custom gaming pc

Building a Gaming PC

Want To Build a Gaming PC? You’re in The Right Place


Building a gaming PC is one of the most rewarding experiences. Why? Well not only can you save big bucks compared to buying a manufacturer’s model, you have the added bonus of creating the machine exactly as you want it – from choosing the major components such as the processor and graphics card, to the colour of the LED lights at the front of the case.

The choice is yours, you can create something completely unique, or you can build something to a fixed budget that still knocks the socks of so-called next generation consoles. As a starter continue reading, or watch the playlist below.

Interested in VR gaming? Build a VR-ready gaming PC with these builds!

If you want to jump in click the above ‘playlist’ video link (top left on the above video) to play the YouTube playlist of 11 videos – it’s only around 5 minutes 30 seconds total! Easy!

Variety is the Spice of Life

There’s an infinite number of PC systems that you could customize for an infinite number of things, but everyone’s different so here’s a few suggestions to get you started:

I created this site to give you all the information you need to create something unique. So let’s get started!

Let’s Get Started

Firstly, the technical proficiency required in building a gaming PC is not high. So how hard is it?

If you can build a Lego kit or glue an Airfix model together you can build a PC (actually it’s EASIER than that), that runs the latest games at the highest level of detail and at the fastest frame rate.

However, before we get started it’s important we get a few things in place. As with anything preparation is the key. Five minutes checking instructions, tools and workspace now could save you a bunch of time later.

The Tools

We’re building a gaming PC masterpiece and every artisan needs their tools! The most important tool is a good quality cross head screwdriver, but there’s others that will help:

  • A flashlight – A good quality light will allow you to see within the recesses of your case so you can find screw holes, see where cable ties need to go and find screws you drop
  • Screwdrivers – As above the single most important piece of kit is a cross head screwdriver. It’s worth having a few different sizes available to ensure you don’t unintentionally burr any screws making them impossible to remove
  • A box cutter or craft knife
  • Anti-static mat – This will stop you unintentionally frying your components by discharging static when you handle them. Given most enthusiast PC builds will take place at home in a carpeted bedroom or living room the risk of building up static from the carpet is high. Static can kill your components before you’ve even fitted them.

The Work Space

  • Desk – Ideally when building a gaming PC make sure you use a desk so you can sit down and concentrate on what you’re doing. Compared to working on the carpet this will minimize static build up, reduce the chances of you unintentionally stepping on a piece of your kit, tripping over your case or stepping on your graphics card (not advisable!)
  • Light – Build your PC in a well-lit area.

 Component Checklist

I’ll work on the basis you already have a monitor, keyboard and mouse. This site is all about building a gaming PC, not the peripherals!

Essential components for building a gaming PC:

  • Case
  • Power supply unit (PSU)
  • Motherboard
  • Processor (CPU)
  • Memory (RAM)
  • Hard drive(s)
  • Graphics card
  • Cables for the above

I’ll be using the below components:

Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

So you’ve ordered all the parts you need,  are eagerly awaiting for them to be delivered. Before they arrive there’s a few things to do:

  • Run through your tools checklist and make sure your work space is ready.
  • Make sure the parts we have match up with the motherboard. So if you’ve bought a micro-ATX (mATX) form factor case make sure the motherboard is compatible.
  • This applies to the CPU and CPU socket. There’s a variety of sockets available and you want to make sure the components you’re about to put together use the same socket type. Finally check your RAM is compatible with the motherboard.
  • Get your knife out. Manufacturers insist on wrapping their components in layers of plastic and cardboard so make sure to have your box cutter at the ready. Also, keep hold of all of your boxes and packaging in case you need to send pieces back.

Are We Building a Gaming PC? Then Let’s Go!

Power Supply

If the processor is your new gaming PC’s brain the power supply unit (PSU) is its beating heart.

To install the PSU remove the case’s top panel and slide the unit into the rack at the top rear of the case. Make sure you have it the right way round and then fasten it in place with the supplied screws. If you are using a modular PSU connect the power cables to the sockets at the front of the unit.

Please click the above video to see a PSU being installed.

Motherboard and CPU

Choosing the right motherboard and CPU combination is crucial. There’s a variety of CPU socket types and CPU socket designs. These need to match up. So for this example the CPU is a socket 1150, and the motherboard is also a socket 1150. That means they’re compatible. Before we start remember:

  • Forcing a CPU into a socket that’s not a match will screw up your system before it’s built, wasting money and causing a headache.
  • The motherboard, CPU and RAM are the brains of your computer, as such they should be treated carefully.
  • Before you start work on the motherboard ensure you’re using your anti-static mat, have a tidy work space and have tools to hand.

