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How to Make Your PC Into a Gaming Machine

Discussion in 'Tech Tutorials and News' started by Valerie Johnston, Sep 27, 2013.

  1. Valerie Johnston

    Valerie Johnston Techie7 New Member Techie7 Editor

    If you ended up buying a budget computer and later found out that video games were actually interesting to you, you may have regretted not spending the money on a gaming computer. There’s good news here. While gaming computers – especially among enthusiasts – are often times incredibly fast and sophisticated machines, you don’t necessarily need to go over the top to get a decent gaming machine.

    There will be some rather technical information about hardware in what follows. If you’re not a genius with computer hardware, don’t be dismayed. It’s actually not that difficult to figure out how to upgrade your computer in the right way to make it suitable for gaming and, in fact, how much you upgrade will really depend upon what type of games you play.

    All-Out Video Power

    If you plan to play games that fall in the category of twitch games, FPS games and games that have very rich and detailed environments, you’re going to want to go all out. Because this article assumes that you’ve already purchased a computer, recommending a high-end processor – which is really a necessity for a high-end gaming machine – is not really much use. You’ll want to look at those parts of your computer that you can upgrade and, where gaming is concerned, the first thing you will want to look at is your video card.

    If gaming PCs are hot rod cars, video cards are the engines. Video cards for gaming computers can get very expensive. They have their own cooling, their own processing units and are very powerful.

    upload_2013-9-27_9-14-7.png
    Figure 1: The Nvidia Titan video card. This probably costs more than your computer did.

    As this article on Tom’s Hardware points out, you can always tell how good a video card is from the model number. Just for the sake of example, a video card labeled series 100 may not actually be better than a video card labeled series 50. You’ll have to look at what are called benchmarks, which you can find on the Tom’s Hardware site.

    At the very high end, you’re going to find video cards that sometimes cost as much as a tablet computer. Look for midrange or better low range video cards to start out with. This should give you a good enough experience gaming to know whether or not you’ll want to upgrade to a better video card someday or whether gaming is just a passing fancy. Don’t blow all your money on an incredibly expensive video card. If you have a budget computer, there’s a good chance you’re not going to get the most out of that level of a video card anyway.

    RAM

    If you just want to bring up the power of your computer a little bit for gaming, understand that upgrading for gaming is a little bit different than upgrading for other purposes. When most people upgrade their computers, the first thing they do is go right for the RAM. Most of the time, this makes sense.

    For gaming, RAM isn’t the most important hardware on your computer. If you have 8 GB of RAM on a Windows 8 system, you should have plenty to handle just about any game out there. If your game is lagging or the frame rate on your video is low, it’s probably not your RAM causing the problem and is far more likely to be a problem originating from your video card or processor.

    Cooling

    Where gaming computers are concerned, cooling is a very big deal. If you’ve never pushed your computer to its limits before, you’re going to hear what it sounds like the first time you fire up a modern videogame. It’s going to sound like a cacophony of fans starting up and, if you don’t have enough fans in that case, you could be in real trouble.

    Look at your case for your computer and see if there are slots to install fans on it. Your motherboard or power supply should have additional power supply slots for your fans, but make sure you look into this before you go buy a case fan. If you have slots for case fans on your computer, do some reading about cooling and hook up the fans in the best possible arrangement to vent heat out of the case and bring cool air into the case.

    Between a good video card and improved cooling, you should be able to turn the average everyday computer into a relatively decent gaming machine without taking out a second mortgage to do it.