What to look for when buying a gaming computer – 2021

what to look for when buying a gaming computer

Gaming desktops are an investment of a significant amount, so it’s best to think about the purchase carefully and study. In addition to the graphics card RAM, processor as well as storage space, you have plenty to think about. We’re here to guide you on the best way to get gaming desktops.

It’s not an easy task building a gaming system to the very first time however it does not have to be a nightmare. If you know what you’re looking for and where to search for it, you’ll be able to build an ideal gaming computer that is suited to your requirements in very little time in any way.

One size doesn’t fit all

Most gamers start with components inside the computer. We’ll be covering that later however, before we do we’ll talk about the outside.

 

Gaming computers are now available in a variety of designs and dimensions. There are smaller models like Falcon Northwest Tiki, Falcon Northwest Tiki and mid-sized towers such as those of the Acer Predator G1, and monoliths such as those of the Origin Millenium.

Small systems are, as the name suggests, small. They’re unobtrusive and can be placed into spaces that larger systems cannot. They’re perfect for those who don’t have an expansive desk or who want to play their PC in the home theater. Being small could limit possibilities for upgrades in the future However, some smaller PCs produce lots of noise because of the limited cooling space.

Mid-towers can be a great alternative and work well for the majority of people. They’re small enough to be able to fit under, over the top of a typical desk, yet big enough to provide upgradability and a decent cooling. There’s a need to pay some extra to get glass side panels and more dazzling color schemes, however, you’ll be able to tell if this is something you’re interested in.

Then, we get to monoliths referred to by the name full towers. They are usually so massive that they cannot be placed on top of desks without hanging from the front or back. Some full towers are so high they’ll barely be able to fit under the desk.

A tower that is fully-equipped system might come with a cost premium over a middle-tower. They are incredibly user-friendly as they provide enough space for whatever you need to store in them including your hands, which could be extremely useful when you have big mitts.

Certain custom-made manufacturers such as Origin and CyberPower offer a range of cases for customization. A tower with a full height is the most comfortable to hold and use, however be sure to know the dimensions before you purchase. If space for your desktop is essential but you’re not comfortable working in a small space you should consider an intermediate tower.

There are alternatives for smaller ones that aren’t as expensive, but they’re harder to change, usually more loud, and may not provide all the hardware options. In addition, small-sized case sizes can become very hotso be aware of that your mind when you are planning on running high-end games or you plan to try out overclocking.

 

The Processor

If you are buying gaming PCs or laptop, whether it’s one that you made by yourself, a customized gaming system or a pre-built model purchased from Dell or HP processors, the processor is the first thing you’ll see, and it’s for a reason. The processor is the one that determines the way the system will function in the majority of applications.

The number of processor cores is a significant factor. The options range from two to 16 cores for the mainstream space. If you’re not on a strict budget, a 4-core chip is the best option. You can get the cheapest option to avoid problems with performance in certain software or games.

But, due to the current price it is a great place to start, including AMD’s Ryzen 5 , 5600X (they are featured in our top Intel CPU roundups and top AMD CPU roundups and respectively) The last-generation models like the 9600K or 3600X are equally good choices.

If you plan to perform the majority of their work with high-powered power might want to consider eight cores or more depending on the extent to which the software is able to take advantage of the higher core count. A processor with eight or six cores is sufficient to play games. Beyond that, the number of cores are important in applications such as Adobe Premiere and AutoCAD.

In terms of AMD against. Intel, AMD is more affordable across the entire price spectrum with more cores, and a more multithreaded performance due to all processors that support for multithreading simultaniously. The most recent Ryzen processors outdo all Intel can offer in the productivity and gaming areas.

Rewinding a generation but Intel is a superior choice in gaming. The flagship i9-10900K from Intel remains one of the top gaming processors, but it will cost you a penny.

Modern games are becoming more efficient when it comes to using several cores simultaneously. You’ll get similar performance between processors when they are paired together with the identical GPU, as resolutions get higher. This is why, in most instances, you do not require the most expensive processors like the Core i9 or Ryzen 9 to play games.

To get a deeper look at the top CPUs that give you the most bang for your buck, check our out detailed guide.

GPU

If you’re dedicated to gaming, it’s the graphics card is the one you must pay the highest focus. It’s the device that plays the greatest impact on the appearance of your games by spitting out high frame rates and making higher resolution games accessible.

