Today we're making the best value gaming pc for Apex Legends, we're targeting great performance + looks for the least money down, so the goal involves building it for ourselves.
I'll avoid as much tech speak as possible in this article, so terms like "gold bits on the bottom of the ram" might make a few pro PC builders giggle a little. I also talk about $ as I go, and component prices can of course change - so depending on when you're reading this, certain items might be slightly different prices, I don't anticipate any OMG moments but thought it best to mention it.
OK, let's design our PC!
A quick look at the system requirements/recommendations on the official Apex Legends website shows me a list of components, but oddly, the graphics cards it recommends are so old that I can't actually buy them anymore... hmmm... off to a tricky start!
Luckily Apex Legends is a popular game and jumping on YouTube gives a whole load of "Apex Legends FPS Test" videos to check out, with many gamers using a GTX 1060 and showing off some great looking gameplay. With the primary gaming component researched a little, we can now base the build around that - and we're going to make it easy for ourselves and copy someone else's build.
Browsing the Gaming PC range I choose the HP Omen Obelisk to loosely base my custom Apex build on. Looking closely at the specs I find all the information I could want, with details on everything they use from the power supply to the motherboard socket!
Armed with this information and the PB Tech custom building tool (which automatically shows parts from cheapest to most expensive), my custom build shopping list now looks like this:
- Windows 10 Operating System
- AMD Ryzen CPU
- AMD Motherboard
- Solid State Drive
- Desktop RAM Kit
- WiFi + Bluetooth Adaptor
- Power Supply
BUT WAIT! Nvidia have a new graphics card that just released, so not many people have had a go with it yet - it's named the GTX 1660 and for a little more than a GTX 1060, you can get a superior GTX 16XX series graphics card now. You can check out the full range of Nvidia Graphics Cards here.
I grabbed all three GTX graphics cards to test the difference, and I've also loaded the all the parts into our Custom Gaming PC Builder that you can use for easy checks, this price does include having PB Tech build the PC for you though, but that's always nice if you're feeling a bit lazy :P It will also swap parts automatically to ones which are in stock should something sell out.
My component spend looks be around $1810 to exceed the Omen specs, but I'll also need a nice case - searching though I choose a nice SG series bringing my total to $1935 - and my PC is going to feature the latest graphics card, full tempered glass goodness and RGB cooling #PCMR!
OK, let's build a PC!
Stacking up my components I first grab the CPU, Motherboard, SSD and RAM. The unboxing begins with my glorious looking Aorus ELITE motherboard and Ryzen 5 CPU :) The motherboard includes some accessories, of particular interest a little later is that manual (so set it aside somewhere handy for now), the other bits won't be needed so they can go back into the box. When you take out the AMD CPU and included Wraith CPU Cooler, please note that the thermal paste is pre-applied - so it's best to set this down with the silver goo facing upwards.
Having built with Ryzen before I know that the CPU Cooler is a little odd in the way that it puts the logo + fan header cable on the left, as I want my build to look its very best we'll take a moment to spin the trim on the cover so the AMD logo and cable will be positioned horizontally above. This is pretty easy and only takes 5 screws in total to dismantle.
The first screw you want to remove is a silver one, located just under the logo. Unscrewing this will allow you to remove the trim, it has clips to hold it in place but once that screw is out you just give it a good pull and it pops off. This will now expose the 4x black screws that attach the fan to heatsink. Remove these and then spin that 90 degrees for a perfect position, screw back in the blacks, click on the cover again, and screw back in the silver one - all done.
See below for a clear photo of orientation and how the attached cooler now looks with the cable and logo up top!
Now we can fit our CPU and attach the cooler onto the motherboard. There are a few steps here but follow along and you'll be just fine - even if it's your first time building a PC for yourself :)
There is a little silver lever right below the CPU socket, nudging this down will unclasp it and you'll then be able to lever it into a position pointing upwards (if you look closely at the socket you can see it moving a little too)
With the lever facing upwards you can now put the CPU into the socket, but it's important how the CPU goes in.
