Build Your Own Gaming PC

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How to Build a Gaming PC

You don’t need to spend hundreds of hours learning how to build your own gaming PC or laptop.
At Lenovo, we offer you the ability to make your own custom gaming PC – whether you prefer the mobility of a laptop or brawny power of a desktop.
Essentially, you pick what we place in your new rig.
And it all starts with understanding gaming PC parts.

CPU

As important as the graphics card is to a gaming laptop, the processor (or CPU) is just as key, because these two components work together to deliver the overall performance of the machine. You’ll be offered a choice of up to 11th generation Intel® processors, ranging from the Core™ i5, to the Core™ i9, with several clock-speed options. Select models also feature powerful new AMD Ryzen™ 3000 Series processors. Consider the Core™ i5 or AMD Ryzen™ 7 your baselines, anything less will be unbearably sluggish. There’s very little a dual-core i9 or Ryzen 9 chip can’t do, which makes them ideal for most gamers. Only step up from there if your pockets are deep and your appetite for destruction is unlimited.
Shop all AMD gaming PCs >
Shop all Intel gaming PCs >
For more, read our FAQ on what are the best processors for gaming >

GPU

The graphics card (or GPU) is the beating heart of a gaming laptop. The goal is to pick a discrete graphics card that can deliver a great visual experience for your favorite type of game. If you plan to run Metro Exodus at 4K with the game cranked to its maximum settings, you’ll probably want a top-of-the-line NVIDIA® GeForce® RTX 2080 Super, or a GeForce 3070 from the latest 2021 lineup of GeForce GPUs. But most esports games will run just fine on the GTX 1650, or 1660 Ti. Likewise, the RX 6000 Series from AMD’s Radeon™ series of GPUs, is a good choice for gamers who prefer strategy to strafing.
Pro tip: Avoid integrated graphics unless you’re a very casual gamer.

Memory

Memory (RAM) determines how efficiently your processor can work. RAM is measured in size (GB) and speed (MHz). Too little of each, and the CPU will be forced to borrow space from your hard drive or SSD. Too much, and you’ll see very little performance improvement for the money. For today’s most demanding and competitive games, like Call of Duty: Warzone and Apex Legends, you’ll want to consider having at least 16GB of installed memory at all times.

Storage

There are two main kinds of laptop storage: Spinning disks known as hard drives, and non-moving SSDs (solid state drives). Traditional hard drives have more capacity, meaning you can save more files like photos, videos, and apps, and cost less per GB. SSDs use similar technology to RAM, which makes them way faster. Unfortunately, current technology makes SSDs much more expensive per GB, so they tend to have smaller capacities. A truly flexible gaming laptop will have dual drive options, giving you the benefit of speed and capacity in equal measure. To ensure the best speeds and experience with today’s most competitive games, you’ll want to have plenty of available SSD to store them on.

RGB Lighting

RGB lighting is a bragging right for most gamers. Why put all that cash into an epic system if you’re not going to let it show itself off a bit? Many of Lenovo Legion’s gaming PCs feature some form of RGB lighting, and the latest Lenovo Legion gaming laptops are no exception. Models have available RGB backlighting under the keyboard, and maybe more lighting effects around the laptop frame – model depending.

Cooling

Any type of electrical component will generate a certain amount of heat, and because the components of a gaming laptop are much more powerful than those in a traditional business laptop they’ll run much hotter. As a result, cooling is a critical factor. Most gaming processors and graphics cards include features that slow down their performance if they get too hot, and insufficient cooling can cause damage to those components. Lenovo Legion gaming laptops utilize advanced Coldfront 3.0 cooling technology which cools and dissipates heat via a dual-channel thermal mechanism, so that your critical components are always protected. What’s more, you can adjust between Quiet, Balance, and Performance thermal modes depending on your activity and needs.

Display

A gaming laptop's display can range from a screen size of 15 inches to 17 inches. While size certainly does matter, it's actual resolution, refresh rate, and quality that matters more. A full HD, 1920 x 1080 resolution will let you play most games at the highest quality. As for refresh rate, most competitive gamers consider 144Hz to be the bare minimum for ensuring smooth action when the battlefield gets crowded, but to really bump up the pace of your display, consider a 240Hz-capable screen. Touchscreens might be handy on 2 in 1 gaming laptops, but they’re unnecessary on traditional designs. Look for IPS or OLED technologies, as both of these will help maximize off-angle viewing.
Of course, a gaming laptop doesn’t need to be limited to its built-in screen. External gaming monitors can give you a larger screen, higher resolution, and better brightness and contrast when you’re at home or at work. Plus, many Legion gaming monitors come with NVIDIA® G Sync® or AMD FreeSync® technology built-in. These technologies reduce or eliminate screen tearing that can occur, leading to an overall smoother visual experience. Read our FAQ that covers the best gaming monitors if you’re definitely interested in an additional display to pair with your new gaming laptop.

