Buying a gaming PC: guide, tips, mistakes
When buying a gaming PC, different factors must be taken into account: price, components, options to update it… In this guide we are going to show you some of the characteristics that you have to look at when buying your computer to play.
Is your computer outdated and no longer able to run the latest games? Do you want to get a more powerful computer? If the answer is yes, it is very likely that you have considered switching to a gaming computer . If you don’t know where to start, take note because we are going to give you advice on what you should keep in mind when buying a gaming PC.
And, today, buying a gaming computer is not an easy task. On many occasions we get carried away by offers that seem to offer a unique opportunity at an unbeatable price, but which later turn out to be not a suitable option. For this reason, it is convenient to take into account some tips when buying your gaming PC.
Many focus on the graphics card and forget everything else, or are dazzled by the lights of the box, forgetting that, as they say in the Disney movies, what is really important is inside.
Table of Contents
- “Brand” or “store” gaming PC, first dilemma
- Don’t let the box dazzle you
- Buy the most powerful processor you can afford
- Graphics card, the heart of gaming
- The future is the motherboard
- RAM memory, better quality than quantity
- Fast storage means less waiting when loading the game
- Liquid or air cooling
- The power supply, the great forgotten
“Brand” or “store” gaming PC, first dilemma
When buying a gaming PC, unless you want to assemble your own gaming PC by parts, you have two alternatives. The first of them is to buy a gaming computer that you can find in the catalogs of specialized brands such as Acer, Alienware, Asus, HP, Lenovo, MSI, etc.
This has a clear advantage since with this option you have the guarantee that all the components work at 100% of their capacities since the brand tests and configures them to work together. In this way, the risk of incompatibilities between the different components that make up the equipment is reduced.
Another advantage is that these computers are usually updated every year, so they usually mount the latest components of the brand that, although they belong to the same range, can offer better performance because they are more optimized.
The second alternative that you can choose if you want to buy a gaming PC, is to buy one of the models that the online hardware stores themselves mount .
Some stores specializing in computer hardware and components offer ready-made gaming configurations adapted to different budgets. These configurations are based on components that you can buy separately in the store itself, but the establishment offers you a selection of components that do not present incompatibilities, adjusting to your budget.
A clear example is found in PcCom computers from Pc Components , which offer different hardware configurations depending on the budget and the type of computer you are looking for.
Whatever your choice, the most important thing is to find the balance between the components. We do not mean that you have to become a Jedi, but that all components must have a similar performance.
A computer with a super powerful graphics card will be of little use to you , if you later mount a very weak processor or do not have a fast hard disk that would weigh down the performance of the most powerful components, so in the end you would be paying for powerful hardware that You really weren’t going to be able to squeeze its full potential.
Another point to keep in mind is that, in many cases, branded gaming computers have components that have been modified or adapted specifically for that computer, so the drivers may also vary.
On the other hand, the computers that assemble and configure the stores are based on market components, so they have not been modified internally and use the same drivers that the manufacturer provides.
Don’t let the box dazzle you
When you go to buy a gaming computer, the first thing you see is the box, so this element is responsible for the first impression you get. Make no mistake about it that it will bring lights, many lights, with the aim of entering your eyes. But lights don’t bring more frames per second to games, which is, after all, what we’re here for. So we are going to turn off those lights to see more clearly what the box offers inside.
In addition to a container for storing all the components, the box is also an active part of the refrigeration, so it is important that you keep in mind some important information regarding this function in order to improve or modify your refrigeration options.
For example, it is important to know the number and diameter of the fans that can be installed, since this way you can improve the cooling of your gaming PC in the future.
It is also important to know the interior measurements of the box, and make sure that large graphics cards will fit. If in the future you want to update it for a more powerful one, you may find it impossible to do so because it does not fit in the box.
Buy the most powerful processor you can afford
As you probably already know, the processor is one of the most decisive components in your Gaming PC and, together with the graphics card, the one that will take the worst over time in terms of power. Not because it will lose performance in itself, but because programs and games will increasingly demand higher performance that that processor will not be able to offer.
With this in mind, it is important that, when buying a processor, you opt for the most powerful one that your budget allows. Thanks to this, you will be able to stretch your equipment for longer. Don’t get us wrong, we’re not telling you to spend 500 euros on the processor if your budget is 700 euros, but you should spend around a quarter of the budget for the processor.
Currently, both Intel and AMD or Mediatek obtain excellent performance and their prices make it possible to have at home something that seemed impossible.
Therefore, in terms of strict performance, it does not matter if you decline towards one platform or another, the important thing is that they are last generation processors to benefit from that extra performance percentage that new generations of processors are used to implementing.
Graphics card, the heart of gaming
The graphics card is another of the basic components for gaming computers, so you must choose carefully which graphics card model your gaming PC mounts. The tendency is to always go for the strongest possible, but that also depends on several factors.
The resolution you play, the type of games you like, the performance of the rest of the components and, once again, your budget.