Installing the CPU

Please click the above video to watch a CPU being installed.

Let’s begin:

  • Remove the motherboard from the anti-static bag it was packaged in, place the cables that came with the board to one side. You’ll need these later.
  • Next familiarize yourself with the board. It should be fairly obvious where the CPU goes.
  • The CPU should slot into the square-shaped socket on the board and is secured in place by a lever and support grip. These should be fairly easy to find on your motherboard. If not consult the manual.
  • Open the support grip first. The next step is probably the most delicate you’ll perform. Inserting the CPU into the socket. Remember before you do this double-check the socket types match up.

Handle With Care!

Unpack the CPU out of its protective case and remember – handle with care!

  • When inserting the chip you’ll normally see a distinct corner of the chip with a triangle on it. Make sure this is lined up with the matching corner of the CPU socket. There really is only one way to insert a chip.
  • If it doesn’t feel right, take a break and reassess.
  • Gently place the CPU into the socket.
  • When you’re happy it’s properly seated you can gently lower the support grip, securing it in place with the lever.

That’s it the CPU is in. Everything else is easy!

You’ll see your CPU came with its own cooling fan. This sits on top of the CPU and dissipates heat that builds up during operation.

But before you attach it make sure the fan’s copper base plate has thermal paste applied to it. If not I’d recommend applying a small amount of thermal paste to the CPU. A small blob will be fine and once the fan is attached this will spread out across its surface.

Attaching The CPU Fan

Please click the above video to watch a CPU fan being installed.

To attach the fan to the CPU there’s a couple of steps to take:

  • First you’ll need to attach the fan mount’s back plate to the back of your motherboard, this provides support to keep the fan in place.
  • Now line up the fan and its mount on the front of the board and push the plastic fastener clips into place.
  • These are designed to be pushed and then rotated 90 degrees to hold the fan firmly in place. It can be tricky so remember to be patient.
  • Once attached take the small plug connected to the fan and attach it to a 3-pin connector on your motherboard.

Installing Memory

Please click the above video to watch two RAM modules being installed.

Installing memory into the motherboard is straightforward. The memory only goes in one way, make sure it is correctly lined up before you start and don’t force it into place:

  • You’ll notice there’s a raised plastic separator within the memory slot, this needs to match up with the groove on the stick of RAM you’re inserting.
  • As with the CPU and socket there’s a variety of different memory types, each with a different number of pins. Ensure the memory you purchase matches the memory slot.
  • Once lined up gently push it into place. You’ll hear a click confirming it’s properly seated.

Installing The Motherboard, CPU and RAM into the Case

Please click the above video to watch as the motherboard is lowered into place.

Please click the above video to watch as the motherboard is fixed to the case.

With the CPU, fan and RAM now securely attached to your motherboard you can fix the motherboard to the inside of the case.

When building a gaming PC preparation is essential. First let’s prepare the case:

  • Remove the side panel by the loosening screws at the rear and top of the case. Have a look inside to make sure it’s ready to go.
  • Lay the case flat on its side so you can comfortably reach inside, and gently ease the motherboard into position.
  • The motherboard will have six screw holes around the edge of the board that will match up with mounting holes in the case.
  • To aid orientation, remember the input/output connectors should be at the rear of the case facing outwards. Remember this is where you plug everything in! Line the holes up, insert the screws and secure them firmly.

Installing the Graphics Card (GPU)

Please click the above video to watch a graphics card being installed.

Now let’s get to the good stuff! Building a gaming PC is fun and this is the piece of kit that’ll be powering your games and giving you the eye-candy you’re after. I’ve opted for a Asus R9 290 Direct CUII It’s a meaty card with it’s own custom cooler.

I opted for AMD’s R9 290 after carrying out my own research and finding it matched my price and performance demands.

It’s worth noting if you have a smaller budget to build your gaming PC there are many other cards available you could use. If you’re interested you could even use AMD’s cutting edge R9 Nano GPU which provides next generation performance in a tiny package.

  • First, make sure you’re using your anti-static mat and remove the card from it’s packaging.
  • Remove the expansion slot back plates from the case. This is where the card’s connectors will go.
  • With the case on its side line the graphics card’s connector up with the socket and ease it into place.
  • The weight of the card should allow this to slot in easily. Attach the screws to the case to fix it in place.

Installing the Hard Disks

Please click above to see the SSD disk being secured in place.

For this build I’ll be installing a solid state drive (SSD) as my boot drive, and a traditional hard disk as my data drive. Find the 2.5” mount and attach the SSD to it using the screws that came with it. This fixes it in place and stops it moving around within your case.

