Your Go-To Set Up for Surround-Sound Gaming
As the holidays near, it’s a good time to start thinking about how you’ll want to set up your gaming rig for the next year. Are you going to want a new monitor, new keyboard, or a great set of headphones? What about games, add-ons, and other content? With so many different options, it can be difficult to decide where you’d like to spend your hard-earned cash.
We’ve put together a list of a few essentials you’ll need to get started, or some you can upgrade, depending upon your budget.
And, if you’d like, be sure to check out our article on how to use surround sound to gain an edge over the competition.
BenQ EL2870U — $299
When you’re upgrading your rig, you might focus on just the guts. You want it all: 4K graphics, in-game settings maxed out, crisp audio. But if you’re playing on a hand-me-down monitor, wasn’t all that cash spent in vain?
The BenQ EL2870U is a 28-inch gaming monitor that won’t break the bank. Try its response time of 1ms, and 4K TN panels for just under $300. It even has a pair of 2W speakers, which are perfect for any non-gaming related activities like browsing YouTube. It even has a 3.5mm headphone jack, so you can plug in and get started right away.
Lastly, the BenQ EL2870U features a hard-wired HDR button for toggling on and off the high-dynamic range. It does trade Nvidia G-Sync in favor of AMD FreeSync, but it’s only $300. Priorities, people! Overall, the EL2870U is an excellent choice if you need something with a big screen and onboard sound.
Logitech K840 — $40
If you’re looking for another affordable set-up that plays like the pros, check out the G203 Prodigy. It’s a perfect piece of equipment for any gamer. Designed by Japanese giant Omron, the electronics and the Romer-G switch were reserved for the higher-end Logitech products, but are now available at a great price.
As you’re essentially buying the Romer-G switch, there aren’t any add-ons to the K840. No backlighting or USB pass-throughs. But it’s a solid grab for the dedicated, minimalist gamer.
Logitech G203 Prodigy — $14.99
There are plenty of gaming mice out there, sure. But the Logitech G203 Prodigy is a solid investment in Logitech’s reliable build quality, gaming drivers, and a comfortable mouse shape. Hands-down, it’s the best mouse for FPS or MOBA players.
It doesn’t use Logitech’s best sensor, but the Mercury sensor in this mouse is so good you likely won’t be able to tell. With a CPI up to 800, and no jitter or acceleration issues, the G203 is the best mouse on the market for your budget!
Creative Sound Blaster Z — $89.99
The Sound Blaster Z PCIe Gaming Sound Card is great for communicating with your teammates. In addition to premium in-game audio, the sound card also provides excellent support for your team communications.
Using it’s Crystal Voice technology and included beamforming microphone, the Sound Blaster can intelligently demarcate an area (or, acoustic zone) within your gaming setup, and suppress noise outside of it, enabling your call-signs and orders to be heard crystal-clear.
Turtle Beach Recon 50 Headset — $29.95
Turtle Beach’s Recon 50 headset is another budget-friendly buy for any gamer. On paper it’s perfect. But, the downside? No surround sound. When you’re spending about $30, that can be a deal breaker for some, but it’s still a great headset overall.
Though the Recon 50 lacks surround sound audio, the Recon 50 is designed for shooters. You’ll pick up on lots of extra details that your computer speakers just can’t pick up. The features are awesome too: high-quality 40mm speakers, a removable high-sensitivity mic, inline controls, and a PC splitter cable.
CPU-Z – Free
No gamer in pursuit of PC optimization should ignore CPU-Z. A great freeware application, CPU-Z collects some of the most important information for gaming on your system, and displays it all in one handy dialog box.
You can track elements like processor name and number, codename, process, package, cache levels; mainboard and chipset; memory type, size, timings, and module specifications; as well as real time measurement of each core’s internal frequency, memory frequency. There are even customized versions for specific Windows applications, and a vintage edition that brings back that Windows95 look-and-feel. It can also identify RAM and clock rate, allowing you to track data in real time without having to open the case. Perfect if you’re trying to start overclocking.
A PC-based sound-driver, Audio Royale has been specially tuned for battle royale in order to provide easy-to-use features that will help you up your game. The software works by unlocking the 5.1 surround sound of any game for discreet 5.1 playback on any headphone using proprietary technology that was previously available only to professional audio engineers.
For example, Apex Legends’ developers created a 5.1 mix for their game. When you listen on headphones, you’re hearing a stereo mixdown of all those channels. You either need expensive headphones and software, or a simple plug-and-play piece of software that can allow you to hear through walls, increase your situational awareness, and pinpoint gunshots.
Audio Royale comes complete with three main features:
Visualizer: Enables gamers to see sound sources, 360° around the character.
Metering: Displays the levels of each surround sound channel in real-time.
Equalizer: Allows gamers to customize their game’s sound to tap into their natural instincts.
Don’t do default audio. Personalize your game, and get a split-second advantage. Watch the video below to learn more.
While this list is not meant to be exhaustive, it is meant to boost your gaming experience and get you and your PC headed in the right direction. Got more ideas of what you want to do with your gaming set up this year? Let us know in the comments.
And, if your tech is up-to-speed but your in-game strategies are a little lackluster, no sweat. We got you. See our in-depth guides for games like, CS:GO, COD: Warzone, and Apex Legends.