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Building a Gaming Rig

By Michael Ramos

Components needed to build a gaming rig. 

Some people prefer to buy a prebuilt gaming rig, and that can be a valid way into the PC gaming space.  But there is something special in the build process where you choose all the components that are right for you, and you tailor the rig to your budget.  

Building a gaming PC can be a bit daunting even for experienced builders because hardware changes all the time. 

Here are the things that will be needed: 

Choose a Level of Play 

Entry-Level(light gaming) – the easiest level to get into, doesn’t cost a lot, and doesn’t take a lot of thought process choosing the right parts as it may not even require a GPU in some cases! 

Mid-Level(everyday gaming) –powerful hardware and better peripherals that help with the quality-of-life improvements. Generally, the most popular due to high accessibility. 

High-End(heavy 3d graphics gaming) – the best of everything available. The more money poured in, the better the PC will be.  The best peripherals and the best components are at this level. Higher-end PCs tend to last the longest, thanks to how good they are with the performance. 

Choosing the Proper Components 

CPU – Choose AMD or Intel; once that is decided, consider the budget since both have a wide range of options available in terms of price. 

Consider what the purpose is. Is the PC just for the sake of gaming, or to perform some productivity tasks as well?  It is wise to get more cores and threads for a PC that is focused on delivering better overall performance. Each additional core adds additional tasks that can be run simultaneously. 

Motherboard – is essentially the backbone of your pc that everything will be connected to; CPU, RAM, GPU even the Hard Drives. It will depend on the CPU chosen as the socket can be different on each motherboard. Even when upgrading to the same brand of CPU such as Intel or AMD the socket can be different. 

Look at the type of RAM slots that will be included, along with the type of expansion cards that will be used; PCI, PCI express, Nvme, etc. Modern motherboards come with multiple connectivity option that need to be paid attention. 

Look for the power phase as well. There may be a need to overclock the processor later down the road, and for that, a motherboard that is good with the power phase design is needed.  

^very niche that most people will skip and will never need to know. Overclocking is not computer building. 

Once you can ensure that all the sockets will connect with those components that you decided on you will know exactly what options are available for a motherboard 

RAM – a proper gaming PC cannot be built without the right amount of RAM capacity and correct RAM type. As it stands right now DDR4 and DDR5 are the most common variants. 16 gigs, 32 gigs or even 64 gigs are options. 

RAM will come with different styles. There are some that use the RGB color schemes for style, others will used LED lights for diagnostic purposes. 

RAM speed and Latency are both important aspects to think about when building a PC. Speed can be identified by their megahertz “3200MHz” and Latency typically is shown cas latency. “CL14”. 

Power Supply (PSU) – The power supply will supply power to all the components including the USB peripherals. 80 Plus is a voluntary certification program launched in 2004, intended to promote efficient energy use in computer power supply units (PSUs). 80 Plus White, Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum and Titanium. 

A modular design can be extremely helpful for cable management as it allows you to leave the unused cables out of the build entirely 

Typically, PSUs will have the same form factor (ATX) however, there are some that will come in a newer smaller form factor typically specially made for smaller builds (SFX) 

Graphics Card – Is the most important part when it comes to running 3d games at a high framerate/resolution. 

The choice must be sensible and must look at all the available options before making a decision. Be certain the GPU is not causing a bottleneck with the other components, mainly the CPU, and the power supply is more than enough for not just the GPU but the rest of the components as well. 

Size does matter. Most modern GPUs will take up at least two of your expansion slots in the back of your PC. You want to ensure the chasis allows enough spaces to allow for not only the GPU to fit into place but also to have a good setup for airflow. 

PC Case – invest in a PC case that is going to not only fit all the components with ease but also provides an ease of access. When choosing a case, you want to ensure you are choosing one that matches your motherboards form factor. ATX style cases may fit other form factor motherboards but ITX style cases are much smaller and will cause issues if you don’t have the right form factor for your components 

There are a lot of bells and whistles to be found in a PC case, like good aesthetics, RGB lighting, tempered glass, power supply shroud, tool-less installation, and more. Choosing a PC case goes as far as the imagination can take it. 

Storage – there are a lot of offerings in the storage market, each more expensive than the other, and each faster than the other as well. 

Modern computers no longer rely on single storage. There are, in most cases, two different drives. One is strictly the drive for Windows and other programs, and then a larger capacity drive for the sake of media, games, and everything else. 

There can be numerous drives. It is only limited by either the budget or the space inside the computer. 

