Building a Gaming PC for the First Time? Don’t Panic, This Guide Can Help You Out. How to build a computer from scratch

Now that you’ve selected the parts for your build, it’s time to talk about everything else you need for a high-quality gaming experience. Let’s start with the monitor. After all, a cute gaming PC isn’t very good if you can’t see anything.

How To Build a Computer: A Step By Step PC-Building Infographic

We’ve been working on something for all our readers who want to know what exactly is building your own computer from scratch.

We wanted to create something more user-friendly than an in-depth video or instruction list with lots of text, so we created a step-by-step computer assembly infographic to show you how to assemble your own computer, complete with photos for each step along the way.

Perhaps you have never built a PC before in your life…

or maybe you are just looking to brush up on what’s involved in assembling a computer from parts..

Either way, we are sure that our DIY computer assembly infographic will have you covered.

This is perfect for those who want to get an idea of ​​what they might be getting into if they decide to compile on a PC, or even for those looking to refresh their knowledge quickly!

If you need to, you can move on to your area of ​​interest, and at the bottom of the infographic you will find a more detailed text explaining each step and key points to be aware of.


We get questions all the time from people who have never built a computer before, but it’s really not that hard as long as you know how.

So if you’ve ever asked any questions similar to the following…

What do I need to know to build my own computer?

What is building a computer from scratch?

Will I come in over my head?

How to build a fully customized computer from parts?

.. then we think our illustrated step-by-step infographic can help you with a quick overview of the entire PC building process!

So if you’re new to PC assembly and want to get involved, check out our infographic below for a step-by-step photo guide on how to build your own PC.

We’ve also covered a bit more detail in the written text that you’ll find below the image.

Let us know what you think by leaving us a comment below!

DIY Computer Assembly: An Infographic

If this is the first computer you’ve built, it might pay you to make sure you do a little bit of planning ahead.

  1. Have a suitable work area with good lighting and plenty of space.
  2. Make sure you have all the required tools on hand for easy access. Consider holding the container nearby to hold loose parts like screws.
  3. Have a guide / reference material (this guide or video tutorial) nearby. You can also quickly view the relevant sections of the instructions for the individual parts you intend to assemble. They are usually placed as a paper insert in the product package.
  4. Make sure your area is not exposed to static electricity which can damage your parts.
  5. Be careful with precautionary measures.


Surprisingly, you don’t need many tools to assemble a computer.

  • screwdriver (Phillips head) – Used for almost all screws, including screws for fixing the case and various components
  • screwdriver (flat head) – May be needed to install the CPU cooler, so it’s best to have it on hand just in case

Optional extras include:

  • Antistatic wrist strap – If you are concerned that ESD components might damage your parts, you can opt to use an antistatic wrist strap
  • Cable Ties – Necessary for cable management (unless your enclosure has one attached). This keeps all the wiring in your case nice and neat
  • Scissors – for snipping off excess cable ties and quickly removing unsightly plastic packaging on computer parts
  • Flashlight – in case you need a little extra light to see what you are doing

Appropriate cables should be included with the power supply. If not, use the adapter that came with your graphics card packaging. Your hard drive or SSD will also require a power cable as well as a SATA or data cable, unless you are using an M.2 as described above. All these cables should be included with the devices.

What Do You Need to Build a PC?

Processor (CPU)


The processor or central processing unit is the brain of the computer. It turns given instructions into actions that the computer can perform and tells all other parts of the build how to work together. If the processor is the brain, the rest of the system is the body.

The processor is arguably the most important component of any computer, and as you might expect, there are almost an endless number of options at various price points. The two major manufacturers of consumer PCs are Intel and AMD, and even within these brands, there are plenty of choices. In the case of AMD, you’ll most likely be looking at Ryzen or Threadripper if you want high-end. Intel branded processors are a solid choice, although you’ll likely want to consider an eighth or ninth generation i5 or i7 if you’re looking to build some serious gaming or streaming hardware.



A motherboard is essentially a large circuit board that connects all the components of a computer and allows various devices to communicate. As with all PCs, there are tons of options, from simple motherboards in the lower price range to feature-rich boards with all kinds of bells and whistles.

