how to build a pc from scratch. If you plan to become the next League of Legends Champion, talent is only half the battle.
You’ve got to have the right setup for the job, plain and simple. The article below will lead you step by step through the process of choosing your components. Follow it, and you’ll be playing in the big leagues in no time.
Your first step is to locate a computer case you like. You can think of a computer case like the body of a car. It’s mostly for show.
You have a couple different options when shopping:
- Mini Towers
- Mid-Size Towers
- Full-Size Towers
- Ultra-Size Towers
The big difference between each is what size motherboard will fit inside. Obviously, the larger the tower, the more components you can fit inside. You’ll want plenty of room, so you can continue adding components after your initial setup.
For that reason, we recommend you go with a mid- or full-size tower. A mid-size is the usual choice. A full-size tower, on the other hand, will give you plenty of room to upgrade.
Use mid-size if you plan to install 1 or 2 graphics cards on a regular size motherboard. Choose full-size if you plan to install 3 or 4 graphics cards or run an extended motherboard.
After you decide on the size, you want to check out a few other details. Airflow is the most important because high-tier gaming computer run hot. You’ve got to give that air somewhere to go.
You’ll also want to check out what type of plugs/ports it offers and where they’re located. Some poorly-designed towers hide the ports in hard to reach places. Make sure your USB, headphone, microphone, and other often-used ports are easily accessible.
Lastly, check out the aesthetics. What’s the use of building your elite gaming computer unless you can show it off, right? Browse models to look for shape, color, lighting, and case transparency.
When you buy these components, you want to keep three things in mind:
- Electricity cost
Always build a computer with more than enough watts to run the internal components and peripherals. And keep in mind that running a CPU in overclocked-mode requires lots of watts.
Graphics cards also need a lot. If you have more than one graphics card, take this into consideration.
Lastly, the larger your power supply, the more heat it creates. Remember, that’s extra heat your system needs to remove from the tower. A big power supply won’t be a problem if you choose a tower with good airflow.
We recommend using a 1500 W power supply. It’ll give you all the wattage you need at the price of extra heat and a higher electricity bill.
Here’s where things get tricky. Motherboards act like the switchboard operators from those old black-and-white movies in the early 1900’s. They’re a communications hub for all those parts trying to talk to one another.
- Power supply
- Graphics cards (GPU)
- Central processing unit (CPU)
- Random access memory (RAM)
For an elite gaming system, you want to pay close attention to the CPU socket-type your motherboard supports. That’s the quickest way to narrow down your options. Decide first on what type of CPU you’ll be running. Then hunt for a motherboard to support it.
Look at the manufacturer’s website for specs.
Further narrow your search parameters by filtering out everything but ATX and extended-ATX cards. Those cards are geared toward systems with a higher number of internal components. Perfect for your ultimate gaming rig.
Lastly, you’ll want to check its PCIe slots. How many does it have, and what variety are they? They come in x16, x8, x4, and x1.
High tier graphics cards only run at optimal performance in PCIe x16 slots. If you’ve already used the filters we discussed in this section; then your cards will have either 2 or 4 PCIe x16 slots.
If you plan to run 3 or 4 monitors, you’ll need the motherboard with 4 PCIe x16 slots. You want one graphics card for each monitor and one slot for each card. If you’re on the fence about how many monitors to run, still choose the motherboard with 4 PCIe x16 slots.
The board will run smoothly with 1, 2, 3, or 4 graphics cards. Read the manufacturer’s notes for specific details.
Central Processing Unit (CPU)
Your CPU is the component that runs the majority of your desktop’s computations. A couple features will speed up the rate at which your desktop crunches all that game data you’ll be running.
- Brand name
- Number of cores
- Number of threads
- Power consumption
AMD and Intel are your brand options for high-performance setups. AMD builds less expensive chips. Intel builds the highest performance chips, but they’ll make you pay a premium for it.
The number of cores you use determine the number of threads available. Single threads handle simple, single applications well. Things like listening to music, browsing the web, or writing a paper are good examples.
More complex programs, like video editing software and complex modern games, need multiple threads. To build an elite system, you need anywhere from 4 to 10 cores. 6 cores are a safe bet, 10 if you want extreme performance.
You also want to look at the speed at which it operates. The speed is measured by the CPU’s frequency which is shown in hertz (Hz). Gaming CPUs always have two frequencies: one normal and one overclocked.
