At VG247 we spend a shed load of time playing games. Here’s our picks for the best gear for doing so.
One of the perks of writing about video games as we do on VG247 is that we all get to spend quite a lot of time playing them and, in turn, perfecting our choice of gear in each of our gaming set ups. We test and reject a lot of stuff, and some stuff you read about on the site even in reviews might be considered quality – but the ultimate test of quality is if after the review process we keep using it in the following weeks and months.
On this page the VG247 team run down their current hardware and peripheral picks and recommendations. We’ll update a couple of times a year as and when we need to. These are the items we all currently use – so this is a good reference for exactly what rig we might’ve reviewed a recent PC Game on, plus broader recommendations on any techy items we use for gaming or gaming-related activity. This page will expand over time, so if you’re considering building a new PC or you’re looking for a new keyboard or controller, this is the place to bookmark and check back on.
Alex’s Top Gear Picks
My PC is one of my most prized possessions, and it gets updated fairly frequently. Some elements of this setup have been enduring, though – I’m now on my second Corsair Air 540 case, having loved the first I had so much I just did a straight swap when it was looking worse for wear. I even use the Air 240, its smaller sibling, for a smaller PC in the house.
Given I also spend a lot of time working on the VG247 YouTube channel, the PC has to be good enough for capturing and exporting 4K video quickly, plus editing tasks, general mixing and solid multi-tasking potential. I’m a very strong advocate of quiet fans (thus the fairly expensive Noctua NF series ones I use) and of a modular power supply for neatness. If you can afford to copy those two things, do. Here’s the full specs:
- Processor: Intel Core i7-8700K @ 4.2 GHz
- Memory: 32 GB RAM (HyperX Fury DDR4, 2133MHz)
- GPU: GeForce RTX 2080 Ti – Founder’s Edition
- Motherboard: GIGABYTE Z370 AORUS Gaming 5 (ATX, LGA1151)
- Sound Card: Creative Labs Sound Blaster Z PCIE
- Hard Drives: Samsung 850 EVO SSD x2 (Windows / Games), WD Blue 3TB / 1TB (Storage)
- Case: Corsair Air 540 ATX Cube Case (Black)
- Fans: Corsair Hydro Series H110 (CPU), Noctua NF Series (Case)
- Power Supply: Cooler Master V1000 PSU
Outside of the PC case itself, here’s some picks for devices I use regularly during both PC and Console gaming:
Monitor: Asus ROG Swift PG27AQ
This monitor is an absolute beast. It supports full 4K resolution on a gorgeous IPS display, supports NVIDIA G-Sync tech, and as well as the DisplayPort 1.2 connectors I use it also has HDMI 1.4 for connecting up consoles, plus a bunch of stuff I admittedly don’t use like USB ports and built-in speakers. The only downside of this display is that it lacks HDR – but a version with that is on the way. If only I could justify the upgrade… (I can’t). At 27 inches, it’s about as big as I would ever go for a desk-based monitor. I also use a lower-end monitor as a second screen.
Keyboard: Corsair K70 LUX RGB
Once you’ve gone mechanical you’ll never go back, and Corsair’s K70 line-up are great keyboards. The model I have has lovely Cherry MX Brown switches, which provide just the right amount of tactile feedback for my style of touch typing when I’m writing on the site. For gaming, there’s some great macro features I use, plus the cool RGB lighting if I want to show off. The only down
Mouse: Razer Naga Trinity
The Razer Naga Trinity is actually marketed as an MMO and MOBA mouse, but I don’t really play either of those genres and love it all the same. It’s comfortable, has a ridiculous 16,000 DPI sensor and 3 interchangeable side plates with different configurations for different kinds of games. I use this alongside a Razer Goliathus Chroma mouse mat, which has cool RGB lighting around the edges and a solid cable management solution.
Headset: Turtle Beach Elite PRO
I liked the Turtle Beach Elite Pro so much that when the one I reviewed for VG247 a few years ago unceremoniously snapped, I picked up another. These headsets perhaps don’t take wear and tear as well as they should at the price, but when paired with Turtle Beach’s optional TAC pre-amp device, it feels near-enough unbeatable – at least compared to other headsets I’ve used.
