Taking the time to buy a new gaming PC within your price range, meeting performance expectations, and from a reputable source needs to be clarified. Decisions like wanting to build yourself or go prebuilt are essential when purchasing.
When purchasing a gaming PC, you should ask yourself the following questions: how long will this system last, and what am I looking to spend on it initially? There are multiple avenues for upgrades over time before replacing the base components like the motherboard, CPU, and RAM. Almost every other aspect, along with the proper firmware updates, can be upgraded retroactively.
Specs to Look at When Buying a Gaming Computer
When buying a new PC, looking at the minimum and recommended specs for most games on the market will give you a good idea of what hardware is required to run most games. Let's break down by component what is the most important to consider in a gaming PC.
CPUs are a critical part of any gaming PC, allowing CPU-intensive games to perform at a higher level and contribute significantly to multitasking during gaming and other productivity applications.
Ensure you have the minimum amount of cores on your CPU to be effective at gaming and background processes. Typically the threshold is four cores for focusing only on gaming, with 6, 8, 12, and 16 cores making up the mid and high-range options for CPUs released in recent years.
Graphics Card (GPU)
The graphics card is responsible for generating higher frames per second when gaming. Even for most CPU bund games, it helps to have a comparable GPU that can facilitate any demands, whether gaming or for multitasking.
Graphics cards' core clock speed and VRAM capacity for Triple-A titles are a big concern. Having at least 4GB of VRAM is a great starting point for an entry to mid-range system for games released in the past five years. As for the amount of performance expected from something like a graphics card, dedicated GPUs have anywhere from double to quadruple processing power compared to their integrated counterparts.
Integrated vs. Dedicated
Integrated graphics accompany APUs or “Accelerated Processing Units” within the AMDs manufacturing sphere; or with most non-f variant CPUs in Intel’s lineup.
There are significant advantages between integrated graphics and dedicated within the gaming sphere. APUs are cheaper and offer an easy entry point to those wanting to game on more CPU-bound games. In addition, APUs in most competitive games like DOTA 2, League of Legends, Fortnite, and CSGO will produce a competitive amount of FPS and system latency at an unbeatable price point.
Dedicated graphics take this to a new level requiring more power but doubling to quadrupling the raw frame output before considerations like v-sync and monitor refresh rate. The overall power requirements can be marginal, depending on your model. Some models, like the GTX 1650, require a range of 75-83W to power counter to the RTX 4090, requiring 450W.
For system memory, having a sizeable amount of RAM at a certain speed will allow your PC to function responsibly when gaming or doing other productive tasks. As with most gaming systems, 16GB of RAM is a great starting point. The speed, however, will be different depending on the RAM revision.
Double Data Rate Revision 4, better known as DDR4, is an older standard of RAM utilization still being made and supplied in modern systems, predominantly in the last nine years.
While the storage method has mostly stayed the same from previous revisions, a significant development was to have upwards of 32, 64, and 128GB of RAM on consumer motherboards for gaming PCs or workstations. This development also accompanied a modest rise in speed, the most popular being 3600-4000Mhz at a CAS latency of 16 to 14 towards the end of development.
Double Data Rate Revision 5 takes the advancements of DDR4 and flips them on its head. Due to hardware advancements and architectural changes in manufacturing, each memory module's CAS latency and bandwidth have doubled. For a better comparison, imagine a road having three lanes going to six but suddenly having to drive 15MPH instead of 30MPH.
But what is the significant change? Here’s the crazy part! The modules allow for broader CAS latency timings with bandwidth in different configurations. While DDR4 works off of counting by factors of 8 or 16GB, new DDR5 kits can also work by a factor of 24GB! Meaning the market now has faster 48GB memory modules. This new factor scheme would make 96GB of DDR5 RAM the new 64GB of DDR4 standard.
However, there is an important consideration to consider: the time of adoption. DDR4, within the first three years of widespread use, did encounter stability issues with newer generations of parts. This is no exception for DDR5. As of writing, we are three years from the initial launch of DDR5, and we are still seeing growing pains from prominent manufacturers like AMD and their relatively new EXPO overclocking system. We may need another year before many significant instability issues fix themselves.
