PC Components 101: Which Gaming Computer Parts Are Required for a New PC Build to Work?

& All Optional Add-On Parts/Features/Peripherals Explained



If you're building your very first PC, this quick introduction to the PC parts that make up a computer. We'll cover which hardware components you need for a new custom computer build to be fully functional, as well as which add-on parts and accessories you have up your sleeves as options should you want to further customize your setup.


Required Gaming PC Parts (core hardware)


CPU / Processor

The CPU (Central Processing Unit), also commonly known as the processor, is the brains of a computer. It performs all the lightning-speed calculations required by your games and software. The processor is one of the most important gaming computer parts, and for most people will be second in importance only to your graphics card. In other words, for gaming you generally want to get the best CPU you can get, however there is a point where a CPU is overkill for gaming and you'd be better off lowering your CPU tier to allocate that money towards a better graphics card instead.

Learn how to choose the best CPU.


Motherboard

If your CPU is the brain of your computer, your motherboard is the heart, or central nervous system that relays data between all of your gaming computer's parts. The motherboard is the main hub of your system where all the other components connect to. Whilst it doesn't directly affect gaming performance, you still want to find a decent, reliable board that has the features that you need, the upgrade capability that you want, and that is ideally from a good, trusted manufacturer. 

Learn how to choose the best motherboard.


RAM / Memory

RAM (Random Access Memory) is the memory in your computer that running programs (and games) use during their operation. In other words, while your computer is on, the RAM stores all your programs and applications that you have running. The more of this memory that you have in your computer, the faster your programs and games will run, although for gaming there is a point where more RAM isn't going to change anything.

Learn how to choose the best memory.


Hard Drive

The hard drive, technically referred to as the Hard Disk Drive (HDD for short), is used to store all your programs, games, and other files. Data in a HDD is stored on thin magnetic disks which can store hundreds of gigabytes of information. Buying a hard drive is essential for your gaming system, although keep in mind that you also have the option of getting a Solid State Drive (SSD) in addition to your HDD/s which is explained under the optional parts below.

Learn how to choose the best hard drive.


Graphics Card

Now we come to the real workhorse component that games rely on, the graphics card, also known as the GPU for short (Graphics Processing Unit). The graphics card is responsible for creating the spectacular 3D graphics and effects you see in games and video, and without a decent one in your build you won't be able to view your games at their best. Therefore, you should allocate a decent portion of your overall PC build budget to your GPU to max your gaming experience.

Learn how to choose a gaming video card for your needs.


Power Supply

Your power supply unit (PSU) will, surprise surprise, provide power to all of your gaming computer parts. It's often the most overlooked choice in a gaming computer parts list, and it makes sense because it's just a power supply, right? Well, some noob builders definitely make a mistake when they simply pick the cheapest unit they can find, which may cause you trouble down the road. Ideally you want to find a decent-quality unit from a reliable PSU manufacturer which will likely last you the distance and not cause you issues down the road (or fry your parts).

Tips on buying a power supply for your PC.


Case

Last but not least of the core gaming computer parts that make up a new PC is the case (also called the chassis). The case houses all your precious components, whilst also being responsible for the look of your gaming PC. Fancy gaming cases are all the rage these days. Your choice of case also has an influence on the cooling of your system, and what sort of upgrades you can make later.

Read about choosing gaming computer cases here.



Required Gaming PC Peripherals 


Monitor

For a new PC build to be fully functional and ready to game, as well as the core gaming computer parts you'll also need some peripherals that you can use from a previous build or buy new. First of all you have the monitor which will display all the awesomeness that your graphics card conjures up, and it most definitely does play a role in your overall gaming experience so make sure to pick a good one.

How to choose the best gaming monitor.


Mouse

The mouse is another peripheral required for a new gaming computer build to actually be use-able from the get, and to some gamers it's an important part of the overall gaming experience as not all mice are created equal when it comes to gaming. Depending on how seriously you take your gaming, and how much you're willing to invest in a quality comfortable model that lasts, you'll want to put at least a little thought in the mouse you choose as they can vary greatly in size, weight, features, feel, and responsiveness.

What to look for in a gaming mouse.


Keyboard

For a new PC to work you'll obviously also need a trust keyboard, which is a selection that will depend on how important your keyboard is to you. Many gamers building a cheap rig will do just fine getting a budget, low-cost keyboard that just gets the job one. Others will want to invest in a higher-quality, more comfortable keyboard, perhaps with extra handy features.

Choosing a keyboard for gaming.


Headset/Headphones or Speakers

Don't forget your audio, which will require you to either have a headset/headphones or a set of speakers. Some monitors come with built-in speakers but they're usually terrible unless it's a high-end display. If you're wondering the difference between a headset and headphones; a headset comes with a mic, headphones do not. Whether you need/want a mic is totally up to you.

Gaming Headset Buyer's Guide


Operating System Software

Let's not forget your operating system (OS), which is another required part of the PC puzzle. Your main 2 choices for a custom PC is Windows or Linux, but if you're a beginner then just stick with Windows (version 10 which is the latest at the time of writing this) as it has the most support and is easiest to setup and use.



Optional Add-On Parts and Peripherals


The following parts are nice-to-haves but not required for a new working PC build, but may be something you'll want to consider adding to your build now or in the future:

  • Gaming Mouse Mat/Pad (for the best control, accuracy, and comfort...Razer and SteelSeries are 2 top brands)
  • Wireless Network Adapter/USB Dongle (to add WiFi capability to your build; see our Builds FAQ for details)
  • DVD Burner/Drive (not necessary in this day and age but go for it if you play older games on disk etc)
  • External HDD (if you need more storage)
  • Sound Card (for professional audio purposes or gamers looking for the very best high-end sound quality)
  • Additional Case Fans (for high-end rigs that need more cooling within the chassis)
  • LED Case Fans (if you want to replace your case fans with LED ones)
  • Gaming Glasses - Blocks harmful/tiring blue light from computer screens to game for longer
  • PC Steering Wheel (for most realistic experience with driving games)
  • LED light strips (for mad aesthetics)
  • Case fan controller (handy controller to adjust your case fan speeds)
  • That's all we can think of for now...let us know if we missed anything







About the Author

A hobbyist game programmer turned hardware enthusiast, Julien "cyberjulz" is the founder of BGC and has kept a keen eye on the latest in DIY gaming ever since starting BGC back in '06 as an almost laughably-basic and brief 20 page site with the aim to make building PCs more accessible to the average gamer since most resources weren't too noob friendly. Over countless reinventions and reiterations to the quality, depth and usefulness of the content over many years the site has steadily grown into the expansive, comprehensive and ever-updated first-time PC builder resource that it is today that now reaches and helps thousands of gamers and power users each month to more easily plan optimal setups for their exact needs. You can learn more about the BGC mission and ways to support it here.


Questions/Feedback or Have Me Plan a Build for You

Have a question or enjoyed the article and want to share some feedback, constructive criticism, or report an error to help us keep making BGC the best beginner building resource around? We're listening: feel free to comment or message on our Fanpage or email us here.

For those wanting comprehensive 1 on 1 help with planning the right build for your specific budget and needs to ensure you buy a good parts-list and don't waste your money, I also offer a personalized parts-list email service where you send in your exact build requirements and for a small tip I'll spend whatever time necessary to do the painstaking, in-depth research for you to thoroughly plan the perfect parts-list for your exact situation.