GAMING PCS: LEVEL UP WITH NEW HARDWARE
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.
FIRST: WHAT IS A GAMING COMPUTER?
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.