Building a Computer for Guild Wars 2
How to Build a Computer for Guild Wars 2
With the release of this soon-to-be hit MMO right around the corner, it's time to start upgrading your PC or build a new one. This will be a guide on how to make a computer to play guild wars 2 for those with and without a tight budget. Let's get started!
The First Step: Deciding the Goal of the System
The first step of building a new pc is deciding what you want the computer to be able to do. Would you like to have a dual monitor setup to web surf while playing? Do you want to enjoy the game with maximum graphics settings? Or, do you just need a system that can play it?
Other things to consider include whether or not you would like to be able to upgrade the system later on. This is good for those wishing to get a system together for the launch of the game and upgrading the system later when more funds are available. This would also be important for those wishing to upgrade years later for future, more demanding, games.
If you currently own a PC, make sure to consider what you already have, such as using an already owned case to house the new parts. Also consider peripherals. It might be easier and cheaper to build the system of your dreams now and replace your old monitor, keyboard, and mouse later.
This step goes hand in hand with deciding on a budget. Obviously, the better the PC, the more it will cost.
Minimum system requirements for Guild Wars 2
These are the minimum requirements according to Arenanet. A system like this will play the game, but don't expect to play at anything above the absolute minimum graphics settings. Assuming most of you are gamers, we will try to aim a bit higher than this so that we can enjoy the game the way it is meant to be played.
WindowsÂ® XP Service Pack 2 or better
IntelÂ® Core 2 Duo 2.0 GHz, Core i3, AMD Athlon 64 X2 or better
NVIDIAÂ® GeForceÂ® 7800, ATI Radeon X1800, Intel HD 3000 or better (256MB of video RAM and shader model 3.0 or better)
25 GB available HDD space
Broadband Internet connection
Keyboard and mouse
The CPU, or central processing unit, is the "brains" of the computer. This small chip plays a huge role in deciding what type of computer we can build around it. this is why I have chosen this component to be the first step in building a PC. We only have two choices in terms of companies. Intel or AMD. Both companies make good products, but the Intel based chips are more popular. Especially in the high end computer market.
Biggest thing to keep in mind: Motherboards are built with sockets specific to either an intel or AMD CPU. No motherboards will support both. So whichever you choose, make sure they are compatible. We will talk a little more about this later.
High end option: The i7 is one of the fastest processors on the market. Don't be fooled by the numbers. It may only appear to have an increase of 0.2GHz over the i5 processor bellow. However, the main benefit here is Intel's hyperthreading technology. This essentially gives the processor the appearance of having more than four cores at its disposal.
Mid-range option: The i5 2500k is a great choice for casual and hardcore gamers. This is because of the easy overclockability. If overclocking your components is something you're interested in, be sure to invest in an aftermarket heatsink and fan for your processor.
Low-range option: If you're a fan of AMD processors, or if you want to save a little cash, this might be the best option for you. Unlike the quad-core CPUs above, this processor has a womping eight cores at its disposal. Keep in mind that this doesn't mean it's any faster, as this choice is definitely slower than those already mentioned.
Now that we have chosen a CPU, its time to choose the motherboard. The motherboard plays the role of connecting everything in your computer to everything else. The first thing to keep in mind is the socket for the CPU that you have already chosen. If you opted for an Intel processor, then you need an LGA 1155 socket. AMD processors on the other hand use AM3+ socket. The best thing to do is find a board that fits the price range and then choose everything else that you want in your PC. Afterwards, come back to the motherboard and make sure you have the ability to connect everything.
Some things to keep in mind: the number of RAM slots matches the number of sticks you want, and the number of fan sockets at least matches the number of fans in your case and any other fans you wish to instal, if any.
Another consideration is whether or not you plan on purchasing a sound card. If you really enjoy your audio, sound cards are relatively inexpensive. However, if you're looking to save some money, a sound card really isn't necessary so long as you purchase a motherboard with on-board audio. This means the sound card is built in, and you have the option to install a sound card to improve performance later. If you don't want to pay for a sound card, make sure you have on board audio. Most boards do.
