There are several reasons why the PC is considered by hardcore gamers as their platform of choice. For some, it’s the ability to push visuals to the bleeding edge using powerful graphics cards. For others, it’s the existence of game mods and the fellowship of the communities around them. For others still, the freedom to use all sorts of accessories sets the PC experience apart.
All of these reasons are valid. Yet, one of the things that make PC gaming unique and obsessive is its openness to customization and tinkering. Hardcore PC gamers derive as much pleasure from playing as they do when adding peripherals, using utility software and applying optimization techniques that push their rigs ever closer to the pinnacle of performance.
If you’re into PC gaming and you’re on a mission to find the most satisfying experience possible, consider adding these hardware and software enhancements to your current setup:
#01. Add More RAM
This is an age-old technique for boosting PC performance, but it holds true to this day. RAM sticks are relatively cheap but they can make a huge impact in load times, multi-tasking, file transfer speeds, frame rates and more. It’s also easy to pull off as you’ll only need to open your desktop PC’s casing and add the RAM stick to one of the open slots.
#02. A Solid State Drive
One of the best upgrades you can make for any PC is the replacing your traditional hard drive with a solid state drive. While this won’t affect graphical quality or frame rates, it certainly will cut load times significantly.
The typical solid state drive has a read/write speed that’s at least ten times faster than that of an average hard drive. That means you’ll be able to boot Windows in a few seconds and your games will start up much faster. This translates into less waiting and more playing – two things that most gamers will find hard to resist.
#03. Razer Game Cortex
For PCs that don’t have insane amounts of RAM and high-end processors, managing computing resources properly is a must for gaming. That’s where Razer’s Cortex utility comes in handy. This free application monitors your PC’s use and shuts down all non-essential processes while when a game starts running. You might be surprised with how much better your load times and frame rates get when you have this active.
#04. Xpadder and DS4 Windows
Some games are just better played with a controller. Examples include Rise of the Rise of the Tomb Raider, Quantum Break and Dark Souls III. However, good PC controllers can be pricey and that could deter some gamers into settling for mice and keyboards.
However, if you own a current or last-generation console, you may be able to use its controllers on a PC with applications such as Xpadder or DS4Windows. These utilities recognize the controllers and add drivers to make them work on your PC. All you need to do is map the buttons and you’ll be able to play PC games on their awesome graphical settings while enjoying the ease of use that console controllers bring.
If you want to keep in close touch with your favorite games’ communities and your clanmates, this mobile phone app is ideal for you. BAND.us allows you to switch between the different online identities you use so you can participate in forums, create group spaces and socialize with other people in your digital community. The best part is that you can do this on the go, so you can keep in touch even while you’re on the train or sitting in a car.
#06. Open Broadcaster Software (OBS)
Streaming your games as you play has become a huge part of multiplayer PC gaming. If you’re serious about this aspect of online play, OBS is for you. It’s free, easy to use and it just plain works.
PCs with overclocked CPUs and GPUs produce lots of heat when graphically demanding games are run. To keep temperatures in check and to prevent premature wear on your system, consider using the SpeedFan app. As the name suggests, this program allows you to directly control the speeds of the fans in your computer’s casing. It also gives you temperature readings on key hardware components so you can quickly address anything that’s approaching critical levels.
#08. MSI Afterburner
Whether you’re using an MSI graphics card or another brand, Afterburner will work just the same. This is a GPU overclocking utility that will give you that extra oomph so you can sustain consistently high frame rates at the highest possible detail settings.
#09. Gaming Mice
A standard mouse will suffice for most games, but if you’re into competitive strategy and shooting games, an extra level of precision will do you a lot of good.
Razer, Steel Series and Logitech all have gaming mice that fit nicely in hand and have good dot-per-inch (DPI) specifications. Standard issue mice usually have DPI counts of 200-400. You’ll want to be at 800 DPI or more to achieve a higher level of precision. However, bigger DPI numbers don’t mean necessarily mean better performance. Any setting higher than 2,000 DPI is too tough to control for most gamers.
#10. The Oculus Rift
If you have the money for it, virtual reality offers the deepest possible dive into the experience that a game can offer. Right now, the Oculus Rift is the most popular VR headset for PCs and it’s gotten mostly positive reviews from critics and fans alike. However, the technology is still in its infancy and some people just can’t use it for extended periods without throwing up. That said, it’s still an awesome product and you’ll have to experience it to really appreciate how far we’ve come in the VR industry.
There are lots of other things you can do to experience games on a higher level, but these are the most popular ways to do it. Keep in mind that hardware or software don’t define your level of satisfaction for a gaming experience: it’s more about your preferences and experiencing a game the way that you like it the most.