The most enthusiastic gamers invariably favor the desktop PC due to the enormous amount of potential it delivers in the form of versatility, upgradability and raw performance. However, while every gamer knows that a powerful graphics card, processor and plenty of RAM form the key ingredients of any future-proof gaming build, there are some components and accessories that tend to get overlooked, particularly among those who are very conscious of their budgets.
1 . Gaming Keyboards
The keyboards that come with new desktop PC packages, including ones aimed towards gamers, are rarely best of breed. However, a great gaming keyboard provides many additional features to help you get that much-needed edge over your opponents. For the best experience, you'll want something that offers excellent accuracy and responsiveness as well as a range of useful extra features.
Most important for gamers are keyboards with anti-ghosting abilities, since they can handle more simultaneous keystrokes. Mechanical keyboards, rather than membrane-based ones, are also making a comeback thanks to their improved responsiveness and feedback. Other useful features to have include backlighting, the ability to store macros and USB ports for connecting controllers.
2. Gaming Mice
Unlike a standard optical mouse, a specialized gaming mouse provides improved responsiveness and reliability, making it essential in fast-paced action games such as MMOs or first-person shooters. Something with a high DPI is a must, since this determines the sensitivity of the mouse and thus its accuracy. Having an optional acceleration feature can also come in useful in certain applications.
Any serious gaming mouse will also feature additional buttons rather than just the standard three. Some of the cheaper offerings feature two or three extra buttons, although there are options available with upwards of ten programmable buttons. You'll also want an excellent, ergonomic surface to get the most out of your gaming mouse.
3. Wireless Headphones
Although many gamers consider a high-end 5.1 surround sound system to be an essential peripheral for their rigs, headphones are usually even more important. Not only does a quality headset allow you to enjoy immersive audio without disturbing others; it's an essential for any online multiplayer gaming enthusiast, since it will also feature a noise-cancelling microphone for those long TeamSpeak sessions.
A rechargeable wireless USB headset provides a great deal of freedom, but there are other important features to consider. For full immersion, you'll want a headset that offers positional audio and, if your budget permits it, surround sound. Some gaming headphones also feature force feedback in the form of vibrations during gun fights and other action-packed scenes.
4. Solid State Drives
Although new computers catering towards the gaming market usually feature a solid state drive, they often don't offer a great deal of capacity. While an SSD won't have any impact on frame rates, they're a must-have for any serious gamer, since they are many times faster than standard hard disks when it comes to loading times. With a decent SSD, loading screens in many games will become a thing of the past.
As a gamer, you'll want to go for the fastest, highest capacity SSD that you can afford. Smaller, cheaper SSDs are still much better than nothing, but you'll often find yourself needing to transfer games between the SSD and a standard hard disk depending on when you require them. Those with much larger budgets may want to consider a PCI-Express SSD, since these are even faster.
5. Aftermarket Cooling
Often being enthusiastic overclockers as well, gamers will typically want to opt for an aftermarket CPU cooler rather than the stock cooler that comes with the processor. Although stock coolers are much better than they used to be, no hardcore gamer would tolerate being without a high-end aftermarket cooling solution, with the biggest enthusiasts opting for a water-cooling system.
A better cooler overcomes many limitations of typical stock heat sink and fan units, including quieter operation, adjustable fan speeds and far more overlocking potential. For the very best results, you may also want to consider installing a front-panel fan controller and temperature monitor, particularly if you intend to get the maximum potential out of your PC by overclocking it.
While a casual gamer should happily be able to get by with a mid-range machine without any of the above gaming-specific accessories, serious operators will definitely want to spend a bit more on peripherals. Fortunately, such peripherals don't tend to get horribly outdated like internal hardware components do and, provided that you spend your money wisely, you should get quite a few years of use out of them.