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The console war rages on between the main competitors- PS4, Xbox One and PC(Nah Nintendo, they like to enjoy the view). As we enter the latest generation of consoles, we can see that the competitiveness is on the rise and more and more people are sticking on the console which they are a fan of. The last generation had seen a huge jump in the sales of consoles. PC gaming had almost come to a halt. But surprisingly the PC market has ‘Risen’ this time around. Many people are now adopting the idea of having 2 consoles (Most preferably a PS4 and a PC together). But lets forget that. Today we look into how we can build a gaming PC of our budget, be it low, med or high and for various gaming criteria (Because we don’t have to worry configurations in a console). This article will be divided into 3 parts and each of them will contain information on how to effectively maintain the weight in your pocket.

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In this article we will be covering motherboards and processors which form 30% of a gaming PC.

Motherboards

Motherboards are a critical part of a PC. Without them one cannot build  a computer. Now coming to the first question:

1) What kind of gaming do I want?

Ans Possibilities) Casual or Enthusiast or Hardcore

And now the second:

2) What is the budget for my whole PC?

Ans Possibilities) Low (15-35k) or Mid (40-70k) or I’ll take the costliest items on the market (This is like 1% population in India).

Generally our aspiration for the 1st question is at the right end but the 2nd question brings us into reality (Trooolled). So I guess we will just talk about the low and the mid ranged builds because that makes a lot of sense.

Here is an Image of a basic gaming motherboard with labelled parts:

motherboardExplained

Lets talk motherboard in general. You should ask the following questions to any dealer before you buy a motherboard:

1) Is it compatible with the processor, GPU, RAM and hard disk I’m buying?

2)How many ram slots are there and till what frequency range does it support?

3) How many PCIe slot and lanes are there?

4) What is the form factor?

5) What is the company of the motherboard and how are it’s general reviews of  build quality?

Now all of these questions will be answered as per your requirement one by one below with differentiated low and mid builds:

In general all computer peripherals are compatible with each other. But many a times if one of the peripherals is of a much better specification than the others in terms raw efficiency, the computer is not able to take advantage of that particular peripheral. This includes all the peripherals including RAM, GPU, CPU as well as Motherboards. Certainly you don’t want this to happen with you. This phenomena is called bottle-necking. Bottle-necking happens when your processor or GPU or motherboard is limited by any of the others. The best example I can think of explaining this is, just ask yourself the question: “What will happen if I put a Lamborghini’s Engine in Toyota Corolla?”. If you can imagine that, then you are on the right path to understanding the term bottle-necking. Let’s get on with the questions presently on hand.

1) Is it compatible with the processor, GPU, RAM and hard disk I’m buying?

Most of the times you don’t have to worry abut the hard disk, but for the GPU, Processor and RAM you’ll have to check whether a particular motherboard supports the parts.

Lower End Builds:

In case of lower end builds we don’t have to worry much about the motherboard because neither the processor nor the graphics card are of high specifications and are aimed at entry level gaming. However we gotta be future-proof. Why take the risk of having to buy a whole PC again. So a decent motherboard should do the trick. Entry level processors include i3 mid tier models and some of the very lower end i5 models. Most of the motherboards are compatible with these models and any motherboard between 4-6k INR will satisfy.

Mid Tier Builds:

Here is where almost everything becomes complicated. Most of you having a budget of averagely 60k will reserve 25k for motherboard and processor, 25k for a GPU and 10k for the additional peripherals like hard disks, RAMs etc. Right now lets focus on the 25k bit which includes motherboards and processors. And then let us say that a good motherboard will cost around 8-12k. So now we have to mix and match. We have to balance all the parts. So we’ll have to try different combinations. 1080pi Ultra gaming at 60+ FPS is today’s trend and unless you play on this settings you’ll be considered outdated. Plus you have to check at every step whether your other components are compatible with your motherboard. This information can be found on the Manufacturer’s main site. If you cant find it on the site you are free to ask in the comments below. One more thing that you’ll have to see is whether your motherboard supports Nvidia’s SLi or AMD’s Crossfire depending on the brand of GPU you buy. Unless you want to enter the 4K or multi monitor display, a single GPU is enough for your needs for which a motherboard of ATX Form Factor will be a perfect choice which will be discussed later on. So now most of the mid ranged CPU’s fall under 10-15k and hence we can buy a 10k Motherboard. But if you want to cut out on space or you dont think that you’ll be going for an extra RAM or Graphics Card in the near future you can compromise on the Motherboard and get a better CPU. This may also help in getting a better GPU. But it would be wise to buy a nice spacey motherboard because most of the peripherals heat up if congested in a  small space which may damage the other parts.

