Well hello there! This is Sumit from Team Technotronic here.
We saw the general un-awareness amongst the Indian consumers on computer hardware. Most people think that a “good” computer should perform good in all types of tasks be it gaming, animation, graphics editing, etc., but the reality of it is that a “good” system is only good at one or two types of workloads more often than not.
Anyways, we’re here to fix your minds with some knowledge (:P) and when it comes to computers what other topic would be any more relevant to an average consumer than gaming. As a matter of fact, I can almost bet that you reached this page after googling on how to build a gaming PC (probably on your toilet seat… probably).
So, without any further ado, let’s get right into it.
For building a PC you’ll need 6 component at the very minimum, they are:
- Processor (CPU)
- Power Supply
But for a gaming PC, one more component is added to these 6 basic ones, that is a Graphics Card. Why? We’ll come to that later.
So, we now have at the very least 7 components of our soon to be PC that we need to figure out. “Where to start?” You say.
It’s easy, our goal is a gaming PC and Graphics Card is the most essential component of the build as it would be responsible for generating all those schwifty graphics. Therefore, it would be the first component that we will pick out.
The heart of any gaming PC is its Graphics Card, technically yes, mostly you could play games with the help of your processor alone but getting a graphics card (even a relatively cheap one) greatly boosts your computer’s gaming performance. Therefore, I think it should go without saying that the graphics card should be the most expensive part of your PC when you’re building it to exclusively game on. As a matter of fact, the graphics card should account for as much as 25% to 50% of our total budget (sometimes even higher).
To pick out a graphics card, gather your total budget, take around 30% of it and start looking for a suitable graphics card in that budget and give it a 5% to 10% + or - breathing space under that 30% budget window.
One common myth about graphics cards in India is that you only need to be concerned with the amount of RAM that it has, BIG MISTAKE! A lot of people think that graphics cards are only a type of memory and the more you have it, the better. Well to be honest the memory of the card does make a difference but I would go as far as saying that it should be the last deciding factor when purchasing a Graphics Card. What we do not realize is that a Graphics Card is a system in itself with its very own processing unit (called GPU), RAM, BIOS, peripheral bus, Output ports, etc. The key factor to look for here is the GPU and it’s pretty easy too, you can almost always tell which card is better than any other by comparing the GPU model on both. For instance, if you’re looking at Nvidia’s GeForce series of cards then a GTX1060 is obviously better than a GTX1050.
Another way of narrowing down the card to first decide what games are you going to play and at what resolution and graphics setting. Decide on that and do a google search to find the recommended cards for the same. Find the best card that fits your needs and you are set!
Believe it or not, you don’t need a very expensive processor (like an i7 or Ryzen 7) to get a decent gaming experience. Contrary to popular believe you can even game on an Intel Dual Core (especially the Dual Core G4560) and get a very satisfying experience. Although, obviously if you want the highest end graphics on the max resolution settings available, then you’ll to spend accordingly.
Your choice of processor affects your available choices of Motherboard and RAM, How?
You cannot pair a processor and motherboard if they both support different Socket Types. Furthermore, even if the socket of both the processor and motherboard is the same, even then they can be incompatible sometimes because of the difference in supported chipsets in both.
RAM compatibility is also an issue here. DDR3 memory was very prevalent a few years ago (it still is), supported by almost every processor in the market but with the introduction of Intel’s 6th generation Skylake line up of processor they brought support for DDR4 memory soon followed up by the 7th Generation Kabylake processor and AMD going as far as to only support DDR4 on their latest Ryzen CPUs.
My advice, if you’re going to buy a new processor for your gaming PC then don’t buy anything older than 6th gen intel otherwise you’ll be missing out on all the new features and technologies like DDR4 memory support, better on-board graphics (although we’re not really going to use them), native 4K support, etc., also upgrading your system down the line would be much harder. You can go with AMDs FX line of processors which do come with some serious punch for their price point but again, the same thing applies.
So yea, go with a fairly recent processor that fits your budget, starting from Intel Dual Core all the way up to i5. i7 doesn’t really benefit in most of the games unless the game is very CPU intensive so I’ll suggest you to don’t go for it unless you intended to do more than just gaming or your games of choice recommend it, having said that, if you’re going with a GTX1080/Ti setup then why not, go ahead.
Right now most of the games are optimized for Intel’s architecture and perform better with them but as AMD’s Ryzen grows older, those issues are mostly going to be resolved, so yes, you can also go with Ryzen but Intel is the first choice here.
One last thing is to note the difference between Intel’s K series processors and the non-K series ones. Whenever you see a ‘K’ at the end of the model number of any Intel’s processors (like i5 7600K) it signifies that the said processor comes with an unlocked clock multiplier and support user overclocking.
If you know what the term “overclocking” means then you don’t need me to explain all this to you it to and if not then I’m afraid this topic is far ahead from the scope of this article. Just know this if you’re unaware of overlocking then you probably want to stay away from K series processors. Oh, and also, all Ryzen processors are unlocked already, yaaayy!
Motherboard doesn’t directly affect the performance of the PC but what it does affect are the features and expandability of the system. Does it have USB 3/Type C, does it support over clocking, how many RAM slots are there in the motherboard, does it have on board Wi-Fi, does it look cool? These are some of the many questions that you should be asking to yourself while selecting the motherboard.
Find out the generation of the processor that you’ve selected, do a google search for “<my generation> chipsets comparison” replacing <my generation> with…. Oh, come on it’s obvious. You’ll find a list of all the supported chipsets, compare all the features (all the chipsets are priced in accordance to the supported features), find out the one that fits your needs and start looking for a motherboard that comes with that chipset. The chipset is usually a part of the name of the motherboard. For instance, Gigabyte H110M-H comes with an Intel H110 chipset, the MSI Z270 Krait Gaming comes with Intel’s Z270 chipset and so on.
