Are you getting ready to build you’re first gaming computer and don’t know where to start? The Web is filled with guides that can help you build your first rig. Some tutorials explain how to set up the hardware, others describe how to install an operating system (OS). You might prefer step-by-step videos, or maybe you’d like to go old school and discuss your options in a forum. Those can be great places to get specific advice, but what if you just want to know where to begin?
Basic Setup Your basic setup should contain the following:
The central processing unit (CPU)
Random-access memory (RAM)
Graphics processing unit (GPU)
Hard drive (HDD) or solid-state drive (SSD)
Peripherals (mouse, monitor, keyboard)
Are your CPU and motherboard compatible? Compatibility is your number one priority! Remember, checking the socket isn’t always enough. Before buying the latest processor, make sure it is compatible with the motherboard you’ve chosen. Also, not having the right CPU can affect the speed of your memory in limiting its performance.
Feed speed-hungry CPUs with DRAM! Many new AMD® and Intel® processors feed on high-speed DDR4 memory. The more memory speed the processor has to work with, the higher its output. As a result, you get a faster, more responsive rig. Remember, you’re memory must be compatible with your CPU and motherboard.
What’s up with my memory speed? If you buy a kit that’s rated at 2400 MT/s, you should make sure you’re getting all the speed you bought! Always check the memory speeds after building your rig since you might need to enter the BIOS and load the memory profile. The Ballistix® M.O.D. Utility and other third-party apps can show you the speed at which your system is using your memory. RAM installation RAM sticks, or DIMMs, can only go one way, so ensure they’re aligned before applying any force while installing them. We don’t want an accidental Hulk Smash moment. See how to install memory in your desktop or laptop with one of our online guides, or follow the instructions from the manufacturer.
The paste is important! New builders may not be aware of the importance of heat paste in a custom rig, but it is a basic necessity that is quick and easy to apply. First, remember to always put the paste on top of the CPU, never underneath it! We recommend using a pea-sized drop for perfect adhesion. Too much (within reason) won’t hurt but it will make a mess. Not enough may be insufficient for the proper heat transfer.
Mistakes happen Do NOT forget the I/O shield. It probably won’t happen on one of your first rigs as you double- and triple-check everything, but as you go forward and you get used to building systems, you may forget the I/O shield. Totally happened to a friend, of course.
Why you need an 80 Plus rating on the power supply You want a power supply that won’t let you down! That’s why there are the 80 Plus certifications and each one has different criteria around the efficiency of the power supply. Here are the different levels of certification, in order from basic to highest quality:
80 Plus Bronze
80 Plus Silver
80 Plus Gold
80 Plus Platinum
80 Plus Titanium
The higher the efficiency certificate, the higher the standards of the power supply. They also have other features like over-current protection (OCP) and over-voltage protection (OVP) that will keep your system safe. Keep in mind that a semi-modular or fully modular power supply will make cable management easier! Cable management Half the fun in building your PC is actually putting it together. And of course, you want it to look nice and clean, right? Cable management helps with making it look nice and tidy, and in some cases, it can even improve system cooling since you get better airflow inside the chassis!
To overclock or not to overclock? Well, that depends on you! To many, the possibility of burning out your rig and its components isn’t worth the risk, and you’ll void your parts’ warranties. But, if you want to push your rig to its absolute performance edge, there are tons of guides online to assist you in tuning your system.