Putting together your own game computer is of course fun to do. But it can also make you win! Which computer components are important for gaming? Read the following article if you're looking for advice on building your own gaming computer.
Step 1. Decide which processor (CPU) you want to use in your system
The two main processor manufacturers are Intel and AMD. Search for the benchmarks of different processors and compare the prices.
- At the moment, Intel's i5 processor is probably the best option in terms of value for money. The i7 is even more powerful, but the difference in performance is not that big and the difference in price is.
- An excellent entry-level model is the AMD Athlon II X4 640 and the Intel Core i3-3220 is a good mid-range model.
Step 2. Get a motherboard that supports your chosen processor
Before you buy a motherboard, find out what type of socket your processor has (eg LGA 775), what type of memory module you have (eg 240-pin) and what the RAM frequency is (eg 1066 MHz). Some motherboards have HDMI or Firewire, so keep that in mind if you need it.
- Watch out for high-frequency RAM. It seems of course that higher is also better, but that is not always the case. The advantages of high-frequency RAM often outweigh the disadvantages, so read carefully before purchasing RAM.
- You need to know the number of pins of the memory before choosing the motherboard. More pins doesn't mean better performance. And the same goes for the processor's socket: the type doesn't say much about the performance.
Step 3. Get enough RAM
More RAM, or working memory, is good for the performance of the computer and the loading time will be shorter. Choose memory within your budget from a manufacturer with a good reputation. There are many manufacturers, but only a few make consistent quality memory.
- Choose the highest clock rate (in Mhz) and the lowest timings (indicated as #-#-#-#). Memory performance depends on this.
- Buy enough memory to run your games properly. If a game states that the minimum requirement is 1GB of memory, that means that the game will not run very smoothly with 1GB of memory. Make sure you have more memory than what is stated as the minimum requirement.
- 32-bit processors support only 3GB RAM; 64-bit processors support much more memory.
- DDR2 memory should always be bought in pairs. Buy 2 x 512 MB rather than 1 x 1 GB. Also note the number of pins. 184 pin stands for DDR1, 240 pin is DDR2.
Step 4. Choose a graphics card
That is perhaps the most important decision when building a gaming computer. It is also difficult, because there is a lot of choice. Read reviews on the internet to find out what good choices are within your budget. The two main graphics card manufacturers are ATI and NVIDIA, but companies like Sapphire and eVGA also have licenses to manufacture these cards. Read review websites like redir Tom's Hardware to compare different graphics cards.
- The Radeon HD 6670 DDR3 is a good entry-level graphics card. The GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost 2 GB is a good mid-range engine. The GeForce GTX 780 is a good choice at the high end of the market.
- There is some confusion surrounding cards from NVIDIA, a manufacturer often recommended by gamers. A higher type number does not automatically mean that it is a better card. For example, a GeForce 7950 is much better than a GeForce 8500. The first number stands for the series, the second and sometimes the third number shows the performance.
- If you really want to unpack and have a motherboard that supports it, you can opt for two identical graphics cards from the same manufacturer. NVIDIA calls this 'SLI mode', ATI calls it 'Crossfire mode'. But usually it's better to spend that budget on a single better card.
Step 5. Choose the storage capacity
Games often require a large hard drive as the files can be very large. Read hard drive reviews and choose the best option within your budget. Check the specs to find out if the drive is spinning at a speed of 7200 RPM, which in some cases can provide a performance boost.
- Faster hard drives are especially good at loading games, but the difference is not very big. The most important thing when choosing a hard drive is the storage capacity, not the speed.
- SATA drives are a good choice because they use smaller cables and often have faster write speeds than PATA drives.
Step 6. Choose the power supply
A power supply has a 20-pin or 24-pin connection. This number should match your chosen motherboard. Make sure the chosen power supply is suitable for the different components, also check the graphics card.
- A power supply that is included in a housing is often of poor quality. Replace the power supply with a better and more powerful power supply as soon as possible.
- 350 watts is the minimum these days. Top-end graphics cards often require as much as 500 watts.
Step 7. Buy the housing
Never underestimate the importance of the case, it contains all those expensive components that you have purchased. Focus your attention on adequate cooling.
- Some cases can accommodate 80mm fans, others 120mm, and still others can accommodate both sizes. Larger fans make less noise and can move more air. The more powerful the components, the more cooling you need.
- If possible, you should ensure balance. The fans at the back should exhaust the air, those at the front should supply air. Fans at the top provide exhaust and those at the bottom and side for supply.
- The housing is often referred to as 'mid-tower' (standard) and 'full-tower'. You only need a full tower if you are going to use a lot of DVD drives or hard disks.
Step 8. Choose an operating system
Once you've purchased all the components, you'll need to purchase an operating system that can make good use of the system you've put together. After installation, you should immediately check for available driver updates.
Windows is still the most used for gaming. For older games, Windows 7 is a better option than Windows 8. New games are suitable for Windows 8
Method 1 of 1: Finishing and using the system
Step 1. Make sure all parts are properly installed in the housing
Assembling a computer is often more difficult than it seems. If you do something wrong, the system will not work.
Step 2. Connect the computer to an HD television
Your new game computer is probably a lot more powerful than your old game computer. Connect the computer to an HD television, then you don't know what you're going through.
Step 3. Use the controller of your game console on your new computer if you are used to it
It is usually possible to use controllers on a PC, so that you can play your game as usual.
Step 4. Find the balance between gaming and your relationship
Now that you have a great gaming computer, it's easy to overlook your partner. Make sure you are not constantly gaming and also spend energy on your relationship.
- Always touch the metal housing of the computer before touching any parts, so that the electricity can discharge. There are also special wristbands that you can wear.
- If you don't know which part to buy, read reviews!
- Always read multiple reviews. A single review does not have to be correct at all, it can be based on prejudice.
- Keep a close eye on the guarantees. Companies such as eVGA and OCZ offer a lifetime warranty. That can also be a reason to choose a certain brand.
- Ask people for advice. If you know that someone knows computers, it's a good idea to ask them to help you.
- Be careful when working inside the enclosure. Cheaper housings often have razor-sharp edges.
- Many of the questions you have have long been answered multiple times on various forums. And if you can't find the answer, you can ask an expert for advice on a forum.
- Building your own computer can be cheaper than a pre-built computer from Dell or another company. The higher your requirements, the cheaper it is to assemble everything yourself.
- Never use force to get a component into place. With some components you have to exert some pressure, but with a processor, for example, you have to be really careful.
- Make sure you are always grounded yourself! Static discharge can permanently damage your computer. Use a specially designed wristband, then you can be sure that you are working safely.