Every few years, I design a new computer. During the years that I own a computer, I usually don’t upgrade it; I stick with what I’ve bought. When it’s time to design a new computer, I research current technologies and the components available. Some components require a lot more research than others.
I should mention that I don’t overclock the CPU, northbridge, video card or main memory. It seems that for any of these components, one must overclock a lot for a small boost in performance and overclocking reduces the lifespan of the components involved. The small benefit just doesn’t seem worth the risk. I follow the steps below when researching most internal components, peripherals and monitors. The process is faster for some items than for others.
Step by Step Process
- I leave the CPU and motherboard to the end. Sometimes I learn about current CPU technologies and what most gamers are buying while researching the other parts.
- I start with internal parts. I’ll use the video card as an example. I take note of the video card mentioned in the recommended requirements of the most demanding game I plan to play.
- I Go to www.amazon.com.
- On the far left of the search bar, I click “All” with a down-pointing arrow next to it.
- I Scroll to “Computers”, click on it and then click the orange magnifying glass on the far right of the search bar.
- Many categories appear below the search bar. From left to right, they are: Computers, Laptops, Tablets, Desktops, etc.
- I Point to “PC Components”, third from the right, to get a list of PC components in 3 columns. I Click “Graphics Cards” in the left column.
- A long list of video cards is displayed with several filters on the left side of the page. The available filters depend on the type of product being displayed. For video cards the more useful filters include: Featured Brands, Price, Chipset Type, Graphics Processor and Ram Capacity. Simpy, click on the filters that you’re interested in.
- I Use the “Sort by” drop-down menu at the top right of the page to sort the list.
- I scroll through the list and look for a popular video card in my price range with specs that appear to exceed those of the card recommended by the game developer (You can tell if a card is popular by the number of positive customer reviews). For example, if the game developer recommends a 2GB card then I would search for a 4GB card. If I can’t afford a 4GB card then I would search for a 2GB card that is faster than the one recommended by the game developer. Comparing the prices of 2GB cards would be a good first step since one would expect a fast 2GB card to be more expensive than a slow one.
- When I find what looks like a good video card, I open a second browser tab and use Google to find a professional review of the card. This way I find out more about the card – things that wouldn’t be mentioned in customer reviews. To do this, I click in the Google search bar and enter the name of the card followed by the word “review” or “roundup”. A “roundup” is where many components in a category are tested and compared.
- This next step is mainly for video cards and processors. I could use it for other parts too but I don’t because for most parts I don’t think it’s helpful. If the professional review is positive and the video card gives me what I want, I use Google to search for a site where the card was tested against the one recommended by the game developer. To do this, I click in the Google search bar and enter the names of the two cards separated by “VS”. For example:
Radeon RX 560 O2G OC Edition 2GB VS GeForce GTX 1050 OC GAMING Edition ACX 2.0 2GB
- After pressing Enter, there are two possible types of sites that could be listed among the results. Some of the sites listed will be sites containing articles about actual tests performed on the video cards. Professionals discuss each test in detail and there are charts showing how the cards compare to one another. At the end of the article one or more video cards are recommended – possibly one card in each of several price ranges.
Other sites will list all the technologies found in the 2 cards allowing you to compare the 2 cards in great detail. These sites also tell you which card is better based on everything the sites know about the cards. These sites are completely automated. GPUBoss (gpuboss.com) is one such site. This site lets you compare video cards. A similar site – CPUBoss (cpuboss.com) – lets you compare processors. If you want you can go directly to these sites. Just enter the names of the products to compare at the top of each site.
What I want, after completing this process, is to be confident that the card I chose in step 10 is significantly better than the one recommended by the game developer. If it turns out it’s not, I go back to step 10 and start over.
I often perform step 12 with video cards or processors in the same price range. This allows me to see how two similarly priced parts in the same category compare to one another.