Model numbers can tell a lot of the story in this case The higher number of cards generally indicating better performance, but there are a few caveats here as well as models that are overclocked that come from Third-party GPU partners can help close the differences in performance among versions. For instance, the RTX 2060 Super is almost identical to the more expensive RTX 2070, for example.

Starting from the lowest end, entry-level GPUs like AMD RX 570, AMD RX 570, or the Nvidia GTX 1650 will give the gamers a decent performance at 1080p. If you wish to game at 1440p and acceptable frame rates, you’ll require a more powerful GPU like that of the RTX 2060, or the RX 5700, which were from the earlier generation. The current generation AMD’s Nvidia’s3060 Ti will be the sole available option that is priced in the same range at least for this moment.

Anyone who is interested in 4K gaming and 100+ FPS for any other than simple E-sports games must be looking higher and deeper to their pocket. Premium graphics cards can cost lots, sometimes exceeding $1,000 in certain cases. At 4Kresolution, the Nvidia RTX 3080 or AMD’s 6800XT are the most suitable choices.

It’s true that your graphics cards are the most vital component of your computer when you’re playing. While higher-end models show less results -“the “sweet spot” is around $400, which is where you’ll find the RTX 3060 Ti is positioned in the middle have performance scaling when playing most games. It doesn’t mean you need to invest more money in a GPU however. It’s crucial to think about the game you’d like to play prior to setting your GPU budget.

However, it’s generally best to go for higher-end cards that include the NVIDIA GTX 20-series as well as RTX 30 series GPUs, as well as AMD’s RX 6000-series. There is however, a lot of benefits to older models and it could be your only choice, considering that the stock issues continue to plague AMD and AMD’s most recent graphics cards.

One of the most confusing aspects to consider when buying graphics card is video memory (or VRAM). It’s simple to determine the amount of system RAM you require, but GPUs are more difficult to figure out. There is a chance that you will be presented having to pick among two card models which look similar however they have different amounts of VRAM. The more VRAM doesn’t affect the overall performance however, it can allow the video card to handle specific visually-related features and is essential for high resolutions.

The standard for gaming with 1080p resolution is 3GB, but we’d suggest pushing that up to 4GB when there’s any money to be made since the majority of newer gaming cards have that size today. If you’d like to play with higher-detail settings or to ensure the future of your system 8GB is definitely worth some extra dollars however, it’s not essential, particularly with lower resolutions.

We do not recommend multi video cards. While they used to be a good option for gamers who want to play at the highest level but today multi-card configurations typically encounter issues with drivers and game technical issues which hinder the cards from fully utilizing their potential. Multiple cards can be more powerful and hot than one card and the latest GPUs made by Nvidia aren’t even compatible with multi-card configurations (unless you’re planning to invest $3000 to buy the RTX 3090 and two).

If you’re forced to choose either AMD or Nvidia it is the latter that has the ability to support ray-tracing for its RTX 30-series and 20-series GPUs. However, it’s not an excellent justification to purchase. The currently available number of games with ray tracing support is at best minimal but support for other games in the near future but not a huge selection. The purchase of an graphics card solely to support ray tracing on its own isn’t an ideal investment right the moment. But NVIDIA’s Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS) technology is an incentive to consider buying one, as DLSS 2.0 games looking better than ever before.

 

The drivers of both companies provide software to reduce input lag and image sharpening to improve the appearance and feel of games.

For more advice regarding GPU purchasing, read our guide to the top graphics cards..

RAM

We’ve tested various systems, including that of Alienware Area 51 R5 that comes with 64GB system RAM. It’s not enough for gaming.

The ideal base for gaming systems of today is 16GB, especially considering how much prices have fallen in the last few months. You can also get away with just 8GB if you’re playing old games or you don’t mind the loss of detail or frame rate in order to save some money.

In the end, memory is among the most simple upgrades to make in the future and is also one of the least expensive.

Here’s the most current memory requirements environment for six well-known games to provide you with some idea about what you’ll require on your desktop

  • Fortnite 8GB minimum, recommended 16GB
  • Doom Eternal 8GB minimum 8GB is recommended
  • Destiny 2 -Minimum 6GB 8GB is recommended.
  • The game PUBG -Minimum 8GB, minimum 16GB is recommended
  • Overwatch — 4GB minimum, 6GB recommended
  • Half-Life: Alyx — 12GB

In reality, memory that is beyond 16GB simply sits in a drawer that is not used. Any money invested in RAM that exceeds 16GB should be used to purchase a product which has a greater influence on efficiency.

