How to Pick Parts for Your First Custom Gaming PC

February 28, 2024

Here is an ABSOLUTE BEGINNER’S guide to building your own custom gaming PC.

The world of PCs is intimidating, to say the least. There is an endless list of lingo, acronyms, and terms. It is ever updating and has a very detailed history. There are more critical questions that are easier to answer. There are a couple of things you should iron out before you get to the build phase on a custom gaming PC. What games do you want to play? Is this just a gaming PC or a multi-tasking PC?

About designing a PC


A computer can be compared to a human body. Each part plays a role as our organs do. For example, the CPU (central processing unit) is the brain; it does all the computing math and makes the choices. Everything gets negotiated through this part of the PC.


The GPU is the eyes of the PC. It is what lets you see what the brain interprets.


The RAM is your short-term memory. 


Your storage is your long-term memory.


The power supply is the blood vessels that supply the body. 


The MotherBoard is like the central nervous system; it links everything together and makes it all work together.


Order of Operations


There is an order or operations to choosing each part as well. After figuring out what you want your custom gaming PC to do, here is just one order you could follow:


  1. CPU
  2. Graphics card (GPU)
  3. Ram
  4. Harddrive
  5. Cooling
  6. Motherboard
  7. Power supply
  8. Case


What to look for in a CPU:


As mentioned, the CPU  is the brain of the computer. 


The most common CPUs are AMD Ryzen and Intel, and you compare these to cars. The AMD Ryzen is a truck, it’s a little slower, but it has all the power you will need. The Intel ones are like a new car, it’s fast and slightly less powerful, but it’s going to run any game you would like to run!


You do not need a top-of-the-line CPU for your gaming PC if the highest level thing you will be doing is gaming. An I3, I5, R3, or R5 CPU will work for you unless you are running max settings for everything.  


With all of these parts, what’s essential will vary based on what you need to do. If you are browsing the internet, you can use less than someone working with advanced software like AutoCAD, Photoshop, and Maya. 


What to look for in a graphics card:


We all want a 30 series GPU, but do you need one? You can build a good PC with a 1080ti and get 60+ frames at 1440p resolution and decent graphics settings. If you are higher-level gaming, rendering, or mining, you will want to get a good one though. 


If you will not be gaming, you can use a G or KF series CPU because they have integrated graphics. These won’t run many games, but if you are just using this machine for grandma’s writing and solitaire hobby, it will work just fine.


What to look for in RAM:


RAM is arguably the easiest, in my opinion. You want 16GB as a realistic minimum and up to 32GB if you have specific tasks that require it. You will also want to make sure the RAM sticks have 3200 to 3600 megahertz, but 3600 megahertz would be ideal. Going over 3600 megahertz can start to cause instabilities. 


We can talk more about that topic another time, but for now, stick to the kind of RAM you need. Unless your computer is doing some seriously heavy-weight training, you most likely do not need more than 32GB, and 16GB will do. 


What to look for in storage:


At this stage, you will want to revisit the reason you are building this custom gaming PC.


How many pictures, videos, or games are you going to want to have on the computer?

Is this your primary data storage?

Is this only for playing games?


Your main drive should be your fastest drive, a NVME SSD is the best option for this to keep your OS and games loading quickly. For everything else like photos, docs, and misc items a secondary hard drive is recommended so you don’t fill up your fast drive with things that don’t need it. Slower spin speed (RPM) will directly affect how fast it can read and write data on the storage platters, and this can cause you to experience slower load times. 


Generally, you should plan on more storage, plan on a minimum of 5 games at 60 gigs a pop, and 25% more. So you would not want less than 500GB-1000GB if you are only playing games. 


Make sure you are in the 1500GB or more range to give yourself a space allowance if you are or end up like most people and store more on your computer than planned initially. Remember, you can add more space later if you need, but you have to plan for it now.


Favored Setup


The favorite setup for many gamers is a 2.5″ SSD (solid-state drive) and hard drive due to the simplicity of setup. You can also get one of each at a great price and benefit from the speed of an SSD for your operating system and a favorite game while having the bulk storage of a larger hard drive. 


What to look for in Cooling:


There are a few types of cooling options to know about: 


Passive Cooling – no fans and least efficient.

Air cooling – A heat sink and a fan.

Closed-Loop Liquid Cooler – Uses flowing liquid to pull heat from your components and disperses the heat from your PC using a radiator.


Cooling can range significantly in price. If you are going for a standard gaming pc, you can get away with an entry-level cooling fan. You can also scrape by with just the stock cooler that comes with the processor if you are only gaming, but it is our recommendation to get additional Cooling in your case. 

The liquid cooling method requires the most skill to implement, also has the ability to cool your components more than any other method.

What to look for in a Motherboard:


There are generally four accepted grades of Motherboards: low, medium, high, and extreme. Your motherboard needs consideration for today’s use and future use. For example, if you can afford 8GB of ram right now and get a motherboard with four slots, you will want 2 4GB ram sticks if you want to upgrade to 16bg later.  


You will also want to ensure that you have enough PCI-e slots for your other parts. PCI-e (peripheral component interconnect express) is an interface standard for connecting high-speed components. Every desktop PC motherboard has a number of PCI-e slots you can use to add GPUs, RAID cards, Wi-Fi cards, or SSD add-on cards. 


The types of PCI-e slots available in your PC will depend on the motherboard you buy. Just keep in mind to purchase parts that will adapt and grow as you do. 


What to look for in a Power Supply:


There are a couple of quick ways to figure out what power supply you need to get. First, take the TDP from the processor (CPU) and the TDP from the graphics card (GPU) you choose and add about 30% to that. 


This is because many power supplies have an 80 Plus certification, which means they are energy efficient up to the 80% of the capacity of the power supply. You will never want to run a power supply higher than that for any length of time as it will destroy the overall life span of the part. 


Having a little extra power is not a bad thing as you want to have a buffer for all of the parts as well as enough for the most power-hungry parts in your PC. 


You can use a free TDP calculator to find out what you will need in a power supply. There is also one available through Newegg.

What to look for in a case:


You need to make sure the case has adequate airflow. There are a lot of cases out there, and a good number do not have the airflow needed to help the life span of your parts. Make sure you get a good size for all of your parts AND for airflow. 


ITX – Smallest

M-ATX  – Small Case

ATX – Midsize case

E-ATX – Large Case


Most people will use an M-ATX or ATX; make sure it fits the form factor of your motherboard, and there is a good amount of airflow. Once those two things are done, you can worry about the aesthetics.


Final thoughts:


This is just an introduction to building a custom gaming PC, and there is always more to learn. There are a million ways to build a PC. Yours will be unique to you and what you can and need to put into the PC. We are here to help you build your custom rig if you find yourself wanting more expertise or just don’t have the time, is here for you!


Game On!

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