High-end option: With tons of ports, and lots of bundled software to make overclocking easy, this is a great choice for the hard core gamer. This board is compatible with Intel based processors.
Mid-range option: A great choice for most gamers. Like the Maximus, this board also supports advanced features like SLI and Crossfire. The main dissadvantage is the loss of PCI express 3.0, as this board has the PCIe 2.0 slots. However, unless you're buying a high-end PCIe 3.0 video card, this doesn;t even matter.
Budget option: Again, if you're a fan of AMD processors, or if you're on a tighter budget, this board may be the right choice.
Your CPU will come with a heat sink and fan. These are used to keep the processor cool while its doing its work. However, if you plan on overclocking your CPU, consider purchasing an aftermarket heat sink and fan. This one does a great job and its a great investment if you consider the fact that it may prolong the life of your system. The bigger heat sink allows heat to spread over a wider area, and the more powerful fan gets rid of this heat quicker.
The sheer number of different video cards on the market can make your head spin. However, they're actually not that complicated when you understand that all of these cards can essentially be broken down into two different categories. This is because while many companies produce video cards, only two companies actually manufacture the chipsets (the work horse) inside them. These companies are nVidia and ATI. Other companies like Gigabyte, MSI, ASUS, and ZOTAC buy these chipsets, and assemble connections and usually a fan or two around it so that you can use it in your computer. Both nVidia and ATI produce quality chipsets so if you just want to play the game, don't fret too much about it.
The bottom line: you get what you pay for.
The more powerful the card, the more it will cost and the better performance you will get. This is the single component in your computer that will arguably have the most direct effect on your gaming experience so don't skimp out. The good news is that you can buy a card that will more than just run GW2 relatively cheap.
Before you buy, consider how long you plan on using this machine for gaming and whether or not you foresee wanting to play other newer games in the future. These games will be more demanding and therefore a better card will lead to a longer useful life of the system. Of course, you can always exchange the card out for a newer one later.
The last thing to consider is bottle-necking. Don't think about skimping out on the CPU to afford a monstrous video card. If the computer processor can't keep up, the performance of the video card will be slowed, and vice versa. The general rule of thumb is to spend the same amount of money on the CPU and video card so that you don't run into any bottleneck issues.
Best Hard Drive to Put in a New PC
This decision is pretty easy and mostly depends on how much storage you really need, and how much money you want to spend. All new hard drives are SATA cables, so there's no need to worry about compatibility, just the size. If you have a huge music, or movie collection, then you'll need a bigger drive.
However, with the emergence of solid-state hard drives, the decision becomes a little more complex. But this is only true if you're willing to dish out the cash for some extra speed. These drives are faster but still pretty expensive, and much smaller in size compared with traditional hard disk drives. A popular choice is to install your operating system as well as any games or applications on a smaller solid state drive, so that they load and run faster, and then have an additional regular, higher capacity drive for media storage.
High end option: Match this solid state drive with another traditional drive below to increase things like boot-up time, and loading times for games and other apps.
Mid-range choice: With 2 Terabytes of storage, the price point on this drive is excellent. Western Digital has been a maker of fine hard drives for many years.
Budget choice: If you're looking to really save money, the hard drive space can easily be reduced while still keeping a quality drive.
Good News. RAM is relatively cheap. I recommend 8GB for any system, 16GB if you're building a serious machine.
Things to consider: Make sure the RAM type matches your mother board, for example: DDR2 RAM for a DDR2 motherboard, and DDR3 RAM for a mother board that supports DDR3. DDR3 is currently the most widely used. The other thing to check is the timing. This is a number that looks like this: 9-9-9-24 Make sure your motherboard supports the timing you have chosen.
When installing 1 or 2 sticks of RAM into a motherboard with more than 2 total slots, consult the motherboard's manual for proper placement. You won't get the same performance if you just stick them in any slot(s).
