Gaming PCs 101

The barrier of entry into PC gaming is lower now than it ever has been. Hardware prices are falling all the time and the ability to get top of the line equipment is getting easier.

One of the biggest advantages of PC gaming is the ability to buy hardware that fits your budget best. Have a limited budget? There are systems for that. Near unlimited? The PC space has that covered as well.

Man and Screen

Hardware

These are the components everyone thinks of when they want to build or buy a new PC. Gaming PCs generally exceed the hardware requirements of most other applications and therefore are not only able to run games but do pretty much anything else you could ever want your computer to do.

For gaming applications the first place to start is the CPU or processor. This is the heart of your computer and generally will not change unless you get a new system. For gaming, the Intel i-series is a very solid choice. An i7 based system is higher end but you will pay for the difference over Intel’s next lower step the i5. With clock speeds of 3.0 Ghz and above these will generally last you the life of the system.

Your graphics card or GPU is the next most important piece of equipment when building a gaming computer. One of the nice things about graphics cards is that the price is a fairly good guideline for the performance you will receive. A $200 graphics card will be a little bit better than a $150 card, but quite a bit lower in performance than a $500 card. Graphics cards in Nvidia’s 600 or 700 series will fit the needs of most beginner to semi-advanced gamers especially for their first system build.

RAM can be the oft forgotten component to a computer system but is extremely important to a smoothly running system. RAM is essentially how many things a system can do at once. That being said, with today’s prices and performance there isn’t a reason to have less than 8GB of RAM on a modern system. Having between 8GB and 16GB of RAM is a good starting point for a new gaming PC.

Software

Relatively recent developments in how games are distributed means full digital downloads of games are becoming more and more popular, eliminating the need to physically go to a store to buy your favorite games. Online platforms like Origin and Steam allow you to buy, download, install and play your games all from the comfort of your couch. Both services have a huge variety of genres available. Whether you are a casual gamer (Sims 4), sports gamer (FIFA), hardcore shooter gamer (Battlefield: Hardline), in-depth role playing gamer (Mass Effect) or racing gamer (Need for Speed), the software part of this project is perhaps the most fun.

Prices

Prices for systems like these can run between $500 and $800, which is a reasonable range for a solid system that will last far into your gaming career. The main thing to remember when building or buying a new system is keeping within your budget. Thankfully, because there is so much flexibility in the configurations of hardware, this is fairly simple. However, a major difference between consoles and PCs is the ability to upgrade hardware without buying a new system. If a new graphics card comes out or you need more RAM, adding these components is something you can do yourself. Remembering this, if your budget is tighter, it is generally better to buy the best CPU you can afford, since this is the component that is least likely to be replaced. RAM and graphics cards are the next easiest to upgrade.

Don’t be afraid to get into PC gaming. It is a vibrant community that you will be having fun in for years to come.

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