More than 12 million players worldwide play World of Warcraft – are you one of them, or would you like to try it for yourself? Then you will need to know what computer is good (or better) to play it the way it was meant to be. We are not talking about an average PC where you set settings to low-mid and run around, we look at the computers that let you maximize WoW display settings and resolutions. World of Warcraft may be quite an old game but it still does shine when you turn all of the settings to the max. Have you ever caught yourself on top of the Stormwind Harbor enjoying water view? With the right computer you definitely will!
A lot of people play WoW on regular basic computers or cheap laptops, and World of Warcraft actually lets you do that because it has really low minimum system requirements. It can be even run on netbooks on low settings. And we can’t blame you, at the end there are people who don’t care about graphics but just enjoy the gameplay itself, storyline, communication, dynamics and atmosphere. But ask yourself why some old black and white movies had been rebuilt in color? Because they are interesting too and probably they look better in color! Same goes for World Of Warcraft – it looks and plays so much better on powerful computers with maximum settings and resolutions. You will catch yourself simply enjoying beautiful scenes, landscapes, sunsets – you will see this game in completely new perspective.
Now what is it about a computer that will let you enjoy WoW as we have indicated above? First of all it should be a gaming computer – not some regular desktop from popular retail store or cheap notebook. And gaming computers are really different from all that no matter how many times you hear the opposite. Regular computer manufacturers try to lower the costs by installing cheap hardware, crappy onboard graphics, stock coolers, even those cases they use do not inspire anyone let alone hardcore gamers. Gaming computer is built and optimized for maximum performance, that comes at a price sometimes, but so do Mercedes and BMW compared to well known minivans:O) It pays off to have a great custom built computer what it comes to PC games.
Lets start from the beginning – most important hardware parts that will affect your gaming and WoW experience in particular – CPU (central processing unit – processor for short) and videocard (or GFX, graphics accelerator, video adapter). These two parts will have the greatest impact on FPS (frames per second) when resolution and all settings are set to maximum.
CPU – processor affects speed of the computer overall, no matter what you do. There are some processor intensive applications like video editing and gaming, so it pays of to have the best CPU you can afford. I general any modern dual core processor will be good for World of Warcraft, but we have some recommendations as to what would be more efficient and will not hit your pocket hard. Right now you can select between great AMD and Intel offerings.
AMD has many dual and quad core processors that are really cost efficient and will be a great option for WoW. For example Athlon II X2 240 with 2.8Ghz would be our minimum recommendation, it’s great for mid-high settings and monitors up to 22″, and it’s really cheap, can be paired with inexpensive motherboard and either DDR2 or DDR3 memory – lots of options to build low priced computer. If you want to really play on max settings in any WoW game zone and biggest raids – you will need one of the Phenom II processors, and while there are some dual and triple core editions we would recommend Phenom II X4 945 or better to stick with. Those quad cores are not expensive and can be a base for really great gaming machine under $1000 that will play any game.
Intel – still offers Core 2 processors that are great for WoW but are a little outdated. If you want really cheap computer – stick with AMD, if you want something little more expensive – go for new i3/i5/i7 CPU line. Most affordable would be Core i3 530 that can be paired with mid range H55 motherboard and DDR3 memory. It is just a dual core but has hyper threading making it virtual Quad and Turbo-Boost that increases CPU frequency based on the load, works especially good with single threaded applications and WoW. To make sure you will never see FPS drop below 30 you can pick i5 750 which is less than a $100 more but it’s a real Quad Core processor that will not let you down in any scenario (get P55 chipset motherboard with it). And finally Core i7 – the king, excellent performance in all applications and games, probably an overkill for WoW but it’s a great investment since it will not be outdated for quite some time.
