5 things you can do with your new gaming PC

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One of the greatest things about a new PC, whether you’ve bought it or put it together yourself, is finding out what you can do with it once it’s up and running. Maybe you want to overclock your PC and optimise its performance or get into competitive gaming. Having some goals in mind can give you a more immersive experience when using a new system.

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Below are some recommendations of great things you can do to get used to your new PC.

Try competitive gaming

Competitive gaming has many benefits, including your rise in the in-game rankings, testing your skills against more difficult opponents and a new experience with games you may already be familiar with. Once you’ve found a game you want to get better at, there are several ways to improve.

Practise, practise, practise. Getting good at competitive gaming starts by climbing the rankings in matchmaking. To make progress, you need to practise. Game-specific practice tools and training maps can help you develop your reflexes and better understand the mechanics of the game.

Learn by watching. As you improve your skills with internal game mechanics, watch games between great players or professional teams and learn from playing at a higher level.

Try out different peripherals. Your personal preferences will determine which peripherals are best for you. You may want to consider using a mouse with adjustable DPI (dots per inch), keyboards with mechanical switches and gaming headsets for communicating with other team members to enhance your gaming experience.

Upgrade to a gaming monitor with a high refresh rate. In especially fast-paced games like Overwatch and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, 144Hz and 240Hz monitors can give you a competitive edge over a 60Hz monitor because they display more visual information. This allows you to improve your reaction times and better track targets moving across the screen.

There is one thing to bear in mind: Monitors with high refresh rates have higher system requirements than 60 Hz monitors if you want to access the extra functionality. If your system does not provide a sufficient frame rate, you will not be able to enjoy the benefits of a high frame rate monitor.

It’s important to make sure your CPU and GPU are fast enough to provide the necessary frame rate for your monitor. To play at higher frame rates, the capacities of your CPU and GPU need to be aligned with those of your monitor. A powerful CPU and GPU with equivalent capacities are recommended. You can find out more about the impact of CPU on gaming here.

The easiest way to check if your CPU and GPU support high frame rates for a particular game is to check the in-game FPS benchmarks. Your average FPS should match or exceed the refresh rate of the monitor. You can also adjust the game settings until you have achieved the required performance.

Go Live

Live streaming services allow anyone to broadcast their gaming sessions to the world – or at least a few close friends. Streaming adds social interaction to your gaming experience.

Setting up a stream is easy. All you need is an internet connection with sufficient upload speeds and streaming software such as Open Broadcast Software to get connected. A microphone and webcam are just options, but help to improve the stream quality.

When setting up a PC for streaming, it’s important to have the right components – especially a fast multi-core processor. Streaming a high-definition video while playing games on the same system can be quite a drain on system resources. If there aren’t enough cores, the video encoding application and the game will be competing for resources on the same system. Both suffer as a result.

CPUs with high core counts are best suited for streaming because they reserve the resources of some cores for the game and use others for encoding the video signals. An Intel® Core™ i7 processor with at least 8 GB of RAM is recommended for simultaneous gaming and streaming.

Become a power user

Few things are as satisfying as customising and configuring a new system to your exact requirements. This also applies to the software you run on your new system. Third-party applications and power user fine-tuning allow you to customise the operating system so that it offers much more than just pre-configuration. This makes the desktop user experience smoother, leaner and more personalised.

Here are some ways to spice up the operating environment:

Launch applications with a keyboard shortcut. Use a keyboard shortcut launcher to quickly launch applications and documents from the command line instead of clicking through the various menus. Two popular options are Ueli and Launchy.

Customise your desktop. Customise the visual presentation of your operating system with great custom skins. With desktop customisation utilities like Rainmeter and Wallpaper Engine, you can animate wallpapers, change how information is arranged on the desktop and add visually appealing weather apps, music visualisers and system monitors.

Install all the software in one go. Instead of downloading and installing each application separately, you can use a software package installer to manage and update all the apps on your PC from a single checklist. Popular products of this type include Chocolatey and Ninite.

