Many people ask what components are important in gaming computers, because a lot of shops try to dazzle them by telling them to focus on the CPU, or the RAM Speed, or the motherboard, or to make sure you get a brand new one because “second hand computers are a nightmare”.
The reality is that those are not the most important things to focus on when looking at buying a gaming computer. And before we start, please note – there is nothing wrong with buying one second hand! Computers don’t fail much, and they are easy to fix and easy to upgrade.
So what is important?
The single most important item is the graphics card, also called the video car, or ‘Graphics Processing Unit’, aka GPU! yes, those items are all exactly the same thing! Just with different words. The reason is that any decent computer, any i7 or a more recent i5, has a fast enough “CPU”, or main processing unit, to handle just about any game. And any computer with an i7 or recent i5 will have a good enough motherboard to run those games. And a good enough PSU (Power supply unit!). if you want some advice on which GPU to get, read our post which advises on which graphics card to buy; here:
The Central Processing Unit, or CPU – are you getting the jargon yet – is also important. But its easy, just make sure you get an i7 and you should be OK. And really there is no point getting the absolute fastest CPU, because most games are designed for people with good but not the absolute best CPU. The difference in performance between the slowest i7 and the fastest one is actually not that great. Probably the fastest CPU available is only about twice as fat as the slowest i7 from 10 years ago, and most i’7s of any generation fall roughly half way between those two extremes.
If you ten to do a lot of multitasking and open other apps while you are gaming, for chatting, video, or even for work! Then the next most important factor is having an SSD instead of a SATA Hard Drive. SSD hard drives typically run about 5 times as fast as SATA drives, but often run ten times faster if they are m.2, or if the SATA is in a SATA II system. Not THAT IS a big difference. SSD’s are the main determining factor in how fast your apps load and how quickly you can switch between apps and multi task. So make sure you have an SSD. The good news is that the real world performance difference between the best and worst SSD is pretty small, due to SATA III limitations, so as long as you have ANY SSD, you should be OK.
Next up is RAM. Make sure you have at least 8 GB. Less than 8 GB will slow down your gaming considerably. Increasing to 16 will have a minimal effect on your gaming, but once again will help a lot with multi-tasking, like having 20 chrome explorer tabs open at once. As long as you have 8 GB you should be good enough. 16 is better if you can get it, but don;t stress because it is the easiest thing to upgrade later if you decide you want more.
Finally, ‘the rest”. As mentioned above, ANY i7 PC system you buy should come with a decent motherboard and a decent PSU, and even a decent fan! Avoid i3’s, Pentiums, and dual core computers, because aside from having a very slow CPU, you can’t be sure they have decent motherboards, power supplies, and other components! And i5’s are also a risk, depending on the manufacturer.
If you’d like to read more about the best brands to buy in PC’s, read our article here:
If you’d like advice about how to choose a gaming computer system from a retailer, read our article here: