Gaming has been taken to a whole new level today, with 3D graphics, great storylines, and unmatched action scenarios. If you take your gaming seriously and are planning to buy a new PC, exclusively for gaming, why not think about building one on your own. Buying gaming laptops from brands like Alienware can cost a fortune, but you can get the same functionality, offered by these branded machines, by building a custom-made gaming computer, with the combination of the best hardware. It is a sensible and economical choice.
The added advantage is that you get to learn all about hardware assembly. This Techspirited article is short guide on building a gaming computer from scratch. I will primarily talk about choosing the various hardware parts, required for assembly. You will need to figure out how to assemble it on your own, by reading through the manuals that come with the hardware equipment. Still, I provide a basic overview of assembly.
A Short Guide
To know what features and kind of components you need, to build your gaming computer, study the configurations offered by top brands and the system requirements specified on game DVDs. This will give you an idea about the minimum requirements that you need to take into consideration while choosing computer parts.
Choose a High Performance Computer Processor
Intel and AMD offer a range of computer processors for you to choose from. For gaming, you want a chip with high clocking frequency, high cache size, and a high FSB clocking frequency. The best processors are the Intel i7 and AMD Phenom X II lines right now. If you don't want to go for a high-end line, the Intel Core i5 line is a good and affordable choice for building a mid-range gaming computer. Here are five best gaming processors, for you to choose from.
- Intel Core i5 661 3.33GHz (USD 196)
- Intel Core i5 750 2.66 Ghz (USD 233)
- Intel Core i5 670 3.46 GHz (USD 284)
- Intel Core i7 980X 3.33 GHz (USD 999!)
- Intel Core i7 990X 3.46 GHz (USD 999!)
Choosing the Motherboard
Once you have chosen the CPU, you need to choose a compatible motherboard that can harness the power of the gaming chip. Check the specified socket type of your processor, which is the motherboard interface, that is connected with the CPU. Knowing the socket type, you can select the right motherboard. You need to be decided on what kind of graphic card and the size of RAM card (DDR SDRAM or RDRAM) you plan to use.
Ensure that the motherboard has enough PCI or PCI express slots for installing your video card and other components. If you plan to go for an AGP card, the motherboard must have the corresponding slot. You will also need heat sinks to keep the motherboard and CPU temperatures down.
If you need USB as well as FireWire ports, see to it that the motherboard has them inbuilt. Also, check out the kind of hard drive interface (ATA/SATA) that is provided by the motherboard. Make sure that your choice of motherboard leaves room for upgradation and adding of extra components or cards. Some of the best gaming motherboards are offered by Intel, Asus, Gigabyte, and EVGA. An Intel motherboard is highly recommended. Avoid going for boards with on-board audio and video. It is good to go for a video card, devoted to graphics processing. Go for a motherboard that has excellent on-board sound, which eliminates the need for a separate sound card. Choose one which is compatible with all other system requirements.
Selecting the Right Video Card
A high capacity video card is a primary prerequisite of any gaming computer. When choosing one, you need to select between a PCI express or AGP interface. PCI express cards are recommended, as they are substantially faster, compared to AGP. Two of the best video card brands to choose from are nVidia and ATI. Choose a video card with high RAM capacity if you plan to go for 3D gaming. DVI output, TV output, and dual monitor support are some of the features to look out for. Choose a gaming video card which is compatible with your motherboard and provides the best features within your budget.
Choosing RAM Card
RAM is the working memory of your gaming computer. When it comes to choosing RAM, one golden rule to follow is 'More the better'. Opt for DDR3 RAM with at least 2GB capacity. If you plan to play 3D games, settle for nothing less than 4 GB RAM. Make sure that your RAM card choice is compatible with your motherboard.
Selecting the Sound Card
You may shop around for a separate sound card if you want high quality surround sound. Buy a sound card that supports MIDI, surround sound, and is compatible with your motherboard.
Go For a High Capacity Hard Drive
When it comes to choosing a hard drive, three factors need to be taken into consideration. The first is the RPM specification of the drive. Don't settle for a hard drive with a sub-7200 RPM specification. Higher the RPM, faster is the read and write function. Secondly, check for the kind of interface used for connecting the drive with the motherboard. Go for SATA drives which are the fastest interfaces right now. Third feature that should be considered is capacity.
Go for a drive with high capacity, which can let you store more games and provide adequate space for system memory. Go for 500 GB or higher capacity hard drives. Settle for nothing less than that as you always need more space.
Choosing the Right Power Supply
To power all the various components of your computer, what you need is an adequate power supply. Consider the power requirements of all the computer components and decide what amount of wattage is required to power the whole system. Its primary function is AC to DC signal conversion and providing stable power output. You may need a power supply which offers a wattage between 300 Watt to 800 Watt, depending on the system requirements.
Buying a Computer Case and Fans
For housing all the assembled components together, what you need is a computer case and fans to help keep the system temperature down. Choose the right size case, which is compatible with your motherboard, with adequate room to house all the components.
Choosing a High-Definition Monitor
One of the most important components is the monitor. There is plenty of choice out there. You may choose an LED or LCD screen with high resolution, great response time, and high-definition graphics. Decide on what size and resolution you want and shop around for the best gaming monitor.
Selecting Gaming Keyboard, Mouse, and DVD Burner
Every gamer must choose his equipment - keyboard and mouse, wisely. Choose the best gaming mouse and keyboard available out there.
When choosing the keyboard, look for ergonomic design, additional programmable keys, an LCD screen, and on-board memory, along with backlighting. When selecting the gaming mouse, look for high DPI resolution, faster transmission rate, and wireless connectivity. You will need a DVD writer, for reading the game DVDs and copying them to your hard drive. Also shop for a pair of good speakers with surround sound.
Putting it All Together
Once you are done with shopping for all the above components, have ensured their compatibility, and studied assembly instructions, you are ready to put it all together. Install the CPU, video card, and RAM on the motherboard and keep it ready. Next, install the power supply and heat sinks. Install the hard drive, DVD Writer, and the cooling fans in the case.
Make all the necessary electric connections between the motherboard, other components, and the power supply, after installing them in the case. Take extreme care while handling all the components. Follow the assembly instructions to the letter. Wear an anti-static wrist strap or make sure that you are grounded while working. Make sure that the magnetic devices like hard drives don't come in direct contact with other electrical components before installation.
Once the computer case is ready, you can join the monitor, keyboard, and mouse. With that, your computer is ready. Next, you must install an operating system and driver software to get it working.
Overclocking to Boost Performance
If you figure out how to overclock a CPU and implement it, you can take the performance of your chip, much beyond its existing capabilities. A higher speed of performance can be achieved through overclocking. However, it requires substantial expertise and knowledge. Unless you have an expert at your disposal, it is not recommended that you go ahead with it.
Choose the best components that you can choose within your budget. A right combination of the processor, video card, memory, and motherboard is the key to building the perfect gaming machine. You will get to learn a lot in the process. Get some help from your friends who have put together a PC before. Make sure that you know the assembly details clearly before beginning.
Most importantly, check out compatibility of all the parts with the motherboard. Depending on the kind of components you opt for, the cost of the whole project may be anywhere between USD 500 to more than USD 1000. Check out online guides that provide assembly details as well as guides on choice of components. Create a list of components required, inquire the prices, and make budget calculations before beginning. Choose the configuration, which best suits your budget. Happy Gaming!