Operating System Guide

So you've got all your computer parts assembled but now you need to decide on an operating system? Not sure where to even start looking? This article will explain some of the major differences between available operating systems and recommend the top choice for a gaming computer.

For starters, all the major operating systems currently on the marketplace are developed by three companies. These are Microsoft, (you might have heard of them) Macintosh, and Unix based. I recommend using either a Windows or Linux operating system because more games are supported by these systems than Macintosh. There are quite a bit of differences between Linux and Windows and we shall explore this further.

Microsoft (you may have heard of them)

Windows logo

The most common operating systems are developed by Microsoft. For years the Windows operating systems dominated the desktop computer marketplace and rightfully so. Windows 7 icon is the latest release and is an excellent choice for a gaming computer. With 64-bit technology becoming more common, operating systems can now take full advantage of the computer's memory and is no longer limited by the 4 GB maximum, as seen with 32 bit operating systems. Windows 7 with the 64 bit support is super fast, not to mention visually stunning. Installing programs, including games, is very easy to do.

Windows 7

One of the best features is the Windows 7 icon troubleshooter. If you experience a device error that causes a game to randomly stop working, Windows 7 will automatically try searching for the error on the internet and provide a resolution if one is found. This really is a great idea and saves you the time of having to search yourself.

Also included in Windows 7 icon is the Windows Experience Index. Although it is not a tell all tool, this program checks your installed components and assigns a rating from the lowest of 0 to the highest of 7.9 based on how fast they accomplish certain tasks. This rating scale provides a benchmark for your computer's performance and breaks down the rating for each component, a very handy feature. This is a great way to check if your computer can handle the latest games on the market. If your Windows Experience Index starts dipping down into the mid to low 4's, its time to think about updating some parts. The best feature of the Windows Experience Index is that you know exactly what component is the bottleneck in your system. For example, if your CPU and video card return an Index rating of 6.4 and 6.7, respectively, and your memory is showing 4.3, this tells you that its time to upgrade that memory! These are just many of the great features that make Windows 7 an excellent choice for an operating system on a gaming computer.

Vista

Windows Vista icon is the precursor to Windows 7 and is also a great choice for a gaming computer operating system. First introducing the Window's Aero visual style, Vista really began the use of 64-bit software to utilize all the system's memory. Vista is a good choice if you have Windows XP games. These games will normally install with no problems, just be sure that when you do install that you run them as an administrator with all the user privileges. This seems to remove the errors associated with installing programs with a limited user account. For all the benefits of using Vista, it is overshadowed by Windows 7. I recommend using Windows 7 because it takes all the best parts of Vista and further improves upon them.

The Open Source Option

Tux, the Linux mascot

Another option for an operating system is using a Unix based system. These are great due to their free price, completely customizable code, and ease of setup. If you are interested in using two operating systems, please see the dual booting guide here. Games now more than ever are compatible with open source operating systems. Program designers have realized that people like the idea of a completely free, open code that can be altered to a users personal preference. If you have never tried using a Linux OS, I highly recommend installing one on your hard drive and see what its all about.

Conclusion

A fast, reliable operating system is essential for a gaming computer. Frequent crashes, errors, and otherwise slow performance can really detract from the gaming experience. I recommend using the 64-bit Windows 7 operating system. There are several variations of Windows 7 and the most common retail versions are Home Basic and Premium, Professional and Ultimate. Each adds more features than the previous so it is important to know the features that are most important to you.

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