5 Secret Tips for Building a Great Gaming PC

Building a gaming computer can be fun, or it can be quite frustrating, depending on how you approach the chase and, of course, your personal circumstances. You may be limited by a tight budget and therefore have difficulty choosing the right parts to achieve what you want in terms of performance. Or you might be a relative tech newbie and unsure of the best way to build a PC that can handle today's games well.

Don't worry because help is at hand. Beginners should go to our article on how to build your first gaming PC and then this guide gives you all the information you'll need to subsequently put everything together, all broken down into easy to follow steps.

That's all the base stuff covered, then – what about cropping? In this feature, we're going to look at five additional tips you may not be aware of that will help make sure a gaming PC is everything it should be.

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1. Understand Silicon Lottery

As you probably know, processors are not created equal. For any given processor model, there will be slight variations during the manufacturing process, which will mean some chips are slightly better than others (although they will all be in the same position).

So when you buy an unlocked overclockable processor - people refer to the 'silicon lottery', essentially meaning you keep your fingers crossed that you'll get one of the best examples of a particular processor model. Because these slightly improved products can overclock with much more headroom.

But you shouldn't rely on blind luck to secure a good processor in this regard. Because there are companies out there that buy processors, test them to see exactly how good they are, and then sell them to PC builders who want assurance that the speed they can overclock up to.

Silicon Lottery is one firm that does just that, and we recently mentioned the company in a couple of pieces about the new Ryzen 3000 chips already running unusually close to their peak performance in terms of hours, generally speaking.

Now, a few points here. Of course, these operations - which also include the likes of UK overclockers and German retailer King - obviously charge more than the price of these processors, and some people feel that you're just better off spending the extra money on upgrading other components to improve performance in the modern gaming machines.

Indeed, whether it makes sense or not, and how many miles you can go on that route, will most likely depend on the specific build and processor you're looking at. In some cases the costs may be such that it may be a better step up to a faster (different) processor (if you have one and you're not already looking at a flagship).

Also keep in mind that you may need to buy a certain motherboard specification (ie not an entry level model) to run a certain chip at the speed advertised by the silicon lottery (or whoever you buy from).

However, it's certainly an interesting option for those who don't mind shelling out, in some cases, to achieve the absolute best build for their gaming PC. Finally, remember that these processors can be delidded by the company to keep them cool, which again is a godsend for those who want to really push their processor to the limit.

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Corsair PSU

2. Don't skimp on the power supply

It's not uncommon to see some pretty beefy gaming PC builds offered online, where the builder has chosen cheap, maybe even bottom-of-the-line, non-critical components. By which we mean things that are usually considered not as important as the main components of the processor and video card, motherboard, memory and main memory.

We are talking mainly about the computer case and the power supply (PSU) here. These may seem like good areas to save money so you can afford that better graphics card, but keep your angle-cutting to eat horses in a minute…

No - we, I repeat, were not tempted to buy a cheap power supply for your gaming PC.

The processor is usually seen as the engine of your PC, but if it is the brain of the computer, the power supply is the heart that keeps everything running smoothly. Or not - if it's a flaky second-rate model, it's not much stability for any overclock you'll try. And if you get a cheaper model with a relatively low power rating, it can struggle to handle the load of a bunch of more expensive components when they're really pushed.

Also remember that when you upgrade your computer, you may have a much more beefy GPU down the line, let's say you may need some space to breathe with that power. In other words, a low power PSU could affect the future of your PC.

In addition, there is also the prospect that the budget model can be so unreliable, it completely gives its soul to God, that is, you will have to buy another PSU (buy cheap, buy twice). And potentially worse, when the power goes pop, it can take over some of your other components, leaving you out of your pocket.

All this said, there is no need to purchase a huge 1500W power supply or similar. Such units may be too expensive, or may not give you the best energy efficiency when your car is idling (which can also be a lot of time). Indeed, such powerful power supplies will almost certainly be overkill for anything but the most over-the-top gaming PC.

Exactly how much power you'll need depends on the kind of slot machine you're building - whether it's a "weak" one or a beast on the tower. You can use the wattage calculator and enter your components designed to determine what kind of power supply you might require, but be sure to leave a decent amount in reserve for the future (at least 25% or so).

And make a PSU with at least an '80+ Bronze' efficiency rating from a quality brand (like Corsair or Seasonic - we have some recommendations for the best PC PSUs here). So it will probably last you a long time, go ahead, which will save you money in the long run (you can use the same PSU in your next gaming PC).

In summary, there is no need to go stupidly overboard, but to get a quality model, and don't be stingy.

CoolerMaster Case

3. Cool case

With that said, while we're not in the place, we're pretty focused on getting a good case for your PC in the meantime: buy cheap ones at your own risk.

A main body that can't offer a huge amount of space can leave the internals very cramped when all the components are inside (and God forbid something doesn't fit, of course). And such a case may not have many options for cable management.

The thoughtful design of the control cable involves leaving plenty of holes so you can route cables hidden behind the motherboard, and a decent amount of mounting space to allow you to secure your cables more neatly.

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Not having a lot of cables, some of which can be quite thick meandering around components helps with better airflow throughout the case, and therefore better cooling for critical hardware like the CPU and GPU. In short, not only do neat cables have the added benefit of being cool, but they actually keep your computer cool (or cooler anyway).

Naturally, at best, it is also likely to have an improved design in terms of fan and ventilation rooms, and airflow in general, all towards the same end. And as we've already touched on, cooling can be quite an issue if you're going to be hardware overclocking your gaming PC.

Here are a couple of general tips: If you're going for a smaller case, it might be a good idea to buy a graphics card that draws heat from the back plate away from the case rather than inside the case. Because in a crowded environment, the latest bad news. Also, make sure the intake fans are guarded with dust filters, as dust is another enemy of PC components when it comes to overheating.

With that in mind, when you buy a gaming PC, buy yourself a can of compressed air and every six months or so, use this to get rid of internal dust before it starts to build up in any amount. Obviously, turn off your computer and be gentle while doing so. When dusting off the fan blades, be sure to keep it still (do not spin the fan while spraying air as this may damage it).

It might be a good idea to set up a recurring clean reminder of my PC on your calendar somewhere to remember.

Lastly, remember that like a dog, in case quality can be carried over into your next build(s), leaving you set with a big head start for the future.


4. Ask the experts

Once you've decided on your build, post the full list of suggested components on a techie forum populated by experienced computer builders (or preferably multiple forums). This is one step that many people don't worry about - as it can take a little time to register on these forums if you're not already registered - but it's well worth the effort to do so before you pull the trigger to buy all that equipment.

You'll usually get interesting feedback, and perhaps comments on options or different configurations that might work better, or even things that you might normally have missed. You might be happy about this advice before opening your wallet and it can be a real money saver.

Do not forget, PCPartPicker can be a useful resource when compiling and styling/exchanging a build - and in itself can point to potential compatibility issues.

MSI Afterburner

5. Importance of software

Just like all your juicy hardware, don't forget the software side of the equation when you finally put together your gaming PC. When your first spring gear is in action, computers (or CPU-XNUMX) is a great little free utility to monitor how your components are and highlight any potential problems before they get worse.

The Prime95 benchmark is a useful tool for stress testing and ensuring the stability of your processor, and we will talk about this in our article, which shows you how to overclock your processor.

MSI Afterburner and another smart piece of software that is invaluable for overclocking your graphics card and fine-tuning the CPU fan speed (note that this is not easy for an MSI graphics card).

And there are other top-notch free apps that are useful for any gaming PC we've rounded up here, including F.Laks which helps protect your eyesight while indulging in long gaming sessions that drag on into the night.

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