You're about to spend a lot of money, and the thought of it probably makes you feel nauseous. You want to own a spankin' new gaming computer, but the idea surrounds you in clouds of options and alternatives. Making a purchase of a gaming computer is a daunting task. This is one task that you need to take careful thought to in order to get the most bang for your buck.
This decision is also one that you will need to consider a whole host of options for as different options create different performance results. If done right, if will provide you with an excellent PC that will play all of your games just the way you want to see them look.
This guide is going to help you look for a gaming computer that will give you great gameplay and performance. It will also give you an idea of what exactly to look for when it comes to the parts and components. Finally, you will get to know some of the great gaming computer manufacturers so to head you in the right direction when it comes to your purchase without getting ripped off.
The following are the most important computer parts you will need to take into consideration
The Video Card
A video card is the part of the computer that processes your game's 3D graphics and is the most important part of your game's performance. Getting a good video card is absolutely essential for a good gaming computer. Without this, your gaming computer is only a regular computer. The best advice for your gaming computer is to not skimp on the video card.
In choosing a video card there are two computers which hold on to the entire market - Nvidia and ATI (owned by AMD). Nvidia's consumer end brand is the Nvidia GeForce. ATI commands the Radeon HD line of video cards. Although, these two companies offer great options for gaming, there are few differences in performance when you buy a gaming level model (we'll get to good models soon). In my personal opinion Nvidia cards have an edge because they come with a technology called PhsyX that adds more realistic effects to many games which are optimized for it. Some PhsyX effects include life-like clothing and flags, exploding particles and more. PhsyX will only work with games that use PhsyX and only work on a video card build for it from Nvidia.
Now to the models. When searching for a model you need to look at the model numbers. The first number is the model line and the numbers after give you the exact model. For instance, Nvidia's 400 series includes the model 450, 460, 470 and 480. Generally, the higher the exact model number, the better the performance you will see from it.
What model to get? We recommend Nvidia so we'll give you the best of their cards
GTX 460 or better (GTX 460, GTX 460 2Win, GTX 470, GTX 480)
GTX 550Ti or better (GTX 550Ti, GTX 560Ti, GTX 570, GTX 580, GTX 590)
The CPU isn't quite as important to gaming as the video card but it is still one of the most important as the speed of your computer is based on the CPU. Currently there are two companies which dominate the market - Intel and AMD. We recommend AMD as they offer the best bang for your buck. Also, Intel isn't favored by most gamers because you pay extra to get a technology called hyper-threading which isn't used in PC games.
The latest trend in the CPU is multi cores. These are important and you should try and get the most cores possible since more cores generally mean better speed and performance. We highly suggest that you get AT LEAST 4 cores (quad core) since many games are optimized for quad core cpu's.
AMD offers two main model lines for CPU's - Athlon II and Phenom II. The Phenom II is preferred for gaming and tend to have better performance than the Athlon II. Furthermore, the Phenom II Black Edition models are even better.
Random Access Memory has nothing to do with how much space you can have on your computer, but that isn't important. What is important is that there are different types of memory. The latest type of RAM is DDR3. Every new computer (gaming or not) should include DDR3.
The most important thing about memory is amount and NOT speed. There is nearly no performance change between 1333MHz and 2000MHz, but there is a HUGE difference between 2GB and 4GB. We recommend to have 4GB and 8GB if you want to 'future-proof'.
Another aspect to RAM is Cas Latency. This is not as important as the amount of RAM, but it does matter more than speed. We recommend a Latency of 9 or LOWER.
The Power Supply
This is a HUGE, HUGE, HUGE, HUGE mistake people make. Power Supplies are the things that take the power from the plug in the wall to all the components in your computer. Power Supplies don't really matter much in your gaming performance; however, they are extremely important.
Power Supplies are measured in wattage where higher amounts provide more power. It is absolutely vital to get a high powered power supply. We recommend a 550 to 700 watt power supply for a gaming computer with a the video cards we listed above. For the GTX 480, GTX 580, and GTX 590 a 650 watt or greater power supply is needed.
Now to the mistakes people make.
Weak Power supplies - A power supply that is too weak and doesn't provide enough power can destroy or permanently damage vital components by having them operate without enough power.
Cheap Brands - The price range for a 550 watt power supply can range from $20 to $100. Sure the $20 supply sounds like a convincing deal as it offers 550 watts, but these power supplies break down easily and VERY often only last 8 or 9 months. It they die while the computer is on or slowly lose efficiency, they can damage components. The best brands out there are Corsair and Ultra. We recommend paying the extra 20 or 30 bucks them. You computer will thank you.
Shop around...longer than you should. You can find an excellent PC but you really must be patient. Don't make a bad purchase because you didn't want to wait.
Where To Avoid
Ebay- Although there are plenty of great sellers on ebay, there are also plenty of bad sellers. If you really want to purchase from eBay, make sure the seller is reputable and read all the negative feedback.
Dell- The computer company may sell plenty of great consumer computers, but they simply don't have a strong performance computer or product line for gamers.
Alienware- Now owned by Dell, Alienware is a WAY overpriced extension of Dell computers.
iBuyPower and CyberPowerPC- Both companies have terrible technical support reviews and ratings. Beware! They may produce great gaming PC's at good prices, but I've heard first hand accounts of people getting broken gaming computers which they had to send back and didn't see their computer for another 3 or 4 months.
Falcon Northwest - Although their prices are rather high, they offer excellent support and high end performance
AGC Gaming - By far the best prices on desktop gaming computers, plenty of customizing options, and above average service and support.
Pro Star PC - Excellent gaming laptops and tons of models and sizes to choose from. Plus they offer top notch technical support.