Fact Checked

What is a Gaming Rig?

Brendan McGuigan
Brendan McGuigan

A gaming rig is a computer designed specifically to play computer games on. It usually has high-end components in it, as current computer games are among the most hardware intensive programs. Often, one will also feature aesthetic additions, such as colored lighting, display windows, and additional displays.

Games are often built to push the bounds of what computer hardware is designed to achieve. This means that, to have the best playing experience, a gamer will often need a special rig. Although the games can almost always be played without one, this will often result in lower-than-optimal frame rates and sometimes the details, such as shadows, will not be rendered correctly.

Gaming rigs require high-end graphics cards.
Gaming rigs require high-end graphics cards.

A gaming rig will usually have as much processing power as it can, since this is important for running games at their best. The processing power of a computer will often be pushed beyond its normal limits, as well, by "overclocking" the CPU to run faster than it normally would. Since this can cause the computer to overheat, a rig may also include additional cooling. In fact, some use liquid cooling in order to keep the system extremely cool no matter how much the CPU is pushed.

A gaming rig is a computer designed specifically to play computer games on.
A gaming rig is a computer designed specifically to play computer games on.

This type of computer also makes use of the fastest RAM and hard drives it can, to reduce latency in running games. Some use multiple disk drive components — called RAID systems — for their hard drives, to further lower the access times for games. Size isn’t particularly important, since most games are relatively small compared to modern hard drives. RAM is still important, however, and most gaming rigs have quite a bit of this type of memory to ensure there is always enough cache space for a game.

One of the key components of a gaming computer is its graphics processing unit (GPU), which is a chip that is devoted exclusively to handling graphics rendering. The GPU on this type of system is usually attached to a dedicated video card, and this allows a game to display its graphics at the highest possible level. Good video cards can be one of the most expensive components, and with high-end physics processing units (PPUs) also being released, these additional cards can make up a good portion of the overall cost.

The case of a gaming rig isn’t functionally terribly important, beyond having adequate room for all of the components. Aesthetically, however, there are a number of modifications that often come along to make it unique. These changes, referred to as case mods, often revolve around making the inside of the machine visible, showing off the expensive and high-end components. Fans may be adorned with LEDs, glass or plastic windows may be inserted into the case to show everything, and etchings or images may be added to various visible surfaces to make the computer a distinct representation of the gamers themselves.

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Discussion Comments


@Iluviaporos - The problem is that a decent rig is going to be pretty expensive either way. I don't find it to be that much cheaper to buy the parts separately, if you want to get good parts from a reputable company.

Because there are always good sales on or computers that people are selling secondhand that will work just as well as a new one.

I think the main reason to build your own rig is because you want something that you can customize to fit your specifications. Not all games are created equal and power can be expensive, so it can be worth deciding that you want to spend more money on one particular aspect of a rig and skimp on something else that doesn't matter to you.

Of course, if you want your rig to double as a work computer you have to take even more things into consideration. Most people aren't going to be able to afford to get one for each different activity though so it's another factor to consider.


@bythewell - My favorite is a guy who put what looks like a skull (it might be made of plastic, I don't know) over his mouse, so it looks like a magic talisman.

But the outside doesn't really count for much if the insides aren't good. A basic computer gaming rig isn't actually all that difficult to put together if you've got the time to do your research and the money to buy decent parts.

I've never been good at technical things and I still managed to do it basically by following instructions on the internet.

The alternative, of course, is to buy a decent rig in the first place and then just spruce it up with a few additions, whether those are hardware or just pretty bits on the outside.


My favorite kinds of case mods are when the gamer goes with a steampunk aesthetic and makes it look like their custom gaming rig works with Victorian technology. One of my favorites was someone who remade their keyboard so that all the keys were carved from wood. I've seen others where they replaced all the keys with typewriter keys and glued brass fittings and dim lights on the box to make it look like it's powered by fire or glowing chemicals.

I was proud enough just installing my own graphics card in my store bought PC so I take my hat off to anyone who goes further than that!

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    • Gaming rigs require high-end graphics cards.
      By: nikkytok
      Gaming rigs require high-end graphics cards.
    • A gaming rig is a computer designed specifically to play computer games on.
      By: SanjMur
      A gaming rig is a computer designed specifically to play computer games on.