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What to look for in a gaming PC

Out of the 3.1 billion gamers worldwide, 48% of them use PCs. When it comes to gaming PCs, you can either buy a prebuilt PC or build one yourself.

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Out of the 3.1 billion gamers worldwide, 48% of them use PCs. That’s nearly half of the entire world’s gaming population. The new year presents the perfect opportunity to jump on the bandwagon even as the console wars rage on.

When it comes to gaming PCs, you can either buy a prebuilt PC or build one yourself. Prebuilt PCs are cheaper than custom ones but still cost a pretty penny. That said, even with deep pockets, most people still don’t know what to look for in a gaming PC.

Understandably, buying a gaming PC isn’t the easiest thing on earth, even for pro gamers. With the plethora of options available, choosing the perfect gaming PC can be a tad difficult. Plus, with game developers continually pushing PC hardware to the limits, a great gaming PC might degenerate into a “meh” one in just a year and a half.

A gaming PC is a huge invesctment, and it would be more than unfortunate to end up with the wrong one. In this guide, we’ll be exploring stuff to look for in a gaming PC.

The Processor Comes First (It’s Everything)

The first specification you’ll see when buying a gaming PC is the processor, and for good reason. You can think of the processor as the heart of your gaming PC. It’s no use getting a gaming PC with all the bells and whistles if the processor doesn’t live up to the hype.

The processor is what determines the performance of the entire computer system. That means it’s the processor that actually runs the games on your PC. Processors vary wildly, depending on whether you’re getting a prebuilt PC or assembling one by yourself.

The first thing to consider with the processor is the core count. A processor can have between two to sixteen cores. The more cores a processor has, the better the PC performs.

As a rule of thumb, you shouldn’t get anything below four cores for a gaming PC even when you’re strapped for cash. A gaming PC with less than four cores is bound to run into serious performance issues down the line.

If you’re new to gaming, a six-core processor is a good start. You can check out the AMD Ryzen 5 5600X or the Intel i5-106000k for starters. Also, explore six-core chips from previous generations; they are better than four-core processors from the current one.

If you’re down for some serious gaming, consider a processor with six to eight cores. Such processors can handle the latest heavy-duty games, including some of the most popular PC titles like Call of Duty and The Witcher. Anything above eight cores is reserved for high-power CAD applications and doesn't do much for your gaming needs.

You Need a Great GPU

The graphic processor unit, graphics card, or GPU is what will define most of your gaming experience. That’s why you need to be keen on the GPU when looking for a gaming PC.

As you can tell from the name, the GPU is responsible for rendering the graphics on your games. This component churns out those photo-realistic graphics and keeps the frames steady for a smooth gaming experience. They also match those ultra-high resolutions typical of some of the latest PC titles.

With GPUs, you have plenty to choose from, and sometimes expensive doesn’t translate to better. When you get to the GPU, make sure you pay keen attention to the model number.

Cards with higher numbers boast higher performance, but that’s not always the case. There are a few exceptions and some overclocked models that can surpass high-numbered cards.

If you’re a beginner PC gamer, it’s best to start with the entry-level GPUs like the Zotac GTX 1060 mini. They still give a decent gaming experience when playing games at 1080p. If you want to kick it up a notch and play 1440p games, you’re better off with the mid-range models like the AMD TRX 2060.

If you’re looking to get into some serious 4K gaming, then you better be prepared to dig deep into your pockets. Some high-end graphics cards like the Geforce RTX 3090 Ti could set you back a whopping $2000 or more. However, you can find decent high-end GPU models that can handle 4k games for just over $1000.

The graphic card is what makes your PC a gaming PC. However, that doesn’t mean you should spend all of your hard-earned money on a high-end GPU. Before you splurge on a GPU, make sure you first take note of the games you’ll be playing on your PC and their gaming resolutions.

If most of the games aren’t on 4K, there’s no need for spending on an expensive GPU. You're better off with a mid-range GPU or a GPU that can handle your game’s resolution. Furthermore, higher-end GPUs tend to have diminishing returns because of newer GPUs that supersede them.

The Solid State Drive

Solid-state drives or SSDs are phasing out traditional hard drives because they’re faster, lighter, and more durable. After checking the processor and GPU, your next focus should be the SSD. Most PCs come prebuilt with 500GB SSDs, which may be enough depending on your gaming needs.

While there are larger SSDs with storage capacities of up to 1 TB, there’s no use buying a large SSD for space you won’t use. Be smart with your money and only buy an SSD with enough storage for your gaming needs.

As mentioned earlier, SSDs are much faster than HDDs, and they’re a lot cheaper than they used to be. Go snag yourself a gaming PC with a 512GB SSD. 512GB will be enough to store the operating system and all of your favorite titles.

Storage size aside, you should also consider the type of SSD on the gaming PC. There are two types of SSDs available today, SATA SSDs and M.2 NVMe SSDs. SATA SSDs are the standard and are found in most PCs and laptops; the latter SSDs are more expensive but slightly faster than SATA SSDs.

All SSDs are great for a gaming PC as long as they have enough storage for the operating system. That way, your games can boot up much faster straight from the operating system. Anything below 200GB is a no-go zone because you won’t have enough space for both your games and the operating system.

The Memory (RAM)

RAM or random-access memory chips store short-term memory that the computer can access randomly. The PC’s RAM should be a lesser consideration for your gaming needs compared to the other components. 8GB of RAM can play older PC games without a hitch; for the newer games, 16GB of RAM should do just fine.

64GB RAM is just overkill and doesn’t do much to improve your gaming experience. Anything above 16GB is too much, and 8GB will do fine if you’re on a budget. Also, check the system requirements of the games you plan to play before deciding on your gaming PC’s RAM.

The Cooling System

PC cooling is essential for seamless gaming, even if it only increases performance by a small margin. All graphic cards come with their own cooling systems to dissipate the heat that the component generates. If you don’t mind the noise or your components overclocking, then the stock cooling system will suffice.

If you’re more of a silent gamer, you’ll probably need to buy your own cooling. Thankfully, the cost of a cooling system could be as low as $30. However, if you’re an intense gamer, you can get a more elaborate cooling system for slightly over $100.

How Much Should I Expect to Pay?

With the above information, you should be ready to explore your gaming PC options. There are plenty of prebuilt gaming rigs available for your choosing. If you don’t want a huge monolith in your living space, you can buy a gaming laptop, but you’ll have to compromise a little on performance.

A low-budget gaming PC will cost you around $600 minimum. A mid-range gaming PC will cost you about $1200, and a top-of-the-line gaming PCs can cost as much as $2500.

Note that you don’t have to dent your bank account for a great gaming PC; legion gaming PCs are incredible machines that match affordability with performance. They’re also available at different price points to fit various budgets.

gaming laptop on the table

Know What to Look for in a Gaming PC Before Hitting the Store

Hopefully, you now know what to look for in a gaming laptop. Remember to explore all your options before settling on a gaming PC. Also, buy a gaming PC that matches your particular gaming needs, and not just the fanciest one.

For more informative content on tech topics, be sure to check out the other pieces on the site.

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