Building a gaming PC for under $200 is possible, with care and luck. This guide gives advice on how to source and assemble the parts, to create a gaming experience that won’t break the bank. The research and planning that goes into building a PC is probably the most labor-intensive part of the project, because the stock parts need to be researched and carefully chosen to give the best results.
Before beginning the project it’s essential to determine the budget and do research into compatible components and budgets. Researching well-reviewed components and parts will help to avoid expensive mistakes. Take precautions here, because compatibility issues with components can easily derail any progress.
Next, establish a plan or list of parts needed to make the gaming PC. Particular focus should be placed on the CPU and GPU, which will act as the powerhouse of the system. It’s possible to find gamer systems with a good CPU and GPU combo for under $200. Other components that need to be factored into the equation are cooling solutions, RAM, motherboards, and the power supply.
During the actual buying process, there’s no need to skimp on quality. Quality components make all the difference when building a PC, so don’t over look reliability when crunching the numbers. Check components carefully to make sure they are compatible and check online reviews to see how other gamers found the results.
Once the components have been purchased, it’s time to begin the building process. All the components should be tested and double checked to make sure they are compatible and operating correctly. If not, it’s back to the store for replacements.
When everything checks out, it’s time to start installation. The motherboard should be the first to go in, followed by RAM, power supply, GPU, CPU, and then the hard drive. After installing all components, the connecting of all plugs and cords should be done in a logical order and checked thoroughly.
Now it’s time to install the OS. Keep in mind that a gaming OS may be slightly different than the standard OS, so if this is the case, research how to modify it accordingly. Then, whenever a game is installed, make sure that the system requirements are met so as to avoid any disappointment.
Cooling the System
Any gaming PC needs some kind of cooling system, to ensure all components run efficiently and safely. Depending on how clean the PC case is, either air or water cooling could be used. When looking for air-based cooling solutions, make sure to pay attention to the fan speed and air flow. Water cooling systems involve installing a radiator within the PC case, with hoses looping back and forth.
Heat will still be an issue with water-cooled setups and so extra-large fans may be necessary. CPU coolers range from cheap to expensive and large ones increase the total cost. Make sure the cooler is compatible with the mainboard before purchasing.
Whichever cooling system is chosen, keep in mind that air-cooled systems will involve a bit more maintenance, because it needs to be wiped clean periodically to avoid dust clogging the system. Air-cooled systems also consume more power than water-cooled ones.
Heat can also be an issue with water-cooled systems, because they need to be refilled periodically, otherwise some parts may get damaged. Again, check online reviews to get a general picture of what kind of rig will suit gamers’ needs.
Overclocking the System
Overclocking is the process of pushing components over their regular speed threshold, with the aim of improving the gaming experience. Overclocking is not without its pitfalls since it risks damaging the components. But, with the right instructions, a competent and experienced gamer can push the parts to higher speeds without any damage and therefore get more performance out of the machines.
The overclocking process involves adjusting the voltage of the components and keeping watch on the temperature of the part to avoid any permanent damage. Having a quality cooling system installed is the most important thing to consider before attempting overclocking. Also, read the manufacturer’s manual to familiarize yourself with the parts and have an understanding of the process.
It’s possible to do some overclocking of the PC components even before launching a game. Overclocking the CPU and GPU will give a slight graphical boost, but don’t go overboard with voltages and monitor the temperature of all parts to prevent any damage.
When overclocking, it’s a good idea to keep backup PC components in case something goes wrong with the overclock process. This will safekeep the PC in case the overclocked parts become damaged.
Gaming Rig Protection
As with any other machine, a gaming PC suffers from wear and tear, so must be cared for to remain in top working order. Regular maintenance of the rig involves wiping the dust from the mainboard, fans, and other components inside the case. Without regular cleaning, a build up of dust and dirt accumulate and make the PC less efficient.
It’s also important to back up the data in the PC, simply to avoid any disappointment. Also, back-up the Windows installation, in case of any issues. Keep in mind that a gaming PC involves quite a bit of software, so this should be monitored regularly. Additionally, anti-virus software should be running at all times on the machine.
When gaming, it’s important to monitor the temperature of all parts inside the PC, as well as the performance. Installing monitoring software can help protect against unforeseen issues, which could potentially damage components in the long run.
Upgrading the System
As a gaming PC ages and matures, more time is needed for efficient gaming. Upgrading the memory, power supply, and CPU can help bring the PC up to speed with other more powerful machines.
When looking to upgrade, think carefully about the amount of technology needed to improve the gaming experience. The most important parts to give a performance boost are the GPU, RAM, and CPU; these parts become outdated quickly and need to be monitored often.
Also, tweaking the BIOS settings can make a huge difference. It’s important to get a feel for how changing these settings affects the performance of the PC, as each setting has its own purpose.
It’s also a good idea to invest in a higher wattage power supply, to ensure all components run smoothly and safely. Plus, make sure the power supply is powerful enough to handle all the added upgrades.
Monitoring the System
Game software and hardware development moves at a dizzying pace, so keeping the gaming rig up to date is critical for the smooth gaming experience. Utilizing Windows updates will keep the machine up to date, as well as using updated games and software versions. This will help to prevent crashes and lagging, which none of us want to experience when gaming.
Longer term, consider upgrading the components, as this will be more beneficial for the gaming experience. GPU’s, RAM’s, and CPU’s all benefit from regular upgrades, so keep this in the back of your mind when building the PC.
If noise is an issue, look at soundproofing the PC, or upgrading to a quieter component. Slim soundproofing panels are relatively inexpensive and should dramatically reduce the noise inside the PC case. Additionally, adding more fans could help to move the noise away from the gaming PC.
Finally, monitor how the PC and its components are performing. Running regular programs to check the temperatures of the parts is a good idea, and will help diagnose any issues that may arise.