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Considerations Buying a Gaming PC 2024

What to Look For in a Gaming PC
A gaming PC is one of the best ways to enjoy the latest games at high resolutions and fantastic visual quality. With so many brands and specifications to consider, it’s hard to know where to start.

This buying guide will help you determine which gaming PC to buy based on your needs, budget, and tastes.

What Is a Gaming PC?
At its heart, a gaming PC is just a PC, but it’s not like most other computers. While the average PC can run office-based software, browse the internet, and allow for basic photo or video editing, a typical PC can’t run more than simple games at low resolutions.

If you want to play today’s level of games on your PC, it’s important to pick out a gaming system with dedicated hardware for gaming purposes. While a regular PC may run some basic or older games, you need a dedicated graphics card and more powerful hardware to play the latest titles. Today’s top-tier games are among the most computationally complex tasks a computer can do.

5 Gaming PC Specs to Consider When Buying a Gaming PC
There are some key factors to bear in mind that differ from buying a regular PC. As you look at gaming PCs, you’ll see they all offer different specifications and features.

It’s essential to get a balanced gaming PC, from ensuring you have the best storage to getting the right specs for your needs. Here are the five key areas you need to think about before you invest in a new gaming PC:

  • Cost
  • Graphics Card
  • Processor/RAM
  • Hard Drive
  • Out of the box or custom?
  • What Should I Upgrade on My PC?

How Much Should a Gaming PC Cost?
It’s possible to spend $500 on a budget gaming PC, and it’s also possible to spend $5,000 on a high-end gaming PC. Ultimately, it’s down to you and how much you want to pay.

The more you spend, the more likely you’ll invest in top-quality components. That means a gaming PC can be expected to last longer, so for future-proofing purposes, it’s wise to spend a bit more upfront.

However, that’s not always practical. If you’re on a budget, you can still make a good investment and have an excellent PC for gaming.

Price Range What You Can Expect
$500-$1000 Can handle games that don’t involve high-end graphics and older games. Best for users who don’t need to play games at high resolutions or quality levels. Not suitable for games like Forza Horizon 5, Cyberpunk 2077, or Control.
$1000-$1500 Able to play the latest games, but you might need to lower resolutions to 1080p and reduce detail levels so they don’t stutter. This range is best for those willing to compromise or who are keen on playing older games with lower requirements.
$1500-$3000 Able to play the latest games at a high resolution, including 4K gaming. Best for players who don’t want to scrimp on image quality by spending less.
$3000-$5000 Able to play the latest games and be ready for future games with higher requirements. Best for players with a lot of spare cash.
If you want a specific number, between $1,500 and $2,000 (the middle two rows in the chart) will get most people a good gaming PC, especially with price drops during sales seasons.

TIP: With any purchase, only spending what you can afford is crucial, but with something as expensive as a gaming PC, it’s easy to get carried away.

What Kind of Graphics Card Should a Gaming PC Have?
The most critical component in any gaming PC is its graphics (video) card. Graphics cards are the heart of what enables you to play games at high resolutions and with as many graphical features as possible. They’re also one of the most expensive components out there.

Look for:

A card suitable for playing at 1080p resolution at minimum with 4K resolution as an option depending on budget.
The most potent GPU processor you can afford.

The most GPU RAM you can afford.
Two companies provide graphics cards: AMD and Nvidia. Currently, Nvidia provides the best graphics cards with the RTX 40 graphics cards. If money is no object, the GeForce RTX 40 SUPER Series is the best graphics card, but you’re more likely to come across the RTX 3060 or 3070 range when buying a gaming PC.

If you’re looking to play games at 4K resolutions or with graphic settings at high or ultra-high, the RTX 40-series is typically the best choice.

If you’re on a tighter budget, AMD is still worth paying attention to, with the RX 7000 Series worth considering. These cards are suitable for playing games at 4K or 1080p resolutions, depending on the card you pick.

Depending on the graphics card, the latest Call of Duty games and Final Fantasy XVI will scale down to 1080p, while games like Cyberpunk 2077 may stutter a bit with lower-end graphics cards. Perennial favorites such as Fortnite scale well, so most GPUs will handle it.

In either case, it’s worth paying attention to the model number.