Speakers: Razer Nommo Chroma
Sometimes you don’t want a headset. Sometimes you want to shake the walls. Razer’s Nommo Chroma speakers are some of the only PC speakers out there that having a focus on gaming and gamers. These two individual speakers come on small stands that let you easily orient them toward you, and while they’re a simple stereo set up they feature bass output on the rear of each speaker to allow for more pronounced bass. They also offer what Razer is calling ‘full range’ sound – not surround sound, but a cleverly-designed approximation of it that’ll allow you to place enemy footsteps and the like. There’s separate knobs for bass and general volume, and best of all the pair are compatible with Razer’s bad-ass Chroma lighting solution – meaning it’ll pair with other Chroma products brilliantly to create a stunning light show.
Laptop: Microsoft Surface Pro 4 (256 GB, 8 GB RAM, Intel Core i5)
This job requires a fair amount of travel – E3, Gamescom, TGS, stuff like that. When I’m on the road I need a half-decent machine – though this is more for writing and video editing rather than playing. The Surface Pro 4 can handle some games well – I’ve killed a lot of hours mid-flight on Civilization and XCOM – but crucially it’s light and powerful for video editing. With 4K video becoming a thing, I might need to replace this with something beefier soon, but I still wholeheartedly recommend the Surface Pro 4.
Arcade Stick: Qanba Dragon Joystick
Regular readers of VG247 will know all too well that I’m a full-on fighting game nerd. I own several arcade sticks (and even a full cabinet), and have even put together a detailed page listing the best arcade sticks. My current first choice is the Qanba Dragon. It’s on the expensive and heavy side, but the latter makes it feel sturdy and significant in your lap. Mine has been modded with Sanwa OBSF silent-press buttons to disguise the sound of panic-mashing from my opponents – and if you like swapping buttons, it’s got a great opening system that sees the top pop up like the hood of a car.
PC Capture Device: AverMedia Live Gamer 4K
After years only using external capture kits, I finally took the plunge on an internal PCIe powered capture device with the AverMedia Live Gamer 4K. This is a neat little bit of kit if you’re looking to record really high-end footage from consoles – it features 4K, 60 frames-per-second recording with support for HDR, and the latency is some of the lowest I’ve seen on a kit of this kind. If you’re into this, it also features RGBN lighting with pre-set modes and programmable options to make it match the bling of your case – but I’m in it more for the substance than the style, and this is a substantive, quality piece of kit.
Travel Capture Device: Atomos Ninja Inferno
For capture on-the-go, the Ninja Inferno is hard to beat. It’s actually a recording monitor for camera work, but works great for capturing 4K, 60FPS footage of games on-the-go. It’s very expensive, however, and there are cheaper solutions built-in to PC, as mentioned above. The Ninja Inferno is amazing, but it’s a serious expense.
Kirk’s Top Gear Picks
I’ve had my PC for a few years now and the only thing I’ve changed is the GPU and the RAM. Oh, and I banged an SSD in to run my games faster. It’s not that I’m completely terrified of changing the CPU and the case, but I’m completely terrified of changing the CPU and the case.
To be honest, my PC can handle most things so I never feel the need to get inside and mess about with it. I probably should clean it at some point, but why fix what isn’t broken, eh? Eh? Nah, I’m just really lazy. If given the option, though, I do like to play games on my PC because it’s a beast compared to my PS4 Pro and standard Xbox One. Here’s what I’ve got:
- Processor: Intel Core i5 4440 @3.10 GHz
- Memory: 12GB DDR3 RAM
- GPU: RTX 2080Ti
- Motherboard: ASUS Z97-P
- Hard Drives: Seagate ST1000NM0033 – 3.5″ 1TB SATA3 Constellation ES.3 Hard Drive 7200RPM 128MB Cache, and a Crucial MX500 CT500MX500SSD1(Z) 500 GB Internal SSD (3D NAND, SATA, 2.5 Inch)
- Case: BitFenix – Comrade ATX Mid Tower Case
- Fans: Built-in CPU cooler, like a renegade. Good wire management and a big case helps, with a few case fans to ensure there’s plenty of air flow.
