Buying the Right Computer

A gaming PC has many advantages over a console. It has more power, you can upgrade it, the games are cheaper. But if you buy a gaming computer, you can make many mistakes. The most important tips for PC shopping.

Why should you play on your PC at all?

At the beginning of November, the classic desktop computer was declared dead, once again. “If you look at a PC like that, why should you want to buy another PC,” asked Apple boss Tim Cook, of course with reference to the new giant iPad from his company.

The fact that technology is not only about aesthetics remained unmentioned. The role-playing game “Fallout 4” and the action game “Grand Theft Auto 5”, for example, run on the PC and all kinds of game consoles, there are no equivalent mobile variants in sight.

And there is also a lot outside the game selection that makes the PC attractive as a games platform – despite the omnipresent competition, especially in the form of Microsoft’s Xbox One and Sony’s Playstation 4, thanks to their advertising budgets.

In the following series of pictures we have collected 15 arguments that speak for or against PC gaming in comparison with the consoles:

How much does a game PC cost?

How expensive a game PC must be is primarily a question of your own claim. If you like older or graphically less demanding games, one computer is sufficient for a few hundred Euros. Those who, for example, only deal with team role-playing games, so-called mobas like “League of Legends”, do not have to spend as much money as someone who wants to play the role-playing game “The Witcher 3” at the highest graphics level.

If you want to play all new releases in good quality, that comes at a price: at least a thousand euros are needed for a reasonably future-proof computer, estimates Florian Klein, who deals with hardware topics for the games magazine “Gamestar”. Martin Fischer, PC expert from the computer magazine “c’t”, also considers this magnitude appropriate if you want to play current games in Full HD. For the latter, of course, you also need the right monitor.

How can I tell if a PC is suitable for gaming?

Just because a computer is marketed as a “gaming PC” does not mean that it is automatically suitable for the latest games. It is therefore worth paying attention to its equipment – just like to the requirements of current games, which can be found online at retailers such as Steam or on the game packaging.

Components are particularly important for gaming PCs:

The graphics card

The most important component for gaming is the graphics card. The rest of the computer can be as good as that: If it doesn’t deliver enough performance, hardly any modern game runs smoothly. “Nowadays, you should plan for around 200 euros for the graphics card,” says “Gamestar” expert Florian Klein, “this is the price range of the GeForce GTX 960, for example,” Klein advises that the graphics card should account for around 30 percent to one third of the total price for PCs that he has assembled himself.

Above 350 Euros, however, the price-performance level of the cards will deteriorate, says Klein: “Very expensive cards actually don’t pay off – they become outdated as quickly as the somewhat cheaper models. I’d rather pay 250 euros every two to three years for a new graphics card than spend 500, 600 or 700 euros once, hoping to have a long rest.” Some “Gamestar” tips on graphics card selection can be found, for example, in this article.

The Processor

Processors don’t age as fast as graphics cards – you don’t need the most expensive model to get new games up and running. Florian Klein recommends an Intel processor for gaming performance and power consumption. “c’t” editor Martin Fischer says: “The i3 is a bit weak on the chest, so I would recommend an Intel i5 with four cores and about 3 GHz.” Current games would also run on slightly older i5 models.

The RAM

A third important factor is the main memory. For a long time, four gigabytes were considered sufficient, but now experts recommend both eight GB. “It doesn’t necessarily have to be 16 GB,” says Martin Fischer, “at the moment this doesn’t bring much advantage for games.

Can you buy a finished PC with a clear conscience?

If the equipment is basically okay, it can make sense to buy a complete PC. On the one hand you save time and effort when assembling and assembling, on the other hand you can expect a certain level of service if there are problems.

But a finished PC can also have disadvantages, such as a case that makes it difficult to upgrade later. Or hardware built in by the manufacturer, for which you also pay, although it is relatively superfluous: “Some manufacturers, for example, take a RAID 0 hard disk array with them,” says Martin Fischer.

“You normally don’t need something like that.
Before you decide on a complete offer, you should definitely make a price comparison. Many dealers offer the opportunity online to configure a desired PC: In this way you can at least test a system similar to the complete offer. It is also important to think about components such as the power supply, the mainboard and the tower case.

If you can get away with a much cheaper price comparison, it is probably worthwhile to assemble the PC yourself. Often the dealers offer an assembly including operating system and driver installation. Here one must weigh up whether this service is worth an extra charge of usually about one hundred euros.

At least the fact that you are guaranteed to get an executable system speaks for a paid assembly. If you order all components individually and don’t pay attention correctly, there is a danger that certain parts are not compatible with each other or that the selected power supply is too weak, for example.

What is the Steam Machines?

Under the name Steam Machines there are currently some computers on the market that are supposed to be especially suitable for playing in the living room. Basically these are normal computers running the Linux-based operating system Steam OS.

Conversely, this means that anyone can build their own Steam Machine by installing Steam OS on their computer. The computers marketed as Steam Machines should therefore be regarded less as game consoles and more as compact ready-made PCs with equipment suitable for gaming. A first impression of a current Steam Machine can be found here.

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