TIP: The higher the number, generally, the better the card. For instance, the GeForce RTX 30-series is older than the GeForce RTX 40-series. The 30-series will still play the latest games, but you should invest in an RTX 40-series card to get the best quality.

A 30-series GPU card typically costs around $300 less than a GeForce RTX 40-series card on its own, but when bought as a desktop system, expect it to be around $200 more to buy the latest RTX 40-series card. Prices frequently fluctuate due to continuing global microchip shortages.

Finally, look to see how much memory is on the card. A graphics card with 12 GB of RAM is likely to perform better than one with 8 GB of RAM. GPU RAM, also known as VRAM (video random access memory), is a particular type of RAM that works solely to assist your computer’s graphics card rather than for any other part of your system.

Unlike regular RAM, you can’t upgrade it at a later date. More VRAM means your graphics card can access details such as game textures or other effects faster than a lower amount.

Which Processor and RAM Should a Gaming PC Have?
Intel and AMD are the two options when picking out a gaming PC. Currently, the most powerful processors for gaming vary depending on your price range. Like with graphics cards, generally, the higher the number, the better the processing power.

A processor, also called a CPU: is essentially the brain of your computer. It is responsible for interpreting and executing almost everything that unfolds on your screen. Its speed and cores affect how quickly it operates and completes tasks.

Cores are like processors within processors: Most CPUs have between four and eight.

Computer RAM works much like VRAM but, rather than assisting the graphics card’s processor, it helps the main CPU. The more RAM you have, the better your system can retrieve temporary information, improving speed and performance.

When it comes to RAM, you need 16 GB of memory. The average PC can multitask reasonably well with 8 GB of memory. However, 16 GB is the minimum you need when gaming because games are much more demanding than browsing the internet or using office-related software.

When you have a least 16 GB of RAM when gaming, you can rest easy knowing there are no bottlenecks when your system is loading new data for a fast-moving game.

NOTE: Only when dealing with the least expensive gaming PCs is 8 GB worth a look. It’s likely if you’re looking for the most affordable gaming PCs, you’re on a budget and aiming to play older games or less demanding titles like Fortnite.

Not all RAM is equal. Check the speed of the RAM and the type of RAM. DDR5 is the latest and fastest RAM, but many systems use DDR4. Steer clear of anything lower than DDR4.

For Intel processors, you need the RAM to run at 3,200 MHz for the best performance, while AMD systems can cope with 3,600 MHz. Slower RAM will work, but your PC might suffer from a bottleneck as it tries to process all the information, and performance may suffer.

AMD has its Ryzen 5 series, which you will most likely come across in a gaming PC system, but it also has the Ryzen 9 series for high-end gaming.

Alternatively, Intel has the i9 range for high-end gaming and the i5 and i7 for more affordable but still speedy gaming. The processor world is a predictably fast-moving arena, but if you stick with the higher numbers and the latest processors (for both Intel and AMD), you should be fine.

NOTE: Usually, it’s hard to upgrade the processor yourself in a gaming PC, but it’s often one of the simplest tasks in gaming hardware to replace the RAM. If you feel comfortable with a screwdriver, you can upgrade the RAM later.

What Type of Hard Drive Should a Gaming PC Have?
Most gaming PCs use solid-state drives (SSDs) for storage. If you see one that offers only regular hard drive storage, skip it. The only exception is if the gaming PC offers both, an SSD and a hard disk drive (HDD).

SSD storage is one of the easiest ways to make your gaming PC perform faster. Your PC can read the files more quickly, reducing game loading times and improving performance.
It’s essential to ensure you buy as much SSD storage as possible. Some gaming PCs only offer 256 GB of SSD storage, and with the latest games like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III requiring over 100 GB of space, you won’t be able to install many games simultaneously. Instead, you’ll need to uninstall games frequently to be able to switch around.

It can take a while to reinstall games, with the majority available digitally or requiring extensive patches. You must also account for having significant spare space for the above patches to expand and install.

NOTE: 512 GB should be the minimum consideration unless you buy a PC to play just one or two games. While 256 GB may suffice if you only plan on playing one or two games, you’ll soon need more space as new games are often larger than previous ones. Fortunately, installing a new hard drive in many systems is possible.