- Power Supply: EVGA – SuperNOVA NEX 650W 80+ Gold Certified Fully-Modular ATX Power Supply
For some further tech I’m using for gaming, here’s what I have currently.
I don’t use this for my PC because I’m not an animal, but everything looks amazing on this telly. It isn’t an OLED, but it’s actually much brighter than an OLED. OLED televisions are better for dark rooms, but I used to have issues with screen glare on my last 4K set. You could have the sun in your front room and still be able to see the crisp, colourful image on this set.
Monitors: My main monitor is an LG 27UD69P 27″ IPS 4K UHD, and this is where the PC gaming happens. It’s also what I’m writing this on. Hello! It’s just as good for being able to read tiny words as it is for shooting tiny heads sticking out of tiny bushes in PUBG. It’s the sharpest monitor I’ve ever owned. My second monitor is an Asus VX24AH 24 inch Frameless IPS 5 ms Console Gaming Monitor with Dual HDMI ports, 2560 x 1440. I mainly use it to keep an eye on people shouting at us on TweetDeck, but it used to be my main monitor and it was a decent step up from 1080p.
I have a pair of Turtle Beach Stealth 700. These headphones are comfy, they block out the sound of my kids, and they make games sound amazing. Definitely recommend as an affordable set.
If you’re looking for something a little more luxurious, the Sennheiser GSP 670 are the most comfortable headphones I’ve ever owned. Playing Battlefield 5 on it, it’s enough to give you shellshock. On top of that, you can connect it to your PS4 via bluetooth. It holds a few hours’ charge and charges up quickly – you can also use it wired while it’s charging. These are probably the best headphones I’ve ever used, but they’re pretty pricey.
This thing is a beast and can handle any game you throw at it. It’s not quite as powerful as my rig, but it’s perfect for modern, triple-A gaming on the go. Just make sure you bring that charger because it sucks up battery like nobody’s business. Here are the specs:
- Display: 15.6” FHD (1920×1080, Anti-Glare Wide-View, 120Hz)
- CPU: Intel Core i7-7700HQ
- Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 with Max-Q Design 8GB GDDR5
- Memory: 16GB DDR4-2400MHz
VR: I currently own two VR sets: PSVR and Oculus Quest. PSVR is great because there are a bunch of amazing VR games that you can only play on PS4, such as the excellent Blood and Truth. The downsides to PSVR are the wires. Ugh. It’s messy and it is a pain to disconnect and connect back up again. Worse still, I have an old set which means no HDR passthrough for my amazing QLED telly.
The Oculus Quest solves all those problems because it doesn’t need connecting to anything. Pop it on, trace out your play area and you’re ready to go. It’s probably the most impressive VR tech I’ve used because it’s so lightweight and you don’t have a million wires poking out of your head. Like PSVR, it also has a range of cool games you can only play on Oculus sets. The controllers also allow you to move your fingers with the touch of a button, unlike PSVR where your fingers either all move or none do. It feels like you’re actually using your hands, importantly. Quest is the future of VR and the best place to play Beat Saber.
Phone: If you’re into mobile gaming and money isn’t a factor, the iPhone XS Max is my go-to. It’s an incredible piece of kit with top of the range performance at a premium cost. It has all of the big games and runs them all at the highest fidelity, and there’s the bonus of the Apple Arcade, a gaming subscription service with a regular stream of great games to play.
For a mid-range phone, there’s the Honor 9X Pro. If you want to play things like PUBG Mobile, this phone is capable of running that on Ultra at a fraction of the price of the iPhone. The only real issue is that it launched without Google services, so you have to do things like watch YouTube through a browser, rather than via a dedicated app. But if you’re looking for something to game on the go without breaking the bank, Honor’s range of phones is your best bet. Asphalt Legends, one of the most demanding mobile games, can run at high settings with barely a hitch, and the phone’s own app store is stuffed with games to choose from. This Pro version of the Honor 9X comes with a faster CPU than the original, and it’s in gaming where you’ll notice that difference.
