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Gaming PC Performance starts before pressing play
As gaming has evolved over the years, an increasing amount of gamers have slowly transitioned away from console gaming and are now leaning towards PC gaming. Although the concept of PC gaming is not anything groundbreaking, a new generation of gamer is finding out what many gaming evangelists have always known, and that is PC gaming can give you a level of performance that at times console gaming struggles to provide. PC gaming continues to be a popular choice for gamers in recent years, especially with the rise of large gaming companies who have now made their games free worldwide on the internet. Smash-hit online games like Fortnite, PUBG, and Overwatch have sent gamers scrambling to find new ways to give themselves a competitive edge.
However, a dilemma that many of these gamers face is that they’re unable to maximize their gaming performance, specifically with online based games due to limitations of their PC hardware build. As online games continue to evolve, they will demand more computer resources to render the game at its fullest potential. Whether a gamer currently has a PC with an updated graphics cards, a modern CPU, or sufficient RAM, the truth is PCs today that are less than 1-3 years old are falling far behind, and not keeping up at the same performance rate as game-makers. To compound the problem for gamers, keeping up with the top of line PC hardware has become ridiculously expensive, creating an artificial barrier to achieving the gaming performance they deserve.
When it comes to PC gaming, you have two options which are to either build your own or purchase a pre-built gaming PC. Each path has its set of advantages and disadvantages. This article will focus on the essential computer components for those looking for information on how to build your own gaming PC and maximizing performance. The list of essential gaming PC components are the following:
- Computer Processing Unit (CPU)
- Memory (RAM)
- Graphics Processing Unit
- Power Supply
- Cooling Unit
Understanding important gaming PC components
Computer Processing Units
Computer Processing Units, or CPUs for short, is similar to the brain in the human body. The CPU gives off signals to the other components of the computer. The CPU handles the inputs and outputs of the system. The speed of the CPU is measured by GHz (gigahertz). The higher the GHz, the faster the processor will cycle.
Most modern processors contain multiple cores, the more cores a processor has, the more spread out the workload is. Due to this fact companies such as AMD and Intel, have developed high core processors. These include the AMD Threadripper and Intel i9 series.
With an increasing number of cores and higher clock speeds, FPS may be gained. In CPU intensive games such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, the CPU takes the most toll. With a higher grade CPU in these games, you will see an increase in FPS. If you pair a great CPU with an equally impressive PC monitor, you could gain an edge over the opponent since you’ll be able to see the opponent’s position more accurately.
Low-end CPUs will be the bottom the bunch. While they may not be able to compete with their more expensive counterparts, these CPUs will give you the best efficiency for your money.
Medium priced CPUs will be slightly better than your average or lower end CPU, it will give you more power compared to the low-end CPUs. Usually, these CPUs contain more cores and higher clock speeds.
If you want to see a noticeable improvement in gaming performance, high-end CPUs will be worth the investment. These CPUs are designed to deliver the highest grade of gaming performance. However, the cost higher-end CPUs will cost significantly more than the other lower end models.
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950X Processor
Motherboards are essentially the backbone of the computer. They connect all major components of the computer and coordinates all electrical signal processes. The motherboard contains many different circuits and inputs. The motherboard is where you’ll find external connections like the headphone jack, microphone jack, and other USB ports. Inside of the PC, you will find slots for major components such as RAM, GPU, and CPU.
The motherboard also connects the power supply unit to the rest of the PC. The circuitry found within the motherboard enables electricity to run through the PC, allowing the more critical parts such as the CPU, and GPU to run in conjunction with each other. While the motherboard doesn’t directly impact the performance of the computer by a significant margin, having a reliable motherboard its critical to overall PC performance. It will allow the CPU and GPU (the main parts used while gaming) to run concurrently to produce optimal gaming performance.
These motherboards can be more on the restrictive side, somewhat limiting your choices for certain parts, but they can provide good value and the best bang for your buck.
As expected, these options strike a compromise between the optimization of higher-end motherboards while also retaining the affordability of lower end ones. On top of increased features, these units are notably more aesthetically pleasing.
ASUS ROG STRIX B250H GAMING LGA1151
These motherboards are top of the line, sparing little to no expense to ensure optimal performance and has features wrapped up in a neat and stylish box. However, these motherboards will, of course, be more expensive than most other options out on the market.
