My desktop PC is the best tool I have at my disposal; I can pay my bills, watch and read endless streams of content, play games, stay in touch with friends and everything in-between. It is such an integral part of my day-to-day and can be used in a multitude of environments and helps to make many aspects of my life easier. Don’t tell me you would rather email customer support for that borked toaster rather than hit up a live chat!
Planning and building a desktop PC can seem like a daunting task and many become stuck at the first hurdle; research. There are an infinite amount of resources out there that will help you build your first PC and a plethora of great tutorial videos on YouTube like ‘How to Build a PC! Step-by-step’ by BitWit. I would also check out Linus Tech Tips for informative videos discussing hardware and software, PC builds and the latest in the world of technology.
I also use my PC for play. Gaming has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember and the hobby has been there through multiple jobs, different partners and friendships, mental health struggles, houses and everything else that happens in day-to-day life. It is that trusty pillar that my life has molded around, it has shaped my education and my interests – from racing through Green Hill Zone in Sonic The Hedgehog on my fathers’ trusty SEGA Mega Drive in the 90’s to obsessing over Championship Manager in the early 00’s and power-mining iron ore in Runescape on the family computer to jumping out of a plane with 99 other hapless competitors in PUBG and Fortnite or playing car football in Rocket League.
This obsession with gaming has led to an Honours Degree in I.T, a college degree in Games Development and a passion for technology, the wider games industry and getting stuck in to a good PC build – Ok, my love for LEGO could also have something to do with that. When it comes down to it, the actual build process of a desktop PC is akin to carefully constructing an elaborate, mechanical LEGO set. Everything has its place, it is difficult to go wrong and if you do, there are resources to unstick you. In the future it is possible that I will create a very simple beginner’s guide on how to build a desktop PC and how to begin thinking what parts to buy.
I am always looking for some validation, so today is all about me and my PC build. This isn’t going to be some extremely in-depth look at each component, but hopefully it can give all of you budding PC-builders out there an idea of the sort of components you are looking for. This build is from August 2018.
Okay, so on to the most impart first – the case! Right, maybe it’s not as important as many of the others components but it is important to look for a case that is spacious, so as to allow a nice airflow and ensure you are able to cable manage properly. Make sure it is a case that you like and will fit in with the rest of your decor!
I went for NZXT’s Phantom 410 ATX Mid Tower Case in black and orange. This particular case is massive and can easily house 2 GPU’s, 4+ case fans and a large heatsink. The NZXT Phantom 410 is a sturdy piece of kit and looks great to boot!
I have a ASUS Prime Z370-A ATX Motherboard as the backbone of my machine and have had zero problems. It comes with your standard manufacturer’s driver CD which will get everything up and running, however as always, I would head to the ASUS download center to get the most up-to-date drivers.
As described by ASUS the ASUS Prime Z370 Series motherboards provide the solid foundation needed for your first build, plus loads of scope to grow with your ambitions. We’ve melded all the good stuff that’s packed into the latest 8th Generation Intel Core processors with essential ASUS design and engineering, so you benefit from advanced technologies — including automated system tuning, comprehensive cooling controls, immersive onboard audio, and support for the ASUS Fan Extension Card.
The Central Processing Unit, or CPU does exactly what it says on the tin; it will perform most of the processing in your build. You will often hear the CPU being described as the heart or brain of your computer – so don’t skimp out here! A good CPU is essential to a gaming PC or someone who does a lot of editing.
I have the Intel Core i7 8700k inside my machine and it has taken everything I have thrown at it, chewed it up and spat it out exactly as intended.
Of course, we can’t have the CPU sitting all alone, it would get lonely and overheat. Seriously though, the stock cooler that comes with most CPU’s is fine, but you will generally want something a little beefier to stop your CPU from overheating, which could potentially harm your PC.
I have stuck with a trusted brand in Noctua, with the Noctua NH-U9S CPU Cooler.
For gaming PC’s being built-in 2019, 16GB of RAM is the absolute minimum – PC game specifications are constantly on the rise and 16GB of RAM will ensure that you will at least be able to run modern games. RAM is easily upgradeable and your motherboard will determine the maximum RAM you can utilize.
I am running with 24GB of Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4 RAM and it does the trick. Not much more to it than that!
GPU (Video Card)
Your GPU is vitally important to playing video games. Right now, consumers are pretty evenly divided between AMD and NVIDIA cards, both of which are offering some nice cards right now.
My previous build was centered around AMD with a Ryzen chip, although the machine ran hot, I ran in to no problems outside of some game specific drivers.
This build I have opted to go for a NVIDIA 1070 Ti 8GB – it has been serving me well and as of now, is still a great piece of hardware. Framerates be damned with this thing!
I have 2 HDD’s and 1 SSD in this build. I bought the Kingston 240GB SSD when it was far more pricey, and this will most likely be my next upgrade. The SSD currently houses my Windows 10 installation and is saved for a select few pieces of software. With the SSD, my system boots in a matter of seconds.
I am also using 2 Seagate Barracuda 2TB HDD’s to hold my many…many unplayed Steam games.
Now it is time to provide your build with unlimited power! picking out a power supply is extremely important, much like the CPU, you do not want to skimp here. Buying a bad power supply, or a power supply that is not suited to your build will be catastrophic. It can cause a lot of heartache – parts can circuit and you may end up wasting a whole lot of money.
Do your research and make sure the power supply that you are buying is going to be able to power your PC. Windows Central has a nice guide to picking the correct power supply.
This build is taking advantage of the EVGA SuperNOVA G3 750 80+ Gold Certified power supply. When looking for the right power supply for your build, always look at the certified rating.
Outside of some fans, the optical drive and things like a mouse and keyboard, this is the foundation you need to build your own PC. I always use PCPartPicker when creating a new build as it is fantastic at letting you know which hardware is compatible, ensuring you don’t spend your hard-earned cash on components that do not work together. I recommend signing up for the website and playing around in the system build section. You can see the breakdown of my full build here.