If you’re looking to equip yourself with a killer gaming PC, there are two distinct schools of thought on how to do it.
Generally speaking, the first school is the safer option – just have someone else build your PC for you. The obvious benefit here is that your PC is guaranteed to work straight out of the box. If you don’t feel comfortable messing around with all the components, the option is always there.
However, the first school is considered heresy among the second – they believe you should build your own computer, no matter what. The obvious benefit here is that you can decide what goes into your PC on your own, and you can also gain a deeper understanding about how your PC works that you wouldn’t necessarily have otherwise. 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 own PC had the advantage of being the cheaper option. Unfortunately, due to the rising prices of the best graphics cards, due in part to the cryptocurrency craze, that’s not necessarily true anymore. Even if Nvidia may be designing graphics cards designed for cryptocurrency miners and some retailers are trying to combat miners, it can be difficult to find a good deal on a 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.
Like, for example, say you wanted to build a PC that will ably handle PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, but also have enough raw horsepower to handle 2018’s other big PC gaming releases, like Monster Hunter World and Far Cry 5, then you could set out to build a machine that pushes graphics performance above everything 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.