I’m not going to shout about my mouse or my keyboard because they’re cheap and I am in dire need of upgrades for all my accessories. I’ll update this page if and when I can afford to do so.
James’ Top Gear Picks
When you work from home in the same back bedroom as your significant other, the constant click-clack of loud mechanical switches is only ever going to give them (and by-proxy you) the Cherry MX Blues – no matter how responsive the tactile feedback. The silent switches in this Corsair keyboard do an amazing job of giving you a solid, non-mushy typing experience without sounding like an automatic rifle. Something to note if you’re interested though: these switches are significantly quieter than most, but aren’t totally silent. On the gaming front, the key rollover is flawless and the textured WASD and Space keys are great for orientation.
Mouse: M65 PRO RGB FPS Gaming Mouse
Posh mice are expensive. I tend to find a lot of them plasticy and a bit disappointing, so the aluminium frame and subsequent heft of the M65 make it my far-and-away favourite. The sniper button on the side makes it really versatile too. You can map it to lower the mouse’s DPI – useful for popping headshots and making tricky photo edits – or even to pause/play your current audio track, which is a big help when you’re transcribing.
Microphone: Blue Microphones Yeti
The Blue Yeti is king of the internet, and with good reason. It’s used by a lot of streamers, youtubers, podcasters, and singers because it’s easy to work with and offers great sound quality for the price. I picked mine up used for about £50 on eBay a handful of years ago and it’s served me well through countless interviews and Skype calls. All you have to do is plug it in via USB – which is less ubiquitous in decent audio equipment than a lay person like me thought – set it as your default audio device, and twist a knob on the back to select if you want to record one or multiple people: simple.
Matt’s Top Gear Picks
My PC specs are aging now, but like Kirk I don’t feel the need to tinker and change. I won’t go into the details because although I play some early access and pre-release code on it, it’s not exactly what you would call my gaming “rig”. It does have some badass skull stickers on the side of it though. I looking at picking up a quality laptop for gaming and capture in the near future, so I’ll fill you in when I’ve upgraded.
I am a notorious skinflint, so have used crappy mouse and keyboards for years now. £10 off Amazon, use it until it breaks, bin it and start again. Imagine my epiphany when I began to use this, a mechanical keyboard designed by the gods. I don’t actually use it for gaming, but to write these wonderful words you read today. My fingers mince across the keys, stroking them into a rattling cacophony, a soundtrack for Valkyries to ride into battle. The keys glow like 4am at Studio 54. The palm rest is like having mermaid tails tickle your wrists. It’s beautiful.
Sherif’s Top Gear Picks
I use my gaming PC more than any other electronic device. It’s there for me when I want to play games on a keyboard and mouse, and it’s hooked up to a TV for when I want to kick back and enjoy a game or two on a controller.
For a while, I cared a lot about overclocking; perfect CPU voltages, RAM timings, cooling and everything that entails. I was never satisfied with stock anything, and I’ve had a lot of fun tinkering and tweaking over the years. At some point, though, I stopped caring and just decided to get the best piece of hardware I can afford.
My current PC build features very little changes from stock components, and what’s there – like the CPU fan – is necessary and not so much about letting me push hardware past its limits.
I am also a bit of an audiophile, so naturally I’ve set my PC up with decent audio gear, and a good headphone.
- CPU: Intel Core i7-9700K stock
- CPU cooler: Noctua NH-U14S
- RAM: Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB (2x8GB) DDR4 @3200MHz
- GPU: MSI GeForce GTX 2080 Ti Ventus
- Motherboard: Gigabyte Z390 Aorus Master (ATX)
- Sound: Schiit Audio Modi 2 Uber DAC, Schiit Audio Asgard 2 headphone amp
- Drives: Samsung 860 EVO SSD 1TB, WD Black 4TB, WD Black 2TB
- Case: Cooler Master MasterCase 5
It’d be a little pointless to highlight every peripheral I use, mostly because a lot of them aren’t that interesting; I only keep them because I like them, or because they’re comfortable to use. I will instead highlight some standouts that I continue to be impressed by years later.
