What is a gaming PC? What does it do and how to choose the best PC
Looking to upgrade your gaming experience? Then you might want to consider buying or building a gaming PC. Here’s everything you need to know.
Whether you’re a seasoned player or just starting out, if you’re serious about gaming then you might want to consider investing in a gaming PC. A gaming PC, also referred to as a gaming computer, is a desktop which is specially designed to optimise your video game experience.
‘How does a gaming PC differ from a regular PC?’ we hear you cry. Well, gaming PCs use high-performance graphics cards (GPU), high core-count central processing units (CPU), and high performance RAM, too, to make any battle, race, or quest as seamless as possible. Gaming PCs can also be used for other demanding tasks like video editing.
Like a lot of technology, gaming PCs aren’t one size fits all; each user will have different needs and requirements that they’d like fulfilling, and as a gaming set-up consists of a gaming PC, monitor, and GPU, there’s a lot to consider. Plus, there’s the question of whether to buy outright or to build a gaming PC.
If there’s one thing the RadioTimes.com Technology team like, it’s a good explainer article. After all, where else are you going to find handy guides like what is a refurbished phone? and how does Audible work? As well as information on the latest releases like the Nothing Phone (2) release date. So, here’s everything you need to know about gaming PCs.
What is a gaming PC?
In comparison to a regular PC, a gaming PC is bought with the expectation that it can be upgraded and modified over time as you stream, download, and play more video games. Gaming PCs will have more expansion slots and extra room for additional components, for example, to add GPUs.
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Gaming PCs are also built with more powerful and efficient components that, too, can be upgraded as you continue your gaming journey; such components include power supply, Motherboard, and cooling solutions — these liquid cooling systems allow for better cooling and therefore better overclocking (increasing a component’s CPU to speed up performance).
For a lot of gamers, the GPU is the most important factor when choosing the gaming PC, as the higher the spec of a graphics card, the higher the resolution and frames per second you can expect. But more on this later.
Many household manufacturers offer their own range of gaming PCs. For example, Dell has Alienware, formed in 1997, which is its gaming computer division, and HP has the OMEN division, whose lineage dates back to 1991.
Why do people choose a gaming PC?
So, why bother choosing a gaming PC over a regular PC or sticking to a console such as Xbox, PlayStation, or Nintendo Switch? With the popularity of online gaming platforms like Stream and Discord — which have tens of millions of users between them — a gaming PC is a great way to access these communities and to share tips and chat with other gamers. Plus, gaming PCs lead the way in free games such as League of Legends, the multiplayer battle arena game.
Another huge advantage of a gaming PC is that it’s compatible with virtual reality (VR) headsets. VR gaming creates an artificial 3D landscape for you to fully immerse yourself in the game. Powerful headsets such as HTC Vive Pro Eye, Oculus Rift, and Meta Quest let you inhabit the virtual world along with VR hardware. If you’d like to play in a VR space, however, you’ll need a Core i5 processor with 8GB RAM, as well as a GTX 970 GPU, at least.
How to choose a gaming PC
When choosing a gaming PC, you have two options: purchase a pre-built or build your own. If you’re handy with a screwdriver, building your own gaming computer is a great way to customise it exactly how you’d like and to save a bit of money, too. You can choose each individual part, from the cooling system to the processor, to make it compatible with your gaming style. Just remember to select parts which all work together.
If you’re buying a pre-built gaming PC, the two most important things to consider are the CPU and GPU. The higher the number of both, the more power they will generate, and a 16GB RAM GPU is widely recommended, although an 8GB RAM will work, too.
Another thing to consider is the monitor; electrical retailer Currys recommends purchasing an OLED (organic light-emitting diode), as it promises bright colours and deep tones, however, an LED monitor, with its bright colours, will also work. A curved screen can also enhance your gaming experience. Remember to think of your desk space when purchasing a monitor — don’t opt for a giant monitor if it will clutter your space, and, besides, larger monitors need more pixels to fill the screen, so smaller ones will naturally look more high-res anyway.
Take a look at the best Samsung QLED TV deals, for Samsung's affordable alternative to OLED technology.
Take a look at our selection of the best wireless keyboard and mouse. When determining a keyboard, it’s wise to pick an anti-ghosting one; this means you can press any amount of keys at the same time and they will all register — crucial if you’re planning on pulling off those combat combinations which need multiple keys at once!
How much does a gaming PC cost?
Although it’s cheaper to build your own gaming PC, as you can shop around for a good price for all of the parts, it’s also time-consuming, and not all of us are blessed with those handy skills.
Pre-assembled gaming PCs are becoming more affordable as more manufacturers are producing them, and we estimate a good gaming PC will set you back around £1,500. When the RadioTimes.com team had a gander on Currys, the gaming PCs ranged from £579 to £4,999, with the majority of the desktops being priced at £1,000 or higher.
Gaming PC specs: what makes a good gaming PC?
To compare a gaming PC to a regular PC let’s take two real-life examples. The Lenovo Chromebook C340-11 has 4GB RAM, 64 GB internal storage, a dedicated graphics card, and 1366x768 resolution screen, with some versions of the Chromebook offering touch screen capabilities.
In comparison, the Alienware Area-51M R2 Gaming Laptop has an Intel Core i9 processor with 10 CPUs, an 8GB GPU with 16GB of RAM, and 512GB internal storage.
It’s recommended that you have a GPU which delivers at least 60 frames per second (FPS) for full HD, and we’d advise against opting for a touch screen gaming PC, as they take a lot of energy to run — energy which could be better spent winning your game!
How much RAM should a gaming PC have?
A gaming PC should have at least 8GB RAM, although 16GB RAM is recommended. Why is this important? Well, RAM (random access memory) capacity is vital for system performance, as RAM stores data that your PC needs to retrieve quickly. The higher the RAM, the more data it can store, and the quicker your PC will work.
Where to buy a gaming PC in the UK
There are a number of UK retailers you can purchase ready-built gaming PCs from, such as: