Blue Vibox Case

Beginners' Guide

At Vibox, we know computers. Our expert technicians and support team have been working with gaming PCs for years, and we've picked up quite a bit of knowledge in that time

But we're well aware that not all of our customers will have the luxury of this experience.

In fact, you'd be surprised how many people call in every day and utter the famous words I'd better warn you, I know nothing about computers. If this sounds like you, then trust us, you are not alone! You don't need to be an expert - that's what we're here for!

And while our support team are happy to talk you through any questions you might have, we understand a gaming PC is a big purchase, and we want you to be sure you're getting the right PC for your needs.

To help with that, we've put together this quick guide, aimed at those who have little or no experience with gaming PCs; it covers the very basic things you need to know when buying a PC.

It may look a little overwhelming at first, but if you've been browsing countless PCs which are all beginning to look the same, then have a read through, and we're confident we'll be able to clear a few things up. And as always, we'll be happy to answer any questions you may have!

The Processor

Also known as the CPU, the processor is the brain of your PC; it controls the rest of the hardware and does all the calculations for your programs, games and operating system. It's arguably the most important part of a PC, as every other component depends on it. When looking at a gaming PC, a lot more focus tends to be given to the graphics card, but the processor is just as important, as it's responsible for everything happening behind the scenes in your games.

Here's the main things to look out for when choosing your processor:

Cores

While many immediately look to a CPU's clock speed to judge its worth, the amount of cores is actually the most important feature. The more cores a processor has, the more things it can do at once, allowing for better multitasking and faster performance.

Clock Speed

The clock speed of a processor is measured in GHz, and essentially, it tells you how fast it can go! The higher the number, the faster each core will run a process. 

Turbo Speed

Many modern processors have a turbo speed function, a speed which it will automatically rise to when necessary. For example, if a CPU has a stock speed of 3.7GHz and a Turbo Speed of 4.0GHz, then it will run at 3.7Ghz normally, but as soon as it requires more power, it automatically raises itself to 4.0GHz. In effect, it's a more energy-efficient 4.0GHz processor

Overclocking

Many CPUs can be overclocked, a process in which the clock speed is permanently increased to allow for better performance. This does in turn produce more heat, so overclocked systems need to be well cooled. Overclocking is a very tricky process and should only be done by a professional, as it can damage components if not done correctly


A good CPU is essential for gaming; as it calculates all of the logic and in-game physics and tells the graphics card what to do. Pairing a high-end graphics card with a low-end CPU can cause a 'bottleneck effect', in which the graphics card is left waiting for instruction from the CPU, meaning it only runs at a fraction of its potential. Outside of gaming, a good CPU will improve the speed of your PC and allow for better multitasking

Graphics

In a gaming PC, the GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) is just as important as the processor. While the CPU handles all the logic and the in-game physics, the GPU is responsible for rendering all of the objects, people and textures on your screen. There are two main types of GPUs in gaming PCs:

Graphics Cards

By far the most common type of GPU in a gaming PC. A graphics card (as pictured) is a single piece of hardware dedicated solely to graphics performance. The capability and power of these cards varies greatly.

Integrated Graphics

Many CPUs have their own built-in GPUs, which are used when no graphics card is installed. While these aren't as powerful as high-end graphics cards, they still pack quite a punch and many, such as AMD's APU range, are capable of playing less graphically-intensive games such as Minecraft, League of Legends and World of Warcraft without issue.


Unlike console games, PC games have configurable graphics settings, and the more powerful the GPU, the higher you can have these settings, improving rendering, effects and texture quality. A more powerful GPU will also allow for a higher FPS (Frames Per Second). The more frames your PC can generate each second, the smoother and more immersive your games will appear

If you want your gaming PC to play games such as GTA V, The Witcher 3 or Call of Duty with good graphics settings, then you should go for a powerful graphics card.

RAM

Random Access Memory, more commonly known as just Memory, is very high-speed, temporary storage. RAM is almost certainly the most misunderstood component in a PC; to better understand it, imagine a chef's countertop. The chef can store certain ingredients there for quick access, rather than returning to the fridge/pantry each time. In the same way, when programs are running, the processor stores relevant data in the RAM for quick access. If there isn't enough RAM available for the currently running programs, then the processor will be slowed down, as it will need to keep picking files and data from the hard drive.

One of the most common misconceptions when upgrading a PC is the idea that adding more RAM means an instant speed boost. Adding more RAM is only worthwhile if your current RAM isn't sufficient. If the countertop is already large enough for all of the chef's ingredients, then adding extra space would serve no purpose. By the same logic, if your software requirements never exceed 6GB, then an 8GB system will perform just as well as a 16GB system.

