Over the weekend I received an email requesting to feature the following guest post on my blog. Brent Hale runs a site called Elite Gaming Computers. He specializes in writing guides on how to build your very own computer system for your superior PC gaming needs. I’m not a PC gamer myself, but if you are in the market for a DIY guide on how to get started with building your very own system, you may want to give his article a read. If you want more information beyond what he provides here, visit his website for even more articles and tips.
There are many benefits that come from building your own computer. Not only will you save more money by building your own system, but you will also be able to completely control the quality that goes into your build. That means you can avoid the cheap motherboards, hard drives, and power supplies that the big manufacturers often put in their builds in order to cut their costs and thus maximize their profits.
Yes, there is a lot of responsibility that is involved with building your own computer. The main disadvantage of building your own system is that your whole computer won’t be covered by the manufacturer’s warranty. Instead, you will have a warranty on each individual component. That means if something goes wrong with a component while it’s under the warranty, you will have to diagnose it yourself.
*Fortunately, pretty much all online retailers offer a 30-day return policy in order to compensate for parts that show up DOA (dead on arrival).
So, if you do decide to build your own computer, you need to do your homework and gain a solid understanding of the building process before you choose your components and assemble your system. By becoming knowledgeable of the building process beforehand, you can significantly reduce the chances of running into problems with your computer during and after the build.
In this post, I will cover 10 tips that will help first-time builders choose their components and build their gaming computer.
Tip #1 – Choose Components That Fit Your Needs
In order to maximize your budget and get a computer that will do what you need it to, make sure you are building your computer based off of your own specific needs.
For example…don’t choose $2,000 worth of parts if you only play League of Legends and Minecraft. Both of those games aren’t very demanding and you could easily get away with spending $400-$500 in parts in order to put together a system that will max-out both of those games.
It’s important that you take your specific needs into consideration when building your own system. As another example, if you will be using your new computer a lot for image/video editing or doing Autocad work, then it would make sense to get an Intel Core i7 processor with hyperthreading technology. If you aren’t doing those things, then the i7 won’t give you much of a boost in gaming and is therefore not necessary.
By cutting costs and avoiding spending too much on certain components, you can put the extra money into components that are more relevant to your own needs.
Ultimately, you need to find parts that will meet your needs at a price that is within your budget. If you’re working with a large budget, you can obviously go for those bigger items that are more a luxury than a necessity. However, if you’re working with a tight budget, you need to weigh each choice very carefully so you don’t spend excess on a component you don’t need.
Tip #2 – Make Sure Your Parts Are Compatible
When choosing components for your gaming computer, you need to make sure all of your parts are compatible with each other. Here is a list of questions you should ask yourself when looking at your parts list:
- Does the CPU socket on my motherboard match the socket-type of my processor?
- Do I want to overclock? If so, does my motherboard support overclocking?
- Will my power supply be able to power all of my parts without any problems?
- Does my power supply have enough headroom to overclock if I choose to do so?
- Is my motherboard’s form-factor (size) supported by my case?
- Will my power supply fit inside of my case?
- Will my video card fit inside of my case?
- Does the RAM I’ve chosen work with my motherboard?
By answering these questions, you will be able to determine whether or not your parts are compatible. If your parts aren’t compatible, then you will need to swap them out for parts that are. Otherwise, your system will not work.
Tip #3 – Always Choose Quality Components
Even if you’re on a budget, you need to make sure you are looking for quality components. If you choose low quality components, you will get low quality results. On the other hand, if you choose high quality components, you will have a much better gaming experience.
For example, a low quality motherboard will limit you to choosing other low quality components since the quality of the motherboard dictates what components can and cannot be put in your computer. Likewise, a high quality motherboard will allow you to choose other high quality components.
It’s important to make sure you aren’t just choosing your components based off of their price. Take your time and shop around for the parts that will offer the best returns for their cost.
Tip #4 – Buy Components From A Reputable Manufacturer
One way to ensure you are getting quality components is to buy your parts from reputable and well-known manufacturers. By choosing a component from a manufacturer that is known to produce quality products, you can rest assured that you will likely get a quality component from them as well.
