If you have a loved one who has an obsession for playing video games–an obsession you may or may not always agree with–you might be finding yourself in quite the pickle when deciding on what to get them as a gift for the holidays, their birthday, or for a special occasion.
On one hand, you want to get them what they want (more video games, or the latest gaming system).
On the other hand, you probably don’t want to feed their obsession for gaming anymore than it has already been fed.
It’s a problem that has perplexed parents, husbands, and wives (but mostly parents and wives) for a couple of decades. And, rightfully so… Nobody wants to see their loved ones waste away, hour by hour, behind a screen of flashing bright lights.
Rather, we all want to see our most favorite people go on and live healthy, respectable, and productive lives. And, an addiction to gaming does not quite fit that bill.
Fortunately, though, there is a gift that you can give your beloved gamer this holiday season that balances the fine line between giving in to their gaming obsession and giving them a gift that has meaning and value…
That gift is, to help them build their own gaming computer.
Instead of buying them a gaming console, or a pre-built gaming computer, take this opportunity and give them the gift of learning a new skill that grants confidence and helps them be more productive.
In this guide, I will walk you through everything you need to know in order to get the right components that your gamer can use to assemble his or her own gaming PC.
Why Building A Gaming Computer is A Phenomenal, Memorable, and Meaningful Gift to Give to Your Gamer
There is a number of reasons why having your gamer build his or her own gaming computer is beneficial to them. These are just a few of them…
First, building a gaming computer is less expensive than buying a pre-built machine.
That’s right. If you were going to get the gamer in your life a new gaming computer for a gift anyways, you can actually save money by buying the individual components rather than buying a system pre-built.
Then, you can either use the money you saved to get them their favorite games, you can spend it on yourself, or, if it’s the holiday season, you can use that extra money for other gifts. It’s a win-win situation!
Second, it’s an important skill that’s extremely relevant in today’s tech-driven society.
By allowing them to build their own system, they will have a better understanding of the computers that power our world. Let’s face it… technology is where the money is and computers drive technology.
So, if you have a child that’s obsessed with gaming, it might not be a bad idea to divert some of that energy towards something productive… like learning all about computer hardware and how the different components interact with each other in order to create the personal computing experience we know.
Third, it may spark a curiosity in them that takes them beyond gaming and into a world of technology.
As mentioned above, getting your loved one to build their own computer may get them into a hobby that could pay huge dividends in the long run. Careers in computer and information technology industry are some of the best paying careers around.
And, there’s always the potential that your loved one is the next Bill Gates or Steve Jobs… You may just need to push them in the right direction!
Fourth, it’s a confidence builder.
There’s a reason why Legos are one of the most popular gifts to give a child. Not only are they fun for people to play with, they’re also a gift that is challenging, and teaches its users that building, creating, or accomplishing something is done one step at a time.
The same is true with building a computer.
While building a computer may be a little more complicated and there’s a little more at stake, finishing a new computer build is a very rewarding experience that most often leaves the user intrigued and wanting to play with computers even more.
Fifth, playing their video games will now be a much more rewarding experience.
We all want our loved ones to appreciate the things they have in their life. There may be no better way to accomplish this than to let them build their own gaming computer, rather than buying them a console or a pre-built gaming PC.
It all goes back to the philosophy that, if you work for something, you will appreciate it a lot more than if it was given to you. And, while you will technically be getting the parts for them as a gift, they will have to take on and complete the challenge of assembling and setting up their system.
Sixth, for parents it can be a great activity to do with your children.
What better way to spend time with your child than to help them assemble their brand new gaming computer? The whole process can take a few hours and for most gaming-computer-builders, the building process is even more rewarding than it is to actually get to play games on their new system.
And, if you want to turn it into a great learning experience, building a computer is a great way to teach your child about organization, patience, following instructions, and problem solving.
Don’t Think That Your Gamer is Capable of Building Their Own Computer? 4 Reasons Why That’s Not the Case
Most people find computers to be intimidating. This is understandable, because most people have never even looked inside of their computer. However, while a computer may seem like a complex piece of machinery, it’s actually fairly easy for even the most technically-challenged people to put together.
It just takes a little effort, some caution, and some patience.
