The Sony PlayStation 4 has undoubtedly dealt an undermining blow on gaming PCs, but in truth, an adequately endowed desktop or laptop computer is the only way one can truly let loose the thrill of gaming. Therefore, even as new gamers opt for consoles, there’s still a good number of enthusiasts, I included, that would rather experience their favorite titles on a PC.
While the PS4 lets you avoid the complexities that come with buying and setting up a computer, as well as installing a game, proper rigs come with powerful hardware and support for high resolutions, which make them much better suited for immersive gaming.
That said, settling on the best gaming PC for your needs is no easy task. Manufacturers tend to toss around terms like FPS, DirectX, Shader Model 5, SLI, GDDR5, and so on, all of which can be pretty confusing to the typical buyer.
If you’ve been thinking of getting a rig but don’t know where or how to start looking, don’t beat yourself up. Rather, read on and find out how to best shop for a gaming PC
Before stepping out to visit your favorite computer dealership, the first question that you should ask and answer is how much money you can spend. Gaming PCs are typically expensive investments, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to break the bank to get a decent rig. There’s a good selection of reasonably-priced gaming desktops on the market.
If your budget allows it, however, aim for the stars. It may not seem necessary to have the best processor, GPU and RAM combo that money can buy, but keep in mind that you’re essentially making a long-term investment. PCs with the latest components are the most future-proof.
2. The games you play
Once you have your budget figured out, your next consideration should involve your tastes in PC games. The type of games you like to play are a direct determinant of the kind of machine to get. For instance, lovers of modern first-person shooters will need to invest more on graphics hardware than CPU performance.
On the other hand, if your preferences are inclined towards turn-based war games, you can compromise slightly on graphics processing in support of a fast CPU. Real-time strategy games often demand a balance between the CPU and the GPU
3. Graphics and Display
The GPU is the most important hardware element in a gaming computer because it determines how good your game will look and how smoothly it’ll play. Even in CPU-intensive games, graphics remain an important aspect. When buying a gaming PC, therefore, it makes sense to get the best possible graphics card that your budget can accommodate.
That said, be mindful of other gaming specifics, particularly your intended resolution. You wouldn’t want to shell big buck for a unit with two GTX 1080 graphics cards, just to render games in 1080p and default graphics settings. Only spend top-dollar when you need excellent visual quality
The graphics card may be the key component in a gaming rig, but the CPU is still important. As long as you have a great GPU, however, you don’t need a super-powerful processor to run your favorite titles. A mid-range quad-core Core i5 will almost certainly be enough.
If you’re on a budget, therefore, it’s better to dial back a bit on the CPU and invest more on a good GPU. On the flip side, if you plan on using your new rig for other purposes besides gaming, such as photo and video editing, go for a PC that offers a good balance between CPU and GPU performance.
RAM is arguably a gamer’s least problem because not only does a gaming rig rely a lot more on the GPU’s VRAM than the main system memory, but RAM is also relatively cheap and easy to upgrade. 8GB is where many gaming experts draw the line, which should be sufficient for running 64-bit Windows processes.
Getting more RAM won’t have much effect on your gaming experience, but it’ll help with other memory-demanding programs, as well as heavy multitasking. A PC with dual-channeled 8GB sticks is, therefore, a worthy pick
Games usually demand a lot of storage space, which means that a 128GB SSD on its own may not stand a chance. On the other hand, even 7200rpm mechanical hard drives pale in comparison to entry-level SSDs when it comes to speed. SSDs offer better performance by significantly reducing file-loading times. Your games will, therefore, start up and load scenes much faster with an SSD than a mechanical drive.
If you want the best of both performance and storage space, but aren’t flush enough for cash to get a PC with a 1TB SSD, consider one that offers a combination of a small SSD (128GB or 256GB) and a 1TB HDD. You can then proceed to get the games you play the most onto the SSD while leaving the rest on the hard disk.
Careful attention towards the factors above will likely get you a great gaming PC, but there are other aspects you may want to consider. For starters, any rig isn’t complete without a proper gaming keyboard and mouse.
Gaming input devices feel better on the palms and fingers and offer programmable keys to better interact with your game. You may also want to throw a gamepad in there for triple-A action titles.
Additionally, lay emphasis on good sound quality. Games make heavy use of surround sound, so, unless the PC sounds very convincing, it’s good to add a pair of gaming headsets into the package. Also, see to it that the PC you buy has enough USB ports and others that you might need. That way, you’ll avoid the hassle of buying and installing hubs for your accessories.
Lastly, you wouldn’t want a PC that’ll be roaring like a small tornado, even when running light games. Consider a system with one of those sealed liquid coolers. They’re quieter and cooler than air-cooling setups.
Identifying the perfect gaming PC for your wants and needs can be tough, but following these tips can make it a straightforward process.
Moreover, thanks to a recent influx of cheap pre-built gaming PCs, you’re likely to find the right system for enjoyable, immersive and engaging gaming, even with a strained budget.
So, get out there, and pick out the machine that’ll best float your boat.