People’s opinions about gaming rigs often fall into two camps. In the first, you’ll find people who don’t see the point in building a gaming PC unless you’re optimizing each individual part. In the second camp, you’ll find a lot of folks who are more than happy to dismiss the perceived “need” for a good gaming setup as frivolous and, ultimately, unnecessary. And honestly, both groups of people are right, to an extent. When I talk about gaming rigs, it’s not just the machine itself, it also includes the peripherals–your mouse, keyboard, and monitor. As someone who was initially skeptical about gaming rigs but has gradually converted, I’m going to talk about about my own experiences with PC hardware and go over the benefits (and downsides) of upgrading your gaming rig.
Peripherals and Accessories: Useless or Worth the Money?
I was always someone who thought that the importance of gaming rigs was overstated. I thought the accessories, in particular, were ridiculous. Sure, you need a computer that can run the game without issues. But after that, who cares, right? A lot of my bias came from my own success. I played at high levels (Diamond in League of Legends) with a $20 mouse and keyboard combo. My in-game sounds were muted as well. Oh, and my monitor–which is actually a low-res TV–cut out every 20 minutes when the fridge fan turned on and overloaded the breaker. That’s what I played on in Diamond 3. True story. From my own experience, I can say that expensive gaming peripherals aren’t necessary for success. But they can help.
Over time, I’ve started to collect more peripherals. I bought a new gaming mouse with a more precise sensor and a new gaming headset with surround sound. I still haven’t replaced the failing TV-turned-monitor, but it’s next on my list. My reason for upgrading was fairly simple: the games I started playing were making me more aware of the shortcomings of my gaming hardware. Path of Exile had too many keys to press, so I got a mouse with an extra button. PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS is highly sound reliant, so I got a new headset. And honestly, I have to say, overall, not a ton has changed. My performance hasn’t improved dramatically.
But the biggest difference you’ll notice when you’re playing on a gaming rig is the feel of it. Using a crappy mouse works fine for most non-FPS games, but it doesn’t feel nice. Having a well-designed gaming mouse lets me game for longer without being uncomfortable. The headset produces the same sounds I was hearing before, but the quality is far superior. Being able to hear properly has done wonders for my gaming. It has made me a better gamer by a small margin, but a happier gamer by a lot.
Building a Gaming Rig: The Basics
This section can almost be skipped, except that I know enough people who built bad gaming rigs on accident. I’ll cut to the chase: you need a good computer. And you need good parts. But most importantly, you need a GOOD GRAPHICS CARD. If you don’t get a suitable graphics card, literally nothing else in your PC matters, because you won’t be able to play the games you want. For a game like CS:GO, having a lackluster graphics card might mean you’re unable to play new maps–like Canals or the remodeled Nuke–without dropping frames.
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I encountered this issue myself, actually. My graphics card was corrupted, and I knew it, but I was stubborn and didn’t want to buy a new one because the one I owned was top-of-the-line. It just happened to have conked out right after the warranty expired. I had to lower the graphics settings on every single game I played. Some games wouldn’t even run at all due to the corruption. I knew what was going on, and my own stubbornness is responsible for a sub-par gaming experience that lasted almost two years.
It’s not just me. I’ve had many friends over the years who haven’t been able to play this or that title because of their rig. One friend in particular was a large inspiration for this post. He’s always said he cares more about actually playing the games than what he plays them on. He keeps buying new games, but never upgrades his gaming rig. Well, it’s finally gotten to a point where he can’t play the new games because his machine is too old. And yet he keeps buying them, instead of upgrading. A gaming computer should be your first purchase if you want to do PC gaming. If you couldn’t figure this out on your own, there’s something seriously wrong.
There are lots of tools out there to helping you build a good gaming PC if you don’t want to spend even more money buying a pre-built rig. You can go to /r/buildapc, CNET, or any number of other sites full of helpful PC gaming enthusiasts. You can also go to a local store and find employees who are more than happy to help. In Canada, we have Canada Computers, who help you build your PC on location for a small fee. There are innumerable resources to help you build or buy a good gaming rig. If you plan on delving into PC gaming, bite the bullet and get a good one.
The Pros and Cons of Owning a Gaming Rig
There are quite a few benefits to having a more powerful computer and high-quality peripherals. A better PC allows you to play better games at better graphics and higher framerate. Peripherals give smaller benefits, but make the overall experience feel better. If you’re debating whether or not you should fork over the cash for a gaming rig, here’s the bottom line: you’ll have a better, smoother, more enjoyable gaming session with a fully tricked-out PC desktop battlestation.
However, there are cons to having a powerful machine. A big one is the fact that while it might improve your gaming experience, your actual skill as a player might not improve by that much. You’re not going to climb four divisions after buying a gaming mouse. You need to know that you’re making a quality-of-life investment, and it won’t necessarily mean you’ll be better at your game of choice.
The other downside to gaming rigs is even more obvious, and that’s the cost. When it comes down to it, this is very much a cost-benefit analysis. Do you want to play competitive multiplayer games or focus on single player titles? If you want to play a modern esports title like Dota, CS:GO, Overwatch, or PUBG, it’s time to cut back on your spending for a while so that you can shell out for a truly excellent PC. But if you want to play single player games, you should seriously look into getting a console. The PS4 and Xbox One aren’t cheap, but they’ll only set you back for about a quarter of what a good gaming PC would cost you. And since everyone in the console gaming world is on the same machine, you won’t have to worry about someone else’s rig outperforming yours.
Is a Gaming Rig Worth The Money?
At the end of the day, it’s your money and your gaming experience. Personally, I think the importance of gaming peripherals is overstated, but I can’t claim they aren’t nice to have. On the other hand, a powerful PC is a necessity, if that’s the route you choose. Save up money for the parts you need to build a proper gaming rig and you’ll thank yourself in the long run.