7 Things To Consider When Buying a Gaming PC
It’s a big investment to get yourself a top-notch gaming PC, but who doesn’t want one? Being able to play the latest games on the highest settings with no frame drops is a dream for many gamers. However, they certainly don’t come cheap! It can be a tedious job building your own but there’s no denying that it’s very rewarding. Don’t fancy the hassle, a pre-built gaming PC gets you a high-quality machine that’s ready to go out of the box.
Whichever way you go about buying a gaming PC, we’ve done some of the research for you with seven essential things to look out for when looking for components as well as general price points.
Your PC would be nothing without a CPU. It’s the brain that allows your computer to do anything and has a huge impact on your gaming experience. Most games will need at least four cores which usually come at a reasonable price. Some games utilise more to boost the performance of games like Call of Duty: Warzone or Microsoft Flight Simulator – which developers’ suggest at least six for optimal performance.
You have two options for CPU manufacturers, Intel and AMD. If you’re looking for a CPU tailored to the PC Gamer then the AMD Ryzen 9 5900X (£450) is your best choice. It has 12 cores that can handle any high fidelity game when paired with a good graphics card. If that’s a bit too pricey, the six core AMD Ryzen 5 5600X (£243) provides enough power to keep frame rates high during gameplay.
Intel also offers great value CPUs. The Intel Core i5 11600K (£238) is another six core option that works great for high-end gaming. Or the Intel Core i5 10400F (£149) for mid-range gaming PC builds at an affordable price.
While the CPU is the brain of your computer, a motherboard should not be overlooked when buying a gaming PC. Every component of your PC will hook up to the motherboard so get one that suits your specs. For example, the socket of your motherboard will dictate what CPU you can get. Modern Intel CPUs need an LGA 1200 socket while the latest AMD processors need an AM4 socket. It’s a good idea to have both the CPU and motherboard in mind when buying parts for your gaming PC.
If you’re looking for an Intel-compatible motherboard, the Asus ROG Maximus XII Extreme (£893) is intended for the highest-end of PC builds but offers options to overclock your CPU to really boost performance. But you don’t need to break the bank for a motherboard, you can pick up an ASRock B460 Steel Legend (£105) which will be good for powering any 10th Gen Intel CPU.
Outside of the CPU, look for expansion slots if you want additional video or sound options. You’ll also want to make sure there are enough slots for the amount of RAM (Random Access Memory) you want to install. Your motherboard is the hub for every component of your gaming PC so make sure you get the one that’s right for you.
The most important of all the components is your graphics card. You wouldn’t be able to run games at all without one! When new graphics cards come around they bring with them two great outcomes: your PC becomes capable of running the latest cutting edge games and the older generation of GPUs tend to go down in price for those building on a tighter budget. You’ll want to make sure your power supply can give your graphics card the wattage it needs and that the video memory is 4GB or above for top performance.
The best GPUs currently on the market are Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3080 (£1,299) and AMD’s Radeon RX 6800 XT (£1,050). Both offer PC gaming at 4K resolution and the latest ray tracing lighting technology that brings game graphics closer to reality. If you’re on a budget and can live without ray tracing then there are cheaper alternatives. Both the Nvidia GTX 1650 Super (£209) and the GeForce RTX 3060 Ti (£699) offer enough to have you playing in medium to high settings with no frame drops.
Want less lag? You’ll want to invest in a decent amount of RAM. While games don’t need a whole lot of RAM to run, the more the merrier if you want to future-proof your PC and ensure smooth performance for the latest games. We recommend a minimum of 8GB for most games and 16GB at most.
For example a battle royale shooter like Call of Duty: Warzone has a minimum of 8GB and a recommended 12GB of RAM while a single-player shooter like Doom Eternal has 8GB of RAM as its minimum and recommended. Ultimately, this isn’t as important to gameplay as CPU and GPU but not something you should neglect when buying a gaming PC.
Another absolute essential for any PC. If you’re looking to install tons of games, you’ll need a lot of storage as some of the latest games eat away at your free space. Red Dead Redemption 2 and Microsoft Flight Simulator both take up 150GB of space which takes up a large chunk of your hard drive. It’s a good idea to invest in external storage to backup important files and ensure you have plenty of room for more and more games.
The two most common storage drives are the HDD (hard disk drive) and SSD (solid-state Drive). We would recommend an SSD for your main storage on a gaming PC as it’ll read and write data faster than an HDD. Plus if you use it as your boot drive you’ll have way faster start-up and programme load times. We’d recommend an SSD that gives you at least 1TB like the Addlink S70 (£41) or the Samsung 860 EVO (£154). HDD’s are still great for external storage and at good prices like Seagate’s 2TB Barracuda (£54) or the 1TB Portable (£39).
To get higher frame rates you’re going to need a monitor that can handle them. For a gaming PC, you need to keep two things in mind: resolution and refresh rate. At a minimum, you’ll want a resolution of 1080p – the standard for any gaming PC. For even better picture quality you can upgrade to 1440p or 2160p resolution monitors for better visual clarity but make sure your graphics card is capable of processing graphics in these resolutions.
The refresh rate of your monitor tells you how many frames it can display. This is calculated in hertz (Hz) and the corresponding number tells you the highest number of frames. 60Hz is the minimum but you really want 120Hz if you play any competitive games where every frame counts.
If you’re building on a budget then the Acer R240HY (£524) can get you 1080p and 60Hz while something like the LG 27GN950-B (£895) can get you up to 2160p and 144Hz for the ultimate PC gaming experience.
With the number of high-quality specs inside your PC case, it’s going to get really hot in there! Overheating can cause a lot of damage to your GPU and CPU. A couple of fans are needed to keep everything cool. A product like the EVGA CLC 240 (£79) is a fan and liquid cooler which absorbs the heat and stops overheating.
A powerful CPU like the AMD Ryzen 9 5900X will need a decent cooler to keep it running at top performance. It’s very common for PC gamers to use a product like the Corsair Performance Thermal Paste (£5) is a gel you apply directly onto the CPU and works wonders.
Build for Your Budget
Always keep your budget in mind when you’re looking into buying a gaming PC. They can cost an arm and a leg, especially when you start investing in a PC case fitted with disco lights. With the right research, you can get yourself the gaming PC of your dreams!.
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Author Bio: James Sayers has a passion for writing on media such as music, film and video games. He works at Tillison Consulting as an SEO Campaign Manager working on blog content and SEO improvements for clients.