In fact, it has never been easier to build your own computer. There are plenty of major online retailers that sell all the individual computer components you’ll need, and there are thousands of “How To Build A Computer” guides available at your finger tips. (Including our own guide: 5 Steps to Build a Legendary Gaming Computer)
Aside from that, here are four reasons why building a computer is easier than you think:
If you’re looking for a thorough guide on how to build a gaming computer, you can sign up for our newsletter to get a free copy of our step-by-step computer-building guide, 5 Steps to a Legendary Gaming Computer.
So, I’ve Got You Intrigued By the Prospects of the Potential Awesomeness that Building A Computer Could Be for Your Gamer? Here’s What You Need to Do Now…
The following will give you more insight on what you need to do if you want to gift your child or spouse the components necessary for them to build his or her own gaming computer.
Knowing What Components You Need
The first thing you need to know is all of the different components your child or spouse will need in order to build their own gaming PC.
Here is a list of all of the core components necessary for building a computer (with links to help you learn more about how to choose each one):
- Processor (CPU)
- Video Card
- Memory (RAM)
- Storage (Either a Hard Drive or a Solid State Drive)
- Power Supply
- Optical Drive
- Operating System (Windows 7 or Windows 8)
These components will make up the tower of the computer. However, in order to use the computer you will also need a monitor, a keyboard, and a mouse.
If you’re buying the computer components for a child or a spouse that you live with and you already have a computer,then it’s possible that you already have a monitor, keyboard, and mouse. If not, then you will need to get them.
And, the monitor is especially important, because you can build the greatest gaming computer in the world, but if you’re hooking it up to an old monitor, then you won’t get to see the fruit of your labors. (For more on why you need a good monitor, check out our guide on How to Choose A Monitor.)
Another important component is the CPU fan or cooler. All processors will come with a fan. However, if you’re looking for extra cooling for your CPU, you might want to consider adding an aftermarket heatsink.
Aftermarket heatsinks are necessary in more extreme setups where overclocking will take place. One of the most affordable aftermarket heatsinks (and one that I recommend for most gaming computers) is the Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO.
If you have any questions about CPU cooling, please post them in the comments section below.
Component Compatibility is Important
Not only will you need to make sure that you’re getting the best components for your budget, but you will also need to make sure that your components are all compatible. And, choosing the right components requires that you know what you’re doing.
For a lot of gamers who build their own computers, choosing components is one of the most enjoyable parts of building a computer. With that being said, if you want to help your child or spouse build a gaming computer, you have three options…
- Start learning about the different components and choose the best ones for the budget you’ve laid out.
- Involve the person you are buying the components for in the process and together figure out the best components for your budget.
- Or, you can choose from our pre-made components lists. (The easiest and quickest way.)
There is much to be learned from the component-choosing process. However, you might not have the time to learn all there is to know about computer components, their compatibility, and the best ones to choose for your budget.
Also, in order to preserve the surprise factor of your gift, you may not want to include your loved one in on the component choosing process so that they don’t know what they’re getting for their gift.
If that is the case, the best option is to choose from one of our pre-made part lists. The builds start out at $400 and range all the way up to $2000. (It’s important to note that the builds do not include an operating system, a monitor or a keyboard. You will definitely need an operating system, and you may or may not need a monitor, keyboard, and mouse.)
If you do want to start learning about the different components so that you can create a part list tailored specifically to your child or spouses needs, then I suggest downloading our free computer-building guide, start asking questions by commenting below, and reading our many helpful articles.
Here are some helpful posts to get you started:
- How to Build A Gaming Computer
- How to Build A Budget Gaming PC
- 31 Common PC Building Mistakes
- 23 Examples of Good Cable Management
- 14 Reasons Why You Should Build Your Own PC
Where To Buy Your Components
There are a handful of online retailers and brick & mortar stores that you can get your computer components from. Generally speaking, online retailers have the best prices. Although, certain brick & mortar stores (like Micro Center) can have some pretty amazing deals you won’t find anywhere else.
Here is a list of stores you can get individual components from:
If you’re on a tight budget and you’re looking to save every penny you can, then it may be a good idea to check each retailer and store to see which one offers the best deal on the component you’re looking at.
