The Specifications To Look For When Buying A Gaming Computer

gamingspecs   The Specifications To Look For When Buying A Gaming ComputerPC games remain among the most demanding software that a typical user will ask their computer to run. Modern games are capable of using multiple processor threads and taxing the performance of advanced video cards. The most beautiful games – like Crysis and Metro 2033 – remain capable of bringing powerful computers to their knees at high resolutions and detailed settings.

The high system requirements of some modern games must be considered if you’re on the hunt for the best gaming computer. The companies that manufacture gaming PCs have marketing departments, and they want you to spend as much as possible. It’s easy to get caught up in the hype and forget the fact that computers are simply collections of components – it’s what’s inside that counts.


Let’s take a look at the specifications you should consider when looking to buy the best gaming computer.

The Processor/CPU

intelclarksdale   The Specifications To Look For When Buying A Gaming ComputerThe CPU is the most visible component in the eyes of most buyers. Most gaming computers are labeled – often multiple times – with the brand of processor inside them. This would lead you to believe that the processor is the most important component in a gaming computer. It isn’t – that title goes to the video card – but it does come in second.

Processors have two important specifications. The first is clock speed, which is expressed in Gigahertz (i.e. 2.66 GHz). The second is the number of cores, which can range between 2 and 6. It is better to have high numbers in both, but the number of cores is slightly more important than the clock speed.

Be careful not to fall into the trap of upgrading your computer’s price into the stratosphere. Processor upgrade prices tend to have a huge mark-up. The least expensive quad-core processor option available is often your best choice.

The Video Card

gamingspecs3   The Specifications To Look For When Buying A Gaming ComputerChoosing a great video card for your gaming computer is very important. Video cards are the only component in a computer that is specifically designed to display high-resolution, high-detailed graphics. Even the most powerful computer will be a terrible gaming computer if it does not have a good video card.

Unfortunately, there aren’t any specifications that clearly expresses the power of a video card. A video card’s memory is the only specification that is easy to find and gauge, but even this does not tell you how well a video card will perform. The only way to know how well a video card performs is to read the reviews. Tom’s Hardware Performance Charts are the best place to start your search.

Many gaming computers will offer the option to upgrade your system to a dual graphics solution. This seems cool, but it’s rarely a worthwhile option. Spending the same amount of money upgrading to a faster individual graphics card is usually better value.

RAM

ddrram21   The Specifications To Look For When Buying A Gaming ComputerComputer memory was once a common bottleneck that prevented gaming computers from reaching their maximum potential.  Those days have now passed, thanks to the generally low price of modern memory and an apparently more conservative approach to memory usage on the part of game developers. Upgrading your system to 4GB of RAM, if it doesn’t have it already, should give you plenty of memory.

Many gaming computer manufacturers will offer “high performance” memory as an option. Don’t fall for this. Memory speed has nothing to do with gaming performance. Taking the $150 many companies ask for this upgrade and donating it to charity will provide a similar increase in gaming performance and make you feel better about yourself.

Hard Drive

gamingspecs1   The Specifications To Look For When Buying A Gaming ComputerAs with memory, the hard drive you choose won’t have much impact on gaming performance. It certainly won’t increase your framerates in games. Instead, the only difference you’ll see will be in loading times.

Faster loading times are nice, but its better to buy on the basis of capacity rather than performance. After all, load times won’t matter if your hard drive isn’t big enough to store all the games you want to have installed.

Other Components

Most of the other specifications that a modern game will demand, such as a sound card and Internet connectivity, are already provided by all modern computers. With that said, manufacturers often offer various upgrades for sound, networking and more. These upgrades should be approached with extreme caution. Although sometimes useful, they’re often nothing more than profit-generating chaff. Google will be your best friend when evaluating these components – simply search for reviews to see if they’re favorable.

Conclusion

Favor hesitation over hype whenever configuring a gaming computer. You don’t have a marketing department. Ignore the pretty graphs, ignore the flashy graphics, and focus on the specifications. Obsess over the specifications. And then, when you’re sure that you’re buying based off what you want and need, pull the trigger and enjoy your perfectly configured gaming PC.

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24 Comments -

Chandralekha11111

thank you,
u gave me a valuable information…..

Chandralekha11111

thank you,
u gave me a valuable information…..

Astrid

The article spreads itself too thin. Such a short article could be written so much better and instead seems poor.

You forgot to mention:

– Motherboard; determines which CPU, GPU and other devices (sound card, internal web adapters et cetera) you can have.
– Power Supply (PSU); this is mainly a graphics card requirement, as the higher spec’ you go the more power (and money) you’ll need to provide.
– Cooling; This is really a frustration point as people really fail to realize the consistency lost if you don’t have adequate cooling in a gaming system.

Additionally, you could argue the computer case itself (although this is partially cooling) is highly important. If you plan to upgrade your system down the line (which is often in gaming systems) the case should be spacious with room for expansion.

Mario Dusbane

agree on cooling and power supply.

Astrid

The article spreads itself too thin. Such a short article could be written so much better and instead seems poor.

You forgot to mention:

- Motherboard; determines which CPU, GPU and other devices (sound card, internal web adapters et cetera) you can have.
- Power Supply (PSU); this is mainly a graphics card requirement, as the higher spec’ you go the more power (and money) you’ll need to provide.
- Cooling; This is really a frustration point as people really fail to realize the consistency lost if you don’t have adequate cooling in a gaming system.

