Welcome to this guide to building a gaming PC, updated for the year of 2018. This guide will help familiarize you with the basic descriptions of what each piece of hardware needed for a gaming pc does, how to make sure each piece of hardware is compatible with one another and give you suggestions on how & where to purchase this hardware. Furthermore, you will learn the basic steps to then putting it all together. Please use the navigational links found in the Contents section below to help jump to a particular spot in the article or feel free to scroll through at your leisure.
Contents: (links jump to relative parts in article)
Build Your Own Gaming PC – Gaming PC Builds of the Month
Why Build Your Own Gaming PC?
If you are an avid Gamer or just a plain hardware enthusiast then there is nothing like building your own PC. There are many reasons why one would want to put together their own PC and here are just a few reasons why:
- Building your own PC is cost efficient: You get more for your money when building your own PC in terms of gaming performance per dollar spent. You can build more powerful gaming computer at a much smaller price tag!
- Personalize and customize: By building your own gaming pc, you can make it unique to your taste or performance expectations with almost literally infinite combinations of hardware. Gamers more than anyone know the appeal of being able to customize and by building your own PC you get to choose everything you put in it exactly the way you want it. Anything from the type of processor to the look of your snazzy, color matching computer case, you can make the PC that works a and looks best too you.
- The satisfaction: Nothing makes you appreciate the machine you game on, watch movies on, listen to music on and do pretty much whatever else you do on than building it yourself. Building your own PC will enable you to learn more about the hardware you use giving you a greater understanding of each individual part. This does in turn give you so much more satisfaction than going to your nearest hardware retailer and buying a bland pre-built PC.
- It is FUN: Building your own gaming PC will take a little research for all the specific hardware you need and to do this you may have to visit hardware forums, read hardware reviews and ask others for advice. This may seem like a lot of work, but you will have fun connecting with new people, learning new information, getting your geek on and most of all having a great understanding and appreciation for your gaming PC. After all, this is why this website – Newb Computer Build exists, so that those who want to build can learn more about the process and check out our latest recommended hardware and builds.
How Newb Computer Build can Help you Build Your Gaming PC:
Newb Computer Build is a site dedicated to helping individuals build their new gaming PC’s with ease. Here are just some ways Newb Computer Build tries to help individuals when building and upgrading their gaming PC’s:
- Monthly Gaming PC Builds – Aside from providing information on how to choose your hardware, there are Monthly Gaming PC Builds in various price ranges based on the newest hardware trends, reviews and research done in order to provide up to date Gaming Builds so that you can get the best value for your money. The monthly builds are put together keeping latest price trends in minds and using the latest and best hardware in their specific budget categories.
- Monthly Gaming Peripheral Suggestions – Just like the monthly builds articles, there are monthly gaming peripheral articles posted as an aside to the builds. Since the gaming pc builds come with the essential hardware for the build itself, they don’t include things like monitors, keyboards, mice and OS’s in the base build costs. So if you don’t already have these peripherals or want a newer gamer specific alternative, then these articles are for you.
- Game Specific PC Builds – Sometimes you have a specific game, or sets up games in mind when trying to build a gaming pc. The main concern here is what sort of hardware will you need in order to play said Game at X frames per second at what resolution. Well, the game specific pc build articles will provide recommendations for hardware that targets those games using researched benchmarks to give you an idea of what to expect at various budgets and with specific hardware.
- Hardware Reviews – In the Newb Reviews section, one can find the latest gaming hardware purchased for review.
- PC Build Support – In every single article posted at Newb Computer Build, the goal is to support fellow gaming pc builders. If you leave a comment or question it is our goal to respond and help you out. Likewise, this starts a conversation for others who may have the same questions and they may just learn from you as well. After all, Newb Computer Build is here for those that are learning to build a pc for the first time or those who are getting a fresh start on their latest gaming rig.
How to Choose a Processor:
When you decide to build a gaming PC, one of the very first thing you must decide on is which processor / CPU you are going to purchase. There are many factors that may be your deciding point when choosing a specific processor and my recommendation would be to choose exactly which processor you want before choosing other hardware parts, such as what motherboard you’ll need. This is because in order to choose a motherboard you must know the socket type / brand of the processor you choose, in order to purchase RAM you must know what your motherboard supports and so on.
I am going to go through what exactly a computer processor is, terms related to a computer processor and then include a few steps / decisions you should go through when deciding on the specific processor for you.
What is a “Processor”:
The processor aka. CPU – The Central Processing Unit of a computer is essentially the ‘brain’ of your computer system. It will perform any logical tasks and deal with sorting information in a manner that is as efficient as possible. I could go on and on about the finite details and history of the computer processor, however here we are interested in how to choose the best Gaming Processor for your Gaming PC Build, so let’s familiarize ourselves with the terms that you will want to know when you are shopping for a gaming PC processor.
Terms you Should Know:
CPU Socket Type: These will differ between Processor brands. Socket Types are simply the ‘shapes’ of your Processor, and how it will fit into the motherboard. You will want to know the CPU Socket Type so that you can buy a compatible motherboard, that will have the matching socket type. The socket provides the electrical interface and contact with the cpu.
Using a couple of processors used frequently in our builds, cpu socket examples used in gaming pc builds in 2018 could be the Intel 6600K processor, which has a a LGA1151 socket or the AMD FX 8320 processor, which has an AM3+ socket.
Core(s): The number of cores pertains to the numbers of independent actual processors (each called a ‘core’) that are able to read and execute program instructions. Depending on the games you play, some are able to utilize more cores, of which more cores would make sense. You may want to look at your games and see if they support “multi-core” support. If you are unsure check with the games website or ask through online forums; most modern games now will have multi-core support. Some examples include “dual-core processors“, “quad-core processors“, and “hexa-core processors“.
Operating Frequency: Is the internal frequency of a Processors core. Essentially, the higher the frequency for a given processor the faster it is. Frequencies are measured in Hertz. Such as 1 Kilohertz (kHz) = 1000 Hertz, 1 Megahertz (MHz) = 1000000 Hertz or 1000 kHz, and Gigahertz (GHz = 1000000000 Hertz or 1000000 kHz or 1000 MHz. For Example: A processor could be described as having a frequency of 2.8 GHz and is a Quad-Core Desktop Processor
Cache (L1, L2, L3): Are used by the processor to reduce the average time it takes to access memory. When the processor needs to read / write to the main memory it will first check the cache for the data. These are different levels of “caches” that temporarily store data in between processes. This reduces the delay between what you want your Processor to do, and when it actually does it. When choosing a Processor for your Gaming PC keep the cache in mind and have an idea of what that cpu’s cache is for reference. But do focus more heavily on the cores, operating frequencies and if it comes down to choosing between two processors, it’s probably best to then take the one with the larger cache.
Thermal Design Power: This factor may not be of the utmost importance when choosing your Gaming PC processor, but the thermal design power dictates how many watts of heat can be dissipated without exceeding the maximum junction temperature of the computer processor. This will typically be the most power the processor will draw when running most applications, which can be a deciding factor for those trying to minimize energy usage or heat dissipation in smaller form factor builds.
CPU Cooling Device: When you purchase your processor you will need a cooling device to go along with it. Sometimes a cpu will come with a stock cooler (a heat sink / fan) that will be able to dissipate the heat created when your processor is being used, otherwise you will need to purchase one separably. This may be one factor you may want to ‘make sure’ of before you purchase your Processor, because you don’t want to be stuck piecing all of your hardware together and not realize your new processor did not come with one. If you find out that it does not come with one don’t fret, simply search for a compatible CPU / Processor Cooler based on your processors socket sizing and buy that separately – There are many cpu coolers available, some are air coolers and some liquid.
Step Two: What Games do you Want to Play?
StarCraft II – What CPU Should I get?
You are building a Gaming PC to play games, so before you choose your CPU do some research – and before you research cpus –Write a list of the games you currently play and what games you will want to play now or in the upcoming future. Check the minimum system requirements and ask yourself if you want to play your games at the highest settings, or if you would be fine with medium / lower settings.
