Building your own gaming PC can be a daunting prospect. Step in Overclockers UK. We’ve put together this extensive guide, complete with further reading and an FAQ, just for you.
Build Your Own PC
There are many things to consider when building your own gaming PC. You need to decide on the perfect hardware for your needs. These then need to be compatible and work cohesively together. In addition to this, a stylish PC case is a must, but it also has to be large enough to handle all your chosen hardware. Then there’s the more advanced stuff like water-cooling, modding, add-ons – it’s enough to trigger the anxiety and send you running for the hills. But take a deep breath, this ever-updating DIY PC hub is going to answer all your questions and more. Plus, if it doesn’t answer your questions, let us know and we will endeavour to fill those blanks for you. So, stock up on snacks, because we have a lot of ground to cover!
Why Build Your Own PC?
First of all, we think it’s important to know why you should build your own gaming PC. It’s more than just the bragging rights, we swear. When crafting a gaming PC, you can engineer it to your own specific needs, budget, and gameplay style. If you’re big on farming sims and little else, then an overclocked Intel Core i9 or AMD Ryzen 9 is going to be a little bit overkill. (Don’t worry, I’m calling out my own gaming habits here.) Alternatively, if you’re a streaming superstar, sharing AAA gameplay in 4K with your beloved audience, then elite-tier hardware is going to be your go-to.
We each require something a little bit different from our gaming PCs, so building your own is the best way to perfect your specification. It ensures you get exactly what you need, without all the extra fluff!
What do You Need to Build a Gaming PC?
We’ve covered why, now it’s what. What do you need to build a gaming PC? This is where the overwhelming diversity in form factors, generational tech, and brands can get a little much. Because there is literally so much to choose from. The Overclockers UK website, alone, has thousands of products to peruse and we specialise in gaming hardware. Imagine if we sold everything! Cue the fainting cartoon gifs.
To keep things simple for a hot second, there are seven must-have components that you need to craft a gaming PC. These are a motherboard, processor (CPU), memory (RAM), graphics card (GPU), storage, power supply unit (PSU), and a PC case to keep it all in. You will also need a cooling system, but we’ll cover that later!
It could be argued that a graphics card is not 100% essential, as many CPUs include integrated graphics, but we’re operating on the assumption that this is a gaming PC you’re building. A dedicated GPU is always better when a PC’s primary function is gaming. This is also true for content creators and streamers. Before you say anything, we know PC case is technically not a component, but you do absolutely need one for building a computer. Unless you have the mad skills to make one out of Lego, then who I am to stop you?
Tangents aside, these seven pieces of kit are essential for building a gaming PC. But this is where it gets a little trickier. You need to ensure these components are compatible and will all fit inside your case. If you buy a motherboard with an Intel chipset but buy an AMD Ryzen 7000 Series CPU, you’re going to run into problems. Equally, an E-ATX motherboard is not going to fit inside a Mini-ITX PC case. Therefore, when you’re buying the individual components, you need to think of the gaming PC as a whole, too.
To help with that, let’s go over each of these must-haves in a little more detail.
This is the foundation for your gaming PC. All the other hardware connects and interfaces through it. No mobo, no function. Motherboards are primed to work with one brand of processor. If you want an Intel Core processor, you need a motherboard equipped with an Intel chipset and socket. Which chipset and socket is then determined by which generation processor you want. For example, if you wanted a 13th Gen Intel CPU, you’d need a motherboard with a Z790 chipset and LGA1700 socket. Thankfully, motherboard product and manufacturer pages usually detail which processors they are compatible with. Here is a handy table to give you a quick overview:
|Intel||12th Gen (Alder Lake)|
13th Gen (Raptor Lake)
|Intel||10th Gen (Comet Lake)|
11th Gen (Tiger Lake)
|sTRX4||TRX40||AMD||3rd Gen Threadripper|
|Intel||6th Gen (Skylake)|
7th Gen (Kaby Lake)
The CPU, otherwise known as the central processing unit, is the brain of your gaming PC. It controls all the things. Utilising a combination of cores and threads, your workload, games, and applications are intelligently managed, keeping your PC running smoothly and efficiently. There are two main brands to choose from: Intel or AMD. This choice will definitely dictate which motherboard you can use, but may also influence the memory solution. Both the Intel Core and AMD Ryzen Series feature processors are built for different needs and budgets. The smaller numbers are for entry-level and budget gamers, whereas the big numbers are about elite-tier performance with matching price tags. Check out this table for more details.
