Gaming PCs for Hardcore Gamers
Gaming PCs are a must-have for any hardcore computer gamer; a typical desktop or laptop computer simply will not do. Knowing what goes into a gaming PC is far more important than how much money you throw at the problem. Below, you will find the ingredients for a computer that is capable of handling the demands of modern PC games. These components can be purchased separately and assembled, if the user has enough experience with computer hardware and software. Otherwise, a completed machine can be purchased from companies such as Digital Storm or Alienware. Assembling a computer by yourself can save you a great deal of money, but it takes more time. It can also be a tricky but valuable learning experience.
PROCESSORS: Top gaming machines use Intel's Core i7 processor series. However, these chips are very expensive and require high-end motherboards and high-speed memory to match. AMD offers good performance at a competitive price with their new "Bulldozer" processors. Remember that more cores is not always better; beyond four cores, you are unlikely to see any game performance improvements. Higher clock speeds typically deliver higher performance per core.
GRAPHICS CARDS: For the best possible performance, choose a dedicated graphics card, rather than the onboard GPUs included in some motherboards and processors. Look for cards with at least one gigabyte of video memory and a high GPU clock rate, with a chip made by nVidia or Intel. Be sure that the DirectX version it supports meets or exceeds that of the games you wish to play. Only purchase cards for the PCI-Express X16 slot, not standard PCI.
MEMORY: The more memory you can have, the better ( within reason, that is. More than eight gigabytes of memory is usually overkill for the current generation of games. However, if you are also a heavy content creator and do a great deal of video production, editing, creating stock photography for royalty free stock photos to build up your skills or to make some extra cash, or 2D/3D graphics design and work with very high resolutions, 16 gigabytes might be a worthwhile choice. Always purchase memory that you can install in dual-channel configuration, which means two identical sticks installed in precise slots. See your motherboard manual for details. Note that some processors and motherboards support triple-channel memory mode, which means your memory should be purchased in triplicate for maximum performance.
POWER: The power supply is the only component in a computer that can destroy everything it is connected to if it is not of high quality. For this reason, choosing the power supply that comes with a computer case to power your gaming PC is out of the question. These supplies are usually of inferior quality, provide insufficient power, have artificially inflated ratings on their labels and are often missing important safeguards that can prevent catastrophic failure. It is best to choose a power supply not based on how many watts it can deliver but by its +12V amperage. This is a measure of how much current it can provide on the 12-volt rail, which most high-performance components draw from. Choose a supply with 10% or more headroom over your actual needs. Quality supplies can be purchased from PC Power and Cooling, Antec, Enermax, Fortron Source (FSP), Seasonic, and OCZ, among other brands. Avoid any brand with an animal in its name, such as "Sky Eagle" or "Tiger Power." These are common names for cheap, low-quality supplies.
Operating Systems: Oftentimes overlooked, the operating system of a gaming PC can make a huge difference. For example, a 32 bit operating system will be able to handle less RAM when compared to a 64 bit. You also may be limited if you installed an operating system that is not included on the typical system requirements on games. There are multiple solutions to this problem and may include installing a second operating system. If you're a PC gamer looking to play some Windows games, you may need to download Microsoft Windows 7 or 8 and install it in addition to your more preferred OS.