So there I was an hour deep into a gaming session that I was sure was going to end with nothing less than complete domination and me standing astride the world with foot raised and arms crossed in my best Captain Morgan’s stance. I had worked so hard to get where I was, putting hours into the new game Total War: Shogun 2, setting myself up for the penultimate battle and my crowning victory to cement my hold over medieval Japan.
And then it happened.
It started with a jitter, my screen jumping and buttons not responding. Then it cascaded as my furious mouse clicks went unanswered and I watched my army fall apart one stuttering frame at a time like some cruel stop-motion joke. And then it just stopped. My computer freezing in the feared “blue screen of death.”
The word that comes to mind is “Fail,” obviously on my computers part for not being able to play the game properly. But more importantly it was my fault for not upgrading my hardware so that my computer could handle the newest and most demanding games. The day had finally come when my old girl just couldn’t keep up, and now it was time to remedy what I had put off for so long.
Now there are many ways to upgrade and many different opinions on what’s the most important piece of equipment to worry about. But amidst all this debate three things stand out above the rest. Processing power, RAM, and video graphics capabilities.
Your processor is your brain. Without it your computer could have all the power in the world but not know how to use it. It’s literally the hub in which all the information that your computer receives passes though and it has to be able to interpret all that information fast enough. When you have a processor that may not be handling all that information you have what is called a “bottleneck” or a piece of equipment that is slowing down the computers overall performance.
Of course, the newest and most expensive Intel hexa-core (six core) processor cannot only cost you an arm or a leg but what can seem like both proverbial appendages. That is what we are looking to avoid. So the first step is identifying what you have and what you want.
Processors are categorized by how many cores they have, or how many different things they can do at once. Most games nowadays are designed to use multi-core powered systems and running them on older single cores can have harrowing effects, like that above, and in some cases not allow the game to run at all.
You can buy a decent dual-core processor these days for less than hundred dollars. Quad-core processors are the next step up but haven’t fallen to a price that is quite as easy to stomach, hovering around that $100-$150 range.
Whatever you decide is right for you, websites like Newegg and Amazon, and stores such as Fry’s Home Electronics and Best Buy are good sources for customer reviews and professional information. Looking on these sites and watching for ads can give you valuable knowledge and even better chances at finding that perfect price for you.
Researching whats available for your system is the first step in your quest to computer enlightenment and hopefully knowing what you’re looking for lets that first step fall a bit easier. So here’s to your next newb stomping epic win.
Good luck and good gaming.
The Puyallup Post is the award-winning student news of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2017. Twitter/Instagram @puyalluppost