Should you buy a gaming PC or laptop?

Whether you want to enjoy a better gaming experience, a huge range of (affordable and free) games, or you want to be able to use your game monster for work or study, a good gaming PC should be more versatile than a console. But what should you pay attention to when purchasing it?

Tip 01: Desktop or laptop?

The choice between a desktop or laptop is personal. A laptop is easy to take with you wherever a desktop PC needs its own place in the house. However, a desktop offers more performance for its money, is easy to expand or upgrade, is easier to repair if there is something wrong, is quieter and offers a healthier gaming attitude with a larger monitor. Our advice: consider a desktop PC unless mobility is really necessary. Although you can't choose every part with laptops, the following tips are certainly worth reading.

Tip 02: Video card

The video card is the heart of your gaming PC or laptop and largely determines how smoothly games run. Don't be blinded by the amount of memory the video card has, that only says a little about the performance and many sellers take advantage of that. A GeForce GTX 1650 Super is a good starting point for a budget gaming PC, an RTX 2070 (Super) is fine for a premium gaming PC or laptop.

Tip 03: Screen

While gaming you constantly look at your screen, so a good screen is worth its weight in gold. Speed ​​is especially important for gamers, a speed of 144 Hz or faster is noticeably nicer to game and watch. An ips panel is preferable to a tn panel because of the better image quality. Nowadays, such a screen is also the standard in gaming laptops. If you also use your (desktop) game PC for creative tasks, a fast screen with a higher resolution (1440p) is desirable. Note that you must have an extra strong video card, such as a GeForce RTX 2070 Super. There are as yet no laptops with fast screens and high resolution.

The video card is the heart of your gaming PC or laptop and determines how smoothly games run

Tip 04: Processor

After the video card, the processor is the most important internal part of your PC to keep games running smoothly. Modern games push even the recent quad-core processors to their limits, so for both desktop PCs and laptops we prefer a powerful CPU with 6 or 8 cores. For desktops, those are Intel Core i5 (9600 or higher), 9th or 10th generation i7 or i9, and Ryzen 5 (3600 or higher), Ryzen 7 or 3000 series Ryzen 9. For laptops, these are Intel Core i7 or i9 processors from the 9th or 10th generation, or AMD Ryzen processors from the 4000 series. For video editing it is useful to invest a lot of money in the processor, if you mainly use the PC for gaming, then the suggestions are not much different.

Tip 05: Motherboard

Picking out a good motherboard for your gaming PC is a tricky task. It should match your chosen processor, and separating the wheat from the chaff requires in-depth knowledge of components. As a result, suppliers of ready-made PCs often see their chance to make substantial savings. Still, a good motherboard is crucial for a long life of your PC. Our advice is therefore: do good research or be well informed by the (web) store where you want to purchase whether the motherboard is suitable and of good quality.

Tip 06: Working memory

With today's memory prices, 16 GB of RAM is our starting point for gaming PCs and laptops. Not only is that the sweet spot in terms of price-performance ratio, with many major titles you will already run into problems if you opt for only 8 GB of memory. Would you like to choose your own memory kit? Then don't be fooled by the mentioned speeds of sets of memory, the impact of this on your system is small. 3200 MHz normally already offers optimal performance, and is affordable.

Turnkey PC vendors are cutting back on motherboard and power supplies

Tip 07: Storage

Contemporary games take up a lot of space, so you need no less than 160 GB for the latest Call of Duty. A laptop with only a small SSD is therefore not an option for gamers. When money is no object, nothing beats a large amount of lightning-fast (and quiet) SSD storage, but gamers on a tighter budget will want to combine a small fast SSD (256 or 512 GB) for Windows and their favorite game with a large mechanical drive for other storage. Game laptops often come with a 1 TB hard drive as an extra, for a desktop gaming PC you can normally make 2 TB of that for about 20 euros more; definitely not a bad investment.

Tip 08: Nutrition

A laptop is always supplied with a suitable external power supply, a desktop requires a suitable internal power supply. But power supplies are also a technically very complex subject, which both retailers and manufacturers eagerly abuse. For example, they like to sprinkle with high wattages to indicate quality, while power and quality are two completely different things. Since the power supply has to power all other components, quality is crucial here. So here too we say: do good research or ask your PC supplier critical questions whether the power supply used is genuine A-quality power supply. There are some exceptions here and there, but as a rule, well-known brands such as be quiet!, Cooler Master, Corsair or Seasonic are good in terms of nutrition. A good power supply does not specifically make your PC faster, but you can enjoy it much longer.

Tip 09: Housing

The steel box around your components, how important is that really? To a certain extent not at all. As long as the system gets enough fresh air through the ventilation grilles, there is really not much to worry about. However, we do not recommend extreme savings on the housing, especially if you want to assemble your PC yourself and don't want to open your fingers on sharp edges or if you want to be left with loud fans that you really can't stand after a year. For the rest, it is mainly a subjective matter: what do you like and which size fits best on or under your desk. Of course, all components must also fit, the specifications of the housings indicate how large your motherboard, video card and cooling may be.

Building your own gaming PC isn't scary, but if you're dreading it, you can have it done too

Tip 10: Cooling

Most processors come with adequate cooling, and most decent cases with enough fans for a typical gaming PC. Still, it can't hurt to invest a few bucks in the cooling of your PC. This improves the performance of the processor and also keeps your system quieter. Practically all recent coolers fit recent Intel and AMD CPUs, so the choice is mainly a matter of taste, budget, and whether it fits in your chosen housing.

