Thinking of doing a gaming PC build? It’s a lot easier than you think, and I guarantee it’ll make you feel a bit closer with your rig.
I originally built my gaming rig 10 years ago and have been adding to it and upgrading it ever since. But it’s not something you can just spend money on and peace out with. You’ve got to know which components to buy, how to put them together and, ultimately, what is and isn’t a good deal. I’m here to help.
And, look, it’s not too difficult. Let me show you: let’s go through how to build a basic gaming PC in 2023.
How to build a gaming PC
We start with the thought process behind the gaming PC. What are you trying to do? Is it a budget machine or are you trying to make an ultra-powerful battleship? Would you like it to be covered in lights or do you not care about aesthetics? Are you buying it to play easy-to-run, already-released games (like Skyrim, Overwatch and Minecraft) or would you like to play new releases?
This question starts us on our journey and will inform your budget. It’s a good idea to note the most you’ll spend on a gaming PC and try to not go beyond that. Typically, $1,500 is a good place to start, but you’ll likely go beyond this for better-looking parts and accessories.
With your budget worked out we can start to think about components, which is where stuff might begin to be a little complicated. Our prices will come from Scorptec, an Australian computer parts distributor, however, there are a bunch of other great companies to consider (Mwave and PCCasegear are worth considering, but so are a heap of other tech retailers). You’ll want to order through a single seller as much as possible, so all of your components come in the one order.
Along the way, we’ll be building a budget-to-performance build, but we’ll also be recommending more powerful options. This is a basic starter guide, designed to get you looking at the right things parts-wise.
If you want a more powerful build, keep in mind that, to get the best performance, you’ll need to upgrade the GPU and CPU (and, in some cases, the motherboard) as a unit, so that they work best in tandem with each other.
If you have a question about a specific component, never feel like you can’t ask the seller a question. This is important, in case you want to verify that a component is compatible with another component (playing it safe, all of the components in this article are compatible with each other). Additionally, you an use Pangoly to compare compatibility.
Never be afraid to shop for a bargain. If you see something substantially cheaper elsewhere, buy it there! And try to look up reviews of specific components, especially the case, to make sure your components don’t have issues.
Graphics card (GPU)
We’re going to start with GPUs, considering their important place in the gaming world (and that GPU price inflation is declining). We’re recommending an NVIDIA card, although an AMD card (or even an Intel Arc card) may be worth considering. The best budget-to-performance build card to go with at the moment is, in my opinion, the RTX 3060, although the RTX 3060Ti offers a performance kick for a slightly bigger budget (and if you’ve got more power, more on that later). The RTX 3060 starts at $549 via Scorptec. The GPU is a hugely important part of a PC gaming build, as it informs graphics capability, so it’s one of the most expensive components.
If you’re after a more powerful rig, consider the RTX 3070 ($879) or the RTX 3080 ($1,179). Additionally, if you’re after a cheaper build, consider a card from the RTX 2060 line ($479). Be sure to pick a card that looks as good as you want, as some come without lights and some have full RGB effects.
Processor (CPU) + motherboard
Next up is the CPU and the motherboard (motherboard model informs CPU compatibility, so we’re putting them together). In this section, we’re going to recommend an AMD build for our budget-to-performance computer. For the CPU, we’re going to recommend the AMD Ryzen 5 5600 processor ($309), as it offers some great performance for a low price. For the motherboard, we’re going to recommend A B550 AM4 motherboard (starting at $199, “B550” is the series and AM4 is the CPU socket). When shopping for a motherboard, keep in mind the ports that the motherboard has available and the ports that are available on the unit.
- CPU: If you’re after a more powerful rig, consider the AMD Ryzen 7 3700X ($295) or the AMD Ryzen 7 5800X ($729). If you want a cheaper build, consider the AMD Ryzen 5 5500 ($249).
- Motherboard: Motherboards don’t typically become more powerful if you buy expensive ones, however more expensive ones will come with more ports and, usually, more lights. Newer series motherboards, such as the X570 and A520 series boards (as oppose to B550), may also reduce bottlenecking.