Higher End Builds:

Generally, the top of the line builds do not have compatibility issues except when we want to run multiple GPUs, in which case we will have to see whether a motherboard supports SLi or Crossfire.

ASRock970

Now onto the next question.

2) How many ram slots are there and till what frequency range does it support?

For future-proofing you’ll need extra RAM slots because if you have only two slots and if you want to increase your memory from 8GB(2X4Gb) to  maybe 16GB(2X8Gb), then you’ll have to replace them. And if you buy a motherboard with more RAM slots you can just add to the memory you’ve already got. Frequency matters a lot. the higher the frequency, higher is the performance as we’ll see later on. There is no point is discussing separately for lower builds and Middle tier builds because RAM is so cheap nowadays that extending the budget by even 2k can get you a 16 Gb RAM at a local dealers’.

3) How many PCIe slot and lanes are there?

Lower Builds:

In lower case builds you’ll get mostly 2 PCIe slots and the 2nd one will not be usable because one GPU alone will take enough space to cover the other slot. So unless you get your hands on a very good motherboard, you are not going to have many customizable options.

Middle Tier Builds:

Middle tier rigs can vary a lot from person to person. If you want to save out on a motherboard, then you would be better off thinking that your computer will not be future-proof. Many good motherboards are able to slot in 2-3 GPUs which is actually pretty useful if you dont want to go for a new card in the future and just buy another card to boost your performance alongside an older card. It’s totally your preference, whether you want to add more cards in the future or will just buy a new card. But more number of PCIe slots will also be good if you are going to make videos of games or do video editing.

4) What is the form factor?

Form Factor is generally associated with the number of components a motherboard can accomodate or you could say the size of a motherboard. A micro ATX form factor will generally have lesser slots and a reduced size when compared to an ATX card. There are 5 variations of Form Factor (With images):

i) ATX

blueMotherboard

ii) Micro ATX

MicroATX

iii) Flex ATX

FlexATX

iv) DTX

DTX

v) Mini ITX

MiniITX

Mostly only the first two are used for custom made gaming rigs and you don’t have to worry about the last 3.

ATX can accommodate the most number of graphics card and is useful for tower builds. So unless you are aiming for 3 or more GPUs running together you dont need an ATX motherboard. You can go with a micro ATX one which will be able to accommodate 2 cards and is more than sufficient for 1080p gaming.

We’d suggest that the people with lower tier builds buy a micro ATX motherboard form factor because graphics cards at lower price ranges do not come with SLi or Crossfire which we will be talking about in the later sections  and the people with middle tier builds can buy an ATX form factor board for future proofing. People with higher builds can go for an ATX form factor to build a tower system.

5) What is the company of the motherboard?

This is important because the build quality of a motherboard is important. If the motherboard is not of standard quality, it can easily damage the other parts of your computer. Some of the good brands in motherboards are Asus, Gigabyte, Asrock, MSI etc. These companies make motherboards for all purposes and hence you can buy a motherboard of your specification or budget. So choose wisely.

SO……. *Phew*. Too much info to appetize. But this way you’ll not go wrong anywhere.

Processors

Now let’s talk processors. Processors at most affect 2-5% of the FPS we get. So not much to choose from here. You have the names- i3, i5 and i7.  But most low end builds use i3 and most mid tier builds i5. But that’s not all. There would be a bit of detailing.

intelProessors

Lower End Builds:

Well, for this type of type budget, the latest i3 processors are a best, but if you play more processor intensive games like GTA 5 and ARMA 3, you’ll require a better processor in which case you’ll have to go a bit above ground. But don’t worry. These types of games constitute only 15-25% of all the games in a fiscal year. So you can do a bit of a compromise and get a better GPU if you want.

Mid Tier Builds:

In Mid tier we are looking at the i5s or the higher i3s. The most popular mid ranged gaming processor is  the Intel Core i5-4690K which is a decent one, and can pretty much max out most of the latest games on 1080p with a compatible GPU. So if you can get this model, you should be good for another 5-6 years.

The mid and high tier PC processors have two companies Intel and AMD. We are in India, which is predominantly a warm country and hence you might not want an AMD processor because they heat up too much which can damage the computer parts. However people in cooler regions can go for it, because AMD gives more bang for the buck than Intel at lower prices.

Higher Tier Builds:

These builds will have the latest i7 powering the systems which gives the best performance and is basically for those who are building a PC of around 2-3 lakhs.

As for the processor and multitasking, all processors with hyper-threading and turbo boost will perform well.

Here we conclude the first article in this series of 3 and will be back next time on how to choose RAM, Hard Disks, CD drives and PSUs. Adios.

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