IMPORTANT: In this particular build the CPU orientation had me using a 90-degree rotation to the right - this will put the text shown exactly how it is in the image above/right for the perfect install. There's also a little gold triangle on one corner of the CPU and a corresponding mark on the socket so you can also use this as a guide for installation, but it can be tough to see - so copy me if you're using the same parts, check your motherboard manual if you're using a different motherboard :)
With our CPU in the socket, we can now push down that little lever again to secure it.
Next step is to remove the pre-installed brackets so we can fit our cooler on top.
Unscrewing these big silver screws will let us remove the plastic bits, exposing the black screw standoffs they were screwed into - we'll be attaching our CPU cooler to these so the silver screws and plastic bits can be put away into your motherboard box now - you won't be needing them for this build.
With the plastic now removed and the black standoff exposed we simple pop our CPU cooler onto the CPU with the logo up top - the Wraith CPU Cooler has its own screws built in, so just position it and tighten (I like to tighten screws in this order as it keeps the CPU Cooler straight and aligned = top right, bottom left, top left, bottom right).
Congratulations - the hardest part is now done! let's install our ram next :)
Using our specific Crucial DDR4 Ram sticks as the example, if I place these beside my motherboard with the sticker facing upwards those gold looking bits at the bottom will align with the RAM slots, in this case, the shorter gold bit is below the longer gold bit.
IMPORTANT: We have 2 sticks of RAM and 4 slots. Our RAM has to go into certain slots to get the best performance so let's imagine numbers on the slots from left-right, being 1-4. Our RAM should go into slot 2 and slot 4.
To get it into our slots we first need to push down on little latches on the top and bottom of the slots. Once this is down you'll be able to place the RAM into the slots - and when you push it in the little latches will close with a satisfying click!
While we're here you can plug your CPU cooler fan header into the motherboard, beacuse we spun the cooler you'll find this in a perfect position just above it now!
Well, that's looking good! The highlights on the motherboard and RAM complement each other nicely - time to install our Crucial P1 500GB NVMe SSD!
The motherboard we're using has 2x M.2 slots on it, and the top one has a very fancy looking heatsink cover too - it's super tempting to install our M.2 here but we're not going to - instead we'll install on the slot below as will give our Crucial P1 SSD a lot of room to breath rather than being positioned right behind our massive graphics card - and that graphics card is going be running full speed pretty much all the time while we play our games on our new PC :)
Installing this M.2 drive is probably the easiest part of our Gaming PC build - and you won't even need the screws that come inside the Crucial P1 box as these are already pre-positioned in slot #2 of our Aorus ELITE motherboard.
Simply remove the screw, pop it into the slot, and screw it back down. Job done!
The performance from this latest generation of NVMe M.2 SSD is incredibly good too, with the Crucial P1 NVMe fitted inside your system it's going mean you get to enjoy crazy fast loading times :)
We can now put our motherboard aside, grabbing our Gaming PC case and Power Supply boxes for the next step.
This chassis has a lot of tempered glass so it's quite heavy, the best advice for safely removing the case from the box is to follow the same method as in our How to set up your new gaming pc video.
Now that our chassis is out of the box we can remove both tempered glass side panels from both sides of the case, to do this simply take out the thumb screws (there are 4x per panel, I like to bottom first, then top).
These glass panels are covered in an anti-scratch peel away film on both sides, so don't worry too much when setting them down.
We can also store these quite safely in the box by putting some of the foam in between them while we work through the next steps :)
Now that our case out of the box we can remove the cable ties from both sides, as shown above, the back on the case holds all the pre-fitted RGB controller cables along with the ones for the USB ports on the front of our case.
On the inside, you'll find a little bag containing screws and cable ties for our build - we'll be using specific screws for each step going forward and I'll hold up each type for easy identification :)
With everything ready, we can now install our Power Supply.
The important part when installing the PSU is to make sure the fan has airflow, as shown in the pictures above you can see there is a fan on the power supply, and the air holes on the bottom on our PC case - this means we should install our power supply with the fan facing downwards.
You can see the screw I'm using in the photo above on the right, there are silver ones also included within the power supply box but I've chosen to use the black ones that were included with our SG-K7 (these are the 6x screws show above from our accessories bag).
