The quality and overall impressiveness of computer games has always been a battle between the sophistication of the development software and the technology available to play them. As game effects have grown more realistic, so has the need for faster and more powerful hardware. Now, PC gamers find themselves frequently replacing, upgrading and rebuilding their computers for the maximum gaming experience.
Hard Drives and RAM
While some components will need replacing on a regular basis, most of the hardware will last years if you plan ahead and build your gaming PC the right way. System memory, for instance, has plateaued for the most part. These days, 8GB of RAM will run most any game—including the newest high-def ones like the upcoming Battlefield Hardline and Rainbow Six Siege. However, if possible, 16GB is ideal for multitasking with ease and will last you through any game coming out over the next several years.
Your hard drive is crucial in PC gaming, but there are a wide variety of options and choosing the right one is confusing. If you have the money, consider loading your system with a high capacity 1TB solid state drive (SSD) from someplace like MWave. The increased speed and data access of SSD drives is a significant improvement over standard hard disk drives (HDD), and the terabyte size gives you plenty of space for games, which only continue to grow in size as detail and resolution increase. If you can’t afford the bigger drive, get a smaller SSD for your operating system and use a standard HDD to store your games. This way, you still increase the computer's startup speed and also protect your games should something happen to your primary drive.
Video and CPU
Although your graphics card and CPU need to be updated regularly to keep up with higher demands in gaming, the competition between manufacturers is so close in terms of quality and capability that the deciding factor will come down to how much you're willing to spend. The main processor is one of the most important parts of the system, as it controls how the components communicate. In a side-by-side comparison, AMD and Intel are nearly identical. Intel tends to be slightly higher in both performance and cost at the higher-quality CPUs, while AMD has more affordable chipsets. If you have the knowledge, however, an overclocked AMD processor will hold up against an Intel chip of higher quality. Intel is usually the preferred choice in gaming PC (i.e. Core i5-4460).
When looking at your video cards, the two main competitors are NVIDIA and AMD. Again, it will come down to personal preference, as both manufacturers offer quality products but differ slightly in focus. AMD focuses more on performance-per-dollar while NVIDIA provides programming and developing tools that you may or may not need. The biggest factor is your dedicated video memory. Having at least 1GB will help your system process games and graphics faster, but to ensure you are prepared for the future, go with at least 2GB of memory on your video card, 4GB if you want to play it safe. Two of the best for the price are the AMD Radeon HD 6950 and the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970.
As with all things, do your research and get the best computer for you and your gaming preferences. Check the minimum and required specifications for the games you want to play and build your PC accordingly. Plan ahead to avoid paying extra for performance you’ll never need or use, and getting a game only to find that your computer can’t handle it.
Article by: Natalie A