Entering 2023, hugely anticipated video games like the upcoming remake of Resident Evil 4 and the much-awaited Star Wars Jedi: Survivor will undoubtedly come with jaw-dropping graphics and life-like animations in tow. However, noting the hardware demands of such niceties, do we need a beastly gaming PC to play modern-day video games in general?
No, we don’t need a gaming PC to play PC games in general. Many desktops of the past decade can still hold their own when it comes to running impressive games like StarCraft 2 and Far Cry at 60 frames-per-second (FPS).
That being said, recent triple-A (AAA) titles like Gotham Knights do require top PC specs to be enjoyed, so certain AAA, large-scale, 3D-intensive video games can only be played on a gaming PC instead.
As shared by Intel, a slew of the biggest upcoming games will require high-end PC hardware for us to play them with the best in-game experiences and performances. Nevertheless, if we’re only into casual video games like The Sims 4 and FIFA 23, many home computers are already sufficient to run these games with minimal issues.
In the end, it all falls to everyone’s favorite video games to be played. Personally for me, a top-of-the-line Windows 11 gaming rig with an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 and 32GB RAM is my dream setup for the year, but to each their own!
Differences between a Gaming PC and a Regular PC
Although any computer can be used to play video games, distinct differences do exist between a gaming rig and a regular desktop. It takes an avid gamer to know this because we tend to be nitpicky when it comes to in-game performance like frame rates and screen tearing.
That’s not to say that we should never play games on the family computer at home – because we can – but certain expectations need to be understood if we do so. Here are the major pros of cons of playing video games on each PC setup:
A gaming computer uses specialized hardware that allows advanced 3D-rendering processes to be done, making impressive graphical effects like ray tracing and deep learning super sampling (DLSS) possible.
Not every video game was developed with beautiful graphics in mind, but many AAA games do, explaining why minimum video game specs keep increasing every few years.
Today, powerful graphics cards like the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 and AMD Radeon RX Vega 56 are fast becoming normalized, but these can be quite pricey and hard to get from the marketplace.
Here is what we can expect when playing video games on a gaming PC:
|+ Best graphical settings|
+ Smooth in-game performances
+ Long-term gaming use
+ Satisfying gaming experiences
|– Can be costly to set up|
– Requires certain hardware knowledge
– Replacements can be expensive
Building a gaming PC can be time-consuming for those that are inexperienced, especially those who don’t know whether gaming computers have SD card slots or not. Still, by investing a little bit of time and money, it might just be the best way to play video games, all things considered.
Some of the most beloved video games aren’t always known for their breathtaking visuals. For example, pixelated Minecraft was created as a kid-friendly sandbox game, but it is now ranked as one of the best-selling video games in history.
This proves that normal computers can also be used to play video games, encapsulating a wider video game audience. Nevertheless, certain limitations come with it too, unlike gaming PCs.
Let’s take a look at what gaming on a regular home desktop entails:
|+ Affordable to set up|
+ Easy to use for everyone
+ Convenient to maintain/ replace parts
|– Limited support for AAA games|
– Choppy in-game frame rates
– Ugly visual graphics and textures
Overall, a gaming PC is undoubtedly the better option for playing video games. Still, not everyone is well off to buy one. That’s why regular PCs are good enough for casual gamers to play less-intensive games like World of Warcraft and Don’t Starve.
In my opinion, gaming devices are more important regardless of setup, like a gaming keyboard. I guess it all depends on perspective and personal gaming habits, at the end of the day.
What Do I Need to Play Games on PC?
Unlike PlayStation and Xbox consoles where every game is playable according to model and generation, PC games can be played on any computer as long as they meet each video game’s hardware requirements. So what are these requirements, exactly?
Well, there are no concrete specs to be explained here because each game needs different minimum hardware to be played optimally. That being said, we can still generalize them into specific segments, most notably:
- Operating System (OS)
- Central Processing Unit (CPU)
- Graphics Processing Unit/ Graphics Card (GPU)
- Random-Access Memory (RAM)
- Storage Memory (HDD/ SDD)
For PC gamers like me, these components are easy to understand and identify. However, not everyone has the same PC gaming know-how, so here are brief explanations of each:
Operating System (OS)
Simply put, an OS is the primary program that allows every application to communicate with each other on a computer. Windows and Mac are the two most prominent OS right now, and Windows is the most stable when it comes to video game compatibility.
Windows OS has different versions too, with the latest being Windows 11. Current-generation video games usually require Windows 10 or newer for them to be played without issues, but previous-generation games like Fallout 4 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive can still run on older Windows versions with minimal problems.
