Playing PC games requires a capable computer, with enough memory, CPU, and graphic power to run games the way they are meant to run. But after setting up a sufficiently powerful system, what are the next pieces to make your experience as satisfying as possible? Here’s some of the basics, along with a few nice extras, that will make gaming the kind of pleasure it is supposed to be.
Instead of listing which model to buy yourself this article with just discuss types and capabilities. Why? Because next year a whole new batch of best models will be out, and any listed here would be hopelessly out of date. This is a guide to what to look for, not what to buy.
Your computer already came with a mouse, right? So what’s this all about? Purpose built gaming mice are well worth the investment. From the most affordable models, currently as little as ten dollars, up to the best of the best, which can cost as much as some computers, gaming mice have a variety of features and standards to tempt any gamer. Increased accuracy is one attractive feature. The higher the accuracy the better the gameplay. Low latency and solid connectivity is another key feature.
Programmable buttons for additional control is very nice, but you can choose from mice offering a few extra buttons to ones with over a dozen. Choose the amount you are comfortable with. Another choice is wired or wireless. Many gamers say to never use a wireless mouse, but others recommend them. This is another case where you will need to make your own decision.
Finally, a number of special features are available that can add additional value to your purchase. LED lights, customized weighting, and snazzy style can all be had, but every addition will likely drive up the price. Depending on your budget, this could limit you or allow you to have the coolest mouse on the block.
Once you have your gaming mouse, you need a mousepad. And not just any pad. Gaming pads are large, so you never slip off the edge in an intense game, and well-constructed with durable, smooth surfaces and non-slip bottoms. These don’t have to be expensive but getting one that fits your style and will last is worth the few extra dollars to support that nice mouse you bought.
There’s some debate on how valuable some features of gaming keyboards are. Obviously, responsiveness and programmability are both core features, but things like backlighting have people for and against.
If you game in a darkened room, backlighting will probably make a lot of sense and be a must have. Another point for debate is membrane versus mechanical keyboards. Mechanical do have a different feel, but really, this is a matter of personal preference. Be sure to try a mechanical keyboard if you haven’t before so you aren’t making your decision without all the facts. This is much more a choice based on feel rather than features.
Solid, quality speakers can bring the game right into the room. Again, there is a wide range of prices, but there are some good choices of speakers available. Think about the room you’ll be using them in, the size, how soundproofed from the rest of the house, and the other people in the house. Try to find ones that everyone can live with.
These aren’t just an alternative to speakers, but an add on. Even if you prefer speakers, you can benefit from a good headset and microphone. Online games where you chat with other players, or take and issue instructions to them, require a good noise-cancelling microphone for clear communication. And many games now have a virtual soundscape which informs players of what is happening around them. With a good headset this gives you a distinct advantage over players with inferior ones.
Not always considered an accessory, but it deserves mention here. You don’t have to settle for a low-end monitor. High performance here will allow increased frame rates, better colors, and a generally richer experience. Do some demos of high-end monitors and you will see the difference.
Solid State Drive
Surprisingly, this is another accessory like a backlit keyboard where there is some debate. But many gamers claim once you try it, you will never go back. An SSD will give you much higher performance on your disk access, although at the cost of less storage and greater expense. But if decreasing your load time is a goal, this may be the answer.
If you are a frequent gamer, you’ll be in your chair a lot, for a long time. Get one that works well for you, makes you comfortable and keeps your your body ergonomically aligned. The price range for these can vary widely, but you may want to avoid brands which are most notable for who uses them and are mostly popular due to ‘fame’ rather than function.
An adjustable and spacious surface for gaming should not be taken for granted. Investigate some of the options available and see if you need an upgrade from the folding card table you’ve been using.
Many gamers love the feel of the traditional gamepad controllers from console gaming. And many games are designed to be most playable with these. Whether you prefer a PS4 controller or an Xbox, look into the variety of offerings and see what appeals. Even an infrequent user of these can invest a few dollars in one for the rare occasions it is useful.
If you are a car race enthusiast, a dedicated racing controller set may be in order. Steering wheel, shifter, and pedals can all be purchased in a variety of price ranges and qualities.
Flight Simulator Controller
And those of you who want to fly, the dedicated controls for aircraft games can give you a much more realistic experience.
Not yet a must have but with some definite possibilities, VR is steadily dropping in cost and may be just the thing to round out your gaming setup.
Obviously not every gamer needs every item on this list. And not every gamer can afford it either. But a review of the accessories and a comparison to the games you play can give you a shopping list, or gift list for Christmas, that will take your gaming to the next level. And we all want to level up, don’t we?