When it comes to your first gaming setup, picking out a PC is easy. You know the kinds of games you like playing, you know the settings you’d want to play them at, and you can pick a PC to suit those needs. However, when it comes to filling out the other necessary parts of your set up, things can start to get confusing. Do you need a gaming mouse? What about a gaming keyboard? How do you decide on a monitor? What about other accessories, like racing wheels? In this blog, we’re going to break down the essential peripherals to help you get up and running, and make the most out of your new PC.
There are a few things that you absolutely need to use your computer, these aren’t accessories, they’re requirements. At minimum to get started, you need a mouse, a keyboard, and a monitor. You might also know monitors as a display, or computer screen. Of course, you can use any old keyboard and mouse you have laying around, and they will work to get you navigating around your PC. However, if you play video games competitively, you should consider getting a mouse and keyboard that will give you a competitive edge and make sure that you’re not being held back by your peripherals.
A computer monitor is the second most important part of your set up, behind the PC. There are a few things to consider when buying a monitor. First, you need to pick a size. Are you planning on using only one monitor? Maybe consider a wide or ultrawide monitor to maximize your screen real estate. Alternatively, if you’re more interested in a dual or multi monitor setup, consider the desk space you have available.
Another thing to consider is the refresh rate. If you’re mostly using your computer for casual browsing and light gaming, this won’t matter as much. However, if you’re looking to play competitive e-sports, the refresh rate is critical. Many gaming monitors come with 144Hz refresh rates, which help you make precision movements in fast-paced titles.
By design, gaming mice have more functionality than your average computer mouse. They typically have features like programmable buttons, faster response times, adjustable sensitivity, and RGB lighting.
The extra buttons on gaming mice make them great for games with large UI’s, or just saving yourself from making big stretches across the keyboard. The programmable buttons can be mapped to different controls, so you can make sure that important game functions. For instance, mapping a controller’s side button to jump to make movement through a game world easier.
The faster response times of gaming mice give you a competitive edge in e-sports titles, where hitting or missing a shot comes down to milliseconds. Gaming mice let you customize their sensitivity to perfectly suit your needs.
Wired, or wireless? That again depends on personal preference. While almost all pro gamers will use wired mice and keyboards because there’s no wireless latency to deal with, that might not work for your situation. It’s possible your PC is far from where you sit and a standard connection wouldn’t work. Latency aside, you can have a wireless gaming mouse that performs very closely to a wired one, you just have to know what to look for.
It’s also worth considering hand sizes. Depending on how large or small your hand is, you might have a different experience with two different mice, where one may be comfortable for someone with large hands, someone with smaller hands might find it hard to grip.
You can’t talk about mice without talking about mouse pads. If you’re playing competitive games with a gaming mouse, you’ll need a large enough mouse pad to move around on. When you think of a mouse pad, you might picture a small tattered square for your mouse to rest on. But, when it comes to gaming, you need more space than a traditional mouse pad allows. In order to make quick movements and aim accurately, get the largest mouse pad that you have space for. You’ll never have to worry about dragging your mouse off the side, or having the mouse pad sliding around on your desk.
Gaming keyboards, like with gaming mice, are not necessary. However, like gaming mice, they will give you an advantage over traditional keyboards. A gaming keyboard will have faster response times, more flexibility, and often customizable lighting.
Gaming keyboards mainly come in two different flavors, mechanical and membrane. Mechanical keyboards tend to be more “clicky” in both the way they feel while you’re typing and the sound that they make. However, there are a variety of switch types in mechanical keyboards, some loud, some silent, and there are a variety of options to suit your specific playstyle.
Membrane keyboards are probably more what the average person is used to typing on, and you might prefer the feel of a membrane keyboard to the mechanical. There are gaming keyboard options to suit either preference, the most important part is finding what suits you. Like mice, there are also options for wireless gaming keyboards, though, these wireless keyboards are less popular than their wired counterparts.
While these aren’t technically “essential” in that your computer will function without them, a good chair and a way to output sound from your machine are critical to get the best experience out of your PC.
Now, is a chair technically a peripheral? Probably not, but they’re an important consideration to make. When first building out your setup, you might already have a desk and a chair to use. Or, maybe you have a desk and drag a chair away from your kitchen. Chairs can be easy to overlook because they’re a common piece of furniture, but when it comes to your gaming setup, it’s important that you don’t overlook where you sit.