|Entry-level||Core i3 / i5||Ryzen 5|
|Mainstream Gaming||Core i5 / i7||Ryzen 7|
|Elite||Core i9||Ryzen 9|
The RAM, or Random Access Memory, is your gaming PC’s short-term memory. This is where cache information is kept. Therefore, you need lightning-fast memory solutions with substantial capacities to keep everything running smoothly. Typically, 16GB to 32GB is ideal for gaming, whereas bumping up to 64GB or even 128GB and beyond is better for heavy-duty content creation and digital rendering. General rule of thumb: the more intensive your workload, the more RAM you’ll need. Currently, we use two standards of memory, DDR4 and DDR5. The latter is the latest standard which will eventually replace the former, but plenty of hardware is still utilising DDR4. If your budget is a little tighter, then opting for DDR4 is a good way to save without sacrificing performance. Also, be sure to check which standards your motherboard supports and which your RAM modules are – they need to match!
One other thing to consider when purchasing RAM for an AMD gaming PC is a technology called AMD EXPO. Select memory kits are equipped with this tech, which is designed to work with AMD Ryzen 7000 Series CPUs. It allows you to easily overclock your RAM. Check out our dedicated blog to learn more.
Getting to the juicy stuff – your graphics card. Also known as a GPU, this is the piece of kit that renders your games, creative applications, and images. Both NVIDIA and AMD equip their graphics cards with technologies to optimise gameplay, so that you can play at high resolutions and frame rates. It’s all about that immersive gaming. Fan favourites are real time ray tracing, which accurately replicates realistic light patterns, and upscaling technologies which improve resolutions (DLSS for NVIDIA and FSR for AMD). Whether you opt for an NVIDIA or AMD graphics card isn’t going to have a major impact on the rest of your hardware, save for getting a PC case big enough to house them. (Those RTX 4090s are chonky bois!) Team Green or Team Red, it’s down to your preference.
What does need to be considered, much like with CPUs, is the performance you need from your GPU and the budget you have to play with. The following table details how each brand tiers their graphics cards.
|Entry Level||RTX 3050 / 3050 Ti / 3060|
|Mainstream||RTX 3060 Ti / 3070 / 3070 Ti|
RTX 4060 / 4070 / 4070 Ti
|RX 6600 / 6650 XT|
RX 6700 / 6700 XT / 6750 XT
|Elite||RTX 3080 / 3080 Ti|
|RX 6800 / 6800 XT|
|Flagship||RTX 3090 / 3090 Ti|
|RX 6900 XT / 6950 XT|
RX 7900 XT / 7900 XTX
Now you need somewhere to store all your games, files, and even your operating system. There are two main types of storage drives, the traditional hard disk drive (HDD) and newer solid state drive (SSD). HDDs generally have high capacities for lower price points, as they are a well-established technology. However, with their moving parts and slower read/write speeds, they aren’t great for storing programs. That said, their high multi-terabyte capacities make them ideal for storing files, media, photos, and more. SSDs utilise faster NAND technology with integrated memory chips, so they are less likely to get damaged and corrupt your files whilst providing lightning-fast read and write speeds. This makes them great for storing games, applications, and operating systems, letting you take full advantage of reduced loading and boot times. The drawback here is they are still relatively new and much more expensive per byte.
This will only improve with time, but your budget, for now, may require a combination of drives. We personally recommend opting for both drives. Use the SSD for the operating system, plus any programs or games you access regularly. The HDD should then be used to hold your expansive media library.
