Thinking of taking the plunge? Now is the time… Kinda.
In the previous few years, the amount of people making the switch to a Gaming PC over handheld and console gaming has been substantial, to say the least. An increase in consumers and influx of funds into the industry has meant that the performance of the hardware available has also skyrocketed.
Be it the budget, mid-range or top-end level of hardware you are after, there is a staggering number of viable choices now, and we have come a long way since you had a small handful of options if you wanted consistent performance. This all sounds amazing. However, it is a double-edged sword.
As with all things, there is always good with bad. As I mentioned, there has been a massive influx of new consumers. With new consumers comes more demand, and with demand comes shortages… You see where I’m going with this. More than a handful of people have been left dead in the water whilst waiting for restocks of new GPUs, CPUs, and every other hardware component you can imagine. Keep that in mind when you look to make the switch over to the glorious PC Master Race!
Why would I choose a Gaming PC?
The reasons to make the shift to a Gaming PC are growing daily. Let’s start with what I think is the most beneficial.
With a PC, you can swap and change quite literally everything whenever you want, effectively future-proofing yourself! An important note, as you must consider, when a new game comes out, 99% of the time, it’s going to be built to its fullest potential in both performance and graphical fidelity. The developers will build and test the game on the latest and greatest that the industry offers to have the most significant effect and make the most extensive boom on release.
If you’ve already got a Gaming PC capable of handling the insane requirements some of today’s games have, you’re sweet. You can jump right in, max out the game and bask in the glory of a world made to please the senses.
Suppose you’re using a console that has been around for a while and doesn’t allow you to upgrade the hardware. In that case, you will be halted in your steps, met with a game that barely maintains 20 fps, filled with juddering, glitches, and graphics that look like they could be achieved on an unplugged microwave! *cough* Cyberpunk 2077 *cough*
What next? Oh yeah, IMMERSION. You simply cannot match the immersion of playing a polished game on a Gaming PC. There is no argument to be had. With even the most basic rig, you can support multiple screens, a broader and more advanced selection of TRUE surround sound hardware, more adaptable in-game graphics, a wide variety of accessibility with your input device, oh, and FOV sliders! (Catch up consoles, you’re nearly there!) This alone is more than enough reason to make the switch if you like to get lost in a game!
It doesn’t stop there. If you are a bit more advanced in the hardware department, the possibilities are endless! For instance, if you have an NVIDIA RTX or more up to date AMD Graphics Card, you have access to Ray Tracing. Ray Tracing is a real game-changer. Ray tracing is a software technique for modelling light transport for those who don’t know! This makes the lighting seem more real than in real life in games.
The effects of Ray Tracing in games are monumental, taking an already stunning landscape and turning it into a graphical masterpiece. The impact of light rays based on location makes you feel as if you indeed are in the game as if you are looking at it with your own eyes. Seeing the shimmer of the sun through every windswept leaf on a tree, watching the light of the moon reflect and adjust with the gentle flow of crashing waves of the ocean is sure to put butterflies in the stomach of every avid gamer every time they see it!
Yeah, there’s even more!
If you are the competitive type who treasures every precious millisecond in your game choice, this may be the clincher. UNCAPPED FRAME RATES. With a console, you are limited to the maximum available consistent frame rate that your hardware can achieve.
Some people will argue that the human eye cannot see above 30fps, but we don’t listen to those guys. We listen to the studies and research that has categorically proven otherwise! Anyway, I digress. Frames are critical.
For example, if you are playing Valorant amid a nail-bitingly close gunfight, a higher frame rate could distinguish between winning and losing. The more frames you can show per second, the cleaner and smoother your game will be, and the easier it will be for you to hit those crucial shots.
You have a legitimate advantage in various games with a higher frame rate. If you are pushing a constant 144fps through a 144hz monitor compared to someone with around 60fps, you will see everything happen before they do, as your PC can process more in-game changes per second than your opposition can.
