Produced in partnership with Dell
There's the old saying that goes "In order to be the best, you have to beat the best". For PC gamers, however, there's always that other factor: You have to play with the best. Even for the pros, though, figuring out what exactly the best is isn't always easy. But the good folks at Dell have come to the rescue, with a slate of picks from the Alienware line to help everyone from the most jaded pro to the most daunted noob set up a quality rig.
Alienware 13 R3
It's a rare, beautiful thing for a gaming laptop to find the beautiful sweet spot between form, function, and power, but Alienware hit the bullseye with the new R3 models of the Alienware 13. Although the laptop has been streamlined from its previous design, this is still a beast of a laptop that milks that GTX 1060 graphics card for all its worth, playing the most demanding games out there without even breaking a sweat, as well as being VR ready right out of the box. Combined with a stunning OLED display and one of the most comfortable keyboards out there, this little beauty is a force to be reckoned with.
There's always two big problems, no matter how good your desktop rig is out of the box: how much space do you need to clear off for it and can I get to its internals without performing the PC equivalent of invasive surgery. The Aurora solves both problems, with a relatively svelte chassis not a whole lot larger than some dedicated gaming consoles, and a simple latch allowing users to start tinkering in a moments notice. Granted, the system is no slouch right out of the gate, with a slew of available stock configurations, but any time a mid-sized rig lets you plug in a second graphics card, that machine is basically making an offer you can't refuse.
Dell Inspiron 15 7000
For years, the Dell Inspiron has been the old-faithful, affordable workhorse of laptops, always delivering reliable horsepower without breaking the bank. Their current gaming model, the Inspiron 15 7000, sets out to give the all-business Inspiron model a nice little boost to handle playtime just as easily as it handles heavy workloads. This is a solid little machine that welcomes newcomers to the wonderful world of gaming laptops with open arms.
Dell UltraSharp U3417W
Not everyone can afford the money or space for VR, but there's always the next best thing: a monitor like the U3417 that not only impresses with a glorious 3440x1440 resolution and some surprisingly booming speakers, but whose curve and stellar viewing angles absolutely envelop the viewer in their media.
MSI GK-701 Mechanical Keyboard
Modern keyboards are certainly a thing of beauty, but for the traditionalists out there, no doubt there's that special something missing from a keyboard that doesn't give that satisfying old-school “thunk” when a key is pressed, and with the more tactile PC games out there, not getting the feedback you need can be a matter of life or death. Enter the GK-701. With its wicked looking red backlighting, MSI's keyboard is an ergonomically designed board with durable gold-plated switches, and includes built in hotkeys to lock the Windows key against accidental hits during gameplay, and multimedia options. It's truly the best of both worlds.
Logitech G403 Prodigy Wireless Gaming Mouse
There comes a time in every PC gamer's life where a trackpad or a stock mouse just won't cut it anymore, and you need not just a peripheral to control a game, but one that becomes an extension of your own hand, the way the pros play. Unfortunately, for newcomers, a high-end gaming mouse can feel like trying to solve the Hellraiser puzzle box. Logitech knows this, and has come to ease newbies in with their Prodigy line of mice, which deliver a wealth of control options from all sides without sacrificing the slick design, but thanks to Logitech's robust software suite doesn't skimp on customization, even offering a few pre-made profiles for players thinking of trying their hand in the competitive scene.
SteelSeries Siberia 800
The SteelSeries Siberia isn't much to look at. You could mistake it for any $30 headset from Wal-Mart at first glance. Then you put it on, and the headset reveals its true nature as one of the most superb and versatile wireless headsets on the market. From its amp, which provides users with almost obsessive numbers of options for customizing their sound, to its ability to hook up to virtually anything with a speaker, to the beautifully rich and clear sound quality, this is the kind of audio you need to experience to believe.
Fractal Design Define R5
Anybody can design a flashy case plastered with anime characters that glows pink when it boots up, but sometimes, flash is overrated. Fractal Design's Define R5 case emphasizes stealth, with simple lines, buttons and ports easily accessible and flush with the surface, and internals that will run whisper quiet, even at its highest fan speeds.
Intel Core I5 6500 (Skylake)
CPUs are often another sweet-spot scenario between performance and price, but what gamers can expect to wring out of the I5-6500 for its price tag is quite impressive. Running at 3.2 GHz (which can be turbo'd up to 3.6), and extremely versatile with all sorts of builds, it's one of the best quad cores on the market.
Cooler Master 212 EVO
It's a rare thing that one of the cheapest options for a build component turns out to be one of the best, but even after all these years, the Cooler Master 212 EVO remains one of the best cooling solutions, one of the simplest, and, indeed, one of the most affordable. No extreme bells and whistles, no fussing around with liquids, just one simple, elegantly designed fan versatile enough to fit into just about any rig.
Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB DDR4-3200
As far as power goes, the Corsair Vengeance isn't the most vicious beast out there in terms of speeds, but it's possibly the most practical. The RAM itself will most certainly get the job done in any build, but where it excels is in the additional fans included with the card, which, sold separately, typically cost more than the RAM itself. As far as getting one's money's worth from your hardware, the Vengeance is the right choice.
WD Blue 1TB SSD
While, sure, you can still nab a high-capacity plain-jane SATA drive for your build, there is no question whatsoever that as far as future-proofing your rig goes, solid state is the only way to fly. Western Digital's offering is an extraordinarily sturdy build which will keep users writing for years, and at speeds far beyond anything a traditional disk drive can imagine.