Building a PC can often be quite a challenge if you haven’t done it before. PC gaming, in general, can be intimidating if you’re a lifelong console gamer and you don’t know what you’re getting into. Fortunately, we here at WePC are here to answer all of the questions you might have about PC building and PC gaming, in general. We are going to go over everything from how much a PC costs to more tailored questions like should you buy an extra fan?
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the most common questions about building a PC.
In most cases, yes, console gaming is far cheaper, but it doesn’t have to. In terms of hardware, you can get a good quality gaming experience while generally paying the same amount That being said, consoles now game in 4K and that is something that currently will cost you a lot more to do on PC.
You can save a lot of money elsewhere in PC gaming. While the hardware can cost a varied amount, or more if you opt for high-end hardware, the games are much cheaper. There are multiple storefronts on PC constantly running sales that allow you to get AAA titles for way under $60. You also save on peripherals, with gaming mice and keyboards being compatible regardless of branding.
It’s a fun time, but you don’t have to. If you aren’t comfortable doing it yourself, find a local PC hardware shop to do it for you. They’ll usually be eager to help out. Alternatively, you could try buying a custom prebuilt PC, which most major manufacturers produce.
Custom prebuilt manufacturers will charge a mark-up on the computers they sell, which obviously covers labor costs. So, in most cases, you can save money/ get more performance for your cash by building your own gaming PC. that being said, prebuilt computers often come with added benefits, such as software, testing, and warranties, so both options are more than acceptable.
Unless you are buying components or an entire PC second-hand, it is almost always cheaper to build your own custom PC. When building your own PC, you won’t have to pay for any labor costs, keeping costs down, and allowing you to include more into your system for the same price.
The main reason it is often cheaper to build your own PC is because of labor costs. Prebuilt manufacturing companies are businesses at the end of the day, with overheads and staff to pay, so it is perfectly acceptable for them to charge for their hard work. There are also a lot of additional benefits with a prebuilt computer that can sometimes be included in the costs, such as software and testing.
How much a PC cost varies dramatically. Standard PCs for office use can be put together for as little as $300 depending on your individual needs. The price of a PC starts to increase as you up the specs. If you were to utilize CPUs integrated graphics, you can save money as you won’t need a GPU but you must understand that this can come with compromises.
The most expensive part of the PC is the graphics card. A GPU also varies in price, with older or less powerful options being much more affordable. Like with anything PC-related, the price goes up with the more power you require. So, if you want to play the latest games in 4K, you are likely to need a more expensive graphics card to do so.
Just like any PC or laptop, how much a gaming PC costs depends on your individual budget and needs! It can cost anywhere from $300 to $2000, and many people like to occupy a happy in-between at around $500-$700. Whether you’re on a budget and pinching pennies or a big shot who wants the best of the best, PC gaming is there for you. Check out our How to Build a Gaming PC guide for a more detailed breakdown of pricing tiers.
For those looking to build a mid-tier system and above, you can usually expect to spend around 50% of your budget on the graphics card. The GPU is the most expensive part of a gaming PC, so do not worry about focusing your budget on this item. The CPU can also raise the cost of a PC build but this largely depends on your needs. You can save in the CPU area, giving yourself more towards the graphics cards but this all depends on what you are looking to get from your new computer.
It can sometimes be best to find a balance between your components but it is important to note that other, forgotten about areas may raise the overall cost significantly. RAM kits are fairly priced these days and you should probably look to include 16GB of fast RAM with your PC, ensuring you get the absolute most out of it. Storage may seem like an area you can save money, however, you should focus on purchasing an SSD. It may seem like a good idea to buy a small-capacity SSD but they can fill up quite quickly, with modern games in some cases exceeding 100GB!
So how much does it cost to build a gaming PC? Well, it obviously varies, however, it all depends on your individual gaming needs. If you are looking to play the latest games, in max settings, in the highest resolutions, then you are likely to need to spend quite a lot of money ($1,500+). For the competitive esports lovers out there who want nothing but high frames in their favorite shooters, you are lucky, you don’t have to spend quite as much, with low to mid-tier systems covering your needs.
For your first time, it can be as long as two-three hours. With help or experience, it can take as little as one hour, especially once you really know what you’re doing. If you take time to prep beforehand by watching videos and reading your manuals, you can shorten the process significantly.
There are some areas that can stretch out the overall time. If you buy a bad PC case, you could find it isn’t ideal for the overall build process. A bad PC case may also make cable management very tricky, again, leading to lengthier build times. CPU coolers can vary from brand to brand too, sometimes giving even the odd experienced builder a small headache. The instructions are often clear, however, coolers such as AIO’s come with a few extra steps, again leading to more time being needed. Regardless, you should just take your time and enjoy the build, that’s what it’s all about.
Not too hard. If you follow the instructions and are building in a safe environment, it’s pretty hard to screw up: everything has a set place. You won’t accidentally plug your GPU into your CPU slot, for instance. If you’re ever in doubt when building, consult your motherboard manual and the manual for the part that you’re attempting to install. This will usually clear up any confusion and help you finish up.
The hardest part of the process for beginners is at the start, with newbies running into compatibility issues but there is a lot of material online nowadays to help you through it. We have created a how-to build a gaming PC guide, helping you through said compatibility questions and offering complete step-by-step instructions to help you through the process.
Almost no tools are actually necessary for most builds, but a screwdriver will be a necessity for standoff screws and mounting other components, like your cooler or your drives. Your case will often come with thumbscrews to make installing expansion cards easier, as well.