Tip 11: OS

In theory you could run Linux on your computer, but in practice gamers often opt for Windows 10. This is normally included with a laptop or ready-made PC. If you build your PC yourself or have it built, take into account the costs for the Windows license, about 100 euros. Are you adventurous, price comparison sites and even Google Shopping are full of cheaper alternatives from 10 euros. From experience, they usually work fine, but you can certainly question the legality and how those codes are obtained.

Tip 12: Build yourself

Building your own laptop is almost impossible, but putting together your own desktop gaming PC is perfectly doable. Patience and good reading are crucial, but the internet is full of manuals and the risk is minimal. As interesting as it sounds to get a ready-made (branded) PC from the store, the reality is that no such PC really manages to achieve the ideal balance between components. Most even use outdated parts or parts of mediocre quality and in the best case scenario you will pay hundreds of euros more than if you choose (better!) parts yourself. Don't you feel like assembling your PC yourself? Most large (web) stores charge around 50 to 60 euros to assemble your PC. This way you can still get a PC with the best, recent components for a good price, plus the fact that you have a single point of contact if something turns out to be wrong with one of the parts.

Tip 13: Ideal gaming PC

The list in the box 'Ideal gaming PC' is a perfectly balanced, powerful gaming and all-round PC for about 1,000 euros (excluding Windows and assembly), equipped with real A-class components with which you can play all games very smoothly. can play on a fast monitor. No ready-to-use system on the Dutch market under 1,500 euros can match this in terms of performance and quality.

At the time of writing, all parts are in stock at the three major Dutch PC stores (Azerty, Informatique and CD-ROM-LAND) who are also able to assemble your system and ship it to you. They also have the knowledge to provide you with suitable alternatives, if a part is not in stock at the time of publication.

Do you want to save? A smaller SSD or hard drive, omitting the (extra) cooler or a cheaper housing are worth considering. If you don't mind spending a little more, consider a more powerful video card, such as an RTX 2060 Super or RTX 2070 Super, or a larger SSD.

Ideal gaming PC

Video card: MSI GeForce GTX 1660 Super Ventus XS OC

Processor: AMD Ryzen 5 3600

Motherboard: MSI B450 Tomahawk MAX

RAM: Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB 3200MHz

SSD: Crucial MX500 500GB

Hard drive: Seagate Barracuda 2TB

Power Supply: Seasonic Core Gold GC 500

Cooling: Cooler Master Hyper 212 Black Edition

Enclosure: NZXT H510

PC buying tips

A composite PC is available in different price ranges, depending on what your wishes are. We show you an entry-level and premium laptop and a ready-made desktop PC.

Entry-level gaming laptop: MSI Bravo

Price: €1,099 - €1,299

A good gaming laptop under 1,000 euros does not exist (unfortunately). The most interesting entry-level model that can play all recent games well is the MSI Bravo. Available in a 15- and 17-inch version and equipped with a very powerful AMD Ryzen 7 4800H CPU plus Radeon RX 5500 M with which you can play light games very smoothly on the 120Hz screen or large AAA games on about 60 to 70 fps on medium settings. It is also not very thick or heavy and it is pleasant to work with thanks to a good keyboard. Only the battery life is disappointing.

Premium gaming laptop: ROG Scar III

Price: €1,999

If you don't settle for a slip-on, you'll have to dig deeper into your pocket. The ROG Scar III laptop comes with an Intel Core i7 and a GeForce RTX 2070 that can also play large titles at high settings. The 240Hz IPS panel is excellent, this keyboard and touchpad are also nice to work with, and it is also richly equipped with RGB lighting. Here too, however, the following applies: performance comes at the expense of battery life.

Turnkey Game PC: MSI Infinite 9SC-845MYS

Price: €1,299

Order now, play tomorrow? It was quite a search for a ready-to-use PC that was worth considering, but the MSI Infinite 9SC proved to be a suitable candidate: reasonably compact, equipped with a powerful RTX 2060 Super and sufficient memory and storage to handle a full-fledged game. PC for a reasonable price. Our list has advantages on a number of fronts, but for 1,299 euros you get a great complete system at home. Just don't forget your monitor and peripherals!

Accessories buying tips

You now have a gaming PC at home, but don't underestimate good accessories. We give our top tip for each part for both the budget and premium class, based on our own experiences.

Mouse: Cooler Master MM710 / Logitech G Pro Wireless

Price: €49 / €118

For just under 50 euros, the MM710 is the best mouse at the moment. Feather light, which is good for fast games, top sensor, solid switches. Prefer something more luxurious? The Logitech G Pro Wireless is the wireless mouse for gamers: top sensor, lightweight and excellent battery life.

Keyboard: Cooler Master MK110 / Corsair K70 RGB MK.2

Price: €35 / €149

For gamers, a keyboard must be able to handle many signals quickly, the MK110 is one of the cheapest options that can do that. It's not very luxurious, but it costs half the mechanical boards that gamers prefer. Our premium option costs even more than that, but then you have one of the best, most complete keyboards available with a fantastic touch and all the bells and whistles imaginable.

Headset: Cooler Master MH630 / Logitech G Pro X

Price: €59 / €99

The best budget headset also comes from Cooler Master. There are cheaper options, but for 59 euros the MH630 delivers good comfort, good sound, and a microphone that makes you look good. If it is an ounce more, then the Logitech G Pro X comes into the picture. For 40 euros more you get excellent comfort, sound and a good microphone, plus many software features.

Monitor: AOC 27G2U / Gigabyte Aorus FI27Q

Price: €249 / €499

Fast and affordable screens have improved considerably over the years, the 27GU2 is fast, does well in terms of colors and is also quite sturdy: a nice entry-level device. Do you prefer a real top screen? The Aorus FI27Q is pricey, but the image quality is really excellent and it has a higher resolution, which is also very nice outside of games.

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