Also, reputable manufacturers typically offer better and longer warranties and provide much better customer support. In fact, they have to provide these things, otherwise, their brand name will be hurt. In the end, it’s always better to spend a little more to buy a product from a trusted manufacturer because they are more likely to help you out in the event something goes wrong.
Tip #5 – Read Consumer And Expert Reviews On The Components You Are Looking To Get
Another good way to ensure you get quality components is to spend a lot of time reading consumer and expert reviews on the parts you are looking to purchase. If the majority of the people who have purchased the component you are looking at give good reviews of it and if experts are raving about it, then there is a good chance you will have a good experience with it as well.
Tip #6 – More Power Supply Wattage Doesn’t Equal Better Quality
One mistake I often see new system-builders make is that they will give higher value to a power supply just because it has a higher wattage. In some instances, more wattage doesn’t necessarily equal a better power supply.
Quality is the key when choosing a power supply. It’s important you do your homework on the PSU you choose because it is one of the most important parts in your system. If you choose a poorly built, no-name power supply because it has a higher wattage and costs less than other power supplies that have a lower wattage, you could end up damaging your system.
Also, just because a power supply lists a certain wattage doesn’t mean it can supply that wattage at all times. Low-quality manufacturers typically like to list the highest number of wattage they can hit in ideal scenarios, and therefore, wattage is a poor factor to judge a power supply by.
Tip #7 – If You’re Overclocking Make Sure You Have Adequate Cooling
If you plan on overclocking your processor, you need to make sure you will be able to keep it cool enough to allow it to run stable at higher speeds.
Typically, the stock coolers that come with processors are good enough to get the job done when you aren’t overclocking. However, for gamers who plan on overclocking their processors, an aftermarket heatsink or CPU cooler is needed in order to combat the extra heat that will be present.
There are many solid options for CPU coolers and heatsinks available that won’t break the bank. The Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo costs $30 and is an excellent option for keeping your system cool even if you decide to overclock.
Tip #8 – Make Sure You Have A Large And Well-Lit Area To Assemble Your Computer
Once you have chosen your parts and received them, you will need to clear out a large and well-lit area to use for building your computer. There are literally going to be boxes of parts and bags of screws/cables lying everywhere and it’s nice to be able to see what you’re doing and to have enough space to organize everything.
In fact, I suggest planning out your workspace before you even start building your computer. Open up all of the boxes and get an idea for all of the cables and screws that come with each component. Then, organize everything so that it’s all easily accessible when it comes time to build your system.
Tip #9 – Wear An Anti-Static Bracelet When Assembling Your Computer
It’s extremely important to protect your computer while you’re building it. Static electricity poses a real threat to your computer components. Just one shock can fry a component and render your system useless. Fortunately, you can pick up an anti-static wrist bracelet for under $10. The bracelet will absorb all of the static electricity you may pick up while building your system, and will discharge it before it ever has a chance to harm your computer.
Tip #10 – Use Caution When Applying Thermal Paste
One other important thing to remember when building your system is to use caution when applying your thermal paste. If you use too much thermal paste, it will seep over the edges and will make its way onto your motherboard, or even on the bottom of your processor. This can cause damage to your motherboard and/or processor and will make them unusable.
You need to apply enough thermal paste to where there is a thin layer that covers the back of the processor. You can’t bypass putting the thermal paste on, as it is a key factor in keeping the processor cool.
The best thing you can do when applying thermal paste is to just go slow and focus on what you’re doing. The paste is sticky and things can go south very quickly if you jerk your hand or make a sudden movement. However, if you take your time and use caution, you should have no problem applying the thermal paste to your processor.
Don’t Rush Into Your Build Without Having A Good Understanding Of What You’re Doing
The tips listed above will give you some key points to focus on while you plan your first build. However, there is a ton of free information on the internet that will help you build your own computer. I recommend you take your time and gain as much understanding as possible. It’s only once you are comfortable should you proceed to order your components and put them together.
Brent Hale is a long-time PC gamer and huge computer hardware enthusiast. Brent runs Elite Gaming Computers, a site dedicated to helping gamers build their own systems at a price that fits within their budget.