How To Build A Gaming PC In 2020 (Beginner’s Guide)

The world of PC gaming is an incredible adventure with so many creative opportunities to test new mods, experience high-end graphics, and upgrade your living, breathing PC over the years. We’re going to show you how to build a gaming PC from scratch so you can experience it for yourself.

There are so many great ways to play games these days it can be overwhelming. PC gaming its own beast that has many pros and cons. If you’re a casual gamer that only plays one or two games a year and just wants the simplest experience possible, a console might be the right choice for you. However, if you’re wanting to experience the freedom of choice, modability, and uniqueness of the PC gaming world, welcome to the team. If so, let’s get started!

The Gaming PC Parts You’ll Need

Building a gaming PC requires a little technical knowledge but nothing you can’t learn from this guide. We’re going to be using an entry, mid, and rockstar cost structure so you have options to choose from. Most games can be played at the entry to mid-level, but rockstar-level equipment will get you all the fancy settings you crave.

PC PerformanceEstimated Budget
Entry-Level$300 – $600
Mid-Level$600 – $800
Rockstar$800 – $1000+
estimated budget excluding peripherals

CPU

The central processing unit (CPU) is the “brain of the computer. If you’re only a gamer and don’t plan on using video editing software, your rig shouldn’t bottleneck with mid-tier CPUs. The faster the CPU, the snappier your PC’s performance and higher framerates you’ll get in-game.

There are two main brands for CPUs – Intel and AMD. It doesn’t really matter which brand you choose. Just note that you will need to have a motherboard that’s compatible with your CPU. If you choose AMD, you’ll need an AM4+ motherboard.

Entry: Intel Core i3 7100$105.08| AMD Ryzen 3 3100$113.99

Mid: AMD Ryzen 5 2600X $206.99 | Intel i5 9600k$263 -> $189.99

Rockstar: Ryzen 7 3700X$334 | i7 9700k| $409.99 -> $259.99

How To Build A Gaming PC In 2020 (Beginner's Guide) 1

RAM

Random Access Memory (RAM) is the “short-term memory” of the computer. It’s used to store data that doesn’t get transferred to the other forms of storage. RAM is so cheap these days I can’t really recommend 8 GB anymore. By the way, you can’t download free RAM.

Entry/Mid: Corsair Vengeance DDR4 16GB$79.99 -> $70.99

Rockstar: T-Force Vulcan Z DDR4 32GB $102.99

How To Build A Gaming PC In 2020 (Beginner's Guide) 2

Motherboard

The motherboard is the skeleton of the PC. It’s used for all that electrical wizardry that I couldn’t dream of understanding. A good motherboard has some nice advantages, such as overclocking, on-board Wi-Fi, or better audio quality. Modern motherboards are all pretty good, though.

There are two types of motherboards that only work with their respective CPU manufacturers. Intel boards only work with Intel CPUs and AM4+ boards only work with AMD CPUs.

Entry: Gigabyte B450M (AMD) – $74.99 | Asus Prime Z390-P (Intel) – $134.99 -> $99.99

Mid: Asus ROG Strix B450-F (AMD) – $129.97 | MSI MPG Z390 (Intel) – $190 -> $149.99

Rockstar: MSI Meg X570 (AMD) – $307.99 | MSI Meg Z490I (Intel) – $269.99

How To Build A Gaming PC In 2020 (Beginner's Guide) 3

GPU

The graphical processing unit (GPU) is a secondary processor that has evolved over the years to compute for the increasing demand of graphics in games. This is the bread and butter of gaming PCs and what really sets them apart from other computers. These beasts are extremely important and can become expensive if you have your eyes set for the high-end. As with almost all hardware, GPUs suffer from the law of diminishing returns. If you plan on just gaming, mid-tier GPUs work very well.

There are two main GPU makers, Nvidia and AMD. Yes, it’s the same AMD that makes CPUs. As a general rule of thumb, Nvidia makes the more powerful GPUs but AMD usually has a better price-to-performance ratio.

Entry: ASUS Geforce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB (Nvidia) – $139.99 | XFX Radeon RX 560 (AMD) – $136.74

Mid: ASUS Geforce RTX 2060 (Nvidia) – $324.99 | Powercolor Radeon RX 5700 XT (AMD) – $409.99

Rockstar: EVGA Geforce RTX 3080 (Nvidia) – $699.99 | SOON™ Radeon RX 6900 XT (AMD) – $999

graphics card

Storage

Modern PCs have two types of storage, hard drives and SSDs. In my rig, I have both. However, you can get by with just a SSD since prices are pretty good nowadays. As a rule of thumb, Hard drives are slower, have more storage space, and are bigger. SSDs are much faster, more expensive, and have no moving parts.

Have you seen how fast the new PS5 boots up games? That’s because it’s taking advantage of a modern SSD-type storage system. The amount of space you need is completely subjective. I’ve been fine with 1TB while others demand 5 TB+.

