Whether you are a fan of the giant open world MMORPG’s, you like to try your hand at a few first person shooters or you prefer taking a casual night out blitzing through Indie games, performance is important. Although there has recently been a huge rise in the popularity of mobile gaming with simple, repetitive games that follow the same level method as Tetris and Pacman, there is still a massive market for online games and games with stunning visuals, gorgeous graphics and a storyline designed to make you laugh or cry at the right moment.
Many console users and even those who own regular laptops or a generic, ‘all purpose’ PC seem to be loathe to try building or buying their own gaming PC as one thing really seems to hold them back; the cost. However there are a few things you can do to help massively bring the cost down and still be able to buy a very decent gaming PC without having to extend your overdraft.
Don’t Buy a Ready Made PC
While this can seem like a good option it is really considered the easy way out, you should only do this if you are willing to spend a lot of money on it. Many people will vouch for the quality and performance of an Apple Mac but these are often produced in complete packages at ridiculously inflated prices, generally into the thousands.
Apple Mac’s cannot be easily customised as the parts are often specific to the model. You can build your own Apple Mac ‘styled’ computer known as a ‘Hackintosh’, but this is not official or supported by Apple in any way so you will have no Apple assistance should your computer malfunction. A PC with a legitimate Windows OS will have support given by Microsoft but not for the hardware. It is important to remember that the support for the hardware components of a self build machines lies with the supplier or manufacturer of each component, so ensuring you have a decent warranty is crucial in the case that something goes wrong with your PC. Remember some suppliers make returns much easier should you have problems.
Ask a Guru/Techie Friend for Advice
This is a great help if you have a friend who is willing to give you helpful advice about what you should and shouldn’t include in your pc as well as how to get the best deals. Often IT savvy friends will have a few good websites that they use to buy their own PC components so even asking for advice on what websites to use is a good help on technology.
Make sure to always ask and offer a cash reward or even a pizza or something else that your friend will appreciate! People who are interested in IT and make the mistake of sharing this knowledge are often drafted into accepting jobs that they may find tiresome. Ask them for their time, don’t expect it and make it clear that you understand that they are providing you with a service. If you are respectful, then they are more likely to be willing to help you and may even offer to help set up the PC at a later date.
Shop Around and do your Research!
Like buying a cheap holiday or looking for the best hotel deal it is important not to just jump on the first set of cheap components you see. Ask for advice from friends, particularly if they have PC’s that seem to do the job and compare prices and specifications sets. Sometimes a certain CPU or motherboard may seem to be priced at a fair rate, however choosing a component that is £10 or £20 more expensive can reap far more benefits.
Never buy pre owned components from eBay unless you are extremely experienced in building PC’s! It may seem like a cheap way to get parts but you will have no way of telling what may be wrong with the component from a simple picture. It is far better to buy new parts from reputable websites. For useful help and advice there are websites that you can use to compare prices and get advice on the best components for your PC. Try not to buy ‘bundles’ or several components in one deal. Often it may seem cheaper to buy several components in one place, but you tend to find the quality of these components is lacking, and finding replacements down the line might be more troublesome.
The best example of this sort of thing is motherboard bundles you find in shops and online, these contain a motherboard, CPU, ram and a heatsink. These bundles will always work but you’d never get the best value for money. Remember that not all PC parts are compatible with one another; make sure to do your research!
Build Your Own!
Warning, do not take this step lightly. Unless you are very confident in your own PC building skills or you have a friend or family member to help you this is not always recommended. Having an IT savvy friend or support from an IT support services company is a real godsend when building a decent gaming PC as often labour makes up a large part of the price tag when it comes to buying a readymade PC. You can always watch guides on Youtube or other instructional sites but remember that a lot can go wrong when putting together a PC.
Buy with Room to Expand
To contain a PC you need a decent case. Larger cases are good if you are thinking of upgrading in the future and they are not super pricey. Good cable management is important when putting your PC together as a clean case has much better airflow which is incredibly important if you don’t want your PC overheating.
Like with many consoles, fans are extremely important as they increase airflow and prevent your PC from overheating. Most modern PC’s will have a front fan and a side fan which help to regulate airflow, however if you have space in your PC it is essential that you get a 3rd party heat sink as this is specifically designed to lower the temperature of the CPU, and the one that comes bundled with the CPU is often low quality. Most heat sinks have fans and these are known as active heat sinks and serve to provide even better cooling option, if you are in a music production environment or some other setting where noise must be kept to a minimum you can also get passive heat sinks, these are generally much heavier and more expensive than their active counterparts and mostly tend to run hotter.
Another way to keep the temperature down is through water cooling, this uses fluid to remove heat from components. Typically a water cooled system has 4 main components. A pump for moving the liquid, a heat block for removing heat from the CPU or GPU, a radiator and fan for cooling the liquid and a reservoir to store additional liquid. These days you can get a “closed loop” water cooling system for around the same price as high end active heat sinks. These can be a good option and are as simple to install as an active heat sink solution. A larger case is recommended for water cooling as these are often much larger than regular heatsinks.