Cosair RAM is a great choice for gaming, those fins sticking out of the top act to dissipate heat. These sticks are also guaranteed for life, this is rarely true when purchasing a PC from the store.
High end option: 16GB of RAM. Get more RAM if you plan on multitasking a lot. For instance a PC with two monitors could benefit from extra RAM if the second monitor is being used for web browsing, music, etc. while the other is being used for gaming.
Mid/Low end option: Most PCs don't need any more than 8GB RAM. So get two sticks of 4 now, and upgrade later for cheap if you need to. If you're motherboard has more slots for RAM, you won't even need to replace your old ones, just add more. If you do this, they must be the same size stick ie. the number of GB of each stick must be the same.
These sticks come in lots of colors, this might make a difference to you if your PC has a see through pane. Make sure you check the timing of the RAM once you've chose a color, since not all Corsair RAM is the same.
Make sure to determine the needs of the system before deciding on a power supply. Check your processor, and video card(s) for their energy needs. Consider any potential future upgrades such as SLI or Crossfire (using multiple video cards). I would also suggest adding another 100W to the total. You don't want your power supply working to its full capacity all the time or it will have a shorter life. By buying a bigger supply than the system needs, you can prevent this. It's a common mistake to cheap out on the power supply since it doesn't play any direct impact on the performance of the computer.
Consider a modular power supply for easier cable management. Modular power supplies have removable components that can be stored outside the tower if they are not being used.
Also consider getting a power supply that is 80+ certified. These are more energy efficient, and usually indicative of a better quality product compared with those that are not 80+ certified.
High end option: If you opt for high end (and power hungry) parts, you need a power supply with enough output to power them. This one should do the trick. This is a modular power supply.
Mid-range ooption: This power supply should be sufficient for most builds. It's also a modular power supply.
Budget option: If you don't need the extra juice, this is a great choice for this price range.
A DVD drive will make the installation of windows and other software much easier. The good news is that you can pick one up for less $20. If you want to watch movies, add a blue ray drive.
Best Audio Accessories for Your PC
Like I said before, a sound card is completely optional so long as you make sure to buy a motherboard with onboard audio. If you do enjoy your sound quality, add this card and the 5.1 surround speaker set below to really boost the sound performance of your system.
This has been a popular case for years. The reason? because its a solid case, and you wont find anything better this cheap. My hands down recommendation if you're on a budget.
This case is my personal favorite. Shown here is the black version but it comes in a number of colors.
Best Gaming Peripherals for PC
A computer has to have a mouse and keyboard. If you've already got one, great. If not, or if you would like to upgrade, consider these options.
High/Mid-range option: Having so many programmable buttons makes this mouse a great choice for MMO-style games. Although you might find that investing your money into the computer itself is a better alternative, a nice mouse can go along way to improving the gaming experience.
Budget option: A good mouse doesn't have to break the bank, just don't expect the amount of customization available with the razer mouse above.
High-end option: The additional gaming key area is great, the color of the back lit keys is customizable, and the number of programable buttons is more than anyone would ever need. The holy grail of MMO gaming keyboards.
Budget option: A keyboard with keys that light up is a must. This one comes at a great price.
Don't forget to deck your new rig out with a couple LED fans. Not only does it go a long way towards making your machine look awesome, it's also a good idea to install a couple fans to keep the temperature down. Higher temperatures will shorten the life of the computer. When you consider that fans cost next to nothing, you can't afford not to.
One thing to note: when you build your own PC, it does not come with an operating system preloaded. The good news is that when you install windows yourself, you won't get nearly as much of the garbage software and trials that come with most store bought PCs. Guild Wars 2 currently only runs on WIndows operating systems so the choices here are pretty limited. Personally I would stay away from Windows Vista as I have had too many issues with it in the past. Other other hand, I would highly recommend XP or Windows 7. I find them much more stable.
Some other PC Games you Might Like
These are some of the best selling PC games currently. Now that you have a new gaming rig, why not grab a couple more games?