Gaming computer

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A gaming computer, also known as a gaming PC, is a specialized personal computer designed for playing PC games at high standards. Gaming PCs typically differ from mainstream personal computers by using high-performance graphics cards, a high core-count CPU with higher raw performance and higher-performance RAM. Gaming PCs are also used for other demanding tasks such as video editing.[1] Gamers and computer enthusiasts may choose to overclock their CPUs and GPUs in order to gain extra performance. The added power draw needed to overclock either processing unit often requires additional cooling, usually by air cooling or water cooling.[2]

65.1 million gaming products have been sold overall as of 2021, of which 27.9 million are gaming notebooks, 19.7 million are gaming monitors, and 17.5 million are gaming desktops.[3]



The Nimrod, designed by John Makepeace Bennett, built by Raymond Stuart-Williams and exhibited in the 1951 Festival of Britain, is considered to be the first gaming computer to ever be conceived. Bennett did not intend for it to be a real gaming computer, however, as it was supposed to be an exercise in mathematics as well as to prove computers could "carry out very complex practical problems", not purely for enjoyment.[4]

Few years later, game consoles like the Magnavox Odyssey (released in 1972) and the Atari 2600 (released 1977) were the basis of the future of not just gaming consoles, but gaming computers as well with their increasing popularity with families everywhere.[5] The first "modern" computer was made in 1942, the Atanasoff–Berry Computer (ABC for short). Unlike modern desktops and laptops, the ABC was a gargantuan machine that occupied "1,800 square feet… weighing almost 50 tons",.[6] When the Apple II and the Commodore 64 released in 1977 and 1982 respectively, personal computers became more appealing for general consumer use.[7] The Commodore 64 was an affordable and relatively powerful computer for its time in 1982,[8] featuring an MOS Technology 6510 CPU with 64 kb of RAM. It could display up to "40 columns and 25 lines of text" along with 16 colors on its 320x200 resolution screen.[9] The Apple II cost around US$1,298 in 1977 ($5,633 adjusted for inflation in 2021) and the Commodore 64 cost around US$595 (equivalent to $1,879 in 2023), making it expensive for most consumers.[10][11] However, their overall computing power, efficiency, and compact size was more advanced from even the most advanced computers at the time.[12][13]

Today, many companies and manufacturers offer gaming computers in a variety of configurations. For instance, Dell has their gaming computer division, Alienware, which formed in 1997, HP with their OMEN division, whose lineage dates back to 1991 under the defunct brand VoodooPC, Lenovo with their Legion PCs, Asus with their own TUF and ROG PCs, Acer with their special product lines, and Predator, that coexist with the rest of their line-up, and more other brands. These brands aim for affordability, features, build-quality, performance, or a mixture of these for marketing.[citation needed]


The inner workings of a desktop gaming PC

Technically, any computer can be a 'Gaming Computer,' but they are typically based around an x86 CPU with a graphics accelerator card, as much RAM as possible, and fast storage drives. In a desktop configuration, a case is also needed, and often gaming cases are modified or manufactured with extra LED lights or see-through panels for aesthetic reasons.[14][15] Individual components are typically attached to a motherboard through different bus slots, including the CPU, RAM, and graphics card, or wired to it with SATA or IDE cabling (for hard disks or optical drives).[16] Laptops share a similar format, but with smaller and less power hungry components. This configuration mostly dates from the 1990s when Intel and Microsoft first began to dominate the PC marketplace and has not changed significantly since then.[17] Hardware specs continue to improve due to the graphical demands of games, especially with architectural and other changes within CPU and GPU designs.

Form factors

A gaming desktop, with a laptop at the bottom left for comparison

Senior editor of Tom's Hardware Andrew Freedman says that "Gaming rigs aren't one-size fits all", and that there are certain instances where a gaming desktop will be more appropriate than a laptop and other circumstances where a laptop is more appropriate than a desktop.[18] Each platform has its pros and cons, which may change depending on a person's needs.

For example, someone looking for maximum portability may choose a laptop over a desktop since it is all self-contained in one unit, whereas a desktop setup is split up into multiple components: a monitor, keyboard, mouse, and the desktop itself. Freedman states that laptops are ideal candidates for LAN parties, especially ones equipped with "Nvidia's Max-Q GPUs" which "can easily fit into a backpack and don't pack outrageously large chargers".

