50 Best Gaming PC Build Tips For Beginners – How to Avoid Mistakes
Table of Contents
You are likely to feel intimidated when learning how to build a gaming PC and may do some minor mistakes, you can avoid these mistakes by going through this list of 50 tips when building a gaming PC.
1) Don’t Overthink Thermal Paste
Thermal paste application is overrated, above there is an example of too little, just right, and too much, bigger CPUs, of course, bigger CPUs need more but try not to overthink it.
2) 6-Cores Is The Sweet Spot
6-core CPUs are pretty much The Sweet Spot for gaming right now, I would not recommend going with an 8-core unless you plan to use those extra cores for other production workloads otherwise, that spare cash is better spent on a faster GPU.
3) Stream With NVENC New
Even if you plan on streaming, you are much better off with the updated NVENC encoder which can be found on all RTX 30-series, RTX 20-series, GTX 1660, 1660 Super, 1660 TI, GTX 1660 Super.
It’s much more efficient than streaming with x264 CPU, the FPS impact is basically nothing and the quality is really good as well
4) Don’t Overtighten
Now when it comes to PC assembly try and avoid overtightening things, all these small screws are very easy to overtighten and strip if you try hard enough, a good rule of thumb is to aim for around 95% tightness.
5) Mounting Pressure Matters
The only exception in tightening things is when it comes to mounting CPU coolers or water blocks, where you do wanna get as close to 100% tightness as you can, to maximize mounting pressure, but again overtightening is still a thing.
6) Use PC Part Picker
PC Part Picker is the best place when you are planning out an entire PC build, balancing your budget, and finding out if there are any incompatibilities with your parts.
7) PC Assembly Order
Install your CPU on to your motherboard, then Install your RAM, your M.2 SSD and your CPU Cooler mounting bracket
Install the motherboard into your case, then your power supply, CUP cooler, fans and then finally your graphics card.
8) Avoid Pumps In Top Position
When building with an all-in-one liquid cooler mount it in a way so that the pump is not the tallest point of the loop, this can shorten the life span of the cooler as air travels up into the pump as well contribute to noisy operations.
9) Always Keep The Pump Fed In a Custom Loop
Custom loops are the exception here where you can have a reservoir directly feeding the pump liquid.
10) Easy Soft Tube Installation Method
Speaking of custom loop, for easier soft tube installation into a compression fitting, wet the end of the tube with hot water before tightening up the compression ring.
This makes installation a whole lot more easier and allows you get 100% tightness.
11) Always Leak Test Your Loop
Also, don’t forget to leak test your loop with EK-Leak Tester, it’s super easy to use, and can quickly find loose fittings and potential leaks.
12) Lower GPU Utilization at Lower Resolution
Now if you are only playing at 1080p resolution, the more you spend on GPU the less performance you will get in return.
High-end GPUs scale very poorly when it comes to a lower resolution.
13) Invest In a Proper Toolkit
A proper toolkit like the above one from IFIXIT is highly recommended for any PC build especially if you are installing water blocks and tearing down GPUs.
There are also more affordable similar kits out there that should be fine as well.
14) Always Download Latest Windows 10/11 Install
When doing a fresh windows 10/11 installation always grab the latest copy that is available online, that way you can avoid doing a ton of updates once you get your installation up and running.
15) Avoid Sharing Boot Drives
Do not share windows 10/11 boot drives between Intel and AMD systems or between much older and newer chipsets.
It’s usually fine if you’re just doing a CPU swap or a motherboard upgrade on the same platform but otherwise, a fresh windows 10/11 install is always recommended.
16) Remember to Enable XMP
After your windows install always remember to enable XMP in BIOS to get the full speed out of your memory kit, many beginners forget to do this.
17) Improve Memory Compatibility With Voltage And Frequency
If for some reason your memory kit is not stable with your particular build try increasing the DRAM voltage just a little bit or decreasing the frequency by one or two steps.