However, keep in your head The memory of your system isn’t just utilized by games. Every application running on your computer requires memory, from your operating system to the drivers for your keyboard and mouse. In the event that the game Destiny 2 is the only game that consumes six GB system memory when it’s running it will require plenty of memory to run everything else. This is the reason why developers suggest greater amounts of memory to ensure your PC can breathe as the game is running.

Because all applications require certain amounts of memory, 16GB could not suffice. If you’re only gaming and gaming, then 16GB is the perfect size. If you’re planning to run other programs that require a lot of processing like DAWs such as Pro Tools or video editing software such as Adobe Premiere — 32GB is more suitable. 64GB is a bit too much in nearly every situation except for specific requirements. 128GB on a consumer computer is merely to show off.

A final word about memory: Make sure that your configuration has at minimum two sticks. Certain gaming computers advertise 8GB of RAM, but only have one 8GB stick. Two sticks enable you to make use of dual-channel memory on the majority of motherboards, effectively doubling the speed of data transfer over one stick.

(SSD) Solid-state drives

Today, most computers include at minimum 500GB of mechanical hard drives and, most of the time you can get a 1TB or 750GB model. The more space you have however, unused space isn’t necessary therefore our advice is straightforward: Purchase the amount of space you’ll need, and put all other aspects on speed.

This is the point at which SSDs are able to help. SSDs aren’t only much quicker over hard drives they’re also a lot less expensive than they were in the past. SSDs that are SATA are about double the price of hard drives of similar storage capacities currently and you don’t need large amounts of storage. A 512GB SSD is sufficient to hold Windows and the majority all of your games and it can make significant difference in the way your computer feels and how quickly your games run.

With a high-quality SSD in the system, Windows should boot and be up and running in less than 30 minutes. Games that take more than a minute to load onto the hard drive can be completed in between 10 and 20 seconds using an SSD.

There are two kinds of SSDs you’ll come across There are two types of SSDs: Standard 2.5-inch SATA SSDs, and M.2 NVMe SSDs. 2.5-inch SSDs are most common. They make use of an SATA 3.0 connection for data transfer, just like traditional hard drives and they require energy from the power source.

M.2 SSDs slot into the motherboard. They’re typically significantly more expensive over the 2.5-inch counterparts, however there’s a reason behind that. It’s because the “M.2” part refers to the form factor, is a tiny stick that is inserted into the motherboard (see the above image to get a better idea). “NVMe” refers to the “NVMe” part refers to the drive that uses PCI Express instead of SATA to transfer data. PCIe is able to support more capacity than SATA and makes M.2 NVMe drivers much faster than their 2.5-inch counterparts.

There are a few M.2 drives are PCIe-based However, there are some that do. They can be using PCIe or SATA according to the specifications. Be sure that the drive is labeled with “NVMe” like the Samsung 970 Evo drives listed above.

Whichever drive you purchase Make sure that the SSD you select for the primary storage device includes it’s operating system. You’ll benefit from rapid boot times as well as speedy daily operation. This is the reason we do not recommend an SSD that is smaller than 200GB capacity. If you have Windows operating, the smaller drive is able to hold only the most basic of games.

If you require a lot of storage space for your media or work think about a second hard drive to store additional data and use the SSD designed for Windows and games only.

Cool and quiet

Cooling doesn’t directly impact the performance of your computer, yet it could influence performance and also the pleasure you can get from your computer. AMD CPUs as well as all graphics cards come with their own cooling systems right from the factory So if you’re not concerned about the level of noise, or keeping your components cool for overclocking, you don’t have to think about it. This is especially true in the case of gaming with headphones in place, and where there isn’t a lot of noise to consider.

New Intel processors don’t come with a standard cooler. However, you can get an affordable cooling solution for about $30.

If you’re looking for a silent PC or you want to take the limits of its specifications, thinking about more advanced cooling is a smart idea. Air coolers with large airflows are among the most inexpensive and effective ways to cool your CPU but integrated water coolers or custom loops could be a possibility as well.

