Computer Gaming Technology for 2018

If you are currently or plan on playing a competitive game there are some tips and tricks to gain an advantage over your opponents, or at least put you on a level playing field. This article is broken down into the following sections:

  • Mouse
  • Keyboard
  • Headphones
  • Display
  • Computer
  • Internet

Mouse

This is probably one of the most significant factors. Almost all games including FPS, MOBA, RTSG, Battle Arena, etc. all rely on mouse movement and button presses.  We will break the mouse down into a few different sections.

DPI

Dots Per Inch; this is the speed at which your mouse moves across the screen. If your mouse does not support setting the DPI, its probably time for an upgrade. The slower your mouse moves the easier it is to focus on your target and click on heads.

FPS Recommended DPI: 400

If you are throwing down with all the new Battle Royale’s coming out this year you will want to drop your DPI down to 400 and start working your arm. This is how all the professional gamers play. Very few professionals play at 800 or higher.

Mouse Pad

A gaming mouse pad is extremely important for tracking and control. You want to get the Medium/Large (12″x14″) size pad. If you have room get the Large/Extended size. At 400 DPI you will be picking up your mouse quite a bit.

The ideal mouse pad is a cloth pad optimized for control/precision.

I would recommend one of these:

Gaming Mouse

If you don’t have a gaming mouse you should get one. Key features of gaming mice include the CMOS sensor DPI range, buttons/layout and software for customization of buttons and functionality.

I use a gaming mouse for every day use. Their superior sensors provide almost perfect tracking and I rebind all the extra buttons to extra functionality. I also require 3600 DPI for programming which is not available in cheaper mice.

Logitech G502 Proteus Spectrum

https://www.logitechg.com/en-us/product/g502-proteus-spectrum-rgb-gaming-mouse

This is currently regarded as the worlds best gaming mouse. I also use this mouse. While the mouse could see many improvements it has 1 major flaw; the middle mouse button takes too much force to activate and usually causes an accidental side-scroll click. The solution is to re-bind middle click to one of the other mouse buttons. The mouse feels way too good in my hand and has too many extra buttons to throw it out over that. The Logitech mechanical switches are a little clicky too.

Keyboard

This won’t help you as much as a mouse, but once you go mechanical you never go back to rubber. I use a WASD code but any keyboard with your preferred switches will work.

Don’t get suckered into Cherry MX Blue or any audible keys. You want to listen to your game and not your keystrokes. I use Cherry MX Brown because they provide tactile feedback when pressed that you can feel.

http://www.wasdkeyboards.com/index.php/products/code-keyboard/code-87-key-mechanical-keyboard-2563.html

The WASD Code may not be for you. Make sure you get a 10-keyless (87-key) mechanical keyboard. Getting a 10-keyless is very important. You will need the extra space to move your mouse. You can always buy a separate keypad if you use that when not gaming.

Gamepad

Keyboards are not designed for gaming. The thumb sits idle the majority of the time only hitting Space and Alt for most. A gamepad can put the thumb to work and provide much more functionality. My main problem with gamepads right now is they take away too much functionality from the main hand, most importantly the pointer finger. The pointer finger is not used for WASD and most gamepads take away the second row BGT5 which I use heavily. If I can find a gamepad that makes good use of the thumb and has enough keyboard functionality, I will make the purchase and give it a try.

If you don’t use the extra row for the pointer finger and want to do more with your thumb a gamepad might be right for you. Again, don’t go cheap, make sure you get one with good mechanical switches. Take a look at the Razer Orbweaver Chrome:

https://www.razer.com/gaming-keyboards-keypads/razer-orbweaver-chroma

Headphones

A good pair of headphones is important to gaming success and there is a lot to learn about headphones; some of which I need to cover so I will try to keep this brief. But lets be clear that we are talking about headphones, not a gaming headset; avoid those.

Open Back

Open headphones are exactly that, open. They let sound in, and out. You can hear things around you and things around you can hear whats playing on your headphones.

The drawback is people around you can hear everything that is playing on your headphones. If that is an issue, you will have to get closed back headphones.

Benefits include better sound quality and a better sound stage. This will allow you better hear directional sound. You can also hear your self talk, which is very useful for communications.

Closed Back

By now you can guess these are closed headphones. By default they usually include noise isolation which prevents noise from escaping your headphones. This benefit allows you to listen to your headphones anywhere, work, school, etc. with out disturbing the people around you.

