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How do I choose pre-built gaming PCs?

Personal computers have long become indispensable human assistants both in work and in entertainment. PCs differ from laptops in much greater configuration flexibility and the ability to independently select all components. But what if the user has no experience in this, but a computer is needed? Pre-built gaming PCs will come to the rescue – a ready-made machine, primed to deliver powerful performance right out of the box. What you need to consider when choosing them – we will tell in our material.

Form factor

The appearance of the computer and the possibilities for improving it depend on the form factor of the chassis. Among modern models there are the following form factors:

  • midi-tower

The most common standard case size. Allows you to place the vast majority of computer hardware, so it is used among any configurations, including gaming ones.

  • mini-tower

Reduced in height compared to Midi-Tower. This limits motherboards to the microATX form factor, which should be taken into account when upgrading further. More often Mini-Towers are used for budget gaming PCs, or configurations without a discrete graphics card.

  • Full Tower

The largest format. Accommodates any components and cooling systems, including the most bulky. At the same time, it takes up a lot of space, which must be taken into account when placing it. In such cases, only powerful assemblies are assembled for games or work with 3D.

  • Compact options

Compact form factors include Slim-Tower, Micro-Tower, Small Form-Factor, Desktop, HTPC, and some custom options. These are small cases designed to save space. Occasionally there are gaming assemblies, but mostly office PCs are assembled in them. They have limited upgrade options due to their size and small amount of internal space – this is a price for compactness.

Related: How to Use a Laptop as a Second Monitor in Windows 

CPU

The Best CPU

The CPU is the “brain” of the computer, doing all the basic calculations. Having decided on the desired form factor, you should move on to choosing the system’s central processor.

Intel or AMD is more of a matter of taste, as today both manufacturers have models that satisfy any performance need.

  • Intel Celeron, Intel Pentium and AMD Athlon are low performance models. Sufficient for working with documents, light Internet surfing and running old games. The most inexpensive PCs have such CPUs.
  • The Intel Core i3 and AMD Ryzen 3 lines are noticeably faster. They allow you to comfortably work with a wide range of various programs, and if you have a discrete graphics card, you can play many games. Installed in many budget PCs.
  • Intel Core i5 and AMD Ryzen 5 are the starting point for comfortable work with modern games and “heavy” applications. They can be equipped with both a PC for work and fairly productive gaming assemblies.
  • The Intel Core i7 and AMD Ryzen 7 series offer optimal performance for any task. These processors will not become a “bottleneck” in the assembly even when using the most powerful video cards, so they often become guests in top assemblies with an eye on games.
  • The flagship Intel Core i9 and AMD Ryzen 9 are for those who want the fastest CPU in their system. In games, compared to the previous line, there will not be much difference, but for rendering and other computing tasks, such processors are out of competition.

In addition to the processor line, you should pay attention to its generation. The newer it is, the more productive the CPU: newer architecture, higher frequencies, and sometimes more cores. All this leads to the fact that new models of simpler lines are close in performance to the old CPUs of older lines. Or even overtake them. For example, the 13th generation Core i5 is slightly faster than the 11th generation Core i9, and the Ryzen 5 7000 series outperforms the Ryzen 7 3000.

 

Motherboard

The Best Motherboard

In a brief description of pre-built gaming PCs, the motherboard may not appear, as manufacturers are in no hurry to advertise it. But if the model is indicated, it is necessary to clarify its key characteristics on the official website of the manufacturer.

 

  • The board does not directly affect the performance of the computer, but the number and availability of various connectors, slots and expansion ports depends on it. For example, the number of RAM slots, USB ports, and M2 SSD connectors. If you plan to add more RAM or storage in the future, make sure the card you are using has enough of the required slots.
  • The power subsystem of the board (VRM) determines the possibility of further upgrading the processor, and the feasibility of using fast RAM depends on the supported RAM modes. Pay attention to these characteristics of the board if you plan to upgrade the CPU and RAM later. There are no incompatible components in pre-built gaming PCs, but often they are matched “back-to-back”: for example, for an already installed VRM processor, the board is enough, but with a more powerful one, it will overheat.
  • If you need access to a wireless network from a PC, you should pay attention to the presence of a wireless network adapter in the board. In its absence, it remains possible to purchase an internal or external adapter separately, but it is still more pleasant to get such a bonus out of the box.

