Gaming desktops can do all of the things standard home computers can do in terms of surfing the Internet, browsing photos, emailing and more but they are more powerful in order to handle the resource intensive gaming applications. Gamers can select from an extensive array of hardware and accessories to customise their PC to optimise their gaming experience. The following guide will highlight key factors to consider when buying your next gaming computer or should you wish to upgrade your current one.
A gaming PC should include a high-end processor to process data extremely fast and keep up with the intense demands of gaming. Having multiple cores makes your processor more efficient as it splits the data processing between them. Not all games will take advantage of the maximum number of cores though, so it is useful to know how many cores your favorite games will use. Frequency or speed is also important to consider. For smooth performance in the most advanced games, you might need 3GHz or more.
If you upgrade your processor, it is essential that you purchase a model that is compatible with your current machine.
Video graphics card/GPU
Serious gaming requires serious graphical power. A dedicated graphics card will boost performance, providing the additional resources and power to ensure visual quality through delivering smoother frame rates with far less graphical lag. The graphics card you select will depend on the types of games you want to play and how much you can afford to spend.
Gaming PCs, with their powerful processors and graphics cards, can get very hot. Processors are typically coupled with heat sinks and cooling fans, but manufacturers will sometimes go as far as to add a liquid coolant system to provide exceptional cooling with virtually no noise.
Your computer’s RAM (Random Access Memory) stores temporary data while your computer is performing tasks. The more RAM you have, the more your computer will be able to do simultaneously. It’s recommended that you have a minimum of 4GB of RAM for gaming, but increasing this to 8GB or more will often lead to much better performance. Not having enough RAM can create a bottleneck in gaming performance, as games require several different types of data to be manipulated all at once. Make sure that any additional RAM you buy is compatible with your motherboard.
All of the files that bring those incredibly detailed game worlds to life are stored locally on your hard drive. Therefore, the ideal gaming hard drive will be fast, with plenty of storage space. Standard hard drives store their data on rotating discs. The faster a disc rotates, the faster your computer will be able to access that data. Standard hard drives spin at 5400 RPM, but those that spin at 7200 RPM are preferable for gaming.
Solid-state hard drives are built for speed but they tend to hold less data and may cost more than standard hard drives. Consider installing your essential system files on a small solid-state hard drive and having a much larger secondary hard drive for storage. There are also external hard drives that simply plug into your PC’s USB port.
Excellent sound quality enrichers your gaming experience. Consider installing a sound card or plugging in an external one for improved audio.
A monitor is your personal window into the game worlds.
You need to choose a size that works for you, based on how much room you have on your desk and how close to your monitor you plan to sit. Bigger isn’t always better as when you sit close to a large monitor, the edges of the screen could be outside your peripheral vision.
A higher resolution screen is preferred, as it will maximise the amount of the game world you will be able to see at any time, and give you smoother visuals. However, running games at high resolutions uses greater system resources. You can also adjust the display resolution in the options menu of most games, limited to the system’s maximum resolution.
- Curved monitors
To get an extremely wide field of vision, gamers sometimes place two monitors side by side in order to bend their field of vision around them. A curved monitor allows for a wider field of vision, immersing you deeper into your game worlds.
- Refresh rate
Refresh rate is the number of times your screen refreshes per second. Faster refresh rates will display motion with more clarity and smoothness. For gaming, it’s recommended that your refresh rate is a minimum of 60Hz.
- Response time
Response time is how your screen’s pixels can transition from one color to another. In games, where actions tend to be lightning quick, slower response times can lead to motion blur or “ghosted” images. Response time is measured in milliseconds, so the smaller the number, the faster the response time. For gaming, it’s recommended that your response time is 5ms or less.
A gaming headset should be comfortable to wear for long periods of time. Full-ear models are the most common, since they fully surround your ears to deliver quality audio and cancel out background noise.
- Surround sound
Many headsets deliver stereo sound with a single speaker for each ear. Higher quality models add additional speakers in each earpiece to deliver a true surround sound experience. Surround sound headsets will require a compatible sound card on your computer.
Gaming headsets usually feature a boom microphone that lets you talk to other players. Some booms are adjustable, which gives you more control over microphone positioning.
- Volume control
Many headsets include a separate control switch that adjusts in-game chat independently of the game’s audio.
- Wired vs. wireless
Headsets come in wired and wireless versions. Wired headsets are much cheaper, and may deliver better sound quality. W ireless headsets don’t have cords to tie you to your PC. Wireless headsets usually connect to your computer via Bluetooth.
A specialised keyboard can enhance your gaming experience.
- Mechanical Keyboards
In mechanical keyboards, every key has its own individual mechanical switch. While these are heavier and more expensive than other types of keyboards, they’re also more durable, and accurate for gaming.
Ghosting happens when you press several keys simultaneously and your keyboard doesn’t recognise all the keystrokes. Anti-ghosting technology is designed to reduce the number of possible key combinations that can lead to ghosting.
Macros are complex strings of commands that can be recorded and programmed to be triggered with a single keystroke. Several gaming keyboards feature extra keys that can be used for macros.
- Backlit keys
Some keyboards include backlit keys to allow you to see the keys when you’re gaming in a dimly lit room.
- Wired vs. wireless
Keyboards come in both wired and wireless versions, but gamers tend to prefer wired models as they have better response times and use a slightly smaller amount of system
A gaming mouse comes with a range of features that aren’t usually found on standard mice to improve gaming performance.
While most mice are designed for multiple grip styles, several high-end mice are optimised for a particular style. You need to determine which suits you best to ensure comfort over extended gaming periods.
Mouse sensitivity is measured in DPI (dots per inch). The higher the DPI rating of a mouse, the more sensitive and accurate it is. However, extreme sensitivity isn’t always necessary. Keep in mind that the higher the higher DPI ratings will consume more system resources and could lead to slower performance. Some mice include buttons that let you adjust DPI on the fly so you can switch between settings.
The polling rate of a mouse is how often the mouse sends data to your computer. The more often your mouse sends data, the faster the response time. However, this can increase the amount of system resources being used by your mouse.
- Additional buttons
Gaming mice often include several additional buttons that give you more control over how you want to play. If you play massively multiplayer online role-playing games, having a large number of programmable buttons on your mouse lets you set up a control style that feels right for you. It also requires a minimal amount of finger movement per button click.
- Wired vs. wireless
For serious gaming, it’s preferable to choose wired models, as they have a faster response time and use a slightly smaller percentage of system resources. Wireless mice can also run out of battery power mid game.
If you are looking to upgrade your gaming system, you’ll need to look for performance bottlenecks on your system to ensure you replace the right components. Computer Mania stocks a wide selection of gaming computers, accessories and upgrade components. Our in store technical specialists can answer all your questions and assist you to find the best solution for your requirements.