Getting all the right components to play your favorite games and fit in your budget – usually that is hard to do but not impossible with this guide. There is a lot of hardware on the market to choose from, but we will give you all the info you need so you’ll not get lost!
Before we get started, you will have to answer a few questions:
1. What is your budget, how much are you willing to spend?
2. What games are you going to play – Shooters, Strategies, RPG, Flight Simulators?
3. What is the size of the monitor you’ve got, is it 17-19″, 20-22″ or 24″ and above?
Budget – that is the ultimate limiting point of your purchase – don’t have more than $700? Then you are limited to basic gaming capabilities and lower resolutions. Can you shell out one about $1000? You can get descent machine to play any game with at least medium settings on 20-22″ monitor. Do you have $2K to spare? You will be able to run any game on any monitor with highest settings. $3000 will buy you an assurance that you will not need any upgrades next 2-4 years to be on top of the gaming!
Games You Play – if it’s going to be only “World of Warcraft” – you can spend about $999 and be sure that it will be enough to play it with high settings on any monitor. If you want to be able to run Shooters like Crysis or Far Cry 2 on High or Highest – be prepared to spend $1500 and up, of course you can play those games on $1k machine with Medium settings, but it’s up to you. Generally 3D Shooters require more power from your computer, same as flight simulators. Strategies and online RPG usually need less.
Monitor – if you are limited to 17″ or 19″ monitor, you will play in low-medium resolutions and do not need to spend too much on PC. If you have 20″ or 22″ monitor then you will want to play at 1680×1050 resolution, and it will put some stress on your computer, make sure that you select at least GT 240 video card to be comfortable at this resolution. If you have 24″ monitor or bigger, then you will need some serious firepower inside your PC, look for high-end video cards like Nvidia GTS 250 or ATI 5850, get CrossFire or SLI to be able to crank all settings to HIGHEST.
Most important choices are: CPU and Video Card. These two components have most influence on your gaming experience.
CPU – If you want to spend less than one thousand dollars than you should look at AMD Athlon II and Intel Dual Core processors, they have good value in lower segment, cheaper ones are AMD Athlon II X2 and X4 or Intel E6500 or i3 530 that will give up to 50% more performance closer to $1K, If you want to spend around $1K – look at Phenom X3 or X4 or similar, Intel i5, all can be overclocked over 3.0Ghz without sweat if you have good CPU cooler, and at that frequency it “kicks some ass” for the money it costs. For budgets over $1000-$1500 check out Intel i5 Quad – excellent Quad Core that can be also overclocked over 3.0Ghz with good cooler, more and more games are optimized for quads, so you will see the difference! New Intel Core i7 might be expensive but they offer the best performance on the market right now!
Video Card – be careful there, serious gamers do not look at GeForce 210 or ATI 4650 cards – they are good for low budget, but you will see HUGE performance increase if you get at least ATI 5670 or 9800GT. If you want high resolution then check out more expensive video cards – GTS 250 and ATI 5750 and 5770! For higher end better pick ATI 5850 or 5870, these two will let you set HIGH settings in all games! For most demanding gamers – CrossFire and SLI systems to play like a pro!
CPU Cooler – do not underestimate it!!!!! If you select stock cooler you will get high temperatures, lots of noise and no overclock (Free speed boost). Do you think that spending extra $30 on a good cooler is too much to drop temps about 15’C for more stable operation, not hear any noise and jump-start your CPU to 3.6Ghz instead of stock 2.8Ghz? That is way too much value to not to upgrade CPU cooler. Money you spend here give the most feedback for every 1$.
Power Supply – Very important if you planning on upgrading video card or any other components. If you upgrade video card you should select better power supply to accommodate increased power requirements. For example GT 240 or Radeon 5670 will work with most regular PSUs, but adding second card in SLI or CrossFire will require at least 600W SLI ready PSU. You will not make mistake by getting better power supply, your computer will always benefit from more reliable and consistent power it needs inder heavy loads when you play games!
Memory – important component that goes right after CPU and Cooler and Video Card. Basically, as long as you get at least 4Gb DDR2-800 you are good to go. You will see incremental performance increases if you upgrade to DDR3 memory. Newer DDR3 memory with frequencies from 1333Mhz to 1800Mhz will help on high end machines and will not be a bottleneck. 6Gb RAM is a standard for i7 / X58 systems.
Motherboard – pretty simple, more money you spend here more features you are going to get as well as some speed bump. For example AMD 790x will have FireWire but AMD 770 might not. Intel X58 have 3 PCi-e slots for video cards, but H55 will have only one or 2 PCI-e 16x/8x for videocards. Some motherboards come with integrated video, while others are designed for discrete videocards only.
Hard Drive – most gamers do not need more than 500Gb or 640Gb SATA2 HDD. Some will even be good with just 320Gb. But if you want significant storage – get 750Gb or more. WD Raptor and VelociRaptors have faster spinning speed (10000RPM vs regular 7200RPM) and therefore work 25% or more faster. SSD technology is still in the developments phase and does not offer much benefit over VelociRaptor drives and they tend to be overly expensive.
Fans, Cooling & Fans – Heat is the worst computer’s enemy and all these upgrades help reduce heat by moving air more effectively inside of case and out of it, cooling important components like CPU, Video Card, Motherboard and memory. Cheap upgrades that can make huge difference. Plus better cabling will look cool if you have clear side window!
Case – if you care only about it’s look, then get what ever you like. If you are concerned with cooling capabilities, then select Antec 300, Antec 900, Thermaltake, CM Scout. If you don’t want to hear any noise from your PC check these cases: Antec P180/P183, Antec 300, Cooler Master Centurion, Thermaltake Element. When you spend more on the case you get more features, better quality and better cooling.
Windows 7 – most expected operating system of the past, considering Vista’s poor performance, Windows 7 is everything that everybody wants – fast, reliable, easy to use, compatible with most of the old software and hardware. Windows XP came to “the end of life” along with Vista.
We hope that you will be able to select your new gaming computer without problems.