Buying a new computer is a big deal. Whether you’re buying a custom gaming PC, a home-office work machine, or a video-editing workstation, you need a PC that will perform great when you buy it and still work well years from now. You want something with plenty of storage for all your files and applications. You need something that runs cool and quiet, so you aren’t constantly listening to the droning of fans.
And it has to fit into your budget.
That might sound like you’re searching for perfection, which is traditionally rather hard to find. When you’re buying a new computer, though, you very much can find the perfect PC for you. You just need to know a little about what you actually need. It’s not always exactly what you want, but making sure you focus your budget on the type of computer that will do what you need it to, rather than something that just looks good on paper, will give you a PC that will be a joy to use for years to come.
To help you on your journey to finding that perfect new computer, here’s our guide on how to choose a PC.
What’s it for?
Before we look at the components that will make up your new PC, you need to consider what it is you’re going to use it for. If you want a machine for just doing some light web browsing, homework for the kids, and to watch the odd movie on, you don’t need a high-end gaming PC. Likewise if you do want to play some games at 4K with all the settings turned up to Ultra, you aren’t going to get far with a home-office work machine.
Most computers are versatile enough to do a little of everything, but by starting with your needs and focusing the PC on them, then you’ll get a PC that can do all you want and more, without going over budget.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the different ways you can use a PC, and a few quick hardware recommendations for the kind of PC that would be best suited for your needs.
- Casual: Lightweight web browsing, streaming movies, homework, and light Office work. An entry-level processor, 8GB of RAM, small-size SSD.
- Journeyman: More demanding Office work, casual gaming, light video editing. Mid-range processor, 16GB of RAM, entry-level graphics card, larger SSD, additional hard drive storage.
- Esports gaming: Mainstream gaming, streaming gameplay, heavy web browsing and video streaming. Mid-range processor, 16GB of RAM, mid-range graphics card, larger SSD.
- Workstation: Heavier video editing, video transcoding, large-database Office work, 3D design. High-end processor, 32-64GB of RAM, professional graphics card, large SSD, additional hard drive storage.
- Extreme gaming: AAA gaming at 1440p or 4K resolution, gaming and streaming simultaneously. High-end processor, 32GB of RAM, high-end graphics card, large SSD, second SSD for additional storage.
Although these categories don’t cover every base and they don’t go into specifics about individual components, this is a good general base to start our deeper dive into how to choose a PC, and gives you something to go off if you just need to buy a new computer right now.
If you want additional help, either get in touch with Chillblast for a personalized chat with our expert system builders, or read on, for more information on how to choose the right PC for you.
What does your new PC need?
Now that we know what you need, let’s take a look at what your new computer will need to do its job; Namely, the components. These are the individual parts of your computer and includes everything from the processor at its heart, to the storage drives for all your data, to the power supply that helps it all turn on.
There’s a lot of choice for each of these categories, but we’ll cover all the bases so you have a good understanding of what each component does, and what you should consider for your next PC, depending on your budget.
The central processor, or CPU, is the heart of your PC. Whatever you want to use it for, it does all the general heavy lifting of running the computer, and feeds more specialized hardware like the graphics card, for gaming or video transcoding.
There are two major companies that make and sell processors: AMD and Intel, and apart from a few standouts, their CPUs are roughly comparable on price and performance throughout their respective ranges. Newer CPUs offer better performance and features, so you’ll want one of their latest generations of CPUs, whichever brand you pick. For AMD that’s Ryzen 5000 or 7000, and for Intel it’s 12th or 13th generation.
If you’re looking for something entry-level, then Intel’s Core i3 and Core i5 models are best, like the Core i3-12100 for ultra budget builds, or the Core i5-13400 for mid-tier computing power. For AMD, the Ryzen 5 5500 and 5600 are great budget CPUs.
More mid-range systems want to target Core i5 and Core i7, and newer Ryzen CPUs. Those include the Core i5-13600K and i7-13700K, or AMD’s Ryzen 7700X and 7800X3D (arguably the best gaming CPU in the world at the moment).
For high-end PCs, the Intel Core i9-13900K and Ryzen 7950X3D and 7950X are the best out there.
If you’re targeting professional workloads where more cores are beneficial, stick to Intel’s top-chips, or AMD’s non-X3D processors. The X3D models are amazing for gaming, but sacrifice some of their workstation performance in the bargain.
This is the quick-access storage that every system needs to run fast and smooth. Modern PCs can be built with either DDR4 or DDR5, depending on the generation of CPU you use, but the difference in performance is rarely dramatic. Look for quantity first, and then once you have enough, if you can stretch your budget, opt for newer, faster memory.