There are a few sites you could compare CPU benchmarks againist one another, or if you’re on a pc your could check out the System Requirements Lab, where you can determine whether you are able to run a certain game on your current PC giving you an idea of what you may want. Check the minimum / recommended requirements against the operating frequencies and cores of all of the available processors and use this to narrow down your choices further.
If you are too lazy and don’t like reading too many benchmark numbers, well no fret, that’s what the Newb Computer Build Game Specific PC Builds section is for. If the game you’re interested isn’t located there, then you can always search on YouTube (for example: Battlefield 4 Benchmarks) for gaming benchmarks using specific cpu’s playing specific games – which will give you a general idea of what sort of performance people are getting using that specific hardware on that specific game. You should look for things like what Frames Per Second (FPS) the game is getting, at what resolution the game is being played at and at what graphics settings.
Step Three: Which Brand?
This is where choosing a Gaming Processor can get a little foggy and just like any business allot of this can fall back to competition. The two main contenders in the desktop Computer Processor world right now are AMD and Intel. You can base your decision on the brand by primarily using the first two factors discussed above – budget and what games you want to play and then try to research reviews / benchmarks for the games you want to play to see how certain processors perform.
Allot of reputable hardware retailers will have customer reviews for the more popular processor products so take a look at those, check out hardware forums – tell them what games you want to play and your budget (this can also reassure your decision).
Final words – For choosing your gaming pc processor:
Whether you are building your first PC, or you have built many it is always a good idea to refresh your knowledge by keeping up with the current trends in computer hardware so that you can choose the best choices for you. After all, Gaming PC’s have the most individualized and unique choices when it comes to choosing the hardware you want to game on, so you want to get the best of the best…for you!
Thanks for reading and if you have any suggestions on choosing the right processor for your gaming build, questions, or input please feel free to leave your feedback.
What is a “Motherboard”
In a desktop PC, the motherboard / ‘mobo’ as the cool kids call it, essentially includes all of the crucial components of your system. The motherboard connects all of the components of a computer system including the Processor, and can host a number of other peripherals, subsystems and devices. Minimally a motherboard will include a socket to hold your Processor, memory slots for your RAM, a chipset (forms the interface between Processors front side bus, main memory, and peripheral buses – don’t worry about these yet), non-volatile memory chip (which contains the firmware or BIOS – the software that can be used to control the motherboard), a clock generator (keeps everything in sync), expansion slots (for various peripherals), and a power connection (to connect to a power supply to power the motherboard). And mode modern motherboards will most likely come with at least some connectors for a mouse / keyboard, and mounting points for a heatsink or fan to cool your Processor…phew.
Step Three: Future Proof!
Don’t just think about the precise amount of connectors, memory, graphics card you need this second. Think about what you may need in four months from now when you want to play that awesome new PC Game you have been waiting forever to play.
For example: If you know you only need 4GB of memory to play StarCraft II right now, you may want the ability to pump it up to 8GB, 16GB or even 32GB in the future – this way you can always add more memory later. The same goes for PCI Express slots for graphics cards (perhaps you want to add in two graphics cards via SLI or Crossfire), or SATA ports for more hard drive space, or even M.2 ports for those fast storage solutions.
Final words – For choosing your gaming pc motherboard:
I hope that you have learnt something about choosing a new motherboard for your Gaming PC Build. It is of my opinion that choosing the motherboard is the hardest part in any PC build, as there are so many factors to look for and keep track of when shopping for a new motherboard – I guess this makes sense as the motherboard is responsible for connecting and running all of the crucial components of your computer.
What is a “Graphics Card”
A Graphics Card aka. “Video card” or “GPU” is used to put graphics onto your screen and usually come with a number of different functions. There are allot of processors and motherboards that may have integrated graphics in them, however this often is not enough to support more demanding graphics programs like PC games, so we use graphics cards / discrete graphics. Allot of the time an integrated graphics chip (such as graphics built into a processor itself) will have limited ’embedded memory’ and will instead start using the available RAM. This is why (especially for a gaming PC) having a dedicated graphics card helps since it will have its own processor and memory dedicated to only graphics processing.
Often graphics cards will have a couple of options for video output such as a VGA connector, display port, digital visual interface (DVI), HDMI etc. and will generally connect to your motherboard via a port like PCIe 3.0 x16. Before you purchase a graphics card always check whether it has the connections you have and need on both the monitor you will be using and the motherboard you have or are getting.
Step Two: What Games do you Play?
Choose a card based on the games you play. Why? Because why buy a top of the line graphics card when you don’t need to, or you probably want to make sure you can actually play the games you want to play on the highest possible settings; even those games you may plan to play in the future (after all you are going through all of this to build a Gaming PC).
How to Choose a Graphics Card Based on the Games you Play:
So how exactly do you choosing a card based on the games you play? Well there are a number of ways:
- The number one thing I recommend is checking the minimum / recommended hardware requirements for a PC Game. Take the minimum graphics card recommendation and compare it to other Graphics Card Benchmarks. Look up the benchmarks for the recommend graphics card, and then compare it to the graphics card you want to purchase (or have). If the benchmarks for the card you are purchasing are higher, then you can play the game!
- A slightly less complicated step is to just ask. Go to any computer hardware forum (or comment anywhere on Newb Computer Build – And I will definitely help you) and ask for peoples recommendations or thoughts on a graphics card choice you have for the specific game(s) you want to play.
- Also – look up gameplay videos or benchmarks using a particular graphics card on youtube (for example search “GTX980 in Battlefield 4 Benchmarks”). There are plenty of people who record themselves playing every game imaginable while stating the hardware they are using. Look for things like what frames per second (FPS) they are getting, at what resolution they are playing at and at what graphics settings.
- Check the Systems Requirements Lab: To use this step you will have to already have a computer setup. The System Requirements Lab will tell you whether your present hardware can run any number of PC Games. This would be perfect if you have most of your hardware already and are shopping for a new graphics card, or if you want to know whether your current hardware is good enough for the game you want to play.
Step Three: What Resolution and Setting do you Want to Play Your Games at? / What Peripherals will you be Using?
You may have chosen the top of the line graphics card and are thinking to yourself “kick ass!” However, what if you have nothing worthwhile to attach it to? What would be the point in having a fully capable graphics card that could pump out 60+FPS at 1440p resolutions and all you have is a crisp 1080p monitor. Also, always make sure you have a compatible monitor for your graphics card. Does it have a DVI port? HDMI? Check both your monitor connections and what the graphics card is able to connect to.
Final words – For choosing your gaming pc graphics card:
Hopefully I have provided you with a relatively clear understanding on what you need to do to choose a graphics card for your new gaming pc build. The graphics card in my opinion can be a complex PC hardware part to choose when building a new PC due to numerous naming schemes like R9 390, GTX 980 etc. Don’t worry if at first sorting through the numerous cards you are feeling overwhelmed, because it is. If you have any more question please do not hesitate to ask any questions.
What is a SSD or HDD?
There are many different types of storage solutions out there to consider when choosing with the two major categories being a Hard Disk Drive “HDD”, or a Solid State Drive “SSD”. Basically, both act as a storage device for your computer that can read and write data, such as storing all of your files, games, programs etc. You can purchase your storage in varying capacities capable of holding either more or less data and others will have faster or slower read and write times.
Terms you Should Know (For a Hard Drive):
Interface: This is the interface that your hard drive will use to connect to your motherboard. The steps to take here would be to check what interface(s) your motherboard supports and then purchase a hard drive based on that. This will be important to figure out what type of storage to connect and what transfer rates are available. For example SATA 6GB/s, SATA Express, M.2 etc.
Capacity: This is how much space your hard drive can actually hold. Most consumer desktops drives will be measured in Gigabytes, and the larger hard drives in Terabytes. For a quick and easy understanding of what this means is 1 000 000 megabytes (Mb) = 1000 Gigabytes (Gb) = 1 Terabyte (Tb).
RPM (HDD Only): This is the “rotations per minute” that your hard drive is capable of performing. The faster the RPM (the larger the number) determines how fast data is capable of being accessed. Ideally you would want a hard drive with an RPM as fast as possible for using games. The RPM is only important in regular desktop hard drives, whereas the fastest hard drives available now are solid state drives which are explained below.
Some examples of hard drive RPM’s are 5400RPM, and 7200RPM – the faster the better.
Cache: The cache of a hard drive is measured currently in megabytes (example: 64Mb) This cache is responsible for storing data temporarily for future use so that is can be accessed faster. The more that is stored on the cache the faster program information can be accessed, and therefore an overall faster performance. Therefore, a hard drive with a larger cache will perform more efficiently in accessing previously opened data.
Solid State Drive: Is a type of hard drive that is much more efficient at data access time with a ton of less latency, however this comes at a might higher cost per storage size. Solid State Drives are much more expensive than your conventional hard drives per Gigabyte of data storage, and are therefore sold in smaller storage capacities. Some gamers (and other avid PC builders) will use a Solid State Drive to store their Operating Systems and most used software on which can provide impressive boot times, and loading times for their most used software.
Form Factor: The form factor of a hard drive simply states the size and shape of the hard drive. Most general desktop hard drives will be 3.5″ while Solid State Drives will generally be smaller at around 2.5″. As with all computer hardware, make sure you have space in your computer case to put your new hard drive (which you most likely do if you are building a fresh PC, or only are purchasing one or two hard drives).
Step Three: Choose a Hard Drive With Faster Read / Write Times
Hard Drives are becoming faster and faster, which essentially decreases the latency between retrieving data and writing new data to the drives. SSD’s will give you an estimate Read / Write time, and essentially the faster the better. With regards to HDD’s, the higher RPM speed drives such as 7200 RPM will be better. This is not to say purchasing a slower 5200 RPM drive will have any dramatic effects in your overall PC gaming experience, but purchasing a faster SSD for example will make a world of a difference when loading up those games or even booting up that PC.
Final words – For choosing your gaming pc storage:
Well I hope that this article gives you a clearer understanding when searching for a new storage for your gaming PC build. There are only a few technical factors like storage size, drive types and cache to looking for when shopping for a new hard drive, so once you have a general understanding of those terms, buying a new hard drive should be no sweat.
What is a “Power Supply Unit”
The main purpose of the power supply unit aka. ‘PSU’ is to provide power your PC. A PSU serves the purpose of powering your PC by converting regular alternating current (AC) power into direct current (DC) power to be used by the internal hardware parts of your PC. PSU’s are generally rated by their maximum power output in Watts and a general purpose computer would use less power and would only need a PSU with a power outage of around 300W to 500W, however here we are concerned with powerful gaming PCs, which you will most likely need a PSU with a power outage of anywhere from 500W to 1000W depending on all of the hardware you have.
A PSU will come with various connectors of which will come with a variety of the following: (From: Wikipedia)
- PC Main power connector (usually called P1): This is the connector that goes to the motherboard to provide it with power. The connector has 20 or 24 pins. One of the pins belongs to the PS-ON wire (it is usually green). This connector is the largest of all the connectors. In older AT power supplies, this connector was split in two: P8 and P9. A power supply with a 24-pin connector can be used on a motherboard with a 20-pin connector. In cases where the motherboard has a 24-pin connector, some power supplies come with two connectors (one with 20-pin and other with 4-pin) which can be used together to form the 24-pin connector.
- ATX12V 4-pin power connector (also called the P4 power connector). A second connector that goes to the motherboard (in addition to the main 24-pin connector) to supply dedicated power for the processor. For high-end motherboards and processors, more power is required, therefore EPS12V has an 8 pin connector.
- 4-pin Peripheral power connectors: These are the other, smaller connectors that go to the various disk drives of the computer. Most of them have four wires: two black, one red, and one yellow. Unlike the standard mains electrical wire color-coding, each black wire is a ground, the red wire is +5 V, and the yellow wireis +12 V. In some cases these are also used to provide additional power to PCI cards such as FireWire 800 cards.
- 4-pin Molex (Japan) Ltd power connectors (usually called Mini-connector or “mini-Molex”): This is one of the smallest connectors that supplies the floppy drive with power. In some cases, it can be used as an auxiliary connector for AGP video cards. Its cable configuration is similar to the Peripheral connector.
- Auxiliary power connectors: There are several types of auxiliary connectors designed to provide additional power if it is needed.