The equipment of the board is not directly tied to the chipset, but most often the rule “older chipset – cooler board” works. This is manifested in more different slots, improved VRM, wider communication and networking capabilities.

  • Boards based on junior Intel H*10 and AMD A-series chipsets have the most basic features.
  • Their wider range is possessed by middle peasants based on Intel B and H * 70 series chipsets, as well as AMD B series.
  • The most advanced models are equipped with top-end Intel Z-series and AMD X-series chipsets.

It is worth remembering that motherboards in pre-built gaming PCs are usually matched to processors of the corresponding price range. That is, Intel Z series paired with Core i3, or Intel H * 10 paired with Core i7 are unlikely to meet.

Smaller cases may use boards with a soldered processor that cannot be replaced. Branded PCs like Dell, HP or Lenovo may use their own motherboards, which may have a non-standard form factor and power supply connectors. Upgrading such computers can be difficult.

 

RAM

The Best RAM

Random access memory (RAM) has a direct impact on multitasking. With a small amount of RAM, you can use only a couple of light applications “without brakes”. The more RAM a PC has, the better.

  • For modern operating systems, 4 GB is the base amount. Office programs, watching videos, surfing the Internet with several open tabs for this amount of RAM is the maximum.
  • 8 GB and 12 GB is the optimal amount for everyday work. However, for “heavy” applications, such as multimedia editors and modern video games, this amount of memory is not enough.
  • 16 GB of RAM is enough for games and applications, but provided that you do not run everything at once, then the memory may not be enough.
  • 32 GB will cover the multitasking needs of almost any application: you can simultaneously play, stream, keep your browser open with a bunch of tabs. But in the case of using programs for 3D rendering, this volume is only basic.
  • 64 GB or more is unlikely to be needed in everyday use, but for 3D rendering it is ideal.

 

Modern PCs have both DDR4 and DDR5. The type of RAM depends on the processor and motherboard. At the moment, only top-end processors receive profit from DDR5, so you can only find it in expensive computers.

All modern CPUs support dual-channel memory, which increases memory bandwidth. To enable it, the PC must have two or four sticks of RAM. Very often in pre-built gaming PCs there is one bar, as a result of which the memory operates in single-channel mode. This limits performance, especially for powerful processors. But the situation can be corrected by purchasing another memory bar with a volume similar to the one already installed.

In addition to the type and configuration of memory, its frequency matters. For processors of the initial lines of Intel Celeron / Pentium / Core i3 and AMD Athlon / Ryzen 3, it is not particularly important. For fast processors, using DDR4 memory with frequencies below 3200 MHz is fraught with noticeable performance losses.

 

video card

The Best Video Card

Each pre-built gaming PCs has a video card: either built into the processor or discrete.

  • Any built-in video can handle the rendering of the program interface, video playback and old games of the late 2000s . Nothing more is required for office work. The built-in video core of AMD Ryzen G-series processors stands apart – you can play modern undemanding projects on it at low graphics settings.
  • Often computers are equipped with budget graphics cardsthat allow you to run modern games at low settings. However, their main purpose is rather to speed up the work of graphic editors and 3D modeling programs.
  • To qualify as an entry-level gaming PC, the system unit must include at least the following series of video cards: NVIDIA GeForce GTX1660/RTX*050/RTX*060 or AMD Radeon RX*600 . They allow you to run games at high graphics settings in standard Full HD resolution (1920×1080). Models younger are already budget.
  • Advanced gaming series include NVIDIA GeForce RTX *060 Ti/*070/*070Ti and AMD RX *700 models. They allow you to enjoy games at maximum settings in Full HD resolution, or with lower quality in higher 2K (2560×1440).
  • The top graphics card lines are NVIDIA GeForce RTX *080/*080Ti/*090 and AMD RX *800/*900. They are designed for high resolutions, and will easily conquer the maximum settings in 2K. In addition, these are the only models that will allow you to play at “high” in 4K resolution (3840×2160).