In real terms, if a PC is only going to be used for gaming, then 8GB is usually sufficient. If it's to be used for multitasking, photo editing, video editing or streaming, then it's worth adding a little extra.

Storage

All of your files, programs, music and videos are held on a storage drive. There are four major kinds to choose from:

Hard Disk Drives

More commonly known as Hard Drives, HDDs are mechanical disk drives used for storing large amounts of data. The vast majority of PCs have an HDD, the only thing to consider when choosing one is how much space you need.

Solid State Drives

An SSD is a much faster version of a hard drive. Rather than having a mechanical disk, it has digital flash memory, like a USB pen. The only drawback is that SSDs have lower capacities than hard drives; that's why the most common set-up we see, and certainly the one we recommend, utilises both types of drive: an SSD to store Windows, your games and your programs, and then a larger hard drive to store all your documents, music, pictures and videos. There is minimal benefit to loading such small files from an SSD, but booting Windows and your programs from the SSD will be noticeably faster, so it's the best of both worlds

Hybrid Drives

A Solid State Hybrid Drive is, as it sounds, a combination between the two main types of drive. It's a mechanical hard drive with a small amount of solid state memory included. Your PC then allocates the files automatically, so to the user, the only difference between a hybrid drive and a normal drive is a slight speed boost..

External Storage

External storage covers any type of portable storage device, such as a USB stick, external hard drive, or SD card.

Cooling

The fans in your case will provide airflow throughout the system, but the bulk of the cooling takes place on the CPU. The processor generates a lot of heat as it works, so it has its own cooler. CPU coolers come in two varieties: air coolers, which consist of a heatsink and fan attached directly to the CPU; and liquid coolers, which pass liquid over the processor's heatsink, using a radiator and fan system to dissipate the heat.

Case

Form and function are equally important when choosing a case. It's the component you'll be looking at the most, so you'll want to find something that you like the look of, whether it's a flashy LED case with a windowed side panel, or a smooth, plain black model. Once you've found one you like the look of, make sure it's not too large/small for your needs, and have a look at additional features such as front-facing audio and USB ports (remember, your motherboard will have audio and USB ports on the back panel too!)

Motherboard

The motherboard is the large circuit board which houses all the other components. Our PC configurators will only show you compatible motherboards, so if you're not after any specific features, then it's best to pick a board with a good amount of USB ports.

Power Supply

The Power Supply Unit (PSU) houses the mains plug socket for the PC, and powers each of the components. Essentially, this just needs to be powerful enough to run all the components in your PC; much like RAM, adding more than you need won't offer a performance boost.

Operating System

An operating system (OS) is the core underlying software on which your programs run. The most common example on a pc would be Windows, with Android and iOS being the most popular mobile operating systems.

Normally when you buy a prebuilt PC from a shop, the cost of the Windows license is factored into the total price. That means if you plan on using a different operating system, you're forced into paying around an extra £100 for something you don't need!

That's why with our PCs, you can choose the OS you want. If you have a unique, unused Windows license; or plan on using an alternative operating system such as Linux, then you can simply order a PC without the operating system. If you're not certain whether or not you need a Windows license, then as a rule of thumb you most likely do, but by all means, get in touch with our customer support and we'll be happy to advise.

Sound Cards

Up until a few years ago, sound cards - a standalone card which plugged into the motherboard, responsible for the audio in the PC - were very common. These days, however, the audio quality built into modern motherboards is significantly better, with many offering full 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound. Sound cards still have their place, especially in PCs used for music production, but we list the audio type on every motherboard we sell

Network Cards

Much like sound cards, network cards have become less common as motherboard technology has developed. Almost every modern motherboard comes with at least one ethernet port, and while built-in wireless isn't as common in desktop PCs as it is with laptops, higher-end boards tend to have this feature too. If your PC's motherboard doesn't have wireless and you're certain it's something you need (we'd always recommend a wired connection, through a powerline kit if the PC is too far from the router), then you can add wireless cards or external adaptors to give you full WiFi functionality.

Hopefully this should clear things up, and you should have more of an idea what it is you're looking for. If you're solely looking to game, then the focus should be on the processor and graphics card. If you're looking to do some video editing, streaming, or a lot of multitasking, then extra RAM should be considered. If you're looking for something that's lightning fast, add an SSD.

A lot of companies would be happy enough pushing the most expensive model to a customer, but we'd rather you got the right PC for your needs. If you're still wondering why you should choose us to build your next PC, have a look at our About Us page to learn a little more about our services.

Of course if you're still feeling a little lost, or have any extra questions, please don't hesitate to get in touch and we'll be happy to help any way we can.