While the upcoming Xbox One and PlayStation 4 have impressive capabilities, they also have frustrating limitations, such as monopolistic digital download platforms and limited Internet browsing abilities. To play hardcore games without the restrictions, build your own gaming PC. While building a computer may sound intimidating, all you need is a little technological know-how and a solid handle on the components required.
PCs have the widest selection of both mainstream and indie titles, and PC games are often cheaper than their console counterparts. Because gaming PCs are usually more powerful than their rival consoles, the graphics look better and display at higher resolutions. Real-time strategy and simulation games are generally too unwieldy for console controls, giving PC gamers entire genres to themselves. Instead of just a few streaming video channels, PCs have the whole Internet at their disposal. Users can also upgrade PCs piecemeal rather than having to wait almost a decade between console releases.
If you're ready to get your hands dirty, there are a few things you'll need before you begin. The first is a willingness to deal with tangles of wires, very small screws and confusing instruction manuals. It doesn't take a tech wizard to build a PC, but if you've never taken apart a gadget or upgraded an existing computer, you may want to crack open your current machine first, just to see what everything looks like.
Also, whatever you do, avoid traditional retail stores like the plague. While they may sell the components you need, they will be extremely expensive. Stick to online shops or specialty tech outlets.
Whatever else you buy will plug into the motherboard, so make sure that it supports a separate graphics card (expensive ones do; cheap ones usually don't). Most motherboards also have integrated sound cards, which should be fine.
Price: $150 to $300
Your motherboard will be optimized for either an AMD or Intel processor, so be sure to coordinate the two components. You'll want at least 3.5 GHz, quad-core version from either vendor, but AMD is cheaper while Intel is more robust.
Price: $100 to $300
3. Memory (RAM)
Eight GB of RAM is good; 16 GB is better. Here, it's best to just check the reviews and make absolutely certain your RAM is the proper size for your motherboard. Your motherboard's instructions will let you know the right kind to buy.
Price: $50 to $150.
The choice between traditional fans and liquid-cooled heat sinks can be difficult, but if you think you'll be gaming for more than a few hours at a time, at least consider liquid cooling. Fans are inexpensive but noisy, while liquid cooling is quiet but can fry your whole system if it breaks.
Price: $50 to $150