The type of motherboard you need will largely depend on the CPU you purchase and the features that interest you. Not every CPU works with every motherboard, so make sure you have the right one. When purchasing a motherboard, you should consider features such as CPU overclocking capabilities, lighting, and connectivity options.

Please see this full chart on How to Choose Your Motherboard for all the information you need to make an informed decision.

Video Card/Graphics Processing Unit (GPU)

aMD Radeon VII 7 GPU newegg (3)

The graphics processing unit (GPU) will have the greatest impact on your gaming experience. The GPU is essentially what enables your computer to perform the complex graphic computations that make PC games look so good. While many processors have integrated graphics, a graphics processor is an absolute must if you want a modern PC gaming experience.

The two biggest players in the graphics card world are AMD and Nvidia. Depending on how much you want to invest, you can choose something from the lower end of modern GPUs such as the GTX 1050 Ti from Nvidia or the Radeon RX570 from AMD. If you want a cutting-edge experience, the Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti is currently the king of consumer-facing GPUs, with AMD’s Radeon RX Vega architecture not far behind.

If you’re looking for the best gaming experience, the GPU may be the most expensive component you’ll buy, but you won’t want to skimp here, especially if you’re looking to tackle higher resolutions and stakes-framed games.

Putting Together Your PC

Once you have everything ready, it’s time to start building.

This is the part that can intimidate many people, but when you get started you will see that these components are designed to be easily assembled. As long as you do your research and you know everything is compatible, it really is like putting together a fancy Lego set.

This video will guide you through the process:

Here are a few more tips to keep in mind first.

Installing Memory (RAM)

Memory is one of the simpler components to install. Start by opening up the two tabs on either side of the RAM slot in the motherboard slot. Please refer to the memory guide to verify that you are installing with the correct orientation. Once the RAM module is aligned with the slot, simply push it in until you hear a click, then make sure the tabs are closed. Repeat these steps for each additional memory.

Depending on the case, it will be easier to do this before installing the motherboard in the case.

Installing the CPU

Intel i5

Most processors today do not have pins as the connector pins are usually located on the motherboard. That’s great because damaging an expensive CPU is much worse than the (usually) cheaper motherboard.

The process may vary slightly depending on the CPU and motherboard, but usually the installation follows a similar pattern.

Start by unlocking the CPU bar. Then open the processor door, place the processor in the correct direction (the arrows on both will help you align them), close the door and lock the stick. Mounting the heat sink is also hardware dependent, but typically connects through the four holes closest to the processor socket. This is usually done with screws or plastic locking / twisting pins. Remember to use a reasonable amount of thermal paste when assembling the heat sink; an amount about the size of a pea is a good reference.

Also, be sure to connect the CPU fan to the motherboard so that it has the power it needs to run. The exact process should be clearly stated in the instructions that came with the refrigerator.

Again, installing the CPU and CPU cooler is best done before putting the motherboard into the case to keep things as simple as possible.

Preparing Your Case

The first step in positioning the motherboard in your case is installing spacers. Brackets are small brass spacers that fit into the screw holes on the motherboard and prevent metal from touching on the motherboard in the case. Make sure you install them where the screw holes are in the case, and refer to the case’s user manual if it’s not obvious where these holes are.

Your motherboard will ship with a shield called an I / O shield. This cover should be placed on all external connections that are visible from the outside of the housing. Make sure you position it correctly and snap it into place. This step is easy to forget and it can be difficult to go back to the installation, so remember the first time.

Installing the Motherboard

Re-editing the ASUS X299 1

Refer again to your motherboard’s manual for the location of these pins. Simply by contacting the + and – pins for POWER_SW we tell the motherboard to turn on the system. This is exactly what happens when you press the power button on the computer case. Try a few times if you cannot establish a connection between the two pins.

How to build a PC

We’ve put this guide in an order that makes sense for most builds, although it may not be optimal for every computer. You’ll need to check the layout and see which components will need to be installed first, but usually the best way is to start with power. First, set aside the box / bag of screws that come with the case, as we’ll need them for the next steps.

Just be sure to check out our helpful guide on how to avoid these inexperienced mistakes when building your PC so you can get started in no time.