Check out this guide to help you determine what combinations of HDDs and SSDs you need.
Of course, the most important part of your gaming PC isn’t the glamorous graphics card or processing powerhouse CPU. It’s the PSU, or power supply unit, for without it, nothing will turn on. The PSU you choose will depend on your PC case size, the power demands of your hardware, and what generation of tech you are using. Standard PC cases are generally compatible with ATX form factor power supplies, whereas SFF (small form factor) cases accommodate SFX or SFX-L PSUs. There is some wiggle room on that, and the PC case product or manufacturer page will state which size power supply they can host.
Next, power demands. The more power hungry your hardware, the higher the wattage needs to be. The general rule of thumb when working out what wattage you need is to work out how much power your components use and then double it. That way you have headroom for overclocking and upgrades. Our helpful wattage calculator can figure it all out for you. What’s more, you need to make sure your PSU has the right connectors. For example, the NVIDIA RTX 40 Series GPUs need a dedicated 12VHPWR cable or adapter. It’s recommended you opt for an ATX 3.0 power supply, which you can read about here.
Finally, power supply units are rated by efficiency. This is the 80 PLUS rating that will easily be identifiable on the product or manufacturer page. To learn about each of the rankings and which strikes the sweet spot for gaming, check out our dedicated article.
The last essential is your PC case. A large deciding factor for your case will be an aesthetic one – do you want it to be white? With a tempered glass panel? Integrated RGB? All important decisions. But the first choice should always be the size or form factor. All the common sizes offer a variety of colours, accessories, and features, so you’re never not going to be spoiled for choice. The common form factors are Mini-ITX, Micro-ATX, ATX or mid-tower, and full tower. You can also get cube and specialist cases. Just be mindful when choosing a case, and make sure that it will accommodate all of your hardware. For example, a Mini-ITX case won’t house larger components such as an ATX motherboard. It’s super important to do your research before diving straight in.
If you need any help at all picking out your hardware, our dedicated team of friendly experts is here for you. Call them on 01782 444 445 or click the link below to our online portal.
Once you have your components sorted, you can check out our step-by-step guide for building your own gaming PC.
But wait, there’s even more. Take a quick sip and a breather, then we’ll head onto cooling, add-ons, and operating systems.
First of all, I would like to stress that cooling is essential. It only falls into the advanced section because different gaming PCs will call for different degrees of cooling performance. If your gaming PC’s workload is going to be light, then air-cooling will suffice, whereas a hench powerhouse will need a fully custom water-cooling loop. Mainstream gaming will fall somewhere in the middle with all-in-one (AIO) water-cooling solutions.
Cooling in itself can be a rabbit hole to fall down, but we have a nifty guide that details where and when each can be used.
The operating system, or OS, is the interface you use to control your PC. Microsoft Windows, macOS, and Linux are all popular operating systems. Windows is the most commonly used on gaming PCs, with Windows 11 being the current standard, though Windows 10 is still widely used.
Learn more about the innovations that come with Windows 11 with our dedicated article.
Add-ons cover a wide range of accessories, that goes from case modding to sound cards, drive cages to capture cards. These additions entirely depend on what you want from your gaming PC. Taking the capture card for example, they are a helpful tool for streamers but would offer no benefit to someone who does not live stream. Add-ons are all about tailoring your gaming PC to fit niche and specialised needs.
If you are building a gaming PC to support your streaming career, then take a look at our streaming hub. We have guides for hardware, software, and even how to present yourself on stream.
Tools of the Trade
Whilst many PC cases boast a “tool-less” design, we cannot put our gaming PCs together with our bare hands. Tools are required. Most commonly needed are the following tools:
- A Phillips head and flat head screwdriver: Most of the components will need screwing into place, as will case side panels once everything is installed. The supplied screws on your hardware may differ in size, so it’s wise to keep a variety of screwdriver bits to hand. Also, don’t use power tools! These screws don’t require that much force and they may end up damaging your hardware.
