Total consumer spending on PC components and accessories topped $4.5 billion in 2020, with digital PC gaming content sales adding another $7.5 billion to that figure. It is fair to say PC gaming is big business.
The number of people turning to PC gaming over the past 12 months has soared. COVID-19 related lockdowns around the world have forced people to look for new ways to entertain themselves. Building a PC is much easier these days than yesteryear. Components and the sockets they fit into are clearly marked; you no longer need a degree in computer science to consider building your own gaming machine!
Taylor Your Build to Your Needs
Decide what you will use your PC for before you even begin looking for components. Those of you who love playing flight simulator games need a top-end machine to run them, but you can get away with a lesser rig if you plan only to use your PC to claim your free bet and no deposit bonus offers from online sportsbooks.
The laptop this article was written on, for example, is a workhorse. It needed to be fast, reliable, and portable. There was no need to spend money on a fancy graphics card because it is never used for playing games.
My desktop PC is a different story altogether. That was built, by myself and my son, with gaming in mind and should run most AAA titles on max settings for the foreseeable future.
Your Case Is More Important Than You Think
You are here because you are looking to build a great gaming PC. Well, your choice of case is your first port of call and is more important than you think.
PC components get hot (we are talking egg-frying hot), so you need a case with good airflow. Mini cases are exactly what they sound like. Everything is crammed into a tight space, and airflow is at a minimum. They are brilliant if you are short of desk space but terrible for gamers.
Mid-towers are somewhere between awful and great, depending on the brand and the components you chose. Opt for a full tower. Some are pretty huge, but your components will thank you for all that extra space in the long run.
AMD or Intel Processors
Now it is time to look at your CPU or processor. AMD and Intel are the two CPU manufacturers. Your CPU is your computer’s brain. It performs all the calculations required and keeps everything running smoothly.
Both Intel and AMD have loyal fans, and there is not much to choose between the most modern CPUs. However, the latest AMD chips are superb, especially the Ryzen 7 5800X, which is an excellent CPU.
AMD chips are known for running hot, and the Ryzen 7 5800X does not come with a stock cooler. This means you need an aftermarket, such as the Corsair H115i, an all-in-one water-cooled unit that works perfectly with this chip.
Be aware that the type of motherboard — the board that all the components fit onto — changes depending on whether you choose Intel or AMD.
Fast RAM, Fast Storage, and Lots of It
RAM, or Random Access Memory, is used by your computer to perform multiple tasks, such as gaming. Always go for the fastest RAM, measured in Mhz. Something like the Corsair Vengeance Pro DDR4-3200 is perfect for gaming today. You want no less than 16GB but preferably 32GB.
Gone are the days where your storage options are limited to a mechanical hard drive, thankfully. The newer NVME solid-state drives are super-fast and come highly recommended. Remember how Sony was making a big song and dance about its ultra-fast storage in its PlayStation 5? They use this type of hard drive. Seagate Baracuda M2 drives are incredible. Buy a smaller one, say 500GB, for your operating system, and a larger 1TB or 2TB for your everyday and game storage.
Graphics Cards and Power Supply
Graphics cards and power supplies are often abbreviated to GPU and PSU, respectively. We have some bad news if you are reading this in mid-2021: GPUs are rarer than hen’s teeth. There is a huge demand for GPUs combined with a global shortage of the parts that go into them. This results in almost every GPU worth having being out of stock or having prices up to double the recommended retail price.
Get yourself on waiting lists for an RTX3080, which offers a superb balance between price and power. Be prepared for a wait, but that wait is worth it.
All these components need a steady flow of electricity to function, which is why a good PSU is crucial to any build. Go for an established brand, preferably with a gold rating and a power output of 850W if you build a machine using the above components. It does not matter if your power rating is higher than what your system draws, but it matters a great deal if it cannot supply enough juice when your PC demands it.