- Serial ATA power connectors: a 15-pin connector for components which use SATA power plugs. This connector supplies power at three different voltages: +3.3, +5, and +12 volts.
- 6-pin Most modern computer power supplies include 6-pin connectors which are generally used for PCI Express graphics cards, but a newly introduced 8-pin connector should be seen on the latest model power supplies. Each PCI Express 6-pin connector can output a maximum of 75 W.
- 6+2 pin For the purpose of backwards compatibility, some connectors designed for use with high end PCI Express graphics cards feature this kind of pin configuration. It allows either a 6-pin card or an 8-pin card to be connected by using two separate connection modules wired into the same sheath: one with 6 pins and another with 2 pins.
- A IEC 60320 C14 connector with an appropriate C13 cord is used to attach the power supply to the local power grid.
Now, for a few generalized terms you should be familiar with when choosing a new power supply unit for your gaming PC build so that you are familiar with the basics of what to look for and for knowing when building your pc.
Terms you Should Know (For a PSU):
Power Supply Unit Type: This designates the type of power supply unit. For the most part and what we are concerned with here (for building a PC right now – especially gaming PCs!) are the ATX types of power supplies. ATX is basically a technology standard of sizing for motherboards, computer cases and power supplies.
Main Connector: This will be the main connector, the one that connects the power supply unit to your motherboard. Most likely if you are purchasing an ATX power supply unit the main connector will be a 20+4Pin connector. This connector will fit into either a 20 pin or 24 pin main connector on the motherboard.
+12V Rails: Supply supplemental power to the processor (sometimes the graphics card) on the motherboard.
PCI-Express Connector: As the name states this type of connector will power a PCI Express card such as a Graphics Card.
SATA Power Connector: The SATA power connectors will be the connectors used to power any SATA hardware. The number of SATA ports will usually vary, so you may want to check the number of SATA connectors depending on how many mass storage devices you plan on having. This is generally the number of hard drive + the number of optical drives (DVD, CD Blu-Ray etc.)
Efficiency: The efficiency rating for a power supply unit will usually be give in a percentage. What this means is the percentage of efficiency of AC current that will effectively be converted into DC current.
- For example: If a power supply unit is stated as being 75% efficient and has a 750 Watt energy rating, what this means is that is takes roughly 1000 Watts of Alternating Current (AC) in order to convert to 750 Watts of Direct Current (DC). If it takes 1000 Watts of AC to convert to 750 Watts of DC power, then the excess power (250 Watts) is lost to heat.
Efficiency level certifications (wikipedia)
|80 Plus test type||115V internal non-redundant||230V internal redundant|
|Percentage of rated load||10%||20%||50%||100%||10%||20%||50%||100%|
|80 Plus Bronze||82%||85%||82%||81%||85%||81%|
|80 Plus Silver||85%||88%||85%||85%||89%||85%|
|80 Plus Gold||87%||90%||87%||88%||92%||88%|
|80 Plus Platinum||90%||92%||89%||90%||94%||91%|
|80 Plus Titanium|
MTBF: Is the Mean Time Between Failures – Which is the mean amount of time that passes between any inherit system failures during operation. (For example: MTBF: > 100 000 hours would mean that the inherit time between failures is 100 000 hours). This is not necessarily the most important thing you need to keep in mind when purchasing a PSU for your gaming build, but it may be something interesting to know.
Modular Power Supply Units: These are simply types of power supply units that have modular cables. This enables you to detach any cables that you do not end up using so that they don’t take up more space than they need to in your computer case. For the most part this is not ever actually required, but if you like to keep things clean and hate messy cords then you may decide to go modular. The only downside is that you will end up paying more money for a modular PSU.
How to: Steps to Choosing Your Gaming PC Power Supply Unit (PSU):
Nope, I did not start with budget this time – why? Because I believe the power supply unit should not be something you try to save a ton of bucks on. After all this is the main unit that powers every piece of hardware you have and will be purchasing. Here the main question is how much power is enough power? The actually PSU Wattage you decide to buy will be determined by the sum value of all the hardware power requirements you have decided to purchase.
