They’re big, loud, ex­pen­sive, and so much fun that you’ll for­get all about the first three qual­i­ties. Here’s how to nav­i­gate the acronyms and buy one that will send you to Twitch star­dom.

Popular Mechanics (South Africa) - - Front Page - BY ALE X AN­DER GE­ORGE


Play­ing a game is among the most tax­ing jobs you can give a com­puter. Edit­ing video comes close, but noth­ing de­mands as much pro­cess­ing power as cre­at­ing a pho­to­re­al­is­tic en­vi­ron­ment that con­stantly re­acts to your in­put. Above all, gam­ing PCS re­quire a se­ri­ous graph­ics card (also called the graph­ics pro­cess­ing unit, or GPU), the hard­ware that han­dles the cal­cu­la­tions re­quired to make ev­ery­thing look pretty, even when the scene is full of ex­plo­sions and mov­ing char­ac­ters. They’re de­signed to be upgrad­able, so, years from now, when your sys­tem can’t han­dle the de­mands of the next Call of Duty, you can spend a few grand on a new graph­ics card in­stead of buy­ing a whole new PC. That’s right – PC. Most Macs don’t have strong enough GPUS for modern games, and Ap­ple packs hard­ware in so tightly that up­grad­ing is im­pos­si­ble. Ex­cept for lap­tops, gam­ing PCS don’t come with mon­i­tors, and most don’t even in­clude a key­board and mouse, so you’ll have to find those separately. Sound in­tim­i­dat­ing? It’s not. If you’ve read this far, you al­ready know most of what you need to get into the deep wa­ters of se­ri­ous gam­ing.

A. MSI Tri­dent 3 R15 000

Even if you fac­tor in the cost of up­grad­ing to at least 16 GB of RAM, this is a solid price for both an In­tel Core i5 pro­ces­sor and Nvidia GTX 1060 graph­ics card. But for any­one who wants to avoid the look of a late-’90s tower PC, the Tri­dent 3 wins for its Scan­di­na­vian-fur­ni­ture de­sign. And some­how, MSI has made it pos­si­ble to reach in and up­grade parts, in­clud­ing the CPU, with­out dis­as­sem­bling the whole thing.

BEST FOR: Con­sole con­verts.

Dell XPS Tower SE R14 000 and up

Right out of the box, this PC will hit most spec re­quire­ments, in­clud­ing those for vir­tual re­al­ity, which is in­sane at this price. If you can, spend ex­tra for a newer gen­er­a­tion of In­tel’s CPUS, known as i7. Your com­puter will not be­come ob­so­lete as quickly, and if this is also your pri­mary ma­chine, it will be faster when mul­ti­task­ing. Even if you buy a low-end setup, the cas­ing makes ev­ery­thing ac­ces­si­ble and easy to up­grade later.

BEST FOR: The com­mit­ted first-timer.

B. Len­ovo Le­gion C730 Cube R13 000

The Le­gion line checks ev­ery im­por­tant box: Easy to up­grade with­out tools, high-grade Nvidia graph­ics card, enough power to make cur­rent top-tier games look gor­geous, and it ships with 32 GB of RAM. The pro­file makes it pos­si­ble to fit un­der­neath a desk with­out tak­ing up all the floor space. We just can’t fig­ure out why the de­sign­ers put the head­phone port and USB ports on the bot­tom, mak­ing them near use­less if you set this on the floor.

BEST FOR: Space savers.

C. Acer Ni­tro 5 R10 000 and up

You feel why this costs quite a bit less than many other gam­ing lap­tops – flimsy plas­tic all over, even on the track­pad, and an un­portable weight north of 2.5 kg. That money went to the hard­ware in­side, which will han­dle most top-end games. Points, too, for the ex­ten­sive port se­lec­tion, in­clud­ing Eth­er­net, so you don’t have to spend on adapters.

BEST FOR: Cheap mo­bil­ity.

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