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How to Build a "Cheap" Gaming Computer

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Have you ever been interested in getting involved in PC gaming, but been hesitant to drop $2000+ on a top of the line gaming rig? PC gaming truly is a magical world with far more customization, better performance, and cheaper games when compared to typical home consoles. However, buying a brand new PC that's strong enough to run the latest games can be incredibly expensive and off-putting to the average person. Luckily it isn't hard at all to simply build your own. This instructable will walk you through the process of building a relatively inexpensive (sub $1000) gaming PC that can max out any current video game. This guide is intended for beginners and it shouldn't take any more than 3 hours to complete the build from start to finish.
 
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Step 1: Components and How to Choose Them

First things first, you actually need the required components in order to start assembling your system. There are multiple retailers where you can buy separate computer components. Some of the biggest retailers are Newegg, Tiger Direct, Amazon, or Microcenter.

In order to start building you need the following parts:
• Computer Case
• Motherboard
• Processor
• RAM
• Power Supply
• Hard Drive
• Video Card
• Optical Drive (optional)

You'll also want a few tools around as well:
• Magnetic screwdriver
• Anti-static wristband (recommended)

If you simply want to follow this instructable to the letter and use the same parts as my build, I have them all listed below

Antec 900 Case
MSI Z68-GD55 (B3) Motherboard
Intel Core i5-2500K Processor
8GB GSkill Ribjaw RAM
Corsair TX650 Power Supply
Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB Hard Drive
EVGA Geforce 570 GTX

However, if you want to actually customize your own PC, there are a few rules you want to keep in mind when selecting parts. Make sure to take a look at the socket type on your motherboard, and also whether your motherboard is Intel or AMD. Make sure that these specs match those on the processor you're looking at. Also make sure that your power supply meets the minimum wattage requirement for your video card. Ars Technica's system guide and the Falcon Guide both do an excellent job of showing various parts that fit together for various price ranges. I recommend consulting these if you need help choosing specific parts for your build.
muddog156 months ago
If use a 660 graphics card. And I love MSI.
thegeeke2 years ago
You have some good information here, but just a couple notes:
An anti-static wristband is NOT optional unless you want to make a big paperweight. Gloves will not help that much, in my opinion they are worthless. Computer components are affected by as little as 50 v of static electricity, but there is a minimum of 250 v of static electricity before you can feel it. Usually it is much more than that. You are just looking for trouble if you "operate" on computers without an anti-static wrist band. You can get them for $5, and it could save you hundreds of dollars. Also, don't use a magnetic screwdriver near a hard drive... even if it just a weak field. (Unless you are using SS, but a 1tb drive is not SS.)

Also, just my personal experience with microcenter has not been good. A few years ago, I bought a pre-built computer from them because I didn't have the time to make my own. In addition to the manufacture warranty, I bought an extended warranty on it. I didn't want to connect that particular computer to the internet for reasons I don't have room to list, but the driver for the optical drive died within two days. I happen to have a masters degree in computer engineering, as well as a number of certifications, and I used to do data recovery for a living. Long story short, I know what I'm doing. Because I didn't want to connect that computer to internet, the easiest way to fix it was to bring it in to their repair shop and have them reload the driver for me. I even called their main tech support line to make sure they agreed with me about the cause of the problem, which they did. When I brought it in, they tried to tell me that it wasn't a driver issue, rather software which the warranty didn't cover. They wanted to charge me $80 for fixing it, and stuck to it until I said "keep the computer... I canceling the credit card payment.", then they found a loophole. I can't imagine what they would have done to someone who doesn't know anything about computers... then I found out that they specifically order some products with cheaper parts than what is normally sold... and they don't have that much of a discount. Basically, they don't stand behind their products... don't order from them.

A suggestion:
If you want your system to be blazing fast, use a solid state hard drive. You can install your OS on the SS, and store all your files on a regular magnetic HD. You could also install any games that you use often and are resource hogs on the SS, since it will be faster. Just make sure to install as many programs as possible on your magnetic HD and keep all files on the magnetic HD. Otherwise you will run out of space too soon.

Also, you didn't mention that a 32-bit system can only address 4 gb of ram... so you probably want to use a 64-bit system.

All in all, good ible.
Actually, an anti static wristband is optional, I built mine with out one, but I would highly reccomend one.
Awesome, lol

thegeeke: but---
irishjay1: DENIED
Actually, an anti static wristband is optional, I built mine with out one, but I would highly reccomend one.
If you read my comment, I make it clear about how easy to "brick" components with static electricity. An anti-static strap costs about $5, but it can save you hundreds. Even an A+ technician knows better than to touch anything inside a computer without grounding yourself... And the A+ isn't that great of a cert! It comes down to this:
Yes, it is possible to assemble a computer without an anti-static strap (it's even possible to do it without risk to the equipment if you are grounding yourself... But you didn't talk about that), but it goes against everything that even the little kids learn in computer literacy classes! When you are trying to teach someone how to do something (like you are by publishing this), you require a certain amount of "correctness." it is then up to the reader to decide if they want to take shortcuts. That way it doesn't come back on you.
Doohickey1 year ago
Thank you for this guide; the 'techiest' thing I did so far was replacing the HDD of my playstation and this guide makes perfect sense to me :)

I appreciate hints like leaving an empty bay between two drives to prevent heat buildup, little things that you usually have to find out yourself during your first attempt. I don't think theory can ever fully replace trial-and-error, but the closer to 100% we can get, the better.
agm881 year ago
wuts tha quality of your video card
DadhieMJ1 year ago
nice specs but too expensive for little gamers :)
Nice instructable! One question, will your set up work with a ASRock Z68 EXTREME4 GEN3 LGA 1155 Intel Z68 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard? The motherboard you listed is no longer available from Newegg.
Thanks
or how about a ASUS P8Z68-V/GEN3 LGA 1155 Intel Z68 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard with UEFI BIOS? I am new to building computers so I am a little lost when it comes to compatibility. Thanks for the help.
ericlund4 (author)  USAFpirate6001 year ago
If you want to use the same processor I have listed in the build then yes both of those motherboards will work. When looking at motherboard compatibility you simply need to make sure that the motherboard socket type (LGA 1155) matches the CPU socket type.
mvaleu1 year ago
about how much did all the parts cost put together? and will it run games like fallout and borderlands?
380GB mvaleu1 year ago
I did some pricing and it looks like around $1000 to buy all the parts listed above. Some shopping around and you might be able to get it down to $800-$900.
ericlund4 (author)  380GB1 year ago
You are correct, when I bought the parts I paid a little more than $800 for them.

And for mvaleu, this machine will have no problem at all playing fallout 3/ new vegas, and Borderlands. In fact, you won't have any trouble playing any games. You will have to tone a few settings down in games like The Witcher 2 and Battlefield 3 but they still run great.
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