If you’re just now entering the world-wide web of gaming, knowing what system to invest in (because it is an investment, after all) can feel like quite a daunting task. Your first step is going to be familiarizing yourself with all the lingo. I’m not talking about words like glitching, FPS, MMORPG, XP — if you don’t know what those mean, brush up on your terms. What I mean by lingo in this case is your computer’s specs. The bells and whistles that make it a thing of gaming beauty.
Pro tip: To make the most informed decision? Analyze the games you like or want to play, and do some reverse sleuthing. The truth is, most gaming systems can handle most games. But the right computer for you is going to be the computer that’s built to play your favorite games.
One other thing of note — desktops are popular because of their power, and laptops are popular because of their portability. This choice is totally up to you, and doesn’t have a huge impact on the basic specs to look for, which are:
What’s in a name? Well, a lot actually. You’ll get camps of brand snobs who swear by Asus or Lenovo. But in general, it’s hard to go wrong with any of the top players. We like to keep a pulse on what’s new and exciting. HP, for example, isn’t a brand that immediately comes to mind when you think of gaming, but their new Omen gaming laptop line is worth checking out, especially if you’re looking for something new and fresh. They’ve got desktops too.
Cache sizes, core counts, clock speeds, etc., have all continued to rapidly improve, so it’s very likely that no matter what you buy, your processor will be able to handle most games. You’ll see the names AMD and Intel pop up a lot with a diverse range of CPUs.
A good average is to go with Core i5 4690 @ 3.5GHz and up. But again, what does your game say it needs to run smooth like butter?
To properly run your operating system, your game, and background apps you may have, don’t go lower than 16GB. For something even better, look into “low voltage memory,” which is faster and uses less power.
There are two main things to pay attention to within this category: screen resolution and refresh rate. Higher resolutions mean you’ll need more graphics processing power and video-specific memory. Monitors that have higher refresh rates (60Hz is the standard) need more power, too.
Click here for nitty-gritty recs broken down by resolution and refresh rates.
Primary Hard Drive
Hard drives have speeds, and how fast it operates will greatly impact your game startup and load times. These days, it’s just not worth going any smaller than 1TB. We’ve seen Samsung and Intel series get top marks. Check out something like the Intel 750 Series SSD.
Those are your top 5 specs, but be sure to also look into things like:
Don’t forget: Let your games guide you on your search.