PC gaming is a fast-growing industry which is dominating console and smartphone gaming.
To the uninitiated and “brought-up-on-console” gamers, however, it is an intimidating fog of unknowns.
Do I have to build it myself, what parts do I need, how do you put a CPU on a motherboard – these are all questions potential PC gamers ask themselves.
While building a gaming PC can be a scary prospect for newcomers, some basic technical knowledge and the right components can make the task manageable.
A limited budget is another challenge when buying a new gaming PC, as you will have to decide which components to “downgrade” and which to spend extra money on.
To help prospective PC gamers get started, we have outlined the most important factors to consider below.
Deciding on hardware
One of the most important things to check when building a rig is compatibility between all your components.
Ensure that the motherboard you have purchased is compatible with your CPU and RAM, and that your power supply has enough wattage to power your graphics card.
It is also important to ensure that your graphics card can drive your variable refresh rate (FreeSync, G-Sync) monitor, if you have purchased one.
The graphics card is the most important component in a gaming PC and dictates the performance of the machine when rendering games.
If you want to build a rig that will allow you to game smoothly in 4K, you may have to purchase one or two top-of-the-range GPUs.
A mid-range GPU, though, will be more suitable if you are trying to emulate the performance of a traditional console.
The heart of a PC is its processor – fortunately, an expensive CPU is not necessary for most games. It can be useful for certain titles which require logic-intensive tasks, however.
Strategy games or titles with complex AI may benefit from a quad-core processor compared to a dual-core chip.
Peripherals are also an important component of a gaming PC, and if you plan on playing games such as Counter-Strike or Overwatch, a decent mouse and keyboard can make a big difference.
As mentioned above, the type of components you purchase will depend on what you want to get from your gaming PC.
However, the following components are necessary in any modern gaming PC:
- Modern graphics card – A gaming PC is defined by its graphics card. New GPUs from the Nvidia GeForce 10-series and AMD Radeon RX 500-series ranges are the best choice.
- Solid State Drive – Gaming without an SSD is possible, but slow. No new gaming PC should be booting off a mechanical disk.
- 8GB RAM – If you are looking at playing modern games, ensure you have at least 8GB of RAM in your system.
- A new CPU – Newer processors run much cooler and more efficiently than older chips, including new entry-level chips like the Intel Pentium G4560.
Apart from these components, you can tailor your PC according to your budget or requirements.
If you want to build a “living room console” PC, you can save on a top-of-the-range CPU and put more cash towards a small, styish case.
Using older chipsets and RAM is fine too, as the DDR generation of your memory does not have a notable impact on most gaming.
As long as your CPU is new enough to offer good performance without overheating – and overdrawing from your power supply – an older chipset and RAM combination can be great for budget builds.
When buying PC components, also make sure to check the following basic combinations:
- Does the CPU fit on and work with the motherboard. (Socket type)
- Does the RAM work with the motherboard. (RAM type and frequency)
- Will the motherboard and graphics card fit in the PC case. (Form factor of chassis)
A gaming PC
Using hardware statistics from PC gaming platform Steam, the table below provides a practical example of a good mid-range gaming PC.
|Intel Core i3-8100||R1,799|
|Biostar Z370GT6 Motherboard||R2,099|
|Kingston 8GB DDR4 2,133MHz RAM||R1,515|
|EVGA GeForce GTX 1060 3GB||R4,036|
|WD Green 120GB SSD||R649|
|Corsair VS450 Power Supply||R672|
|Raidmax Vortex V5 ATX Case||R465|
In addition to the above, examples of good entry-level peripherals for your PC are:
- Corsair Harpoon RGB gaming mouse – R403
- Logitech G213 RGB gaming keyboard – R699
- Dell 24-inch Full HD monitor – R2,549