For a lot of PC gamers, a gaming setup is always a work in progress. Even when you’ve got a setup you really like, it’s always hard not to wonder if maybe it couldn’t be just a little bit better. And if your battle station isn’t quite like you want it yet, you might be wondering what kind of tweaks will provide the biggest boost in performance and comfort.
That’s exactly what we’re here to talk about. From under-the-hood hardware upgrades that will give you the crisp textures and smooth frame rates of your dreams to quality-of-life boosts like a new chair, these are six of the most consequential upgrades that you can make to your gaming setup.
- Add more RAM
If you’re rocking with 8 GB RAM or less, now is the perfect time to change that. 16 GB RAM is the gold standard for high performance gaming rigs, and upgrading PC RAM is one of the easiest hardware swaps to do yourself on most machines. (Check first to ensure your motherboard can accommodate the RAM you want to add.)
What if you’ve already got 16 GB? Will upgrading to 32 GB supercharge your gaming performance even more? In some cases, the jump from 16 to 32 can be worth it if you need maxed-out settings on the most graphics-intensive games, or you want to future-proof your rig. That said, you should strongly consider going to 32 or 64 GB if you also use your PC for extremely RAM-intensive tasks like video editing or animation.
- Upgrade your GPU
The graphics card or GPU is a PC gaming rig’s heart and soul, and it’s thus one of the most exciting and consequential upgrades you can make to your setup. If you’ve been muddling through with an older GPU, an upgrade can unlock AAA titles you couldn’t play before, and a high-end model can take you to the promised land of Ultra settings and even 4k gaming.
GPUs are available in a wide variety of budget tiers. Those who want to max out their graphics performance will, of course, find tempting cutting-edge choices like Nvidia’s RTX 3090 and AMD’s RX 6900 XT. Bargain hunters, on the other hand, should get familiar with the many outstanding budget GPUs that can provide strong performance on most games at a significantly lower price point.
Whatever you choose, however, it’s important to remember to check your new GPU’s power requirements and upgrade your power supply to match if necessary. In addition, keep in mind that many high-end GPUs have large cooling units that take up more real estate in your case, so start planning ahead for any other modifications you might need to make.
- Invest in a comfortable gaming chair
You almost certainly spend a ton of time in your gaming chair, and even more so if you use the same workstation for your job or other pursuits. So why not get yourself an ergonomic gaming chair that’s kind to your body and helps you stay at peak performance?
Experts say that adjustability is the number one factor to look for. You want a chair that lets you get your perfect settings for arm rests, height and more. Support is another key element. Most gamers want a chair with built-in neck and lumbar padding, and all the better if it’s adjustable. Finally, pay attention to what reviews say about breathability. After all, who wants a sweaty back when you’re in the middle of a match?
- Upgrade to a 1440p monitor
The age of 1440p is upon us, and there are fewer and fewer reasons to put off upgrading to the crispness of the higher resolution monitor. So long as your GPU can handle it, we’re pretty sure you’ll never go back once you’ve had a taste of the rich colors and razor sharpness of 1440p. If you’re a competitive gamer who needs ultra-fast frame rates, make sure to go for a monitor that also offers a 144hz refresh rate and G-SYNC/FreeSync.
What about making the ultimate jump to 4k? If your system is up to the task, go right ahead! Be aware, though, that you’ll need a truly beastly graphics card and CPU to handle the strain of rendering almost four times as many pixels, as well as a compatible computer monitor. Plus, some gamers have noted potential performance trade-offs in framerate at 4k, even when using the very latest GPU hardware. For most gamers, 1440p is a great option.
- Get a better mouse, keyboard, and/or gamepad controller
Upgrading your control peripherals can make a huge difference, both for your comfort and your competitive edge. First, gaming mice and keyboards are designed specifically for the ergonomic needs of long gaming sessions. They also include gaming-specific features, such as high DPI and programmable buttons on mice, or mechanical switches and macro keys on keyboards.
A gamepad controller can be a great alternative if you’re used to console gaming, or if you play games that are optimized for a controller. (For example, a lot of gamers who love FromSoftware games like Elden Ring swear by their gamepads.) And if you’re into certain genres like racing or fighting games, peripherals like a racing wheel or arcade stick are borderline must-haves.
- Sweeten your streaming with better audio and video
PC gaming has never been more social as gamers flock to streaming platforms. If you’re thinking about getting into streaming, or you’re already doing it but want to upgrade your equipment, now might be a great time to get yourself some superior streaming tools that will help you have more fun and grow your following.
A high quality microphone and headset are essential for streaming, so grab those first if you haven’t already. After that, a webcam is most people’s next purchase for making their streaming pleasant to watch and listen to. Once you’ve got these essentials, lots of choices are available for further upgrades, from streaming decks that give you instant control over various functions to vertical monitors that make it convenient to keep up with your Twitch chat or Discord as you play.