Tuning for Performance
There are three main factors that go into a gaming computers' performance: video card, processor, and memory. The processor will be running the interface, AI, and everything else behind the scenes, while the video card takes care of calculating and displaying graphics, along with helping the CPU in some other specialized tasks like physics. Memory, or RAM, isn't so much about speed (though that has a small effect) as it is about having enough to properly cache your applications and games. If you have an insufficient amount then the computer has to cache to the hard drive space instead, which brings the system to a crawl.
Selecting a CPU
Most video games cannot take advantage of a large number of CPU cores. Don't worry about getting a six-core or even quad-core processor. A fast dual-core can even be the most cost-effective choice. Intel and AMD both have great processors to choose from, but Intel does have the lead in terms of maximum performance.
Selecting a Video Card
The video card is going to be the main thing that determines the performance of your gaming PC. There are many factors to consider:
- Resolution: The higher of a resolution you want to play at the more powerful a video card you will need. This is pure mathematics: the higher the resolution the more pixels there are on the screen, and the more processing power is required to compute what they all should be. If you are going for an extremely high resolution (over 1920x1200) it is very advisable to consider a dual video card configuration with more video memory (SLI or Crossfire).
- Game Type: Different genres and styles of games tend to have different performance requirements. First-person-shooters tend to be most demanding: they involve constant movement, and high frame rates are critical to ensure smooth gameplay and the ability to take out enemies quickly. Strategy games tend to have less going on visually at any given time, so they don't put as much of a load on the video card. Some games are very unique. For example, with Microsoft's Flight Simulator X, once you have a certain level of video card anything beyond that is wasted, and the differences between brands of video chipsets and drivers makes a much bigger difference than raw processing power. Talk to us about what games you'll be playing! We can match the video card to your specific types of games so that you don't over-spend or under-spend.
- Noise Level: Most video cards have a dedicated fan on them to keep them from overheating, and these often have the unfortunate side-effect of being loud. If your gaming needs are not extreme, you may be able to find a very quiet, or even passively-cooled model that will avoid making your computer louder. You are in the right place -- building quiet gaming PC's is our speciality!
- SLI / Crossfire: Both NVIDIA and AMD video cards can take the capabilities of two or more cards, and combine them to run a game faster than a single card could. Even if you don't get multiple video cards at first, it is a good idea to think about as a way of upgrading your PC gaming performance in the future. To make sure you have this potential, you need to make sure to get a video card, motherboard and power supply that are all capable of running two cards. If you think it will be many years before you upgrade, then don't sweat it as much. With how quickly technology progresses, in a few years you can just upgrade to a much faster single video card.
How Much Memory?
There aren't a ton of memory choices that make a big difference in gaming performance. The key is to get enough RAM that it will not be a bottleneck for you. In the scope of a new gaming PC, memory is cheap, so estimate high. You can never have too much memory!
You want to make sure you get a hard drive with enough space to install your games, but you also don't want to skimp on speed. A solid-state drive is ideal for speed -- everything from operating system boot times to loading new levels in a game will be sped up dramatically. However, SSDs are are smaller in capacity and more expensive than traditional hard drives. Therefore, a popular combination is a SSD for your operating system, programs, and favorite games, along with a second hard drive for storage space and room for more games if you run out of room on the SSD.
If you are ready to configure a gaming computer, we would like to help! If you are unsure about what you need, or would like a professionally-designed setup, please email our sales consultants or call us at 1-888-PUGETPC (784-3872).
Different genres and styles of games tend to have different performance requirements. First-person-shooters tend to be most demanding: they involve constant movement, and high frame rates are critical to ensure smooth gameplay and the ability to take out enemies quickly. Strategy games tend to have less going on visually at any given time, so they don't put as much of a load on the video card. Some games are very unique. For example, with Microsoft's Flight Simulator X, once you have a certain level of video card anything beyond that is wasted, and the differences between brands of video chipsets and drivers makes a much bigger difference than raw processing power. Talk to us about what games you'll be playing! uget Systems stays on top of current games and what custom build gaming PC configurations serve them best, so you don't have to! We can match the video card to your specific types of games so that you don't over-spend or under-spend.
Air or Liquid Cooling?
You need to carefully consider the cooling of your gaming computer, especially if you are interested in overclocking. Most systems we ship are air-cooled (which is fine for the vast majority of users), but if you want to push the processor beyond its normal specifications then liquid-cooling is advised. We offer CPU-only liquid cooling which is very reasonable in cost, as well as more complete cooling setups which can also care for the video cards, but in turn costs more and makes upgrading or changing parts out more difficult.
A small gaming PC with Z170 chipset, closed-loop liquid-cooling, and overclocking options.
Puget Echo Pro
A compact PC with room for a dedicated video card.
Puget Serenity Professional
The perfect combination of high performance and low noise.
Our full configuration page for custom-built computer systems.
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