Gaming is a hobby that spans across multiple platforms, varying in genre and experience. It’s unanimously enjoyable if it runs on proper hardware, but which of these platforms is the best for the avid gamer? While consoles like the Nintendo Switch, the Playstation 4 and the XBOX One are gaming-designated devices, none of them hold a candle in terms of graphical quality, visual fidelity, and processing power to the desktop PC.
Building a PC isn’t as hard as it used to be 10 years ago, but it does require a bit of research. Throughout this piece, we’ll be giving you some of the most crucial pieces of information that first-time builders should follow to a tee.
Choose The Right Components
When building a PC you should always keep in mind this term ‒ bottlenecking. This term refers to a bad pairing of two or more hardware components, which translates into poor performance. To be specific, bottlenecking is a phenomenon that takes place when one component is so much more powerful than another one that it will never function at its full potential. When picking your parts, make sure that your GPU and CPU are a good match. If you have a CPU that’s 4-6 cores with multithreading enabled, you should be able to run up to an RTX 2070 or an RX 5700. For the next tier of GPUs, pick the next tier of CPUs.
The same goes for monitors. If you want to just play at 1080p 60 frames per second, then an RTX 2060 should be enough. RTX 2070 and the AMD equivalent for 2K gaming, and 2080 and 2080 Ti for 4K gaming.
For RAM, 16 gigabytes of high-frequency RAM is enough for early 2020. Buy 32 gigs if you want to future-proof your PC, but RAM is very affordable right now and you can upgrade at any given time if you’re on a strict budget.
Keep Your CPU Cool
The performance of your CPU is tightly connected to its temperature. Once a CPU reaches high temperatures, it starts to thermal throttle, when it consumes less energy and drops at a lower clock speed until it cools down enough. Thermal Throttling is bad and will have a very negative impact on your gaming performance.
In order to adequately cool a CPU, you only need to apply thermal paste on it, which helps to conduct heat from the CPU to the cooler’s heatsink, and the cooler itself. Most CPUs come with a cooler out of the box, and that cooler is often enough to keep your processor running at good temperatures under normal loads. If you’re planning on overclocking (we’ll brush that later), you need an AIO cooler or a third party cooler such as Noctua or Be Quiet’s range of CPU coolers which are often used with the CPUs for gaming.
Use An SSD
Storage speed is very important to performance. This affects loading times in games, software, web browsers, so basically any application that you’ll load on your PC. There currently are two types of mass-storage solutions for consumer PCs: HDDs and SSDs. HDD stands for hard disk drive, while SSD stands for solid state drive. The hard disk needs to be constantly spinning to write and read information. The SSD, being in a solid state, doesn’t need to have moving parts in order to write or read, giving you access to your files much, much quicker. An SSD is one of the best investments you can make in terms of PC performance.
Earlier we talked a bit about clockspeeds. A clockspeed is measured in frequency, so gigahertz, and will measure how fast a processor can…. well… process data. Overclocking is the practice of increasing your components’ base clockspeeds at the cost of….. *drumroll* nothing. Well, that’s kind of a lie. Sometimes you have to increase the voltage. But if you’re a first time builder, you can increase your GPU and CPU’s base clockspeed without driving more power into them, giving you free performance. You can sometimes even match the performance of the next tier of hardware, so overclocking is a must for any PC enthusiast. There is free software that can help you overclock, like MSI afterburner, and there are plenty of very comprehensible tutorials that will guide you through each step.
Adjust Your Control Panels
While being a PC gamer will make for a more enjoyable experience, you also have to get a bit technical. If you feel like your games aren’t running as smoothly as they should, then try opening your AMD and Nvidia control panels. Here, you can choose which applications to optimize for 3D acceleration, if you want to sacrifice quality for speed, and more.
We’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg in this article. While the new terms like overclocking, frequencies, cores, might seem a bit off-putting at first, it’s all very easy. In just a few hours you can learn everything you need to know before buying your next PC. Make sure to pick a balanced build, equip it with an SSD, and take your best shot at overclocking and you’re bound to be running the latest AAA games at butter-smooth framerates.