By: Charles P. Jefferies
It is often said that it’s not the equipment, it’s the person using the equipment. This is true to an extent; in the online gaming world where every millisecond counts, having the proper equipment that lets you perform to the best of your ability is of paramount importance. PC gamers should have no doubts or worries about their equipment. Let’s take a look at three basic things every PC gamer should use.
NUMBER ONE: WIRED INPUT DEVICES
Wired is so ’90s . . . or is it? While it seems the majority of mice and keyboards sold today are wireless, especially the high end models, wireless is a technology that should be avoided by gamers for several reasons. Despite the advances in wireless technologies over the last ten years or so, wireless devices are still suceptible to interference. Other devices such as cordless phones and microwaves can easily confuse or cut off the signal from the device to the receiver. The few seconds it takes you to recover from a lack of control could mean the difference between winning and losing a match. The last thing you want to tell your teammates is the “the dog ate my homework” excuse that you lost it because your mouse went bezerek. N00b!
The other reason you want to avoid wireless input devices is because they use batteries. The batteries in some keyboards and mice may last for months, but they will eventually fail, and right in the middle of a match. If you can run to the refrigerator, open a pack of batteries, and change them in and out of the device that needs them before you die, then you should think about playing on a server that isn’t empty.
With that said, you don’t need an expensive gaming keyboard or mouse to have fun or even be serious. A lot of excellent gamers I know use $10 wired keyboards and old, cheap mice. For your gaming setup, choose a wired keyboard and mouse that are affordable and most importantly, comfortable to use.
We recommend spending around $40 for the Razer Salmosa gaming mouse. This budget gaming mouse has a high-resolution sensor and is very accurate.
Buy from Amazon: Razer Salmosa 1800dpi Infrared Gaming Mouse
For those not willing to spend that much, take a look at a basic Logitech 3-button mouse.
Buy from Amazon: Logitech Wheel Mouse Optical (Black Limited Edition)
For keyboards, we suggest the Microsoft Digital Media Keyboard 3000. It connects via USB and has a standard layout. The keys give good tactile feedback and there are several hotkeys for launching applications.
We leave you a lot of leeway when it comes to keyboard selection; look for one that is wired and has a standard layout. If you have a PS/2 port on your computer (remember those?), you can save a few dollars and opt for a keyboard using that connection.
NUMBER TWO: A QUALITY WIRED HEADSET
A good set of speakers can make for a wonderful listening experience, however a headset or pair of headphones is a superior choice for gamers. A speaker squarely on each side of your head will allow you to more easily determine the directions enemies are coming from versus listening to speakers placed in front of you. Additionally, subtle details will be more audible and noticeable since the headphone speaker is placed closer to the ear.
A benefit of having a wired headset is the attached microphone. The microphone is always in the same range of your voice, which makes for hassle-free voice communication. Your voice quality will also be more consistent versus using a desktop microphone.
Finally, using a headset or headphones means you won’t disturb those around you, which is great for those late-night gaming sessions.
We recommend the Razer Piranaha headset; it is a bit pricey at roughly $60 but delivers good gaming audio quality with plenty of bass and has a clear microphone.
Buy from Amazon: Razer Piranha Stereo Gaming Headphones
NUMBER THREE: A HIGH-RESOLUTION MONITOR
The monitor obviously plays a large role in your computing experience. For PC gamers, the monitor needs extra attention. There are two essential specifications that the PC gamer must pay attention to: the monitor’s resolution and its response time. Let’s start with the resolution.
The resolution of a monitor is given in pixels. My monitor’s resolution is 1920×1200; this means that it has 1,920 pixels spanning horizontally and 1,200 vertically. A typical computer monitor has a 1024×768 or 1440×900 resolution. A higher resolution monitor allows you to do and see more – for example, it is easier to work with multiple windows with a higher resolution since you can fit more of them side-by-side. In games, a high resolution monitor can really shine. The high resolution of my monitor has given me the edge over other players many times in maps that have large view distances. I was able to see players moving on the other side of the map before they could see me thanks to the extra pixels on my screen. To see how much more space you have with a higher-resolution monitor, see the below screenshots.
1920×1200 (note image has been resized for fast loading; note the size of the Start orb and other objects in relation to the 1024×768 image above):
The 1920×1200 resolution has several times the screen space that 1024×768 has!
My recommendation for PC gamers is to go for a montior that has at least a 1440×900 resolution, however 1680×1050 is ideal.
Response time refers to how quickly pixels can change (typically) from black to white to black, though many use gray to white to gray (which is slightly faster). The response time is measured in milliseconds (ms); lower is better. Any monitor with a resonse time under 8 ms will be fine for gaming because it will ensure fast-paced games will be shown without issues. Monitors with high response times can have trouble displaying fast-moving games, since the pixels may not be able to react fast enough to the moving scenery and thus the screen image will become blurry.
We recommend the Samsung SyncMaster 2253BW 22-inch widescreen monitor. It has a high resolution of 1680×1050 and a response time of less than 8 ms. Samsung monitors come with excellent warranties and the gold standard of the industry.
Buy from Amazon: Samsung SyncMaster 2253BW 22-inch LCD Monitor
The PC gamer should always be focused on his or her game – don’t let your equipment hold you back or hamper your abilities. A good quality wired mouse, keyboard, headset, and high resolution monitor with a low response time are an excellent foundation to a satisfying and rewarding PC gaming experience. My rule of thumb is to always invest a reasonable amount of money in the three devices you use to interface with the computer, because they will determine how you use it and your level of confidence in your computer. It makes a difference.
This concludes our Tuesday feature article – for some of you, this article may have been prior knowledge, but think of it as a reinforcement of good habits. To those of you looking for new equipment or just entering the PC gaming market, the advice we have provided you with today will start you off right.
Until next time, game on, and be sure to register in the forums for discussion!