Most serious gamers understand that in order to be truly competitive, it’s going to take a lot more than the average off-the-shelf computer model. Gaming desktops are packed with a lot of cutting-edge hardware, but there is more to it than that. A lot of elements have to work together to ensure that you will get the best gaming experience for your investment.
The right mix of hardware components will provide the speed and reliability you need to run the best games at the highest frame rate and detail level. The exact hardware specifications will depend a lot on the type of games you actually play (an RTS will not require the same amount of processing power that Triple A shooters do), but there are a few things that will improve overall performance no matter what you play.
- Processor – Casual gamers can probably get away with an Intel Core i5 processor, but if you want to really up your experience, you’ll want something with multiple cores and a higher clock speed. (You’ll also want something that has a little extra room up there for overclocking – see below.)
- Graphics Card – While a game isn’t exclusively about graphics, there’s no denying that it’s a critical component of the experience. Glitchy graphics or slow frame rates will leave you at a severe disadvantage, so make sure your cards have enough memory and power to run smoothly.
- Memory – Gamers never seem to have enough memory, and even though you can get by with around 8GB, but you will probably be better off pushing the memory to 16GB if you intend to play competitively.
- Storage – While the hard drive speed won’t usually have a direct impact on how the game plays, there are some benefits to considering something like a Solid State Drive. There are times when loading large games into the memory can take some time. SSD drives will make sure that this process gets a speed boost.
- Cooling – Between the CPU and the graphics card, your gaming PC will be putting out some serious heat. There are a couple options for cooling, and they are very important because too much heat can damage your system. Casual players can get away with normal air fans, but you may need a liquid cooling system if you’re really going to push it hard.
There are a number of accessories that can improve and enhance your experience, but most of them aren’t strictly necessary (they’re just really, really nice). Gaming keyboards allow for a lot of custom macros, gaming mice are ergonomically designed for comfort and precise motions. Then there is also an option for multiple monitors to expand your view and experience more of the game world.
Overclocking is the process of pushing the CPU of a gaming computer past its factory-recommended settings. This lets you squeeze every bit of performance out of your machine, but it isn’t totally risk free. Overclocking will most likely invalidate your warranty and, if you don’t have the proper cooling system, could damage your system. If you’re not sure about this process, make sure you have an experienced professional handle the modifications.
Many manufacturers rate their processors at a lower speed just to stay safe. Overclocking simply takes advantage of this extra power and it can be done by either changing the base clock rate or the associated multiplier. Either variable can be changed, but again, only do this if you are sure of your technical abilities.
Why a Desktop?
While there are some great gaming laptops available on the market, desktops still remain the preference for many serious gamers. This is simply because after all these years, desktops are still the easiest to upgrade and customize to meet your exact specifications. Take a look at all your options for the different hardware components and then decide which accessories you want and how hard you want to push your computer to get gaming experience you really want.
A guest post by Brian Jensen who works with Dell. In his spare time he enjoys traveling, cooking and spending time with his family. He has a passion for learning and writing about all things technology.