Entry: Seagate BarraCuda 2TB – HDD – $57.99 -> $51.99

Mid: Samsung 870 1TB – SSD $129.99 -> $89.99

Rockstar: Seagate BarraCuda 6TB – HDD $139.99

hard drive

Case

All gaming PC cases serve the same purpose – hold what’s inside. What really matters here is if it’s big enough for your hardware and it looks good to you. There are a few sizes of cases that most people use.

Entry: NZXT 510$69.99

Mid: NZXT H510 Elite$169.99 -> $149.89

Rockstar: Thermaltake Core P8$249.99

nzxt 510 elite

Power Supply

The power supply is the engine of the PC. It provides all the electricity needed to operate the rest of the computer. The main thing to note about power supplies is modular vs non-modular or semi-modular. Modular power supplies offer the most customization and are great for cable management. Non-modular power supplies just give you all the wires without the ability to pick and choose. This can get kind of messy but they are usually cheaper.

Also, if you have more power hungry parts, you might want a power supply with more voltage. Typically, most builds will be fine with 600w or so. Anything over that is probably overkill for beginner builds. I recommend going no less than 500w.

Entry: ARESGAME 500w$47.99

Mid: ARESGAME 750W$79.99

Rockstar: GAMEMAX 850w$179.99 -> $139.99

power supply

Assembling Your PC

Sweet, now that you have your gaming PC parts picked out, it’s time to start putting it together. The only thing you should really is a screwdriver, a source of light, and a flat surface to work on. I would recommend anti-static gloves or anti-static mat to keep your precious hardware safe. Let’s get started!

Step1: Install The Power Supply

First thing first. We want to install the power supply. Look for the part of your case that has an opening. This is where the power supply usually goes. Remember, the power supply will connect to an outlet so face mount it so the connector is facing the outside. You usually have to screw it in with four separate screws. Viola! On to step two already.

Step 2: Mount Your Motherboard

Once you have everything unboxed and ready, you’re going to want to lay your case on its side so you have easy access to everything.

Once your case is flat on its side, you want to screw the mounting brackets on the case. This is where your motherboard. Depending on size your motherboard is, ATX, Micro ATX, or Mini ATX, there should be instructions in the case where you should mount your screws.

If you don’t see any visual indicators, lay your motherboard inside your case and look where the little holes line up with the the holes on your motherboard. There is where you’ll insert the mounts.

Once you’ve installed the motherboard you’re ready to add the CPU.

Step 3: Install The RAM

This is the easiest part of the whole build. Get your RAM sticks out and stick them in to the RAM slots on the motherboard. You should hear a “click” when they are properly fitted. If your motherboard has four slots, distance your sticks one apart as a best practice.

Step 3: Install The CPU

I know this part might seem scary for those of you who’ve never built a gaming PC before. Don’t worry, it’s not nearly as hard as it looks.

The first thing you’ll want to do is apply thermal paste to your CPU. This stuff keeps your CPU cool and is essential to the health of your computer. Some CPUs come with thermal paste already installed. If it has a gray/silver sticky paste applied on the bottom of the CPU, it already has some.

If there’s none, just add a pea-sized amount to the center of the top of your CPU. Seriously, you don’t need that much.

Now you want to gently lock the CPU in to the motherboard slot. Make sure you don’t touch the pins on the bottom. Those things are sensitive and bring easily.

You should see an arrow on the CPU and motherboard slot. You want them both facing the same way. CPUs can only attach the board one way.

Once it’s locked in, we need to install the fan to keep your CPU cool.

Some CPUs come with fans, other don’t. If you’ve seem some builds that have water cooled parts, don’t worry about that. That’s for a more advanced enthusiast.

There should be instructions on how you can attach the fan to your CPU. Once the fan is properly fitted, we’re ready to move on to the GPU.

Step 4: Install The Storage

Next, you’ll want to mount your drives to your case. Typically, there are hard drives bay that you can use to install either your hard drives or SSDs. When you’re installing your storage drives, make sure you face them toward your motherboard. You will have to attach the SATA cables that come with the drives to the appropriate slots on the motherboard.

Don’t worry too much about plugging them in yet. I usually wait until the end to do that.

Step 5: Install The GPU

We’re down to the last piece of equipment! Luckily the GPU is super easy to install. First, remove the dust filters from the appropriate parts on the back of the case. The ones you will want to remove will be the ones that align with the PCIe slot that you will mount your graphics card. I think finally hearing that “click” when you put in the graphics card is the most satisfying part of building a gaming PC.

Although there are smaller PCIe slots (x4) that you can use to install a soundcard, modern graphics cards require x16 slots. Not only will it say so on the motherboard, the size should align perfectly with the size of slot on your card.

Once the dust filters are removed, simply align the GPU with the PCIe slot and slide it in. You will hear a click to notify you it’s secure.

