Last Updated: Sep 21, 2019
After you have finally successfully booted your new PC for the first time and you have also completed the steps to setting up your BIOS and operating system, you might wonder what other software you should install on your fresh new gaming desktop. Thing is, you definitely don't want to immediately bloat your new custom setup with every application under the sun, because after all avoiding a "bloatware" filled PC is one of the reasons to avoid buying some prebuilt PCs in the first place.
But there are certain types of must-have software programs to install on a new gaming PC build to improve your system in various ways such security programs, useful utilities, gaming applications, and so on. Oh, and if you're here looking for the best software to install on a new prebuilt desktop you just bought - we won't judge ;)
Which specific software you install on your new custom/prebuilt PC is obviously ultimately up to you, but if you want help pinpointing some of the current best, most valuable applications as of 2019 that won't let you down, in this guide we'll list our top recommendations as gamers and DIY hardware enthusiasts to potentially help save you time in research land of doom. Choosing the right software can be just as confusing as picking any hardware component, as there's not only a ton of options out there in the online wilderness, but a whole heap of over-hyped marketing baloney, overpriced programs preying on the uninformed, and straight-up scammy software to avoid at all costs.
The recommended software programs we include below ultimately reflects on us, so you can rest assured we've done our due diligence to list only the highest-quality, useful, and value for money (for any premium/paid recommendations) applications out there right now that we either have used ourselves (or would use if we needed a certain feature). We don't cut corners with our carefully-considered, well thought-out gaming PC build recommendations, and we're not about to slack off now at the finishing line of the PC building process with our software picks.
We'll kick off with what's most important in the digital age we all now live in - cybersecurity. Nobody needs to be lectured on just how much dodgy and straight-up dangerous stuff is out there online and how important it is to protect your new PC from viruses, malware, adware, and more, so all I'll say is that you'd be wise to protect your new system from day one with some sort of anti-virus and anti-malware program.
Disclaimer/Disclosure: These PC software recommendations are just our own opinion. Always do your own research. Also, just to be completely transparent with you guys, most of the below programs are completely free but links to any premium/paid programs may earn us a small kickback if you make a purchase through our link - though at NO additional cost to you (the commission we get comes out on their end). This helps to support the work we do here at BGC, but this doesn't affect which products we do or don't recommend here on the site as we'd never recommend anything we don't stand by 100%.
Recommended Free Anti-Virus: Windows Defender (pre-installed on Windows 10)
The great news is, if you just built a PC with Windows 10 like most gamers these days, it actually has a decent built-in anti-virus tool called Windows Defender :)
Unless you want to fully maximize security for your new gaming PC by investing into a premium full-featured anti-virus program like Norton or Avast (2 highly-rated, proven anti-virus programs you can't go wrong with, though I'd pick Norton if I had to choose), Windows Defender may be enough if you're tech-savvy, trying to save money, and you know how to apply common sense when online such as always avoiding the basic bad stuff such as spam emails/URLs, dodgy sites, avoiding unsecure sites, and so on.
But that's assuming you combine it with a good anti-malware program too (see below), as anti-malware protection and anti-virus are different things and you ideally want both in this day and age for the best security and peace of mind (though the best anti virus programs on the market such as Norton will include malware protection, too). Ask anyone who knows what they're talking about when it comes to cybersecurity and securing an important workstation PC and they'll agree you really want to have both anti virus and anti malware software installed.
Good news is though, if you're on a budget, you can use Windows Defender for free combined with the free edition of Malwarebytes (see below) and it could be all you need. If you really value your PC, data, privacy, and so on, I would always try and get premium software if at all possible (and another pro tip: write it off at tax time if you use your PC for work!).
Pro Tip on Unsecure Sites: To be extra cautious, here's something you may not know: only visit secure sites that display "https" in the address bar of your internet browser, and avoid ones with only "http" which Chrome will flag as unsecure (because technically it is, and is more prone to being hacked/filled with bad stuff).
How to Setup Windows Defender
To find Windows Defender open the Start menu in Windows 10, click on All Apps, and scroll down to the bottom. You'll find it under the Windows System tab. You'll want to first update it, or specifically update the definitions if you want to get technical, which is a list of known security issues and viruses from around the web.
Click on the Update tab in Windows Defender and then click on Update Definitions to get this done, and don't forget to have already connected your PC to the internet for this to work. When using it for the first time you should perform a full-scan, especially if you've already been using your new gaming PC for a while and you've been online. Then, aim to perform the “Quick Scan” once every couple weeks or so.
Top Pick: MalwareBytes (premium or free version)
At the very least, get an anti-virus program, but for the best protection and peace of mind, I'd highly recommend combining anti-virus software with a good anti-malware program because anti-virus alone doesn't cover all threats. Malwarebytes is hands-down the best option right now and they have a great reputation of completely removing any form of malware, Trojans, spyware, adware and rookits from your precious new PC. Either the free or full-featured premium version is worth getting depending on your budget, but if you get the free version make sure you remember to run the scan every couple weeks or so.
TunnelBear (can't manually configure with routers though)
A VPN helps to bolster your privacy when online, and it can sometimes help lower ping in certain circumstances too. NordVPN and VypreVPN are two of the best, highest-rated VPNs for gamers right now. Tunnelbear is the simplest VPN to use overall and good for non-techies.
These are a bunch of handy general programs I'd consider installing on a new Windows 10 gaming PC if you have a need for them. Great thing is, all of these are free except Microsoft Office and WinRar (though they have free trial versions too).
These are some of the best hardware/system monitoring programs out there right now IMHO, and they're all free. You don't need them all, but having a couple that peaks your interest can come in real handy for things such as checking CPU temperatures, CPU core usage, memory speeds, general system information, SSD health, and a whole bunch more. These aren't required in any way, so aren't technically "must-have" like we mentioned in the title of this post, but they're nice to have if you need more detailed info on a new PC build once operational for whatever reason.
If you want a quick critique of your potential parts-list before buying and ideas on saving money or making it better, or for any quick questions, please use the comments section on the main Gaming PC Builds page.
General feedback on any aspect of the site is also always welcome too (and much appreciated in advance).
For more comprehensive, ongoing help/advice with planning, building, troubleshooting and/or tweaking your first custom PC, all owners of the "Master" or "VIP" edition of The Gaming Build Blueprint PDF manual get direct access to our dedicated 1 on 1 support email (reserved for our customers only).
Anyway, hope this guide helped and good luck with your system build or upgrade!