Common Sense & a Screwdriver: An Idiot’s Pre-Guide to Building a Budget Gaming PC

Building your own gaming PC is easy.

So they say.

Building your own gaming PC is easy. I built one. It has to be easy. In fact, “build” seems a lavish term for what really only amounts to slotting a few doodads into the correct whatsits and tightening some doohickeys along the way. All you need is a screwdriver and a dash of common sense and at least one of those you can pick up from Homebase. Oh, and some computer parts. Don’t forget those! You’ll almost certainly spend longer weighing up the pros and cons of an Intel Turbo Extreme 5000 over the Intel Super Merkin Ultra X11 than you will installing sticks of RAM and wiring up a graphics thing to your mum’s ironing board.

What’s not so easy is knowing what to do when you hit the power button for the first time and silence itself escapes from whatever terrible pit it calls home to swallow you whole. Or knowing how much pressure to apply to a GPU when installing it. Or at what temperature it becomes a very bad idea indeed to build your very first custom PC.

This, then, is a pre-guide; one that assumes you’d feel just as natural using a stick of RAM for a bookmark as you would installing it into a motherboard. It’s a guide designed to be read before reading the real guides – the guides that, while useful even to the novice, have been written by people with enough confidence that they gloss over the most cardinal of humbling concerns. If you know sweet nothing, if you’re worried about which wires come bundled with which parts, which forums will welcome you with open arms and which will send you packing with a sore ego and where best to head when all hope fades and the heavy clouds come sweeping in, this pre-guide might help.

I’ve included links to a cross-section of the guides I found useful when building my PC, others that delve bravely into the choppy waters of part buying relative to budget and a range of forums that proved both comforting and insightful when all I could muster from my spreadsheet machine was a reluctant whirr. Also included are some of the tips I gathered from across the vast plains of the internet and other little pointers that are perhaps so unthinkably basic most guides fail to mention them. But when it’s your first time jamming £130 of Radeon 6870 into a PCI Express Slot it pays to be confident, right?

Finally, I use pretty pictures and videos to showcase the differences between the same games on Xbox 360 and PC and talk a little about the parts I stuffed into my PC, what cables and doodads came with them and just what you can expect to get out of a £550 PC if you don’t feel like tinkering with whatever a BIOS is. Sounds like something wrestled from the gloomy corridors of Spencer Mansion to me.




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