How to Design a Dedicated Gaming Setup

Every serious gamer invests time and money into building a dedicated gaming setup. Separate work from play, and build a gaming setup that will give you a slight edge over the competition

Each dimension below warrants at least some consideration.

Display

Beyond impacting what you see and how you see it, your choice of display affects how quickly you can see new information through its refresh rate and response time.

Refresh Rate

Refresh rate is defined as the number of times per second (hertz [Hz]) that the display is able to update.

60 Hz is the norm. Console gamers will do fine to choose a monitor with a 60 Hz refresh rate, given that console video output is capped at 60 FPS.

Gaming monitors with refresh rates in excess of 60 Hz are available. While these may benefit PC gamers, console gamers will not see any tangible improvement by investing in these monitors. Refresh rates above 60 Hz are a somewhat controversial topic – can users even perceive refresh rates greater than 60 Hz?

Response Time

Response time is defined as the amount of time in milliseconds (ms) that it takes for the pixels to change. It is usually reported as gray-to-gray response time.

Input Lag

Input lag is defined as the amount of time in milliseconds (ms) that it takes for new information to be displayed.

If you’ve gamed on a TV, you’ve probably experienced this. Switching your TV to Game Mode can help reduce input lag. In this mode, the TV disables some post-processing features, reducing input lag. Consult your TV’s user manual to learn how to set it to Game Mode.

DisplayLag | HDTV & Monitor Input Lag Database

Calibration

Ensure that you’re seeing the game world as the developers intended.

Basic settings (brightness and contrast) should be tuned with the help of patterns. I use AVS HD 709.

Consult TweakTV http://www.tweaktv.com/tweak-my-tv/ for a baseline.

Peripherals

Get your hands on a variety of different peripherals until you find the ones that fit you best. Research yields dividends in this department, as quality peripherals will last you a long time, and will continually bring you joy.

You can take a look at my page on gaming peripherals to see what I’ve explored.

Audio

Headphones are the standard for gaming audio because they offer an immersive experience and work well in most situations at lower cost than speakers. Headphones are less fatiguing than earbuds, allowing them to be used more comfortably during extended gaming sessions.

Word to the wise: shun gaming headsets. You can do much better for the same coin by adding a microphone to a pair of headphones that you like. Buy a gaming headset only if you absolutely need one.

Comfort & Ergonomics

A well-designed setup reduces impact on your body over time. Do yourself a favor and evaluate your setup for ergonomics.

Prolonged gaming sessions on poorly-designed setups will cause you to suffer, reducing your ability to perform. You may not notice this while you’re young, but cumulative stress will catch up to you over time. Don’t let poor ergonomics hinder your ability to perform, or end your gaming career before it takes off.

For gaming at a desktop environment, a solid task chair works wonders. Lumbar support helps maintain the natural curvature of your spine. If you don’t have the funds to pour into a new task chair, consider investing in a lumbar support (Amazon.com) to save your lower back.

For the most ergonomic setup, consider a sit-to-stand desk.

Local Area Network

A wired connection will outperform a wireless one.

If you have a cable drop nearby, invest in a network switch (Amazon.com) to share the love with your various devices.

If you can’t run a cable, consider either powerline network adapters (Amazon.com) or Multimedia over Coax (MoCA) adapters (Amazon.com).

Use wireless networking for your gaming setup only if you must.