BUYING A GAMING PC used to be only for people with more money than time (or sense), but times have absolutely changed. Prices have come down to the point where building your own doesn\’t save you as much as it once did. Even if you do pay a price premium, you get perks like support, warranties, and discounts by buying prebuilt. But before you whip out your credit card, here are some things to consider before buying a gaming PC to make sure prebuilt is right for you.
A gaming PC is one of the best ways to enjoy the latest games at high resolutions and fantastic visual quality. With so many brands and specifications to consider, it can be hard to know where to start when buying one.
This buying guide will help you determine which gaming PC to buy based on your specific needs, budget, and tastes.
5 Things to Consider Before Buying a Gaming PC
There are some key factors to bear in mind which differ from buying a regular PC. As you look at gaming PCs, you\’ll see they all offer different specifications and features.
It\’s essential to get a balanced gaming PC, so we\’ve looked at five key areas you need to think about before you invest in a new gaming PC:
- Graphics Card
- Hard Drive
- Out of the box or custom?
How Much Should a Gaming PC Cost?
Covid-19 has thrown much of the manufacturing world into flux. A lot of PC component manufacturers are based in China, which was hit hard by Covid-19. PC shipments have fallen 8 percent this year, according to analytics firm Canalys—the largest drop since 2013.
On the other hand, both AMD and Intel described PC and PC component prices as stable in interviews with WIRED. “We haven’t seen much volatility outside of the typical pricing competitiveness that we’re used to in our industry,” says Frank Azor, AMD’s chief architect of gaming solutions.
It\’s possible to spend $500 on a budget gaming PC, and it\’s also possible to spend $5,000 on a high-end gaming PC. Ultimately, it\’s down to you and what you can afford as to how much you want to pay.
The more you spend, the more likely it is you\’ll be investing in top-quality components. That means a gaming PC can be expected to last longer, so for future-proofing purposes, it\’s smart to spend a bit more upfront.
What Kind of Graphics Card Should a Gaming PC Have?
The most critical component in any gaming PC is its graphics (video) card. Graphics cards are the heart of what enables you to play games at high resolutions and with as many graphical features enabled as possible. They\’re also one of the most expensive components out there.
- A card is suitable for playing at 1080p resolution at a minimum with 4K resolution is an option depending on budget.
- The most powerful GPU processor you can afford.
- The most GPU RAM you can afford.
Two companies provide graphics cards: AMD and Nvidia. Currently, Nvidia provides the best graphics cards with the RTX 30-series of graphics cards. If money is no object, the GeForce RTX 3090 Ti is the best graphics card, but you\’re more likely to come across the RTX 3060 or 3070 range when buying a gaming PC.
If you\’re looking to play games at 4K resolutions or with graphic settings at high or ultra-high, the RTX 30-series is typically the best choice.
AMD is still worth paying attention to if you\’re on a tighter budget with the RX 6000 Series worth considering. These cards are suitable for playing games at 1080p resolutions and slightly lower graphic detail levels. Most games can run at 1080p or lower graphics levels if you\’re willing. The 5 Best PC Video Cards for Under $250 in 2022
The latest Call of Duty games and Final Fantasy XIV will scale down to 1080p, while games like Cyberpunk 2077 may stutter a bit with lower-end graphics cards. Perennial favorites such as Fortnite scale well, so most GPUs will handle it.
In either case, it\’s worth paying attention to the model number.
Which Processor and RAM Should a Gaming PC Have?
Intel and AMD are the two options when picking out a gaming PC. At the moment, the most powerful processors for gaming vary depending on your price range. Like with graphics cards, generally, the higher the number, the better the processing power.
A processor, also called a CPU, is essentially the brain of your computer. It is responsible for interpreting and executing pretty much all of what unfolds on your screen. Its speed and cores affect how quickly it operates and completes tasks.
Cores are like processors within processors. Most CPUs have between four and eight.
Computer RAM works much like VRAM, but rather than assisting the graphics card\’s processor, it helps the main CPU instead. The more RAM you have, the better your system can retrieve temporary information, improving speed and performance.
When it comes to RAM, you need 16GB of memory. The average PC can multitask reasonably well with 8GB of memory, but 16GB is pretty much the minimum you need when gaming because games are much more demanding than browsing the internet or using office-related software.
When you have a least 16GB of RAM when gaming, you can rest easy knowing there are no bottlenecks when your system is loading new data for a fast-moving game.
What Type of Hard Drive Should a Gaming PC Have?
Most gaming PCs offer Solid State Drives (SSDs) for their storage method. If you see one that offers only regular hard drive storage, skip it. The only exception is if the gaming PC offers SSD storage and a hard disk drive (HDD).HDD vs SSD Storage: Which Type is Better?
SSD storage is one of the easiest ways to make your gaming PC perform faster. Your PC can read the files more quickly through SSD storage, reducing game loading times for you and generally improving performance.
It\’s essential to make sure you buy as much SSD storage as possible. Some gaming PCs only offer 256GB of SSD storage, and with the latest games like Call of Duty: Vanguard requiring over 100GB of space, you won\’t be able to install many games at once. Instead, you\’ll need to uninstall games frequently to be able to switch around.
It can take a while to reinstall games, with the majority available digitally or requiring extensive patches. You also need to account for having significant spare space for the patches mentioned above to expand and install.
Who Should Buy a Gaming PC?
A few key types of gamers within society will find the most benefit from buying a gaming PC.
- Casual gamer. A gamer who particularly loves one or two games. A casual gamer doesn\’t want to spend thousands on a gaming PC, but they\’re hooked on one or two fun games they know well such as an MMO or a free-to-play game like Fortnite or Apex Legends. At this level, it can be worth buying a cheap gaming PC to improve the gaming experience.
- People who game more than 20 hours a week. If you prefer to use a PC over a game console, a gaming PC means offers plenty of flexibility with game choices. Frequently, PC games cost less to purchase than console versions.
- Streamers. If you\’re keen to stream your gaming content on Twitch and other streaming networks, you need to have a gaming PC that can play a game quickly and at a decent quality level. No one wants to watch a streamer struggle to load a game.
- Home workers. If you work from home, you probably already need a PC for work. A gaming PC means you can combine work and pleasure, so your system effectively does everything you need throughout the day and can rev up into game mode at night.
- Experienced gamers who like to mod. One of the advantages of gaming PCs over consoles is that you can generally mod or adapt games far more on a PC than with a console. It\’s a great way of adding more to a much-loved game with many inexpensive or free mods.
More Tips for Things you Should Consider Before Buying a Gaming PC
Before you dive into buying a gaming PC, there are a few other things you might want to consider.
- Do you need a gaming PC? Do you have an untouched gaming console because you never have the time to game? Do you own a PC that already runs the games you want to play? Then you might not need a gaming PC. Don\’t buy one for the sake of it when a good gaming PC costs so much.
- A gaming laptop might be a better choice. A gaming laptop can be a good alternative if you prefer to game in a portable manner or have limited space at home. Often more expensive than a regular gaming PC, a gaming laptop is still very convenient.
- Don\’t forget the aesthetic. Gaming PCs don\’t have to be bland black towers of hardware. These days, you can add RGB lighting and cool windows so you can see inside your PC. Look out for one that fits your aesthetic and suits your personality.