Even though mobile devices seem to flourish along with gaming consoles, gaming PCs are still a reality. They get tougher and tougher by each passing day with new technologies added and new inventions becoming powerful hardware components.
Gamers are aware that there is no console or other type of gaming device that can truly beat the performance a desktop can bring. But how do you separate the winners from the losers? Which is the best gaming computer the market has to offer?
There are several things that need to be taken into account if you ever hope to answer this question. If you start from the outside and work your way in, the first thing to take into account is the design.
Most gaming desktops come in all sorts of designs, ranging from minimalist to functional to out of this world. Some even look like future machines since they incorporate unusual design lines into their build. Nonetheless, it’s important not get caught up in these details but to focus on finding the best gaming computer you can accommodate at home. It has to look good, but it also has to function properly.
This brings us to the internals. The hardware part of any gaming computer usually drives people away. It seems complicated at first, but once you know what you’re looking for in a specs list, it all becomes clear.
For a computer to run, it needs:
- a motherboard;
- a processor (or CPU);
- RAM (or system memory);
- a video card (you’ll need a dedicated video card if you wish to get a gaming computer);
- a sound card (most people get computers with integrated sound cards);
- a hard drive (SSD is your best choice if gaming desktops are in question);
- a PSU (short for Power Supply Unit);
- a case where everything comes together.
Now let’s take these components separately and see what’s best to choose for a gaming rig:
The motherboard is where all the other parts are connected. This is where the processor is inserted into the socket, the RAM and graphics card are inserted into their slots and where all the drives are connected.
The processor is one of the most important parts in any desktop since it’s the hardware part that does all the calculations. Every modern games needs a powerful processor to run properly and you should target desktops with at least a quad-core processor installed.
Now you’ve got plenty of choices here, but it is recommended you choose a computer with either an Intel Core i5 or i7. These are powerful enough to run pretty much any demanding tasks you throw at them, games included.
RAM or system memory are small cards which are installed on the motherboard and they help the processor get stuff done (I won’t go into detail here). The thing to keep in mind is that the more RAM a system has, the better it will run, the faster everything loads and so forth.
For a gaming computer you should aim at getting one with at least 4-8 GB of RAM installed. The more you can afford, the better it will be in the long run.
The video or graphics card is perhaps the most important component in a gaming desktop PC. It will determine what you can play and at what quality settings. Most computers come with integrated graphics cores which are not recommended since they use available RAM to get the work done, which can leave the processor wanting more system memory.
You need a desktop that has a dedicated graphics card with at least 1GB of dedicated video RAM (or VRAM). You have two options for manufacturers here. One is NVIDIA which produce high-end graphics cards and the other is ATI which some people find to be more affordable. Most people tend to opt for gaming desktops with NVIDIA graphics cards. If you do this, you should get one with a 600 series graphics card installed.
Now most people never even saw what a sound card looks like, since they are fairly rare. It will make a huge difference in the way you perceive a gaming world if you choose to go with a computer that has a dedicated sound card. These cards output on 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound channels and are the best choice when gaming or entertainment desktops are concerned.
The hard drive is one of those components that often gets overlooked. People tend to opt for desktops with large capacity drives but never enquire about the performance a hard drive has on a system. For a gaming desktop you need to squeeze every last bit of performance so everything runs smooth. This means you need a computer that has a hard drive with at least a 7200rpm disk.
If your budget can take it, you have to get a desktop that carries an SSD drive. SSD stands for Solid State Drive and is just what the name implies – a solid state drive. It contains no moving parts and electronically speaking, it’s basically a large flash drive. These drives are typically more expensive, but they can reach data transfer speeds of up to 12x more than regular hard disk drives.
The power supply unit provides power to the motherboard which powers pretty much anything directly connected to it, to the hard drives and optical drives, and to the system cooling which consists of either fans or pumps (if you get the newer desktops with liquid cooling).