Last Updated on September 24, 2020 by Scott Krager
Building a PC by assembling system components on your own is often thought to be cheaper than buying a pre-build PC with same specs, and it is true in most cases.
Also, it gives you the option to upgrade any specific component later.
But if you’re a beginner, PC building can look a lot more complex than what it actually is.
You have understand the purpose of each component in order to achieve your desired results.
Understanding these components will also help you in understanding how a PC works as a whole, and diagnose future problems (if any) in your PC.
So, here’s a list of some important PC components, and what they do.
1. Computer Case
In PC building, the first component you need to decide on, is the computer case. After all, it is the enclosure which will hold all of your other components in itself.
Choosing a less-than-optimal computer cases can led to serious heat and cable management issues – both of which are pretty bad.
There are different types of computer cases in the market. Most popular among them are full tower, mid tower, and mini ITX cases.
Which type really suits you would depend on other components you intend to use.
If only want to use a single graphics card, single RAM memory, single SSD, with a small-sized motherboard, then a mini ITX case will be good for you. These cases are small, easy to carry, as well as cheaper than other types.
On the other hand, if you’re a bit experienced and want to do some water-cooling or multi-gpu experiments, go for mid or full tower cases. These cases also give you a wide set a I/O connectivity options and USB ports. You can also have more than one hard drives/ SSDs in these cases.
After you’ve decided your computer case, next step is to decide your motherboard.
Also known as Logic board, motherboard is considered as the backbone of any computer. It’s because it acts as the medium of interaction between different components of your PC, such as hard drive, RAM, and CPU.
This board also contains different USB ports through which you can connect any device, such as mouse and keyboard. Gaming motherboards are just like regular motherboards, but have some extra bells and whistles like RGB lighting, overclock-ability, and high throughput level.
Like computer cases, motherboards also come in different sizes, such as mini-ITX, mATX, and ATX motherboards. Apart from the price and size, there are other differences in them such as RAM slots, PCI-e slots, and number of USB ports. To know more about them, you can go here.
Another thing you need to remember (although it’s pretty obvious) is that while you can fit a smaller motherboard into a large PC case, vice versa is not possible. So choose your board and case carefully.
3. CPU / Processor
CPU, also called the processor by many, is the brain of your computer.
Every instruction we pass out to our PC is performed by this small square-shaped chip.
In gaming too, it takes instruction we send in the form of our mouse-clicks and keystrokes, executes those instructions, change the game-state based on those results, send those results to graphics card for final rendering, and graphics card send those rendered images to the monitor.
It happens so fast that we don’t even realize that all of these tasks are executed one by one.
When choosing a CPU, make sure that it’s compatible with your motherboard’s socket (a part of motherboard that holds the CPU). Other factors to consider are the number of cores, frequency, cache memory as well as price.
4. Graphics Card
According to many people, graphics card is the most important component in a gaming computer. Yes, motherboard and CPU are important, but graphics card is the one that handles all the graphics shown on your monitor display.
The reason why CPUs don’t handle all heavy graphics by themselves is because it’s a very resource intensive task, and burdening an already busy CPU with graphics-handling would be perfect recipe for disaster.
That’s why we have graphics card – a separate processing unit for graphics. This helps CPU in completing other tasks faster.
CPU sends the instructions of the graphics card. Graphics card, in turn, applies final processing to those graphics, and sends them over to your monitor display.
Apart from this, graphics cards also come with different settings to customize your computer graphics, such as anti-aliasing and Texturing.
Also known as RAM, computer’s memory is a small-size short-term storage that is used to store the information which is currently being processed by the CPU.
If CPU had to access the hard drive to retrieve information every time, it would make computer operations too slow. That’s why RAM memory was created. It has a very small size as compared to a hard drive, but it’s a lot faster too.
When building your gaming PC, make sure to get at least 16 GB DDR4 RAM. Although many games still can be run on 8 GB RAM, having 16 GB memory will make your PC future proof.
This is the area where all of our files (video, images, softwares, and games) are permanently stored in the computer.
Unlike in RAM, the information stored here is permanent until you delete it yourself. Most common storage options nowadays are Hard Disk Drives (HDD) and Solid State Drives (SSD).
Hard drives are cheaper but slower than SSD. SSDs, on the other hand, provide faster speed as compared to Hard drives, but are more expensive.
My advice here would be to go for a hybrid solution. You can use a smaller SSD (like 256 GB) for Windows OS and installing your games and softwares.
For other media files, such as movies and images, you can have a separate hard drive, as they don’t require too fast retrieval.
When you install all those powerful graphics cards, RAMs and CPUs inside one case, heat is going to produce, sooner or later. This situation becomes worse in gaming when these components run at full throttle in order to give you optimal results.
So, in order to counter the heat, you need to implement a cooing system in your PC. Many PC cases come with some built-in fans but they aren’t enough by any means.
And if you search for 3rd-party cooling options, you’ll come across two types of cooling: Air cooling and Water cooling.
Air cooling, as its name suggests, consists of air fans.
Liquid cooling, on the other hand, consists of a tube filled with a coolant, radiator, some water blocks and some other components.
Both liquid and air cooling have their pros as well as cons. Air cooling is noisy but cheaper, while liquid cooling is quite, requires less space, and looks good too, but is expensive.
The only scenario where water-cooling is necessary is when you overclock your CPU or graphics card. In other cases, water-cooling isn’t a deal-breaker and air fans can get the job done.
8. Power Supply
Although power supply doesn’t directly interfere with your gameplay, you should still pay a good attention to it.
It’s because different PC components require different voltage and it is the power supply’s duty to power all of those components
If buy a less suitable power supply, you can have some power-related issues, or a complete PC shut-down (which is not a good thing to happen in the middle of a gaming session).