How to build your own mid-range gaming PC

Although laptops and smartphones have taken the forefront in basic computer functions; and consoles are more lucrative than ever to sate gaming needs; something about owning a personal computer offers a satisfaction like no other. And it has many effective aspects as well. For example, laptops often become a trade-off between performance and display/battery life/peripheral aspects. And smartphones are just too smart for dumb people. 

While buying a new pc, it helps if you know about the parts you are paying for as opposed to just paying for something. It provides a distinct personal satisfaction. So for those of us hoping to purchase a personal desktop computer, here’s a brief overview of what to look for. 

Setting priorities and a budget

It is very important to know exactly what you want when buying a PC. The multitude of choices among parts is easy to confuse anyone. While it was true a year ago that consoles are the most efficient medium for gaming; partly due to the absurd price hikes of PC parts like GPU and RAM and even CPUs later; prices have mostly settled now and it is a good time to get a PC for any kind of use. 

It probably goes without saying that if you intend to play games on your PC, you are absolutely going to need an external GPU.

For low-mid end gaming, a budget of 50-60 thousand BDT should do.

Around 70-100 thousand for the mid-high end and at least 150 thousand for ultra-high-end gaming is required. 

Building the core of the system

This is where the magic happens; the PC needs to have good hardware that compliments each other and don’t cause a bottleneck. It’s important to mention that before building a system you need to figure out what kind of monitor you’re going to use. You’ll need to base your most expensive purchase(the GPU) on that. For example, 1080p on 60fps is enough for me. So I use an ASUS VX-229HJ monitor. 

The Motherboard

It’s easy to cheap out on a motherboard without realizing just how much it contributes to your system. Don’t go for cheap nameless brands here. A decent mainboard can keep your system stable for at least half a decade. It is also important to figure out what kind of processor you’re going to use (buy AMD). But most good motherboards have both an AMD and Intel version. Be cautious not to overspend on unnecessary aspects of the motherboard either. Because on a medium budget, you’re probably not going to need 4 GPU slots or 8 Ram slots. Pick a motherboard with a recent BIOS version and sockets that compliment the most recent generation of CPUs. Since I’m more particular towards the AMD build, personal pick here is the MSI B450 Tomahawk. 

Memory and Storage 

16 gigabytes of RAM is soon to be (already is) the industry standard for RAM. Again, don’t cheap out with Twinmos or Adata products; get gaming RAM with high (>3000) bus speed. You won’t regret it. It’s a good idea to dual-channel your RAM instead of buying a single stick, except if you plan on upgrading later. I am not into the RGB lighting thing, but get it if you have an extra 500 to spare. The personal pick is Corsair Vengeance LPX-DDR4 3200 MHz bus width RAM. 

For storage, please get an SSD if you haven’t used one before. If you have, you really don’t need to know why. If you haven’t, well, how does less than 20 seconds of boot time and virtually no loading time for games sound? Please, at least for your system drive, get an SSD. The Personal pick is Samsung 960 EVO, with storage capacity according to your needs. For HDD, get the Seagate Barracuda 2TB or 4TB, whichever suits you. 

The Processor

Although Intel has occupied the undisputed peak of CPU producers for as long as can be remembered; this is no longer the case. AMD with their Ryzen 3, 5 and 7 lines have usurped Intel’s throne in terms of efficiency and effectiveness. So much so that Intel has basically admitted that they may need the next two generations just to catch up. A high core count and individual thread performance make AMD Ryzen the undisputed best choice for both gaming and multithreading tasks like rendering and ripping. Again, figure out what you need and don’t overspend. Because if gaming is the primary focus, an AMD Ryzen 5 2600 is more than enough to handle anything that comes out for at least two more years. 

The GPU

Arguably the most important and expensive purchase. Nvidia still rules the market of GPUs. And AMD hasn’t really matched them in performance; as much as they’ve competed in price.  While the allure of ray tracing in Nvidia’s newest RTX cards might get to you; it is relevant to mention not many games even support ray tracing yet. And the ones that do aren’t that good anyway, at least for me. So I wouldn’t recommend breaking the bank to get an RTX card; especially since the word on the internet is they aren’t all that stable. 

The resolution of your monitor is going to come into play here. For 1080p gaming on a tight budget, the AMD RX570/RX580 is the way to go, with 4GB and 8GB VRAM versions available. Get higher VRAM if budget allows so. For 1440p and higher, you’re gonna have to go RTX. The 2060 and its super variants are good for 1440p, while 2070 is best for budget-performance at 4k and for VR. Either way, the best card on the market is the 2080, if there was any doubt. Price checks out too. Get RGB on that as well, rub that money on our faces if you will. The Personal pick is the GeForce 1660ti, since it has the turing architecture of the RTX cards without the ray tracing itself; as well as GDDR6 memory. This is the card to go for if you have a slightly higher budget than one for the RX 570. The difference in gaming performance is noticeable, check out some benchmarks online, there’s 8-10 fps difference on each of them. 