Please see above video of a hard disk being inserted in the case’s hard disk mounting tray.

Installation of the 3.5” hard drive is slightly different. It needs to be installed in the right-sized bay. Slide the drive into the case’s mounting brace and use two screws either side to secure it.

Again, while you’re installing the hard drives think airflow, heat and accessibility.

Wiring it All Up – What Goes Where

Please click above video see components being connected to the motherboard.

All of the components are in place, but until you get some juice flowing in the case this is just an expensive paperweight.

I’ve used a modular PSU for this rig. The benefit is that you can reduce unnecessary cables and connect only the cables you need. This reduces clutter and boosts airflow.

Wiring it Up

When building a gaming PC here’s the sequence you should follow to wire everything up:

  • The first cables – and often the most fiddly – to connect are the case’s power switch, LED light and hard drive activity LED lights.
  • Refer to your motherboard guide for details on how to connect these. The most important thing to remember here is that the case power switch and various LED lights need both a positive and negative connector. Connections are often not easy to see on the motherboard, so take your time to get it right.
  • Next install the two SATA data cables that connect the hard drives to the motherboard, the 24-pin power connector, the 4-pin additional power connector, the USB connectors, and fans.
  • All of the components will also need their own connection to the PSU, so attach the cables we connected to the PSU at the start of this guide to your components.

Power On – Success!

For a full playlist of videos please click the below video:

Here’s a recap of the component list:

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Further Reading

If you’re interested in other PC systems please check out my other guides, or for the latest news and reviews head to the blog.

Steam Machines

Steam Machines are part of Valve’s three-pronged assault on the Microsoft-dominated world of PC gaming. Along with the Steam Controller, which will let you play mouse and keyboard optimised games with a controller and the dedicated SteamOS operating system.

The only difference when building a gaming PC and choosing a Steam Machine is the operating system, most PCs rely on Microsoft Windows. Valve is attempting to break that stranglehold with the Linux-based SteamOS operating system.

A true Steam Machine would run using SteamOS, however using Valve’s Steam Link you can stream from a Windows PC to your TV.

Steam Machine build options:

Feedback welcome!

I’d love to hear your feedback on this guide, so if you have any questions about this build, or building a gaming PC in general, or would simply like recommendations on other components or hardware you could use, drop me a line on Twitter, send me a picture on Instagram, or join my community on Facebook.


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9 thoughts on “Building a Gaming PC”

    1. You’ve got a couple of options. A WiFi card or a USB adapter. I’d opt for the USB adapter.

      They’re plug and play. If you get yourself a internal USB connector you can put it inside your case and avoid the risk of knocking it out of place (as has been known to happen when these are used externally)!

  1. Hi. This is my first pc build . I’m almost certain that everything works and is compatible. When i turn it on no fans start and nothing happens when hitting the power button. I’ve checked the backers for the motherboard and the pins and everything is seated properly. When psu is turned on 1 green led turns on on the gpu. I’ve taken apart and put back together the computer 3 times and even ran it in test bench format. Here’s my specs:
    Enermax thorex atx mid-tower case
    500w EVGA 80+ power supply
    Asus geforce 750ti
    1.5 tb Seagate hard drive.
    1Tb Seagate hard drive.
    Asrock h81 pro btc atx motherboard
    1 odd
    4 rosewill fans
    1 enerflo fan
    2x4gb g skill 1866 ram
    Intel Pentium g3258 3.2ghz dual core
    Stock intel cpu cooler
    .

    1. Morning, it sounds like it could be a couple of things: 1. Are you positive all the case wires are properly connected to the motherboard? 2. It could be a dodgy stick of ram (it happens). Try using one stick at a time in different slots and booting, that might fix it.

  2. Well, cool stuff. My build is:

    Xigmatek Shockwave Case (All I need is a mid atx)
    z77 Extreme 4 Motherboard
    i7 3770k Processor, overclocked and watercooled 5.0 GHz
    32GB G.Skill X 2400 MHz RAM
    Kingston KC300 480GB SSD
    750GB Toshiba 7200 RPM HDD
    5x 120mm Coolermaster Blue LED Fans
    Lepa Aquachanger 120
    2x 980ti Hybrid SLI (It sucked finding room for these)
    16X DVD RW
    Rosewill 1300 Mbps wi-fi
    Corsair HX1200i

    Next up is a customer water cooled loop

    1. Hi Ned, All of the cables used and fans all came with the parts I bought. This includes the power supply, motherboard and case. If you’re buying individual fans like the Noctua 120mm fans I review on the site, they will also come with their own cables. Hope that helps. Let me know if not.

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