Additionally, you could argue the computer case itself (although this is partially cooling) is highly important. If you plan to upgrade your system down the line (which is often in gaming systems) the case should be spacious with room for expansion.

cadarn_07

cooling, cooling, cooling.

once you have all the stuff mentioned in the article, you then have to cool it. regular computing won’t rev up the cpu and gpu too much but once you fire up a graphics-intensive game, both will heat up in a hurry. that was the biggest thing i learned when i built my first gaming rig. replace the stock heatsink/fan for your cpu right away and make sure your case has good airflow and fans to keep it all cool.

cadarn_07

cooling, cooling, cooling.

once you have all the stuff mentioned in the article, you then have to cool it. regular computing won’t rev up the cpu and gpu too much but once you fire up a graphics-intensive game, both will heat up in a hurry. that was the biggest thing i learned when i built my first gaming rig. replace the stock heatsink/fan for your cpu right away and make sure your case has good airflow and fans to keep it all cool.

nesa

and you have forgotten to tell enything about monitor: it should have 2ms response time, if this isnt the case you can have best other components, but you will see only frames.
Monitor-response time/refresh rate: 2ms (miliseconds)

M.S. Smith

This is not true – a response time of 2ms is very low, but not required for gaming. Its unlikely that you’ll encounter ghosting issues on – any – modern monitor. The only ones I would worry about are high-end IPS displays designed for digital image editing (Dell Ultrasharp, NEC models), as they often have response times that exceed 12ms.

nesa

and you have forgotten to tell enything about monitor: it should have 2ms response time, if this isnt the case you can have best other components, but you will see only frames.
Monitor-response time/refresh rate: 2ms (miliseconds)

silentstorm2008

I always go to http://www.gpureview.com

I am able to do a side by side comparison of two video cards of my choice.

silentstorm2008

I always go to http://www.gpureview.com

I am able to do a side by side comparison of two video cards of my choice.

Anonymous

Minus the fact that any 14 year old WoW-tard could probably write a more comprehensive article….

Among other things, I think failing to mention case type/size is a fail for an article tilted, “The Specifications To Look For When Buying A Gaming Computer”. A good full tower will allow for proper expansion, component fit and most importantly (as mentioned above) cooling and air flow.

Also, a solid PSU is key, but make sure to not be over sold on wattage. Unless you are going core i7 with dual, tri or quad sli video cards, with lots of ROM and hard drives, you will never need a 1,200W PSU :P

One other thing; It doesn’t matter if you have a superfly system if you have a crappy 19″ 4:3 monitor. Although it may be implied in the article, it’s still important to mention that a good monitor should be considered when building a gaming rig….after all, that is what you’re looking at when all is said and done.

M.S. Smith

I think there is a misunderstanding. This article is about buying a computer – not building. So you probably won’t have to worry about case/motherboard/power supply, as those things are typically configured for you by the manufacturer.

Anonymous

Noted. Might I suggest changing the article title to “The Specifications To Look For When Buying A Pre-built Gaming Computer” then?

nizbot

Minus the fact that any 14 year old WoW-tard could probably write a more comprehensive article….

Among other things, I think failing to mention case type/size is a fail for an article tilted, “The Specifications To Look For When Buying A Gaming Computer”. A good full tower will allow for proper expansion, component fit and most importantly (as mentioned above) cooling and air flow.

Also, a solid PSU is key, but make sure to not be over sold on wattage. Unless you are going core i7 with dual, tri or quad sli video cards, with lots of ROM and hard drives, you will never need a 1,200W PSU :P

One other thing; It doesn’t matter if you have a superfly system if you have a crappy 19″ 4:3 monitor. Although it may be implied in the article, it’s still important to mention that a good monitor should be considered when building a gaming rig….after all, that is what you’re looking at when all is said and done.

Kk2vrl

What a bunch of meanies…

request

I want a more complete article on building one, including places (online and not) where I can buy the stuff for a good price (frys, amazon)

Mike C

I think you are undervaluing the speed of the hard drive. Take a game like Half-Life 2, where there are frequent map loads. The immersiveness of your experience, not to mention your overall enjoyment of the game, will be severely hampered if it takes more than a minute to get to the next level.
At least, it made a huge difference for me.

Oron Joffe

The thing about hard drives is that by and large there’s very little difference in performance. While a complete PC will probably be sold with a variety of options regarding CPU speed, RAM and HD size, you are unlikely to have the choice between a 7,200 and 10,000 RPM drive, which is the only thing that will make a significant difference to performance.

M.S. Smith

Should have replied to this earlier, but…

Hard drive is only somewhat important for gaming. Yes, a faster hard drive will give you faster loading times, but we’re talking about a difference that is measured in seconds, and often only 5 or 10.

We all hate loading screens, but I think most gamers are going to be happier if they prioritize other areas.

Mike C

I think you are undervaluing the speed of the hard drive. Take a game like Half-Life 2, where there are frequent map loads. The immersiveness of your experience, not to mention your overall enjoyment of the game, will be severely hampered if it takes more than a minute to get to the next level.
At least, it made a huge difference for me.

M.S. Smith

Should have replied to this earlier, but…

Hard drive is only somewhat important for gaming. Yes, a faster hard drive will give you faster loading times, but we’re talking about a difference that is measured in seconds, and often only 5 or 10.

We all hate loading screens, but I think most gamers are going to be happier if they prioritize other areas.