Battlestations Ready! How to Create the Ultimate PC Gaming Setup
While console gaming usually involves the machine, a few controllers and a nice TV screen, PC gamers can often spend thousands more on additional accessories such as chairs, desks, lights or even multiple screens. PC gamers passionately refer to their gaming setups as battlestations. It’s the command centre for all of their gaming needs and it needs to be comfortable, up to date and full of creature comforts. So to help you create an enviable gaming setup, here’s a guide on how to create the ultimate battlestation.
Pick Your Weapon
Do you choose a portable laptop or a sturdy desktop PC? There are many advantages for both, but we can boil it down to: will you be moving your computer? If you plan to travel around to a friend’s house for a LAN party or if you want to go abroad and take your gaming with you, then you should invest in a gaming laptop. Keep in mind that gaming laptops usually have very poor battery life when you’re playing video games, so don’t expect to play several matches of League of Legends without a power source.
However, if you don’t plan on travelling then it’s best to stick to a desktop computer. Not only does it cost less for the same specs, it’s also much more customisable and upgradeable. Most gaming laptops can only be upgraded when they’re ordered and in some cases, you can purchase additional RAM or a new hard drive to install, but in terms of graphics performance there’s very little you can upgrade. You also have the advantage of using full-sized keyboards and mice as opposed to the laptop keys. Sure you can plug in an external keyboard to a laptop, but if you want portability then it doesn’t make much sense to carry more than a separate mouse.
Choose Your Upgrades
If you’re a first-time PC buyer, then you’re probably confused by all the options you get when customising your computer. The PS4 has a couple of options: regular, Slim and Pro. In contrast, there are millions of combinations for computers and it can be confusing trying to tell the difference between an RX 480 and a GTX 1070.
The most important component you need to consider is the graphics card. There are many online benchmarks that’ll help you decide which graphics card is the most powerful, but these numbers don’t mean much to the average gamer. When picking a graphics card, look for the following models:
- AMD RX 460, 470, 480
- Nvidia GTX 1050, GTX 1050 Ti, 1060, 1070, 1080, TITAN X
- Nvidia GTX 970, 980
Nvidia’s range of 9-series graphics cards are outdated but might be found on prebuilt PCs and clearance deals. They are still strong performers, so you might be able to pick up a great value computer for a low price if you find these cards. Their new 10-series are much more powerful and are a great starting point. The 1050 will give you console-like performance, and anything above that will be an incredibly smooth gaming experience with high settings. AMD’s range of RX cards are equally as good as their Nvidia counterparts and might be found for lower prices.
Hard drive space depends on how much space you need. A solid state drive (SSD) will make Windows and games load faster but usually come at a much more expensive price and lower storage capacity. 8GB ram would be a minimum, but any higher is great for multitasking and running games on high settings. For the CPU, an Intel i5 would be standard, but i3 CPUs are also acceptable. An i7 won’t increase your gaming performance by much, but it will help if you plan to stream your gameplay on Twitch.tv or edit and record videos.
Build Your Own Computer?
If you have tech-savvy friends you can consult them on how to build a computer. It’s difficult to learn and is surprisingly easy to pick up. If you learn how the components connect and work together, then you could save a lot of money by doing your own computer maintenance and upgrading parts that you need to when the time is right.
However, if you prefer to just pick up a computer and start playing, then any pre-built computer will be fine as long as the company you buy it from offers aftermarket care and support. Support is surprisingly helpful and you don’t pay a huge premium for having the computer built for you—you’re mainly paying for extra care.
Arm Your Peripherals
Your new gaming PC won’t be much use if you don’t have peripherals. A keyboard and a mouse are essential and if you’re aiming for the best, then get a mechanical keyboard with Cherry MX switches. These are much more comfortable to type and play on and last much longer than the keys on a cheap keyboard. A good guideline for your mouse is to spend anywhere from 50% to 100% of the money you spent on your keyboard. You want to look for extra mouse keys if you play MOBA or RPG games.
You’ll also want a nice large desk to house your computer, monitors and of course your keyboard and mouse. To go with the desk, it’s recommended that you get a comfortable gaming chair. You can find reviews on different models at xgamingchair.com. You might be tempted to save money on a chair and use your existing office chair or a dining chair, but you’ll be surprised at how much more comfortable your gaming sessions will be if you get a specialised chair.
Next, you want to consider audio solutions. Sennheiser, Razer and HyperX are just some of the popular headphone brands. But regardless of the brand you pick, you want to make the first decision: wired or wireless? Wireless headphones are more expensive but very convenient. However, if you’re going to be rooted at your desk at the computer then you might not need to invest in a wireless pair of headphones. Wireless is more aimed at people who don’t want wires getting in the way or play from their couch. Make sure your headset has a microphone and you’re set to gloat and brag online to your enemies and friends alike.