- Cable ties: Cable ties are a godsend for managing your cables. With these nifty little things, you can group cables together to make routing them around your case much neater. Everybody loves a good bit of cable management! If you want to take it to the next level, check out Kolink’s range of cable management products here.
- Pliers: Pliers are useful to have on hand in case any screws or the motherboard stand-offs are too tight to undo. They are also super handy if a screw or small implement falls somewhere too small for your hand to reach in – ie, behind the motherboard tray. More advanced use could be bending back any modifications you’ve made.
- Wire cutter: Wire cutters are needed for trimming your cable ties down to size. It’s all about keeping your case as neat as possible!
You could have these lying around your home, but you can purchase tools that have been designed for building PCs. These often include grounding mats to work upon and specialised devices that have been crafted for niche needs.
Learn more about the tools you need for building and modding your PC with our dedicated guide.
Add Your Own Unique Stamp
Expanding upon add-ons, one of the great benefits to building your own gaming PC is you can truly make it your own. Want to add rainbow RGB lighting? Go for it! Need to accent your case with a colourful design? We have the paints and lacquers to do that! Feel like your cables could be jazzed up and colour-matched to your aesthetics? We have the braided cable set for you.
We have started a PC modding series, detailing the products we sell, the different facets of modding, and some top tips on how to transform your gaming PC. The first post is live for you to check out now!
One of the best things about desktop PCs is their upgradability. Found a new love in video editing and need a bump in RAM capacity? Easy peasy. Plus, when certain components get old and tired, instead of buying entirely new you can make spot upgrades. The only time this could get tricky is jumping up to the next generation of processors. As previously stated, motherboards don’t necessarily have cross-generation support.
This is where our upgrade bundles come in. If you want to take the guesswork out of moving onto the next generation of gaming hardware, then our 8Pack approved gaming bundles are the way forward.
These bundles are overclocked and ready to rock. Each contains the necessary components to easily transition you to the latest generation of gaming hardware. Here’s a breakdown of what these bundles typically contain:
- CPU: The star of the show, these bundles contain 13th Gen Intel or AMD Ryzen 7000 processors. They have been overclocked by 8Pack to provide optimised performance. All you have to do is select the bundle with the CPU model that best suits your needs.
- Motherboard: The chosen motherboard will have the chipset and socket to support your chosen CPU, along with a suite of gaming-tuned features.
- RAM: Giving you a little bit of choice, the RAM capacity can be configured with these bundles. Offering DDR5 RAM as standard, you can choose between 32GB or 64GB memory kits. Whichever suits your needs best. Some bundles offer a wider range of choices, including RGB modules.
- CPU Cooler: Finally, you have a choice of AIO CPU coolers or water blocks, depending on the bundle. Each has been selected for their high-performance and matched to the CPU’s TDP, but you have a choice between brands and styles.
Semi DIY: The OcUK PC Configurators
Still too much? We got you, boo. At Overclockers UK, we have an extensive range of configurable gaming PCs that offer you the best of both worlds. You get to adjust the base spec to suit your needs, budget, and gameplay, whilst we do all the hard work curating the components to choose from and building the beast!
Browse our complete range, shop by processor or graphics card brand, or even pick based on your favourite game! Just keep an eye out for the gaming PCs with a “Configure” button.
Helpful Blogs for Your PC Building Needs
Over the years, we’ve written a lot of useful information for building your own gaming PC. From making them energy efficient to what all the different storage form factors mean. We have listed them all for you here, and we will continue to add to this list as new content is written. Make this your one-stop shop for all thing PC building!
Overclockers UK Academy
Welcome to the Overclockers UK Academy! Enrol yourself on the courses you need to brush up on your PC building skills. Each of these blog articles has a companion video, taking you through the different subjects, step by step.
If you bookmark only one thing from this list, make it this article. All the different topics are linked here, and the YouTube playlist is even embedded. Everything you need in one handy place!
Having trouble with your RAM or just bought yourself an upgrade? This OcUK Academy article takes you through everything you need to know about reseating and installing RAM.
Next topic: graphics cards. Whether you’re troubleshooting your current GPU or installing a cheeky upgrade, this article goes over every detail you need.
Another important how to, reseating or installing your CPU. It should be noted that this video and article were made when AMD used a pin grid array (PGA) for their sockets. The AM5 platform has since moved to the same style used by Intel, land grid array (LGA). This information is still valid, however, for AMD processors utilising the AM4 platform.
If you’ve ordered your first PC, or it’s been a while since you last upgraded, this article will take you through the process of unboxing and setting up.
Should you need to return your PC for repairs, we have a guide on the best way to package it safely.
Whether you’re working on your summer DIY projects, or need a handy bundle of videos for your PC building needs, our Summer Sale Academy post has you covered.
If you’re in the market for a new RAM upgrade, then be sure to bookmark this blog! We cover the “how to” when it comes to replacing your memory and what you should be looking out for.
As mentioned, these articles all feature companion videos. You can find them all – and more! – at our YouTube channel. Briony and our video team regularly put out videos, covering news, tech releases, and exclusive insights from 8Pack on the latest hardware.
Building a Gaming PC Guides
Next, we have some articles containing tips for building your PC.
Got a tight budget? This article goes through a selection of great hardware that has an ideal price-to-performance ratio. Save money without compromising on your gaming!
Keeping our electrical costs down is a hot topic right now. You can craft your gaming PC so it runs as energy-efficiently as possible. This guide takes you through a selection of components and peripherals available on the Overclockers UK website that are energy efficient, as well as some great life hacks to implement.
If you’re taking the first steps onto your PC building journey, then this article is a must. We touched base with our technical team to curate these top ten tips for building your gaming PC. You don’t have to be a beginner to enjoy this article either. Veterans, have a read and if you have any more tips to share, please do!
Want some tips straight from Overclockers UK? We had a whip round the HQ for our staff’s best tips for building a gaming PC.
Need some help getting clean cable runs? Proper cable management will keep your gaming PC looking tidy and will even help to improve airflow. So read up on all our tips on perfecting the skill.
Anatomy Of Series
In our Anatomy Of Series, we take a look at the different components and gaming PC form factors. These articles detail the common features, any benefits or drawbacks, as well as making some hardware recommendations.
Micro-ATX gaming PCs are great for LAN parties or gamers with limited space. This article covers the ins and outs of these tiny powerhouses.
Another small form factor, the Mini-ITX gaming PC requires careful planning and configuration if you want it to pack performance where it counts. Discover just what you can fit into these gaming PCs.
The ATX – or mid-tower – gaming PC is the iconic PC image. This article covers everything you need to know about this popular form.
Fancy knowing a little more about your graphics cards? This article explains the common features of modern graphics cards as well as detailing which models are suitable for gameplay styles and usage needs.
If you’re not well versed in computer tech, a motherboard can have an overwhelming number of features and doo-dads. This article covers each of the important aspects, complete with an annotated diagram!
Powering your PC may seem like sorcery at times, but the PSU is full of intelligent features to delivery said power safely and efficiently.
Learn the ins and outs of a CPU. A processor is the brains of your gaming PC and there’s a lot to understand!
Form Factors Explained Series
“Form factor” is a term I’ve used quite frequently in this article. Simply, it means the size of the hardware. Our Form Factors Explained Series goes over these different sizes for various components.
Learn about the most common sizes of RAM modules and see which would best suit your gaming PC build.
Graphics cards are seemingly getting bigger with every generation. This article covers the common forms and even points you in the right direction for a suitable sized case to house the GPU you want.
Even our storage drives come in different shapes and sizes! Explore the different form factors of both HDDs and SSDs, plus where they are best used.
Picking the right sized case for your needs is important. This guide details the common form factors and their compatible hardware.