Now theoretically, both 6th and 7th gen Intel processors do support both DDR3 and DDR4 but you’ll not find a motherboard that also does. Therefore, I’ll recommend to only go with a motherboard that supports DDR4 memory just to be a little future proof.
Gaming these days typically do not require more than 8GBs of RAM, going over that number only benefits in some games and going any lower will cause micro stutters in most of the popular AAA games (cough.. GTA.. cough.. five). So, yea, 8GB it is.
DDR4 or DDR3 doesn’t make any difference in performance for gaming so pick whichever your motherboard supports. And dual channel memory also has the same story here so I’ll recommend you to go for a single stick of RAM instead of two or more as long as it’s not more expensive, doing so will still give the same gaming performance but will leave vacant slots on your motherboard for future RAM expansion.
A place for storing your operating system, application softwares and all of the media.
Storage is divided into two types here:
Simplest part of the whole process. Just get however much you need. 1TB is the most popular choice but no one will blame you if you go any higher or lower. Just go for a reputable brand like Seagate, Western Digital, Toshiba, etc. Nothing much here to talk about.
SSD (Solid Sate Drive)
These days, it’s pretty much a crime to build a computer without an SSD in it. Okay, that might be an over-exaggeration but the fact is that you’re missing out on a lot of fun without an SSD. Adding an SSD to the system makes it a whole lot faster, more responsive and boot/loading times are reduced very considerably. You can also entirely skip the Hard Disk if you’re not going to store a lot of media on your system.
There are a few different types of SSDs available in the market like M.2, PCIe, etc., but the most affordable and popular ones are that SATA SSD.
If you’re on a budget then you can go for the popular approach of getting a relatively smaller capacity SATA SSD (something like 120GB) which could hold your boot partition (the place where your Operating System is installed) and all the application softwares making everything much more faster and place all your movies, music, document, por… umm.. I mean other types of media onto a hard drive which is much cheaper.
Power Supply Unit (SMPS)
Power Supply is what I think is the single most overlooked component in most computer builds in India, most of us are fine with the power supply that comes included with the cheaper cabinets. BIG MISTAKE again! Remember this is the thing that’s powering the entire system, one wrong spark and you can pretty much say goodbye to your expensive processor, graphics card, and/or everything else. Yes everything! Remember your dog? Well no more puppy eyes for you, it’s big bang all over again.
Keeping half-baked jokes aside, Power Supply is a very crucial part of the build and should not be cheaped-out upon.
Power Supply is the very last core component of the PC that you’ll be deciding upon and there’s reason for that. To know what PSU to use in your system, you’ll first need to find out the overall power consumption of the machine and the power consumption directly depends on all the component used in the system (mainly the processor and the graphics cards).
Now I’m not going to tell you the math to calculate the power consumption, internet already has us covered there. OuterVision has a pretty cool calculator on their website that you can use. Just input all the details and it’ll tell you the answer, just go for a little higher wattage power supply than the calculated power consumption as it will improve on stability and leave enough headroom for any more power hunger future upgrades.
The choice of cabinet is different with different people. Some want a nice and expensive branded cabinet that looks cool equipped with all of that tempered glass and RGB lighting swag, other are more into what’s under that hood and can’t care less even if the system looks like a trash can from the outside as long as it performs well. My advice is to go for whatever your budget allows for, if you’re on a tight budget then I’d say that it is much more important to invest into that awesome new Graphics Card that you’ll be able to buy if you skimp out on the cabinet just a little bit. But I also wouldn’t recommend you to go for something too cheap as those come build with very cheap materials and filled with sharp metal edges on the inside that can even get you scraped/cut while building the computer (speaking from personal experience). Those cabinet are only fit for very low-end builds.
There are mainly two types of cabinets in the market that people tend to buy the most, first Micro-ATX and second Standard-ATX (Mid-Tower). What both of these names signify is their form factor i.e., the maximum size of the motherboard that can be fit into the said cabinet. The Micro-ATX cabinets can accommodate a Micro-ATX sized motherboard at most and a Standard-ATX cabinet will be able to fit both ATX, Micro-ATX motherboards and even anything that’s smaller than that (mostly). There’s not much to explain why. A box can only fit as much as it is itself, it’s all about the size of cabinet. You cannot fit an elephant into a fish jar. One other thing to note here is the size of your graphics card, smaller ones have no problems fitting into most any case that you try them on but some larger one’s (for Nvidia, starting from GTX1060), you better first check if there’s enough space in the cabinet to accommodate the chosen graphics card.
So whenever picking a cabinet, fist look at the motherboard’s specifications and find out it’s form factor, that’s the minimum size of cabinet you have to get, for instance, if your motherboard is a Standard ATX sized one, you can buy a Standard-ATX form factor cabinet or even a Full-ATX cabinet but not anything small than Standard-ATX. Next up, find out the size of your chosen graphics card and see if it will fit into the available choices that you’ve filtered out so far (most mid tower cases have no issues fitting in most graphics cards).
From there, you can start looking for additional feature, does it have screw less mounts? How many expansion bays are there? Cable management, front USB 3.0/Type-C, modular design, fan filters, etc., etc.
Well this pretty much concludes our novice’s builder’s guild for a gaming PC, one of many to come soon guides. So, stay tuned!
Did I leave out anything? Was I unclear at any certain portion of the article? Was I incorrect somewhere and would you like to correct me there (a.k.a, internet’s favorite thing to do)? Let me know all of that in the comments below!