Should I Build My Own Gaming PC?
Many people prefer to build their gaming PC, and it’s certainly possible to do so. Building a PC is like a slightly more complicated form of LEGO with electrical components.

Things get tricky when it comes to buying computer components that work together. It takes quite a bit of research to buy all the correct parts unless you purchase a bundle deal from a retailer that combines a series of compatible components. There’s also the issue of rising costs.

Once, building your PC was cheaper than buying a pre-built unit, but those days are gone, with individual components like a graphics card sometimes costing more than an entire gaming PC tower.

BE WARNED: If you can build a regular PC, you can build a gaming PC. However, be brutally honest with yourself about your tech expertise and abilities. If you’re not sure, go ahead and buy one out of the box.

Who Should Buy a Gaming PC?
A few key types of gamers will benefit most from buying a gaming PC.
Casual gamer. A gamer who particularly loves one or two games. A casual gamer doesn’t want to spend thousands on a gaming PC but is hooked on one or two fun games they know well, such as an MMO or a free-to-play game like Fortnite or Apex Legends. At this level, it can be worth buying a cheap gaming PC to improve the gaming experience.
People who game more than 20 hours a week. If you prefer a PC over a game console, a gaming PC offers plenty of flexibility with game choices.

Frequently, PC games cost less to purchase than console versions.
Streamers. If you’re keen to stream your gaming content on Twitch and other streaming networks, you need a gaming PC to play a game quickly and at a decent quality level. No one wants to watch a streamer struggle to load a game.

Home workers. If you work from home, you probably already need a PC. A gaming PC means you can combine work and pleasure, so your system effectively does everything you need throughout the day and can rev up into game mode at night.

Experienced gamers who like to mod. One of the advantages of gaming PCs over consoles is that you can generally mod or adapt games far more on a PC than on a console. It’s a great way of adding more to a much-loved game with many inexpensive or free mods.

What Should I Do After I Buy a Gaming PC?
If you’ve used a PC before, setting it up will be pretty straightforward once you transfer files from your old PC. Here’s a quick overview of what else to do after buying a gaming PC.

Buy a new monitor. Most gaming PCs don’t include a monitor, so you’ll need to buy a new one. Research the best gaming monitors you can afford, and try not to scrimp on costs. A regular monitor will work, but a gaming one is better because it offers superior refresh rates and input lag, meaning no risk of motion blur or a briefly ugly-looking picture.

Buy new peripherals. Your gaming PC needs a new keyboard, mouse, headset, and game controller. You may already have these (games console controllers work well), but it’s a great excuse to upgrade. A headset is only essential if you plan on talking to teammates or want more immersive sound, but buying a gaming keyboard and mouse is a good idea for most players.

Many gaming mice offer programable buttons and superior speeds. A mechanical gaming keyboard is more responsive than a regular membrane-based one and can make a difference when playing fast-paced games.
Find a suitable living space for it. Create space for the new gaming PC in your den, study, or living room. Tidy up some cabling so the new setup is ready for the new rig.

More Tips for Buying a Gaming PC
Before you dive into buying a gaming PC, there are a few other things you might want to consider.

Do you need a gaming PC? Do you have an untouched gaming console because you never have the time to game? Do you own a PC that already runs the games you want to play? Then you might not need a gaming PC.

A gaming laptop might be a better choice. A gaming laptop can be a good alternative if you prefer to game in a portable manner or have limited space at home. Often more expensive than a regular gaming PC, a gaming laptop is still very convenient.

Don’t forget the aesthetic. Gaming PCs don’t have to be bland black towers of hardware. These days, you can add RGB lighting and cool windows to see inside your PC. Look out for one that fits your aesthetic and suits your personality.

How do I build a gaming PC?
Assembling your own computer is an alternative to buying which lets you customize everything from the start, including memory, processors, and appearance. You’ll start with a basic case and then buy the components (including a logic board, memory, CPU) and install them.

How do I optimize a PC for gaming?
Most of the ways to make a PC run games better involve upgrades. You can install more memory and replace the graphics card and drivers for big changes, but you can also do some optimizations without buying more hardware. Try ending unnecessary programs in Task Manager, cleaning up startup and shutdown items, and overclocking, which wrings more performance out of the hardware you have.

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