Think of your gaming computer, as a human. To function, it needs a brain or think-tank and a body or parts to work properly. Let’s start with the ‘brain parts’ first.
⌨ The Brain – Processor & RAM
Speed is the name of the game, when it comes to choosing a processor for your gaming machine. No one likes a lagging or slow system to game on, wherein you execute a mouse click and 20 secs later, it shows up on screen. Twenty secs can mean dead or alive in a fast-paced first-person shooter game. Another problem is a frozen frame, where the game seems to take place in slow motion.
To avoid such complications, choose powerful and speedy processors, quad-core at a minimum, capable of handling your game and multi-tasking as well. In the processor market, 2 players dominate: Intel and AMD. It’s no use arguing about which is better, they function differently and each has its plus and negative points. Intel’s top 2 processors are the i7 and the i5. Actually for top-notch gaming, especially with today’s taxing games, an i5 processor is a minimal requirement. From AMD, the best processor for gaming is from the AMD Phenom II series.
RAM or memory is another key point. Most PC games require a minimum of 2GB RAM for functioning. But with 2GB, you can expect a mediocre performance. Start with 4GB RAM and opt for an expandable memory system, so you can customize as per your needs. Otherwise go for 8GB or 12GB RAM in your machine. The higher the RAM, the better the gaming experience, there’s no question about that. Upcoming game titles require a lot of RAM, so take no chances.
⌨ The Brain – Graphics/Video Card
Speed is one point, what about quality? Crisp clean graphics, picture quality, the game design and characters, all should seem as realistic as possible. Take the latest iteration of the World of Warcraft series, World of Warcraft: Cataclysm for example. The lush and vivid landscapes, rich in-game details of the various character classes like the Orcs or the Night Elves, such features require quality depiction. Top gaming titles by default, require a high-end graphics or video card for delivering quality performance. High pixel resolution and dedicated or integrated graphics memory are 2 key factors in choosing the graphics card for your gaming machine. While choosing a graphics card, the top options to consider are the Nvidia GeForce GTX series or the AMD Radeon HD series.
Thinking parts of the gaming PC are over, now let’s move on to the ‘body’ or physical parts that make up the best gaming computer configuration.
⌨ The Body – Storage
A rule of thumb, when it comes to hard disk space, no matter how much you have, it’s never enough. This hard fact is especially true for video games, which require a lot of hard disk space for storing installation and configuration files. Battlefield 3 requires at least 20 GB as system space for installation and that’s a small amount. A gaming computer’s storage can be composed of a primary and secondary storage. The primary storage should be a Solid State Drive (SSD) which can store essential OS and system information and load at a fast rate. Secondary storage is meant for storing game data and files as well as other media. Its capacity should be 500 GB at a minimum. For comfortable storing, opt for 1 TB, especially if you keep a lot of other files like movies and images. Optical drives, both CD and DVD are a must. Without a DVD drive, how would you install a game? 90% of all game installations come on a DVD drive. A Blu-ray drive is an added perk. USB ports are also needed for connecting external drives or USB gaming peripherals like a gaming mouse.
⌨ The Body – External Peripherals
The monitor or display unit is easily the most important gaming peripheral. Ultimately your whole gaming experience depends on its output. What makes a good gaming monitor? For starters, a quick response rate to prevent lagging or ghosting. When the previous image or scene remains on the monitor as a blur, even as the next image comes up, ghosting is said to occur, a noted event with monitor quality, while playing high graphics games. Look for a response rate value of less than 8ms. This ensures minimal ghosting. Also check out the viewing angle, resolution and color quality. The size of the monitor also plays a key role. Avoid squinting at your screen, during a game with a tiny screen size. 17 inches and above is the recommended screen size for a gaming machine.
A gaming mouse and keyboard are optional add-ons. But they do help enhance your performance in a game. With programmable buttons and function mapping as well as backlit and LED light controls, mice and keyboards designed exclusively for gaming, will give you a definite edge in any gaming arena. Most models also have an ergonomic design to allow for long gaming spells without aches or hand sprains. For gaming mice and keyboards, Razer, Logitech and SteelSeries are the brands that offer the best models. In addition to the above configuration points, a powerful sound system is an extra feature to consider. Surround sound with sub-woofers and enhanced bass helps add to the immersive experience of a computer game. A neon lighting CPU tower or casing with a smart or funky design, is a physical add-on that increases the coolness factor of your machine.
If you want a pre-assembled or manufactured gaming computer, then be realistic in your expectations as good hardware comes with a price tag. So far, the best brand for a gaming machine is Alienware, with the best specs for the money. Whether hand-built or shopware, a dedicated gaming computer is an amazing piece of computing machinery to own.