Getting your power supply right is imperative. This article goes over the various form factors and which cases they would fit into.
Knowing which motherboard to get can be a mission. We’ve detailed the different form factors of motherboards, covering pros and cons for each, to help you make this vital decision.
Other Useful Reading Material
Our Overclockers UK Blog is chock-full of useful articles, taking deep dives into the various facets of tech and gaming. Here is a selection of blogs that will make useful additional reading when it comes to researching your next PC build.
The NVIDIA GeForce RTX 40 Series is here – but how does this generation of graphics technology compare to the game-changing RTX 30 Series? We look at the differences, improvements, and innovations, comparing the Ampere with Lovelace.
NVIDIA has recently jumped to their third generation of RTX cards, the 40 Series. Whilst we would all love to get our hands on the absolute powerhouse that is the RTX 4090, budgets (and case sizes!) don’t always allow. But is it still worth buying an RTX 30 Series GPU? We wrote a whole article for you answering that very question.
Want to game or stream at 4K? Then these are the best GPUs for the job. We look at graphics cards from AMD and NVIDIA that are well suited for 4K AAA gaming.
So, you’ve picked an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 30 Series GPU. Now you need a suitable PC case! This guide covered the features to look for in a PC case when pairing with these graphics cards. Plus, we’ve thrown in a few cheeky recommendations too.
Building your gaming PC around an AMD Radeon RX 6000 Series graphics card? This article goes over suitable PC cases to pair with one of these GPUs.
If you’re upgrading to the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 40 Series, then you’re going to need a PC case with ample clearance for these larger-than-life graphics cards. We cover the basic requirements you need to accommodate an RTX 40 Series card, as well as putting a few suggestions into the mix.
Whilst they may not take up quite as much space as their NVIDIA counterparts, the AMD Radeon RX 7000 Series GPUs also require ample clearance. This article looks at the recommended clearance for these graphics cards as well as suggesting some of our favourite cases for the job.
Building a PC FAQ
Now, that is a lot of information that just got covered there. If you need some targeted directions, then check out this FAQ. Not only will it answer these questions concisely, but there will be handy pointers to linked blogs and sections of this article. I will take my gold star in sticker format, thank you.
What do I need to build a gaming PC?
There are seven main pieces of hardware that you need for building a gaming PC. These are:
- A motherboard
- A CPU
- A graphics card
- A PSU
- And a PC case
Naturally, there are extras you can include, like capture cards, RGB lighting, and sound cards. We also recommend having a cooling system, designed to match the output of your gaming PC.
You can find more information on this in the section titled: What do You Need to Build a Gaming PC?
For recommended reading, we suggest: Anatomy of an ATX Gaming PC.
Do I need tools to build a gaming PC?
Yes, you definitely need tools to build a gaming PC. Whilst you can get specialised tools for PC building, you can put together a computer with a selection of different sized Phillips head screwdrivers, a flathead screwdriver, pliers, wire cutters, and cable ties.
You can find more information on this in the section titled: Tools of the Trade.
For recommended reading, we suggest: PC Modding with OcUK: Tools of the Trade.
How do I build a gaming PC?
Today, building a PC is very similar to playing with Lego. All of the modular parts simply snap together, making it almost foolproof. No degree in electronics or engineering required! As long as you have a nice clean space to build, a few trusty tools, a sprinkle of YouTube, and access to the Overclockers UK Blog, you are good to go.
We have a full written guide for you to bookmark, use, and revisit as needed. For recommended reading, we suggest: Overclockers UK’s Step-by-Step Guide to Building Your Own PC.
For visual learners, here is a handy, step-by-step video guide from TechSource. If you know of any other handy guides, be sure to comment them below!
Build On Your Skills!
Whether you’re a beginner or a pro brushing up on knowledge, we’ve covered plenty of information about building your own gaming PC here. If we haven’t covered your burning questions, please drop it in the comments below and we shall answer them. Any juicy topics may get a blog of their own and will be added to the list above!