 

Persistent memory

The Best Hard disk

The permanent memory of a computer is the storage of the operating system and user data. As a rule, in modern models, a solid-state drive on flash memory – SSD – acts as the main drive. In many cases, it is accompanied by a traditional hard drive designed for data storage. You need to pay attention to the following:

  • Office PC models are usually equipped with a SATA SSD. Volume – from 120 to 256 GB. This is enough for the operating system and a small number of programs, the speed of the drive in this case does not play a special role.
  • A gaming computer requires a 500 GB or more SSD drive, as modern games take up a lot of memory. SATA models will do, but it is better to prefer modern NVMe – they have much higher linear speeds.
  • An additional hard drive must be considered if you have a lot of user data (photos, videos, heavy documents, music). As practice shows, it never hurts, helping to free up space on not very capacious SSDs.
  • However, the lack of a hard drive or a small amount of SSD in a computer is not a sentence. In almost any PC, with the exception of very compact models, you can add an additional SATA drive, be it a hard drive or an SSD. But the possibility of adding an NVMe drive depends on the availability of the corresponding slot on the motherboard.

 

power unit

The power supply provides power to all PC components. As in the case of the motherboard, its model may not appear in the description.

The Best Power Supply

In ready-made computers, the power supply is most often matched to their hardware, and cannot boast of a power reserve for future upgrades. But sometimes the PSU in the assembly is a little more powerful than necessary. If you plan to change PC components in the future, then you should pay attention to the following characteristics of the power supply:

  • Line power 12V

Unlike the total wattage shown on the label, this parameter shows the “real” watts that the PSU can provide for components . And all because the main load in the PC goes exactly to the 12V line. The remaining 5V and 3.3V lines are only auxiliary, and they do not need hundreds of watts of output power.

  • PCI-E Connectors

If you plan to buy or replace a discrete video card later, you should pay attention to the presence and number of PCI-E connectors . They come in two types: with six contacts (6-pin) and eight (8-pin). The 8-pin connector is collapsible, and a 6-pin variety can also be obtained from it. Ideally, there should be two eight-pin connectors – then there will be no compatibility problems with various models of video cards, as long as the PSU has enough power for them.

  • Power supply size

Depending on the case, the sizes of power supplies also differ. Most computers use an ATX format block. Compact PCs usually have small SFX or TFX standard PSUs, but there are also non-standard size options.

  • Power supply standard

Despite the different physical sizes, most computers use standard power supplies , which combine the same basic set of connectors: 24-pin and 4/8-pin for the motherboard, SATA for drives, MOLEX for fans, and more. In branded PCs, non-standard PSUs are sometimes used complete with own-made motherboards, which are connected by other connectors. They are not compatible with standard PSUs, therefore, in the event of a malfunction or the need to replace the unit with a more powerful one, a problem may arise with such PCs.

 

Step by step guide

How do I choose a pre-built gaming PC

Having familiarized ourselves with the main nuances, we summarize them in a short guide for choosing a finished computer:

 

Step 1

Decide on the required dimensions of the case.

  • If you are not constrained in space, feel free to choose Midi-Tower or Full-Tower . Such a case will accommodate any components if you want to replace them in the future.
  • If you want something more compact in height, you can take Mini-Tower . It retains compatibility with most components at a more modest size.
  • If you definitely need a small PC, pay attention to compact form factor options . However, it should be borne in mind that further improvements to such a computer will be difficult, if not impossible.

 

Step 2

Select a processor series based on the required performance.

  • To work with documents and view light pages in a browser , Intel Celeron, Intel Pentium or AMD Athlon is enough .
  • Comfortable work with any sites and most applications will be provided by Intel Core i3 and AMD Ryzen 3.
  • Intel Core i5 and AMD Ryzen 5 are suitable for any applications and modern games (with the appropriate discrete graphics card).
  • Intel Core i7 and AMD Ryzen 7 are ideal for gaming along with active multitasking.
  • If you plan to do heavy work like rendering and computing on the CPU, then the flagship Intel Core i9 and AMD Ryzen 9 are the best option.

 

Step 3

Consider the nuances of the motherboard you are using.

