It frustrates computer technicians and the average computer user alike; no matter how expensive a computer is, you can't just do anything you want without the right equipment. To have real fun on your computer in the game world outside of basic casual game websites, you need to understand how different parts interact with each other and what really matters under your computer's case. Take a look at a few specific parts to understand how they help your computer play games better.
Video Cards Are Crucial
Many big box stores sell expensive computers with a lot of seemingly impressive features. Big hard drives measured in terabytes, multiple processor cores and huge monitors exist to dazzle the unaware, but you need to look deeper.
The video card is responsible for most of the heavy lifting inside a computer. It features its own processor dedicated to video purposes, memory dedicated to storing graphics files and its own fan for cooling. If you look at how its built, the video card is a miniature inside a computer with the sole responsibility of making video data---including games--run smoothly.
It doesn't matter if you get 32 gigabytes (GB) of the fastest memory of a octocore (eight core) processor. If there's no video card, you won't be playing any mid to high-end games. In most cases, the game won't even let you run because it needs specific instructions embedded into the video card's storage. That's right, it technically has its own hard drive.
What Do You Really Need In The Computer?
For less than $500--less if you shop around for cheaper parts--you could ask a computer services professional to put together a basic box with a "fast enough" mainstream processor, enough memory for the specific game and a hard drive to store the games.
When it comes to processors, fast enough means four cores at 3 gigahertz (Ghz) each as of this writing, but such standards change when the game industry demands more power. At a certain point it's not about just playing the game efficiently and beautifully, but being able to look at other monitors and do other things while you play games. For online gamers in a constant, persistent world, this is normal operations.
Memory depends on the game, but current systems need a minimum of 8GB memory. Again, if you're only playing one game at standard settings, you don't need to spend a lot of money. If you want the best, you need to look at how information moves from the memory to the rest of the computer (clock speed) and how much data can be moved at the same time (bus width).
As for hard drives, it's up to you. If you plan on storing a lot of games along with movies and other files, get as much hard drive space as you want. Terabyte hard drives (1000GB or 1024GB) are more than enough to store a few dozen games and lots of movies. The drives cost less than $100 at the basic level, with higher speeds for faster performance in place for devices such as Solid State Drives (SSDs).
As you look at the almost $1000 office computers in big box stores, remember that you don't have to fall for the same trap. Look at the technical requirements for your game, look at some prices and look to a computer services professional to put it all together for you.