The PC remains the best platform for gaming, whether it be for esports, graphics fidelity, and even massive multiplayer experiences. There are hundreds of thousands of titles available and digital distribution services like Steam and GOG make it easier than ever to build a game collection without leaving the house. We'll run you through how to set up and configure your PC, get started with said digital stores and get the most out of Windows 10 for all things games.
Before you begin with gaming on a PC, you first need to buy or build one capable of running whatever you wish to play. Unlike consoles, games released for PC have different requirements, some are more demanding than others. Depending on what kind of power the PC you'll be using packs, you'll need to adjust graphics settings accordingly, which allows you to reduce the look of a game slightly to improve performance. It's a delicate balancing act but offers more control than a console.
There are many pre-built options out there but building your own can cut some costs but you'll need to troubleshoot everything yourself. Generally speaking, you'll want to aim for at least an Intel Core i5 or AMD Ryzen 5 processor and Nvidia GTX 1070 GPU. This will allow you to enjoy even more demanding titles at 1440p resolution and a comfortable 60 frames-per-second at the very least.
And unlike a console where a TV and living room are usually an ideal combination, for PC gaming it's all about the gaming den and smaller monitor. 25-inch panels are generally considered the sweet spot, especially when you consider 1440p. 4K isn't quite ready, regardless of what console makers and others would lead you to believe. Even a pricier GTX 1080 struggles to push content at that resolution — give it a few more years.
You'd be hard-pressed to build a PC that matches the Xbox One X for 4K gaming at the X's price point, but a PC offers so much more and is well worth the added cost.
Preparing Windows 10
Microsoft's latest OS is a solid piece of kit. Windows 10 not only offers excellent levels of performance in games but also comes pretty well-optimized out-the-box. You should be good to go as soon as you complete the initial OS installation but one of the most important tasks you'll need to complete is to update your GPU drivers, depending on which vendor you've chosen to go with (AMD or Nvidia):
Another good idea is to ensure you have the latest updates for Windows 10 itself and you have all drivers installed for other PC components — this aids in keeping everything working together in harmony. We compiled some other useful tips, which while aren't as important as keeping drivers up-to-date may help extract even more performance from your setup.
Full Steam ahead
Now that your PC is all configured and ready for action, you need to install some games. There are two major storefronts that are popular right now — Steam and GOG. As well as these two, you also have the choice between some publisher stores like Ubisoft's UPlay, Blizzard's Battle.net, and EA's Origin, not to mention Amazon and retailer websites for physical copies.
For digital downloads, each of the available storefronts work in similar ways. You download and install the software, create an account and attach necessary payment information, browse the catalog of games and make purchases. Any games you buy can subsequently be downloaded and installed. GOG is unique in that it allows for you to run games without DRM protection, meaning you don't have to be logged in to play games, nor do you need to have the GOG suite installed.
Shop around. You don't need to rely on just one platform.
Other useful resources
Hold on, there's more!
- How to use the Xbox One controller in Windows 10
- PC gaming Windows Central community forum
- Five handy tips and tools for PC gaming
- Steam vs GOG — which is better?
We may earn a commission for purchases using our links. Learn more.
Need a new laptop to run VR? Here are the best devices out there now.
Using a laptop to power your VR system makes it easy to take it with you wherever you go. Not just any laptop is going to work for VR, though, so we rounded up your best options right here.
Join us LIVE for the Windows Central Video Podcast today at 2:30PM ET
We're LIVE with the Windows Central Video Podcast today at 2:30pm ET, make sure you're there!
The Black Friday keyboard deals you need to know about
Getting your hands on a new keyboard is exciting for PC users, and thanks to Black Friday, it's more affordable than ever before. Here's a look at the best Black Friday keyboard deals available now.
These are the best PC sticks for when you're on the move
Instant computer, just add a screen! That’s the general idea of the ultra-portable PC Compute Sticks, but it can be hard to know which one you want. Relax, we’ve got you covered.