How to build your first gaming PC with a PC game

I’ve always dreamed of building my own gaming PC, hoping to end the existence of desktop games of painfully long loading screens, slow gameplay, and outdated graphics. I also made all the excuses in the book for not doing so, instead turning to consoles to get my fix of newly released big-budget games. But as I learned firsthand, there is no secret entrance to the world of building computers, and no black door with a gold star guarding an exclusive club of hobbyists and technologists. Anyone can build a computer from scratch with just a little patience and the right guide. For me, this guide was a video game.

Parts list for the first PC

By the end of last year, my boredom during the pandemic had peaked, and after spending dozens of hours searching—and agonizing for weeks about which parts to buy would fit my unrealistic criteria and a very real savings account—I realized that the most useful tool was a game called PC Building Simulator.

The internet is full of great resources and guides for enthusiasts, but if you are completely new to the world of building computers, the sheer amount of information can be overwhelming. It’s hard to anticipate what questions or problems you might encounter once you start.

PC Building Simulator It is designed for such beginners only. A game about PC repair and creation, it offers a catalog of real-life parts from manufacturers like Asus and MSI and meticulously reproduces them on the workbench. You can choose components such as cases or motherboards that you have been monitoring and inspect them closely with the camera or click around to connect them together.

For starters, there is a tutorial mode that puts you in front of a workbench and makes you build a computer from scratch. You begin by pressing your mouse down over the side panels of the case to remove them, after which you unscrew the power supply mounting bracket. Then you get to a pile of parts and pick up, say, your motherboard, where text bubbles appear to indicate features like the SATA ports of your hard drive or chipset. If you click on a bubble, you’ll get a summary of this part: for example, it shows that SATA ports are where hard drives are connected, and I/O (input/output) ports are where peripherals like keyboards and mice are connected . If you know nothing about computers, a tutorial is a foolproof way to get acquainted quickly.

PC Building Simulator tutorial mode teaches you how to build a desktop computer from scratch.

Before trying the game, I’ve narrowed down the parts to get. (My approach to shopping first and learning how to build the second was a bit of a crap, but it all worked out in the end.) I wanted a small computer that was light and compact enough to navigate easily, but I also wanted power. Despite my deep longing for the best graphics and fastest performance that unlimited money can buy, I couldn’t justify spending several thousand dollars on this particular project. Instead, I budget to splurge on certain ingredients without getting out of hand.

The GPU market has been greatly affected by the lack of global components and manufacturing issues, as a result of which the price of middle and lower tier cards has inflated or disappeared altogether. That made availability an important variable in my decision making. I chose to use the graphics card from my old PC, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti – a solid card that met my needs well enough to steer my build around. Most importantly, you’ve already got it.

Using my GPU as a base, I started gathering ideas for potential parts using a website called PCPartPicker. You can search and shop for parts on PCPartPicker, and you can use site filters to find options that fit your current or planned parts, budget, or other needs. Once I finally felt confident in the choices I made to build my dreams, one question loomed large: Will they all fit in?

Although it’s easy to find the size measurements for each part, figuring out the physical placement and clearance of each one is a different challenge if you haven’t gone through a PC hood before. This is the place PC Building Simulator Save the day.

The game’s Free Build mode gives you open access to the full catalog of parts and does not interrupt you with any challenges or scenarios to play through. I easily found every piece of hardware I wanted to buy in the catalog, and after completing the game tutorial for a basic explanation of each component, I graduated to career mode.

There, you run a computer repair shop and use the parts in the catalog to fix computers with a variety of problems. Customers come to you to help with issues like recently upgraded PCs that keep crashing, and the game guides you through identifying and fixing them—in one case, it prompted me to install a new power supply capable of supporting the upgraded parts. After a few hours, I disassembled so many clients’ computers that I felt like I could do it in my sleep.

Matte white desktop computer tower.
A full-fledged computer hides a lot of time and deliberation inside a plain white box. Photo: Halle Berry

Then it was time to practice in Free Build mode, where I actually built my PC at least three or four times until I felt comfortable with the project for real. Of course, I had problems when I built the computer in real life. The game accurately simulated the build process, but nothing prepared me for the difficulty of connecting wires to tiny ports on the motherboard or screwing the world’s smallest screws into the heatsink, with my hands covered everything. When you simply tap into a game, the challenge of these missions is greatly underestimated.

I’ve run into hurdles – most of the user guides that come with the parts are generally unhelpful – but I built with much more confidence than before PC Building Simulator. I knew where each part had to go, the role each one played, and most importantly, that everything would fit and fit.

Spend a few hours with PC Building Simulator They can come in handy if you’re new to understanding computers, overwhelmed with a huge amount of unfamiliar vocabulary, or you’ve been turned off completely because you’re not sure where to start. I still spend a lot of time playing certain games or genres on my PlayStation or Nintendo Switch, but after a few months with my new PC, I’m spending more time at my desk for long sessions of world war zAnd the WalheimAnd the Died in broad daylight.