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’.
This is an updated edition of a post I originally did in the spring of 2015, as hardware options have changed since that time. 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:
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 6500 @ 3.2GHz – Affordable Intel quad-core processor
Good – Core i5 6600K @ 3.5GHz – Only a little more expensive, but about 10% faster
Better – Core i7 6700K @ 4.0GHz – Top clock speed processor from Intel in this generation
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 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 – 32GB – This is really overkill for current games, but if you do other things like video editing or heavy multi-tasking it could help
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 2TB) – 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):
2560 x 1440 @ 60Hz *OR*
1920 x 1080 @ 120-144Hz:
2560 x 1440 @ 120-144Hz:
Okay – GeForce GTX 980 4GB
Good – GeForce GTX 980 Ti 6GB
Better – GeForce Titan X 12GB
3840 X 2160 @ 60Hz:
Okay – GeForce GTX 980 Ti 6GB
Good – 2 x GeForce GTX 980 Ti 6GB
Better – 2 x GeForce 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 Pro (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 (firstname.lastname@example.org).