Seven Essential Parts for Building Your First Gaming PC
Without a doubt, streaming is one of the most popular facets of modern gaming. The ability to broadcast what’s happening on screen as you play adds a dynamic social aspect to a form of entertainment that was once confined to living rooms and arcades.
These days, people stream games to broadcast esports events, to share game tips, or simply to interact with people who are into the same games as they are. As more gamers gain access to high-speed connections, the amount of streamed content and the interest in it is expected to grow proportionally.
Given what we have today, it’s easy to forget that streaming platforms such as Twitch and YouTube weren’t even a thing almost a decade ago. The broadcasting game footage was exclusively a power that big video game media players such as IGN and GameSpot wielded. That all changed when streaming came along, and the world saw the rise of celebrity streamers patronized by the people from whose ranks they came. With this rise, we have seen a huge jump in the quality of the PC and of gaming peripherals like gaming pc headsets, mice, microphones, and keyboards.
If you’ve always wanted to stream your games and you’re in the process of building a gaming PC that can handle the load, there are several things you should consider. Here are seven considerations:
1. The CPU
As you probably know, the central processing unit (CPU) is the “brain” of every computer. It’s tasked with handling the intense math that makes your games, browser, Twitch and other applications go. If you intend to stream games, your CPU needs to have the ability to multitask while running several programs at high-performance levels. That said, no less than a quad-core processor should be considered.
The number of cores and the gigahertz counts are the main indicators of a CPU’s power. The higher the figures, the greater the processor’s capabilities. That said, Intel’s Core i5 is fine if you want to run games at medium or high settings while producing solid quality streams. If, however, you want your streams to render at full HD (1080p) and 60 frames per second, you may want to get something with a little more oomph.
For high-quality game rendering and streams, our pick is the Intel Core i7 7700K. This not only has the quad-core setup, but it also has hyperthreading which allows it to handle multiple demanding processes with ease all at once. The i7 7700 typically costs $329, but you can spend a little more if you get it bundled with a fan. If that’s beyond your budget, and you’re looking for a lower-cost alternative that delivers similar processing horsepower, you may want to check out AMD’s Ryzen R7 which is priced at $284 on Amazon.
Random Access Memory (RAM) is one of the biggest determining factors in a PC’s performance capabilities. The higher the gigabyte count, the better it is for you.
Streaming games require plenty of multitasking thanks to the fact that you’ll be running your operating system, your game, chat apps, recording apps and background apps—all while uploading the data as HD-quality video files. All those processes need to take place somewhere that moves data fast without space constraints. That’s where your RAM comes in: get 16GB of DDR4 memory and you should be able to stream easily while running simultaneous applications.
RAM isn’t usually a brand-sensitive topic, so you can use pretty much any reputable manufacturer’s product. In our experience, Corsair and Kingston are reliable and they get the job done at good prices.
3. The GPU
The graphics processing unit (GPU), also known as the video card, is considered an optional PC component for regular computers but it is integral for a gaming PC. This device independently takes care of the graphics rendering workload for resource-intensive games which onboard chipsets just weren’t built to handle. It has its own processor, RAM, and specialized hardware that is essential in running today’s highly detailed game visuals.
The right choice for the GPU depends entirely on the kind of games that you want to stream. If you’re into esports and you play games that don’t showcase triple A-level graphics such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, or DotA 2, NVIDIA’s GTX 1060 would be an excellent pick-up. This card has enough power to run popular online games at full HD and 60 FPS—and it should continue to do so for years to come. Even if you want to play the occasional triple-A offering such as Assassin’s Creed: Origins or Far Cry: Primal, this graphics card should at least allow you to game at medium settings with high frame rates.
However, if you fancy displaying the full splendor of your game’s visuals and you’re planning on streaming mostly triple-A titles, you’ll want something higher up NVIDIA’s graphics card ladder. For full HD gaming, the GTX 1070 delivers impressive performance at a price that won’t destroy your budget. This GPU was built to let you play all of today’s games in high settings and it should remain competitive even four years from now.
The GTX 1060 is priced at $299 while 1070 will set you back at least $499. As you can see, the GPU can be the most expensive part of your streaming PC depending on your choice of model.
4. A Solid State Drive
Solid state drives (SSDs) are the next evolutionary step in PC storage devices. They’re much faster than mechanical hard disk drives (HDDs) and they can store just as much data. They cut PC boot times from minutes to mere seconds, and file movement in and out of them is dramatically quicker than HDDs. For gamers, having an SSD drive means snappier applications that open quickly anytime you feel like using them.
The only problem with SSDs is that the technology hasn’t matured enough in the market just yet to warrant price drops. As it stands, SSDs are substantially more expensive than traditional hard drives, slowing down their adoption rate.
If you have the coin for it, we suggest going full SSD for your storage. However, be warned that a 1TB SSD will cost you around $299. Getting larger capacity SSDs doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll save some money either. A 4TB SSD will likely cost $1,200.
If you’re on a budget, we recommend getting a 250GB SSD for use as your Drive C where the operating system is stored. You can also install your favorite games to this drive (or at least the ones that fit). For everything else, you can just install a mechanical hard drive as your Drive D and store big files and non-gaming applications there. With this setup, you’ll still enjoy faster boot times and speedy applications on the SSD without going all in and breaking the bank. We recommend the Samsung 850 EVO line of SSDs as they’ve proven to be super-fast and reliable at good value for money.
5. A Mechanical Hard Drive
This one’s straightforward: if you want to go for a small capacity SSD, you need a traditional hard drive with more space to house all your other files and applications. Our pick might be cliché, but nobody can dispute that the 7200 RPM Seagate hard drive is among the very best in this class. Did we mention that it’s inexpensive?
6. A Capable Power Supply
This isn’t exactly the sexiest thing to talk about in a PC, but your power supply unit (PSU) needs to have the right capacity to feed all the hardware in this list. We recommend something that has at least 600 watts—maybe more if you’re planning on using the Core i7 and a high-end GPU. Try to look for the EVGA brand—they’re the most reliable in our experience.
7. A Good Headset
A headset may not be an essential part of a PC, but when you want to stream games, it’s almost indispensable. Live streams become richer when the streamer speaks and shares his thoughts while playing the game. It helps viewers connect more easily with the personality of the person doing the broadcast and is part of the reason viewers will want to keep coming back to your channel.
This one doesn’t have to be anything too fancy and expensive. Comfort, function, and durability are the things you should be looking for when choosing a quality audio input and output device. That said, one of the best gaming brands that come to mind is Turtle Beach.
This is one of the most popular PC gaming headsets for a reason: the Aerofit ear cushions maximize comfort and boost performance by combining spandex fabric with cooling gel-infused memory foam allowing for hours of gaming. These headsets also have DTS Headphone: X 7.1 surround sound with DTS surround sound modes supplying powerful audio. Best of all, the price is relatively low when compared to rival brands such as Razer, Logitech, and Astro Gaming. As far as we’re concerned, Turtle Beach offers the best value for a headset loaded with this much tech.
There you have it: seven essential parts of a gaming PC that you should consider before making a purchase. Keep in mind that the items mentioned here are suggestions and not hard rules. At the end of the day, you can put whatever components you want on your PC if they do what you want your machine to do for you.