RAM (or memory)
We won’t talk about memory for long. 16GB RAM is a decent amount for a modern gaming PC to handle, however if you like your computer to handle multiple windows or browser tabs at once, consider bumping this up to 32GB RAM. Additionally, you’ll want to stick to DDR4 RAM, in compliance with everything else in this build. Prices start at $29 (for 4GB sticks at 2,400MHz), however a higher Mhz value will usually translate to slightly faster browser/loading performance (I’ve never noticed a gaming performance difference). You’ll want to spend more on better-looking RAM with lights or more capacity (a good place to start is two 8GB sticks at 3,200Mhz, $76).
Storage (hard drive)
Your hard drive is where all of your games and files will be stored, so you’ll want enough space for all your stuff. We’re going to recommend SSDs in this section, as HDDs are just so slow and the cost difference no longer makes sense. To begin with, consider a 1TB SSD (starts at $99), however the storage drive is entirely based on your budget. Consider buying a bigger drive if you need more storage, or even more drives if you have more ports available on your motherboard. Be careful to not let the price get out of hand, as you can end up spending almost $1,000 on an 8TB SSD.
We’re going to shoehorn it into this section, but you’ll need to buy a Windows licence. Windows 11 Home costs $179.
Power supply can be a difficult thing to shop for, but something to remember is that a higher power wattage (W) will rarely translate to higher performance. The objective we’re going for here is “enough power to run the whole system”, so perhaps we should take aim at how much power our system needs.
Motherboards, CPU, storage and RAM are rarely power-hungry, but it’s the GPU that consumes the most power. If we’re going along with our GPU recommendations from earlier, a 3060 series card usually needs an estimated 600-650W power supply (this estimate is made with the rest of the system considered). We’re going to play it safe and recommend a 650W power supply for our budget-to-performance build, which starts at $85.
Ending our internal components part of this article is the case of the machine. Cases vary greatly in cost, going from $39 all the way up to $1,469 on the Scorptec website. This all comes down to personal preference and what you want your computer chassis to look like, so let this be a cosmetic test for your computer. Additionally, some cases come with better airflow or better fan placement (we recommend reading reviews on the cases you’re gunning for). We’re going to guestimate and say that $100 is a good price to spend on a case for our budget-to-performance build (the case doesn’t impact performance, but it pays to have a nice-looking machine).
With all of the above components purchased, you can begin to build your gaming PC. Below are additional components that you may already have. This means you can start to think about accessories.
- Peripherals might not be overly important to you, but as input devices they could make or break the experience. If you’re after avid gaming peripherals, you’ll want to shop for name-brand stuff (though you will find cheaper peripherals out there). Logitech, Razer and Corsair (to name a few) do terrific peripheral collections, containing headphones, mice and keyboards. This section depends entirely on personal preference, but be aware that prices can vary drastically.
- Additionally, you may want to purchase an Xbox Series X|S controller (Xbox controllers have deep functionality on Windows).
- A gaming monitor completes your setup. Give this a read when considering which one to get, however sticking by a 27-inch, 1080p monitor with about 144hz is a pretty good place to start (the price for this starts at about $209).
- A gaming chair has been scientifically proven to improve gaming performance. Will I link to this scientific research? I’m afraid not.
We’re doing the calculations now. Based on the parts we have recommended (the cheapest available of the models we’ve recommended via Scorptec), the price of this budget-to-performance build is about $1,493. Cutting in short of our $1,500 goal, this leaves just $7 flexibility. This isn’t terrific, but it’s still less than what you’d spend on a pre-built machine of similar specs.
Also, importantly, this calculation excluded accessories. As you might already have a mouse, keyboard and headset to use, we left it out, however it might be worth getting good quality gaming accessories further down the line.
When you’re putting together your gaming PC, we recommend that you watch part-specific tutorials online, so that you know how parts socket into each other. You’re unlikely to find tutorials about specific model compatibilities, but knowing how to put it all together works (you’ll need a small #2 screwdriver for the motherboard and CPU).
And if you’re planning to claim your PC build on tax, read up on what counts and what doesn’t depending on your profession and what you’re using the rig for.
Well, there you have your PC gaming build. Putting it together is an easy process, but that’s a story for another day.
This article has been updated since it was originally published.
The Cheapest NBN 50 Plans
It’s the most popular NBN speed in Australia for a reason. Here are the cheapest plans available.