Gaming rigs will typically have a lot of custom work done to them, but that doesn’t mean you need to be an expert to build one. There are plenty of parts out there that offer great performance at a reasonable price. To provide some guidance on what those parts should be, we’ve put together a list of the most important ones.
These gaming parts will not only provide solid performance, but they will also allow you to upgrade with ease in the future. Also, their reasonable price makes them accessible for most gamers.
We’re focusing on parts that offer great value and won’t break the bank; however, we do recommend taking a look at our high-end and tech buying guides for more options. We’ll kick things off with the heart of the system, the processor.
The processor (cpu) is the most important component in a gaming rig. It dictates the type of software that can run on your machine, how well it will perform, and pretty much every other aspect involved with computing. Since you’re after performance, you should focus on choosing an Intel Core i5 or AMD CPUs.
These processors are powerful enough to handle even the latest games without any problems. They aren’t limited by their core count, which makes them great choices for multi-tasking too. If these two don’t catch your eye, consider checking out our high-end buying guide for more options.
Having enough memory (RAM) is essential if you want to have a fast gaming experience; however, focusing on speed alone will lead you down the wrong path. It’s important to consider other specs too, such as memory type and modules.
RAM comes in three different types – DDR3, DDR4, and GDDR5. Which one your system should have depends on what kind of motherboard you own; however, there are only a few motherboards that support GDDR5 RAM. If you don’t make sure these two match up, your system won’t perform at its best.
When it comes to how many modules (sticks) your motherboard can handle, make sure it can take at least 4GB per stack. This might not seem like much today but will be crucial in the future when games get more demanding. Also, remember to get high-end sticks that run at a low voltage. If you’re unsure, check out the buying guide for more options.
Graphics Card (GPU)
The graphics card is what drives your display and how well your games will perform. Since it dictates everything from performance to resolution, picking a good one is important. Even if you have a high-end CPU, you’ll still be limited by your graphics card.
To ensure the best gaming experience for now and the next few years, make sure to get a GPU with at least 4GB of GDDR5 memory. There are even some affordable options that offer 6GB; however, these will likely become obsolete fairly soon. To learn more about choosing a GPU, you can check out our buying guide.
Storage space is important not only for games but also for general computing tasks as well; however, most gamers will already have an SSD installed by default. That leaves HDD-only rigs in the open market which limits upgrade potential down the road. You might want to consider switching to an SSD if you haven’t already.
There are plenty of affordable options out there, but make sure to pick an SSD that uses a high-quality controller. Without it, your drive will perform below its potential and might even degrade over time. If capacity is what you’re after, check out our buying guide for more options.
Power Supply (PSU)
The power supply unit (PSU) powers all of the components in your system; therefore, it’s important that it can deliver enough wattage to power everything properly. Even though most gamers won’t max out their components anytime soon, having too little wattage could limit upgrade potential down the road as certain parts will become obsolete faster than others. The last thing you want is your PSU to not be able to handle future upgrades.
To ensure your components will work properly, you should purchase a unit that offers at least 400W per every 75W of power consumption for the required components.
The case or chassis determines where you’ll put your components and the types of upgrades you’ll be able to make in the future. If you want to add a high-end graphics card, look for a case with at least 8 PCI slots. If it doesn’t have enough room, upgrading will be difficult without buying a new case that can fit your next graphics card. Also, you should pick a well-ventilated case since heat will cause performance issues over time if it gets too hot.
Operating System (OS)
Choosing an OS isn’t necessary when building a gaming rig unless you already have one; however, it’s important to consider what kind of software certain operating systems support out of the box. For example, most gamers will be using Windows 10, which supports DirectX 12 out of the box. If you end up using an OS that doesn’t support it by default or doesn’t support it at all, your games won’t perform as well with certain GPUs in this generation.
Choosing peripherals is often overlooked since most consumers are only looking at the main components in their system when hooking them up to a monitor; however, these can have a significant impact on your performance if you don’t pick the right ones. For example, if you’re playing FPS games with a keyboard and mouse, look for one that offers at least 5 buttons so they’re easy to reach without taking your hand away from WASD.
Gaming Laptop (Optional)
Since most gamers will be purchasing a desktop rig, this point is for those looking to buy a gaming laptop instead. They’re definitely more expensive than your average notebook since they have to pack not only the standard components but also a GPU in an ultra-portable chassis; however, there are still some reasonably priced options out there.
When building a gaming rig, some consumers will consider additional accessories such as monitors and peripherals. These can be used for general computing purposes but are more geared towards gamers. If you do purchase them, look for products that offer more than just basic functionality so they can stand the test of time instead of becoming obsolete fairly quickly.