This weekend, several of my guildies (including myself) decided to stop procrastinating and finally get our computers ready for Mists! With a new expansion comes new demands on our computer systems. Since our guild finally reached 8/8 hard-mode in our 25-man raids, we have even more reason to need computers that don’t cap out at 10 frames a second on boss fights.
My current computer is an old Dell machine that is about 3 years old (and was kindof a mediocre build at that point due to a lot of reasons), though I’ve updated the graphics as best I could with how non-customizable the machine is. Now that I’m no longer a “poor starving college student”, I can finally afford something better (though not the top-of-the line machine, either). I’m not a computer hardware expert, so I have to rely on other sources (including friends, guild members, and twitter) for figuring out what to do. In this case, I had to start from scratch, with my absolute maximum computer budget being about $1,000. My current build for my new computer looks like this, though I haven’t purchased it yet, since I’m still tinkering a bit and waiting for a few more people to sign off on the build. So, if any of you have strong objections/feedback, feel free to post in comments.
Below is some help getting to resources for making good choices about your computer purchases that I’ve been able to find along with some general pointers for thinking about computer upgrades. Since I spent all day playing with computers instead of writing actual WOW-related content, I thought I’d share my research with you.
So, what resources are available to you in building a new computer?
- MMO-champion has recommended guides for choosing PC computer parts that come out every few months.
- Kalganized maintains a post on the Wow games, gaming & hardware forum. This is helpful for looking at PC desktops & some help on PC laptops. Kalganized also has some advice for upgrading your current desktop if you don’t need all the parts.
- I also found a post talking about cases on Squidoo. I’m still not quite sure which case I want to use. It seems to be the piece that really comes down to personal preference in terms of aesthetics once you meet the minimum requirements you need for functionality.
- PC Part Picker – A site that you can use to organize your pieces when building your own computer, and it will help you find the best price deals. If starting from scratch on that site seems too overwhelming, you can start with my current build and change out individual parts from there to ones you like better at your own particular price range.
- If you absolutely can’t build your own machine, one inexpensive way of getting pre-built computers is to search for gaming computers in your price range on newegg or other websites.
Mac Computer advice:
- For mac laptops and desktops, you are better off going with the most expensive versions of the builds that you can afford. In general, I prefer desktops over laptops for gaming purposes. Apple doesn’t give you a lot of graphic card options, but I prefer to have a computer with a separate video card instead of just the stock build in graphics whenever possible.
General computer advice:
- When running WOW on any laptop, keep in mind that you may want a separate cooling pad with fans to keep the temperature down. This goes for both mac & PC laptops. My first laptop that I played WOW on burned through 3 video cards due to running too hot and my lack of using a cooling pad.
- The bulk of guides recommend going for an i5 processor over an i7 due to the value based on price differences vs performance differences.
- I would also recommend at least 8 gigs of ram. While my build linked earlier had more, most of the guides say 8 is fine for playing WOW (so only go up to 16 if you can find the right price deals).
- Your video card matters an awful lot. For video cards around the $200 range, the Radeon 7850 is decent. A better buy for around $300 is the GeForce GTX 660 Ti. Make sure that your power supply can support the card (see Kalganized’s video card post for more info). Ranico, my guild leader, has been pushing the 660 Ti, but it’s not in my current price range. Also keep in mind that if you can’t afford to buy a whole new computer, getting a new video card often gives you the biggest bang for your buck, especially in pre-built machines where you may not have the flexibility to replace some of the other parts.
- In machines where you have the ability to easily replace the CPU, some of the thread comments suggest that could be a better place to upgrade to improve performance.
- When buying SSD cards, make sure that they come with brackets to fit in a desktop machine if you have a 2.5″ card instead of a 3.5″ card (sometimes, they sell them without the desktop brackets and PC part picker wasn’t good at telling me which ones would or wouldn’t work with my setup). My original choice didn’t, and MVP Crepe pointed out the error of my plan.
- Building your own is almost always more cost-effective than buying something pre-built for gaming in particular and you have a lot more control over the quality of parts. Bulding your own also makes it easier to upgrade individual parts over time instead of having to throw out the whole kit and buy a new one in a few years. You can always try having a more tech-savy friend put it together if you aren’t comfortable doing it yourself. For some budgets, pre-built machines may be perfectly fine for WOW.