Being a PC gamer has its advantages. You get full control over your hardware, the power to mod games for your own entertainment and a gigantic library to choose from. As a result, much of the hardcore competitive circuit has drifted towards PC gaming. Yet it takes a great deal to be the very best (like no one ever was).
PC gamers need the best rigs money can buy to avoid problems running the games cleanly. They also need peripherals such as responsive keyboards and high-quality headphones. For someone that hasn’t already figured out their favorite brands, determining what’s good and what’s junk can be difficult without laying waste to a bank account.
To make things easier, we’ve put together a little list. We’ll be starting with something a little unusual and moving towards more obvious necessities. Just be wary that the best tools don’t always come cheap.
Most gamers probably wouldn’t put software at the top of their list. What software do you really need outside of the game itself? It might come as a surprise to know that security software is actually very important. It sounds counterintuitive when you consider that poor security programs sometimes interfere with games.
Yet you need the best software in order to maintain your hardware. That means you need an anti-virus that you can control to not pop-up during games (looking at you, Norton) as well as a Virtual Private Network (VPN) that doesn’t slow down your connection while still hiding your IP address from hackers and trolls. As anti-virus software goes, I’m preferential to Avast, as it doesn’t have too many notifications and it’s free for private use.
As far as VPNs go, after reading through a review of Buffered by Secure Thoughts I decided to go with them. Speed and reliability were paramount, as losing a connection during a match can ruin you. That being said, staying anonymous and avoiding foul play is a necessary evil. This is especially the case once you start to really compete.
Is A Custom Rig Worth It?
You start to get a feel for how much components cost once you take a look online. First and foremost, never ever skimp on the processor. You can replace every other part in your machine (excluding the motherboard), but that CPU is going to be with you for a little while. It’s a key element in making any game run well. I would recommend getting at least an i5 processor or its equivalent.
Depending on your choice of monitor setup, you may want to do more than one video card. Most games aren’t well designed to utilize more than one card, but it’s nice to be able to have a second screen going. The video card setup is also where you might lay down the most cash. If you have about $400 to spend, the new GTX 1070 is what most gamers will want to look for. If you really want that competitive edge, I’d recommend taking a look at the pricey Titan X or GTX 1080.
The other pieces are important, but not as vital. Quality RAM and solid state drives aren’t hard to figure out. As for power, check to make sure that you’re using a reputable supplier and have enough wattage, but that’s about it.
If you know what you’re doing, you might save money by putting together your gaming rig yourself. If you’re nervous, you might want to order a computer from companies such as Cyberpower and iBUYPOWER. You’ll also want to just upgrade components as needed if you have a good computer to start with.
As far as performance goes, shoot for at least 60 FPS in any game you play. Anything lower than that means you might experience momentary frame drops that can cost you a match.
Once you’ve got a quality machine, you need the right inputs to let you do your job. There are different options Depending on the type of game you’re playing. For instance, a mouse with the sensitivity set too high can actually be a detriment in first person shooters, as they make it harder to aim more precisely. You’ll want to make sure you can change it easily and that there’s a setting low enough for you to be comfortable with.
Don’t settle for any keyboard that doesn’t have mechanical switches. Features such as backlighting are unnecessary, but anti-ghosting (this allows you to press more simultaneous keys at once) is definitely important.
Mice can be a tricky topic. If you’re playing games with lots of key bindings, a Razer Naga is great, but it’s really not very good for FPS games. For those, I’d recommend something like the DeathAdder. Extra buttons can get in the way when trying to win a deathmatch.
Logitech also has quite a few very high quality mice such as their Hyperion Fury. Like the Razer mice, you’ll find on-the-fly DPI switching so you can alter the mouse’s sensitivity with a button press (good for aiming).
Just remember not to get anything wireless for either your mouse or keyboard. While wireless technology has improved quite a bit, the response time just won’t cut it for a truly competitive individual.
Headset options vary quite a bit. Decent manufacturers include Turtle Beach, SteelSeries, Razer and Logitech. Bose and Beats are great headsets for listening to music, but I generally avoid them since they don’t include microphones. Your choice here isn’t crucial for every game, but audio quality can be important when you need to have directional hearing (such as in select FPS titles).
As monitors go, there are many different options available to you. I’ve got a very nice Asus monitor, but you’ll find good ones from Acer, HP, Samsung and LG. The main things to look for are response time and input lag. Amazing 4k resolutions and 120/144Hz refresh rates are nice to have if you know your computer can handle it, but you don’t want to end up with ghosted images on your monitor.
Regarding the size of your monitors, it depends on how many you plan to use. For multiple monitors you shouldn’t get any individual screen bigger than 24 inches. If you want to use a single screen, 27 inches is plenty.
Unfortunately, the last thing can’t be bought. There’s no shortcut and there are no tricks. You just need to keep playing. To put it as my friend used to tell me, “git gud scrub.”
Think you know better? Are you the pinnacle of skill and technique? Are there any other parts or recommendations you’d like to share? If so, let your fellow gamers know in the comments!
About the Author: Isa is a technology and entertainment writer who loves to get on her PC and game when she has the extra time. She also enjoys crushing her enemies during regular gaming marathons that go way past midnight.