Building a gaming PC is often seen as bit scary for those with limited knowledge of computer hardware, but constructing one is easier today than it’s ever been thanks to simple plug-and-play components, endless online guides and some hardware that’s already pre-fitted (e.g. the processor and RAM into the motherboard).
One of the great things about building your own gaming PC is that you can tailor it with peripherals, aesthetically and component wise – to exactly the way you want it.
Are you on a limited budget and merely want something to compete with modern-day consoles i.e. a PC that gives 30 fps at 1080p with the graphical settings turned up? Or do you want a gaming beast that costs the same amount as a car, can pump out 4k resolution at 60 fps and has more gaming peripherals than a 90’s arcade? The choice is yours, and your wallet’s.
If you do decided to go ahead and build your own gaming rig, what are the most important areas to spend your money on? Which components, accessories and peripherals are the most important to today’s PC gamer?
This list comprises the most important items that will enhance someone’s experience of PC gaming, rather than just stating the best components to use. Meaning no recommendations which is the best CPU water cooler to buy, for example.
Even the speed of your RAM doesn’t have much effect when playing games, and while some believe the more GB in your machine, the more FPS you’ll get, the difference between having 4, 8, or 16GB has been proved to be negligible at best.
Unless you’re building a future-proof mega PC that could make Avatar, the only things to consider when buying your RAM is its reliability, the size of it in order to fit into your rig (low profile can be helpful), and, if you’re all about the aesthetics, getting it in a colour that matches your other components.
10. Gaming Keyboard
A gaming keyboard is one of those items that is very personal to the user. Do you like mechanical keyboards? If so, then which type of keys do you prefer? Are you fan of mini-displays? How many Macros, if any, do you think you’ll need? Do you want a standard or compact size?
These type of gaming keyboards can genuinely make a difference when gaming. Especially if you get one that’s tailored for a specific genre. Having a lot of macros can make a big difference when playing a RTS or MMO, while built-in displays can be helpful for shooters and RPGs.
There’s also the microphone: An important aspect of any online game, not just first-person shooters. When you need to talk to your team/organise a raid/swear at someone giving you hell, you want to make sure that what comes across isn’t just a load of static.
8. Solid State Drive
While it is true that a solid state drive won’t increase the frames per second of your games, what it does do, it does brilliantly: massively speeding everything up.
The difference between solid states and regular hard drives is phenomenal, as after having one for a while, you’ll start to forget what loading screens are.
Not only will one of these boot up your operating system in under half the time of a standard hard drive – allowing you to begin your gaming session quicker – but, most importantly, games will start almost instantly and the loading times between sections will become almost non-existent.
Another reason why SSDs are a sound investment; they’re smaller, quieter and cooler than HDDs, meaning they can be easier to fit into your rig. They still may be a bit pricey as a mass-storage option, so most people also add a large HDD for all that non-gaming related material.
You can’t beat a mouse and keypad for the first-person shooter, MMO and strategy genres. There are, however, some games where using a gamepad can not only be preferable, but essential.
A great deal of modern titles are created with console controllers in mind; meaning that when they appear on the PC they can sometimes be unplayable via a mouse and keyboard. A gamepad is a required purchase for someone wanting to get the most out of their PC gaming experience.
There’s plenty of choice available, from a variety of companies, although most people opt for a Xbox One or PS4 controller. A lot of thought went into the design of the next-gen console’s joypads, which is why they’re considered the best.
Motherboards can be a tricky area. On the one hand, having a very expensive one isn’t going to improve your gaming experience over a reasonably priced version. It’s also true however, that if you want to have some absolute cutting-edge technology in your gaming PC, then a flashy motherboard is the option you should go for.
With extra ports, inputs, overlocking options (for the more technical), and the ability to connect higher end components, a MOBO can be one of the higher priorities for someone building a gaming PC, particularly those aiming for a high-end rig.
There’s also future-proofing to consider. As new and improved components come out, having a motherboard that is compatible with them is naturally important.
5. Power Supply
It may be the least glamorous part of a gaming PC, but its importance cannot be underestimated. All those components need to be powered, and if your PSU doesn’t have enough juice to do the job, then you’re not going to be playing anything.
Most high-end components require a lot of power; the best way to figure out which PSU is best for you is to use a program that works out how much your rig needs.
Generally, the more power a PSU can supply, the better. Not only are you making sure all your components run at top capacity, but should you want to add more in the future, you’ll be able to do so without worrying about where the extra juice is going to come from.
It seems an increasing number of games are taking advantage of the PC’s processor, with multiple cores also being utilised more often. As time goes on, we are seeing recommended specifications for new releases stating the importance of a higher-end CPU.
Assuming a game hasn’t been optimised to use it, there’s not a great deal of visual difference between a mid-range i5 processor and the top-end, extreme-edition i7 version. Like the RAM, a processor is mainly used in functions such as video-editing.
Yet again, however, future-proofing is the key word here. Powerful processors are being used more in gaming, and as that trend continues, getting a good CPU will become increasingly important.
3. Gaming Mouse
Being a PC gamer, you need a great gaming mouse. Unless you’re playing a something that requires a gamepad, you’ll have your hand on it almost all the time, meaning it’s vital to choose one that suits you.
Ergonomic design is of the utmost importance, you don’t want your hand going into cramp after a couple of hours use. Then there’s the other factors to consider: what kind of games to you play most? There are mice made specifically for MMOs that have up to 20 separate buttons on them. Is DPI speed important to you? Some mice have the ability to alter this on the fly, meaning they’re great for sniping in first-person shooters.
There’s also areas such as weight and texture to consider. You can spend an long time deciding which mouse is right for you, but it’s an important decision.
If you’ve built an insanely powerful PC, you need something to display that power. When standard HD isn’t enough – and should your rig be able to handle it – you’ve go the option of 4K or above resolutions, up to 144 frames-per-second displays, super-widescreens, and multi-monitor setups.
Even with ‘standard’ 1080p/full HD monitors, there’s a lot of options available: Do you go for an IPS screen? What’s the best size? How important is the maximum number of FPS a monitor can display to you?
Again, it all comes down to personal choice and budget. Standard HD monitors are good enough for gaming – but pick a recommended one – if however, you want your PC to be the envy of your console-owning friends, then get one that can be classified as a serious gaming monitor.
1. Graphics Card
If you want the most beautiful, the smoothest, and the absolutely eye-popping best gaming experience available, then nothing’s more important in your gaming rig than your graphics card.
GFX cards range from the ‘budget’ entries which, although cheap, can still come close to matching next-gen consoles graphically, all the way through to the top-of-the-range gigantic beasts that can hit resolutions above 4K, and whose prices go into four-figures.
Spend as much money as you can on your gfx card, no other components (within reason) can bottleneck its performance enough make a difference. They are the main power behind PC gaming, and as they become even more advanced – and more people build their own rigs – the PC will increase in popularity as a gaming platform.