  • 2.5-inch SSD (Solid State Drive) – available in the market inexpensively and have reliable speed and endurance.  2.5-inch SSDs are based on the SATA interface, which means it is going to need to connect SATA data and SATA power cables to these SSDs need to easily fit inside the case. These solid-state drives are available in capacities starting from 60 GB up to 8 TB and are slowly replacing traditional hard drives as the prices have started coming down. 
  • Hard Disk Drives these drives have been the industry standard for as long as one can remember and if looking for massive amounts of storage on cheap, buying a good hard drive is the way to go.  

One of the most important things to know about hard drives is that they do use moving parts in the form of a platter, magnets, and more, therefore, they are more susceptible to situations in which they can get shocked or get damaged because of a power loss. 

Despite their slow speeds, hard drives offer the lowest price-per-gigabyte, and they are easily replaceable. 

  • M.2 – this is where things get a bit complicated as this SSD is available in two completely different standards. 

The first is the M.2 SATA that is based on the SATA interface, which means that it still shares the SATA interface, but instead of being plugged onto the SATA controller on the motherboard, it is plugged into the M.2 slot that is found on almost all the modern motherboards.This SSD is still going to be using the SATA lanes instead of the PCI-Express lanes, and it will be hindered by the speeds that are set by the SATA standard.  

The benefit is these are smaller, don’t require any wires, and can be installed with ease. 

 They are slightly more expensive than the 2.5-inch SSDs, though. 

The current fastest is the M.2 NVMe that are based on PCI-E interface. These are by far the most recommended standard because they will be very fast.  

CPU Cooler (Airflow, Noise Output & RGB) – keeping the CPU cool will be imperative in expanding the lifespan/performance of your system. Excessive heat can be a major detriment to performance as the components are programmed to underclock/underperform once they reach their heat threshold. 

Look at the airflow, as well as the noise output and for aesthetic the RGB lighting, because most modern computers have a bit of artistic flaire! 

  • Fan-Based Solution 

An air cooler or a fan-based solution are normally the safer bet because there is no additional configuration other than ensuring it is securely fastened on to the CPU.  

  • All In One (AIO) liquid CPU cooler 

The AIO coolers are liquid coolers that are already built to install. These can be another easy solution to cooling your CPU though you would want to mindful of the radiator as it could cause some size constraints for your chosen case.  

RGB – be sure to choose lighting that comfortably fits in the budget. Inexpensive remote-controlled RGB lighting will work fine. 

There is also ARGB, which are addressable RGB. This means there is some type of controller(Can be software based or hardware based) that would control the patterns that the lights display. 

Thermal Paste – thermal paste is pre-applied on some coolers, however, some builders like to use their preference. A good thermal paste transfers the heat from the CPU to the Cooler faster. Standard thermal pastes are available in the market, and will work just fine, though liquid metal is arguable the best performing. It is also the rarest thermal pasted used because of its viscosity and conductivity. 

Note: a liquid metal thermal interface is not to be used unless the CPU is de-lidding.  Using it without can cause little to no gain. However, since liquid metal is conductive, it can do severe harm to the computer if spilt. 

Cables – choose between cable extensions or fully sleeved cables that connect directly to the modular power supply. The latter is more expensive (though they look great). Remember, ALWAYS pick the cables that are made specifically for the PSU, or else they may cause an electrical fire. 

Build Tools –  

  • Screwdrivers – the standard-sized Philips head is enough for almost every screw but in situations they small and pesky, having a variety of sizes is a good idea because it can save some hassle.  Be sure to not drop a screwdriver inside the PC as it can damage the components. 
  • Workstation –a good table area is recommended. 
  • Antistatic Band and Gloves – these prevent static from taking place and being transferred to the components because it can ruin and potentially kill the components. 
  • A Tray – a magnetic tray for screws. A tray with separate compartments makes things easier to manage. 

Software – download all the latest drivers, and other software that is going to control the functionality of your computer. 

  • Windows 10/Linux – you cannot do anything without an operating system. You can install any version suitable. 
  • HWInfo – Shows you the temps and voltages for all of your components running inside your pc 
  • MSI Afterburner – monitors the GPU temperatures, and tweak the fan curves, voltages, core clock, and memory speed as well.  
  • CPU-Z/GPU-Z – a powerful tool that gives every single piece of information about the processor and how it is functioning.  
  • Heaven Benchmark – used for stress testing the GPU.  It can also be used in tandem with other benchmarking tools. 

Well, there you have it, all the components to get you started on building your own customized gaming rig.  If you need further assistance or information, please do not hesitate to contact us. 

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