But just how do you determine how much each individual piece of hardware requires? Well, there are a few ways you can go about determining how much power you need for a power supply unit for your gaming build, and there are some decent calculators to do this on the web. If you are looking for a good online calculator I would recommend the one at eXtreme Power Supply Calculator. It’s easy to use and probably best to use once you have decide on all of the hardware you want in your build. Simply plug in your hardware details and the calculator will spit out an estimated wattage requirement (trying to also compensate for overclocking and perhaps future hardware upgrades).
**The power supply should be the last piece of hardware you purchase for your build since you do need to know everything your PSU will be powering. As well, always buy a power supply with more than the minimum Wattage you need so that you can upgrade your gaming PC later on as well (this does not mean you should be getting a 1500W PSU when realistically 600W will do, so some estimation is needed.
Step Three: Check the PSUs Efficiency Rating
If you want to know your PSU is as reliable as possible, then you may want to buy one with an efficiency rating as high as possible. The efficiency rating as stated above simply is the amount of Alternating Current that actually gets converted into Direct Current for your PC, while the excess energy gets converted into heat. A poor efficiency rating may create allot of wasted heat and would require much more cooling; more heat than needed in a PC is a bad thing.
There is actually an initiative that was set place to promote more efficient power supplies labelled 80 PLUS certified. So if you are purchasing a power supply unit that says it is 80 PLUS certified you can be sure that it has an efficiency level of…well..80% and above.
Final words – For choosing your gaming power supply unit (PSU):
Choosing a new power supply can be complicated, since you do need to know everything you are either purchasing or already have in your PC, which means this should always be the last piece of hardware you decide on. Generally, gaming PCs will require a power supply unit with higher power ratings then a general PC as they usually have more powerful hardware such as discrete graphics cards.
What is “Memory or RAM”
In a desktop PC, memory aka. RAM – Random Access Memory is the space where the Processor temporarily stores data and programs so that it can be accessed as quickly as possible for continual use. In layman’s terms RAM is usually described as a tool bench where you store your most used tools, so that you do not have to keep searching for them when they need to be used. The speed of your RAM will ultimately determine how fast the data on your RAM can be transferred to and from the Processor resulting in more data being transferred in less time.
The system memory modules are stored on a stick called a DIMM (Dual inline memory module), which is the circuit board that can fit into your motherboard. There are also many different sub-categories or types of RAM, however since we are wanting to build a Gaming PC (and most general desktop PCs) we are concerned with DRAM aka. Dynamic RAM, which means the RAM is continually refreshed 1000s of times a second or else it loses its data.
Terms you Should Know (For RAM):
Type: There are several different types of RAM and the type of RAM you purchase / useis determined by what your motherboard can support. When building a gaming PC right now most likely the motherboard will call for either 240-Pin DDR3 RAM or 288-pin DDR4 RAM memory type, but please always check to make sure.
Capacity: Most modern RAM capacities for desktop PCs will be measured in Gigabytes (GB) – For example: 8GB (2 x 4GB) means that there is a total of 8GB included using two 4GB memory sticks. Simply stated, the higher the capacity of RAM you have, the more programs you can have running at once. Most motherboards will only support up to a certain maximum amount of memory capacity, so you should always check this as well.
Speed: The speed of the RAM is measured in two ways – with its operating frequency and bandwidth. The bandwidth states how fast data can transfer at a time.
For example: A piece of RAM that states its speed as “DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800)” means that its operating frequency is 1600Mhz, with a 12800 Mb/s Bandwidth. The higher the values the faster your RAM can transfer data.
Cas Latency / Timing: This is the amount of time it takes between a Column Address Strobe (CAS) being signalled to start and when it starts an initial transfer of data (because data on the RAM is stored in columns and rows). Yes this sounds complicated and no you do not need to know the specifics (unless you want to), so when looking at a RAMs Cas Latency / Timing you will be given a number, and the smaller the number the better the latency is.
Voltage: This would be the highest supported voltage of a memory module and would only be of concern if you ever plan to overclock your RAM. (Example: 1.65V).
