Have you always wanted a big game PC, but you don’t have the money for a ready-made computer? In this what to buy guide you can read which components you need to put together the perfect game PC yourself.

This article is made possible by Coolblue, the content is entirely determined by Roel.

The ‘What to buy guide: game pc’ topic has long been the most popular topic in the community. After a period of dead silence on my part (sorry about that), it’s time for an update. This one comes in the form of three items: high-end, medium-end, and low-end. Two weeks ago it was the turn of the high-end systems, so now it is time for game PCs with a more friendly price tag. These gaming PCs are ideal for gaming at resolutions from 1080p to 1440p in high settings. Even if you have a monitor with a high refresh rate such as 144Hz, these systems are sufficient, although you may have to play with the settings in order to achieve 144fps in the most demanding games.

The processor is one of the most important parts of a computer. This chip is responsible for the majority of all calculations that your computer has to make and also takes care of the control of other parts. In recent years, the processors have also taken over more and more functions from the motherboard. A good example of this is the so-called Northbridge, a chip that functions as a PCI-e and RAM controller, among other things. The Northbridge used to be part of the motherboard, but in order to keep up with the increasing clock speeds, this chip has been integrated into the processor for a few years.

AMD vs Intel

There are two major manufacturers that you can choose from when choosing the brain of your computer: AMD and Intel. Although the basic functionality of the processors of both manufacturers is almost the same, there are major differences in the implementation thereof. At AMD you can usually find a larger number of computing cores than with Intel for similarly priced processors, but on the other hand, the individual computing cores from Intel are faster. On average, the power efficiency at Intel is also slightly better, but that difference is so marginal nowadays that it should no longer play a role in your choice.

Due to this difference in computing cores at AMD and Intel, the application is also different. AMD’s large number of cores means that the processors clearly have an advantage in applications that can use all cores at the same time. Good examples of this are rendering, data processing and deep learning. Applications where the performance of individual cores is important, do well with Intel. Games fall into the latter category and Intel is therefore often the better choice for a gaming PC. Still, with the second-generation Ryzen processors, AMD is not inferior to an Intel processor in games, making AMD a wise choice if you are going to live stream on Twitch.

Random access memory

To quickly provide your processor with the necessary information, you also need RAM. Nowadays, 4GB of RAM is too little and 8GB has become the standard. However, there are also games that require more than 8GB, making 16GB a wise choice if your budget allows. More than 16GB is absolutely unnecessary now, but it may be in the future. Still, it’s not a good idea to buy 32GB of RAM now due to the extremely inflated prices. Fortunately, it is very easy to add more RAM later.

The speed of working memory also plays an increasingly important role. If you don’t use a separate video card, such as an Nvidia GeForce or AMD Radeon, but instead want to play games with the processor’s GPU, always opt for fast memory. The entry-level 2133MHz and 2666MHz are usually not fast enough to get everything out of the internal GPU. If you do use a separate video card, you often get away with cheaper memory. If your budget allows, choose a set of 3000 or even 3200MHz, but 2666MHz is sufficient in most games.

In addition to the format and frequency, the specifications also indicate the so-called ‘CAS latency’. This indicates how many cycles are required to access the memory. This means that the lower this number, the faster the memory. Fortunately, the differences between all RAM brands and models are so small that it is actually not necessary to look at that specification.

The motherboard

To bring all parts of a computer together, we need a motherboard. This large printed circuit board not only has connections for your graphics card, memory and processor, but also provides USB ports and internet connections, for example. The motherboard ensures that the signals from the various components are brought to the correct locations. If you can call the processor the brain of the computer, then the motherboard is the spinal cord.

The most important specification when selecting a motherboard is the socket, followed by the chipset. The socket largely determines which processor fits on the motherboard. A Skylake-X processor with LGA2066 connection, for example, does not fit on an LGA1151 motherboard. The chipset largely determines which features are present on the motherboard, such as the number of USB ports or the possibility of overclocking.