Although this is only changing by milliseconds, I can assure you that it will make a difference in your performance and ability to react in good time in most games with a competitive aspect. Take Excel and Endpoint for example, in order for them to stay on top form, they need to be playing on top spec machines to maintain the highest levels of performance!
Finally, the variety of games is astronomical!
Gaming PCs have an almost immeasurable amount of games available. Nowadays, countless games are coming out every day, meaning there will never be a time that you can legitimately say there is nothing you can play. The ability to boot up Steam, the Epic Games launcher, Origin, GOG, Blizzards Launcher, and many others mean that there will always be something new and exciting to dive into! This endless library of games allows you to jump into genres that you would otherwise ignore simply because they are so readily available.
What is the difference between builds?
There are numerous differences in Gaming PCs depending on the hardware you use within your build. Here are a few pre-built PCs to look over and get an idea!
This Pre-Built Gaming PC is a very good introduction to PC Gaming as it is more than capable of handling some of the most popular games out there at the moment with relative ease, keep in mind you won’t be playing these games on maximum graphics or pulling any insane frame rates, but it will give you a good canvas to start your journey on!
This Pre-Built is a great stepping-stone for those looking to start with a little more power without having to upgrade the PC quite so early. With hardware capable of pushing through more frames and higher graphic settings straight off the bat, you can jump into your favourite games and experience them the way they were intended.
Max Spec/Monster Build
This PC is a masterpiece of pre-built perfection. If you were looking for max power and limitless potential, this is the Gaming PC for you. The price tag is a touch hefty, but safety comes with this price because you will not need to change a single component for many years!
These are just a few simple examples of Gaming PCs you can buy fully built and ready so that you can jump straight in without having to spend any time putting them together yourself!
The true beauty lies in the process. Building a PC is hard to explain. Rounded up, it is an enormous sense of achievement. Seeing your build go from a selection of cellophane sealed boxes to a fully-fledged monster rig is a fantastic feeling.
Now, building a Gaming PC from scratch is both simple and incredibly complex at the same time. Getting the hardware together and working is fiddly yet still very easy. The complexities exist within the compatibility of the hardware.
But then it gets a little complicated. Before you go out and buy all of your hardware, you will want to research. This research could mean the difference between a PC that works and an expensive paperweight. If you want any tips on anything PC, whether it’s a complete build or just installing and testing some software, there is one channel that will bestow upon ye knowledge beyond your wildest dreams—the true lord of tech – LinusTechTips.
Linus and his team have a channel with years of videos covering everything you could imagine. If you have a question, they will have the answer. Remember, if all is lost, the internet is the key.
Before we get too excited, here is a list of components you will need to get yourself up and running:
A Brief Run-Down On The Components:
This is your base, where every individual component will plug in and talk to each other. Choice of the motherboard is massively important as they can differ massively. There are varieties of motherboards for different CPU brands and sockets, additional RAM and case sizes, so you should have an idea before you go ahead, as the ‘mobo’ you buy will dictate what will and won’t work.
Your CPU (Central Processing Unit) is the brain of your PC. Each process that takes place will go through it. AMD and Intel are the Titans in the CPU industry and are the base choice for every PC. They both have comparable strengths and weaknesses, so this is a significant research point depending on what you want from your PC!
Ram (Random Access Memory) choice is a vital part of any Gaming PC build as the type, speed and size of RAM you get will dictate just how much can be happening at one time before your computer does. Say no! Think of RAM as your desk. It allows you to work on multiple things at once, so the bigger your desk, the more tasks can be going on at the same time before it becomes a bit too much.
HDD (Hard Disk Drives) and SSDs (Solid State Drives) are types of storage hardware. HDDs have been around the longest, now offering some out of this world storage capacity for meagre costs. Nowadays, these are used purely to store files and software that doesn’t need to run anything too hefty as HDDs’ read and write speeds are substantially slower than an SSD. SSDs are the real money here. Most importantly, a good SSD is needed to install your operating system and ensure lightning-fast boot times.
