Navigating the vast field of gaming-grade systems can be a mind-boggling task, but with a little bit of know-how, it’s actually easy to find what you need to suit your gaming needs.
Gaming systems are the newest trend for PC manufacturers, and we’re not just talking about a new model or two. In additional to traditional gaming centric brands such as Alien ware and Razer, almost every other brand has launched dedicated gaming sub-brands with a whole slew of models and devices: ASUS has ROG, Gigabyte has Aorus, HP has Omen, Lenovo has Legion…you get the drift.
Now, for PC gamers, there’s little doubt that the do-it-yourself route has always presented the ultimate in value and flexibility, but it may not always be the most feasible. The cost of technology has also come down quite G a bit, and purpose-built gaming PCs are no longer that hard to come by. And as manufacturers start to put in more effort in developing dedicated gaming machines, you do get better integration, with features that are actually useful and a boatload of options that suit everyone from casual all the way to the hardcore and PC enthusiast geek.
Often, the trouble is in finding the right balance between price and performance. It’s easy to get carried away with the latest advancements or excessive future-proofing. On the other hand, mismatched components may wind up giving you more trouble than it’s worth.
With that in mind, we decided to address the core need of why you’re buying a gaming PC in the first place. So this feature isn’t straight up about buying 'X' product, but rather, what kind of system would work for your needs. (If you’re actually looking for buying recommendation, we've got a Slim Gaming Notebook shootout in this very issue. – ed.)
IDENTIFYING YOUR NEEDS
THE FIRST QUESTION YOU SHOULD ALWAYS ASK IS: WHAT IS MY NEW SYSTEM REALLY FOR?
“Gaming” is the obvious answer but we’re going to have to be a little more specific. What do you normally, or hope to, play?
You aren’t particularly demanding on rig specs, but they do have specific hardware and performance goals to gun for. Long story short: you want highest possible frame rates that can be at the expense of graphical fidelity. In fact, too much detail can even become a distraction to your singular quest for victory among peers. You also want responsiveness; every keystroke, mouse flick, and screen refresh rate must have the fastest possible response time and the lowest possible latency.
SIMULATOR AND STRATEGY ENTHUSIASTS
Similarly, you push your PCs in a very specific direction, namely processing power. While graphics are important, your PC has to cope with all the data, visible and in the background, that these games thrive on. Ballistics, AI, cockpit instruments, and so much more – there’re tons of calculations performed under the hood that would benefit from a beefier CPU rather than the GPU.
THE CORE GAMER
You probably do not dedicate all your time to any single title or genre, choosing instead to keep up with whatever your friends are playing, the latest trends, or whatever catches your fancy. You would typically want to straddle that sweet spot between price and performance, getting the best bang for your buck with every component in your specs. You’d want gaming grade hardware to handle the wide variety of games out there, but the key word is balance.
Like the core gamer, you want your system to be able to play any game, but taken to an extreme. You are able to abandon budgetary constraints to go after the latest and greatest, driving the high-end market in your quest to conquer every visual benchmark there is: 4K, HDR, VR, 240Hz. It’s no longer a matter of games being out of reach but about technical achievement, though it’s worth noting that even the best of systems crumble before a poorly optimized game.
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