Features

Beta Yourself: Build a gaming PC

Want a mighty gaming rig? You're better off building your own

Mike Jennings reveals how to create the ultimate Oculus Rift-ready desktop.

2. PERIPHERALS

Driving forwards

Slot the SSD into a 3.5in hard disk case or the 2.5in mount that’s on top of the power supply shroud using a couple of screws. Hard disk installation is just as easy.

Collecting cables

Make sure you’ve got two SATA cables handy for the SSD and the hard disk, and check the storage power cable is attached to the power supply.

Missed connections

That flimsy bit of metal punctured with loads of holes is the rear I/O panel. It lines up with the back of the motherboard to provide a vital barrier between the computer and the outside world. Snap this into place, lining it up with the audio jacks.

3. MOTHER NATURE

Slot in the silicon

Use the lever to open the metal CPU cover, then remove the plastic from the socket. Line up the processor with the two notches on the LGA 1151 socket, then use the lever to secure the lid.

Making memories

Add a dab of thermal compound, lock the heatsink in place, then plug the fan into a CPU fan header. Install the memory – use the DIMM_A1 and DIMM_B1 slots for using dual-channel mode.

Commence docking

Line the motherboard up with the standoffs and the rear I/O panel, then screw down. Now connect the leads for the front panel’s buttons, ports and speaker to the bottom right.

4. GET HOOKED UP

Connecting the dots

Take time with cables: a neater build helps airflow, and also makes the system look slicker. The SSD and hard disk cables connect to SATA ports on the right-hand edge of the board, while the power supply’s two cables attach on the right and top of the board. Finally, connect the case’s four fans to the little board behind the motherboard tray.

Graphic content

Remove two PCI blankers from the rear of the case – make sure they’re in line with the motherboard’s top PCI-Express slot. Grab the graphics card and then push it into that top PCI-Express socket. Now thread the PCI power cables through a hole on the motherboard and plug them into the top of the card.

It’s now or never

It’s time to test your system. Re-attach the case’s side-panel, stand the machine up, and connect the monitor, keyboard and mouse. Plug in the power, take a deep breath and press the button.

5. GIVE IT THE BOOT

Hitting the speed limit

The internal speaker should beep once during boot. Once the Asus logo appears, tap the delete key to enter the BIOS. Check out the other options available during boot: another button loads Safe mode, and there’s an option to choose which drive you use for booting. That’ll be used when you install Windows 10 from its USB drive.

Exploring the BIOS

Scour the main BIOS screen to find the names and speeds of your processor and memory. If those are correct, then press F10 to exit. Memory often defaults to slower speeds inside new systems. If that has happened, head to the Advanced section to alter the DRAM Frequency option.

Through the looking glass

This PC doesn’t have an optical drive, but that’s no barrier to getting Window 10 – Microsoft makes its latest OS available on a USB stick. Plug the drive in, boot from it, and then install Windows to the SSD.

6. PREPARE TO PLAY

In the driving seat

It’s time to get every component running at its best. Head to the Asus Z170-E’s website (asus.com) to grab drivers for the chipset, storage, audio controllers and networking hardware, and Nvidia (nvidia.co.uk) for its latest graphics driver. Once installed, run a Windows update.

Get some protection

Install a free anti-virus from Avast, AVG or Microsoft. Now download Ninite (ninite.com). It’s a perfect tool for installing dozens of apps: tick the box next to each browser, IM app, office utility or media tool that you want, and it’ll package them inside a single installer.

Go for a test drive

Download the Unigine Heaven and Prime95 CPU stress-testing tool, then Core Temp and GPU-Z. The former apps run the CPU and GPU at high levels, while the latter measure temperatures. If the system runs smoothly and its components don’t go near 80°C, you’re good to go.

Now add this: ASUS VS278Q

This 27in monitor’s 1080p resolution provides plenty of bright, punchy detail. If you want more, look to the BenQ GW2765HT, which is a 27in, 1440p panel.

 

Now add this: CORSAIR M65 RGB BLACK

No gamer’s setup is complete without a high-quality rodent. This Corsair mouse pairs fast, accurate movement with DPI tweaking and weight adjustment.

Now add this: RAZER BLACKWIDOW ULTIMATE 2016

These rock-solid keys hammer down with speed. For features like wrist rests check out the Corsair K70.

Now add this: MICROSOFT XBOX ONE WIRED CONTROLLER

Few gamepads are better than this one. If you’d prefer a wireless version, it needs to be paired with an adaptor.