How to Build Your Own Gaming PC from Scratch

Gaming PC Advice

Multiple benefits come with building your own gaming desktop over buying one from a gaming desktop store. First, building your own gaming pc will oftentimes be cheaper than purchasing a pre-built system. In addition, since you are in control of everything including the performance, design, and features, you also to customize the gaming desktop for your exact needs. Upgrading the gaming desktop down the line will also be much easier. Most of the pre-built desktops come with software and other extras that can bloat and slow the machine. Building the desktop from scratch gives you an opportunity to avoid bloatware.

This guide will take you through the entire building process.

Choose the Components

For this project, you will need a processor (CPU), a motherboard, a video card, a memory (RAM), storage (Solid State Drive/Hard Drive), a case, power supply, an optical drive, an operating system, a monitor, and accessories such as a keyboard and a mouse. However, you need to be careful when choosing these components because identifying good ones can sometimes be a challenge. Testing each individual component for quality will be time consuming as well as expensive. A much easier approach to identifying a quality set of gaming desktop components is to read customer reviews, expert reviews, and to purchase from a trusted manufacturer or retailer.

Set Up Your Working Space

You will also need to set up your working space. You need ample space with sufficient lighting. For effectiveness, find a raised surface to work on. This will give you better access to the computer and keep the components away from things such as pets. Make sure the surface you are working on is non-conductive. This will prevent the build-up of static electricity, which can cause problems in your computer system. For instance, static electricity can produce an electric shock that can damage the tiny electronic traces along the motherboard. Therefore, work on a wooden or laminated table. With your working space set up, here is the procedure to building your own gaming desktop.

Step 1: Install the CPU

Start by installing the CPU onto the motherboard. The CPU socket on your motherboard has a protective plastic covering that you will need to remove. To do this, push the lever arm down and to the side. Next, pull the cover up to remove it. You then need to open the CPU box and take out the processor. On the CPU, find an arrow, usually on the chip’s bottom-left corner and match it with the socket’s bottom corner. On the top half section of the chip, you will see two notches. Since the pins face down, ensure the plain silver side faces up. Lower the processor gently onto the socket. Generally, it should fit easily into place so there’s no need to press it down with a lot of force. Once the CPU is in place, pull back the socket lever arm to secure it perfectly in place.

Step 2: Install the Memory

The next component to install should be the memory or RAM. While some builders recommend installing the CPU cooler or heatsink first, it can be much easier for you to start with the RAM. This is because with the heatsink installed first, adding the memory can be quite hard. Installing the RAM is an easy process. Find the memory slots on the motherboard. Usually, these will be adjacent to the processor. Take the RAM sticks out of their packaging and look for a notch at the middle of each. It is important to do this because you need to align the sticks according to the notches. The notches are designed to prevent you from installing the RAM sticks backwards in the memory slots. Next, you will have to press down on your memory sticks. You will know the RAM sticks are seated perfectly inside the memory slots once you hear a snapping sound. If the memory sticks won’t easily snap into place, simply check to ensure that you didn’t install them backwards. In addition, both sides of your RAM sticks have to sit evenly in the memory slots. If either side is higher, it means you installed it improperly.

Step 3: Install the CPU Heatsink

CPU heatsinks are available in a wide variety. Therefore, start by looking at the included instructions for the heatsink you are using. While most heatsinks will have resizable brackets to fit perfectly on motherboards of various sizes, you need to find out whether adjusting your heatsink will be necessary. If there is need for adjustment, you will have to determine how to do it. In addition, depending on your type of heatsink, you may have to mount the brackets at the back of motherboard.  Keep this in mind before you mount the motherboard to avoid having to unmount it. The included instructions will usually have this information but you should ensure that the brackets of the CPU fans are aligned with the holes around your processor.

Once you determine how to adjust your heatsink, the next step will involve applying thermal paste to the back of the processor. You need to be extra careful with this step because it can be quite tricky. This is because the thermal paste is a sticky substance and if you put too much of it, some of it will ooze to the sides of your processor, which won’t be good. The best approach would be to apply a small amount of the paste in a straight line at down the center of your CPU. You can then use a razor blade or a credit card to spread it out. However, for best results, simply attach your heatsink and gently press it down. The pressure will naturally spread out the paste.

The next step, which involves attaching and securing the heatsink onto the motherboard, also varies with the type of heatsink. You can either screw the heatsink into the bracket or mounting plate you installed earlier or lock it in place using a pushpin.

Step 4: Prepare the Case

With the heatsink in place, start getting the case ready for mounting the motherboard. Unbox the case and remove both side panels. There is the front panel that allows you to access the inside of the case while the back panel gives you easy access to the behind of your motherboard. Removing both panels gives you an idea of what you need to do in terms of cable management because the cases have different slots for cables.

Step 5: Mount the Motherboard

Once you remove the panels, lie the case down with the front panel facing upwards. Next, you need to secure the motherboard to the case. However, before this, you will have to install the I/O shield.  Every motherboard often comes with its own. You have to install this shield first before mounting the motherboard because you cannot do it afterwards. The I/O shield snaps into place quite easily in a rectangular slot at the back of the case. Ensure you press against all the sides of the shield for it to fit solidly.

With the shield snapped into place, you need to locate the motherboard standoffs. Generally, the standoffs come in two halves with the top halves containing screw hole into which you will screw the motherboard and the bottom halves being threaded. Inside the case, you should find a number of holes into which the standoffs have to go. The cases can either be labeled for various sizes of motherboards or not. Be keen to identify any of these labels to avoid putting the standoffs in the wrong holes. Don’t panic if you don’t see any labels. Your standoffs will be enough to cover all the holes. The next step simply involves screwing the standoffs into place.

Once in place, you can then screw in your motherboard. Make sure the I/O ports are aligned with the I/O shield the gently lower your motherboard until it rests on the standoffs. If your motherboard has a hole at the center, look for a peg on the case and make sure it fits through the hole. Once you position the motherboard properly in place, you can then tighten the motherboard down using the motherboard screws that should have come with the case. However, be careful not to secure the motherboard too tightly to the standoffs to prevent cracking and damaging it. All you need is for the motherboard to be snugly secure.

Step 7: Install the Power Supply

Installing the power supply is also fairly easy. All you need to do is use the screws it came with to screw it in place. The power supply can be completely or partially modular, or not modular at all. Completely modular power supply is one that does not contain permanently attached cables. On the other hand, partially modular power supply is one in which the power cables for the primary motherboard are hardwired in. For not at all modular power supply, cables are permanently attached, which can be quite messy. You can orient your power supply to face up or down. Your choice will depend on the type of case you have.

Step 8: Install the Hard Drives/SSDs

Depending on the storage you are using for your gaming pc and the type of case you are using, this step may vary. For instance, if you are considering bulk media storage, an HDD would be ideal for games and installation of windows, an SSD would work well. Most cases will come with plastic runners, which snap on either side of the HDD hard drive trays that easily slide in and out. Screw the HDD onto the tray and simply slide it into its slot. If your case uses runners, simply snap them to the sides of your HDD and slot them into place.

Step 9: Install the Video Card

Before your gaming pc is fully operational, you need to install the video or graphics card. For this, you need to locate the PCIe port on the motherboard. It is usually a long slot close to the CPU socket. Remove the plates covering the slot by unscrewing them and sliding them out. Next, align the video card with the PCIe slot and simply press it into place. All that will be left is to re-insert the screws.

With everything in place, power on your built gaming PC and troubleshoot. Plug the system in and attach essentials such as the monitor and a keyboard to test whether it boots. If it turns on and a BIOS screen pops on your monitor, you are on the right track. If nothing happens, it’s probably an issue with the cables. Check to ensure you connected all cables correctly and that no cables are faulty.

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