The computer market is saturated with different brands, different customization options, different operating systems that can overwhelm even the most seasoned PC guru. When faced with these many options, the best bet is to first think about your needs -- how you typically use your computer -- and then choose an option based on that.
We’ll bucket this out into four different user types: gamer, streamer, designer, casual user. What do you use your PC for the most? If you’re looking to play the latest, most demanding AAA game, for instance, you’re going to need a far more dedicated GPU than if you were simply browsing good ol’ Wikipedia. So, sort yourself into the appropriate bucket and read on!
Probably the first thing you need to consider when purchasing or building a gaming rig is what is your budget? Fully tricked out gaming rigs can easily run over 10,000 Euros, so you need to decide what is reasonable to spend first. From there, you can weigh your options on what is most important for your optimal play.
After budget, probably the next question to ask is are you playing stationary or on-the-go? Desktops offer greater customization, greater cooling, and storage options than laptops, though great laptop options are available. We will cover great laptop options in a following article.
After you’ve selected your style of computer and determined your budget, your next decisions need to be what games you want to play and if you want to “future-proof” your rig. If you’re looking into playing the newest AAA, RAM-demanding games, and you’d like to continue to play the latest games for years to come, then you need to focus on a computer that offers a quality graphics card, high RAM, and plenty of storage -- preferably in SSD form.
What does this mean? What are some figures behind this?
For a CPU for-remove today, six cores are a safe bet. Cores determine how many simultaneous tasks your computer can run. Four is the minimum for games available today, but would not be considered future-proof. Since you want your PC to run quality games for the longest possible time, more cores is the way to go. Six is fine, but eight or more boosts performance and extends the life of your PC. Some top of the line CPUs boost 18+ cores -- so the sky is practically the limit.
For RAM: the minimum is 8GB -- 16 is preferable. As for graphics cards, its easiest to simply go to a benchmarks site such as https://www.videocardbenchmark.net/ to simply determine which graphics card meets your specific gaming needs.
Storage is another major component to consider. Solid State Drives offer speed and security benefits over traditional spinning drives -- with data transfer speeds of 400 MB/s compared to 170 MB/s for traditional drives), though they are significantly more expensive. If you can’t afford a large (512 GB+) SSD, consider getting a smaller one with a traditional HDD for additional storage.
For streamers, the CPU is king -- as it handles the heavy lifting of processing video and audio. Like gamers, 6 cores is the minimum recommendation.
For RAM, you’ll need 16-32 GB to ensure optimal performance -- a bit higher than the minimum needed for gaming
GPU and storage are again relatively similar, and SSD for storage is critical.
The major difference is that you’ll need a webcam, microphone, and (if you’re really game) a webcam capture card to allow you to fully customize and stream your product (you!).
The designer requires a robust system, but it does deviate significantly from that of the gamer and streamer. You’ll still need 6+ cores for your CPU, 16+ GB of RAM for intensive work (32 if you’re feeling bold), and lots and lots of storage. 1TB-2TB of SSD storage is optimal. Why so much? You’re creating extremely memory heavy projects that you + your clients may need to access again and again. It’s your portfolio, and it’s only going to get larger.
Beyond that, monitor resolution is another critical aspect. As the designer needs to get to the granular level to ensure every element of the design is perfect, high-resolution is a must. Today, a 5K display would be considered optimal.
And then there’s everyone else: those of us that use our computer to check our email, watch Netflix, maybe play a game or two. For the casual user, 8 cores aren’t essential; 4-6 is fine. 512 GB of SSD storage is overkill: half that is plenty. Instead, you should focus on simplicity and/or the ability to upgrade when you need to. 8GB of RAM is fine, though 16GB is great if you have the ability.
The casual PC is really about durability and aesthetic. If you’re not a dedicated designer, gamer, or streamer, perhaps a laptop is a far better option, as it allows you to access what you need when you want to.
Like the gamer pc, the best place to start is with your budget. Figure out how much you want to spend, and then examine those options in your price point. Ensure that your ram is 8GB or above, and that you have enough storage for all of your files, photos, and music.
Purchasing a computer is a major investment. It is a depreciating asset that’s value will erode over time as its components no longer handle the tasks that the future throws at it. As such, future-proofing a computer is a major component of your purchase. Before you buy, ask yourself “how long do I want my device to run optimally?” Answering this question may help you modify your budget, as you game out the price over each year vs. price of replacement.