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Feb
24
2014

How to Build A Gaming Computer, Custom Build a Gaming PC

How to Build A Gaming Computer, Custom Build a Gaming PC

Many wonder, “why do I need a $1,000+ computer to play video games when I can go buy a $499 commodity PC from Walmart?” Well, the thing is most modern games like Battlefield 4 and Titanfall require special hardware such as graphics cards that most commodity PC’s don’t have.

Today, we are going to show you how we at Digital Storm build a gaming PC and show you what you need to do in order to piece one together yourself.

Step 1: What is your price range?

Gaming PC’s come in a variety of size and options and what type of computer you should build really depends on what your needs are. If you’re going to be playing casual indie games League of Legends, a $599 gaming computer is more than enough. If you want to play games like Battlefield 4 on Ultra, you’re looking at a rig that is more in the $1,299 to $2,699 price range depending on what else you will be doing with the PC. Lastly, if you want the best of the best, you’re going to be spending in the upwards of $4,999 if you want a computer with a full water-cooling loop and top-of-the-line parts.

Step 2: Determining what parts you need for your gaming computer

There are a ton of options when it comes to choosing what parts you should get for your gaming PC. First, you'll want to look into how big of a gaming PC you want and if it is sufficient enough to hold everything you want to put into it. Chassis come in many shapes and sizes like our Bolt II and Aventum II. The majority of cases you see on the market today are mid-tower cases as they are the perfect blend between a micro case and a full-tower case.

Second, you'll want to look for a motherboard and processor that suite your needs. Are you looking to put together a gaming PC with a single graphics card and not much else? Or, are you looking to build a computer with multiple graphics cards, a sound card and a multitude of storage space? There are M-ITX motherboards for those looking to build a small PC, M-ATX for those looking for something a little bit bigger than M-ITX but something smaller than a full chassis. Then, there is the standard ATX and extended ATX size motherboards that you will find in most gaming PC's as they feature the most options when it comes to upgrade-ability and compatibility.

Now comes the time to pick a CPU. Imagine the processor as the brain of the gaming computer. It is one of the most critical components that determine how well your computer performs. Multiple processor cores allow you to multi-task without sacrificing performance:

  • Example 1: During game play one core is processing AI (artificial intelligence) while the other is processing game data.
  • Example 2: Scan for viruses and surf the web at the same time without a drop in speed.

There are two main vendors that make CPUs (Intel and AMD) and they both have their own pros / cons. Intel processors are a little pricier but are generally better performing. AMD processors are more budget friendly and have better on-chip GPU’s that make it possible to play more demanding games without a dedicated graphics card. It really comes down to, whether you are looking for something with tons of horsepower or are you looking for something that will run your games and basic tasks.

After the CPU, you’ll want to look at the memory or RAM. The memory acts as a buffer between all core components of your system. Faster memory will increase the performance of your entire computer. If you don’t make the right selection, it will create a bottleneck for your entire system. Consider the following when purchasing your memory:

  • Speed – Remember the faster the memory the better your software will perform, this is especially true of your games. Expect to see more silky smooth game play with faster RAM.
  • Size – When you get more RAM you get to run more applications without experiencing slowdowns in performance.

Next comes the graphics card. When it comes to gaming desktops, your video card is just as important as your processor. It has one of the most important tasks: to display images on your monitor. What makes a great video card?

  • Next Gen. Technology - The newest technology will not only have more graphical horse power, but will have newer capabilities that you will be able to take advantage of down the road. For example, NVIDIA is the only brand that features full PhysX processing on the core. This allows your processor to focus on more important tasks.
  • Good FPS – Frame per second (FPS), the more frames the smoother your game play will be. As you crank up the visuals in today’s hottest games, your FPS will suffer. A powerful video card will offset this issue.

When you are looking to purchase a video card make sure to consider if a multiple video card setup is for you.

  • Multiple Video Cards – Two video cards working together can provide up to twice the performance resulting in even more smoother and detailed. game play experience.

So you've chosen your video card, now, where are you going to store all of those games? Choosing a good storage solution is vital as it will make a big impact on your games’ loading times.

One of the most overlooked and misunderstood areas in a computer is the storage drive. You store all your software and data on your storage drives so clearly it is a vital part of your computer. For most people, their main consideration is how big when it should equally be how fast.

  • Speed – The faster your hard drive/SSD is the faster your software, and most importantly your games will load. Not only that, but, a faster hard drive will boost the responsiveness when you load and close applications. A fast drive won’t increase your frame rates, so if you have extra
  • Size – Hard drive and solid-state space has become relatively cheap. For a few extra bucks you can prevent yourself from making a pricey upgrade down the road. Who knows what movies or music you may have in the future. Better yet, you could create a massive library of all your media..
  • Multiple Drives – Having more than one drive allows you to put your operating system on one drive, and all your data such as media on another. This will protect you if your operating system drive crashes or catches a virus.

Next, you’re going to want to pick a cooling solution that works for you. There are two types of cooling you can choose from; Air or Liquid and there are positives and negatives to both.

  • Air Cooling – This type of cooling uses fans to move air throughout your computer chassis to cool your computer hardware. This form of cooling is relatively affordable and effective. However, air cooling has its limits and isn't as effective as liquid cooling.
  • Liquid Cooling – This type of cooling utilizes specially formulated liquid to regulate the heat generated by the different components in your system. A complete system consists of a: pump, reservoir tank, liquid blocks, and radiator. Liquid cooling in general increases overclocks significantly compared to air cooling. The down side to liquid cooling is the maintenance that is sometimes (after 2-3 years) required and its price. If you choose an all-in-one cooler like the Corsair H100, no maintenance is required but the performance won't be as strong.

Now that you have picked out all of the main components of your gaming computer, you’re going to need something to power it. The power supply does exactly what the name suggests it supplies power to your gaming computer. When buying your power supply here’s what to look for:

  • Wattage – Based on what computer you desire you may require more watts then someone who is building a different system be sure you choose appropriately so that your computer isn’t starved for power. Also, a better quality power supply (80 PLUS Bronze – Platinum) is recommended as they run more efficient and deliver cleaner power.
  • Upgrade-ability – If you plan on upgrading in the future then you should consider buying a larger power supply than you would normally get because you can never predict how much power future hardware will require. If you plan ahead you’ll save yourself a big headache because replacing the power supply in your computer is a very time consuming task. This is especially important if you are planning to add a second video card in the future.

Step 3: Check to make sure your parts are compatible

Now that you have all of your parts picked out, you’ll want to give them one more look over to make sure everything is compatible. One of the most common mistakes is picking a CPU that is incompatible with the motherboard of your choice. When configuring and building a gaming PC, it’s important to pick parts that will suite your needs. For example, if you want to game at 1440p and pick a NVIDIA GTX 760 as your graphics card, you won’t be having the best experience. Doing some research before hand or asking on our forums is a great way to get some help when finalizing your build.

That concludes our guide on how to build your gaming computer. Did this guide help you out? Is there anything you guys feel should be added? Please leave comments below!

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