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Gaming PC Build

I have been using an X-Box Series X for my flight sim for about 9 months, finally reached the point where the restrictions in console gaming started to become bothersome, time had come to build a proper gaming PC.

Whilst not new to PC building and maintenance, my last foray was back in 2001, now, in 2022, things had moved on massively and I was a little out of touch. The prices of hardware have now dropped, not quite to pre-covid shortage levels but sufficiently so to make it worth looking at building a high-end PC again.

PC building blocks

After many weeks of reading, watching YouTube videos, comparing specifications, searching for best prices, I ordered the stuff shown above and listed below. It was a serious expense compared to XP-level store-box pc’s!

  • Intel Core i9-12900K 3.6 GHz 16-Core Processor
  • be quiet! Pure Loop 240 Liquid CPU Cooler
  • Asus ROG STRIX Z690-A GAMING WIFI D4 ATX LGA1700 Motherboard
  • Kingston FURY Renegade 32 GB (2 x 16 GB) DDR4-3600 CL16 Memory
  • Samsung 970 Evo Plus 250 GB M.2-2280 PCle 3.0 X4 NVME Solid State Drive
  • Samsung 970 Evo Plus 1 TB M.2-2280 PCle 3.0 X4 NVME Solid State Drive
  • PNY XLR8 Gaming REVEL EPIC-X RGB GeForce RTX 3080 Ti 12 GB Video Card
  • be quiet! Pure Base 500DX ATX Mid Tower Case
  • Be Quiet! Straight Power 11 1000W PSU Modular Power Supply

One of the main parts is the CPU, this came in a seriously over-the-top package, a gold coloured metal pancake that unscrewed to reveal a very small but expensive processor.

The i9-12900K Intel CPU

First task was to sort out what power leads were needed – back in the old days, power supplies came with a bundle of leads and connectors fitted – leading to a rats nest of unused cables. The new units are modular – you get a bundle of cables but only need to connect the ones actually used – much better.

1000W Power supply with cables connected

The main or mother board was next, this needs the CPU, RAM and storage drives installing. Great care needs to be taken against static discharge – i use a metallic earthing wristband which has a springy lead for connecting to the board being worked on.

The main board awaiting component parts.

The storage drives were a massive change – they used to be large, heavy units with spinning discs or platters inside. Now they are 100% solid state and tiny – the one pictured with the “970 Evo Plus” label is a 1TB M2 SATA drive and is only about 25mm x 80mm in size. Apart from physical size, the new drives are many times faster than the old mechanical units.

A 1TB M2 NVME SATA storage drive.

Once the main components were installed on the main board, I decided to fit it into the case – there is a choice here, either bench-test first or install and hope it all works. I didn’t like the idea of powering up a PC with it spread all over the dining table so my choice was easy.

Installation was much easier than older builds – the board fitted perfectly in the case, there were no sharp metal edges, the screws all went in easy and there was plenty of space.

Main board installed in the case.

Next up was CPU cooling – the days of a tiny little fan stuck on top are long gone – the power levels reached in these new processors is nothing short of frightening and they need serious cooling.

Sealed water-coolers are now the norm, you can get fan-only units but they are very big and place a fair bit of strain on the mounts. I mounted my cooler radiator at the front of the case with the fans inside sucking air through the radiator. Theory here is that it makes it much easier to clean the radiator intake if there are no fans in the way.

Cooling radiator, fans and top chassis fans installed.

The two fans at the top are blowing upwards, the rear fan is blowing rearwards, with the cooler fans sucking in at the front this seemed to give the best airflow.

The finished assembly.

Upon testing, it all worked perfectly, some minor adjustments in main board settings pages and everything seems happy. Coming from Windows XP, Windows 11 is a whole new world, I’m not a big fan as it is now biased towards looking like a mobile phone app rather than a computer but it does seem to work, the PC is extremely fast and loads things very quickly.

My next task is to download and install Microsoft Flight Simulator – at around 100GB of download this takes around 6 hours to complete, followed by a few more hours to download all the update packs, the days of just popping in a CD-ROM are long gone now 😉

Overall, the DIY build saved around £300 over a custom build from a supplier, the satisfaction is immense as well.