Are you a gamer? Are you in the market for a new gaming desktop? If so, before you go out and buy your next gaming desktop, you should read this article. Today we will focus on twelve things oy need to consider when buying a gaming desktop. This article will cover all the basic hardware that you will need in order to build or buy a powerful, modern gaming desktop that will let you play the best and highest end games available on the market today and even over the next few years.
Are you ready to learn everything you need to know to be a smart gaming desktop shopper? If so, then let’s go!
1. It’s All About Graphics
The single most important piece of hardware you will buy for a gaming desktop is the graphics card. As you probably already know, there are two main graphics card makers today – NVIDIA with their GeForce series, and AMD with their Radeon series cards. AMD has long lagged behind NVIDIA, but in the last year has made great strides to catch up to NVIDIA. Still, if you are looking for the best card on the market today, NVIDIA with the GeForce 1080 series are tough to beat. In addition to graphics processing, make sure you get a card with enough memory to load all the video textures that your games will push to it. This will ensure that you get the very best framerates possible. Be careful when buying a card. Some cards can run you hundreds of dollars and some of the highest end cards can push the $1,000 mark or more.
2. Motherboard and Processor
The heart and circulatory system of your computer, the processor controls everything and the motherboard controls the flow of data to all the components on your gaming desktop. While games will use your video card, you need to translate those signals such as the keyboard and mouse inputs as well as the processing of data that isn’t done by the video card. It’s this reason that after the video card, your motherboard and processor are the two most important components you will put into your gaming desktop. Today, I would recommend an eighth generation Intel i7 processor with overclocking ability for the best performance. If you do overclock, make sure you have good airflow in your case as well as enough fans to keep things cool.
The memory of your computer, known as RAM, is more important than you realize. When you open anything on your machine, it stores what you are doing in memory. This allows you to quickly access programs without waiting on the hard drive. While games mainly use the memory on your video card to process the graphics, other parts of the game are making use of your processor and your RAM. The more you can load, the better your game performance will be and the better your multi-tasking capabilities will be while you aren’t gaming. For a modern gaming machine, I would recommend a minimum of 16GB of RAM, which is pretty standard on these machines today. In some cases you may be able to get away with 8GB, but you will sacrifice performance.
4. Hard Drive Storage
This is a big issue for many gamers. There are two things you need out of a gaming machine hard drive – speed and storage space. Unfortunately, the fastest drives are solid state drives, but high capacity SSD’s are still pretty expensive, although the price is coming down. If possible, I would recommend a 1TB SSD or a minimum of a 512GB SSD. If your budget is tight, then you could go with a smaller, 256GB hard drive for operating system and most frequently used games, and a 2TB 7200rpm mechanical drive for all your files, media and games you don’t play as often. Still, for the best overall performance, a large SSD would be the best option for you, such as one from Western Digital, although it won’t come cheap.
One of the greatest aspects of a high quality gaming desktop is the ability to upgrade it and add to it later. This allows you to increase RAM, add components, and even replace the video cards. These upgrades can help you keep your gaming desktop for many years before you are forced to upgrade to something new. But, if your case is small and you don’t have the right expansion slots available, both on the front and the back, you could have problems upgrading later. When getting a case, make sure there is more than enough room to add hardware to it later. For example, you may want to run two video cards or add multiple hard drives. To do this, you will need space in the back and the front. If you don’t have anymore space, you will have to replace what’s there. That could be more expensive in the long run, or you could find you must replace your entire desktop later.
This is one area that so many people forget about. Why? Many cases you buy or even on pre-built machines, a power supply will come with it. Unfortunately, these power supplies aren’t always up to the task of powering your computer, especially if you spend a little extra for higher end hardware. If you are building it yourself, or upgrading an existing machine, examine how much power each piece of hardware requires. Add up those numbers and then pick up a power supply that will be able to push enough juice to power your machine. If you don’t, your machine won’t be able to operate at full capacity and you could overload your power supply resulting in unexpected shutdowns and damaged components. Oh, and if you are buying a power supply, I would go for a modular one, it makes cable arrangement much easier.
