The prospect of buying a gaming PC makes all the possibilities whirl around in your belly. But to make the most of them without breaking your wallet, there are fundamental things you should know before diving in headfirst.
In that spirit, here is a short and simple, but also very useful set of tips and information to help you contain your inner child and take a more strategic approach to the tricky process of buying a gaming PC, so that both the child and the adult in you can have as much fun as possible afterward.
For more valuable advice on all things computers, visit inside-tech.co.uk
Size / Upgradability
This is the very first thing you need to figure out, and to a certain extent, it will influence the rest of your choices as well.
Most simply put, PCs fall into three categories in terms of size – small, mid-tower, and full-tower.
Small is the most practical from a strictly dimensional standpoint, so if you’re tight on space, their size can be a benefit. The downside, however, is that it also means little room for future upgrades as you won’t have the necessary space to add components and keep them properly ventilated.
Mid-tower PCs, as is usually the case with things that lie in the middle, are generally the most balanced decision in terms of convenience, foresight, and budget. They are still small enough to fit under a desk and come at a decent price, but large enough to be upgradable.
Full-size tower PCs are imposing titans and should be bought only by people with the financial and spatial means and gaming ambitions to match.
The processor is the engine of your PC, the heart. The main distinction between processors is the number of their cores – two, four, six, etc. The idea behind these categories isn’t too different from the size ones: they represent an accurate spectrum of performance capabilities. The main difference is the spectrum here is larger and consists of more options.
Two-core processors are slowly, but surely becoming obsolete, so unless you’re planning to quit gaming soon, switch to a console, or are a fan of old-school or inherently undemanding titles, this option doesn’t have too much future.
Four-core processors pack will do the trick for now, but just how well or for how long is another question. Unless you’re on a strict budget or, again, games beyond the immediate future aren’t a concern, then going above is better.
Speaking of better, 6-core processors to this category are arguable what mid-tower PCs are to the previous – the happy medium. Anything above is generally unnecessarily expensive and won’t truly make a difference any time soon.
Nvidia and AMD are the gold standards, and going below it doesn’t really make much sense.
Again, the mid-range strikes the best balance between performance, upgradability, and budget. A healthy goal for most gamers would be a GPU that’s capable of supporting flawlessly most, if not all, games at 1080p. Cards like Nvidia GTX 1060 and AMD Radeon RX 580 are good benchmarks in that regard right now.
Choosing a GPU tends to be a bit more nuanced of a matter than deciding on other components because there’s an extra element in the equation – the style of games that it’s meant to handle. People who play games in which a smooth performance and high FPS is more important than visual aesthetics and ultra-high resolution might not necessarily need to prioritize this aspect as much as those who like to immerse themselves in beautifully crafted open-world games, like Assassin’s Creed, for example, in which every detail counts.
Whereas to having more than one video card, while it does sound appealing and perhaps even awe-inspiring, the fact of the matter is, it’s not uncommon for driver and game support issues to arise. Not to mention such extra horsepower can be taxing both on you and your hardware, generating extra heat and noise.
RAM is the component you can be the least particular about. For one, it’s relatively cheap, but that’s not the main reason. More importantly, anything above 16GB, and in many cases even 8GB, is unnecessary and won’t make a difference to your gaming experience for a while. The money you’d spend on anything above that would go a much longer way in other elements.
The bottom line is unless budget is of no concern whatsoever, or you’re after the most supreme gaming experience possible, a solid mid-range machine would likely serve you loyally for a while. And when it can’t anymore as is, you should be able to upgrade it and squeeze a good couple of years more out of it, at a lower overall price than you would pay if you had gotten all those components from the beginning when they were a luxury. If you have to face a power cut issue then you must buy a generator so that you can enjoy an uninterruptible gaming session.