Building a gaming rig can be daunting, but for a gamer who is used to solving puzzles, going on quests, and grinding patiently for hours to level up a character, building a gaming PC can be a lot of fun too. The prize is rewarding and the journey is entertaining. Be warned, building your very own gaming PC on a budget would take a lot of patience and research.
Getting into the Groove
During your build, you’ll be learning a lot about how PC hardware work and how they go together. You’d have to know a lot about the different parts’ specifications, so be prepared to visit various websites for research. But before doing that, you’d have to first define the PC you want to have. You’d also have to know what you need to look for and be aware of any incompatibilities and compatibilities so as not to waste time changing the parts.
It’s much more satisfying and economical to build your PC, but be aware that there are also excellent pre-built gaming rigs out there. This one from pcgamehaven.com is one of the great websites to visit, with all the bells and whistles included.
It would take a lot of work, but the satisfaction you’ll feel after all are done will be worth it. Here are tips on how to build a kick-ass gaming PC on a budget:
First, Identify What You Need
Do you want to build a gaming PC to play the current games or do you want a little future-proofing? Knowing what kind of games you’ll be playing is also important, especially if you’ll be playing graphics-intensive games like ‘Cyberpunk 2077’ or ‘Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla.’
Perhaps you’ll also be playing games that demand more from both GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) and CPU (Central Processing Unit) like ‘Shadow of the Tomb Raider.’ Think about what’s more important to you: FPS (frames per second) or resolution? The default setting for many gamers is 60 FPS at 1920 x 1080 resolution.
However, gaming at around 40 FPS is perfectly acceptable, but some gamers who play shooting games like the Call of Duty franchise prefer at least 60 FPS. If you want eye candy, there are monitors at resolutions of 1440 and even 4k. But the higher the resolution, the more expensive they can be. Not to mention the more powerful CPU and GPU you’ll need.
Here’s a tip: The order of importance for gaming rigs should be FPS then resolution. So, aim for monitors with resolutions at 1080p or 1440p that can give an FPS of at least 60 FPS. Establishing all these parameters, you can estimate what your budget is going to be.
Choosing Your Processor: Intel Or AMD
Researching for your CPU will test your patience and research skill. There are only two brands that you’d have to choose from, but the number of models and their specs—the cores, threads, GHz, cache, and all those things—can be maddening. The processor will be the brains of your PC, so choose judiciously.
Remember, the CPU is just one component. So don’t go crazy and spend a huge percentage of your budget on the CPU. Choosing either Intel or AMD will determine what type of motherboard you should get.
A motherboard for an Intel CPU isn’t compatible with an AMD CPU, and vice versa. If you need help in selecting a CPU (and you will), search the internet for CPU buying guides. Whichever brand you choose is fine.
Whatever advantages one might have over another is only noticeable on benchmarks. For regular gamers, the differences aren’t noticeable. Remember that in gaming, clock speed is more important than the number of cores. This means that the fastest CPUs are those with high clock speeds.
If you’re getting a strong CPU, you should also be getting a good GPU and RAM. And you don’t have to dabble in overclocking. Overclocking means heat, and that means you’d have to spend money on high-end cooling solutions.
Choosing A Motherboard
PC components choices are unbelievably varied and choosing ones that go well together can get confusing. You’d have to make sure that all your components are compatible and work well together. Just because you’d read a rave review about a particular motherboard doesn’t mean it’s best for you. Consider your PC as one unit.
If you’ve decided on the brand of processor that you’re going to get, then pick components that are compatible with it. If you picked Intel, the motherboard’s processor socket should be compatible with Intel. The same with AMD.
The motherboards are most expensive when they have extra features like the ability to overclock, ports for extra expansion cards, and many other peripherals. Motherboards can have features that can take multiple graphics cards called SLI (for Nvidia cards) and CrossFire (for AMD/Radeon cards).
These features can bump up the price of a motherboard significantly, so unless you’re using two graphics cards, pick a motherboard without these features. What you need is one that’s compatible with your CPU, graphics card, RAM, and SSD.
