Hi everyone, my name is Joe, editor of TechRadar, and I have never built a PC. Until now. Yes, I work for tech media and have never tangled my fingers in SATA cables. It’s my shame. But recently that has all changed.
I’ve been a PC gamer for as long as I can remember, but the systems my parents received from friends and family were just enough to handle Wolfenstein 3D and later Star Wars: Tie Fighter. When Everquest hit, I needed a more robust rig, which took months of savings (and a little help from my parents).
When World of Warcraft (my ultimate PC gaming obsession) kicked in, all I had to do was buy a better graphics card (and have a snarling man at local CompUSA install it for me) . Not long after, laptops started to take off, with the rise in popularity and the drop in prices. It sparked my passion for mobile computing, and I didn’t look back until a few months ago.
All the hype around the Xbox One and PS4 launches made me want a serious home gaming rig. Despite their plug-and-play nature, I’m tired of their walled gardens. I thought about creating a steam engine for a minute, but wanted a Windows machine for broad support. The reality of the situation was getting clearer and clearer, I would just have to build my own gaming PC. And I needed to do that before the last World of Warcraft expansion, Warlords of Draenor was released in November.
It was time to make a parts list. Over the course of a few days, I assembled a set of components that were as affordable and compact as I could, but also handled Warlords of Draenor at 1080p with all settings locked at “high”.
And I’m happy to say it crushed him. The end result is a wonder. I managed to put together a box that’s much thinner and not much taller than an Xbox One that lets me fly over Azeroth on a cloud of gigaflops at a frame rate that would make Peter Jackson blush. All for a total cost of just $ 486.
This is before proceeding with a 1080p or Windows installation. If you don’t plan on hooking up your potential machine to an HDTV or installing SteamOS, expect to add around $ 200 to that price.
[Editor’s Note: In response to popular demand, here is a link to the part list that I created on PCPartPicker. Note that the price has since fluctuated.]
Click to see the five things I wish I knew before I started building that none of the PC building guides told me.