Best case

Lian Li PC-O11 Dynamic Gaming Computer Case

Do you want a compact case that is easy to build inside your computer and looks amazing? This is what the Lian Li offers with the PC-O11 Dynamic, designed in collaboration with DER8AUER.

When you assemble your new PC, you need a case that looks good, is tough enough to fit everything inside, has multiple features like dust filtering, smart RGB lighting, and won’t strain your budget. This sums up the Lian Li PC-O11 Dynamic perfectly.

Installing the CPU

AMD Ryzen 9 3900X

source: Rich Edmonds / Windows Headquarters

You noticed that I said we’ll install the power supply first, but that’s only if we’re sure everything is working. Before we can fit everything into the computer case, we need to check that all our components actually work inside the box. Instead of throwing everything inside the case and discovering there’s a problem, the best solution is to unpack everything on a flat surface of your choice and install a few components to test.

To do this, unpack the power supply, CPU, RAM and the motherboard. The first step is to install the CPU, which also requires you to remove the motherboard from its packaging. It is a very easy process whether you are using an AMD or Intel chip.

Place the motherboard on the cardboard box. (It’s safe in here. Never put it on the carpet.)


source: Rich Edmonds / Windows Headquarters

Paste for Intel processors

source: Rich Edmonds / Windows Headquarters

Now we need to install a CPU cooler. Depending on the radiator you purchased, you may already have a layer of thermal paste applied to it. If not, we must do so before installing the radiator. (Tip: less is more.) These instructions will guide you through the installation process, which may vary by manufacturer and manufacturer.

Especially with aftermarket coolers – both water and air – pay close attention to the instructions that come with the product. Therefore, it is better to do all these steps with the motherboard outside of the computer case for ease of use.

Power up

Inside the computer

source: Rich Edmonds / Windows Headquarters

All this hard work will pay off now. Time to boot up and make sure everything is working properly now that everything is in the case. Turn on the power adapter and press the power switch. You should now be greeted by a BIOS POST screen, asking to install the operating system if it is not detected. Now you need to follow the OS installation instructions. If you run into problems, it’s time to fix the problem.

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This is the path that CNET video producer Oliver Padilla chose to go when he chose a high-powered PC workstation for the CNET video team. Here’s how Oliver chose the components and then built the workstation. Of course, being part of the CNET video team, he made a video of the whole process.

In Summary

Build an ABS computer

Purchasing all the necessary PC components can take the most time and effort in the build process. The first step will always require in-depth research into what you want in the build. You can then move on to specific models prioritizing affordability, a solid brand name, customer feedback, and compatibility. The best part of the building process is that you can always upgrade or replace components in the future.

Brackets are screws that are installed on the backplate of the motherboard so that the motherboard can rest on them, and the screws that secure the motherboard. In some cases, they are pre-installed.

Gather the parts you’ll need to build a PC

If you’ve decided to build your own computer, you will need to do some research, assemble the components, and then assemble the computer yourself. It really isn’t as scary as it sounds.

Weighting the cost and performance of each component can seem like a challenge. But if you’re looking for tips on where to put your money, the r / buildapc subreddit on Reddit is a helpful and active community ready to provide advice and answer questions about specific components.

If you need guidance on building a complete machine, the r / buildapcforme subreddit is a great resource for complete parts lists for everything from an inexpensive computer to high-end gaming hardware. If you’d rather not post, PCPartPicker has some great guides for people who may be too shy to ask in the forum.

While we cannot decide which combination of components is right for you, here is a general list of parts you need to think about:


Our computer’s motherboard.

Motherboard. You connect your components to a motherboard that handles communication between everything. Make sure your components are compatible with your motherboard and fit into your chassis.

Storage. Not so long ago, the choice between a hard drive and a solid-state drive may have gone downhill. But now that SSD devices cost about the same as hard drives, the place to save a few dollars on your build probably isn’t storage. Choose fast and reliable SSD storage, unless you have terabytes of data to store – then you might consider a hard drive.

Thing. Choose one that is large enough to accommodate all the components and any improvements you can make to the basic model.


The AMD Ryzen Threadripper processor we use.

CPU. Basically you have two brands to choose from when buying a CPU, computer brains. Your CPU choice is between Intel and AMD processors. This is where you’ll want to check out subreddits for PC to see which processor manufacturer will better suit your needs – whether it’s an inexpensive computer designed for web surfing to a super-supercharged gaming rig.