For entry-level PCs, 8GB is the bare minimum, but you’ll get by with it for very casual use. For everyone else, especially gamers, 16GB is a much better fit. It will let you open up many more browser tabs and gives support for a wider range of games.
For high-end gamers and anyone doing heavy photo or video editing, 32GB makes a big difference. For professionals, more memory can be even more beneficial, so consider 64GB or even more if your PC and workload can take advantage of it.
Every PC needs some kind of graphics processor to run your display, but not every PC needs something powerful. Indeed, most Intel, and some AMD processors come with their own onboard graphics. If you only want to watch streamed movies, browser the web, answer emails, and do some light office work, then you don’t need a graphics card at all.
For gaming, however, you absolutely need a graphics card to enjoy faster frame rates, smooth gameplay, and high-end visuals. For esports, indie, and casual games, you don’t need anything too powerful. An Nvidia RTX 3060 is a great entry-level GPU for modern gaming at high frame rates. AMD’s RX 6600 is a good alternative, too.
For playing more demanding games at higher resolutions, stretching your budget to an Nvidia RTX 3070 Ti or AMD RX 6750 XT will make a huge difference. For playing at 4K, you need one of the latest generations of graphics cards. That’s Nvidia RTX 4070 Ti, 4080, or – if you have the budget – the RTX 4090. AMD’s RX 7900 XT and 7900 XTX are amazing too, and more affordable, though their ray tracing performance isn’t as impressive.
If you’re looking to do some 3D design work, or accelerate certain video transcoding tasks, then a graphics card of almost any kind will make a big difference. You’ll get better performance with higher-end cards, but unless you’re doing particularly demanding work, then you can get away with mainstream GPUs rather than the more-expensive workstation GPUs. The specifics about the best GPU for each professional task, though, can vary dramatically, so for more help picking the right graphics card for your workload, speak to a Chillblast system builder directly.
Picking the right motherboard is more about features than anything else. Higher-end motherboards do offer additional stability for overclocking and more USB ports, but it’s what else they support that tends to matter more for most people. Does it support the type of memory you want to use? Does it support the generation of PCIExpress SSD you’re installing? Does it need a secondary CPU power plug?
As long as it has everything you need and you have the right case and PSU for it, motherboards have the least impact on performance, so are one area you can save some money if you’re careful with your budget.
All Chillblast PCs are fitted with the best motherboard at that particular price point, but if you need something specific with certain features, be sure to ask us for more help in choosing the right motherboard for you.
Whatever kind of PC you’re building, make sure it has an SSD as its boot drive. That’s something that all Chillblast PCs have as a rule, no matter what. It ensures your system starts up fast, and wakes up from sleep even faster.
For more casual PCs and homework, that may well be enough, though you can always add a secondary hard drive for longer-term storage or if you want to download movies and TV shows to your PC. For gamers who are have big game libraries to install, just get a larger boot drive. A 1TB SSD will fit most game libraries in, but you can always add a second SSD if you need more space.
For video editors and anyone working with many, or large files, big SSDs will give you the most responsive experience. Once you get into multi-terabyte drives, though, hard drives are so much cheaper that you’ll need to weigh up whether the added efficiency of your workload is worth the added cost.
Chillblast only supplies quality branded power supplies, as you don’t want to risk your high-end gaming PC on a cheap power supply. We make sure that the PSU has enough wattage for your other components too, so all you really need to decide is whether you’re willing to pay more for the nice-to-have extras.
vThat can include higher efficiency, which reduces energy wastage, and your energy bills in turn. There are PSUs which run cooler and quieter, and have higher-quality components for pushing your PC to the limits with overclocking. There are others which are super compact and designed to fit into small form-factor systems, too.
Cases are mostly about looks, but they also dictate the shape and size of your PC. A Mini-ITX case is only going to support certain sizes of motherboards, PSUs, and coolers, while some giant cases can even fit two different computers inside!
Pick a case you like the look of, but make sure it also has the kind of cooling and front-panel connections you want. If you frequently use front USB ports or headphone jacks, ensure your chosen case has those readily accessible. If you want watercooling, make sure it has space for that too.
Picking the right PC for you means addressing your wants and needs with the right hardware choices, whilst sticking within your budget. Now that you’ve had a break down on all the individual parts of your system, you’ll be much better equipped to make an educated decision when it comes to choosing your next PC.
Want more help? That’s what we’re here for. Get in touch with Chillblast today and one of our expert system builders will help discuss the kind of PC that would be perfect for you, whatever your needs.
How to choose a PC FAQ
Still got some questions about how to choose a PC? We’ve got you covered. Here are some of the most common questions when it comes to picking a new PC.
Which operating system do I need?
All Chillblast PCs are supplied with Windows 10 or Windows 11 installed and ready to use as soon as you start it up. Both offer an excellent platform for gaming, homework, home office use, or any of a wide range of professional tasks.