Videocard – second in importance, sometimes first, depends on the game you play. Videocards create picture you see on your monitor, more complicated images require more power form your videocard. Some integrated adapter is fine for Windows and internet browsing but it will not play any real game the way it should be. You will need separate videocard to use high resolutions and settings. There are many popular videocards on the market, for WoW you can pick one of the older ones since thay can be cheap and still offer excellent World Of Warcraft gaming experience. From bottom to top our recommendations are:
ATI Radeon 4650 512Mb DDR3
Nvidia GeForce GT 220 512Mb or 1Gb DDR2 or DDR3
ATI Radeon 4670 1Gb DDR3
Nvidia GeForce GT 240 512Mb DDR5 (better than 1Gb DDR3)
Nvidia GeForce 9800GT 512Mb DDR3 (older but with super performance – your best pick for now)
ATI Radeon 5670 1Gb GDDR5 (can have some issues with drivers but good performer)
Nvidia GeForce GTS 250 1Gb DDR3
ATI Radeon 5750 1Gb GDDR5
Anything more expensive would probably not give you much of a benefit for the money you pay. When you set Shades to the Ultra it will stress even most expensive videocards so everyone plays with High anyways, all other settings can be set on maximum as well as resolution with up to 28″ monitor if you pick one of the last cards on the list.
Memory – If you have at least 4Gb of RAM you don’t have to worry about too much. Even if you have only 2Gb and still using Windows XP you are good to go if you are on a tight budget. Windows Vista or “7” will be much better with 4Gb RAM if you want to have something left for WoW. Just watch for the memory type that is compatible with your CPU and motherboard. Like all i3/i5/i7 will require DDR3 memory, some AMD processors work with DDR2, they are about the same price now so you’d better pick DDR3 since it’s newer and faster. Memory varies be speed, like DDR2 can be 667Ghz, most popular 800Mhz and faster 1066Mhz which does not work with all processors and motherboards. If you get DDR3 then you’d better go with 1600Mhz as the most cost efficient, popular, supported RAM. If you are thinking about 6 or 8Gb, then keep in mind that WoW does not need it, you have some other apps that will use that much – go for it. Of course if you pick i7 CPU with X58 board then you should get 6Gb triple channel memory kit for the best performance.
Motherboard – not so important as long as it’s more or less modern. Just watch for CPU and RAM compatibility. For AMD processors better pick some AM3 board with DDR3 memory support, good chipsets are 785G, 790GX, 890GX, 790X. Some cheaper ones are GeForce 6100/6150/7025, or AMD 740, 760, 780G. For Intel – it all depends on CPU you pick. For Core 2 you better go with P55, or if you don’t have a lot to spend you can get P43 or G41 – really cut down in features but will do for now. Core i3 and i5 Dual core better work with H55, Quad Core i5 and i7 LGA1156 need P55, Socket LGA1366 Core i7 need X58 chipset. Some motherboards like AMD 785G or 890GX have pretty good onboard video that can play WOW but don’t expect too much from it, it can be fine for some time if you are saving for the new videocard for example.
Hard Drive – modern drives do not differ too much, get one with SATA interface and 7200RPM speed, and it will be fine. There are some “green” HDDs with 5400RPM but they are better for storage not for gaming. SSD (solid state) are still too expensive and not popular. WD VelociRaptor model with 10000RPM is an excellent choice if you can afford it, really cuts down loading times.
Power supply – depends on you CPU and videocard. Always make sure that you get reputable brand, or at least read some reviews if you are not sure or want to save some money. There are good cheap PSU out there but you have to be careful picking one. More expensive ones are usually better, some good brands are: Antec, Corsair, Thermaltake, Cooler Master. If your videocard does not require extra 6pin PCI-e power connector then you should be good with 400-500W minimum, better videocards work good on 500-600W power supplies. For all videocards listed above you do not need more than 600W even with i7 CPU but you can surely pick any PSU you like with more power if you think you may need it.
Case – some think it’s not important – they didn’t see real gaming cases. Advanced chassis for gaming computers not only looks good with LEDs and side windows, but it also cools good. There are usually bigger than average fans (120-200m), there are more of those fans, perforated panels for better ventilation, advanced PSU and fan placement, hideouts for professional cabling and much more.
CPU Cooler – one more thing that makes gaming computers different – use of aftermarket coolers. Good CPU cooler works quieter and more efficient than stock ones. Aftermarket cooler will prolong life of your processor making it work on lower temperatures and will allow overlocking – speeding up CPU without harm to it as long as temps are within limits. For example Core i7 920 with cooler Xigmatek Dark Knight can work on 3.6Ghz frequency instead of 2.66Ghz default. It makes a lot of difference!
DVD, Blue-Ray, Wireless, card readers – all those parts do not affect your WoW gameplay, unless of course your wireless adapter drops connection all the timeï
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