In theory, you’ll spend a lot of time in front of your computer. When you’re playing games for extended sessions, that’s when a bad chair will be really apparent. Playing games in a bad or uncomfortable chair can have a negative impact on your performance. Back problems and other pains will cut your sessions short, distract you, and otherwise turn a fun relaxing time into a pain.
Gaming chairs exist to solve this problem. Often resembling seats you’d find in a race car, gaming chairs are designed to support your back and spine, keeping you upright in a comfortable position so that by the end of your session, you’re not feeling sore. They also feature adjustable seat height, and often adjustable armrest height so you can customize the chair to your needs.
If the race seat style isn’t your thing, of course, there are gaming chairs made of faux leather. These chairs are built for long term support and look more like traditional office chairs.
A lot of the time, monitors won’t have built in speakers. In order to hear what’s happening in your games, you’ll need a way to output sound. It’s up to you whether you’ll primarily listen through speakers or headphones, though, most people opt for headphones because many gaming headsets have built in microphones for communicating in online games.
Advanced users, like streamers will often use high end headphones in combination with a separate microphone for the best possible sound quality. However, it’s up to you how much to invest into these accessories.
It’s completely possible to stream with nothing more than a game and OBS, but to get a professional quality stream, you need a few accessories.
A capture card is a must for anyone who’s serious about streaming. Don’t limit the quality of your stream by taxing your hardware. A capture card takes the pressure off your system, it’s a dedicated device that is used to convert the raw video signal from your games into something that can be output for live streams and recorded video.
A capture card like the EVGA XR1 not only takes the burden off of your system, but adds in the ability to add in audio from an external mic, or video from an external camera. USB powered capture cards usually add the flexibility to stream gameplay from consoles, too.
If you only stream from a PC, and don’t need the portability, there are also PCI express capture cards that slot directly into your motherboard, provided you have a free space.
Your choice of camera should be determined by your budget of course. May professional streamers will use pro grade cameras with expensive lenses for their setup, but it’s not necessary to get a great looking face cam as a part of your stream.
There are plenty of webcams that are relatively inexpensive and will give you great video quality, especially for a streamer just starting out.
This is another area where you can start small. You don’t need an independent mic just to stream, a mic built into your headset will work just fine for many streamers. Then, as you grow you can always upgrade to a standalone microphone.
Many streamers will use a green screen in the background of their face cam. This may be a direction you’re interested in. However, with software like NVIDIA Broadcast, you can remove your background without the use of a green screen. This is a great option for someone just getting started who doesn’t have the space or budget for a green screen.
There are also products like the Elgato Stream Deck that you may be interested in to streamline your workflow.
“Nice to Have” Accessories
These peripherals are just that, accessories. They’re not essential to the function of your computer, but these peripherals can enhance the experience you have in certain games.
VR Headsets can add a new dimension to your gaming, literally. Even though it requires some investment, VR gives you access to entirely new libraries of games. Virtual reality is better than ever, and with systems like the Cosmos line from HTC Vive, you can fully immerse yourself in a game.
VR lets you play popular games like Beat Saber and Half Life: Alyx that would otherwise be inaccessible to you.
If you’re planning on using your gaming PC for racing sims, you’ll of course need a wheel and pedals. However, if you’re new to the hobby, you may not know that racing setups can quickly become more expensive than the rest of your setup combined. Dedicated racing setups with an assembled cockpit can easily run into the thousands.
Our sponsor Simon Tibbet runs an impressive sim rig, but he’s a professional race car driver. You may want to look for budget options for wheels and pedals and slowly upgrade your setup over time. If you have a VR Headset, that can also be used as a part of your sim racing rig.
Peripherals for flight sims, like racing sims can get very expensive and space consuming. However, that doesn’t mean you need to spend a ton of money or make a dedicated station just to play flight sims. The easiest entry point into the hobby is a joystick. With a joystick, you can control the flight simulators much more fluidly than with a keyboard.
There are so many options when it comes to accessories to PC gaming, and this list only addresses a small portion of what’s out there. We hope that this guide helped you to see what options you have when selecting peripherals, and in the future we hope to have more advanced guides to help you better understand the accessories that can make an amazing PC even better.
If you don’t already have a gaming PC, ours are a great option! We have price points to suit every need and budget.