Gaming PC Specs: 8 Parts Needed to Build a Gaming PC

The next generation of gaming consoles is inching towards their second (more stable) interaction. For PC gamers that means it's time to survey the field for upgrades and the specs that warrant a new rig.

When it comes to gaming PC specs, the ceiling is never about what a game can do, as the best machines exist to build games and content. Rather, the ceiling is what you need to run the games you enjoy at top performance.

And budget. Because you live in a real-world where you are subject to a budget and can't spend as much money on a custom case mod as you do for all the components in it combined. Unless you are one of those people, at which point, do as you will.

Gaming PC Specs

8 Parts Needed to Build a Gaming PC

For those living in the mortal realm, the following illustrates the mid and high tiers of components to look out for in selecting a gaming rig.

Gaming PC Specs:

Typically the DIY market has been the place to go for getting the best performance at the best price. It takes some learning, or knowing someone capable (and willing) to help put a machine together.

With silicon shortages caused by ALL OF THE THINGS, getting DIY parts has become difficult and expensive. Large pre-fabs and custom build companies have access to better supply pipelines, so they offer a more competitive deal at the moment.

This guide serves to help if you are looking to DIY build, upgrade piecemeal, or want to know the comparative value of a pre-built at a site like lenovo.com.

As with any gaming computer, the first two options will see the lion's share of your funds.

1. CPU

The first stage in any computer choice is the CPU. It's the brain that does the calculations that makes the pixels know to the pixel.

As always, the choice is between AMD and Intel.

For gaming purposes, shooting straight to the AMD Threadripper line is basically a double fancy overkill. Same for the Intel Cascade Lake-X. If you aren't gaming and developing at the same time, you won't see that power in anything but the price tag.

Even the Ryzen 9s and Core i9s offer more headroom than you need. For gaming, you want to shoot for the Ryzen 7 or 5 and the Intel Core i7 or i5. These chips offer the speed and processing power needed while also cutting down on wattage which means lowering thermals.

The Ryzen 5 5600 is especially hard to find in the DIY realm right now, so if you see a pre-built offering one, that is a clear nudge if you are on the fence about equivalent specs.

A bigger CPU isn't necessarily better beyond this point. Bottlenecking by the CPU does happen but any of the above chips are more than enough to offer enough bandwidth for even the biggest GPU currently on the market.

2. GPU

When it comes to GPUs there is a larger series of specs to pay attention to. You're still dealing with the dual of titans between Nvidia and Radeon but there are more options throughout.

For mid-tiers, you have a bunch of former generation cards that will still do you justice in running a new game. You won't be able to ultra your specs with an old GTX-1070 but it will deliver.

The Ryzen 6000 series and Nvidia RTX 3000s are the hot new properties. As always, the best of Nvidia are the 3080 and 3070 lines with the Tis being the crown jewels.

Radeon's Vega series are hard to find and not nearly as popular as the Radeon VII.

Budget and small-form-factor PCs will have GTX 1660s as an option which are solid for entry-level until prices drop and upgrading to a more robust GPU becomes an option. You won't see as many AMD RX 590s at this point, but they fall into the same category.

A tip on GPUs, buy something good in other respects and shop for a refurbished GPU. They come in at half the price and for the speed at which they get swapped out, you'll likely not have a problem. Look for anything with coil whine and just put up with the auditory flaws to maximize your frames at a fraction of the cost.

A final note on GPUs is the VRAM. Newer cards are boasting 12GB+ of GDDR5 or GDDR6. Realistically, current applications can't use that much VRAM, 6 is the sweet spot with 8 being your realistic maximum. At this point, a 4GB VRAM is going to struggle, so keep that in mind as your floor.

3. RAM

When looking for a gaming PC you want 16GB of RAM. Technically 8GB will do for but not if you run a couple of extra programs in the background. For anyone leaving a web tab open for checking specs, an external voice program for squads, and maybe a music program for your own needs, 8GB RAM feels small.

Beyond 16GB comes 32GB and that's simply more than you'll currently run into unless you are gaming on top of an Adobe Suite that you've left rendering in the background for some reason.

