It is so tempting to just buy a gaming computer from Best Buy or Circuit City (remember when that was a thing?), plug in a couple cables, and call it a day. Sure, it costs more, but it’s probably worth it to not have to deal with building it yourself.
That’s what I did for years, anyways. I’m lazy, guys, and I know software way more than I know hardware. If you ask Adam, though, WordPress is the bane of my existence. Maybe my software knowledge is also garbage.
Get away from the disappointment of pre-built PCs
I dealt with pre-built PCs for years because I was so worried about messing something up and ending up with a potato (or a firestorm) for a computer. They seemed to work well enough for a while, so I dealt with it.
Earlier this year, I decided to finally build a PC. Mine was four years old and cranky and purchased at a time where I couldn’t afford a computer that would do everything I wanted it to – this thing cried when I loaded up Diablo III, guys. I couldn’t even get to level 5 before dying.
Listen, I’m not a photographer.
I finally reached out and talked to a friend who helped me find everything I needed to build a PC. I couldn’t just buy replacement parts, either – most pre-built PCs have cases that won’t fit other major parts, forcing you to buy a new PC every time. This kid needed a new motherboard.
I’m gonna say it again: I’m not a hardware person. I learned the above lesson the hard way. (Read: my initial case ended up being out of stock and I thought the motherboard might fit in the old shell and could just not shop for another one. Two. Inches. Too. Short.)
It’s really easy to build!
If you’ve never built a PC before, “easy to build” might still sound too difficult. I understand from the entirety of my soul. But I swear it’s easy. Everything is plug-and-play. The only other thing you need is a screwdriver.
Your best bet for an amazing build with no guessing needed is PCPartPicker. They have pre-created build guides or you can customize everything for your PC from the ground up – even the case. I’ll use PCPartPicker for future purchases for two reasons: you can sift through parts you’re looking for based on what parts you’ve already chosen. That means no fear about purchasing parts that won’t fit. The other reason is that they give me options on where to purchase from and show me the lowest price so I don’t have to go hunting for it.
I’m going to show you two examples of easy-to-build gaming PCs – the one I built for under $900 and another around $3,000. Consider it “practical and satisfying” versus “I’d never leave my desk if I had this build.”
I’m not including add-ons like a monitor or keyboard – you wouldn’t get those with a standard PC anyways. If you want a cheap, glowing gaming keyboard that every gamer seems to have, I have the Redragon S101 and I love it.
Full setup for under $1,000
This is the computer I currently have, and I truly believe you’d be happy with this build. I won’t be upset if you change some things, though. My most played game right now is Diablo III. When I’m working, I have far more tabs and memory hogging programs open than anyone I’ve met. Why? Because I can.
This is the fastest PC I’ve ever owned. The only time there are any actual hiccups are when I’m trying to save an Excel document with over 1,000 macro commands on it. That document would have set my previous computer on fire ((probably) not an exaggeration). Now it takes about 15-20 seconds to save.
What else do I need?
In addition to the list, I have two computer monitors set up, a wired keyboard and mouse, a microphone, webcam, and cheap ol’ speakers that play well enough that I haven’t bothered to spend more than $20 on them.
Here’s your grocery list:
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3600 3.6 GHz 6-Core Processor
- Motherboard: MSI B450 TOMAHAWK MAX ATX AM4 Motherboard
- Memory: Corsair Vengeance LPX 16 GB (2 x 8 GB) DDR4-3200 CL16 Memory
- Storage: Western Digital Blue 500 GB M.2-2280 Solid State Drive
- Video Card: MSI Radeon RX 580 8 GB ARMOR OC Video Card
- Power Supply: EVGA 500 W 80+ Certified ATX Power Supply
- PC Case: EVGA DG-76 ATX Mid Tower Case
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 Home OEM 64-bit
- Wireless Network Adapter: TP-Link TL-WN725N USB 2.0 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi Adapter
Zim = computer
Hamster = extra hard drive
I was able to steal my hard drive from my old PC and attach it to the new model to make it stronger. My Tallest knew what they were doing. So my computer has an additional 1TB of storage on top of this list. Once you’re learning how to put together a computer, it’s much less daunting to take apart your old one and sift like a raccoon for the good stuff. Bonus – I didn’t have to transfer all of my files over.
You can probably live with 8GB of memory. Probably. I can tell you I tested 16GB on a heavily modded Minecraft server and there wasn’t even a hint that I would run into any lag. All graphics set to the highest and furthest distances, too. Staying with Corsair, cutting 8GB of memory out will only save you $28 so it’s well worth it to just get both sticks. Corsair doesn’t sell two 4GB, anyhow – dual memory is best memory.
You’re looking for style. This is your Mustang, but way cooler (sorry car lovers, but this thing is hot). This PC is over 3 times the cost of the other, and for good reason.
The most important (and priciest) difference? Your video card. This baby is top of the line, top of its class. It’s estimated it won’t falter at all on any game that comes out for over three years as of this post. If you ask me, that’s pretty damn good.
Just look at this beast
Ready to pull out your wallet?
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 3900X 3.8 GHz 12-Core Processor
- CPU Cooler: Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML240R RGB 66.7 CFM Liquid CPU Cooler
- Motherboard: Asus TUF GAMING X570-PLUS ATX AM4 Motherboard
- Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws V 32 GB (2 x 16 GB) DDR4-3600 CL16 Memory
- Storage: ADATA XPG SX6000 Pro 1 TB M.2-2280 NVME Solid State Drive
- Video Card: PNY GeForce RTX 3090 24 GB XLR8 Gaming EPIC-X RGB Video Card
- Case: Lian Li PC-O11 Dynamic ATX Full Tower Case
- Power Supply: EVGA SuperNOVA G1+ 750 W 80+ Gold Certified Fully Modular ATX Power Supply
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 Home OEM 64-bit
- Wireless Network Adapter: TP-Link Archer T3U USB 3.0 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi Adapter
- Case Fan: [2x] Noctua F12 PWM chromax.black.swap 54.97 CFM 120 mm Fan
Total cost to build: $2,991. Same specs on Amazon: $3,700
Custom build is best build
I am notorious for breaking electronics just by existing near them. If I can build a PC in an hour, so can you. In my experience, the parts come pretty quickly, too – the money you’re saving is worth the wait. And I’m not just talking about with this initial build. When it’s time to swap out parts or add more memory, you’ll be able to do it much cheaper.
You can thank me later.