Graphics Card. The processor or motherboard of your choice may have an integrated graphics processor for graphics and image processing. But if you’re doing more than just surfing the web, you’ll most likely need a discrete graphics card that can start at $ 100,000 and run over $ 400,000, depending on your intended use, such as video editing or animation.

Memory. In PC random-access memory, DIMMs plug into memory slots on the motherboard and have different memory speeds and sizes. For the custom-built machine we made at CNET, we had to pay close attention to which memory slots we filled and left open to take full advantage of the system’s memory architecture.


Build your PC

Each PC set will be different – due to component selection, motherboard configuration, and so on – and some components are easier to install on the motherboard before inserting it into the case. In this way, we create a computer on our own. For step-by-step assembly, watch the video. At the end of the article, we list the specific parts we have selected.

processor installation

Placing the AMD Ryzen Threadripper processor.

Install the processor. Since every motherboard and CPU is different, see your motherboard and CPU manual for installation instructions specific to your setup. In general, all processors have some kind of markings that help in the correct orientation on the motherboard. And make sure the CPU is seated properly as you can easily damage the pins in the CPU socket.

Add RAM modules. Again, the motherboard’s user manual gives recommendations on which slots should be used for memory modules to optimize your computer’s memory.

Add a mass storage device. Oliver installed two high-speed NVMe flash drives in his version. Here’s where you’ll want to use the thermal pads that come with your drives or purchased separately.


Carefully place the motherboard in the case.

Insert the motherboard. At this point in assembly, Oliver is ready to insert the motherboard into the case. Once the motherboard is properly positioned, secure it with the screws. This is where the magnetic tipped screwdriver is a blessing as it is a challenge to retrieve a dropped bolt from the case.

Plug in the power adapter. Although the orientation of the power supply will depend on the case, make sure the fan is pointed at the vent, otherwise hot air will be trapped inside the case and the computer may overheat.


Fan adjustment in the housing.

Connect the CPU cooler. See the refrigerator assembly instructions. Our cooler contained thermally conductive paste, but if not, you can apply it a bit – about a large grain of rice. You will likely need to connect your refrigerator to the motherboard and to the power supply, following the instructions in its manual. If you have additional fans, join them as well.

Connect your storage. Now connect your storage device to the power supply and motherboard.

Connect components to the front I / O panel. You may also need to connect the audio and USB connectors, as well as the power and reset button to the I / O panel on the case. Be sure to connect all fans in your case.

gPU installation

Installing our graphics card.

If you’re looking for the best gaming experience, the GPU may be the most expensive component you’ll buy, but you won’t want to skimp here, especially if you’re looking to tackle higher resolutions and stakes-framed games.

Where to find your parts

You can find used cheap pc parts all over the web, but the best deals likely are in your area. I recommend hitting the sidewalk and finding local electronics recycling centers, office liquidators, and thrift stores – call them or visit them to see what their used computers and computer parts have. Alternatively, if you know people in local schools and businesses, ask them if their IT department wants to get rid of their old hardware.

Screenshot of Craiglist

This may be obvious, but you should always test your computer before donating any money. Whitson Gordon

This way, you will be able to find many of the components you need, but not necessarily all of them. To find anything you can’t find in the e-waste hub, search Craigslist, OfferUp, LetGo, and other similar apps. You can also try eBay, but the platform has a much larger audience which means things are selling for a fair market price. But you buy the computer at the lowest budget possible, so the market price isn’t what you want: you need a local retailer who is willing to negotiate a killer deal just to get out of their hands. (You can even try and find free parts for your gaming PCs, but I wouldn’t bet too much on it – especially if you want things to be in decent working condition.)

Buying locally also allows you to test your equipment before donating your money. When negotiating a sale, ask the salesperson to be plugged in and ready to try when you go pick it up. This way, you can check if it boots into Windows, run CrystalDiskInfo to see if your hard drive is still in good condition, and make sure it doesn’t stink of smoke (seriously – it’s more common than you think). If your PC doesn’t have a hard drive – it’s not uncommon for companies to destroy it for safety reasons before disposing of your PC – check to see if it boots into the BIOS, or take a flash drive with the Windows installer and see if it goes into that. If everything looks reliable, you can take it home and start working on your updates.

