Unlike mobile phones, buying new PCs is usually an infrequent upgrade. While this means each new PC can be a significant step up in terms of performance, it can also make the process confusing. Even those with a general interest in technology can be left scratching their heads, and this issue is compounded for the average user.
With that in mind, we designed this guide on how to best tailor your next PC for your needs. Taking out the guesswork, this should leave you with a machine that suits your needs perfectly, while not costing any more than it needs to. As soon as you know your starting position and use-case, we can get started.
Browsing, Work, and Light Entertainment
For many users, the ideal PC will be one that can engage with non-demanding entertainment and work systems. Whether looking at music platforms like Pandora or Spotify, video services like YouTube, or general office duties, a basic computer will perform just fine in these cases. The same applies to less demanding interactive entertainment systems like the casino games on Betway. Browser games like these don’t require much horsepower, so fans of blackjack, baccarat, live games, or anything else don’t need to worry about breaking the bank.
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In these instances, an entry-level computer will fulfil all of your needs. You won’t need more than 8 gigabytes of RAM, or anything higher than a 2.5 GHz dual-core CPU. Onboard graphics will also perform well enough to cover all of these experiences, so you won’t need to put the money down on a graphics card.
One thing to keep in mind here is that while a (Solid State Drive) SSD won’t be strictly necessary, it can make loading a lot faster, so might be worth the price of admission. Just know that these tend to be smaller than mechanical drives, and so those looking to store media might want to invest in an external storage solution.
Getting involved in the world of gaming is where things start to get a little more complicated. Not all games are built the same, with some being far more demanding than others. The big question you need to ask before starting down this route is exactly what games do you want to play?
For a middle-of-the-road illustration of this idea, consider most of the popular eSports titles currently available. DOTA 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Overwatch, and Rainbow Six: Siege is among the biggest hits here. Fortunately, they’re also not especially demanding on PC hardware. This means that to hit that all-important 60 FPS mark, you can rely on mid to even lower-end gaming hardware.
The best way forward in this instance is to look at the games you want to play, and then cross-check these games against the performance metrics of certain components. For example, let’s use Overwatch as a base. Using the GPU Check website, we can see that hitting 60 FPS at 1920×1080 on ultra-settings can be done on cards like the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650, which costs only £80. For CPUs, anything as fast or faster than an i5-3470 (£50) will suffice.
In terms of memory, 8 gigabytes of RAM will also hold up here, though it might be worth considering the step up to 16 to ensure there are no bottlenecks. At this point, we’d recommend an SSD as both primary and game storage, to minimise loading time.
Cutting Edge and Graphics Work
If you’re looking to either get involved in cutting-edge gaming or work involving graphics, then a high-spec computer is going to be the name of the game. Games like Cyberpunk 2077 are huge hogs of graphical resources, with a 20 or 30 series Nvidia card practically a necessity for ray-tracing for those outsides of the console space. For rendering jobs, like work with Adobe Premiere, more memory can prove a boon in edge-cases.
This is one place where there can be some major divides between the leading manufacturers, especially in the instance of CPUs. In work applications, AMD’s CPUs with more cores and threads are the best performers, leaving Intel’s offerings in the dust. For gaming, Intel usually edges out a victory. In GPUs, Nvidia is the leader of the pack, though perhaps not enough to justify a greater cost if you can find a similarly performing AMD card for cheaper.
When looking at memory for gaming, 16 gigabytes is still the number to aim for, with any more than that not yet offering appreciable advantages. For workstations, however, going over the 16-gig mark can help with tasks that work in ultra-high resolutions. Storage, for both gaming and work, is a case where more almost always means better.
According to GameRant, there are some modern video games like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare that can exceed 170 gigabytes in size. That’s an enormous amount of space for a single game, and this is a problem that is only going to grow. Because of this, we would recommend all high-spec gaming enthusiasts invest in additional storage.
A popular method is to keep one smaller SSD as a drive for Windows, as a boot drive, and then separate other drives into additional uses like game storage. For graphics workstations, aim for space for long-term storage, with a smaller faster drive for active projects.
With these ideas in mind, you should at least have a clue of where to start. As for ensuring all your components fit, for this we would recommend a site like PCPartsPicker. This will help you avoid incompatibilities, guide you to the right power supply, form factors, and so on.
Most of all, you need to keep in mind that building a PC is less intimidating than it looks. Even for novices, guides on the internet could help you complete a build easily in only a few hours. Look before you leap, weigh each choice carefully, and you’ll be well on your way to your perfect next PC.