For example, if you usually play Fortnite on a 60 Hz monitor and at Full HD resolution, you don’t need to spend 820 euros on an Nvidia RTX Geforce 2080 because you are not going to squeeze it to the fullest. On the other hand, if you are going to play Battlefield V in 4K resolution and at frequencies of 144 GHz, then you even need two.
The choice of graphics card should also be consistent with the processor. It is useless to buy a gaming PC with the most powerful graphics card, if then the processor does not measure up and creates a bottleneck.
Another aspect that you must take into account if you want to buy a gaming PC is the number and type of connectors that the graphics card has. If you are going to use multiple monitors, make sure the computer you buy offers the right connection options for them.
The cooling of the graphics card is also an important issue, since the performance and reliability of the component will largely depend on it. In “brand” computers, it may be a bit more complicated to know exactly the refrigeration system mounted, unless you look for information on your own in specialized media analysis .
In this sense, the more fans you have, the better. Thus, less fan rotation speed is required to keep temperatures at an acceptable level and noise is greatly reduced.
The future is the motherboard
The motherboard tends to go quite unnoticed in the specifications of most gaming PCs. However, this component represents the foundation upon which your options for future upgrades will be built.
Since you are going to make an investment in a gaming PC, what less than to make sure that its motherboard ensures that in the future you can install a faster storage system , that you can add a second graphics card.
Beyond the fact of having more or less integrated lighting -what would gaming be without the LED lights-, look at the number of connectors that the equipment offers on its back, in the number of PCIe x16 connectors (where you can install another graphics card, if you want) and it has a connector for M.2 storage units .
RAM memory, better quality than quantity
For a long time, manufacturers and distributors of computers in general, and PC gaming in particular, have relied on the amount of RAM to sell computers.
The truth is that, currently, it is enough that the gaming PC you choose does not mount less than 8 GB of RAM.
Some high-end gaming computers can mount configurations with 32GB of RAM and even more. However, unless you are going to record a streaming of your games to The Division 2 in 4K at the same time that you are rendering one of the videos that you are going to upload to your YouTube channel, you will never use that amount of memory. .
Instead of looking at the amount of RAM, pay attention to how often it works and what its latency is. This data can appear together with the amount of RAM memory and is expressed in megahertz (MHz), in the case of frequency, and in milliseconds (ms) of CAS Latency , for latency.
In the case of frequency, the higher the frequency, the faster the RAM memory works, so it is important that the MHz data is as high as possible. Currently the average is around 2,800 MHz or 3,000 MHz.
The latency data is somewhat more complicated to find, but it can be identified after the initials CL (CAS Latency). In this case it is just the other way around, the lower the latency means that the memories offer better performance. The current average latency is around CL15 or CL16 for the frequencies that we have indicated before.
This data is especially important if the computer mounts an AMD Ryzen 2 processor since the performance of this platform is highly conditioned by the RAM memory it uses.
Fast storage means less waiting when loading the game
One of the components that many gaming computer setups, especially those targeting tighter budgets, tend to cut back on the storage system.
In these configurations it is common to find that an HDD is mounted, instead of an SSD. Doing so not only reduces the cost of the final bill, but also covers the storage needs for the computer since mounting an SSD of moderate capacity would shoot the budget.
This is actually a bug that will seriously weigh down your gaming experience. The games will take longer to load, the levels of the game the same, and you may even experience a drop in FPS during the game.
If you do not want to go overboard with the budget, what you should consider at least is a storage system that combines an SSD of about 240 GB that is currently at a very good price to install the operating system and the game that you play the most in that moment, combined with an HDD to store your data.
It is not a great financial investment, but the improvement in computer performance is extraordinary, especially with current hardware that takes advantage of the full potential of SSDs.
Liquid or air cooling
The cooling system of a gaming PC should be slightly higher than that of other computers. Due to their high performance, the components get hotter than usual.
The liquid cooling systems all in one are one of the most common choices in gaming computers, but this choice is not without controversy. While these all-in-one systems are more fashionable than ever, due to micro-evaporation, some require maintenance that is difficult for most users to do and tend to lose cooling capacity over time.
On the other hand, air cooling systems are effective, cheap and easy to maintain. Therefore, these are a good alternative for cheap gaming computers. Either way, avoid the standard heatsink to play games since these heatsinks do not support the high work rate of gaming components.
The power supply, the great forgotten
It is curious how often thousands of euros are invested in hardware for a gaming PC and forgetting to invest in the component that should provide the power for all of them. The power supply is the component that is responsible for stabilizing the energy that reaches the components, so the proper functioning of the computer depends on its quality.
Brand computers usually incorporate a power supply certified by the brand itself to ensure the quality of the power supply for a long time, but some gaming computers assembled by stores or distributors, especially cheaper equipment, tend to mount little power supplies. optimized or too tight power.
This low power margin can limit the options for updating the PC, such as, for example, when changing graphics card for a more powerful one. A poor energy supply can bring you many problems.