18) SLI And Crossfire Are Dead
NVIDIA’s SLI and AMD’s crossfire are pretty much pointless at the moment, do not buy multiple GPU’s if you are looking for more gaming performance.
19) ITX Cases Can House Epic Gaming Builds
As mentioned above this also means that a well-ventilated ITX case like the Cooler Master NR200 is pretty much as big as a gaming PC needs to be these days and thermal performance is a lot better than what you would expect.
20) Graphics Card Cooling Differences
When it comes to graphics cards they all have intake fans that blow onto a heatsink but the way they exhaust that air can be quite different.
Most open-air cards have exhaust airflow from being vented out the front of the card but also down near the PCI-E slot.
But there are some that have the heatsink fit in the opposite direction exhausting air out the end and near the io.
Then you have blower cards that exclusively exhaust air out near the io.
And the flow-through FE cooler design which is a hybrid of the two, so just consider how this may affect the airflow of your build before choosing either one.
21) Stick to One RGB Ecosystem
Now if you are building RGB components like fans and LED strips try and stick to just one RGB ecosystem from a single brand, this makes lighting configuration, compatibility, and cable management significantly easier.
22) RGB And Gaming Performance
Despite what you have heard online RGB lighting does not give you 10% more gaming performance at least I’m pretty sure.
23) Ready Up Wifi And Ethernet Drivers
When getting a fresh build-up and running it’s a good idea to have your wifi and ethernet drivers all ready to go on a USB.
Most motherboards do not have this packaged and pre-installed which means you will not be able to excess the internet on a fresh build.
24) Avoid Common Motherboard Bloatware
Do not install all the bloatware and junk that your motherboard recommends, this stuff constantly runs in the background and you don’t need it.
25) Correct DRAM DIMM Slot Installation
If your build uses two RAM sticks but your motherboard has four slots available always refer to your motherboards included handbook to ensure which two slots are preferred.
Typically it’s the second and fourth slot on newer boards but always check to be sure.
26) Clean Your GPU Drivers With DDU
If you are upgrading to a new GPU make sure you completely wipe of old drivers with display driver uninstaller or DDU for short, otherwise you may encounter performance issues.
27) Aim For Balanced PC Case Airflow
For PC case airflow aiming for a balanced or neutral airflow setup is always generally best for most builds where the number of intake fans should roughly match the number of exhaust fans.
28) Negative Pressure Generally Works Better For ITX
Compact ITX builds under ten litters are the exception here where generally you will want to stick to exhaust or negative pressure to encourage air through the side panels.
29) Fix NVIDIA’s 12-Pin Adaptor
If you have an NVIDIA RTX 30 series founders edition GPU consider carefully trimming the sleeving around the 12-pin cable adaptor to make it much less bulky.
This can be done very safely and works both for the single 8-pin and dual 8-pin adaptor.
30) Use Coolant Sensor For Custom Watercooling
If you are building with a custom loop I highly recommend adding a coolant temperature sensor, this way you can control the fan speed based on the liquid temperature which avoids tye sudden ranking up and drops in fan speed.
31) Overclocking Sucks in 2022
When it comes to overclocking these days, don’t be disappointed if you get very poor results, current-gen CPUs and GPUs don’t actually have as much headroom as they did a few years ago.
One part of this is that they just have smarter boosting algorithms now which allows them to take advantage of higher frequencies already out of the box.
32) Lower Temps = Higher Clocks
On the above note, the more cooling your CPU and GPU have available the more performance that you can actually get out of them and stock up to a point.
This is mostly the case with AMD Ryzen processors and pretty much any modern GPU.
33) Avoid Premium Coolers On Budget GPUs
However, you have to avoid overspending on a premium cooler for budget mainstream GPUs, cooling those cards is already pretty easy with more affordable cooler designs and the premium price is better spent on an actually faster GPU.