Keyboard

In the desktop gaming world, there’s a lot of enthusiasm for mechanical keyboards. Though rare on laptops, mechanical keyboards do exist and can provide a “clicky" tactile experience. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get superb performance from a regular gaming laptop keyboard.
Look for models that feature anti-ghosting and a high n-key rollover. Keyboards that have a standard pitch (size of the key) and travel (vertical movement when pressed) will be easier to type on and more accurate when gaming. Additionally, RGB backlighting, though not a necessity, can really add a wow factor.
Read what to look for in a gaming keyboard >

Battery

Gaming laptops are power-hungry, because gaming is a processor-intensive activity. You won’t find many machines that are both portable and that give you all-day battery life. Instead, consider four to six hours as the current benchmark for decent battery life.
If longer battery life is really important, you’ll need to pick a gaming laptop with a smaller screen size, SSD-only storage, and lower-performance CPU and GPU.

Accessories

While PC gaming accessories don’t come packaged in with most new gaming laptops, they’re a critical add-on if your goal is to be competitive at any level. A great gaming mouse, like the Legion M500, is going to be an absolutely necessary add-on for almost any type of gaming. And for upper-echelon competition, you’ll want to invest in a quality gaming headset to ensure you never get caught unawares. Check out the Legion H500 Pro 7.1 surround sound gaming headset, and you’ll always hear your enemy approaching.
Pro tip: Avoid integrated graphics unless you’re a casual gamer.
How to buy a gaming mouse >
Why buy a gaming headset >

CPU

The processor, or CPU, is the heart of any great gaming system and is nearly as important as the graphics card in delivering a great gaming experience. The main features to look for in a gaming processor are clock speeds and cores. The clock speed, measured in gigahertz (GHz), is the speed at which the chip operates, so higher is faster. Cores can be thought of as the processors within the processor, with most CPUs today having between two and 64 cores. You’ll want at least four cores for gaming. Lenovo offers only the best processors from the top two names in the game: AMD and Intel. Look for up to 11th Gen Intel® Core™ or AMD Ryzen™ 5000 series processors on our latest Legion desktops.
Shop all AMD gaming PCs >
Shop all Intel gaming PCs >
For more, read our FAQ on what are the best processors for gaming >

GPU

The graphics processing unit, commonly referred to as the graphics card, is the component responsible for translating information from the gaming program into what we see on the screen and probably the most important component of a gaming machine. The more powerful the GPU, the faster that information is displayed and the better the gaming experience will be. A GPU with at least 8GB of onboard memory is ideal for most games. AMD and NVIDIA currently dominate the graphics card market. Look for the latest 30 Series graphics cards from NVIDIA, available on select Legion desktop models. NVIDIA GeForce RTX™ 30 Series GPUs feature updated ray tracing technology that brings realistic lighting to compatible games. Plus, this series of NVIDIA GPUs features DLSS technology that boosts frame rates and generates beautiful, sharp images for your games, as well as Resizeable BAR support that increases performance in certain games that allows for more efficient CPU-to-GPU asset transfer as you move through game worlds.

Memory

RAM, or random-access memory, enables your computer to store game data in memory instead of having to constantly swap it out to the hard drive. Some games require as little as 4 GB to run properly, while others require as much as 16 GB. You’ll likely need at least 16 GB of RAM for an ideal gaming experience if you’re running top-notch competitive games. But for extreme gamers and content creators, select Legion desktop models offer up to 32GB of RAM.

Storage

When it comes to storage, gamers have a few main options: the traditional hard disc drive (HDD), solid-state drive (SSD), and more recent NVME storage. Traditional HDDs utilize physical components which limits how fast you can read or store on them. However, they are often a much more affordable option for storing larger files like videos and movies. For gaming purposes specifically, you’ll likely want to consider a faster option than HDD. SSD drives use flash memory, so programs, like PC games, load much faster than they do from a traditional HDD. And because they don’t have any moving parts, they’re more reliable than a traditional hard drive and are better able to handle being bumped or dropped. They use less electricity and run cooler and quieter than a traditional drive. Thanks to their speedier data access, they also have improved multitasking capabilities compared to an HDD. Like SSDs, NVME storage is a more recent technology. NVME storage cards are your fastest consumer option for gaming. These cards attach directly to compatible motherboards, meaning they offer even greater read/write speeds than that of SSDs, but will come at a higher price point most often.

