William George (Customer Service)

Gaming PC Hardware Recommendations - Spring 2015

Written on May 18, 2015 by William George
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I'm going to keep this post simple, focusing on just four aspects of computer specs which are most important for gaming performance: CPUs, RAM, drives, and video cards. I am going to make three recommendations for each, titled “okay, good, and better”. This is an adaptation from the classic “good, better, best” - specifically leaving “best” out because that is hard to define. The ‘best’ gaming setup is one that is probably a lot more money than most people would want to spend, and frankly is also overkill for the vast majority of folks… but anything less technically wouldn’t be ‘best’.

Please note that these are also all options we carry, and they are my (well informed) opinions. There may be other products we don’t carry that some folks feel would be more appropriate in certain positions, but this is my advice as far as it covers what we build here at Puget Systems. So without further ado:

 

Recommended CPUs:

Most games these days use between 1 - 4 cores, so a quad-core processor at a high clock speed is ideal for gaming.

Okay - Core i5 4460 @ 3.2GHz - Our lowest cost Intel quad-core processor at the moment
Good - Core i5 4690 @ 3.5GHz - Only a little more expensive, but about 10% faster
Better - Core i7 4790K @ 4.0GHz - Top clock speed processor Intel has made yet

Recommended RAM:

You need to have enough memory for the OS, game, and any background applications you run.

Okay - 8GB - Most games are fine with 8GB of memory these days, but some are on the horizon that may be able to use more
Good - 16GB - This should be plenty of memory to future-proof a gaming system for the next few years
Better - 16GB Low Voltage - Low voltage memory uses less power and is slightly faster (lower latency) but slightly more expensive

Recommended Drives:

Drive speed impacts how fast games start up and new levels or maps load, as well as impacting general computer usage.

Okay - Western Digital SE 1TB - Decently fast as hard drives go, and relatively affordable
Good - Samsung 850 EVO Series SSD (120GB to 1TB) - Much faster than a hard drive, and more reliable, but not too expensive
Better - Intel 750 Series SSD (400GB or 1.2TB) - Far faster than traditional SSDs, thanks to the use of PCI-Express instead of SATA

Recommended Video Cards:

I am going to break this category down further, based on screen resolution and refresh rate. This is because higher resolutions require more graphics processing power and dedicated video memory. Further, monitors with higher refresh rates (above the standard 60Hz) also need more power to achieve higher frame rates in games so that the monitor is being used to its full potential. The breakdown between okay, good, and better here is designed with this in mind:

Okay - Decent performance at medium to high quality settings
Good - Decent performance at high to ultra quality settings
Better - Great performance at high to ultra quality settings

1920 x 1080 @ 60Hz (or lower):

Okay - GeForce GTX 750 Ti 2GB
Good - GeForce GTX 960 2GB
Better - GeForce GTX 970 4GB

2560 x 1440 @ 60Hz *OR* 

1920 x 1080 @ 120-144Hz:

Okay - GeForce GTX 970 4GB
Good - GeForce GTX 980 4GB
Better - 2 x GeForce GTX 970 4GB

2560 x 1440 @ 120-144Hz:

Okay - GeForce GTX 980 4GB
Good - 2 x GeForce GTX 970 4GB
Better - 2 x GeForce GTX 980 4GB

3840 X 2160 @ 60Hz:

Okay - GeForce GTX 980 4GB
Good - GeForce GTX Titan X 12GB
Better - 2 x GeForce GTX Titan X 12GB

Hopefully those recommendations are helpful to folks! Most of these options can be selected in several of our computers, including the Spirit, Echo III (small form factor), and Deluge (for dual video cards). If you want more detailed help with configuring and purchasing a gaming computer, or a system for any other type of usage, please contact our consultants via phone (1-888-784-3872) or email (sales@pugetsystems.com).

Spirit

Purchase

A great all-around computer system with a variety of options and lots of room to expand or upgrade in the future.

 

Echo III

Purchase

The Puget Echo III is built for users who want maximum performance in a slim computer chassis.

 

Deluge

Purchase

A gaming PC with closed-loop liquid-cooling for the CPU and overclocking options to match.​

Tags: Gaming, PC, Video Card, GeForce, Resolution
Jeff Q. Stubbers

Great layout of information, William. I love that we can now call the 2.5-inch SSDs, which are noticeably faster than mechanical hard drives, "traditional SSDs"! This just shows how technology keeps on improving by leaps and bounds. Exciting stuff!

Posted on 2015-05-19 22:26:49

The recent release of the GTX 980 Ti 6GB changes this a bit. I don't want to edit the article directly, but anyone reading this can consider the 980 Ti a viable option in place of the Titan X in the recommendations above. It has performance nearing the Titan X in games, but with half the video memory... but that is still a solid amount for 4K gaming currently.

Posted on 2015-06-01 15:45:25
John Robert

Great post. I find it interesting Many thanks

Posted on 2015-06-23 10:05:03
John Robert

Great post. I find it interesting Many thanks

Posted on 2015-06-23 10:05:22

Intel has released their 6000-series "Skylake" processors now, which will be replacing the 4000-series over the coming weeks. The i7 6700K effectively replaces the 4790K I suggested in this post, and the i5 6600K replaces the i5 4690. Additional models will follow at other price / clock speed points.

Posted on 2015-09-18 07:13:46