Let’s face it – computers have come a long way since the C64, as have the computer games which we play on them: gone are the days of joystick waggling and button bashing – a touch of finesse and precision control is now required for the discerning gamer to be able to operate competitively across a variety of online arenas;
You may think of yourself as a bit of a ‘pro’ when it comes to PC gaming, but does your kit hold up to scrutiny at LAN parties?
Maybe your keyboard is kind-of crusty and cleaning doesn’t seem to cut it? Or perhaps your mouse’s lack of accuracy is affecting your K/D ratio? Would the graphics be at home on a ZX Spectrum? If you have answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, it may be time to invest in some shiny new gaming hardware – but where to start? This article will go over the top 3 must-have essentials for any modern gamer who means business!
1: Gaming Mouse
Old ball-mice were great for those 1024x768px, 15” monitors back in 2002, but, scarily, a full decade has passed now and you are more likely to be playing ‘Diablo 3’ on a 24” 1920 x 1080px display these days, which, in simple-terms, means that the amount of pixels your mouse cursor has to cover to reach from corner to corner of your screen has increased (think of it like increasing the size of a football pitch – the players will have to do a lot more running to cover the distance!): older mice tend to lack sensitivity, resulting in a lot of lifting and shifting being required (putting strain on your mouse-hand) and slow performance overall: today’s mice feature much more sensitive laser sensors, meaning that they are more efficient and accurate than previous generations: look out for gaming mice with adjustable weight attachments, re-configurable grips and sensitivity adjustment toggles…once you make the switch to a comfortable and accurate gaming mouse, you will not regret it (but your online opponents may!)
2. Mechanical Keyboard
Whether you are gaming or just enjoy spending a lot of time on your computer, you are most likely to use a keyboard for the input of text or for interacting with your game-world: trouble is, that cheap dome-membrane keyboard which came with your computer is not likely to offer the same level of comfort or accuracy as a proper mechanical keyboard: for FPS or RTS specialists, we recommend any gaming keyboard which uses ‘Cherry Red’ switches: these offer low resistance, no annoying tactile or auditory clicks and have much more durable keys for extended use…for RPG gamers, typists, or overall general use, a keyboard with ‘Cherry Blue’ (auditory and tactile feedback) or ‘Cherry Black’ (tactile feedback only) switches would be a great choice: typing rapidly and accurately is a breeze with these keys!
3. A Powerful Graphics Card
PC Games have always pushed the boundaries of what is possible to achieve graphically on a home computer: this can sometimes mean that a PC which could previously run new games on the highest graphical quality settings can start to struggle with releases even a year later…this problem is exacerbated if you start off with an under-powered card: we recommend looking at reviews on the net carefully before picking a card to pop into your system – if you are pre-ordering a hotly anticipated game, make sure to check the spec and see what the minimum and recommended graphics card specs are: picking a high to mid-end card may cost you the equivalent of a modern games console, but it should allow you to keep on playing games at the highest settings for a couple of years (and on medium to low settings for several years to come afterwards) – getting the cheapest card may be great for simple browsing online, or playing classic games, but you may find yourself unable to play all the latest releases – before making the plunge, make sure that your motherboard and power supply can support your chosen replacement card!
Harry Kim is an It Outsourcing consultant who has a passion for computers and online gaming – he can often be seen at tournaments around the world, competing against some of the worlds’ best real-time-strategy gamers.