(Pocket-lint) - There's little doubt that PC gaming is on a significant rise. It may not be as fashionable as console, but not only is it the longest standing games platform of them all, it progresses at a much faster rate.
However, it can also be a pricier pursuit, with decent gaming rigs costing in the thousands. And then there are all the peripherals and accessories to consider too.
As well as the PC itself, you'll likely need a decent gaming mouse, keyboard, monitor, headset and even chair. Then, if you want to stream your exploits, likely a camera and microphone too.
One of the companies that pretty much supplies everything you could want to add to a PC gaming setup is Razer. Formed almost a quarter of a century ago, it is now at the forefront of the peripherals market, for pro gamers and home enthusiasts alike. It is one of few that offers just about every device you need and so we caught up with the head of its PC division, Chris Mitchell, to find out everything there is to know about PC gaming accessories.
He told us what to look for in a mouse or keyboard, why response times are so important, and even the point of RGB lighting. Hopefully you'll find some great tips along the way.
Pocket-lint: How important are accessories and peripherals to a PC gamer?
Chris Mitchell: They're incredibly important.
We tend to see ourselves as sort-of the Nike of gaming. You're obviously going to be held back if you don't have the right peripheral.
The easiest example of that is a mouse. The design goal is to make the mouse a true extension of your hand. So everything that happens in a game, everything that happens on the computer, is just a natural extension of your hand movement. It becomes intuitive and there are a few things that need to happen to make that a reality.
First of all, it needs to be very precise with motion. Nowadays, most sensors are relatively accurate, but even on the highest level, there are still differences. So in Razer's product line, we now have the new Viper V2 Pro - our latest mouse with 99.8% resolution accuracy and supporting both DPI and inches per second. It offers acceleration far beyond human ability. So the mouse will never not be accurate and precise in terms of your motion.
And then you want reliability out of your mouse as well - you don't want it to malfunction or spin out.
So it's speed, precision and reliability when it comes to a mouse, and similar things are to be said about keyboards or even headsets. Obviously though, peripherals can only get you so far. If I had Usain Bolt running shoes. I probably wouldn't outrun him still.
PL: Is gaming on a PC different to a console then? You don't need a lot of accessories to play on a console.
CM: I wouldn't say it's super different. Even a controller can make a huge difference.
My particular expertise isn't on the console side of things, but ultimately, it's a similar mindset. You want your analogue stick to be ultra precise, you want it to have the correct sensitivity, you may want to make it configurable and adjustable in terms of both sensitivity and overall tension. The buttons should be fast and optimised for tactility.
PL: What difference do latency and refresh rates really make to a gamer?
CM: Quite a bit, especially at the higher level.
There's an interesting Nvidia video that it did around Reflex. It showed this common scenario in an FPS where you're basically waiting, you're camping around the corner and someone jumps out. Somehow, despite you already having the crosshair in the right position, you still get shot first. A lot of that has to do with latency and refresh rates.
If you're more into casual games or single player games, those things probably play less of a role. But when you're playing competitively, particularly FPS titles, it can make a huge difference. Especially when when you're looking at equally skilled players.
PL: That brings us nicely onto wireless technologies. It's becoming more desirable to cut the cords, but if you want to be the best player should you still be using cables?
CM: The main advantage of going wireless is freedom of movement. With keyboards, it's really not all that much, especially in a competitive environment, simply because you're not moving your keyboard.
In mice however, we do see a significant uplift in wireless mice, even in the competitive space. That's because the latency created by wireless technologies has come down significantly to the point that Razer's hyperspeed wireless beats many wired mice in terms of latency at this point in time. It's on par with some of the fastest wired mice out there.
PL: Another big trend in PC gaming is RGB lighting, is this purely for aesthetic reasons?
CM: There's a purpose to it, but not in the competitive space, I would say. It's an immersive feature set primarily.
RGB lighting is less prevalent in our competitive products. It adds weight to a mouse - not a lot, but still adds weight. And it drains battery, again not a tonne, but it's an incredibly valued feature for more casual gamers.
The Chroma RGB ecosystem integrates with tonnes of games. It connects with other devices. Whether it's your Philips Hue or another smart lamp or smart bulb, it can create an overall immersive gaming experience with ambient lighting.
PL: How important has the rapid rise of eSports been to Razer?
CM: It's everything to us, really.
Razor was founded on the principle of competitive gaming. It's in our blood, it's in our DNA. Back in the day, Razor was probably the first company to ever start sponsoring competitive gaming tournaments.
The entire idea of Razer is built on the principle "for gamers, by gamers and giving the unfair advantage". That's ultimately with competitive gaming in mind. Our core product line is centred around that.
PL: Finally, if you're only just getting into it, what should you look for in a mouse or keyboard?
CM: For mice, shape is everything.
Walk into your local retailer and hold every mouse that you can get your hand on. Find something that's comfortable. And for that, sit down. Don't try to figure out whether the shape is comfortable standing up.
If you're not comfortable with a mouse, even the latest and greatest technology isn't going to do you any favours. You need to be comfortable for extended periods of time, so you can only test it sitting down and moving the mouse around.
Once you have a shape that you are generally familiar with, start doing your research on might come with that that shape and what's within your budget.
A similar thing goes for keywords. Keyboard feel is incredibly important.
There are different options, from membrane and mecha membrane to mechanical and optical for that matter. There are linear tactile or clicky options, different actuation forces, different actuation distances. None of this, you'll be able to read online and say, "Yeah, this is the one for me." Go into a retailer, play around on a couple of keyboards and see which one feels natural to you.
I can obviously hawk some of our products. But I will say again, shape and keyboard feel are the first things to go for. Then look for what brands are reliable, reputable, and can make you happy or content about your purchase decision.
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