It is no surprising if gamers own high performance computer. They need a fast processor, no doubt about it. But most of them probably spend most of their budget on Graphics Card to get the best possible visual in games. For anime otakus, you don’t need spend (or waste) money as much as hardcore gamers. But there are several things that you should take into consideration when building your own computer. I provide no specific recommendation but only the main guidelines for multimedia PC.
1. Central Processing Unit (CPU)
The most important thing on Computer. A slow one won’t provide enough performance to handle heavy video load. Now with the introduction of HEVC, you’ll need even more performance to handle this kind of video. HEVC provides the best video compression which makes the file size smaller than other video codecs while maintaining higher quality. The price you need to pay is higher CPU load when playing HEVC video. If you are still using Dual Core processor from 2009 or even older like Intel Core 2 Duo or AMD Athlon II X2 from 2006-2008, then it is the time to upgrade you CPU to a newer Quad Core or Dual Core with Hyperthreading like Intel Core i3. This also means you need to replace the Motherboard and RAM as well to support newer CPUs.
Okay, there is much more to think about when it comes to motherboard. The most important thing is it supports your CPU. The rest you need to consider is the number of SATA Ports since I am quite sure many anime otaku will use many HDDs to store their stuffs. Other things to consider are the number of USB ports, PCIe slots, and Display outputs.
2.1 Universal Serial Bus (USB) Port
I’d say USB 3.0 is a must. Many of you might use external HDDs to store or backup the data. With USB 3.0, the bandwidth provided for transferring the data is much faster than USB 2.0. You need to consider the amount of peripheral via USB that you’ll connect to the motherboard as well.
2.2 PCI Express (PCIe) slot
PCIe slot is mainly for Graphics Card but there are more than that. You can expand your storage via SATA expansion Card or add more USB ports via USB expansion cards. Some of you might also want to use dedicated Sound Card on PCIe slot to provided better audio experience when watching videos or listening to the musics.
2.3 Display Output
Only important you aren’t using discreet Graphics Card. You should find one with HDMI outputs. It provides better video quality and also carry audio. Best when paired with HDTV. VGA is not an option for me.
3. Random Access Memory (RAM)
Faster RAM or higher capacity RAM? I’d say go with higher capacity since faster RAM won’t provide real benefit unless you built a gaming PC. For best multimedia entertainment PC, 4 GB is minimum and 8 GB is recommended. For gaming PC, 8 GB is minimum and 8 GB is recommended.
4. Power Supply Unit (PSU)
PSU is important but you don’t always need to get the expensive one. It depends on you other component too. For Multimedia PC with low-end Graphics Card or without Graphics Card, I’d say 300-400 Watts with 80 Plus certification is acceptable. Oh yeah, make sure the amount of cables is sufficient for your needs. More 4-pin molex connector is fine because you can use converters to other connectors.
Get one with good airflow. Also consider the amount HDDs you can store inside the chassis. If the the case provides front USB 3.0 ports, that is also an additional benefit. Fan Controller or Card Reader will add some benefit but I’d say they are not priority.
6. Graphics Card
Graphics Card is optional, unless you build a gaming PC. The only reason to get Graphics Card for multimedia PC is if your motherboard did not have HDMI port. Or perhaps you have 4K monitor but your Integrated Graphics only supports up to Full HD (or 1080p). Don’t get high-end Graphics Card for multimedia PC because it will be a waste. Also, a warning when choosing Radeons, they consume much more power than Geforces on video playback and on web browsing. This is something AMD can fix via driver but I don’t know why they never do that.
Hard Disk Drive (HDD) or Solid State Drive (SSD)? My recommendation is SSD for boot drive and HDD for data storage.
7.1 Solid State Drive (SSD)
SSD as boot drive will provide much better response for your computer. No need to get one with high capacity. Just 120 GB is enough. Don’t store your stuffs on SSD. Just use it for boot drive and programs. Make sure you plug your SSD on SATA 3 for best performance. NVMe SSD and PCIe SSD is faster but the provide no additional benefit for multimedia or even gaming PC. Those things are for professionals.
7.2 Hard Disk Drive (HDD)
HDD price per GB is much cheaper than SSD. What are the things that you need to consider? Capacity and price comes first, while speed is later. Modern HDD with 1 TB capacity and above are fast enough for storage drive. With SSD as your main boot drive, you have less to worry about when it comes to storage drive.
8. Optical Drive
Get an external one. You’ll rarely use this, so don’t waste your SATA port.
HDTV is the best choice as they specifically design for watching. It also have built-in speakers so you don’t always need dedicated speakers. What resolution you should get?I’d say Full HD is fine but 4K is more future proof. The price of 4K TV has fall and the gap is much closer now. So, if you have some extra cash, it is better to get 4K TV instead. Depends on the monitor and the person, input lag on HDTV can be annoying for some gamers. Personally, I find it not noticeable up to Full HD resolution. At QHD resolution, it is a bit acceptable but not disturbing. 4K is a different story because input lag is pretty noticeable and annoying when gaming.
Making recommendation for Audio is the most difficult choice for me. Simply because a few of my friends have similar taste with audio but many others don’t. My recommendation, speaker for watching video and headphone for listening to the music.
Pick anything that match your taste. Just watch the number of channel. Mono speaker is not an option. Get stereo speaker or if possible, the one with 5.1 Audio Channel.
Headphone is usually much more comfortable to wear but earphone is much easier to carry. I have no specific recommendation but don’t buy a gaming headphone if you mainly want to use for music.
Let’s say generally there are 3 types of keyboards. Basic Keyboard, Multimedia Keyboard, and Gaming Keyboard. Basic Keyboard can do everything just fine. Multimedia Keyboard have the benefit to take control of your multimedia content much easier. Let’s say shortcut to Internet Browser, Email, and Media Player. Multimedia keyboard also have dedicated shortcut button for start, pause, and stop your media player. Gaming Keyboard, and by Gaming Keyboard, I mean the real Gaming Keyboard, have to ability to store macro keys for gaming. This macro key will allow you to utilize specific command, usually programmable, in a much easier way. For multimedia PC, it clear that Multimedia Keyboard is the best choice but basic keyboard can do just fine. Wireless or not, it is up to your taste. Modern wireless keyboard works fine and the lack of cable makes it much easier to use from distant like in living room. But the downside is you need to prepare additional batteries in case your keyboard running out of battery in the middle of important task.
The main differences between mouse are the weight, grip, and sensitivity. For me, sensitivity is priority. 3200 DPI (and switchable) is the least I want. Grip and weight is also important for comfort. Gaming mouse provides more comfort than basic mouse due to its larger grip and comfortable design. The ability to switch sensitivity (DPI) and adjust the weight is a great feature that I really need. Therefore, I would suggest to get a gaming mouse instead of a basic mouse. No need to get the expensive one because the cheaper one usually offer similar features, minus macro key. Between wireless or not, it’s also up to your taste. The downside of wireless is more than just battery however. The sensitivity is usually lower which makes it less preferable for me.
Okay, so those are everything I can share when you want to built a Multimedia PC. While I don’t provide specific brand, you can ask on the comment section if you got things that you want to know.