For a safer building experience, you can optionally invest in tools like an anti-static mat or an anti-static wristband to protect your components from static shock while you’re handling and installing them. ESD damage to components doesn’t happen often, but it is likely enough for us to encourage caution when building.
Windows will provide the best all-around compatibility and support, but you can use Linux if you want. Linux can provide a great gaming experience, and is always getting more and more support. If you opt to save money by going for Linux, we recommend Linux Mint.
You only have to buy Windows if you don’t own a copy already and if you plan on buying a prebuilt system, don’t worry, they usually come with Windows pre-installed.
We often recommend to first-time builders to invest in an anti-static wrist strap purely to put your mind at ease and ensure you run into the least amount of complications. A lot of experienced builders may have an anti-static mat to place their components on to but that is about it, so no it isn’t absolutely necessary.
Unless there’s something you need it for, no. Most users only use their disc drive once: when installing Windows. If you have another PC and a USB stick on hand, however, you can create a USB Windows installer that you can use instead, saving you the trouble of installing a disc drive that you’re only going to use once. If you ever need one later, you can always buy one.
This depends on your case. We recommend having at least one intake (blowing air into the case from the front) and an exhaust fan (blowing air out the back of the case). If you have both of those, you should be fine- feel free to add more intake and exhaust fans as you please to lower your case temps.
It is worth noting that if your PC has a lot of high-end hardware, your internal temps will run higher, so you should consider extra fan options but remember these components are designed to take quite a bit of heat. Another note is that if you buy a budget PC case, they may often just feature a single 120mm case fan. This single fan will do a little bit for your internal temps, however, it is advisable to expand on this to at least have the intake/outtake configuration previously mentioned.
Not at all. Many people space out their purchases over time, and you may even be able to assemble your PC before acquiring certain components. For instance, if you have every part of your PC except a graphics card, you may be able to run your PC off of your processor’s integrated graphics until you can afford to buy a GPU.
You’ll need the following:
- CPU (with a Cooler)
- Power Supply
- HDD (or SSD)
Other parts are optional:
- Disc drive
- GPU (recommended)
- Sound cards, extra storage drives, etc
A compatible motherboard and a compatible CPU. Intel “K” series CPUs are overclockable, as are all AMD CPUs. Older AMD motherboards will all support overclocking, but Ryzen and Intel-K CPUs will require certain motherboard chipsets to allow overclocking. Be sure to check before buying your motherboard if this is a feature you need.
In theory, everything, as long as you ensure you watch out for any compatibility issues. For example, if you are running older DDR3 RAM and are looking to upgrade your motherboard, it just isn’t going to work. When replacing parts just ensure you do some planning before buying components.
When replacing parts double check compatibility, for example, every couple of generations, CPU/motherboards may feature different chipsets than before, meaning older generation components might not work.
These are recommended for overclocking and the higher-end processors, but no. There are many great air coolers on the market that can perform similarly but may be louder due to the presence of fans and have large heatsinks. Liquid coolers also require a bit more work when it comes to long-term maintenance, so if you’re new to PC building it may be best to stick with air.
The PC case is very important, just like the majority of components needed to build a PC. Your PC case obviously holds everything together and is important for three main reasons:
- The case supports and shields your components from the scary outside world, so needs to be strong and fairly well constructed.
- A PC case’s next job is to supply your components with fresh air. Some cases come with more fans than others, so keep an eye out.
- A PC case can essentially give your new build its main aesthetics benefits, such as RGB lighting.
Tons of places. Prebuilt providers like iBuyPower, CyberPowerPC, MSI, Thermaltake, your local Best Buy, Amazon…or, better than all of the above, buying components yourself and building a PC of your own. And if you don’t know what to look for, we have more good news: we have you covered. Just head over to our Builds and we’ll help find the right build for you.
We already recommend the best-prebuilt gaming PCs for a variety of budgets:
- Best Prebuilt Gaming PC under $500
- Best Prebuilt Gaming PC under $800
- Best Prebuilt Gaming PC under $1000
- Best Prebuilt Gaming PC under $1,500
- Best Prebuilt Gaming PC Under $2000
- Best RTX 3080 Prebuilt Gaming PC
- Best RTX 3070 Prebuilt Gaming PC
- Best Prebuilt Gaming PC
If you plan on building your own gaming PC, we have guides on that too, focusing on different price categories:
- Best Gaming PC under $300
- Best Gaming PC under $400
- Best Gaming PC under $500
- Best Gaming PC under $600
- Best Gaming PC under $700
- Best Gaming PC under $800
- Best Gaming PC under $1000
- Best Gaming PC under $1500
- Best Gaming PC under $2000
- Best Gaming PC under $3000
- Best Gaming PC under $5000
Other Related Custom PC Guides:
- Best Gaming PC
- Best Budget Gaming PC
- The Best Silent PC Gaming Build
- The Best Streaming PC Build
- The Best Mini ITX Build For Gaming
Check out some of our game-focused custom PC build guides below.
- The Best Gaming PC For Valorant
- The Best Custom Built Gaming PC For CS:GO
- The Best Custom Built Gaming PC For Fortnite
- The Best Custom Gaming PC For Cyberpunk 2077
- The Best Custom Built PC For Emulation
Need a straight-up guide to building a gaming PC? Click here. We’ll walk you through every last step of the process and ensure that your entry into PC gaming goes as smoothly as possible. In our detailed guide to building a gaming PC, we cover every last step of the building process, from picking out your build, to actually building, to installing everything on your new PC.
If you still have questions after finishing this article, don’t worry: we have you covered. Just ask us down in the comments below, and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible! Don’t be afraid to ask, either- we’re eager to help.