Storage is an essential aspect of a gaming PC, spending on what games you intend on playing. Competitive or asset-intensive games that require SSDs should be considered when deciding what storage you need.
Your operating system should always be on an SSD or, even better, an NVMe for faster loading times. Hard drives should be reserved only for lower-priority games or things that require a decent amount of space.
USB, USB-C, and other sports are often overlooked when picking a new gaming PC. Depending on how many monitors, third-party devices, or other devices require a physical connection.
An excellent example of this is getting a gaming PC for VR capabilities. Some VR headsets might need 1-3 USB ports alone for tracking. If you need more motherboard ports, consider getting a higher-model motherboard or a PCIe card with expansion slots.
In addition to the CPU and GPU choices, peripherals such as a monitor followed by a keyboard and mouse are essential to consider. The monitor is the most important as the GPU and CPU combination significantly affect the display resolution; the keyboard and mouse are more for personal preference.
Monitors are primarily concerned with native resolution and refresh rate—the more demanding and higher a game's output resolution, the lower FPS you can expect. There is a better balance between getting a GPU that not only is comparable with the CPU but allows the monitor to give the best experience in terms of resolution output and image clarity.
Mice choices are personal; everyone wants a different feel when gaming or multitasking. If you're looking for an excellent recommendation, a great gaming mouse introduced in the past ten years is the Logitech G502 Hero mouse.
With a lock and unlock scroll wheel, four programable buttons, and a background program for DPI and RGB. This mouse is an excellent value for $60(sometimes $40 while on sale) and fits most hands.
There are multiple brands of respectable keyboard manufacturers. Some services and companies specialize in everything for building custom keyboards.
You may have heard of a company called “Cherry MX” with a significant market share of your typical gaming keyboard switches(i.e., the buttons you press down on). However, others like Gatron, Rocat, and Kailh make keyboards and switches that have a specific feel to them and become sight after over your typical gaming keyboard.
Case & Appearance
Depending on what appeals to you, there are multiple cases and ascetics for PCs. The most prominent for gaming is the “mid-tower” market, and the associated cases tend not to exceed 10 x 20 x 20 inches(254 x 508 x 508 millimeters).
Looking at our custom builder case section, for example, the default TD 500 is an incredible $99 allrounder with ITX, MATX, ATX, and EATX capabilities. Further down, you will see the high tower cases like the Be Quite Pure Base 900, capable of fitting an array of storage drives and additional fans for water cooling. On the other end of the spectrum, the Phanteks Evolve Shift has a smaller profile to fit specific ITX motherboards and no other form factor.
Why You Should Consider Getting a New Gaming PC
It's easy to spec out a gaming PC for what you'll think you’ll need in the future. There are a lot of benefits in getting a new system that involves getting more relative performance in every generation.
Consider What Kinds of Games You Play
Only some games need a ludicrously powerful gaming PC to run. Understanding the needs of your peripherals, game, and other workloads will go a long way into your gaming PC's expectations and lifespan.
Building a Gaming PC vs. Buying a Prebuilt
Buying a prebuilt vs. assembling it yourself has some advantages and convinces not often discussed. System integrators dedicate a substantial amount of time to ensuring the components in a PC function the first time and follow up with customers to ensure there are no issues immediately after shipment.
Building yourself a PC is rewarding in its merit; however, should there ever be an RMA process, it relies on you, the consumer, to contact, send in, and wait for a replacement part. Ultimately, as long as your system works, gaming has never been more accessible than it is today across many genres.
Summary of What You Should Look at in a New Gaming PC
There are many options to consider when looking for a new gaming PC, finding your CPU, GPU, and RAM combination to understand what peripherals are warranted depending on hardware.
At Apex Gaming PCs, we have multiple upgrade and customization options for those looking to get a new gaming PC to play every game on the market. From APU-focused systems to our overkill gaming machines like the Apex Xtreme, we have a lot of PCs at multiple price points. Whatever your Pc search encompasses, we hope to be of service at Apex!
Written By William Wilson
Header Photo: Pavan Bhakta