Windows 11 is the newer operating system and has some more advanced features. It works well with Intel’s latest processors, and is the more future proof platform. It’s the best operating system for most new PCs. If you have a specific app or older game that works best on Windows 10, though, we can install that for you and it’s an equally great base for a modern PC, whatever your needs.
What do I need for fast Wi-Fi?
There are two main ways to get your new PC online: Ethernet cables, and Wi-Fi. Almost all Chillblast PCs come with an Ethernet port, letting you connect to the internet and your local network at Gigabit (or faster) speeds, with near-perfect stability and no fear of any interruptions from the environment.
Many modern motherboards support Wi-Fi as standard, but not all of them, so check yours before buying to make sure. If it doesn’t, you can always purchase an add-in-card from Chillblast or elsewhere to give your PC fast Wi-Fi. You’ll have the option of Wi-Fi 5, Wi-Fi 6, and Wi-Fi 6E, with the latter two offering the best performance if your PC is close to the router.
For anyone outside of the most competitive of gamers, though, and especially if your internet connection isn’t fast enough to deliver gigabit download speeds, Wi-Fi 5 is perfectly fine.
What monitor do I need?
As with buying a new computer, the best monitor for your PC is the one that fits your needs. If you want to just do some light office and home work, and a little web browsing, then any monitor will do. Save yourself some money and get a basic 24-inch 1080p display.
If you want to play games, then getting a gaming monitor with a high refresh rate (120Hz, 144Hz, or even 240Hz) will make a big difference to how smooth your game looks. For competitive games, like esports, a higher refresh rate can also make you more competitive by reducing your input latency.
If you’re playing slower-paced games, or want to play at higher detail settings, then higher resolutions like 1440p and 4K are worth considering too. Just bear in mind that they put a lot more strain on your graphics card, so only buy one of those if you also have the PC to power it.
For professional work, there are monitors that are Pantone Validated, and have high color accuracy. Look out for one of those rather than a mainstream display to ensure the images and video you’re working have the perfect coloring.
What’s the best CPU for gaming?
There are many great gaming processors for all sorts of budgets. For the absolute best of the best, though, the AMD Ryzen 7800X3D and Intel Core i9-13900K offer the highest gaming performance and very competitive with each other. The AMD Ryzen 7950X3D is worth considering too, as its multi-threading performance outside of games is better whilst maintaining similar gaming performance to the 7800X3D. It’s much more expensive, though, so if you only need your PC for gaming, the 7800X3D is better value for money.
What’s the best graphics card for gaming?The fastest graphics card in the world at the time of writing, is the Nvidia RTX 4090. It’s far faster than the next best option, but it is very expensive. Still, if you want to play games at 4K resolution at ultra settings, with the highest possible frame rates, the RTX 4090 is the best card for the job.
The AMD RX 7900XTX is an amazing alternative graphics card for 4K gaming and it’s close to half the price of the 4090. Its ray tracing performance isn’t as good, but it’s still excellent at it and it consumes far less power, too. The Nvidia RTX 4080 competes closely with that AMD card, and offers better ray tracing performance, and support for Nvidia’s deep learning super sampling (DLSS) but it’s typically a lot more expensive.
How much storage space do I need?
Like many other aspects of your PC, the amount of storage you need depends on what you’re going to fill it with.
If you’re just using your new PC for a little light work, some basic web browsing, and email reading, then you don’t need much. A 256GB SSD will be plenty for everyday use.
If you want to download movies and TV shows, a terabyte of storage space will give you much more room to work with. That’s also the ideal size for a mainstream gaming PC, giving you enough space for a handful of the biggest games, and 10s of smaller ones.
Don’t forget you can easily expand storage in the future, too. Most modern motherboards support multiple NVMe SSDs for maximum storage performance. You can also add in additional SATA SSDs and hard drives if you need multiple terabytes of storage for large photo and video libraries. You can also use an external hard drive to give yourself more storage, or so you can more easily take your data with you.
How much RAM do I need?
More RAM, or memory, is really useful for heavy web browsing, dealing with big and demanding applications like video and photo editors, and for some high-end gaming. For most PC users, 16GB of RAM is a great fit, as it gives you enough to play just about any game, keep 10-20 web browsing tabs open at a time, and run Photoshop or Premiere without difficulty.
If you’re building a super lightweight, ultra budget machine, then 8GB of RAM is perfectly fine, but consider upgrading down the line for improved performance.
If you’re building a high-end gaming machine, or want to do more demanding video editing and transcoding, then 32GB should be the minimum. For heavy video editing and design work, you might find some benefit to 64GB or even 128GB. If you’re unsure, speak to one of our system building experts for more advice.