Upgradeability is another category many PC gamers consider when deciding between a laptop and a desktop. As Freedman states, "you can't build a laptop on your own", as the usable space inside a laptop is much more limited compared to a desktop. There are also fewer items that can be changed out on a laptop than a desktop, like RAM and storage, compared to a desktop where almost all the components, including motherboards and CPUs, can be swapped out with the latest technology available at the time. The only exception is pre-built desktops, which can use "proprietary motherboards that aren't standard sizes". These uniquely shaped motherboards can limit the owner's capability to upgrade components in the future, but they can still generally change out "the RAM, GPU and… CPU".[19]

Another major category PC gamers consider is the cost. Freedman did a basic comparison between two similarly equipped computers, one a laptop and one a desktop. Both had the similar CPUs (an Intel Core I5), GPUs (Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660s except the laptop's was a compact version that could fit within the case), and RAM, but the laptop was $200 more expensive than the desktop and nearly half as much memory as the desktop. The SSD (or solid-state drive) in the laptop is faster than a regular hard-drive though and gaming laptops are ready to start playing once they are configured, whereas desktop PC gamers have to make additional purchases if they only have the computer, not the accessories.

People usually buy gaming PCs because they want the performance that is expected to them. The majority of this potential lies in the parts of desktops, which can be overclocked for more performance as well as being able to with stand abuse because of their higher durability. Freedman also states that desktops have "a bigger chassis", which allows for "more fans…for better cooling and heat dissipation", which ultimately leads to stronger performance.[20]

Gaming Peripherals and Accessories


Gaming peripherals such as keyboards, mice, headsets, controllers, and monitors play a crucial role in enhancing the gaming experience. They offer improved control, comfort, and immersion, allowing users to feel fully engaged in the gaming environment. These specialized tools are specifically designed for gaming purposes, ensuring precision, speed, and durability.[21]

Gaming Keyboards: Designed for swift and accurate typing, gaming keyboards typically feature mechanical switches that offer tactile feedback and rapid responsiveness. Available in various configurations, some keyboards have compact designs with fewer keys to optimize mouse movement and facilitate easier key access. Many gaming keyboards also offer customizable RGB lighting, programmable keys, and ergonomic designs tailored to different gaming styles.[22]

Gaming Mouse: Equipped with high-resolution laser sensors, gaming mice can track movements with exceptional precision. They provide adjustable sensitivity settings, ergonomic shapes for comfortable grip, and programmable buttons for customized in-game actions. Some gaming mice also offer weight customization, interchangeable grips, and customizable lighting options.[23]

Gaming Headsets: Gaming headphones deliver immersive audio experiences, allowing players to hear subtle game sounds and communicate with teammates or opponents. Featuring high-quality speakers, noise-canceling microphones, and comfortable ear pads, gaming headsets ensure prolonged gaming sessions remain enjoyable. Many gaming headphones offer surround sound capabilities to enhance the gaming atmosphere.[24]

Gaming Controllers: Tailored for console-style gaming on PC, gaming controllers feature familiar layouts and ergonomic designs for comfortable gameplay. Equipped with responsive buttons, precise analog sticks, and tactile feedback, gaming controllers enhance the gaming experience for genres like platformers, racing games, and fighting games.[25]

Gaming Monitors: Designed for high-performance gaming, gaming monitors offer high refresh rates, rapid response times, and technologies such as AMD FreeSync or NVIDIA G-SYNC to ensure smooth gameplay. With various size and display quality options available, gaming monitors provide crisp visuals and seamless performance for an immersive gaming experience.[26]

In addition to these essential peripherals, gaming enthusiasts can enhance their setups with accessories like gaming chairs, mouse pads, desk mounts, and cable organizers, allowing them to customize their gaming environments according to their preferences. With a wide range of options available from different brands, gamers can personalize their setups to optimize their gaming experiences.

Build types


As stated before, there are options PC gamers take into account when deciding to build their own unit versus buying a pre-built one. There are not many options when it comes to the laptop configuration but they do exist. Jason Clarke, a contributor to Chillblast, points out that there are a number of builders that deal specifically with laptops with some adding configurable features that were not originally so, such as being able to change CPUs and GPUs.[27] It is important to note that these PC builders build from scratch and the possibility to change out CPUs and GPUs after they have been installed is unlikely. Clarke also advises that people should and cannot build their own laptops because of how complex and compact everything is.[28]

Many PC gamers and journalists, like Clarke and Freedman, advise people to start with gaming desktops as they are the way to go when seeking pure performance. Pre-built desktops like Alienware's Aurora R11 are ready-to-go systems with a history behind them, but some claim that their systems are over-priced. This is mainly due to the cost of building the PC and ease of access for components for the consumer. Marshall Honorof, a writer for Tom's Guide, explains that the steps on how to build a gaming PC from scratch "can be a daunting process, particularly for newcomers" but it could be one of the best technological decisions someone can make. According to his research, Honorof found that $1,500 is enough to buy a "powerful, but not quite top-of-the-line" computer and one can choose his or her own components.[29]