It is also extremely important to get a good power supply unit for your GPU. Check out Tomshardware and get any of the Tier 1 or 2 PSUs. Unfortunately, a lot of the good ones aren’t available in Bangladesh; and I got my EVGA SuperNOVA Gold plus from abroad. Only thing I can tell you is to take no chances with this part because it affects the performance of your system in general. 

Casing and peripherals

I am a minimalist when it comes to stuff that doesn’t directly influence performance. Even so, it is important to get a case with good airflow and dust protection; to preserve device health. It would be unfortunate, to say the least, if your dream system ends up getting trashed due to dusting. Disclaimer, stock fans get wrecked by dust. Consider getting an external cooling system if budget allows. But again, don’t go overboard. Most systems don’t need liquid cooling. Surprisingly, most systems also don’t need RGB lighting. Personal pick on the case is Corsair Carbide Spec-05 and an Antec A400 cooling fan. 

A gaming keyboard and mouse aren’t strictly necessary for performance. But peripherals are parts that enhance your experience. You’ll have more fun with a decent mechanical keyboard and a good mouse. However, cheap mechanical keyboards are never a good idea. So go for a Cherry MX blue-switch keyboard. Fair disclaimer, good mechanical keyboards go for 8 thousand BDT at least. Since these aren’t immediately necessary, save up and ease into these purchases.  It is ok to use standard equipment until you can afford better.

Good peripherals will only make the experience better. Not having them won’t take anything away.

Lastly, you’ll be spending a lot of time in front of your new system. So it might be a good idea to get a good chair. You do not need an uber-expensive “gaming” chair. Just something with a decent backrest will do; as chairs without backrest can severely affect the health of your spine. 

Having a desktop provides a source of fulfilment that other systems just can’t match, at least for me. And it’s a given that you won’t ever be satisfied with a laptop or any pre-built computing system once you’ve had an extended taste of a self-built desktop. So go and decide what you want and build your system yourself. I hope this guide will be helpful in your purchasing decisions. 

Google launching game streaming service “Stadia”

Remember that streaming service for gaming everyone wouldn’t shut up about? Although it wasn’t even here yet?

It’s here.

Google’s stadia

Google is launching the Stadia cloud gaming service at the San Francisco GDC (Game Developers Conference). CEO Sundar Pichai spoke about the company’s ambition to make Stadia a platform for everyone. Google hopes to stream games to all devices. But as of now, Stadia will stream games to the PC, laptop, tablet computers, TV and mobile phones.

How it works

Pichai and Phil Harrison, former Microsoft and Sony executive unveiled Stadia onstage. According to Harrison, YouTube will be used to add to the service. This comes in the form of a new feature, which allows one to view a game clip from a YouTube creator and hit a “play now” button to instantly access streaming service to the game. And this feature doesn’t require one to download or install any games. You can play through the google chrome browser. The feature was previously hinted at during Google’s trial period of Stadia deemed “Project Stream”. Many Chrome users accessed Assassin’s Creed Odyssey through the browser and streamed mostly seamless gameplay.

Part of the demonstration was moving gameplay seamlessly from a phone to a tablet and then to a TV.

A Stadia controller will also be launched and will work with the service by connecting through Wi-Fi. It will make moving games between devices smoother, and also being able to use one controller for all your devices is kind of cool. Games can be run at 4K at 60 FPS at launch, and up to 8K resolutions with 120 FPS will be made available in the future. A custom GPU will be released for Google datacenters, partnering with AMD. The GPU is expected to be more powerful and efficient than the ones used in the PS4 pro and even the Xbox One X.

Doom Eternal will be one of the launch titles for Stadia. And a cheeky reference to The Elder Scrolls series was also made courtesy of an image with a sword, a potion flask and a knee with an arrow sticking out. Make of that what you will. Google is planning to use State Share for players to share gameplay instances, down to specific parts of the game.

Competition looms in the horizon

In short, this has the potential to change the landscape of the gaming industry, if done right. And although Google seem like the first of the pack to unveil a firm offering, they are to face stiff competition from Microsoft and Amazon who are to release similar service later this year. Things are starting to get very intriguing indeed.