MSI Arsenal Gaming Intel Kaby Lake Z270M
RAM stands for Random Access Memory and is responsible for quickly handling any process running actively on a computer. RAM is critical to the functionality of a gaming PC, and the secret of top many of the top gamer’s builds has a PC that contains both high-performance CPU and RAM.
MHz (Megahertz) is the transmission speed of the module. The higher the MHz the faster the RAM. Higher quality RAM modules will usually have 3200 MHz or higher. RAM does not directly affect FPS, but it does have an impact on the gaming experience. RAM affects loading time in video games. A larger RAM capacity allows the computer to load the resources that a game needs rapidly.
RAM is quantified by the amount of data it can store. 4GB RAM is a minimum for a decent gaming experience, 8GB is recommended, and 16GB is convenient, but not necessary for most. Streamers specifically will benefits from having a large RAM module because they are often running heavy RAM intensive applications like CS:GO, OBS, and other software at the same time. The more RAM you have, the more processes your computer can handle at a time.
Lower end RAM will usually have 4GB or smaller, although for reasonable performance you should get 4GB at a minimum. These RAM modules will be significantly cheaper, but will not allow as much performance as medium or high-end RAM modules.
Patriot Memory Viper Elite Series DDR4 4GB
Ballistix Sport LT 4GB Single DDR4 2400
Intermediate RAM will usually run with at least 8GB, with one or two sticks. These RAM modules will cost more than the cheaper modules but will give you a little more leniency when it comes to background processes.
High-end RAM will usually have a minimum of 12GB, but more commonly 16GB and 24GB for high performance. This RAM will cost more than your standard 4 and 8GB modules.
G.SKILL TridentZ RGB Series 16GB
The storage of a computer is perhaps one of it’s most familiar components to gamers. Storage represents how many gigabytes or terabytes of information the system can hold. This includes files, applications, video games, etc. The storage of the system is similar to an archive or library, where all information is held in for future use. The storage component of a computer breaks down into two main categories, the SSD (Solid State Drive) and HDD (Hard Disk Drive).
SSD: The Solid State Drive uses non-mechanical components, making it faster when loading up large processes. However, the SSD is more expensive than the HDD for this reason. Also, the SSD at the same price as an HDD will offer fewer gigabytes of storage.
HDD: The Hard Disk Drive uses mechanical components, this will make it louder when loading up processes. Since it takes longer to load up applications and games, the HDD much cheaper than the SSD. If you’re looking for bulk storage, sacrificing load times for the HDD is the way to go. This also allows you to have more storage for the same price as an SSD.
Overall the storage of a system doesn’t impact in-game performance to the same degree as other components on this list, but poor storage could affect loading times. If the player downloads many different games that require a large amount of storage, having a large HDD or SSD may benefit the player.
The main differences between low end, medium, and high-end storage devices are the number of gigabytes or terabytes. Other than that most brands are nearly the same since the RPM (rotations per minute) of the HDD are very similar between prices and brands.
Although lower end storage modules have more flexibility on price, you could potentially quickly hit performance limits when it comes to downloading many large applications.
Although more expensive than the budget options, these additions are significantly more efficient while still retaining a relatively affordable cost.
Seagate 2TB BarraCuda SATA 6Gb/s
Typically the most expensive of the bunch, these products make up for their higher cost with unparalleled storage space and speed that makes clear why it could well worth its price tag.
Seagate 4TB BarraCuda SATA 6Gb/s
Graphics Processing Units
A Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) rapidly alters the memory of the computer to accelerate the creation of images to be output into the monitor or other display devices. A GPU increases the number of “frames” per second (FPS). This chip is the core component in the more commonly known term “video cards,” which is often confused for a GPU. GPU effectively improves the visual quality and FPS of games played on the system.
The GPU is a critical component when it comes to gaming. The GPU is the main component that impacts FPS. The more powerful the GPU, the more frames it will be able to output. Paired with a great monitor, the GPU can be used to its full potential. With a monitor that can refresh up to 240hz, the GPU will be able to show its smoothness. The higher the frames will make the visuals smoother, this can help in competitive video games as the more frames there are, the more accurate the representation of the models are.