With our power supply screwed in there will be an intimidating mass of cables coming out the back of your PC - worry not though! Next, we'll be fitting our motherboard inside and connecting all of these cables so in a short moment your new Gaming PC is going to look absolutely amazing :)
Now lay your case on its side, with the clean empty looking side facing upwards, and all those loose cables hanging out from underneath is perfectly fine.
All the screw standoffs are pre-fitted for your ATX sized motherboard, and even the IO shield is pre-attached to the motherboard so this installation is easier than it has ever been.
Place your motherboard inside the PC case, and push it flush towards the back of the chassis.
Shown in the image above is the screw we'll be using for our motherboard, notice the flat trim around it for easy identification. I like to start with the screw hole just below and to the left our RAM slots because once that's in all others seem to align.
IMPORTANT: Some motherboard screw holes won't be used with this chassis, for example, that one below and to the right of the RAM slots. You can refer to the photo showing the case before we put the motherboard in to confirm which ones to ignore (with this case it's the ones on the far right of the motherboard).
OK, all in and we're looking good - time to stand our PC up and do those cables!
Quickly take a moment to admire your new Gaming PC which is already looking awesome - we won't stop now though - we're nearly there!
Place your PC down on its side again with all the cables facing you, this next part involves popping cables in through rubber holes in the Gaming PC Chassis and you can see in the image above right how it's going to look when we're done pushing all the cables through the various rubber holes - pretty tidy and this is before proper cable management!
Starting with the cables that come from our power supply unit, find the 4+4pin CPU power cable shown in the picture above. Aptly named because it combines two 4pin connections together (Often confused with the 6+2pin, but they are for something else we'll cover soon)
Poke this 4+4 through the rubber hole at the top right side of your PC case as shown above.
OK, now grab the 24pin motherboard power cable which is pictured above and poke this on through the middle rubber hole near in the centre of your gaming PC case.
Now we'll do the USB ports, Audio Jacks and On/Off buttons that are on the front of the case.
Grab all the cables that come from the top/front of your PC case - You will have 1x Blue USB 3.0 Header, 1x USB 2.0 Header 1x HD Audio Header (these look similar, but the HD Audio does that written on it if you look closely, anyway, grab both!) and a spidery one with names written on all the bits such as the RESET SW as shown above left - these are your on/off buttons and indicator lights.
Poke these USB and Audio cables through the rubber holes near the power supply, it's easy to get a little lost here as the holes we're going for are underneath the piece of metal that hides our power supply, rather than on the backplate that all our other cables have gone through.
Look at the photo above right and you'll see the position they come out is just under our AORUS logo on the motherboard, with the HD audio you can use the other rubber hole towards the back of the case if you like as it's closer to the port.
I've also made a point to show what the USB/HD Audio connections look like in the image above left, above right shows the little blue nub on the USB 3.0 header - this is going to be important during the next when we plug it all in.
Using the diagram above you'll be able to easily find the spots where each of the cables we just popped through connects to your motherboard - and because you've already threaded them through the correct holes they'll already be placed close to these points :)
The spidery cable with RESET SW from before has a page in the manual that you can use to see exactly what bits go where - I've taken a photo of the exact page so you can see the right bits! I always plug these in left most bottom then left most top and make my way accross till all the cables are in.
In the image shown above right is where the CPU 4+4pin connects and this one can be a bit tricky due to the small space compared to the rest!
Please note: all the cables only fit in one way, you'll see on the 4+4pin and 24Pin there is a little latch on one side that will clip over a small piece of plastic on the motherboard to secure your cables.
IMPORTANT: With the USB 3.0 + USB 2.0 + HD Audio header cables these also only fit in one way, but they're a bit less durable than the big ones previous so forcing them in the wrong might damage the pins - be sure to look first for the one that says HD Audio on it and insert that first, this way it can't be consuded with the USB 2.0 header which is very similar, with all these cables be sure to insert gently.
Now that our motherboard and case is all connected it's time connect the RGB fan controller to our power supply.
The RGB is powered by a MOLEX cable, and this looks a lot like what it plugs in to - see the cables shown above left, one of them is from your Power Supply on a daisy chain with a bunch of other cable types, and the other (with the thin cable on the right) comes from your fan controller.
Plug the power supply cable into the back of the RGB fan controlled cable and you're all set.
