Playing games online can be a great way to pass the time and certain hardware purchases can really boost the performance of the games you play. Purchasing a new video card, a better headset, and special keyboards and mice is one way computer players enhance their online gaming experience.

For console owners, online gaming is slightly different, since there is no need to worry about technical additions to a machine like a new video card and memory. Instead, gamers improve their experience by customizing their controllers and improving the headset they use to communicate with one another.

What’s in a video card?

For computer gamers, the ability to play some of the latest titles released on the PC depends not only on the processing power and memory available on the computer, but the video memory as well. nVidia and AMD are the two major video card makers for online games. A state of the art video card will set you back around $300 or more. However, if you can settle on a card that has been out for a few months, then you can find a decent deal around $200.

The differences between nVidia and AMD cards are pretty subtle. nVidia supports 3D technology much better than AMD, while AMD typically offers its video cards cheaper than nVidia for the same raw processing power. You will typically find nVidia cards in Intel systems, and AMD cards in systems that use AMD processors, though if you purchase a stand alone card it is possible to use either brand in either system.

The Keyboard & Mouse

The keyboard and mouse you use to play online games has a significant affect on your enjoyment of the game. Certain games like first person shooters are always better played with a mouse, since it offers more precise control with a much faster response time than analog sticks.

Typical gaming mice have several buttons available depending on their purpose. A gaming mouse designed to be used with a first person shooter has the typical mouse controls, but usually also features two or more buttons on the side designed to be used by the thumb. These buttons can provide additional controls and are usually programmable to the player’s desire.

For people who play Massively Multiplayer Online games such as World of Warcraft, the mice can be a bit more extreme. A good example of this is the Razer Naga, a mouse that features 12 different buttons along the area where the thumb would usually rest. Each of these buttons is programmable to a different macro in the game, making executing combinations extremely quick. This offers a competitive edge in player versus player combat.