Furthermore, having a stronger GPU will enable you to increase the quality of graphics. This can allow you to run your game at 1440p resolution or higher. If you’re into VR gaming and hyper-realistic gaming, having a more powerful GPU will benefit you greatly.
Low-end graphics cards will usually be less efficient, will produce a lower quality image, and may have more fragments while outputting videos and pictures.
Medium tiered graphics cards will give you more power and FPS but will be slightly more expensive.
High-end graphics cards will typically cost you the most, but they will give you the best performance. These cards might be worth investing into if you’re willing to spend the extra cash.
Power Supply Unit
Power Supply Units (PSUs) convert power from an outlet into usable energy for the multiple parts inside the case of the computer. Old power supplies and new power supplies have significant differences nowadays regarding performance. In the past, old supply units had many problems such as noise, malfunctioning parts, overheating, and compatibility issues.
Newer supply units, however, have rectified many of their past problems. For instance, the newer models generate little to no noise when running. The cost efficiency is more beneficial to the buyer as well. Instead of having to buy new power supplies that are expected to malfunction continuously, you can buy a modern power supply and expect it to run efficiently throughout the lifespan of the PC.
The power supply unit can affect a game’s performance, as having it short circuit during a match is detrimental. Having a better power supply will also allow the player to overclock their CPU and GPUs. With the ability to overclock, players will be able to increase their FPS in game, which gives a better user experience overall. Again as stated before, the higher the FPS, the more accurate the representation of the opponent will be. This could be extremely useful in competitive gaming.
These units typically offer a serviceable power efficiency while sacrificing a bit in overall quality.
BitFenix Formula 80 Plus Gold Standard ATX PSU
Corsair Enthusiast Series TX 550 Watt
These units typically are much more efficient and have lasting performance while retaining the affordability of lower end units.
EVGA Supernova 650 G2, 80+ Gold 650W
Seasonic G Series 650 SSR-650RM 650W
These units are the top dogs of the PSUs. With 1000 watts of power and extreme energy efficiency, these power supplies can make up for their high cost with stellar video game performance.
EVGA Supernova 1000 G3, 80 Plus Gold 1000W
Seasonic PRIME 1000 Platinum SSR-1000PD 1000W
Most people know that anything electronic produces heat during consumption of power. If the temperature is not reduced, there is an increased chance that it can cause severe damage to the other components of the computer such as the processor. Computers today have cooling systems that help reduce heat. There are two primary types of cooling systems that computer use which are case cooling and CPU cooling. Case cooling uses air cooling which removes the heat from the case of the system. Air cooling is also a cheap method of cooling.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, liquid cooling uses a special water block to conduct the heat away from the processor. The advantages to liquid cooling are a lack or absence of noise which was fairly common in case cooling. However, with quality, comes the issue of expenses. Liquid cooling is far more expensive than the conventional air cooling. If you’re willing to spend extra money on liquid cooling, then you should invest the money. Cooling your parts will be vital if you want to gain FPS. Keeping them cool will help your components run smoothly and more efficiently.
These coolers tend to perform well at the cost of performances or conveniences like silence or LED customizations.
CORSAIR Hydro Series H60 AIO Liquid CPU Cooler
These coolers are more expensive but are certainly much more efficient and worth the higher price tag. However, they can suffer from certain flaws like noise or lack of customization options.
EVGA CLC 240 Liquid / Water CPU Cooler
These coolers are absolutely top of the line, compensating for its price with spectacular silence and beautiful form. However, some water coolers may be too large for certain computer cases, so keep that in mind when browsing those options.
Now you know how to build a gaming PC
Although we didn’t hit on every aspect of the build such as cases, monitors, and other gaming peripherals, we have covered the major components of a rock-solid gaming build. It should be noted that gaming monitors can also have a significant impact on gaming performance, so it’s critical to evaluate all of your components to make sure you can maximize gameplay. The truth behind gaming builds is that not everyone can afford the higher end of all components. In fact, you may need to compromise and construct an elite level gaming PC build over time. Many gamers will slowly upgrade their components over time, focusing on the elements that can provide the most immediate increase in performance such as enhanced RAM and GPU.
Remember, gaming is a journey and not a destination. Game on!
And if you’re interested in reading other gaming-related posts, check out our articles on best gaming desks, gaming PCs under $500, and best gaming headsets under $100.