A gaming computer is a personal computer constructed specifically to process the enormous amounts of data required when playing massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) and online first-person shooter games. As MMORPGs and other computer-based games have evolved, the fast-paced, detailed graphics they include have come to require more memory and more possessing speed to run. The computer usually comes with a high-end graphics card, and the fastest central processing units (CPUs) commercially available. The faster the graphics card and CPU, the less lag time there is between the gamer's input and the time his action is transferred to the character or weapon on the screen. Split seconds can make the difference between winning and losing in these intense, high-tech games.
Normally, gaming computers contain much more random access memory (RAM) than is necessary for most other home applications. The more RAM a computer has, the more quickly the CPU can access frequently used information that is held in storage, a critical component for successful gaming. This type of computer is typically equipped with multiple universal serial bus (USB) ports to attach peripherals such as game controllers, steering wheels, joysticks, and even aircraft yokes. These ports are usually located on the front of the computer to permit quick and easy access for peripheral equipment changes.
Crisp, sharp video and clear audio are both crucial elements in gaming, and gaming computers are usually at the top of the heap when it comes to graphics and sound cards. Technology has exploded in recent years, with gaming graphics becoming more and more lifelike, and real-time imaging systems require state-of-the art graphics cards in order for the serious gamer to be competitive. Whether it is a portable laptop model or a stationary desktop unit, a computer used for gaming will ordinarily have a larger, better quality monitor screen than a standard machine. Quality stereo speakers are also a must for gamers.
Peripheral devices have also become highly specialized, including simple input devices that are usually taken for granted, such as the keyboard. Many gamers prefer to play their computer games in low room light or even in complete darkness. This habit heralded the creation and increasing popularity of the back-lit gaming keyboard. The keyboard made specifically for gaming also has "hot keys" designed to consolidate the complex commands that are frequently used into single keystrokes. The back-lit, gaming keyboard — which in most models emits a soft blue light to highlight the keys in the dark — was designed to make the gamer more efficient and to sharpen his reflexes.
Due to the many options and the large number of computer manufacturers catering to the gaming crowd, gaming computers are available in an extremely broad price range.