I just built the world's best gaming PC — it was a bit of disaster but totally worth it

AMD Ryzen 7 7800X3D-powered gaming PC
(Image credit: Future)

A while back, I posted a piece about how I’d been building rigs for 20 years but now I’d buy a gaming laptop instead. Suffice to say, most of the 88 people who commented on the article weren’t best pleased with me. But hey, that’s all ancient history now. Because guess what? I’ve fallen head over heels for desktop gaming again.

Recently, I wrote that the Steam Deck had made me fall back in love with my gaming PC. Thanks to cross-save features, I got into a pattern of playing some of the best Steam games on my sofa, then continuing my playthroughs on my Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090-powered rig. 

The chance to enjoy some of my favorite PC titles away from my home office gave me just enough breathing space away from my desktop to fully make me appreciate it again. With all this renewed enthusiasm, it was all but inevitable I was going to cave around Black Friday season and splurge on new PC components. And that’s exactly what happened.

After much hemming and hawing, I decided my Intel Core i5-12600K CPU couldn’t cut the mustard anymore"

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve rebuilt my PC since I first learned how to construct a functioning desktop back in ye olden times of 2004. Why the “need” for this latest update? After much hemming and hawing, I decided my Intel Core i5-12600K CPU couldn’t cut the mustard anymore — especially with demanding PC games like Lords of the Fallen prove to be particularly punishing on my aging processor.

So I decided to pull the trigger on the best gaming CPU in the world, which (happily) is currently reduced. Right now, the AMD Ryzen 7 7800X3D 8-Core 16-Thread Desktop Processor is on sale for $348 at Amazon. That’s a nice $65 saving compared to its usual list price of $449.

Rigging it up 

Rebuilding a gaming PC

The start of a long, back-straining journey to gaming nivrana.  (Image credit: Future)

And let me tell you, it’s an utter beast. Going back to the Lords of the Fallen, pre-upgrade I was wildly swinging between the high 50s to high 70s even with my RTX 4090 and Nvidia’s DLSS features doing their best to keep my frame rates up. Now with the AMD Ryzen 7 7800X3D in my corner, I can speed past over 100 fps, even during the busiest of battles. It’s a game-changing leap in terms of performance.

Hoo-boy was the road to getting to fps paradise painful, though. Having been an Intel gamer for two decades, this is the first time I’ve ever actually owned an AMD processor.

The wallet-rinsing consequences of going Team Red? I obviously had to buy a new motherboard to go alongside my shiny new CPU. Specifically, I needed one that supports AMD’s AM5 socket and I decided to plump for the Gigabyte X670 Gaming X AX motherboard.

Sadly, the shopping free didn’t stop there. My new mobo only supports DDR5 RAM, so that meant upgrading the 32GB of DDR4 RAM that had been housed in my rig previously. So there was another $130 out of my pockets.

The next nasty surprise? My Corsair liquid CPU cooler didn’t have the right brackets to fit my board's AMD 5 socket"

The next nasty surprise? My Corsair liquid CPU cooler didn’t have the right brackets to fit my board's AMD 5 socket, so I had to buy a replacement that would play nice with my monstrously powerful gaming CPU. So there was another $120 gone.

Once I had all the right components together, the physical act of switching out my old motherboard and cooler, then replacing them with my new gear took way longer than it should. Hey, I was doing it on the floor and my back isn’t what it used to be, okay?

Five failed attempts to boot later, and success! I had successfully assembled the ultimate dream rig that I’ve been thirsting after for months. I’m loving the frame rate boosts the Ryzen 7 7800X3D is giving me in certain games, though my battered change purse is obviously furious with me.

The pain of the upgrade process and subsequent dent in my bank balance have been challenges, no doubt. Yet once I sell all my old components, my obsessive eyes will rest easy as I delight in bathing in the beauty of playing games at 4K/120 frames per second thanks to the unbeatable knockout combo of the Ryzen 7 7800X3D and RTX 4090.

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Dave Meikleham
UK Computing Editor

Dave is a computing editor at Tom’s Guide and covers everything from cutting edge laptops to ultrawide monitors. When he’s not worrying about dead pixels, Dave enjoys regularly rebuilding his PC for absolutely no reason at all. In a previous life, he worked as a video game journalist for 15 years, with bylines across GamesRadar+, PC Gamer and TechRadar. Despite owning a graphics card that costs roughly the same as your average used car, he still enjoys gaming on the go and is regularly glued to his Switch. Away from tech, most of Dave’s time is taken up by walking his husky, buying new TVs at an embarrassing rate and obsessing over his beloved Arsenal.