  • If you plan to add RAM, pay attention to the number of free slots for RAM and the supported modes of its operation .
  • Make sure the motherboard has empty M2 slots if you plan to add a drive of the appropriate format.
  • Pay attention to the number of USB ports and their version if you plan to use a lot of peripherals or external drives.
  • In the case of plans for a future processor upgrade, it would be useful to study the VRM capabilities of the board .
  • To use Wi-Fi networks, the built-in wireless adapter is useful .
  • If you plan to upgrade in the future, do not look towards models with non-standard branded boards or boards with a soldered processor .

Step 4

How do I choose a pre-built gaming PC - step by step guide

Choose the amount of RAM you need. It should be remembered that in a computer it can always be increased, so you should not perceive the installed volume as the limit.

  • For basic work with documents and a couple of open tabs in the browser, 4 GB is enough .
  • 8 and 12 GB is enough for comfortable work in most applications. But for active interaction with “heavy” programs and modern games, this is not enough.
  • 16 GB of memory is enough for modern games and demanding applications, if not running them at the same time.
  • 32 GB of RAM will allow you to “roam”: you can practically forget about closing programs in the background, running several resource-intensive applications at the same time. But for rendering, this amount of memory is only basic.
  • But with 64 GB or more, even rendering is unlikely to run into RAM, not to mention other tasks.

 

Step 5

Decide on the required video card.

  • To work with programs, surf the Internet, watch videos and old games, the built-in graphics are enough .
  • Budget video cards will help speed up work in graphic and 3D editors, as well as allow you to play modern games at low settings.
  • Entry-level gaming PCs have NVIDIA GeForce GTX1660/RTX*050/RTX*060 or AMD Radeon RX*600 series graphics cards .
  • Advanced gaming computers include NVIDIA GeForce RTX *060 Ti/*070/*070Ti and AMD RX *700 series cards .
  • Top-of-the-line pre-built gaming PCs are equipped with NVIDIA GeForce RTX *080/*080Ti/*090 or AMD RX *800/*900 series models.

 

Step 6

Select the amount and type of permanent memory. As in the case of RAM, when considering this characteristic, you need to keep in mind the possibility of further expansion of the volume.

  • In the absence of large amounts of file data for office work, budget models with a SATA SSD from 120 to 256 GB are suitable .
  • If you need more storage, as well as for gaming computers, you should give preference to an SSD with a size of 500 GB or more . For pre-built gaming PCs, models with an NVMe interface will be preferred .
  • An additional hard drive is a good help for storing user information, regardless of the type and purpose of the PC. By transferring your data to it, you can free up space on the main SSD.

 

Step 7

In conclusion, pay attention to the size, model and power of the power supply.

  • Preference should be given to computers with a standard PSU , since in the event of a breakdown of a non-standard model, it will be difficult for it to find a replacement.
  • If you plan to upgrade the hardware in the future, take note of the PSU power through the 12V line – it is it that limits the possibility of consuming components.
  • If you plan to add or replace a discrete video card, you need to keep in mind that the PSU has PCI-E power connectors : it is desirable that there be two of them 8-pin each.

 

Step 8

The last nuance is the presence of a preinstalled operating system.

  • The PC with pre-installed Windows OS is completely ready to work. It is enough to connect the monitor and peripherals – and you can start using the computer. The cost of operating system license is already included in its price.
  • Computers with a pre-installed UNIX system (one of the varieties of Linux) are slightly cheaper due to the free OS. But an ordinary user is unlikely to use it, so in the end you still have to install Windows: either in a computer service or on your own.
  • With models without an operating system, the same is true – until the OS is installed, you will not be able to use the computer. The same can be said about PCs that have DOS as the system : today it is a stub that allows you not to indicate the absence of an OS.

Recommended models: Alienware Aurora R15 pre-built Gaming PC

Conclusion

Navigating the world of pre-built gaming PCs can initially seem overwhelming, given the vast array of options, configurations, and brands available. However, by prioritizing what truly matters—be it performance, aesthetics, upgradability, or budget—you can narrow down your choices and find a machine that truly resonates with your gaming aspirations.

Remember, the goal is not just to acquire any gaming PC, but to invest in a system that enhances your digital adventures, stands the test of time, and offers a seamless blend of power and pleasure. As the gaming world evolves, ensuring you have the right equipment is paramount. Make informed choices, seek expert advice when in doubt, and here’s to countless hours of unparalleled gaming experiences on your perfect pre-built PCs rig!

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