Online sales like eBay do, however, offer buyer protection which comes in handy if you receive a defective item. Craigslist usually has no option for this, so you’ll need to weigh your risk tolerance against your budget and start there.

What to look for

As with any PC, it helps you plan things before you actually go shopping. (We’re assuming you already have a general idea of ​​what goes into building a gaming PC – if not, you should definitely check out our building PC guide first.) Set your budget, think about which parts of the computer will fit in with it, and then start hunting. My goal was to build something for as little as $ 100 (because hey, I like challenges), but I’ll break down the parts in a few different price ranges for those with more to spend.

The tower

PC tower

You basically saved that poor PC tower from endless running of Excel. Whitson Gordon

There are several different types of office computers, but Dell Optiplex is one of the more common and I recommend it for this conversion. If you can find a Lenovo, HP or Compaq machine with similar specs at a good price, you can use them as well, but they are a bit harder to get. You’re looking for something that ideally has a 2nd Gen Intel Core i5 processor (where the four-digit number after the i5 starts at 2) or later – the i3 can help you, but avoid Core 2 Quad and other lower-end processors if you can.

These office computers also come in various forms. I recommend purchasing a larger “mini-tower” instead of one of the smaller, thinner machines – it will be easier for you to fit your graphics card, power supply and other upgrades. If you can find a small kit for a price that is too good to go without, it will work, but you’ll have to either buy low-profile graphics cards or insert it into the case using a PCI-express riser card.

Finally, think about your upgrade plans for this machine. If you’re just building a cheap PC that will keep you going until you build new high-end hardware in a matter of months, you don’t have to worry too much about compatibility with future updates. But if you plan on adding a little more power to this version, you can narrow down your search to models that use the standard 24-pin motherboard power socket. Some of these office computers use a smaller, custom 8-pin power connector, which means you won’t be able to upgrade the power supply in the future. This isn’t strictly necessary – many people will find the included PSU and low-power graphics card I’ll be using here – but it’s fun to have an option in the future. (There are 8-pin to 24-pin adapters,but I am reluctant to use such power supplies as many of them are cheap or improperly made.)

It sounds like a lot of caveats, but by browsing the shelves at the e-waste center (or pictures on Craigslist), you’ll be able to spot these things fairly quickly. I found a few competitors in the San Diego area where I live, but ultimately chose the Dell Optiplex 9010 listed by Craigs, which met all my requirements for just $ 50. It didn’t have a hard drive, but even with that caveat it was the best deal I could find – the hard drive is quite a cheap add-on.

Remember, patience is key – you may not find a killer deal tonight, tomorrow, or even next week, but if you monitor and negotiate closely, you will eventually find the perfect system at an unbeatable price.

The graphics card

Graphics card on a wooden table

Hence, everyone has their own way. Personally, I plug the power supply into the board and (if it’s a new board, plug in the usb drive with the updated bios you downloaded earlier) and flash the bios. All of this can be done before installing Windows or anything.

Input Devices

Don’t forget your mouse and keyboard! 🙂 There are many other input devices like graphics tablets or pens that you can of course also use.

That’s almost it for PC components and input devices. You now have all the parts you need to build a working computer.

To properly assemble your computer you will need:

  • phillips screwdriver (magnetic for finding dropped screws) (so as not to damage any parts of the PC by static electricity)

Check out our guide to assembling a computer to learn how to build a computer.

Key steps for building your own computer (troubleshooting is optional 😉)

Gaming PC Parts List

Gaming PCs are made up of exactly the same parts as PCs, and aren’t necessarily made for gaming – that’s why this article and the list above are also about buying parts for your gaming PCs.

The main difference is how you allocate your budget to the different parts. When deciding what parts are needed to build a gaming PC, you usually spend a much larger portion of your budget on a GPU (graphics card) as many games are quite graphics demanding.

In addition to buying a powerful gaming GPU, many gamers also like to invest in the look and feel of their computer. I can think of RGB fans and LED strips that will give your computer a unique look.

What kind of computer are you building? I need help? We respond to every comment 🙂

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