Multi-channel Kit: These are kits that include multiples of the same memory modules (one for each channel) and are supported in motherboards that support multi-channel mode. These are good, because generally identical memory modules are preferred for multi-channel use because this will make sure everything is as compatible as it can be.
Heatspreaders: These are added to most high end memory modules to literally spread the heat produced while the memory is functioning. This provides a more efficient cooling method. Seen on the right, you can see the red metal heatspreaders on the two RAM modules.
Step Two: Capacity – How Much?
While there is no magic number of RAM, the capacity of RAM you decide on should be solely driven by what you are going to be using your PC for. We are building our PCs for gaming, so more RAM is never a bad thing. A minimum amount of RAM right now would be about 8GB DDR3, 8GB DDR3 if you can afford it (this is getting really affordable). Only purchase more RAMA if you can afford too since the higher you go in RAM sizing past 8GB, the larger the diminishing returns.
Step Three: Which Brand?
You may find that after you have decided on your exact budget, type of RAM needed, speed of RAM and the capacity you want that there are still tons of brands offering that exact RAM specification. This is where you may want to do some personal research – such as asking in any hardware forums, or reading consumer reviews at hardware retail sites. Generally speaking RAM won’t vary in quality as much brand by brand my experience as other computer hardware parts.
Final words – For choosing your gaming memory (RAM):
Choosing RAM for your gaming PC build is not actually that tough, as there are only a few things to keep in mind. Allot of what I have written here comes down to just knowing what type of RAM your motherboard supports, what speed you want (or can afford) and what capacity of RAM you would like. As a current general rule of thumb, I would start with 8GB of RAM for most modern gaming builds and more depending on the size of your pocket.
Terms you Should Know (For an Optical Drive)?
Interface: This is the interface that your optical drive will use to connect to your motherboard. Presently, the most common interface an optical drive will use is a SATA connection. Some older optical drives used IDE, however most modern motherboard will no longer support this connection. This makes it harder to re-use older optical drives.
Type: There are several types of optical drives. As mentioned before, optical drives can be either “CD”, “DVD”, or “BLU-RAY” writers or readers. The terminology to differentiate these types of optical drives is as follows:
- DVD Burner: Reads & Writes both DVDs and CDs.
- Blu-Ray Burner: Reads & Writes Blu-Rays, DVDs and CDs
- Blu-Ray Combo Drive: Reads Blu-Ray discs and reads & writes DVDs and CDs.
- Combo Drive: Less common now, the combo drive term is used to separate optical drives that are DVD readers and CD readers & writers.
Read & Write Speeds: Whether your optical disc drive is reading or writing off of a CD, DVD, or Blu-Ray, there will always be a speed attached to each specific function. For example: DVD+R with a 16X write speed means just that – a DVD that reads at a speed of 16 times.
Cache: In an optical drive, a bigger cache will result in faster writing times. This is because the cache stores information that is going to be written to a disc and the more information it can store at a time means the fast the optical drive has access to it.
Step Two: Check the Interfaces on Your Motherboard
Allot of the time people will want to use older hardware from their older PCs. If you are trying to use an older optical drive, there is a chance that it does not have a SATA connection and most modern motherboards will not support older IDE connections.
Final words – For choosing your gaming optical drive:
Choosing an optical drive for your gaming PC should not be too hard. Just make sure that you are buying one for a relatively cheap price and that the motherboard supports the optical drives interface (for example: SATA).
How to Choose Your Gaming PC’s Case:
If you have chosen all of the hardware for your gaming PC build, then great – now you must have somewhere to put it all. In this section, I will discuss four steps that you should go through when making the decision as to which computer case you should purchase and or choose. A case for your PC does just that, in encapsulates the hardware, keeps it safe, cool and hopefully free from dust. There is a vast selection of cases out there and the prices vary just as much, so when choosing the right case ask yourself these four questions:
Step Four: Case Aesthetics – What do You Want Your Case to Look Like?
Once you have the an idea of what you want to put in your case and the size of case, then you will want to shop for what looks most appealing to you. PC cases come in a variety of colors, shapes, and can include additional appeal like colored lighting. In the end, your PC case ultimately depends on personal taste, so make it your own.
Micro-ATX Gaming PC Case