See also



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  2. ^ "CPU Cooler: Liquid Cooling Vs Air Cooling". Intel. Retrieved February 18, 2021.
  3. ^ "Global Gaming PC and Monitor Market Hit New Record High in 2020, According to IDC". 2021-03-29. Retrieved 2022-07-22.
  4. ^ Baker, Chris (June 2, 2010). "Nimrod, the World's First Gaming Computer". Wired. Retrieved March 24, 2021.
  5. ^ Vox Creative (July 27, 2020). "The Evolution of Gaming Machines". Vox Creative Next. Retrieved March 29, 2021.
  6. ^ Computer Hope (March 13, 2021). "When Was the First Computer Invented?". Computer Hope. Retrieved March 29, 2021.
  7. ^ CHM (2020). "Computers: Timeline of Computer History: Computer History Museum". Computer History Museum. Computer History Museum. Retrieved March 29, 2021.
  8. ^ "Commodore 64: The Classic Personal Computer". IEEE Spectrum. Retrieved 2024-05-07.
  9. ^ Barton, Matt (2021). "A History of Gaming Platforms: The Commodore 64". Gamasutra. Gamasutra. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
  10. ^ Dillon, Roberto (2015), Dillon, Roberto (ed.), "The Commodore 64 and Its Architecture", Ready: A Commodore 64 Retrospective, Singapore: Springer, pp. 9–16, doi:10.1007/978-981-287-341-5_2, ISBN 978-981-287-341-5, retrieved 2024-04-16
  11. ^ Nooney, Laine (2023). The Apple II age: how the computer became personal. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-81652-4.
  12. ^ "How Innovative was the Apple II?". Pacific Lutheran University. Retrieved 2024-04-16.
  13. ^ Owen, Justin (2022-01-27). "10 Reasons The Commodore 64 Was Such A Special Computer". SlashGear. Retrieved 2024-04-16.
  14. ^ "Why Do Gamers Like RGB Lights?". PCWorld. Retrieved 2024-05-07.
  15. ^ "How to Build a PC: The Ultimate Beginner's Guide". PCMag. Retrieved 2024-05-07.
  16. ^ "How to Build a Gaming PC". Intel. Retrieved 2024-05-07.
  17. ^ "How the 90s Family Computer Shaped a Generation's Exposure to PC Gaming". PC Gamer. Retrieved 2024-05-07.
  18. ^ Freedman, Andrew E. (April 11, 2020). "Gaming Desktop vs. Gaming Laptop: Which is Better For You?". Tom's Hardware. Tom's Hardware. Retrieved March 29, 2021.
  19. ^ Fitzpatrick, Jason (2022-11-07). "Can You Upgrade a Prebuilt PC?". How-To Geek. Retrieved 2024-04-16.
  20. ^ Webb, Dave Johnson, Kevin. "What is overclocking? How to boost your PC's speed and power by changing its CPU settings". Business Insider. Retrieved 2023-10-22.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  21. ^ Research, K. B. V. (2020-12-18). "Gaming Peripheral Specifically Designed to Play Video Games". KBV Research Blog. Retrieved 2024-04-25.
  22. ^ Nguyen, Andy (2022-06-11). "Gaming Keyboards vs. Keyboards: What's the Difference?". How-To Geek. Retrieved 2024-04-25.
  23. ^ "What is a Gaming Mouse? - Best Gaming Mice Guide". Ebuyer Blog. Retrieved 2024-04-25.
  24. ^ Uitti, Jake (2023-01-12). "Benefits of Using a Gaming Headset". Yamaha Music - Blog. Retrieved 2024-04-25.
  25. ^ "Video Game Controllers | Gamepads Dimensions & Drawings |". Retrieved 2024-04-25.
  26. ^ "Why should you choose a gaming monitor over regular display monitors?". Samsung nz. Retrieved 2024-04-25.
  27. ^ Clarke, Jason (May 18, 2020). "How To Build a Gaming Laptop". Chillblast. Chillblast. Retrieved April 5, 2021.
  28. ^ Ogono-Dimaro, Princess (2022-01-25). "How to Build Your Own Laptop From Scratch". Career Karma. Retrieved 2024-04-16.
  29. ^ Honorof, Marshall (March 11, 2021). "How to Build a Gaming PC for Beginners: All the Parts You Need". Tom's Guide. Tom's Guide. Retrieved April 5, 2021.