Essentials of a Console Battlestation

Still gaming on that old CRT? Still sharing screen time with your significant other and having to suffer through Glee marathons and Katherine Heigl “comedies” before you can get online with your buddies? Then it’s time to stake claim to a little corner of your abode and start constructing your very own mini-man cave. Here are the essentials to getting a beginner’s console battlestation set up.

1.      High Definition LED/LCD Monitor

This will be the most important upgrade you can make. Even if you’ve got an overcompensatingly big HDTV out in the living room, a modest 20 – 24 inch HD monitor will likely blow it out of the water in terms of clarity and response time. Most HDTVs that you’ll find are great for watching TV and Blu-rays discs but are lacking when it comes to gaming due to horrendous input lag. CRTs have instantaneous response times but the tradeoffs include archaic standard resolutions, gargantuan weight to size ratios, and the stigma of being a Luddite, hipster, or poor person (take your pick). When deciding between LED and LCD, budget will be a factor. LED monitors can be thinner, more eco-friendly, have higher contrast ratios and deeper colors, and also cost more. LCDs are slightly thicker and have less drastic contrast ratios and colors, but the difference in performance will be negligible and the price will be more affordable.

Progressive Man recommends:

–        BenQ GL2450HM (2012 MLG console monitor, 24” LED, 219.00 USD on www.shop.benq.us)

–        ASUS VH236H (2011 MLG console monitor, 23” LCD, 169.99 USD on www.newegg.com)

2.      Proper Audio/Video cables

For your video options, it’s HDMI. Full. Stop. They’re the best option for outputting video and they’re cheap. HDMI cables transfer digital signals so a cheap high speed HDMI cable will be as good as the most ridiculously priced one (don’t ever buy anything from AudioQuest or Monster Cable). For Audio needs, if you’re using an external audio option (as opposed to the integrated speakers on many HD monitors through HDMI), optical cables (digital signal) are the best option if you can swing it but the old regular RCA cables (analog signal) will work fine too.

Recommendations:

–        Audio: Optical or RCA cable(< 10.00 USD on Amazon)

–        High Speed HDMI (< 10.00 USD on Amazon)

–        AudioQuest Diamond HDMI (1494.75 USD on Amazon, recommended only for users who desire the ability to beam signals from the future to their monitors)

3.      External Speaker System

Many HD monitors offer built-in speakers but the audio quality leaves plenty to be desired and are just a convenience when you need a quick audio option without having to lug your external speakers around. Otherwise, you’ll want to make some space to set up at least a decent 2.1 speaker system (but go ahead and splurge on the 5.1 or 7.1 systems if you can figure out how to deal with all the running cables). Quality sound is essential for the immersive experience and a good subwoofer will go a long way in filling out those brilliant explosions that are popping on your HD screen. Lots of home theater options are going to be on the expensive end so computer speaker systems are recommended since they’re usually cheaper and more accessible when it comes to setting up. A good consideration to take into account is whether or not the speaker system has jacks to plug in devices and headphones.

Recommendations:

–        Logitech Z623 (99.99 USD on Amazon)

–        Logitech Z523 (79.99 USD on Amazon)

4.      Headphones

For when you need a low profile option, a quality pair of headphones will take care of you for when the neighbors call the cops because your awesome subwoofer is setting off car alarms or when people are trying to get some goddamn sleep. Getting gaming headphones doesn’t necessarily mean you need to buy a Turtle Beach or Tritton set. Consider whether or not a microphone is important and remember that most situations that call for headphones are usually situations where you don’t want to be yelling into your mic. If a mic isn’t important, a whole host of professional grade headphones are open to you, from Sennheiser, Audio Technica, Sony, etc. An additional consideration to take is whether or not to get a wired or wireless headset. The gaming space that we’ve been setting up is geared more towards close proximity to your system, monitor, and speakers, so the wired option is probably ideal. Do you really need the ability to talk smack while you’re in the can?

Recommendations:

–        Audio Technica ATH-AD700 (99.95 USD on Amazon, no microphone)

5.      The Throne

Get a comfy chair. You’ll be spending a lot of time in it. Tailor your choice to whatever space you’re setting up in but chances are you’ll be going with a computer chair. Choose wisely.

Recommendations:

–        Something comfortable and affordable

–        Steal it from your mom’s place because she has good taste

 

Miscellaneous Considerations

A couple things to keep in mind as you get your battlestation set up.

–        Get a reliable surge protector to plug everything in

–        Get zip ties, cable management is a virtue (and a fetish, check out www.reddit.com/r/cableporn)

–        Consider turning your cute setup into a command center by adding a second monitor and getting a PC up in there so you can check your stats or browse Reddit during loading screens

–        Cup holders are legit

–        Though, if you find yourself installing a toilet paper dispenser, you’ve gone too far

–        But a mini-fridge is totally acceptable

–        So is a third monitor

–        And wall/arm mounting

 

By Jeff Le

Author: Nader Ahmadnia

Nader Ahmadnia is a writer for Progressive Man Magazine, an online music publication that features new and emerging talent.

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