If you’re looking to equip yourself with a killer gaming PC, there are two distinct schools of thought on how to do it.
The first school is traditionally the safe option – just pay to have someone else build your PC. The obvious benefit of this approach is that your PC is guaranteed to work right when you take it out of the box. If you don’t feel comfortable messing around with all the components yourself, it’s always an option.
However, there’s a second school that considers the first to be heresy. Rather, they believe in one central tenet – build it yourself, no matter what. The obvious benefit with this is that you can decide what goes into your PC yourself, and you can also gain a deeper understanding about how your rig works that you wouldn’t otherwise have. That’s not to mention the money you save when you don’t have to pay someone to build it for you.
Here at TechRadar, we tend to represent the second camp, but we’re big enough to understand that a lot has changed over the last few years, and deciding which school to follow isn’t as straightforward as it once was.
In the past, building your PC yourself had the advantage of being cheaper. However, due to rising prices of graphics cards due to the cryptocurrency boom, that’s not really the case anymore. You can still shop around and get most of your components without that system builder markup, but you’ll be caught when it comes to your GPU.
Many of the more expensive systems do still have the potential for decent savings, but that margin has disappeared in some of the machines we've looked at recently, especially at the cheaper end. This leaves the main reason to build as making sure you don't waste money on components you don't really need. You get to spend the money where it matters most to you.
Say, for example, you wanted to build a machine that will deftly play PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, but also have enough raw grunt to handle this year's other big PC gaming release, Monster Hunter World, then you could set out to build a rig that really pushes graphics performance above all else.
Which is what we're focusing on over the next few pages. A pure gaming machine. But you can follow the general gist of this guide to build whatever it is you want – focusing on whichever area you need your machine to excel in.