From here, just screw in the the GPU to your case where you removed the dust filters.

Note: For bigger GPUs, you might have to take out some of hard drive bays so it fits.

Step 6: Connect The Cables

Now that you have all the parts installed you’re ready to connect all the cables. This part can be tricky at first but it’ nothing you can’t handle.

Start with the biggest cables first. Most of these should be pretty self-explanatory. Connect the appropriate cables to the respective slots and you’re almost there! Don’t forget to check the manual on your motherboard if you need any hints.

The really tiny LED cables still show you where to put them, you just have to look really close at the motherboard to see where they go.

Every cable you need to boot your PC will be included in your power supply.

Step 7: Boot It Up!

Alright, you finally have everything installed and all the cables are connected. It’s time for the big best part. Turn on the power supply and hit the power button!

You should see your motherboard’s BIOS screen pop up. From here, you’ll want to choose the operating system of your choice and start gaming!

Error messages:

Sometimes, error messages will pop up. Don’t worry, it happens to all of us. Your computer will usually diagnose what’s wrong and display the error in your BIOS. Get the errors fixed and boot up again!

Game On

Sweet! Your gaming PC is booted up and chugging along. Welcome to the world of PC gaming! You’re going to love it here. We hope you enjoyed our guide on how to build a gaming PC in 2020. Did this guide help you build your first rig? Let us know in the comments below.

In other news

Looking for new games on your PC? Check out our League of Legends beginner’s guide.

Stay up-to-date on the latest gaming news.

Resident Evil Showcase 2021 Announced

The resident evil showcase 2021 was announced yesterday on the Resident Evil Twitter Account. The event is set for January 21st and is going to give "a guided tour of Resident Evil Village, including a new trailer, first-ever gameplay, and more Resident Evil news!" We...

Riders Republic Delayed By Ubisoft

Ubisoft's massively multiplayer racing/extreme sports game Riders Republic delayed until further notice. Riders Republic has a very interesting premise with combining things like mountain biking, snowboarding, wingsuit flying, among other extreme sports of that...

Ubisoft Is Creating An Open-World Star Wars Game

We sense a disturbance in the force. Ubisoft has been busy working on The Division series but apparently has started working on a game in a galaxy far, far away. Today, Ubisoft announced one of its studios, Massive Entertainment, is creating an open-world Star Wars...

Bethesda is Making A new Indiana Jones Game

Bethesda is giving off some real Tomb Raider vibes with its new teaser for an Indiana Jones game. The teaser seems to show the first of a new Lucasfilm Games label. Todd Howard and Machinegames are teaming up for the debut of their new Indiana Jones series. Earlier...

OtterBox Gaming Accessories Announced

Many people in the gaming community are already aware of the company OtterBox, their phone cases are very high quality and have been on the market for some time. Gamers will likely get to know the company more as within OtterBox’s CES 2021 announcements they revealed...

Massive Pavlov WW2 Update Adds Maps, Tanks & Weapons

The developers of Pavlov VR have been busy creating a massive update that will change the way the game is played. The Pavlov WW2 update is jam-packed with the vehicles, weapons, and maps to recreate the WW2 feel. There's a lot to cover here, so let's get started....

Ghostwire Tokyo Release Finally Revealed 08/21

Ghostwire Tokyo is set to be one of Bethesda's biggest releases and is on our best upcoming games of 2021. Before today we didn't really have a release date we just knew that it would be sometime in 2021. Not only did we get some information about Ghostwire Tokyo but...

AGDQ 2021 Brought In A Whopping $2.7M For Charity

AGDQ 2021 just wrapped up and brought in a whopping $2.7 million dollars for the Prevent Cancer Foundation. Games Done Quick puts on two major events every year with AGDQ and SGDQ. Even with the completely online conditions due to covid-19 the money donated still went...

CS:GO Bots Removed From Competitive But Why!?

Valve just made an update and the CS:GO bots removed from competitive play has everyone scratching their head. While there has been plenty of talk about changing bots in some way for a while, the community definitely isn't happy with the complete removal. Generally,...

Epic Acquires RAD Game Tools To Improve Its Unreal Enginge

Although already a powerful tool, Epic acquires RAD to improve its Unreal Engine. Epic Games made a strategic move that is likely to improve its top-tier Unreal Engine. RAD game tools has been used to improve loading times of popular games like Epic's Fortnite. RAD...
Derek Vaal

Derek Vaal

Cofounder

Derek has loved video games since he was a kid. His passion for games has only gotten stronger over the years and loved reading about the latest gaming news stories. He mostly ints on League of Legends and misses aerials in Rocket League.

Zach Yagle

Zach Yagle

Cofounder

Zach grew up playing games like RuneScape and League of Legends. Nowadays, he mostly plays horror games and feeds as Shaco on Summoner’s Rift.