The drawbacks to this is the sound stage will be much smaller and some directional audio may be harder to dial in on. Also you may not be able to hear your self speak which can effect communications.

Amplifier

After using a headphone amplifier I can’t imagine listening to headphones without one. Many high end headphones require an amplifier. Explaining amplifiers will take as long as explaining headphones; so just know if your headphones need one or not. If you are on the fence of getting an amp I strongly recommend it. Even some cheap headphones can sound better with a little power. If you are new to the game, I recommend the Schiit (yes, pronounced “shit”) Magni 3.

http://www.schiit.com/products/magni-3

Conclusion

I am no audiophile and already spent $400 on my Sennheiser PXC 550’s for work, so went cheap for my gaming headphones and got an entry level pair. For sub $200 the Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO’s don’t have the best low’s when listening to music, but have well defined mid’s and high’s and you won’t miss a thing while gaming. Be warned these are studio grade headphones and require an amplifier to work; they will sound like a trash can with out one.

https://north-america.beyerdynamic.com/catalog/product/view/id/352/s/dt-990-pro/category/1464/

There are many alternatives and many better headphones, but not a single pair is cheaper. A good pair of headphones will cost about $300-$500.

Display

Unless you have a 120Hz, 144Hz or faster monitor, you probably have a 60Hz monitor. This means your monitor can display a maximum of 60 FPS. Even if your computer is going at 240 FPS your monitor is still limiting you to 60 FPS. Once the rest of your equipment is up to speed you may start to notice your slow monitor. Trying to click on a moving target at high speeds can be hard when your monitor is only refreshing 60 times a second.

Another important feature of a new monitor is G-Sync (requires compatible nVidia GPU). Now that you know your monitor is refreshing X times a second (based on the speed in Hz) this may not be 1:1 for the FPS your GPU is able to produce. G-Sync is a module in your GPU and your Monitor that dynamically changes the refresh rate of your monitor to match the FPS of your game so you always get a 1:1 refresh.

That being said, let go over the key features of a gaming monitor.

  • 24 or 25 Inches
  • 1080p (1920×1080)
  • 1 ms Response Time
  • 144Hz or Faster Refresh Rate
  • G-Sync

And the winner is the Dell Alienware 25 Gaming Monitor. If you watch carefully you can some times find it on sale for $379.99.

https://www.dell.com/en-us/shop/alienware-25-gaming-monitor-aw2518h/apd/210-amsr/monitor-accessories

Computer

While you don’t need a “Gaming Computer” you will need a rig with enough power to drive your games. This is not a computer gaming article but I will cover the basics.

GPU

G-Sync has been supported since the GTX 660. If you can afford it get the GTX 1080 Ti. You basically want the most powerful single GPU you can buy. Avoid SLI until you have a Titan Xp (or two).

Note: I would avoid buying a GPU this year if you can due to cryptocurrency.

CPU

Yes, the faster the better. Any newer generation i5 or i7 should work just fine. I still use a second generation i7-3770k and run most games just fine. Avoid AMD and stick to Intel.

RAM

Least important specification but you do want enough memory to run everything and have plenty to spare. I recommend at least 16 GB. Faster RAM is better but you wont see a huge performance increase.

Internet

While there may not be much you can do about this for a reasonable price it is worth mentioning. Even with the best hardware in the world if you have a bad connection you will never hit your shots. You want to get the fastest internet possible; not to be confused with bandwidth. Speed is latency (ping, ms). This is how long it takes you to send bits of data from your computer to the game server and back. The faster you can do this, the more advantage you will have over opponents. Short of moving there is not much you can do other than making sure you have the fastest ISP in your area.

That being said if you are willing to pay a monthly fee you may be able to find a service to improve your connection to your game servers; depending on what game you play and where you live. For example, lets say it takes 16 hops (network devices between you and the game server) for you to reach your game server using your ISP’s route. An ISP like Akamai usually has end points within 1 or 2 hops of the majority of the populated world that uses the internet as well as pipes around the world. This allows them to offer routing services where you connect to them, take their pipe to the game server location, then one last hop to the game server. That would reduce your total hops from 16 to about 5 or 6 as well as take their faster route substantially reducing your latency. Now don’t get excited because unless you can find existing services for the game you play that work for you, a custom request would cost thousands of dollars to configure plus service and maintenance fees. I used one of these services for World of Warcraft back when I played competitively and it reduced my latency by about 40%.

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