Time to finish up and get our graphics card in!
No matter which graphics card you're using in your build the install process will be the same, GTX 1060, GTX 1660 or GTX 1660Ti! The system power supply is ample all the way up to the RTX 2070 too if you want to go upgrade crazy later.
First, unscrew and remove the little panels from spots 2+3 as shown in the image above left (you can see the image below left shows the top panel has not been removed). Keep those screws handy as we'll use them on our graphics cards, we won't need the little panels though so you can pop them into a box for storage now.
Next, get your graphics card and remove the rubber that protects the gold connection bit as shown on the image above right.
Now simply side the Graphic Card into position and push that gold connection bit into the motherboard - then fasten it using those same screws!
Shown in the image above left you can see the 6+2pin power cable for your graphics card, you only need one!
Pop one of the 6+2pin cables (either is fine) through a rubber hole, you can see I've chosen the one just below our 24pin cable but you could choose to bring it up from underneath too.
The last component we'll be installing is our AC WiFi + Bluetooth card so let's get it in! Inside the box, you'll find the WiFi Card itself, 1x Aerial and 1x USB Cable.
Much like we did with the graphics card, unscrew a little panel from the back to make space for the component - we'll use the very bottom slot this time.
Insert the WiFi card into the open slot and use the screw to fasten it in yet again.
That's WiFi sorted, now connecting the USB cable to the WiFi card and motherboard will give you Bluetooth V5.0. There is only one place left on your motherboard where you can plug this in, and only one place on the WiFi card to connect the other end (green box) but the trick is each end only fits in one place, so be sure to look at each end to find the right one!
All set - you've done it!
All that's needed now is to insert that Windows 10 USB and turn your PC on - follow the prompts to install your OS, then download Nvidia Experience and APEX LEGENDS!
We'll quickly play some games then come back to PC building and customise the RGB nameplate on our new Gaming PC so it shows our favourite Apex Legends character :) But before we jump in to test performance so we'll need to activate an FPS Counter, this is a part of the Nvidia Experience free software though - quick guide below!
First, run the GeForce Experience Software then either click "open game overlay" or use the hotkey ALT+Z to bring up the menu.
Click the little COG on the right to bring up your settings menu (shown below)
Now select "HUD Layout" in the menu that has appeared. Then select the "FPS Counter" and click on the monitor graphic to choose where on your screen this info will be displayed.
This little FPS counter won't appear in your recordings with Shadowplay Game Capture - more info on that part of GeForce Experience Shadowplay here.
Playing some Apex Legends with all three graphics cards is a fun time, the GTX 1060 performance is very impressive - certainly well-deserving all the recommendations it has received. But that GTX 1660 is on a whole new level, pushing the FPS up for pretty much the same price - I highly recommend it!
The GTX 1660 Ti was also very impressive, but admittingly it was less noticeable having used the GTX 1660 just after the GTX 1060, but the small price difference does make this card a great option for our Apex Legends build too, should you budget allow.
OK, games aside for now we'll continue to update this with details on customise our build using the SGK7 chassis nameplate. One of many things that makes the Segotep SG-K7 Chassis so good is the ability to add your own unique touch the RGB nameplate on this case. The LED strip behind is powerful enough to shine through white paper too for a cool effect.
To access the nameplate you'll first need to remove the front tempered glass panel so you can access some screws. Once that's off you'll see 2x screws, remove these and then do the same with the remaining 2x screws from within the chassis.
Once all the screws are removed give the nameplate a push in to release it, and then slide it out. Peel off the Segotep sticker and give the clear backplate a little wipe to remove any residue, it's time to get creative!
The measurements for the space we can add our custom logo to are 8cm down, 2.8cm across - as we're building this PC with Apex Legends in mind I jumped online to grab some line art for characters but you could use this space for whatever you want - a Gamertag maybe? Your personal avatar perhaps?
Whatever you go with you can change as often as you like, and changing the colours with a press of the RGB button on the chassis will let you pick and choose whatever colours you like :)
For those that joined in, I hope you enjoyed the building yourself a new custom Gaming PC as much as we did. You can also use the Custom Gaming PC Building Tool to choose from a range of compatible components at PB Tech, making custom building easier than ever!