7. Case Design
Of everything on this list, this is probably the least important, but it does need to be considered. First and foremost, your case needs to be large enough to accommodate all this high-end hardware with room for growth and air flow. After that, you should think about the look. Do you want your premium gaming machine to look plain? If so, then go for it. But most gamers love buying the sleek and stylish cases that show off that the machine is designed with gaming in mind. Still, with fancier designs and features such as lighting, you will find the price increases. If you are on a budget, this is one area where you can shave off a few bucks if you are willing to sacrifice on looks. If not, then there are a host of different cases out there and even pre-built gaming machines from companies such as Alienware that look amazing while remaining very powerful gaming giants.
Did you notice I added an “s” to the end of that title? There’s a good reason for that. But before we get to that, let’s talk monitors in general. You need a monitor with a high contrast ratio and amazing color that really make your games pop. At the same time, you need to find a monitor that will give you a fast response time. If the response time is too slow, you will notice screen tearing in the graphics of your high graphic, fast-paced game. Now, back to the plural form of monitors. You could set up multiple monitors and set it up so your game spans them all, or you could keep one for access to your Windows desktop while you play. Adding additional monitors should be no problem with a high-end video card, and it can make your PC much more useful both while you work and play.
9. Keyboard and Mouse
I can’t say this enough – your keyboard and mouse are just as important as every other component you put on your gaming desktop. You will control everything with your keyboard and mouse, so why would you want to skimp on these two very handy tools? I would recommend going with a high quality gaming keyboard and mouse. The gaming keyboards you will find are mechanical with great key travel, making it easy to type and control your games. Some of these keyboards even come with programmable keys to give you a little edge while you play. Gaming mice, on the other hand, will often have very high DPI capabilities, allowing you to move the mouse very little while still covering your entire screen. This helps you perform turns more quickly and navigate your game faster. In the competitiveness of online gaming, every millisecond counts. A high quality gaming mouse will help with your response times and in the case of first person shooters, will help you be more accurate with your shots.
I bet you forgot about this one, didn’t you? Audio is almost as important as video in today’s games. Every modern title today comes with surround sound, and for the best gaming experience, you will need an audio system that can provide that to you. Of course, you want one that gives you amazing audio quality as well. If you don’t, you will find your games just aren’t quite as appealing as they fail to suck you in and make you part of the world. I would recommend getting a good quality surround sound system to go with your PC, or a high quality pair of headphones with a microphone for online gaming, or maybe both if you can swing it. This will give you more than enough options to drive high quality audio to enhance and help your play.
Once you have all the hardware in place, it’s time to talk about software. Most gaming machines today come with Windows 10, but you can still find a few with Windows 7. While I’m a big lover of Linux, it’s not the right operating system for gaming, as many games just aren’t made for the platform. The same can be said for macOS, although you will find more games for it than you will Linux. In the end, you need to make sure you have a copy of Windows 10 on your machine. If you can afford it, I would go with Windows 10 Pro, as it will give you more features, especially in the networking aspect, than Windows 10 Home. But, your games will run easily on both. If you want to install Linux, I would setup a dual boot environment so you can give Linux gaming a try, but make sure your main operating system is Windows. That way you can run any game you want, as they are all made for Windows.
Finally, we need to talk about something serious – your budget. Before you start down the path of building or buying a gaming desktop, you need to stop and consider your wallet. These machines are some of the highest end machines available in the PC world, so that means you will have to pay a pretty penny for them. That’s not a bad thing, after all I am a big believer in the old saying, “You get what you pay for,” but you need to be prepared. The higher you go with these specs, the more the gaming desktop is going to cost you. If you are not careful, you could end up spending several thousand dollars on a gaming machine. Again, if you have the budget for it, go for it. Just don’t get in over your head when you are buying a new gaming desktop.
Gaming desktops are some of the best machines out there today, and if you are investing in one, you want to make sure you spend your money on the right hardware. By following this list, you will be ensure that you get a desktop that’s right for you at a price you can afford. If you need further help, I recommend you check out or Gaming Desktops Buying Guide to help you find a desktop that’s right for you.
Do you have a gaming PC? If so, what piece of hardware did you spend the most on? Tell me about your experience in the comments below.