If you are reading this, chances are you play video games, but to play video games you need somewhere to put your TV, console, butt, and various other bits and bobs. We all have our gaming setup; ranging from gargantuan “man caves” to a TV in the corner of the room. And, after recently building a new setup for my 360, I thought I’d share some advice on building a gaming setup to be proud of.
1. Find a Suitable Spot
Let’s face it, we don’t all have large room to plonk our gaming console of choice and 50” TV into. So for those of you like me, for whom space is an issue, finding a place to put your setup that keeps it out of the way is crucial. You also need to make sure it is large enough for you to at least sit up right in, and has a power outlet nearby.
After a bit of looking around I decided that I could clear out some space in my wall to wall cupboard in order to accommodate my new setup.
2. Get the Right Kit
Now that you’ve found a suitable spot for your gaming good times, you need to get the right kit together. Here’s a quick check list for you to run down:
- Gaming console – 360, PS3, PC, etc.
- TV or Gaming monitor
- The right cables – HDMI is a must for HD gaming, extension cables are also useful
- Furniture – table, chair, stand
The first one is pretty obvious: in my case I’m setting up an Xbox 360 Slim.
The next part, which is just as essential, is a little trickier: TV or gaming monitor; from building this set up, I’ve learnt quite a few things about buying a TV or monitor. I’m not here to give you a 5000 word guide on which TV or monitor is best for gaming, but I have got a few tips:
- The cheapest place 90% of the time is eBay; registered business sellers are safe, easy to find, and most importantly, sell cheap goods.
- Check with whoever you are buying from about warranty and returns. There is nothing worse than buying a new TV, getting it home and realising it doesn’t work.
- When buying a gaming monitor BEWARE that most do not have speakers, and that it has the right connections to go into your console of choice. At first I purchased a AOC gaming monitor, on arrival I realised that not only did it not have speakers, but only one video out port which went into a computer; useless for a 360. Fortunately the buyer I bought it from accepted returns within 7 days of purchase (phew).
- So, before ordering anything always check what ports it has; anything without at least one HDMI and composite port is a no-no for non-PC gaming use.
- Also make sure it is the right size for your setup; it’s no use splashing out on a 40” TV to find it doesn’t actually fit in the space you want to put it. On a similar note, don’t buy one that is so small you have to squint to see what is going on.
- And remember, you need a bigger TV for gaming than watching television. If one size seems okay at a certain distance for watching TV, you’ll need a bigger one at that distance, or have to move it closer for gaming.
I personally bought I Hannspree 25” LCD TV for £160; it has plenty of connectivity, two speakers, and good picture quality.
My final piece of kit I mentioned were cables: before you can do anything you’ll need to connect everything together. Purchase a HDMI cable for hooking up your console to your HD TV, and if you are setting up a sound system you may need optical or composite cables as well. Extension cables are also essential; even if you do have a power outlet nearby, chances are you won’t have enough plugs for everything.
But all of this is useless if you don’t have any furniture to keep your expensive equipment safe, your TV at right height and your ass comfy. The first thing you’ll need is something to put your TV on. In my case I found a spare bedside table, and I’ve now transformed it into my TV stand; you may also consider mounting your TV, although this can be a bit of a hassle, but on the plus side you won’t need a table cluttering your set up – saving space.
Of course you’ll also need a chair or seat of some sort. The ideal is a large arm chair, couch, or beanbag. However these are expensive and take up a lot of space; I’m using a wooden storage unit as a seat.
The final piece of furniture you need to consider is some sort of stand for your console; anything to get it off the ground. There are a variety of reasons why you will want to do this:
- Having your console on the ground increases the chance of you or someone else standing on it.
- Keeping your console off the ground allows the air to circulate from the fans better; something very important with the 360 *cough* Red Ring of Death *cough*.
- If your console is on the ground will make it harder to access, keeping it elevated will minimise stretching to change out discs, or fiddle with the back.
You may consider purchasing a “TV table” which comes with room for a TV on top, and often a shelf for your console or DVD player. The only problem with this is that air will not circulate particularly well, dust will gather quickly, and will be hard to clean. I’ve simply used the box my 360 came in as the stand; it cost nothing, my 360 can breathe, and I can access it easily.
Head on to page two for the final three steps.