Central Processing Unit (CPU)
The CPU is the main chip that controls all the calculations, programming, and algorithms that our computer is doing behind the scenes.
An Intel Core i7 is an example of a high-end CPU, capable of managing multiple simultaneous processes in the background, especially when it comes to handling complex simulations for games like Total War: Warhammer III or Flight Simulator.
Graphics Processing Unit/ Graphics Card (GPU)
As its name implies, the GPU is the key component that deals with all the 3D processes and graphics memory utilized for playing video games. Understandably, this is probably the most important hardware relevant to gaming.
Our graphics card determines the overall video quality and in-game frame rates when playing video games. An affordable NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750 Ti released in 2014 is still capable of handling games like Monster Hunter Rise, but “2022 Game of the Year” winner, Elden Ring, requires top-tier GPUs like an AMD Radeon RX 580 to be run at its lowest settings.
Random-Access Memory (RAM)
RAM is NOT related to the memory space used to install video games. Instead, it is a ‘temporary’ memory that stores certain computer data and resources currently being used, to facilitate quicker loadings and streamline application performances.
A large RAM is needed for huge, open-world games such as Valheim, or texture-heavy titles like A Plague Tale: Requiem. The sweet spot for many AAA titles is 8GB RAM, but newer games to be released this year are pushing the boundaries, thus 16GB RAM is probably the way to go.
Storage Memory (HDD/ SDD)
Unlike RAM, storage memory is the one used up for the installation of video games on our PC. This is straightforward, actually; if a game requires 20GB of free space to be installed, that means we will need to allocate a minimum of 20GB from our internal hard drive to be allotted for the game.
What DOES matter is the type of internal storage device that we use. Solid-state drives (SDDs) are what modern-day computers use for storing data, boasting insane transfer speeds and faster application boot-ups.
On the other hand, hard disk drives (HDDs) are previous-generation storage devices that are commonly found in older computers. HDDs are particularly slower than SDDs, but they are known for their sturdiness and cheaper costs.
When it comes to PC gaming, every gamer needs to have basic computing knowledge to determine if their favorite video games can be run on their system. Other aspects of our computers, like PC drivers, determine whether a game can be played at all too.
Unlike gaming consoles, PC gamers have certain responsibilities that come with playing games on a computer. That being said, the outcome of it all is always worth it, be it for the graphical customization options that are provided in-game, or the convenience to upgrade hardware whenever necessary.
Can Work PCs Be Used to Play PC Games?
On paper, work/ business PCs can also be used to play PC games as long as the computers adhere to minimum video game spec requirements. However, the real question is should we do so, especially at the office?
This entirely revolves around circumstances, individual careers, and professionalism. If I’m a white-collar employee working at a tech firm, I will have my hands on a good PC with sufficient hardware for gaming, but I will NEVER use it to play video games, even outside of working hours.
As gamers, we need to understand that gaming has its own time and place. Even if we’re employed as a 3D animator for a gaming studio, that doesn’t mean our employers allow us the freedom to use their high-spec PCs for personal gaming.
Nevertheless, this unspoken rule may not apply to freelancers or entrepreneurs who are not working under a pay cheque. Daily work and business dealings are managed entirely by the individual, and outside of them, the PC used for work can be used for local gaming sessions as well.
In these instances, we might want to think about other gaming peripherals other than a mouse and keyboard, and if we can play old-school PC games via an external DVD drive without jeopardizing work files. Additionally, games should also be played without using Steam, to protect privacy concerns relevant to our work.
If possible, although many work/ business PCs can be used for gaming, we should have a separate gaming rig exclusively for gaming instead. Though it might sound redundant and expensive, this is to ensure that important work files and documents aren’t affected while we game, especially during unforeseen scenarios like hacking, viruses, or system crashes.
Should I Upgrade My PC for Gaming?
Yes, we should always consider upgrading our PC to play games when certain hardware is outdated. New video game technologies continue to be introduced every few years, and this will undoubtedly lead to the necessity of more advanced hardware to play the most recent games.
By upgrading our PC regularly, we remain relevant in the video gaming space, able to install the latest AAA titles without running into compatibility issues. An updated PC with the latest specs can be used to play new Xbox games too.
If we have too many old PC games stacked up on a shelf, though, it might be time for us to decide on what to do with them, especially those that we will never touch again (looking at you, Ride to Hell: Retribution). With many companies streamlining their sales through digital copies instead of retails nowadays, it might be time for us to embrace a new, digitized world as well.