A CPU shifts from normal frequency to overclocked mode when it has excessive data to crunch. With that boost in speed comes a boost in the heat it produces and the power it needs. Keep that in mind.
Random Access Memory (RAM)
You can think of your computer like your brain. RAM acts as short-term memory. Drives act as long-term memory.
When it comes to RAM, more is better. The motherboard you choose will determine the number of slots available for RAM sticks. To complicate matters, each stick comes with anywhere between 1 to 16 gigabytes (GB) of memory.
We recommend you buy either 32 GB of memory (total) or 64 GB of memory.
Graphics Cards (GPU)
Nvidia charges a premium, but they offer the best high-tier graphics processors.
Both AMD and Nvidia have also created proprietary technologies used in modern gaming monitors. Nvidia calls the tech G-Sync while AMD calls their tech FreeSync. This tech radically improves monitor graphics when your GPU throttles up and down with an increased workload.
Nvidia’s G-Sync just plain works better. AMD’s FreeSync is still a good option if you aren’t running graphic heavy games on Ultra setting.
If you’re planning to use a 4k monitor, we recommend you invest in a graphics card with the following chipset: Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti 11GB (or better). The same is true if you’re running VR with all the VR accessories.
The drives on which you store your operating system will come in one of the following forms:
- solid state drives (SSD)
- hard disk drive (HDD)
- hybrid hard drive (HHD)
Hard disk drives have been around since the advent of Apple’s first home computer. They’re reliable and inexpensive. Solid state drives are newer and much faster. They’re also more expensive.
Hybrids are drives which combine the two technologies. For ultra-fast gaming rigs, you at least want a hybrid drive. The fastest possible drives you can buy for a home-style setup would be multiple solid state drives run in a RAID configuration.
If you don’t know what that is, don’t worry. That build isn’t meant for novices. Stick with an SSD or HHD instead.
Other than cost and speed, you’ll want to pay attention to capacity. If you own a zillion high-res digital photos or have a career as a video editor, you’ll likely want 4 terabytes or more. If you’re just an average gamer, 500 gigabytes or more should suffice.
Monitors and motherboards tend to offer the most variety. That makes them the most confusing. Ideally, you want a monitor that’s fast with high resolution. Pay close attention to the following:
- Refresh rate (in Hz)
- Panel size (in inches)
- Panel definition (FHD, WQHD, UHD)
- Panel technology (TN, VA, IPS)
- Pixel response (in ms)
- Video input options (VGA, HDMI, DisplayPort)
We already talked about G-Sync and FreeSync technologies in the graphics card section, so make sure to reread it. Here’s the lowdown on the list you see above.
Elite gamers choose monitors with 120Hz +, 25″+, TN, 1ms, DisplayPort 1.2. Does every elite gamer choose this setup? No. Should you? Maybe.
Before you buy a monitor, write down the above list in order of priority. If you play FPS games, refresh rate and pixel response should be at the top of your list.
If you want your desktop to double for your video editing station, it would be panel definition and panel technology. If you’re just running your desktop to play Minecraft (yes, even with all its Minecraft Mods), you don’t need an elite setup.
Make your list, then jump over to Amazon and input your filters to see what’s available. Next, choose a monitor that has a history. Read the reviews.
Look for customer service responsiveness, the durability of a monitor, and customer satisfaction.
Don’t buy this component until after you set up the rest of your computer and see how it run. Sound processors are built into every gaming motherboard. There’s no way to determine the quality of those processors without listening to them in person.
Check your motherboard for sound inputs and outputs. See what it offers. Generally, headphones run great without an additional sound card.
If you don’t want to wear headphones, 5.1 surround sound speakers are a great alternative. If you do choose to buy a soundcard, pick one from SoundBlaster. You can’t go wrong with that brand.
Also make sure you have all the audio wires, speaker wire connectors, and other cords you may need to hook up your peripherals.
Last Thoughts on Your Gaming Computer
Well, how’d it go? Are you ready to hunt for your new gaming computer components? Remember, there’s no single right way to do this.
Building a gaming PC is all about deciding what games you like to play. Then you build an appropriate design around those games. Don’t forget to factor in the other stuff you regularly use your PC for: video editing, web surfing, watching movies, running CAD, etc.
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