Serious PC gamers appreciate the value of a finely-tuned gaming rig when prepping for battle, but to take your gaming experience to the next level it pays to ensure that all your peripherals are combat ready.
With your computer ready for action, you want to look for a great, gaming-friendly monitor with high refresh rates, low response times and low input lag – especially if you’re a fan of first-person shooters. The improvements are measured in milliseconds, but combined, these delays can make the difference between life and death when you’re on the gaming battlefield.
High refresh rates smooth out the action and allow you to be precise in your movements, while low response times reduce motion blur. Low input lag reduces the delay while you wait for the monitor to display the image coming from your PC.
Some gaming monitors support AMD FreeSync and NVIDIA’s G-Sync, letting your graphics card adjust your monitor’s refresh rate on the fly to avoid screen tearing while minimising input lag.
For a long time gamers favoured basic VA LCD monitors which put performance before picture quality, but today you’ll find great Quantum Dot VA LCD monitors and IPS LCD monitors which can handle the demands of gaming while producing rich and vibrant images.
High-end gaming monitors often support Ultra HD resolution and High Dynamic Range – adding more detail in the highlights and shadows to make the most of the latest HDR-enabled blockbuster games. Curved monitors have also won favour and offer an immersive gaming experience – especially on ultra-wide 21:9 and super ultra wide 32:9 displays.
Of course, the latest PC games don’t just look amazing, they also sound amazing so you’ll want a great headset or set of speakers to do that sound justice.
At the very least you’ll want a 2.1-channel sound system, with left and right speakers along with a standalone subwoofer to add extra punch to the explosions. From here you might step up to a full 5.1-channel surround sound system which adds a front centre speaker along with two rear speakers.
If you’re using in-game chat then you might opt for a headset with surround sound support and a built-in noise-cancelling microphone. Look for comfortable padding on the cans if you’ll be wearing the headset for hours at a time.
When it comes to controllers, PC gamers tend to prefer a keyboard and mouse over a joystick or console-style controller but, as with sound and vision, it pays to invest in gear which is ready for action.
Gamers avoid wireless keyboards and mice to reduce lag. They also favour high-end so-called mechanical keyboards, which rely on separate switches beneath each key to make them more reliable. If your budget won’t stretch, you’ll also find gaming-friendly membrane keyboards, which have a softer touch.
Gaming keyboards offer extra programmable keys, so you can execute complex macros with a single press when time is of the essence. Some keyboards also offer programmable backlighting, letting you illuminate the keys at night and divide the keyboard into colour-coded sections.
And finally, gaming mice feature a choice of grips depending on how you prefer to hold your mouse while you play. They also include an advanced optical or laser sensor which allows for greater precision than most average mice.
Mice designed for first-person shooters can even feature a DPI button, which lets you temporarily adjust the precision while you’re taking a difficult shot. Extra programmable buttons can also come in handy if you want to trigger macros without reaching for the keyboard.