Your handy desktop buying guide for 2018

Whether it’s your first time or a new upgrade, getting your hands on a brand new PC will never lose its charm. The thrill of researching new parts, the shoulder-sagging moments of making compromises with components in regards to budget, the thrill (or dread) of assembling it all yourself and installing everything it needs to start flexing its muscles are things that make up the essential new PC experience.

Now there have been talks among the lesser geeks that with the rise and continual leaps that smartphone technology is making, is the PC still a wise investment? Sure, there is no denying that smartphones have gotten smarter and more capable, but to say that it can replace computers is like taking three classes at a karate dojo and suddenly thinking you could take on Bruce Lee.

With that out of the way, lets discuss about that new PC. There are two ways of going about this. One way is to get a pre-configured PC from one of the many computer stores in the city. This saves you the hassle (or fun depending upon who you ask) of going through individual parts and assembling it yourself. The other, and more preferred method is to go get components individually and piecing it together.

First thing you need to do is identify your usage habits and then coming up with a configuration to match that. There is no point in someone only working with Word buying a PC with six or eight cores and 32GB of RAM. With the use case out of the way, set yourself a budget that you will not (more like won’t be able to) cross and use that as the template for component researching. With all that done, you are now set to venture out and get your hands on your new PC. Here’s a good tip; try to get all your components from the same shop. They will offer up some good discounts to knock a few digits off the final receipt.

Points of Consideration

  • When shopping for cases, keep an eye on a couple of things such as its size, motherboard size compatibility, cooler spacing, fan slots, venting, cable management etc. Don’t just go for something that’s pretty but lacks most, if not all of the above mentioned points.
  • GPU pricing, at least in Bangladesh for the time being, is completely haywire at the moment thanks to the cryptocurrency mining. A card that should cost Tk 24,000 is currently retailing for Tk 36,000 at the time of writing this article. The unfortunate thing here is that this has affected markets around the world. While the current predictions have GPU prices plummeting soon, it’s best not to hold out on purchases for too long and instead choose a GPU that have managed to avoid being marked up.
  • Always try to get components from current or near current generations not spanning any more than a year. While there are tempting offers from previous generations, there is a reason they are last generations. The newer generations boast features that just aren’t available or aren’t as refined in the older generations even if they are more powerful.
  • Go through your components’ power ratings carefully before jumping for a power supply. There is no point in getting an 1000watt power supply for a system that can only top out at 400-500, even with overclocking headroom.
  • Getting the right cooling solution is vital to your PC’s performance. While this isn’t a grave concern for PCs with basic hardware doing menial tasks, but it is a point of contention if your PC is comprised of top-notch hardware designed for the sole purpose of frame pushing or heavy load work such as video editing. First off, stop shoving the case full with RGB LED fans. Designate intake and exhaust points and set the fans accordingly to suck in cold air from the intakes and blow out hot air from the exhausts. Second, decide between water or air cooling. Air cooling is mostly preferred for almost all processors as there are extremely efficient aftermarket cooler solutions which will yield great temperature headroom for overclocking. Water cooling, while a mess and hassle to set up, can provide even more headroom for an extreme overclocking solution, but it is an expensive setup and isn’t required on any but the most extreme processors, so keep that in mind.
  • It is a good idea to hook up your computer with a UPS for power outages or fluctuations. While nothing is more exciting than living on the edge, it’s best not to when an investment as expensive as this is on the line.

What’s right for you

  • Office-based usage: If the workload consists of mostly Microsoft Office and some internet browsing and sneaking in a few Facebook logins, Intel’s Kaby Lake Pentium or i3 should be more than enough, coupled with an 8GB RAM and a SSD drive for seamless workflow.
  •  Content creator: If your workload involves video editing for YouTube and such, the processor required needs loads of threads as video editing software loves tons of CPU threads. This is where the top of the line stuff like AMD’s new Ryzen 7 or 5 line or Intel’s new generation Coffee Lake i5 or i7 processors shine. Mate that with a 16 or 32GB of DDR4 3200Mhz RAM, a GPU like Nvidia’s Geforce GTX 1050 or higher, and NVMe storage and you are set.
  • Gamer: When nothing else matters than the next kill or the next position, you need the hardware that you can rely on. In terms of specs, you can be conservative about it, or go all out. In terms of processor, you could opt for Ryzen’s 3 or 5 line or Intel’s i5 or i7 line. Remember too that most games are still not capable of utilizing more than two cores, so spending money on eight won’t get good results. You can instead invest in a good current generation GPU such as an Nvidia Geforce 1060 or AMD Radeon 570, coupled with 16GB of DDR4 3200Mhz RAM and an SSD drive for booting the OS.