In this brief introduction to the basics of gaming computers, I'll explain a few concepts that everyone interested in finding or creating a great gaming computer should be familiar with.
What to look for
Something you should consider when thinking about a new gaming computer is how a gaming computer differs from other computers. What specific components are important to my gaming experience, and will allow me to play the games I want the way I want, with the graphics I want?
The basic components that you should consider first and foremost are the components that will have the greatest impact on your gaming experience. There are four primary hardware components that you must know about: the CPU, video card, RAM, and the hard drive. (These definitions are for the purposes of how they are used in a gaming computer and are in layman's terms.)
The CPU, or Central Processing Unit, basically controls how quickly your computer will be able to process information and how much can be processed at any given time.
The Video Card controls how quickly and to what degree your computer will be able to process images on your screen.
The RAM, or Random Access Memory, deals with information transfer and also affects how quickly your computer will be able to process information.
The Hard Drive is where data is stored on your computer.
If you focus primarily on these four hardware components, you will find that deciding what you need in your gaming computer can be quite simple. Finding a computer that is fast and powerful enough to play the games you want to play can be as simple as seeing if the components match up with the requirements.
One last component you must keep in mind when deciding what you want in a gaming computer is the operating system. The operating system is the basic framework-program that you use to run your computer. Operating systems include Windows XP, Windows Vista, Mac OSX, and many others.
Figuring out what you need
The most simple way I've found to what components your ultimate gaming computer needs is to look at the requirements for the games you want to play. You can follow these steps in order to figure out what the CPU, video card, RAM, hard drive, and operating system requirements are:
1. Pick out a game that you want to play. You should probably select a game that has recently come out, for the purpose of understanding what the newest games need to work properly, in terms of hardware and operating system.
2. Find the minimum and recommended system requirements for that game. System requirements for any given game can almost always be found printed on the box it came in, or online at any number of game-review sites. The minimal system requirements are what your computer needs to simply run the game and have it function; recommended system requirements are what will make the game run well or at peak performance levels on your computer. These requirements are listed in terms of what operating system, what RAM, what processor, and what video card are required for the game to function. If your computer has all of these components, then it will be able to handle the game.
3. Write down these requirements so you can reference them later. Keep track of what components the games you want to play require. Naturally, these requirements change with the passage of time; computers can go out-of-date very quickly in this day and age. So, you will not only want to meet, but also exceed these requirements with your ultimate gaming computer.
Ultimately, you will want a computer that has a powerful processor (CPU), an advanced video card, plenty of RAM, a hard drive with plenty of free space (contemporary games take up many gigabytes each!), And an operating system that supports most games.