If you’re planning on updating your gaming rig, now is definitely the time to do it; 2013 is already shaping up to be an incredible year for the games industry, and an optimised PC is the best way to ensure you’ll get the most out of them. Whether you’re picking up Bioshock Infinite or joining the clan in a round of Battlefield 4, you want to feel as immersed in these new worlds as possible – without breaking the bank. With that in mind, here’s our guide to updating the many components of your PC, so you can improve rather than replace your system.
Upgrading your hardware will have an instant effect on your speed and game performance, so take a look at your existing specs and see what could do with being replaced. The major components that affect how well your game runs are the RAM, the processor, the harddrive and the graphics card – Lifehacker has a great step by step guide on how to replace each one, but to get you started here’s what you need to know:
RAM (Random Access Memory): RAM is what allows you to run multiple applications at once – put simply, the more RAM you have, the more your PC will be able to multitask. There are several types of RAM sticks, and they won’t always be compatible – your best bet is to get the same model as those already in your PC, but in larger sizes. You want about two to four GB of RAM to run the latest games.
Harddrive: Upgrading your harddrive is a great boost to your PC’s speed especially if you switch to a solid-state version. These have no moving parts, and store your information on microchips, meaning that defragmentation isn’t as much of a problem. All of this essentially means that they run much faster, making them well worth the expense.
Processor: A good processor will keep your PC running quickly and efficiently, completing instructions and requirements in nanoseconds. For a high-powered gaming PC, you’ll definitely want a quad-core build – the Intel Core i5 processor is a great option for this. Clock speed is an important factor to look out for – games only use one core at a time, so the speed of each will really impact how well it runs.
Graphics card: The graphics card needs to be kept updated if you want a decent gaming system; while indie games are fairly gentle on resources, the latest AAA releases will put a lot of pressure on your video capabilities. The main producers are NVIDIA and ATI, but it can be hard to choose between the two for new PC builders – we recommend taking a look at AnandTech’s benchmarks for a good look at what your money will get you.