There has been a paradigm shift in PC gaming hardware, a disturbance in the force so great we need to open the discussion with the PCTechBytes community on what hardware to purchase. If you are going to be building a gaming PC in the weeks or months to come, buckle up and prepare to discuss hardware.
Our goal with this build is to create a powerful rig without breaking the bank. This will by no means be a budget machine, but we’d like to keep the overall cost under two thousand dollars. Feel free to comment on your recommendations.
Will You Use AMD or Intel CPU When Building Your Gaming PC
Some thought needs to go into building a gaming PC and it all starts with the CPU. The CPU will determine what motherboard you get, and the motherboard will determine what RAM and hard drives you can use. So which CPU is best these days when building a gaming PC?
AMD’s Ryzen 9 5950X CPU is a 16 core, 32 thread CPU that is currently priced around $560. AMD was a fierce Intel rival back in the 90’s and early 2000s. They offered inexpensive CPUs that matched or beat anything Intel was producing at the time. This was great for the consumer, as it forced Intel to re-double their efforts and ultimately crush AMD in the CPU market.
Intel’s Core i9-10900K CPU is a 10 core, 20 thread CPU currently priced around $500. Intel CPUs have been known to have better overall efficiency, but since the Ryzen 3900X has more potential performance due to its 8 extra cores, it seems like the better option.
In reality, both of these CPUs are great choices for gaming. You likely will not be taking advantage of all 16 cores in the AMD processor. Remember, while CPUs matter a lot in gaming performance, the bulk of the processing is typically done with the graphics card GPU.
The choice in CPU here may come down to which motherboard you prefer.
Which Graphics Card Will You Install In Your PC Computer
Your graphics card will arguably be the most expensive component in your build. You have three real options for video cards, and Nvidia is two of them. AMD versus Nvidia has always been a hot debate, with AMD having decent cards at a much lower price, while Nvidia’s RTX series being the more popular and more expensive option.
Within the Nvidia family you have The elusive 3000 series cards, including the coveted RTX 3080 compared to the somewhat easier to find RTX 3060Ti. Both are great cards that offer the Ray-Tracing technology that promises to be a huge part of gaming in the years to come–especially in newer releases such as Cyberpunk 2077. But these cards are hard to find at the moment, so setup your availability alerts and good luck!
If you feel strongly about getting an AMD card, the new AMD Radeon VII is comparable to Nvidia’s 2080 Super in both performance and price.
Install A NVMe SSD To Supercharge Your Computer
You will want an M.2 slot on your motherboard that supports NVMe, as some older M.2 motherboard slots may only support SATA drives. The NVMe drives provide far greater read / write speeds than their SATA counterparts. Fortunately, as NVMe Gen3x4 drives become more popular, the prices are coming down quickly. Compare NVMe prices here.
New Motherboard Features To Consider
A motherboard is just a motherboard, right? Just match the socket up to the CPU you want and presto! You’re done. Not exactly. Newer, high-end motherboards will have some features budget boards do not. You many decide you don’t need these features now, but you should always consider future-proofing your build so you’re not building a new PC every two years.
Thunderbolt Port – A Thunderbolt port can be considered a supercharged USB C port that transfers data and video at speeds up to 40 Gbit/s. You can connect multiple devices to a single Thunderbolt port, which is nice if you have external storage or multiple external devices in your setup. Of course, your motherboard and all of your devices will need the same USB-C style Thunderbolt connector. Otherwise, you will need a USB C Thunderbolt to Mini DisplayPort adapter, if Mini DisplayPort is what your other devices support.
WiFi – If you cannot plug into your home network, your new motherboard should have fast 802.11ac WiFi. I wouldn’t recommend wasting money on WiFi for a desktop if you have the ability to plug into your router.
What Features Make Up A Good Gaming Computer Case
Is RGB lighting your thing, or is a high-air flow case more important to you? The anatomy of a good computer case depends on the following:
- What form factor motherboard you are getting.
- Will you be water cooling or using traditional fans?
- Are you installing multiple hard drives or an optical drive?
A good computer case will have cable management behind the motherboard. This is not a requirement, but it allows you to virtually hide all of the cables, which will allow you to display your RGB lighting and improve overall airflow. Also, if you’re going to be carrying your computer around, a computer case with built-in handles is convenient.
My Gaming PC Build Preliminary Specs
Below is my preliminary choices for my 2021 gaming PC build. The next step is to setup some price trackers and wait for the sales. My goal is to get the build down to around $1700 before the end of the year.
- MSI Z390 A Pro Gaming Motherboard
- i7 9700K Processor
- Samsung 1TB M.2 NVMe hard drive
- High Airflow Case
- 750 WT EVGA Super Nova 80 Plus Gold Power supply
- 32 Gigs RAM
- MSI RTX 3080 Graphics Card
So Let’s Begin The Discussion on Building A Gaming PC in 2021
We encourage our readers to comment and ask questions below. It will help us all, as a group, find the best hardware for our gaming rig in the coming weeks. Or continue on to our other computer hardware tutorials here.