Choosing Your RAM
Today’s games require at least 8Gb of RAM, so 8Gb for your gaming rig is sufficient. In any case, upgrading your RAM is fairly simple. You can just stick in an additional RAM on the empty DIMM (dual in-line memory module) slots on your motherboard. Just make sure they’re compatible.
Also, it’s better if the expansion RAM you’re getting is the same brand as the first two. If you have a bigger budget, by all means, go for 16Gb or more. If not, 8Gb is fine. When choosing RAM, it’s essential to know your motherboard’s maximum memory capacity. Your motherboard has 4 DIMM slots. If the motherboard has a 32Gb capacity, it means that each slot can only take a maximum of 8Gb of RAM.
RAMs that have ‘blings’ can be expensive, however. These are RAMs that have colorful lights, purely for aesthetic purposes and don’t affect your PC’s performance. If you’re on a budget, you can pick a RAM Kit without the lights. Your RAM just needs an effective heatsink.
Choosing Your Graphical Processing Unit (GPU)
Choosing a GPU would depend on which games you want to play, which resolution would you be playing at, and how much you’re willing to splurge. And as each brand has its specs, you need to use your ‘Google-fu’ to find the right one for your system.
The rule of thumb here is simple: Get the most powerful graphics card you can afford. Games are evolving, and you want some of that ‘future-proofing.’ Just make sure that your graphics card works well with your CPU and your monitor.
Choosing Your Monitor
When considering a gaming monitor, you’ll be faced with many choices. So, you have to simplify. First, consider the screen size and resolution. As mentioned in the first part of this article, a gaming rig should prioritize the FPS, followed by the display resolution.
A large screen with a high resolution would mean you’d have to buy a more expensive CPU and graphic cards. In gaming, you don’t want to experience lags, especially in shooting games. So, for a smoother gaming experience, you want a higher FPS. In monitors, that means you should get a high refresh rate. A 60 FPS means 60 Hz, so a monitor that has a refresh rate of 120 Hz means 120 FPS.
However, the human eye can’t tell the difference between 60 FPS and 120 FPS. But in monitors, the difference may show in some screen tearing, but for all intents and purposes, there’s no difference—at least, not big enough that your eye would notice.
Monitors with a refresh rate of 120 and a resolution of 1440p and above would no longer be budget monitors. They’d be high-end, and thus expensive. But if you can get a 60 Hz monitor with 1440p resolution on your budget, that would be great.
Choosing Your Case
Your case’s size depends on the size of your motherboard. Cases typically come in three sizes: Mini-ITX, Mid Tower, and Full Tower. The size of your PC components would determine the choice of your case. Check your motherboard’s and your graphics card’s dimensions to see if they can fit in your chosen case.
Aside from size considerations, a gaming PC case should have good airflow. Heat can be a concern for a gaming PC, so choosing a case with good airflow is important. Get a case with enough space to install additional fans or other cooling systems, if needed. Choose a case that has at least three or more fans.
Also, having good cable management on your case is important for good airflow, so check for that, too. Modern cases now have a PSU (Power Supply Unit) shroud to better house the PSU. A good gaming case will allow you to have a neat and clean build.
Choosing Your Power Supply Unit
There are resources online to determine how much power wattage you need. Typically, gaming PCs are powered by PSUs with 600 to 800 watts. Your power supply unit isn’t something that you want to buy cheaply. If a cheap PSU fails, the whole system goes down with it. The CPU may be your rig’s brain, but a PSU is its heart. Also, a good PSU can last several PC upgrades.
A good gaming PSU should have an efficiency rating of at least 80 plus Bronze. You’ll also get choices of non-modular, semi-modular, or fully modular. Non-modular means the cables are hardwired or permanently attached to the main unit. Semi-modular means the main cables are hardwired; unused cables can be removed. Fully modular means all cables, including the main ones, are removable.
Cables that can be removed are a big help for your case’s cable management. If you’re on a budget, semi-modular ones can be less expensive than fully modular ones. You’ll need those main cables anyway, so you don’t need to remove them.
Building a gaming PC can be challenging because of the amount of research you’d have to do. But remember, there are also excellent pre-built gaming rigs, so it’s up to you. If you choose to build your rig yourself, the tips shown here for choosing your CPU, GPU, and other components should give you an idea of which area you can save money.
Also, Google is your friend.