Current RAM is DDR4 with memory clocks in the 2888 to 42000 MHz range. Remember that your RAM is only as fast as the CPU and motherboard can handle. For most users, this means 3200 - 3400 MHz maximums.

Even when running 8GB of RAM, look for a system with 2x4GB over a single 8GB stick. Dual-channel RAM performs better.

If you want better RAM, look into picking up sticks with better CAS Latency. Lower numbers beat higher numbers as latency means delay. Look for something 16 and under if you need your RAM to spark.

4. Motherboard

Two important elements of a motherboard need to be considered upfront. First is the chipset.

DON'T GET A MOTHERBOARD THAT DOESN'T FIT YOUR CPU.

If you go with an Intel chip you want an Intel-compatible motherboard, these conveniently have Zs in their product listings.

Motherboards with AMD chipsets have X in the listing.

Sadly, both also have smaller form motherboards with Bs in the title. Read which sockets the motherboard accommodates.

When buying a prebuilt system, this won't be an issue.

What will be an issue is quality. Current lines of motherboards sport a lot of bonus features but most do roughly the same job.

Look for boards that have multiple NVME or M.2 ports if you intend to go that route in storage. Pay attention to if the board offers onboard wireless or if you will need to be wired for Ethernet or get a separate WiFi card.

The form factor of a motherboard matters the most after compatibility. Smaller Micro ATX boards offer fewer upgrading options than larger ATX and Extended ATX.

Smaller form factors will fit in smaller cases such as mini-towers and mid towers. An Extended ATX will take a full tower to offer any kind of airflow.

5. Storage

Storage comes in three flavors currently.

The first is the optical drives listed as HDD. These are great for large storage but slow to actually run a game off of.

Next, you will see SSD for solid-state drives. These are faster and less volatile than an HDD.

Lastly, the NVME or M.2 offers the best speeds and comes with an associated price.

For a gaming PC, aim for a larger (1TB or higher) HDD for storage and a 256 GB minimum SSD or M.2 for loading your favorite game and your OS onto.

6. Case

For some, the aesthetics of a case outstrip other considerations. The RGB in everything crowd loves to see things blinking and whirring around.

Much like a sports car with a racing stripe, none of that makes it perform better.

You want a case that offers enough space for all the components and good airflow. Good airflow is a product of the fans you use but can be roughly described in a 2:1 intake to venting ratio.

You want a case that is mid to full tower in size for the best performance. From there, look for ones offering either 3 120mm or 2 140mm intakes (200mm are currently overkill but nice).

Top vents are good in general, bottom of case intakes only work if you put the case on a table, for those that run their PC on the floor, these areas likely to choke the machine to provide air.

7. Cooling

Test after test shows that air cooling is superior to water cooling. That said, water cooling is more compact.

Ultimately, water cooling is still air cooling with an additional step.

For the recommended CPUs the stock coolers won't cut it (the Ryzen Wraith and Wraith Spires do okay). Look for an air cooler with four heat pipes and a push-pull configuration of fans.

Otherwise, an AIO (all in one) water cooler needs to be as big as your front or upper fan capacity. Don't get a 120mm radiator and expect to beat even the stock coolers for most purposes.

8. Audio

External speakers and headphones are often offered from prebuilt as perks. The audio of a gaming PC is either a discrete card or built into the motherboard. Both offer the same performance but at different space costs.

Stay in Tech:

There you have it, you now have enough information to make sense of gaming PC specs for ordering a prebuilt or putting together a build list.

Generally speaking, the more you pay the better the components but that isn't always the case. Always check for compatibility of parts and remember that CPU and GPU costs have the widest flux.

For more tech information and tips, come right back here and stay in the know.

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TechGlobeX: Gaming PC Specs: 8 Parts Needed to Build a Gaming PC
Gaming PC Specs: 8 Parts Needed to Build a Gaming PC
Are you looking for a great gaming PC? If so, you'll need to know what features to look for. Learn more about the best gaming PC specs right here.
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