WIP = Work in Progress
Table of contents
Foreword: - - Part 1: - Why get a custom gaming computer? - - Part 2: - How hard is it to build yourself? Chapter 1: - - Part 1A: - Introduction How to pick components - - Part 1B: - How to decide your budget and explaining currency differences - - Part 1C: - General thoughts and pointers - - Part 2A: - The core components: Processor, motherboard and RAM - - Part 2B: - The core components: Graphics card and power supply - - Part 2C: - The core components: Case and general cooling Chapter 2: - - Part 1A: - My Sample Builds Suggestions and recommendations - - Part 1B: - Comments on the Sample Builds - - Part 2A: - Peripheral Suggestions - - Part 2B: - Comments on the Peripherals Suggestions - - Part 3A: - Guides and information concerning computer mice - - Part 3B: - Guides and information concerning keyboards - - Part 3C: - Guides and information concerning computer monitors Chapter 3: - - Part 1A: - My personal view: Custom gaming computer Suggestive personal input - - Part 1B: - My personal view: Gaming peripherals - - Part 1C: - My personal view: Desk, chair and space Chapter 4: - - Part 1A: - During the build Finishing up - - Part 1B: - After the build - - Part 2: - Miniguide: Installing your OS
Why get a custom gaming computer?
To some, the answer to this question is beyond obvious. I'll outline the main reasons below just to give you the general idea behind why people choose to get and assemble custom computers and why you should too.
- Contrary to popular belief, many electronics retailers only stock low- and mid-range machines that usually house graphics cards you find in a $400 custom budget build. Not only that, but they usually bloat terms such as "Core i7", "XGB of RAM" and "XTB of Storage Space" to catch customers attention. In addition, they write stuff like "with the latest GeForce GTX graphics with 2GB of VRAM" - fancy words with very little meaning. There are of course exceptions to this. Bottom line though, considering what you get you usually pay a bit of a premium.
- Even if you do end up finding a machine that has a decent price:performance ratio, it will most likely not be perfectly fitted for your needs and intentions. With a custom build you can choose exactly what components to use and where you want to put the most of your money - a choice often greatly limited with a pre-built machine.
- Often you will get better quality hardware. This isn't always true, but often when you see a build with a good price:performance ratio they end up using parts that doesn't sell well or parts they can get for a cheaper purchase price. That doesn't mean they are bad of course, but by hand-selecting parts you can ensure you get the better stuff with good/excellent reliability and warranty support.
- You get to pick the case yourself with a custom build which will define the look and impression of the computer. Enough said.
- Bloatware. Nobody wants that 30-day anti-virus trial, the "easy-to-use" utility tools or those horrible demo games.
- Bad power supplies. It is a serious issue and a big reason why you should go with a custom build. Not all pre-built machines house bad power supplies, but as this is the component that connects and powers all other components it's only logical that you don't want to cheap out on this part. Aiming for at least the 80+ Bronze standard (efficiency) when picking a PSU can be vital, but looking into ripple issues, longevity and warranty can be just as important.
- Images taken from million-dollar-pc.
How hard is it to build yourself?
As many of the posters here will point out, it is like "LEGO for adults". All you need is a screwdriver, patience and a lot of time. It greatly helps that there is a multitude of easy-to-follow guides on the internet that outline exactly what you need to do and think about. I'll outline in short how to build a computer below.
- Snap the RAM modules into the DIMM slots on the motherboard. Check your manual for the proper slots.
- Install the CPU. Use care, the CPU is a very delicate component. Look for snaps, an arrow or any other indication that shows the CPUs orientation in the socket.
- Next up is the heatsink. Just follow the instructions and don't forget to apply thermal paste (dot method is amongst the easiest and best). Use as little tilt and turning as possible when you mount the heatsink. Finally, connect the fan to the board.
- Install the motherboard into your selected case and install the front connector cables. Check your motherboard manual for layout and details.
- Insert your solid state drives, hard drives, and/or CD/DVD/Blu-ray readers/burners into the brackets/slots in your case and connect the SATA cables to your motherboard.
- Stick the graphics card into one of the PCI-E slots (preferably the first one). Screw it in place and make sure it's firmly attached.
- Install the power supply. Connect the 8-pin and 24-pin connectors to the motherboard.
- Connect the 6 or 8-pin power connectors to your graphics card. Different graphics card have different requirements; some only need a single 6-pin while others can require as much as double 8-pin connectors.
- Connect the SATA power cables and make sure that all fans and extra peripherals are connected properly.
For a novice builder (read: first time), I would recommend at least four hours to complete the build. Make sure you have a nice, big and clean workspace with as little distractions as possible. The most important thing is to not stress through it but instead to take your time. If it starts to become overwhelming, take a break. And of course, if you have a question make sure to ask - trial and error doesn't work here.
llDemonll has a nice 9.75 step guide on how to build a computer that is more detailed than the list above and includes pictures and hints. You can find it here.
Lastly, I will include the newegg build-guide video: