PC Setup


Sager NP8957-S Gaming Laptop

I got this laptop in December 2019, and it’s the best laptop I’ve ever owned. The price was $1649 USD (free shipping, excluding tax) with the following specs:

  • NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 MAX-Q 8GB GDDR6
  • 9th Generation Intel® Core™ i7-9750H Processor
  • 16G DDR4 SDRAM at 2666MHz
  • 500GB Western Digital Blue SN500 M.2 NVMe SSD – as an OS Drive (Primary Drive C:) and for installing games
  • 2TB FIRECUDA 7mm SSHD
  • 15.6″ Full HD Display (1920 x 1080)
  • MS Windows® 10 Pro 64-Bit Edition

This is my third Sager laptop and I recommend Sager to anyone looking for a robust, well-designed (e.g. great heat ventilation) gaming laptop at very competitive prices. Sager laptops come free of bloatware, which is another plus.

It’s worth paying for an SSD, so that you can install games on it. The performance in terms of loading times is vastly improved compared to a traditional hard drive.

Peripherals

I use a CM Storm QuickFire Rapid mechanical keyboard because it is comfortable, responsive, and accurate and to reduce EMF exposure. After hands-on testing with Cherry MX Red and Brown switches, I found that the Brown switches didn’t live up to the hype and stuck with Red switches.

I’m very picky when it comes to headsets, and comfort factor is very important given how much I wear my headset for gaming and for work. A headset has to fit comfortably and not put pressure on my large noggin. I purchased a Steelseries Arctis 1 and a HyperX Cloud II for comparison, and I prefer the latter for three reasons:

  1. The Cloud II fits better on my large head
  2. The Cloud II places the mic and volume controls on the cord, whereas the Arctis 1 places the controls on the back of the left ear cup where you can’t see them
  3. The Cloud II comes with replacement ear cushions that are softer than the pre-installed leatherette and don’t create as much suction

I purchased a well-rated (4.5 stars, 1300+ reviews) gaming mouse, the Etekcity Scroll X1, that was on sale for $15 USD because my non-gaming mouse was breaking down. That said, I don’t need a gaming mouse or keypad peripherals per my Guide on Strafing and Keybinding – make sure you aren’t relying on a gaming mouse or keypad when your underlying keybinds don’t make sense!

The X-Bows TKL wrist rest is awesome. It’s the correct length and height to pair with my QuickFire Rapid TKL keyboard, and as it’s silicone it’s super easy to clean.

Recording Gameplay

I’ve used several different products for recording gameplay over the past decade, including:

  • FRAPS (~$37 USD): many years ago, this used to be the only game in town. It records in AVI format, so the video files are huge. That is the main reason I no longer use it, and OBS is free
  • NVIDIA GeForce Experience: also known as NVIDIA Share or NVIDIA ShadowPlay. It records videos in MP4 format, which is efficient in terms of disk space and any device can natively play that format. I recommend recording at a constant bit rate with GeForce Experience instead of variable bit rate, as some video editing programs do not handle variable bit rate correctly. I stopped using GeForce Experience as it has a bug that sporadically prevents the ability to make recordings.
  • OBS: as of May 2020, I have switched permanently from GeForce Experience to OBS, as described in my guide on setting up OBS

Editing and Narrating Videos for YouTube

I used to edit game footage with Adobe Premiere Elements 10, which provides robust editing capability and a not-too-steep learning curve at an affordable price. Issues with APE are that it runs slowly, its projects eat up a lot of disk space, it renders videos slowly, and it doesn’t handle variable bit rate input videos correctly – the video and audio get out-of-sync during playback.

In 2018, I switched to Cyberlink PowerDirector 16, and it’s far superior to Adobe Premiere Elements in several notable ways: PowerDirector loads and run much faster as an application, its projects take up less disk space, it renders videos much faster, and it handles variable bit rate input footage properly. My impression is that Cyberlink is investing more in PowerDirector’s product development than Adobe is for Adobe Premiere Elements. I highly recommend Cyberlink PowerDirector, it’s a great product and well worth buying.

When rendering videos to upload to YouTube, I use H.264 format to produce MP4 files with 1080p (1920 x 1080 resolution) and 60 FPS, aka 1080p60 on YouTube.

For recording narration, I use a Blue Snowball microphone (~$65 USD) with a Shure pop filter (~$35 USD). A pop filter improves recording quality by reducing consonants that have popping sounds such as words that start with “p” or “b”. If you’re going to bother getting a good mic, you should invest in a pop filter as well.

As I have an NVIDIA RTX GPU, I use RTX Voice (free) to remove background noises while recording narrations and voiceovers. It makes a huge difference in the audio quality.

External Monitor

I use an Asus VS247H-P 24″ HD monitor as the display device for online games. I purchased the monitor in Q1 2012, as it was the combination of highest-rated and reasonably-priced 1080p HD monitor that I could find. I love it.

The monitor was purchased with a generous donation from Troy “Cannibaal” ❤️.

Prior to obtaining this monitor, I was only about to record footage in 1600×900, which is between 720p and 1080p, which is why prior to 2012 my videos were 720p on YouTube. These days, my videos on YouTube are 1080p60 (1920×1080 resolution, 60 FPS) to offer a high-quality viewing experience.

Webcam and Streaming Hardware

In July 2012, I purchased a Logitech 1080p C920 webcam for $80 USD, and the webcam rocks. It comes with software for recording for the webcam that is super easy to use. Before that I was using the Logitech 720p C310 webcam, but the footage it recorded in 720p looked grainy.