Graphics cards are more complex, even though they can be water-cooled as well. We suggest purchasing a card from a third party that comes with an adequate custom cooling solution to reduce noise and improved performance.

 

Power on

There are certain components that we recommend spending an extra amount to get the high-quality you want. A high-quality Power supply (PSU) is an excellent instance, and we’ve listed the most reliable PSUs you could purchase at different price points.

Do not buy a cheap PSU because a cheap one may fail and end up taking other components along with it. The first thing you should consider is the power level. Pick the PSU that is greater than the required wattage of your PC by a significant amount however you don’t have to go overboard (a 600w PSU is ideal for a PC that’s designed to 400W, as an example).

In the end, you should look for an after that, you should look for an Plus certification. It is the 80 Plus standard rates PSUs by their power efficiency and there are a variety of levels. PSUs that are certified 80 Plus for instance, are more than 80% efficient with an average power draw, and the 80 Plus Titanium PSUs are 92% efficient within the same wattage range.

It is a simple process to earn the 80 Plus certification simply makes an announcement about power efficiency. But, PSUs that have an rating typically have better components to get that designation and also offer the power that is advertised.

In the end, you’ll find semi-modular, modular and non-modular power supplies. Non-modular power supply have all the cables connected to the PSU itself, as in the picture above. Semi-modular power supplies have a few important cables connected for example, the power connector of your motherboard, which is 24-pin however, they provide separate cables for other components, for instance, 8-pin power to the video card. Finally, modular power supplies include all cables that are not attached.

The advantage of modular PSU is that you just have to connect the cables that you’re going to use, which makes the process of construction and management of cables simpler. However modular PSUs can be expensive, often more than their counterparts that are not modular. It is possible to save money by purchasing an unmodular PSU.

Putting the pieces together

Connecting everything is what makes up your motherboard. It’s not a good idea to cut corners out however, you don’t have to be extravagant neither. There are two things to take into consideration: the connector and chipset. Fortunately, the latter is simple. Every processor is made to work with a specific socket. Ryzen 3000 processors use the AM4 socket, for instance and you’ll must ensure that the processor you’re using is compatible with the socket on your motherboard. If you’re purchasing a pre-built machine, you don’t have to worry about socket.

The Intel chipset is more intriguing. Each AMD and Intel have different chipsets that come with distinct features that target different price points. For instance, Intel’s top-of-the-line Z490 chipset is able to overclock however the less expensive B460 chipset isn’t. In the same way, AMD’s top-of-the-line X570 chipset comes with more PCIe lane slots than the B550 chipset that is less expensive.

There’s almost too much to contemplate between different chipsets. In the case of gaming, the most important concern is whether you’d like to increase the speed of the performance of your CPU. AMD supports overclocking with its XB and -series chipsets. However, Intel only supports overclocking for Intel’s X-series chipsets. In other words your motherboard will experience virtually no impact on performance.

There are other considerations that go beyond performance, but. Manufacturers can include different features in their motherboards for example, more networking capabilities or a superior sound chip. In addition, motherboards are equipped with various levels of expandability (some might come with just two slots for RAM, as an instance). It is not necessary to spend an enormous amount to upgrade your motherboard however you must consider the possibility of expanding capabilities, overclocking as well as other features such as sound and networking.

For more information on which motherboard you should choose, check out our guide to the top gaming motherboards.

Focus on what matters to you

When you set your gaming computer take note of the fact that your gaming environment is a carefully balanced system. It is important to determine the things you want and prefer out of your gameplay experience, invest in the resources to achieve that.

If you’re having trouble putting together the funds for this you should consider placing the bulk of your money into the graphics card as well as the CPU. These features will make the greatest impact on the way your game visually appears. In addition an efficient and large storage can make the game run faster and load quicker. While a sleek or a fancy case might appear nice, it will not impact your gaming experience. There’s a place for more memory however, if it’s greater than you’ll actually utilize, it won’t help much.

Be aware that this investment is totally dependent on you and your PC, so make sure you build one that you can use. If the look of your PC is important to you, then make it look better. The PC should be lit up to make it appear stunning. If you prefer to alter and boost your performance, you should spend some money on a better motherboard and cooler. We recommend spending most of your cash on features which will eventually enhance the gaming capabilities of your PC However, your PC must also be compatible with your tastes.

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