Perform tasks more efficiently. Set up multiple desktops to better organise your workspace. Change keyboard shortcuts for common tasks like screen grabs and video recording to something you can type quickly without having to look at the keyboard. Assign additional mouse buttons to frequently used shortcuts.

Dual boot. Install Linux on a hard drive partition to quickly switch between operating systems. If necessary, you can also run applications developed for other operating systems using a virtual machine.

Update your drivers. Once your PC is running and set up, it’s never a bad idea to update the operating system and drivers. This will ensure that all devices and hardware parts are working properly. Much of this process is done automatically when you update your operating system, but you may also need to download a specific GPU driver separately. GPU software packages will notify you when a new driver is released so that you are always up to date. These software packages also include utilities to optimise in-game graphics settings and often tools to enhance your gaming experience, such as frame rate counters or screen capture software.

Keep an eye on system performance. You can use system monitoring applications to ensure that your system is running optimally. This allows you to view the usage, speed and temperatures of system components. These applications can also tell you how fast the fans are spinning and how many are working. Some of these applications display component-specific analysis data. The CPU-Z app, for example, can display the CPU clock frequency for each core.

Putting your PC to the test

You can use benchmarking utilities to optimise system performance to the limit. These tough computer challenges expose your system components to the most demanding workloads and then rate them according to their ability to withstand the pressure. Benchmarks allow you to explore the strengths of your PC build and compare your build with the builds of others online.

Test the response speed of your system. You can also simulate your work and leisure environments. PCMark 10, for example, evaluates your system in terms of how well it copes with different use cases, from creative workflows to a video call while browsing the internet.

Stress test your CPU. Benchmarking tests in Intel® Extreme Tuning Utility (Intel® XTU) can be run for 5 minutes or up to 30 days. CINEBENCH is a full-featured application that evaluates how quickly multi-core CPUs can complete comprehensive rendering tasks. Handbrake plays a high-resolution video file and rates your processor based on its decoding speed.

Rate graphics performance. GPU-based benchmark tests evaluate your PC’s ability to create complex 3D environments. Heaven Benchmark is a proven test for assessing gaming performance.

Compare work and data storage speeds. Other applications specialise in assessing how fast SSDs and hard drives can transfer information. There are even tools for testing RAM speeds.

In-game benchmarks

One reason for running benchmarks: You want to know which games you can play and what FPS you can achieve while playing. Many games (e.g. Civilization VI, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and Horizon Zero Dawn) have built-in benchmarking tests to give you an indication of how well your system can run the game.

Another way to run benchmarks is to play games and see how well they perform. Frame rate monitoring tools like Fraps actively display your FPS in a corner of the screen while you play. This allows you to measure your average frame rate in certain parts of the game or over an entire gaming session.

Don’t forget: No two games are identical. In-game performance varies depending on the specific requirements of each game.

Our guide to interpreting CPU benchmarks contains more details.

CPU overclocking

Overclocking your CPU involves adjusting the voltage and frequency to achieve speeds beyond those specified in the manufacturer’s specifications. This may sound complicated. However, the basics of overclocking are quite simple and Intel overclocking software makes overclocking really easy.

Advanced. Perform intermediate overclocking with the Intel® Extreme Tuning Utility. The software requires more hands-on involvement from the user, but is quite user-friendly. Our guide will walk you through the software. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even overclock the RAM.

Pros. Manually overclocking your CPU via the BIOS can come later, once you are more familiar with how overclocking works.

Illustration for overclocking on computer monitor

Before you get started, you should make sure you have the right type of processor. Overclocking is only supported on processors that do not have a multiplier lock. Overclockable CPUs can be recognised by the letters “K”, “KF” or “KS” after the product number.

Have fun with your new PC

You have now maximised the potential of your new PC. Now it’s time to have fun with your optimised gaming PC! PC gaming is extremely diverse and offers a variety of great experiences. Try out exclusive titles, download user-created mods or broadcast your games regularly via your streaming channel.

Whatever you do with your new system, have fun!