For hosting on GAMEBREAKER shows, I use a high-quality condenser microphone, the Samson SE10 earset condenser microphone (~$100 USD). It may be overkill for what you’re doing, but it’s a professional microphone in audio quality and appearance. Some people use their Snowball microphone or equivalent for hosting. For some reason I can’t get the Samson SE10 to work well with narrated recordings with Adobe Premiere Elements 10, and I haven’t bothered to sort it out.

Change Log

18 comments on “PC Setup
  1. Trey says:

    Ed- did you have to download any codecs to make the Fraps AVIs work in Premiere? I just started playing around with fraps and lightworks/quicktime but neither is handling the fraps video.

    • taugrim says:

      Trey :

      Ed- did you have to download any codecs to make the Fraps AVIs work in Premiere? I just started playing around with fraps and lightworks/quicktime but neither is handling the fraps video.

      No, Premiere Elements 10 worked with AVI out of the box.

    • Trey says:

      A program like Virtual Dub seems to be a work around but it requires a half speed render to convert the file.

    • TOP says:

      Do you have the CCCP (Combined Community Codec Pack)? On windows machines if provides almost every codex I’ve ever needed. Still can’t watch my dxtory vids on my fiancée’s MBP since there’s no good QuickTime codec for it.

      • Trey says:

        Try Perian 1.2.3

      • taugrim says:

        TOP :

        Do you have the CCCP (Combined Community Codec Pack)? On windows machines if provides almost every codex I’ve ever needed. Still can’t watch my dxtory vids on my fiancée’s MBP since there’s no good QuickTime codec for it.

        Interesting.

        I haven’t installed the codecs, but most of the content I consume is on YouTube or some other hosted site (e.g. NetFlix) so there is no codec issue.

        • Trey says:

          Well, you are skipping the codec that many others are facing by staying in windows and going right into Premiere. For me to work with Fraps in Final Cut I have to convert it to Quicktime somehow and that is hard….

          FWIW My highly knowledgable IT guy at work (Thx Edgar!) actually advised against using Perian. He says it can actually create problems for Mac based machines and Quicktime in particular. AVI is just a format which is very foreign to QT and mac based systems.

          I’ve been demoing the free version of Camtasia and really liking it. Its UI seems to heavily mirror the Avid / FCP setup but with a ton of easy to use transitions and effects. The pay version if a full $300 though, so I need to check out premiere and compare. Camtasia also has its own video capture options to avoid the fraps codec.

  2. Duane says:

    Kudos to you Ed. I personally use gaming periphs but I always try and advise to people that it isn’t a must and you can play at the highest levels without them. It’s all in the binds I tell them. Some have taken it to heart others.. not so much. Good write-up as usual Ed. Thanks for your presence in the gaming community. We can never have enough people like you. Keep it up!

    • taugrim says:

      Duane :

      Kudos to you Ed. I personally use gaming periphs but I always try and advise to people that it isn’t a must and you can play at the highest levels without them. It’s all in the binds I tell them. Some have taken it to heart others.. not so much. Good write-up as usual Ed. Thanks for your presence in the gaming community. We can never have enough people like you. Keep it up!

      Thanks!

      As I’ve said before, there’s nothing wrong with using gaming hardware, and for some games it’s incredibly helpful.

      The main issue I have is that people use gaming hardware to fix a software problem – i.e. they are using the default horribad keybinds and then turn to a hardware solution to solve it.

  3. Logic says:

    Might of missed it but how do you stream games in xsplit? Do you use dxtory to capture it from the camera or just game source from xsplit?

    • taugrim says:

      Logic :

      Might of missed it but how do you stream games in xsplit? Do you use dxtory to capture it from the camera or just game source from xsplit?

      XSplit allows you to pick areas of your monitor or other media to stream.

      So I create an area that is the size of my display, and the game client happens to be in that display, so that is what is streamed.

  4. taugrim says:

    Recently I upgraded to the Razer Carcharias headset and while it wasn’t cheap (~$75 USD), the Carcharias is incredibly comfortable and worth the money. The Carcharias is not a wireless headset, which I prefer as I don’t like having to deal with dead batteries.

  5. Bart says:

    Hi Ed, I’ve been watching your past swtor videos. I noticed that you are using a dual monitor setup with the game taking up one monitor (I’m assuming your main monitor) and your chat software + whatever voice comms on the other (your laptop screen?). My question is, how did you get full screen apps (primarily games) to launch and run on the secondary monitor? Or do you have to switch it to primary every time?

    I’m asking because I’m trying to get a similar setup to work. I want the games to run on my secondary monitor so I can still access the desktop on my primary without having to alt-tab.

    • taugrim says:

      Bart :

      Hi Ed, I’ve been watching your past swtor videos. I noticed that you are using a dual monitor setup with the game taking up one monitor (I’m assuming your main monitor) and your chat software + whatever voice comms on the other (your laptop screen?). My question is, how did you get full screen apps (primarily games) to launch and run on the secondary monitor? Or do you have to switch it to primary every time?

      My monitor is the #1 (primary) and my laptop screen is #2 (secondary).

      Apps launch by default on #1. And I run games in windowed fullscreen so that I can tab over to other apps (e.g. Mumble, web browser) and not cause the game to minimize.

  6. taugrim says:

    Just upgraded to a Crucial m4 Solid State Drive and it’s been an amazing upgrade :)

    Once you go SSD you don’t go back.

    Framerate improved by ~10 on average but more importantly my computer responsiveness is better overall.

  7. Be sure to keep your firmware up to date on ssd. The failure rates on them aren’t like they used to be but it helps to be sure.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Follow
Taugrim on YouTube Taugrim on Patreon Taugrim on Twitter

Enter your email address to receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 689 other followers

© 2009-2020 taugrim.com

All rights reserved

Post Categories