Online retailers like Amazon and Newegg have free standard shipping options. And, if you have an Amazon Prime account you can get free two-day shipping. (Also, you can sign up for a free trial of Amazon Prime, and get the free two-day shipping if you haven’t already before. Just remember to cancel it before the trial is up or they will bill you.)
As for Micro Center, if you’re fortunate enough to live near one (they are scattered across the United States, mainly in the bigger cities) you’ll be able to save a ton of money on certain components, as they often have some of the best in-store deals around.
For a list of Micro Center store locations, please click here.
1. My gamer plays on a console and is obsessed with [enter name of popular game here]. Will they be able to play that game on their gaming computer?
Maybe… Some games are specific to consoles and some games are specific to the PC. However, a lot of games that can be played on consoles can be played on the PC as well. You will definitely have to look into it (or better yet, you can ask in the comments below and we’ll have the answer for you).
If your gamer is deadset on a game that is only available on consoles, then getting them the components to build their own computer may be out of the question.
2. My gamer plays on a console, will they like playing on a PC better?
It’s tough to say exactly as it varies from gamer to gamer. However, gaming on the PC has long been viewed as the superior platform for gaming, if nothing but for the fact that the hardware in a computer is superior to the hardware of a console. This means that computers are capable of better graphics.
It’s definitely something you’ll need to find out directly from your gamer. Athough, I can’t say that I’ve ever met someone who games on both the PC and on consoles who doesn’t prefer the PC gaming experience.
3. Building a PC still costs more than it does to buy a console… So, why would I want to do that?
Aside from the fact that it teaches your gamer a valuable skill and the process is fun and challenging, a computer can be used in a lot more ways than a console can.
While consoles do have access to different media applications, they can in no way compare to the offerings of a personal computer. With a computer, your gamer will now have a machine to do school work on, send emails, browse the internet, write papers, etc. A gaming computer can be used for so much more than just gaming.
4. My gamer is always complaining that their computer/laptop is not good enough to play their favorite game. What parts do I need in order to make sure they can play their favorite game?
That varies from game to game. Some games are incredibly demanding while other games are easy to run. In order to best answer that question, please post the game in question in the comments below and we will help you find the right parts that will allow your gamer to play their favorite game in the best manner possible.
5. My gamer already has a computer. Is there anyway to make it better?
Yes. Even if your gamer already has a gaming computer, you can always get them the latest hardware in order to help them improve their system’s performance. The one component that makes the biggest difference in their in-game experience is the video card.
However, sometimes it’s not as simple as upgrading to the best video card, because if the other components in the computer aren’t up to snuff, you won’t be able to get the most out of the video card. For upgrades questions and advice, please post your system specs as well as the upgrades you want to make in the comment section below.
6. What happens if a component arrives and it doesn’t work?
It should be noted that things can go wrong during the building process.
The most obvious thing that can go wrong, is that a component can arrive dead on arrival (DOA). In this case, you generally have 30 days to return it to the retailer you purchased it from (and usually that period is extended through the Holidays in case you purchased the gift early.) How likely is that to happen? Generally, the return rate for computer components is less than 1% of all components solid. But, it is a possibility that you need to be aware of.
6. What if something goes wrong during the building process?
If you run into problems during the building process, it’s on you to figure it out. Luckily, with a well-crafted Google search, you can get to the bottom of pretty much any problem related to the building process fairly easily. And, if not, there’s always forums you can post in.
Also, there is always the chance that something could get messed up so bad during the building process that one or more of your components could get destroyed. While this is a lot less likely than it has been in the past (thanks to the introduction of much better power supplies), if it does occur you may have a harder time trying to return and exchange the destroyed component. That is one of the downfalls of building your own computer.
Fortunately, though, by handling the components with care and by following our guide, you should have no problems during the building process.
7. How would I deal with defective units through a warranty?
Just like a pre-built system has a warranty on it to protect you from a bad system, each individual component in your system will also have a warranty on it.
The only difference between the warranty on a pre-built system and the warranty on a self-built system, is that you have a warranty protecting each individual component. This means that, in the case that something should go wrong, instead of being able to send the whole computer to the manufacturer to computer to be fixed, you have to find out which component(s) is not working and then send that one in.
This can be a hassle, but fortunately, diagnosing a defective component is not too difficult to do, especially with as many help forums as there are on the internet regarding such issues.