Published: April 25, 2023
If you're building your first gaming PC, you should probably avoid using Linux and just stick to Windows 10 or Windows 11. While Linux is free and can offer more control, it's a more advanced OS that takes a while to learn and get used to. If you're an avid gamer I'd also give Linux a miss, as it has less support and stability for gaming than Windows, and it may even have worse performance than Windows even in Linux supported games.
See Also: How to Build a Desktop Computer
That said, game support for Linux is getting better, and if you only play a certain game or handful of games, do some research into their Linux support and you may be okay. Some of the most popular Linux supported games right now are Dota 2, CSGO, and Rocket League. Many AAA games will not be supported though, so always do your research on which games support Linux before installing Linux on your new gaming computer.
If you wish to use Linux for a new PC build for whatever reason, whether for gaming and/or work, in this article we'll cover some basic things to consider when choosing hardware for a Linux PC build, how to install Linux on a fresh new computer, and how to download software drivers for your Linux system.
Choosing PC components for a custom Linux gaming PC build is mostly the same as for a Windows system, with a few extra caveats to be aware of including:
To install Linux you need to download a Linux installation ISO image file onto a DVD or a USB flash drive, just like with Windows.
However, Windows will automatically turn your USB into a bootable installer as well, whereas with Linux you need to get a third-party app to turn the ISO file into a bootable USB. A program called Rufus is popular for doing this. Here's how to download and install Linux, using the Ubuntu distribution as an example: (which has been a popular Linux distro for a long time)
Linux is very much plug and play when it comes to drivers, and will automatically install open source drivers for all your hardware during installation and when you update Linux.
But just like Windows, if you have a gaming graphics card you want to manually install the specific latest driver from NVidia or AMD. Same goes if you have a wireless card; get those drivers too, but you likely don’t need to worry about installing any other drivers (not even motherboard drivers).
To manage and download drivers in Linux, go to:
Instead of Driver Manager, it could be called 'Additional Drivers' or something like that. Change the already installed open source video driver to the latest NVIDIA driver named driver-updates, or fglrx-updates for AMD cards.
The “updates” in the name means it will automatically update the drivers for you. When you do this, you do not need to uninstall the previously installed open source video driver.
VPN software is quite important in this day and age and will improve the security and privacy of your PC when online. There are also benefits to using VPNs for gaming.
There's lots of VPNs out there but the ones I recommend most to gamers is ExpressVPN (special link that gets you 3 months off. they also offer a free trial here) and NordVPN which are both highly rated gaming VPNs because they're the fastest and most secure.
Indie game dev currently working on my first public release after years of hobby projects, a story-driven VR FPS built with Unreal Engine (to be announced soon here for anyone into VR FPS's). Also likes writing about tech, which also helps fund development of the game.
My favs of all time are OOT, Perfect Dark, MGS1, MGS2, GE007, DKC2, THPS3, HL1, and HL2, with the most recent addition to my list of immortals being the VR masterpiece Alyx. If you want help with a new build feel free to ask on the main PC builds guide. If you found the site extra helpful and wish to support the work I do here, sharing an article with a friend helps a lot and is much appreciated. - Julz