I Built a Gaming PC!
It often surprises people that I’m actually a massive geek. I’m a child of the 80’s, so things like Star Wars and Star Trek we’re important parts of growing up. We always had a computer in the house for as long as I can remember. We started with a 32K BBC Micro, before I bought a second hand 48K ZX Sinclair Spectrum (which I still have at Mum and Dad’s somewhere!)
I still have my original Gameboy sitting on the shelf of my flat. It still works, although I only have Tetris here. My copies of Super Mario, Kirby’s Dreamland and Megaman 3 are somewhere at my Mum & Dad’s with my Spectrum.
Computer games were something I enjoyed for most of my life. From Wolfenstein 3D on our first IBM PC, to playing Tekken 3 and Gran Turismo 2 on the PlayStation in the student bar when I should have been in my art college lectures. In fact, practicing he Nürburgring in Gran Turismo came in handy for when I drove it for real!
The last console I owned until recently was the PS2, and as an Apple fan boy, gaming options were limited, and as such, I stopped playing for quite a while. For a long time, I managed to play a few games on my Mac through emulators like Playonmac, but gradually over time, the support for these fell away. Plus the experience was far from optimal, but was good enough.
At the end of last year, I decided to get an Xbox One so I could play a few games, but after a very short time, I had buyers remorse. This was for two reasons... Firstly, I suck at first person shooter games with a controller, which made playing Star Wars Battlefront 2, a thoroughly demoralising experience. Also, I don’t know anyone else with an Xbox, which made it quite boring. Everything is better with friends!
I’m now in the process of selling my Xbox, and following the advice/persuasion of some friends, I decided to not just buy a gaming pc, but to attempt building one myself!!!
Now to say the idea of building my first pc was daunting, is an understatement, but thankfully, I was given a good shopping list, and I watched a whole load of YouTube walkthrough videos before embarking on an Amazon buying spree! (Shopping links to everything at the bottom of the page!)
It was like Christmas came early! I guess one of the things about a consumer society is the enjoyment of opening boxes of new things! First thing I did, was to unpack everything to make sure everything was present and correct.
The next stage was to take the contents of all these individual boxes and combine them into something that functions as a gaming pc!
First step was to prepare the motherboard. All the guides suggest using the box it comes in as a platform for some reason, so that’s what I did.
The part I was most scared of was installing the processor. So many delicate pins that could easily get bent, plus the paranoia of putting it in the wrong way!
Thankfully, it’s made easy due to just needing to match up the little triangle in the corner of the CPU with the matching one on the motherboard.
All that remains then, was to gently drop it into it’s slot and lower the retention arm back into place to secure it. Whoop!
Following on from that, I removed the screws either side of the processor and installed the cooler on top. It came with thermal paste already applied, which was one less job to do, so that was nice.
The final thing for the motherboard was the memory. These were super easy once I’d found out which slots they need to be placed in. Then it was just a case of slotting the in until I got a satisfying click.
Time to move onto the case. In went with a white case from NZXT for the simple reason that I didn’t want something with the usual ‘gaming’ aesthetic.
First job was to fit the I/O shield into the back of the case, which just involves clicking it in place. I then manoeuvred the assembled motherboard into place and screwed it into the case on the pre-fitted standoffs.
Fitting the power supply to the case was as simple as fixing the bracket and then sliding it into the concealed ‘basement’ on the back side of the case, making sure the fan was facing downward so that it can vent out of the bottom. I also removed and refitted the sticker on the side as it would have been upside down and my ocd wouldn’t have liked that at all! 😂
Time to do some wiring, connecting, and cable management! One of the fiddliest things to do was attaching the front panel connectors to the motherboard header. Managed to get it done after eventually discover that there’s a small arrow on each one to denote which way around they go. I also connected the USB3 plug into the header next to it.
Because I’m a bit of a ponce, I got some fancy white cable extensions to look a bit nicer. These were kind of overkill, because turns out I only ended up needing two of them, but they look nice with the white case.
The SSD was a simple job, and just needed fixing to the drive sled and then attaching to the case with a single thumbscrew.
A gaming pc is nothing without a graphics card, and I went with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050Ti from Asus. This has a relatively small form factor, and doesn’t need additional power beyond the PCI connector, so it was easy to install.
So with the graphics card in, and a few last things connected up, all that remained was to cable tie things down and make everything neat and tidy.
At this point I was a bit panicked that I’d screwed up, because it all seemed far easier than it should have been! I rechecked everything about ten times, and it was all as it should be.
The moment of truth... It was alive!!!
With all the lights on, and fans spinning, I had succeeded in building my first PC! Yay!!!!
Now all that was needed was to install windows and download all the fun stuff!
Oh and not forgetting the best part of any new thing... pealing off the plastic!!!
So how does it perform? Well for the games I’ll be mostly playing to begin with, it’s more than adequate. It’s a pretty budget setup, so it’s never going to be running 4K ultra settings, but I don’t have a 4K monitor, so that would be overkill anyway.
It’s been a long time since I used a mouse in general, let alone gamed with one, so right now, I’m the weak point in my gaming system! I need a lot of practice and play time... and that’s something I’m looking forward to unwinding with. I may even stream some of my gaming rubbishness, purely for the hilarity! 😂