…that will change your gaming forever!
Ok, graphics cards are key to succeed, but a V8 engine in an LADA car will not transform your old friend into the best vehicle ever … (we love LADA, don’t get us wrong ). If you don’t believe us, then you’ll believe our “Fountain of Knowledge”, Mike.
While upgrading your graphics card is one of the biggest changes to make to a PC, it’s not the only hardware alteration that can have a significant difference on performance – installing a PNY SSD or our DDR4 memory can also give a system a speed boost.
We’ve delved into SSDs and memory to find out how much better these components are than hard disks and slower RAM – and to find out how much quicker they’ll make your games.
— Getting Games Running Quickly —
The first step to make games run quickly is to buy the right graphics card – whether it’s an affordable GPU for solid 1080p playback or a monster card that’ll handle 4K without breaking a sweat.
Once that card’s installed and running, there’s still more that can be done to get your PC running at its best – and to make sure that you get gaming faster.
It’s worth examining your storage: if your PC relies on a hard disk, then games will load slowly when compared to PNY’s CS2211 240GB SSD. That’s no surprise – a hard disk relies on discs that spin at a set speed, while SSDs deploy the sort of high-speed chips found in memory.
Don’t just take our word for it: the facts back us up. It took just under 21 seconds to boot CS:GO and the same length of time to load a level with an SSD in our machine, but with a hard disk it was four seconds slower when booting and twelve seconds behind when loading levels. That’s not unusual: DOTA 2 booted in under nine seconds in our SSD rig, but in almost 19 seconds with a hard disk.
It’s the same with high-end games. Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor took 15 seconds to load with an SSD – but nine seconds extra on a hard disk. And GTA V’s 42s SSD boot time decreased to 56s on a platter-based product.
Once you’ve installed an SSD, make sure you’ve got the right kind of memory – because faster memory will mean better PC performance. A kit like PNY’s Anarchy DDR4 fits the bill. It’s a 16GB kit, which is huge, and it runs at 2,800MHz – one of the better DDR4 speeds available.
Tests demonstrate the impact that higher-speed memory can have on a machine: PNY’s kit saw a Battlefield 4 test run with a 64fps minimum framerate at a 76.73fps average, while a lesser memory kit running at 2,400MHz returned the same minimum framerate but an average that was almost half a frame behind. In Geekbench 3, our high-speed memory machine scored a multi-core result of 11,757 – but the slower system only managed to score 11,220 in the same test.
Upping memory speeds won’t provide a boost like adding a new graphics card, but it’s still an important area – and worth considering if you want to get the most from your games.
— More Little Details —
So, you’ve got a new graphics card, your games fly from your factory-fresh SSD, and you’ve got lightning-quick memory – it’s almost time to play some games.
Before you boot your favourite titles, though, take a look through some of the finer details. Make sure you’ve got the latest GPU drivers, because that’s the only way to ensure that your graphics card is going to run at its best, especially with newer titles. Similarly, run Windows Update to keep your system at peak performance.
If you’re feeling more confident, delve into the networking options – if you can prioritise games ahead of other applications that use the internet, your ping will be better – and you’ll win more often.
Memory and storage aren’t the most glamourous areas in a PC, but that doesn’t mean they can be ignored.
Fitting a new SSD and using faster memory can both have significant impacts on game performance and loading times. And they’re both vital, because they mean that top titles will have better framerates – and that you’ll be able to play better.
Mike Jennings, aka Fountain of Knowledge
Mike Jennings is a freelance technology journalist who has covered components, PCs, laptops and hardware for almost a decade – and he’s been a PC gamer for twenty years.