So, over the weekend I finally managed to do something I’ve been wanting to do for a while now, build my own gaming PC. I want to take you through how I found the experience of a PC build as a noob and what I learnt but first it’s probably useful to give some background as to what made me, traditionally a console gamer, desire to cross over to the PC platform and more importantly do my own PC build. It’s no secret that I’ve slowly been drifting away from console gaming over the last year or so. The current Xbox One and PlayStation 4 just don’t do it for me. I’ve been a console gamer since I was 3 or 4 starting out with a NES that I got for Christmas.
The first console I bought myself was the N64. Since then I’ve had all the PlayStations and the Xbox 360 was where I became serious about gaming. The current gen machines failed to impress me and worse still I got sick and tired of buying games that didn’t live up to the hype or just didn’t seem a particularly big jump from what we found on last gen machines.
Now whilst I’ve had my own issues with the direction the console market is heading in, for example mid-gen upgrades (Pro/Scorpio), prices of games, lack of imagination etc. but please don’t think I’m in any way saying PC is better than console or that I am somehow better. We all play our preferred games on whatever platforms makes us happy and neither me nor anyone else can say that one is better than what you like.
So, a fair few years ago I picked up a PC with an NVidia GTX 960 card inside it and whilst I still played primarily on my console I started to grow my Steam library. The 960 wasn’t the best card at the time so I wasn’t able to enjoy games to their full potential, often having to lower settings and what not to get acceptable FPS. More importantly, I started to meet PC gamers online who would offer advice and tips as to how to improve my PC and what I should be looking at in terms of hardware.
I decided after a few years that I wanted a more capable PC and so I started doing some research and found some great YouTube channels that really helped me out. It was around this time that I saw a YouTuber (that I regularly watch) called Squirrel (see bottom of page for the video) build his new PC and boy did it make me want to try it. In the end, I opted for a prebuilt machine for a couple of reasons. 1) warranty and 2) I was petrified of messing it up and wasting hundreds of pounds. At last I had a capable machine that could easily play the newest games at max settings in 1080p/60+FPS.
At this point I was beginning to get fed up of the Xbox and PS4 and the fanboy wars were in full swing. Fast forward to the PS4 PRO and Scorpio reveals and I began to wonder how I could justify buying a 4k setup when I had a good PC and without knowing how Sony and Microsoft are going to incorporate these mid-gen upgrades into the console cycle. Simply put there were too many questions and not enough answers.
I made the decision to upgrade my existing PC to 4k which would involve buying a 4k monitor and realistically a new graphics card. At the same time, since I was more knowledgeable with PC hardware I decided to do a bit of Overclocking which would mean I would need to look at cooling options as I was on air cooling at the time and my CPU was already running at a very toasty 73 degrees C.
So, I bought all the bits and bobs that I needed for my new PC build and to my surprise (apart from the GTX1080) the hardware was surprisingly cheap. Popping the GPU in was easy but to my horror the CPU Radiator just wouldn’t fit in the case I had despite checking the compatibility. I made the decision to buy a larger more open case, strip my existing PC and rebuild the whole thing in the new case. I was excited and terrified at the same time.
I referred to some YouTube videos from my favourite channels ( JayzTwoCents, Paul’s Hardware and Linus Tech Tips) who I’ve been watching and learning from for years and to my surprise the PC build went smoothly. A few of the issues I had were a stand-off being left in the back of the Motherboard that I failed to notice for 15 minutes which prevented me from fitting it (noob), the io shield taking forever and an age to get into place and having to redo my CPU cooler as I didn’t think the cooler was making contact with the CPU which resulted me in taking it off to check (it had in fact connected just fine…noob). I found connecting all the cables to the motherboard a lot easier than I expected and the case had so much room to play with which made the whole process easier.
So, with everything connected and hooked up I pressed the power button and… nothing (heart stopping moment). Being the noob that I am I forgot to turn on the power switch and on attempt number 2 it booted up like a dream. I can’t begin to tell you how satisfying that was. I’ve now got the itch to build another PC and to be honest, I can’t wait.
A few things I learnt along the way are that although PC parts are delicate components you really don’t have to be too afraid to handle them and to make sure you match your L.E.Ds first unless you are going for a two-tone colour scheme. My fans are white where as my strips are red (doh). The whole build was a lot easier than I imagined and way more fun than I dreamed. The water cooling is working a treat and I am seeing max temps of 60 degrees C when stress testing and on average when gaming 50 degrees C and that is with the CPU overclocked. All in all, I’m one happy gamer. Now whilst I am moving on from Xbox and PlayStation I should point out that I love my Nintendo Switch. To me it is everything I want in a console. Great optimisation, plug and play simplicity and good fun.
Another interesting note is that many PC gamers I have encountered have been extremely useful and although forums and comments sections are full of master race fanboys, not all PC gamers are like that. I’ve had a lot of my preconceptions about the PC community change in the last few years and whilst I’m no expert PC master builder I do feel a sense of achievement. It’s not the perfect PC build and I have bits I want to tidy up but for now it’s my baby.
All that is left is to try and figure out how in the hell to play a first-person shooter like Rainbow Six Siege, Call of Duty or Battlefield with a mouse and Keyboard and to reiterate that it really doesn’t matter what games or systems you own and enjoy so long as you enjoy them.
Below you can find the video that made me want to do my own PC build.