A peripheral glance at the right gear to climb that online leaderboard.

You’ve snagged a shiny new desktop or a snazzy laptop that’s going to be the next step on your path to online dominance. Congratulations! But in the timeless words of Bon Jovi, you’re only halfway there. Thankfully, there’s no need to live on a prayer with these equipment tips. Whether you’re rocking a desktop or lugging a laptop, it’s the connected peripherals that can help you ascend that end-of-round ladder. Regardless of the online game you’re seeking to conquer, the top peripheral considerations are fourfold: headsets, keyboards, mice and – yes, this isn’t a joke – mouse pad. Here’s the skinny on each of these.

Hear today

When it comes to PC gaming, there’s a lot of chatter about visual fidelity. While the hardcore PC beast masters are suckers for eye candy, there’s a lot to be said for sound. For shooters in particular, sound cues are, at times, more important than what you can see.

The rumbling of a tank lets you know to not round a corner in Battlefield V. Footsteps tell you you’re not home alone in Black Ops 4. Play long enough, and certain gunshots instruct on engagement ranges in PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds or, in Rainbow Six Siege, a specific enemy operator.

Even for a budget option, comfort should be a primary concern, especially if you’re into lengthy online romps. The Plantronics RIG 300 is a cheap and comfortable place to start, but the RIG 500 is an investment in both long-term comfort and better performance.

They’re both wired options, and wireless is absolutely viable when it comes to ticking the headset box, though it ups the cost expectations. Respectable entry-level kicks off with the Corsair Gaming HS70. Dig a little deeper for the 7.1 surround-sound perks of the Logitech G933. Games with excellent sound design reward surround-sound headsets with audio intel that can provide a measurable competitive advantage.

To a lesser degree, the microphone matters, too, depending on how chatty you are. The pricier you go, the safer the bet that the mic will match the performance of your cans.

Lapdog laptop

It should go without saying, but for gaming on the go (or, at least, the option to), target gaming laptops. Multimedia laptops might get you by. Higher-end ’tops-of-all-trades’ are the same. But gaming-centric lappies tend to have a greater focus on performance, heat management and battery life under load. Whichever you choose, despite the category moniker, don’t use them on your lap.

Mechanical ivories

Compared to gaming headsets, gaming keyboards are more straightforward. That’s really helpful, because almost every peripheral manufacturer has shifted into this space. Forget about membrane keyboards; mechanical keyboards are where it’s at. These have shorter actuation points, which translates to faster input.

Fair warning: there’s a lot of personal preference when it comes to mechanical keyboards, particularly when it comes to switches. Head into your nearest JB store to try some out. There are lightning-fast switches like those inside the Corsair Gaming K70. Clacky options like those powering the Razer BlackWidow Elite. Even stealthily quiet ones like the Logitech G512.

Size matters, too, particularly when it comes to the next category: mice. If you’re cramped for space, seek out tenkeyless options like the compact Logitech G Pro Gaming Keyboard. For all the input bells and ergonomic whistles, it’s hard to look past the Corsair Gaming K95 Platinum. To completely clear up that surface area of your desk, slap the Logitech G613 wireless keyboard on your lap.

What’s in the box?

All of this snazzy gear won’t help you if your rig isn’t up to snuff. Older gaming CPUs can still get you by. But where 8GB of RAM used to be the standard, gun for 16GB (minimum). Traditional hard drives are great for general storage. But solid-state drives help to get you in the game faster. Finally, the core of your desktop PC should be the graphics card. Skimp on this at your peril; future-proofing your GPU keeps your online gaming up to speed for longer.

What’s your genre?

First-person shooters tend to be the best place to test new gaming peripherals to measure your newfound competitive edge. That said, a gaming headset will help out in strategy titles with great sound design like Company of Heroes 2 and Halo Wars 2. Mechanical gaming keyboards will improve the on-screen actuation of your gaming intentions across genres. And a mouse stacked with extra buttons, like the Razer Naga Trinity, is a gaming godsend for RTS, MOBA and MMO gaming.

Of mice and meh

Not all gaming mice are created equal. But, honestly, a lot of them are comparable. Amid the DPI and IPS acro-jargon is the reality that higher accuracy ultimately equals better. The Razer Basilisk is a sound investment for shooter fans, boasting precise performance and mechanical mouse buttons for faster fragging.

Wireless used to be a dirty word when it came to gaming mice, but Logitech bucked that trend with its G903. You can use it wired, too, if you don’t believe the hype (or you forgot to charge it), but whatever magic Logitech has performed, the G903 is as accurate in wireless as it is in wired mode.

A fancy gaming mouse isn’t complete without a proper mouse mat. The soft or hard choice is really personal preference, but there are other considerations. If you go the wireless route, match your mouse brand to a wireless charging station, so the G903 mouse marries with the Logitech G PowerPlay Mat, for instance.

More important than charging, though, is size. And it really does matter here. If you have the desk space for it, go big with something like the BenQ Zowie G-SR. Hell, go huge with the Cooler Master MP510 XL. The bigger the mouse mat, the more you can lower the sensitivity. The lower the sensitivity, the greater your accuracy. And with greater accuracy comes more headshots.
Improve any one of these peripheral categories on your gaming setup and you’ll notice a difference. Address all four and you’ll be playing with quad damage.

Screening screens

All the GPU grunt in the world won’t count for much if you don’t have a gaming monitor. Specifically, you want a high-fresh-rate screen. Ideally, a G-Sync or FreeSync monitor, depending on your Team Green (Nvidia) or Team Red (AMD) allegiance. While a 60Hz refresh rate on the average monitor will get you by, screens with refresh rates two-to-four times pay microsecond dividends in online gaming. Without these types of screens, no matter what your frame rate is, it’ll be restricted to the maximum refresh rate (likely 60Hz) of the monitor it’s displayed on.

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