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Gaming Computers Demystified

Tech Talker explains the differences between a gaming computer and a normal computer--and how to pick the best gaming computer for you!

By
Eric Escobar,
July 24, 2014
Episode #134

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Hey, everyone! This week, I’m going to explain the differences between a gaming computer and a normal computer, and help figure out which one would be best for your needs.

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The Graphics

I’ve had a ton of questions in the past few weeks about gaming computers, with listeners wondering what sets these machines apart from traditional computers.

One misconception I’ve had to clear up for many parents out there is that a gaming computer is still a computer. However, it has had upgrades made to it to allow it to perform much better when running modern video games.

Modern games require a huge amount of system resources, most notably for rendering or displaying the game on your screen. Generally, most gaming machines I’ve run across are operating on Windows 7, as they support almost every game on the market.

When a video game shows you an image on your screen, it’s actually calculating everything you’re seeing. This could change in a moment’s notice, when you turn one direction or another in the game itself. This is different than watching a YouTube video or DVD, because in those instances, every second of the video you are watching has already been determined--whereas in gaming, it's happening in "real time."

For this reason, most gaming computers will have a high-end graphics card installed in them. This is often a separate component altogether, whose purpose is solely to render or display graphics on your screen. These cards will perform all of the calculations necessary to keep the game moving seamlessly.

Here are a few solid graphics cards to look at, depending on your needs:

GeForce GTX 760

Radeon R9 270X

The Power

These graphics cards require quite a bit of juice, and because of that, they will often need upgraded power supplies to run properly. A standard home computer will take about 400 watts to run, while a high-end graphics card can easily use 300 watts alone when gaming.

A quick search on Google should easily provide you with the information of how many watts a particular computer uses, and how much any graphics card would need. From there, just add the two numbers, throw in a couple hundred watts for good measure, and that’s all there is to it.

I recommend looking for anything over 700 watts for gaming. A 700 watt power supply will run you about $100 on sale, and a nice graphics card can cost anywhere from $100 to $400. I’d also recommend a minimum of 8GB of RAM. These specs alone will probably be enough to play just about any game on the market, with reasonable settings.

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