RGB Lighting

RGB lighting is a bragging right for most gamers. Why put all that cash into an epic system if you’re not going to let it show itself off a bit? Nearly all Lenovo gaming PCs feature some form of RGB lighting, and the latest Lenovo Legion gaming desktops are no exception. Models have RGB effects built into the Legion logo on the outside of the case, and you’ll see much more RGB lighting on the interior via the glass side-frame. You’ll inevitably need to pair a gaming mouse and gaming keyboard with your new Legion desktop, and many Legion keyboards and mice features their own RGB lighting effects.

Cooling

Any type of electrical component will generate a certain amount of heat, and because the components of a gaming laptop are much more powerful than those in a traditional business laptop they’ll run much hotter. As a result, cooling is a critical factor. Most gaming processors and graphics cards include features that slow down their performance if they get too hot, and insufficient cooling can cause damage to those components. Lenovo Legion gaming laptops utilize advanced Coldfront 2.0 cooling technology which cools and dissipates heat via a dual-channel thermal mechanism, so that your critical components are always protected. What’s more, you can adjust between Quiet, Balance, and Performance thermal modes depending on your activity and needs.

Power Supply

For gaming, the capacity of your power supply can be another major consideration depending on the games you choose to play. Top competitive games are going to require more juice than a 2D indie game, so look to an 850 watt capacity power supply as the safest bet for your new gaming desktop. But if your gaming is a bit more on the casual side and you’re OK with dialing back some in-game settings, a 650W or even lower capacity PSU might do the trick. There are also some further considerations when selecting a power supply: like RGB lighting and models that allow you to entirely remove cables from the PSU box that you might not be utilizing – thus making all-important cable management just a tad bit easier.

Monitor

Gaming monitors continue to get larger and their resolutions continue to increase. In addition, the recent introduction of curved monitors promise to make the gaming experience more immersive. One of the first things you’ll consider when buying a gaming monitor is screen size. 24 inches is often considered the “sweet spot” for pro gamers so that you’re spending less time refocusing on in-game elements on one side of your screen versus the other – simply put, a smaller screen space can lead to greater reaction times. A monitor featuring 1080p resolution is the minimum needed for today’s games, with 4K offering the sharpest detail. When it comes to refresh rates, bigger is better, with most gaming monitors offering at least 144 Hz. Response time is an indicator of how long a monitor takes to change individual pixels from black to white or from one shade of gray to another. Longer response times can result in a blurry picture. Top-of-the-line monitors offer a 0.1ms response time. Before you buy, don’t forget to consider any monitor accessories that may help you more efficiently arrange your monitors in your gaming space. Lenovo offers a bounty of monitor accessories such as arms, mounts, and stands.
Read our FAQ that covers the best gaming monitors if you’re definitely interested in an additional display to pair with your new gaming laptop.

Gaming Keyboard

Although it may seem that a keyboard isn’t an important component when it comes to gaming, the opposite is true. There are two types of keyboards: membrane and mechanical. Membrane keyboards use a layer of rubber or silicone that acts as both the “spring” and the electrical contact, while mechanical keyboards feature a mechanical switch under each key. Serious gamers prefer mechanical keyboards. Not only are they more precise, but they’re typically tougher than a membrane-based keyboard and better able to stand up to repeated keystrokes. You may also want to consider how your keys click. Many gamers prefer blue tactile keys that offer a “bump” or striking click that more definitely indicates through tactile and audible feedback that a key has been pressed. For quieter keys with no “bump,” look for a red linear keyset. Gaming keyboards also include the ability to allow multiple keys to be pressed at once, and often include features such as backlighting and dedicated macro keys.

Gaming Mouse

As with gaming keyboards, the value of a gaming mouse can be overlooked. Although a gaming mouse does many of the same things as a standard mouse bundled with a business PC, a great gaming mouse is one that fits comfortably in your hand and offers greater sensitivity and faster response time than a traditional mouse. You’ll also want to consider the weight of the gaming mouse, as many pro gamers seek out a lighter mouse that helps them be more nimble in their cursory movements. Features of a gaming mouse include higher dots per inch, or DPI, than a traditional mouse, as well as higher acceleration. DPI is a measure of how much the cursor moves with a movement of your hand, while acceleration indicates how quickly the cursor moves based on how quickly your hand moves. In both cases, higher is better. Other features of a gaming mouse include programmable buttons and faster response time than a standard mouse.

Gaming Headset

Gamers often spend hours in battle, so one of the main features to look for in a gaming headset is comfort. Other features include wired vs. wireless and open vs. closed earpieces. Do you want to leave your headset on when getting up for a snack? Go for a wireless headset. And if you want to be able to hear people sneaking up behind you in the latest FPS game, many gaming headsets offer 7.1 surround sound for a more immersive sonic experience. And of course, because you’ll likely be constantly communicating with teammates, you’ll want a microphone that picks up your voice clearly. Unidirectional mics are much better at isolating your voice from background sounds than omnidirectional designs.