Other things to keep in mind include the audio connections (not every motherboard supports optical audio cables, for example), WiFi options and the power supply for overclockers.

More information about motherboards can be found in this buying guide.

Buying advice July 2018: mid-range

As indicated earlier, today we are discussing PCs for gamers with an average budget. With the composition of 1370 euros, you can play the latest games at the highest settings with resolutions such as 1080p and 1440p. Ultra-wide screens are also no problem, although the settings may have to be taken a step back at 1440p ultra-wide. The composition of 1090 euros is ideal for games at 1080p, although you will occasionally have to reduce the settings a small step.

The prices of video cards finally seem to be dropping a bit again, so now is a good time to buy a new game PC. Unfortunately, the high RAM prices throw a spanner in the works, but luckily it is very easy to upgrade later. By the way, don’t forget that these are really game PCs. While they are definitely powerful PCs, it may not be the best buy for other purposes such as data processing and rendering applications.

€ 1376: Intel i5-8600K + Nvidia GTX 1070

The fastest computer of the two recommendations today costs more than 1300 euros. For this money you get a fast processor from Intel together with a nice Nvidia GTX 1070 from Gigabyte. The memory consists of two 8GB DDR4 benches from Crucial and runs at 3000MHz.

For the operating system and a number of games, there is the Samsung 860 EVO M.2 SSD with 250GB of storage space. You can store all other data on a 1TB HDD from WesternDigital.

This is all connected to an Asus motherboard and is packed in a Phanteks Eclipse P400 housing. The motherboard is suitable for overclocking, but due to the limited power supply, it is not wise to make record attempts. The processor cooler is also designed for this: the Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo.

The housing doesn’t have room for a DVD drive, so if you still need it to play old games, you’ll have to get a USB DVD drive.

Intel Core i5-8600K

269, –

Asus PRIME Z370-P

€ 124.99 (+ free mouse)

Crucial Ballistix Tactical 16GB 3000MHz

€ 198.99

Samsung 860 EVO 250GB M.2

€ 77.85

WD Blue 1TB

€ 51.99

Corsair Builder CX550M

€ 69.99

Phantex Eclipse P400 Black

€ 75.99

Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1070 Windforce OC

€ 469, –

Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo

€ 38.99

Total:

€ 1376.79

You can order the entire package at Coolblue.

€ 1090: Intel i5-8400 + Nvidia GTX 1060

For nearly 300 euros less you can still put together a fantastic system. We sacrifice overclocking and the graphics card is also taking a step back. The Intel Core i5-8700k makes way for the cheaper i5-8400. Because overclocking is no longer an option, it does not have to be taken into account when choosing the motherboard. The MSI Z370-A Pro is therefore an excellent cheaper alternative. Would you like to overclock or are you a big multitasker? Then take a look at the AMD Ryzen 5 2600X in combination with an MSI X470 Gaming Plus.

Furthermore, the graphics card has been replaced by an MSI GTX 1060 Gaming X 3G. The rest of the system has remained the same as the more expensive composition.

The housing doesn’t have room for a DVD drive, so if you still need it to play old games, you’ll have to get a USB DVD drive.

Intel Core i5-8400

198, –

MSI Z370-A Pro

€ 109.99

Crucial Ballistix Tactical 16GB 3000MHz

€ 198.99

Samsung 860 EVO 250GB M.2

€ 77.85

WD Blue 1TB

€ 51.99

Corsair Builder CX550M

€ 69.99

Phantex Eclipse P400 Black

€ 75.99

MSI GeForce GTX 1060 Gaming X 3G

€ 269, –

Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo

€ 38.99

Total:

€ 1090.79

You can order the entire package at Coolblue.

The only thing left after ordering is waiting for your package (with Coolblue TodayNog® it will arrive tonight!) And building your computer. Lots of fun!

In two weeks’ time you can read in the What to buy guide about the perfect composition for a budget game PC. We will also explain more about choosing refrigeration and storage.

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