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Guide to Building a Gaming PC — Choosing Components

If your Christmas bonus is burning a hole in your pocket, the idea might occur to build a gaming PC.  However, the idea of building your own PC rig can be daunting. With this in mind, OnlySP has compiled a guide to help you.

  • Things to Consider:

When you have made the decision to build a gaming PC, a number of decisions are still to be made. The most immediate and obvious is your budget. Not everyone has the cash to splash on top-of-the-line everything. In that case, should you adopt a middle-of-the-road approach or put as much money as possible on one or two key components?

Another key component is timing – if a new graphics card or CPU is due to come out, waiting for that release might be worth it. Even if you cannot afford the new component, the older models are quite likely to see price cuts as retailers try and shift older stock.

In addition, if you want to go for some virtual reality (VR) gaming, you need to consider device you will be using, a Windows Mixed Reality headset will tend to place less demand on a system than a HTC Vive Pro.

  • Choosing Your Components:

First, you should always look to purchase PC components brand new and from a reputable retailer. For those in the UK, companies such as Scan and Overclockers are both good choices for reliable retailers who can provide great customer support and have a good product selection. While you can get some great bargains on eBay, you might not always get what you pay for. As always, buyer beware.

When selecting components, the first thing is to make sure that everything is compatible with each other. Sites like PC Part Picker will help, with a handy check box that will, when selected, only display components that are compatible with items you have already picked out.

First thing to pick is a motherboard. For the most part, these will fall into two categories: AMD-compatible or Intel-compatible. AMD boards and the CPUs that accompany them tend towards being cheaper, but do have more of a history of reliability issues, and have been known to refuse to play nicely with Nvidia graphics cards. While these issues are largely in the past, especially with the current line-up of Ryzen CPUs, they are still worth baring in mind. The CPU is also one area where striving to get the best you can afford is the best approach.

(For the record, I used an AMD-compatible board and a Ryzen CPU)

Second thing to pick is your graphics card, which you might also see listed as GPU. The GPU is one area where you will see some truly eye-watering prices, so buying the best you can afford is a good choice. For the most part, sticking with Nvidia GeForce cards is best, as they have excellent driver support and the GeForce 1060, 1070, and 1080 lines all boast good compatibility with the biggest games on the market, as well as VR. A GeForce 1080 is the best choice if you can afford it, but a 1060 or 1070 will serve you perfectly well.

While a GeForce 2080 might look tempting, benchmarks have shown that its normal (non-Ray-tracing) performance does not much exceed a GeForce 1080, which means that unless you have a lot of money to burn, it probably is not worth the asking price.

Next up is your power supply. Again, squeezing as much as possible from your budget here is the way to go. A more powerful PSU means you can demand more of your machine before it fails, and options such as modular cabling means you will have an easier time setting it up.

RAM – Get as much as your board and wallet can handle. RAM with ludicrous things such as LED lights and other flashiness on them is unnecessary. Basic stuff will mostly do the job just as well.

Hard drives – If you can afford an SSD, get one, and then get a large-capacity standard HDD. The SSD will hold your Windows install, while the larger HDD will be your data drive. The SSD means your boot time will be lightning-quick.

PC Case – For the average PC builder, three case fans is a good place to start. Some incredible cases offer features such as liquid cooling, but this is really for advanced builders. A standard ATX form-factor is usually best, as mini or micro ATX cases do not give a lot of room to work in.

For the most part, your monitor, keyboard, and mouse  do not need to be fancy. A bewildering array of keyboards and mice are available and the choice mostly comes down to personal preference. Pick something comfortable for you.

In addition to the PC components, you will also need a Phillips screwdriver, a pair of pliers, some cable ties, a torch, some arctic silver thermal paste, and a static-proof mat. You can also get an anti-static bracelet if you are worried about static discharge, but for the most part as long as you remember to regularly earth yourself, this is not needed.

Come back tomorrow for a step-by-step guide to assembling a gaming PC. For news and updates on the games industry, follow OnlySP on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

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