DIY: Building My First Gaming PC


Posted April 26, 2011 - By Leah Jackson

Building My First Gaming PC

Building your own gaming computer can be a daunting task, but I found that the DIY approach was a lot easier than I expected. My old computer served me extremely well, but all good things must come to an end. I purchased it back in 2008 for the arrival of the World of Warcraft: The Wrath of the Lich King expansion, and I paid about $1,400 for it.

I don't remember the exact parts it came with, but three years later I upgraded a few of them. However, due to unfortunate motherboard problems I decided to build a brand new one in order to keep up with the slew of high-end PC titles coming out over the next few months (and years) mainly The Witcher 2, Battlefield 3, and Diablo 3. Keep in mind that had I just replaced my motherboard I probably could have gotten another 2-3 years out of that PC with other upgrades, but I really wanted a new one and had plans to give my old one to a friend.

With a little help, I rolled up my sleeves and got to work building my new baby from scratch. This was the first time I'd ever built my own computer, and read more to find out how it all came together.

My old PC was equipped with the following parts when I was finished upgrading it:

AMD Phenom 9650 Quad Core Processor
BIOSTAR TA790GX AM2+ Motherboard
GTX 460 Graphics Card
750 Watt Power Supply
500 GB HDD

It worked well and could play most games at high settings but occasionally it would lag, and towards the end it bluescreened a lot due to those motherboard issues with my hard drive. I went through several different hard drives before I figured out it was the motherboard, and instead of replacing it I decided to purchase and build a brand new rig.

DIY: Building My First Gaming PC

The first thing I wanted to do before I bought the new computer was to decide what I wanted to do with it. Just games? Video work? Streaming? Music? Movies? These are the types of questions you need to ask yourself before you build a new computer. That way you'll know what kind of parts you need to purchase in order to make the most logical decisions. I decided that being able to play high end games on max settings was a huge priority and being able to stream them to my Justin.tv channel with no lag was a second priority. I don't do too much video work or image editing so I didn't care about having the most beastly processor, just one that was adequate for running games and speedy streaming.

So, with those priorities in mind I talked to my computer expert friend Jeffy Stuparek and we went with the following parts and below he gives a simple explanation on why we chose each one:

  • Intel 2600K ProcessorA brand new Intel i7 Second Generation 2600 CPU is going to allow to multiple applications to run seamlessly. From video editing and encoding to streaming Starcraft 2 in high quality this processor will do it all and more.
  • 8GB Corsair Dominator DDR3 1600 RAMWe went with 8GB of Corsair's Dominator DDR3 RAM since prices for memory are down and 8GB was easily in the price range. Between gaming, streaming, video editing, etc. we don't want the computer to feel sluggish with multiple programs running at the same time. With 8GB of RAM that should never be an issue.
  • Gigabyte P67 UD4 MotherboardGigabyte P67 UD4 Motherboard in an exceptional motherboard with a lot of features. From SLI and CrossfireX support to USB 3.0, and SATA 6Gb/s this motherboard is fully loaded with all the latest features. Gigabyte is also arguably one of the best manufacturers of computer components so when choosing the heart of the PC we wanted something that will last for many hours of use.
  • GTX 570 Graphics CardThe GTX 570 is a powerful GPU, it can easily handle anything on max settings at 1920X1080. With the new design of the GTX500 series GPUs from Nvidia it performs better than GTX480 but consumes less power and generates less heat which are huge pluses when you're gaming for hours at a time.
  • Samsung Sata II 1TB HDDBecause the Intel SSD is only 80GB and designated for applications and games, you'll be frequently using the Samsung F4 1TB HDD is for storing all your intense replays from Starcraft 2, your movies, music, and anything else, there is plenty of room with 1TB.
  • 850 Watt Corsair Power SupplyCorsair TX850 Watt power supply is more than enough for this build but it will allow for future upgrades such as an additional GTX570 in SLI configuration!
  • 80GB Intel Mainstream Solid State DriveAn Intel X-25M 80GB SSD was chosen as a boot drive but as well as a drive for applications, and possibly a few games. Windows 7 will take up about 20GB of space allowing for nearly 60GB after formatting for games, video apps. This drive will dramatically. decrease loading times of Windows and applications.
  • HAF 932 CaseThe Cooler Master HAF 932 Case was chosen because of it's spacious interior, superior design and great cooling. With ample room for the latest video cards, plus awesome cable management design it's a true enthusiast case. This case provides great air flow with all of it's included fans which helps cool the GTX 570 better.
  • ASUS VG236 LCD Monitor -   We chose the Asus VG236 23" LCD Monitor due to its absolutely stunning clarity and because with its piano black finish it's a beauty to look at whether it's on or off. It's also 3D ready in case Leah decided she wanted to immerse herself in her games.

Building My First Gaming PC

To find all of the parts I started looking on Newegg who generally has great deals, but I actually ordered them all from Amazon because of stupid California tax on Newegg items. The price of the new computer came to about $1,900 and the wait from when I ordered to it until all of the parts arrived was excruciating. 

DIY: Building My First Gaming PC

Once all of the parts arrived I had a friend come over to help me put it together as this was the first time I'd be putting a computer together. His name is Sean Poole and he works on Attack of the Show! He's put together a bunch of computers before and stood over my shoulder and showed me how to do everything and fixed any mistakes I made (but there weren't that many). As it turns out, building a computer is a lot like playing with LEGO bricks. You have to see which parts go where on the motherboard since everything has its own little home, and as it turns out, building a computer is extremely simple.

We started by unboxing the case and the first thing we put in the was the motherboard so we could attach everything else to it. It's sort of like your starting zone, because everything is based on that component in your system. The motherboard was very simple to put on since the case had holes in it and we just screwed the motherboard in. Easy.

DIY: Building My First Gaming PC

Next came the processor. Sean said if there was one thing that I could easily mess up putting in then it would be the processor. There are a bunch of very tiny pins on the processor and if you bend any then you're out of luck. It made me pretty nervous, but I was very careful placing it into its slot on the motherboard, and placing its heat sink on top of it correctly. It's neat how such a little chip gets such a monstrous fan to keep it cool.

The power supply and RAM came next, both fit easily in to their designated areas, as did the CD-ROM player. The part that we had the most trouble with was actually getting the solid state drive to fit in to its slot because it needed a special holder since it's smaller than a regular hard drive. We both had to fiddle with it for quite a long time to get it in the slot, and eventually it went in, but it was easily the most frustrating piece to put on the computer.

DIY: Building My First Gaming PC

Next came the final part, my pride and joy of the whole rig, the GTX 570 graphics card. This thing is an absolute monster and I was really excited to get it onto the motherboard. Once it was finally on there, all that was left to do was to connect the cables.

Cable management was extremely important to me and, as previously mentioned, was one of the reasons I chose this case. Arranging your cables properly allows better airflow throughout the system so that nothing overheats. Sean and I spent a very long time stringing the wires in and out of the back and front of the case to get the maximum airflow potential. We also cabled a lot of the cords to the back of the case to allow even more air to get inside.

Building My First Gaming PC

After that, we were done! It seriously was that simple, and with a bit of guidance I'd say anyone that wants to could very easily put their own high end gaming rig together. I've since had the computer for a week now and could not be happier. With Windows 7 Premium installed on the solid state drive my computer boots up in about 20 seconds, which still gets me giddy every time I press that power button. Games run flawlessly, and I can stream on the most extreme settings from any of them with no lag whatsoever, which is exactly what I wanted. Special thanks to my nerds Jeffy and Sean for helping me put together the new love of my life! Now, back to pwning.

DIY: Building My First Gaming PC


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