Natalie is a writer who works at her local library. She enjoys writing reviews, watching anime and TV shows, and playing video games.
Tips for Getting into PC Gaming
If you’re someone that likes to play video games, then you’ve probably heard jokes on the internet about PC gamers having the “best experience” because of the expensive parts used by some gamers when they build some ridiculously expensive rig that costs thousands and thousands of dollars on YouTube and then everyone gets the idea in their head that to play games on PC it costs thousands of dollars.
Then you see those crazy cheap PCs that people build for $100–$300, and while those PCs can run fine they are mostly using used parts so there is always a risk with used parts.
Should I Buy a Pre-Built PC?
There is nothing wrong with buying a pre-built PC, but they will be more expensive than buying a refurbished PC or building your own new PC from scratch.
Because these PC building companies are out to make a profit, their builds might be more expensive because they mark up the price of the parts they’re using. I’ve seen PC gaming enthusiasts charge $50–$60 for building someone else’s PC, I know that some computer repair technicians, such as YouTuber/PC repairman Carey Holzman charge $120 to build your PC, so it depends on if you’re using a YouTube video tutorial, a PC repair business that will build custom PCs or paying a PC gaming enthusiast to build it for you. Websites that sell pre-built gaming PCs can be expensive but if you really don’t want to build it yourself or you can’t find a business or a PC gamer to do it for you locally, you’ll have to factor it into your gaming PC budget.
If you check manufacturers’ websites, you can find items you want on sale, you can also check electronic stores for sales on PC parts; keep that in mind when you think of how much you want to spend on your PC.
What About Buying a Refurbished PC?
I’m sure you’ve seen a ton of eBay listings for refurbished PCs for gaming or home/office use. Should you buy those? I’ll just share my personal experience buying a refurbished eBay PC from Micomp on eBay.
I bought a refurbished gaming PC because my laptop was overheating and it was way too loud after I saved money and found the PC I wanted from Micomp I ordered it and it was shipped to the house. My mom helped me set it up with my new monitor and it was able to post, which means “power-on self-test” when you turn on the PC using the power button. My PC did start-up but the refurbished USB Wi-Fi adaptor didn’t want to work because I found the plastic and the metal had separated when I plugged it into my USB 2.0 slot.
Fortunately, I did get the wi-fi adaptor to work, and my computer does work great, but refurbished PCs do come with a warranty so they are guaranteed to work. I’ve had no problems with the PC itself, just my refurbished WiFi-USB.
Some people do have bad experiences with this company so if you’re too leery of having to worry about refurbished parts you can always buy a new pre-built PC or build your own.
I did not have a bad experience buying a refurbished PC but you might not want to worry about that.
Beware of Scams on eBay
This is a problem many new people looking into getting into PC gaming going on eBay and looking for a PC, you see a listing that claims to be a fantastic “gaming PC” for $300–$400. It looks like a great deal, but how do you know you’re actually getting a good PC?
It’s harder to know that unless you know what PC parts are that you would be suspicious of the listing. For example, if you’re serious about gaming you would want your PC to have a dedicated graphics card with at least 4GBs of video memory to play any new games that are coming out, now that number will change as graphics cards improve but anything less than 4GB won’t be able to run any recent games at decent frame rates.
Make sure to look up the model number of the graphics cards to see how many GBs the video card has, many new games require at least 2 GBs to run games so don't be fooled by the "Gaming PC" title for the listing. To play AAA titles using the highest settings you will need a more expensive graphics card. Make sure you know what model of graphics card the PC has listed and make sure it's what you want to buy. It's a lot easier to understand when you're trying to put your parts list together but if you're buying a prebuilt PC you will definitely need to look up the graphic card model and the amount of video RAM on the card so you will know if it suits your needs when you buy a prebuilt or refurbished computer for gaming.
You also have to know what model the CPU is so you can look up when it was manufactured, because the older it is, the worse it will perform on recent game titles.
Just because there are RGB lights does not make it a gaming PC! My OEM HP Elite 8100 G1 Small Form Factor PC is a business PC and I can do gaming on it. It might not be the pretty and expensive gaming PC, I can still game at 1080P at 60 frames per second on most games on it!
Fortunately, there are many YouTube videos by PC gaming enthusiasts that point out how these eBay posts are scams so it is very helpful to watch their videos.
Also, you can be scammed by someone selling you fake PC parts by deceptive labeling of their product; you should look at their feedback on eBay if you want to make sure you are buying from a good seller.
Just keep in mind, if they say they’re selling a “high-end” graphics card or CPU for a ridiculously low price, they’re probably lying and sending you an inferior product.
You can look at manufacturers' websites for sales to buy one of their products brand new for peace of mind and a warranty for your part, which might not happen on eBay.
How to Build a Gaming PC: Part 1
Building a PC: Set a Budget
Please keep in mind, the high-end PC parts you see in many YouTube tech channels are expensive to buy, and many YouTubers are sponsored by the companies, so it doesn’t actually cost them anything when they say that they’re sponsored by a company to use their products in the videos.
When you get big enough on YouTube and you get sponsorships and ad revenue, you can usually afford to buy the expensive motherboards, CPU, GPU, RAM, cases, and fans.
Many YouTuber’s also flip PCs, which means they buy cheap parts and build PCs and then resell them on the internet for a higher price.
A $300 machine does not run as well as a $500 machine which does not run as well as a $1,000, but it all depends on how well you build your machine if you build your own or how well someone else built it for you. Prices do fluctuate so keep that in mind when you are planning on how much you want to spend for your PC budget.
Note: If you buy new PC parts, remember that they do come with warranties so keep your receipts just in case something is dead on arrival after you set up your PC and something doesn’t work, you can send it to the manufacturer to have them fix it or replace it.
Also, make sure to buy thermal paste, you can look up recommendations if you want, but you’ll need it to keep your CPU cool. Do not treat it like icing on a cake; you don’t need a whole lot. You can manually spread it over the heat sink if you want to, but you don’t have to.
For CPUs, "locked" means you can't overclock it to increase performance, and "unlocked" means you can overclock it. Do not overclock if you don't know what you are doing if you buy an unlocked CPU. There are YouTube guides to overclocking, but you do risk damaging your gaming PC if you don't know what you're doing while overclocking.
Legal Copy of Windows
You will also need a legal copy of Windows to play games on your PC. You should also figure that into your budget. You can buy the disc version that lets you install Windows on multiple PC or the OEM version that only lets you install it on one machine and ties it to your PC’s motherboard. There are cheap keys from foreign countries, but those might be iffy, you can buy them from the official Microsoft store but they are expensive so factor it into your budget.
If you can download Windows 10 legally for free and it will function forever but it will not let you customize certain things, if you just want it for free legally you can download it, just make sure you skip entering the product key by saying you don’t have a product key when you install Windows 10. You can always buy a product key and activate it later if you want.
Monitor, Keyboard, and Mouse
Keep in mind if you're building your own PC from scratch you'll have to factor in what kind of monitor, keyboard, hand mouse you want. If you're really into gaming, you might want an expensive gaming keyboard, gaming mouse, or gaming monitor and if you have a high-end graphics card you'll want a monitor with a higher hertz count to see your higher frames per second on your monitor. The gaming monitors do cost more and you should factor that into your budget.
CPU, GPU, and Power Supply
Your CPU and GPU will cost the most because it’s what you need for your computer to carry out instructions. The higher the CPU, the more expensive it is. The graphics card is for the video graphics for games. The more gigabytes you have, the better the graphics card, and the more gigs you have the more expensive the video card is.
Since graphics cards have gone up in price make sure to research the model number of the graphics card and look for how many gigabytes of video the card has, just because the words, "gaming PC" appears in the title doesn't mean the graphics card in the PC can handle the newest PC games.
You will also need a good power supply, especially if you’re buying a high-end graphics card. There is a current shortage of high-end graphics cards because of crypto-currency mining, along with many people switching to work-from-home because of the pandemic, so everyone needs a desktop PC right now, but when the supply returns to normal I will update this article. Graphics cards and motherboards are currently dropping in price because cryptocurrency is losing its value. If you can look up how to flash a graphics card that has been used for mining cryptocurrency you can use the graphics card for gaming.
Heat Sink and Cooling Fans
You will also need a good heat sink and cooling fans to keep your PC cool unless you’re going for water cooling which is more expensive and you have to maintain the liquid cooler yourself, they do have liquid cooling kits you can buy and there are a lot of YouTube tutorials for water-cooling your PC. You can buy an all-in-one liquid-cooling system that does not require maintenance.
You also need a good motherboard, depending on what kind of storage you’re going to use, whether it’s an M.2 NV.ME drive, an SSD drive, or a SATA drive. You’ll also need to decide how many slots you want for the RAM, depending on how much RAM you’re going to use in your PC and whether or not you’re going to upgrade.
You’ll also need a case and you’ll have to decide your budget for that and whether or not you’ll be using an optical drive or not, whether you’re going to connect a USB front panel or not, or if you’re not going to have anything in the front panel.
You’ll also have to factor in whether or not you’re going to get RGB lights or not. If you are you’ll need a PC case with a glass panel.
Screwdriver and Anti-Static Wristband
You will also need a mini Philips head screwdriver to build your PC; it is easier to use a magnetic screwdriver so you don’t lose your screws.
If this is your first time building a PC, you’ll want an anti-static wristband so you don’t have to worry about being shocked by electricity while building your PC.
You should make sure you have all the tools you need before building your gaming PC.
How to Build a Gaming PC: Part 2
How to Get a Cheap External Blu-Ray Drive
Now if you would like to have an external Blu-Ray drive but you don’t want to spend $100 just for a USB Blu-Ray drive in a fancy case, you can easily go on eBay and purchase a cheap laptop Blu-Ray drive, you will need a small screwdriver to undo the screws on the laptop blu-ray drive.
You will need a SATA to USB adaptor to connect the laptop blu-ray drive to the PC. It is an inexpensive solution for getting an inexpensive optical drive without installing one inside the PC.
Building Your Own PC can be Daunting, but There Are Ways to Learn How
I have never built my own PC but I have seen other people build them. But I won’t give you advice for something I’ve never done before. Fortunately, there are many YouTube videos that show you how to build your own PC, and here are some recommendations for YouTube videos that show you how to build a custom PC and explain what all the parts are.
Paul’s Hardware on YouTube has a great series that explains what everything is and I’ll post the links so you can watch all the parts to go into more detail than this article has.
It will take a lot of time to put your PC together correctly so that you won’t have to take it apart to fix something because something broke down later because you didn’t put it together correctly.
Carey Holzman also did a livestream where he builds a fancy gaming rig and showed how long it takes to build a PC for a customer. It also shows a typical experience building a PC, he also gives tips for new people who want to start building PCs during the livestream.
How to Build a Gaming PC: Part 3
Enjoy Your New PC!
If you’re building your new PC, you should enjoy it and be proud of yourself for making your dream gaming PC. It does take time and patience but you can make the PC you’ve always wanted, but keep in mind if you want to upgrade your PC later.
Building PCs does not make you a better gamer, but they are fun and it is a great way to play video games. It does give you a sense of accomplishment because you built it yourself.
It isn’t too difficult to build your own PC thanks to some excellent YouTube tutorials. The part that I’ve seen people worry about is their budget and buying PC parts that will work well together and any troubleshooting getting the PC to post the first time they boot up their PC.
Just make sure you have the right tools and always make sure to ask for advice if you’re unsure. There are also plenty of build guides in both written and video form. So have a good time and go make the gaming PC you’ve always wanted!
I won’t guarantee that your PC will be the greatest PC ever or that you’ll have an easy first-time building your new PC, but I wanted to make this article for people who might not have a long time to watch all the YouTube videos, but I have some very useful YouTube videos linked in this article by both PC enthusiasts and a professional PC repair technician and builder.
I have also made this article to explain to people that PC gaming may look daunting but it can be very easy to get into, whether you buy a brand-new pre-built gaming PC, a refurbished gaming PC or build your own gaming PC, you can get into PC gaming, but it’s either easier or harder depending on which route you take.
Good luck and have fun playing games on your new gaming PC!
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