You can install your OS onto a regular old hard drive, but this will make your startup time look silly compared to a fast solid-state drive. Many games and programs benefit massively from installing and running from an SSD. They can read and write data much faster than a HDD. In short, SSD for OS, games and hefty programs. HDD for everything else!
This is where you can make one of the most significant differences to your PC. Your GPU (Graphics Processing Unit/Graphics card) Is where you can take a game that looks like it’s being played on a Commodore 64 and turn it into a work of art that looks better than real life. GPUs have advanced massively in every single conceivable way in the past decade. For example, NVIDIA introduced DLSS (Deep Learning Super Sampling) not too long ago. This AI-based setting is available to people with RTX20 series and onwards cards.
DLSS takes power from servers set up by NVIDIA with multiple RTX cards and uses them to make your game run and look better on much higher settings than usual without having the necessary hardware to achieve the outcome. Some saw it as a bit of a gimmick for a while, but I can assure you it is the real deal. Without DLSS making the waves it has made, there would be a lot of games that would be unplayable. AMD has a similar, albeit not as an advanced program called AMD Fidelity, which works similarly to DLSS, but it’s got a while to go! The recent shortages have hit GPUs hardest, so keep your eyes peeled when building your rig!
The PSU (Power Supply Unit) is the most straightforward bunch here. It powers your rig. There is a wide variety of different PSUs available, and taking a deep look into what kind of power supply your case will support and how much power your hardware will need is very important. An underpowered PSU can result in underperformance, crashing, blue screens, etc. Be sure to dedicate some real time to good PSU research.
All this hardware is impressive, but don’t get too carried away just yet! As I mentioned before, there are many ways to turn your hard-earned cash into an expensive paperweight; insufficient cooling is a fast track there! The more punch your pc packs, the more cooling it will require, making this maybe the most crucial part to give attention. Luckily, cooling your PC is pretty simple and relatively budget-friendly. Good fans and CPU coolers go for excellent prices now and can often do a fantastic job with a tiny amount of work.
The only time you will have to go super in-depth is when you start stress testing your hardware through overclocking and such, this is when you may want to research some more hefty fans and radiators or even water cooling if you’re feeling spicy!
Now, onto the pitfalls.
With all this amazing hardware, countless build iterations and almost endless potential, there are bad points to be aware of and if you take in one piece of information from this blog, let it be this; TAKE. YOUR. TIME. Building a Gaming PC is not something to rush. Parts are fragile and will break INCREDIBLY easily if forced even slightly.
Take your CPU, for example. When seating your CPU in its socket, if it feels even slightly wrong, then start again, the pins on a CPU will bend or snap before you know it if they aren’t seated correctly, and although you can fix it yourself, you don’t want to, it’s just about the fiddliest thing in existence.
Another thing to pay close attention to is installing your OS, or any software for that matter. When installing it initially, you have to make sure you install it onto your SSD; otherwise, your boot time will be horrid, and you’ll have to fresh install the OS. This goes for other software/games. Pay attention to where they’re going; otherwise, you’ll be uninstalling and reinstalling until next year!
What would I recommend?
Right, I’ve thrown enough basic information at you. Now I’m going to tell you what I would go for if I were to build a good starter Gaming PC today.
Motherboard: Asus ROG Strix B550-E
CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 5800x
SSD: 1TB Samsung Evo M.2
CPU Cooler: Corsair Hydro H100x
Cooling: 3x Corsair SP120 RGB Pro
Case: Corsair Carbide 175R RGB
There are many reasons I would choose this build. The biggest reason is that the price you pay for this will ensure you have monstrous performance paired with bulletproof reliability for years to come.
This build has more than enough power, plenty of room for working on, impressive cooling and massive potential for overclocking once you get more comfortable with the more nitty-gritty side of building a PC. As well as this, you have space to increase your amount of ram, install another M.2 SSD should you choose to, and add a second GPU… like I said, huge potential!
Okay, so you should have a relatively good idea of what you’re looking for now! All that remains is to grab the parts you need, prepare yourself with some YouTube tutorials, don your fanciest pair of anti-static gloves, and build your dream Gaming PC!