34) Toggle Off Startup Apps For Cleaner Launch
Once you’ve got your fresh build up and running and you’ve downloaded all of the programs that you want, head over to startup programs in windows and toggle off the apps that you don’t need, this creates a much lighter and faster launching experience.
35) Disable Windows Mouse Acceleration
Also, don’t forget to disable and enhance pointer precision in your mouse settings which adds acceleration to your mouse movement by default and negatively impacts aim in certain games.
36) Do Not Overspend On Power Supply
Don’t overspend on your power supply especially with most builds only using a single GPU, 1000 watts and above PSU are pointless here, generally, 750 watts is the upper limit of what I would recommend today, most builds honestly don’t need more than a decent 600 watts unit.
37) Do Not Overspend On Motherboards
Similar to the PSU, you don’t have to overspend on the motherboard especially for gaming builds, for AMD users at least B550 is a great cheaper alternative to X570 with the same overclocking features.
38) Noctua NF-A12x25 = King 120mm Fan
For the best 120mm fan on the market, you just can’t beat the Noctua NF-A12x25 in all of my testings this consistently comes out as having both the quietest motor and airflow operation.
But do consider the Arctic P12 as a much cheaper alternative which does come pretty close.
39) Air Vs. Liquid Cooling
When it comes to air vs. liquid cooling the best air coolers in the market typically have performance about equal to a decent 240ml liquid cooler, the noise is typically lower in most cases due to not having a pump.
Liquid cooling though is still the best when it comes to achieving maximum cooling performance.
40) Plug Cables In Before Mounting Large Cooler
If you are building with one of those large tower coolers though, I highly recommend installing that after you have plugged in all of your motherboard cables otherwise they are pretty much impossible to access.
41) Avoid PCIe Gen 3 Cables For Gen 4 Builds
If your build uses a motherboard and GPU that has both PCIe gen 4 which is all current-gen parts, avoid using a case that has a PCIe gen 3 Riser cable.
42) CableMod ModMesh Cables Are Worth It
For improving cable management and esthetics consider upgrading your power supply cables to set from CableMod, their ModMesh cable kits are epic in quality and great looking if you are looking for that final touch for your PC build to stand out.
43) Do Not Mix Cables Between Power Supplies
A very important note though is to not mix and match the cables between power supply models even from the same brand, the pinouts are often different which can lead to damaging your components.
44) Intel i5-11400F = Midrange Gaming King
For a gaming CPU choice despite AMD Ryzen completely dominating the enthusiast tier, Intel currently wins the midrange with their i5-11400F.
Paired with fast memory and a B560 motherboard it’s an epic starting point for any current gaming PC.
45) GPU Undervolting For Lower Temps And Noise
If you find your GPU running a bit hot, you can reduce the operating voltage by undervolting in MSI Afterburner, this works for pretty much any GPU and is extremely effective (GPU Undervolting Guide).
46) HWinfo = Ultimate PC Monitoring
For checking all of the temperatures, clock frequencies, and fan speeds of your system there is no better tool out there than Hardware Info, this way you can check for any issues or cooling problems in your new build.
47) Generally Avoid DDR4 Kits>3600MHz For Ryzen
RAM above 3600MHz is typically not recommended for AMD Ryzen CPUs, if you go beyond that the fabric clock and memory clock will be out of sync and you will actually get lower performance despite running a higher frequency.
48) RAM Sweet Spot
As for how much RAM your build should use there is not much point going beyond 16GB for gaming PCs today, but of course, more can be useful if your PC also doubles as a workstation.
49) CPU Stock Coolers Are Limiting
If your CPU comes with a stock cooler in the box, most of them are fine but don’t expect them to give you the best performance, even upgrading to a small budget tower cooler can be a decent investment for most CPUs
50) Choose M.2 Drives Before 2.5
Lastly I would highly recommend sticking to just M.2 drives for new builds, they are actually priced pretty similarly to 2.5-inch SSDs, and can save you a ton of installation time and cable management.