Monitor: Asus ROG Swift PG279Q
I do most of my gaming with keyboard and mouse, hunched over the desk like it’s the 1990s. I’ve used many monitors, most of them good, but my current monitor – and the one I am the most happy with – is the 27-inch Asus PG279Q. This monitor is the stuff of dreams, it effortlessly ticks every box exactly as I hoped.
27 inches is the sweet spot between the smallish 24-inch size, and the massive 30 inches and beyond. It’s not 4K because I won’t be able to run games at 4K at 60fps or above consistently, which makes 1440p perfect as a sharper alternative to 1080p that still allows for high frame-rates in many of the games I play. The monitor can reach 165Hz through overclocking, though it defaults to 144Hz – which is more than enough.
But none of that is more impressive than its Nvidia’s G-Sync module. I have always abhorred tearing in games, but now I can finally do something about it. No amount of praise will do G-Sync justice, it’s more valuable than display tech, 4K, and even HDR. I care a lot about frame-rate, and I never had to worry about tearing since I got the PG279Q.
The only drawback you could point to is its IPS panel. I specifically wanted a non-TN panel because their colour reproduction is terrible, so I was willing to put up with the imperceptible 3ms increase in input lag – from 2ms on a Benq TN to 5ms here.
Headphone: Sennheiser HD 650
Like I mentioned at the top, I do appreciate good audio. The sound profile in Sennheiser headphones, especially the open back ones, has always appealed to me more than any other brand’s. My nearly eight years-old HD 598 served me well, but I decided to upgrade to the one I’ve always wanted: the HD 650.
The 650 is the 598’s older brother. In many ways, the 598 is just about as good for music and games, but the 650’s upgraded power allows for deeper bass. The 650’s main “downside” is that it requires a dedicated amp to truly get the most out of. Getting the Asgard 2 really opened my ears (heh) to the potential of a dedicated amp driving a pair of headphones.
At that point, the 598 reached its full potential and well, I wanted more. The 650 delivers exceptional performance, though its shorter out-of-the-box cable and two can prongs (compared to just one for the 598) make it a bit cumbersome to put on and take off, but that’s about the only real issue you’ll have to put up with.
Mic: Antlion ModMic
You may have already guessed that someone with a headphone designed for music listening will need to rely on an external mic for chat. My pick is the ModMic, a perfect pairing to any of the great headphones out there that don’t have built-in mics.
ModMic’s simple solution to this problem is offering a microphone arm that can be attached to either side of your headphones. All the magic is owed to a small magnet that you stick anywhere on your headphone with the provided adhesive, and you can enjoy the best of of both worlds.
Mic quality beats any of the mics I’ve used before, whether standalone or on headsets. It sounds fantastic without an audio compressor, and though it naturally wouldn’t compare to a professional mic, it’s damn near close if you put it through a compressor.
The latest ModMic model has two mic arrays (omni, uni) in the same unit, and you’re able to flip between them with a switch. It honestly became such a core part of my setup that I sometimes forget I am not actually using a gaming headset.
Controller: Xbox One Elite Controller
I like the default Xbox One controller a lot, more than any other controller, in fact, and use it on any platform that lets me. I was initially sceptical about the Elite because of its high price, as I typically treat controllers as disposable items.
I picked an Elite up in some sale and decided to see what the fuss was about. I rarely use the extra paddles, but I’ve mostly found them useful in driving games when you want to shift up or down. What I didn’t expect to be impressed by was the build quality and general feel of the thing.
I have large hands, and they tend to sweat a lot. The feel of the Elite in my hands, thanks mostly to the textured grip and perfect weight, is unbelievable. It takes everything I love about the standard controller and somehow makes it better.
That may still not be worth the asking price for many, especially if you have little use for the paddles, but no other controller I’ve ever used has this comfy and pleasant feel.