Nov 08 2021

Essential Equipment Provides a Competitive Edge to K–12 Esports Teams

Districts need to go beyond the basic video game technology to take their esports program to the next level.

When playing K–12 esports at a competitive level, every advantage counts. According to a Battlefy poll, 80 percent of esports competitors believe that the quality of their gaming equipment effects performance, giving them the advantages they need to win.

“If all talent levels and skills are otherwise equal, the person with the better equipment is going to win 9 times out of 10,” says Josh Whetherholt, an esports learning environment adviser at CDW•G.

Simply put: The better the equipment, the better the edge. The greater the edge, the more wins, and the more money and attention a K–12 team can bring to their district. Because of the high demand from esports athletes to outperform their competition, tech companies have been creating products to give gamers the edge they need.

We’ve highlighted some of the graphics cards, computers, mice and keyboards that can help take programs and their players to the next level. There are many other components schools can consider to advance their program, including headsetsesports furnituremonitors and more. The equipment highlighted below can give teams looking to take the next step a place to start.

Click the banner below to unlock complimentary resources from CDW for your K–12 esports team.

High-Quality Graphics Cards Let K–12 Teams See the Difference

Graphics cards — and their memory — are crucial for esports athletes because they affect the games’ resolution (what players see on the screen). Higher quality graphics cards improve the frames per second and make a gamer’s experience run more smoothly. If a graphics card can’t keep up with a game, the athlete is automatically at a disadvantage compared with a player who has a more advanced setup and better graphics. This is because a lower FPS causes graphics lag and reduces the responsiveness of the athletes’ controls, so all of their actions happen on a slight delay.

K–12 esports programs may choose to level up their tech by installing a more advanced graphics card. This gives the team a competitive edge with a better frame rate, more responsive controls and an overall smoother gameplay experience.

LEVEL UP: Upgrade your esports team to become more competitive and support student success.

When it comes to graphic cards, the market is dominated by two companies: Nvidia and AMD. Determining the right card for an esports program depends on the team’s needs and budget, perhaps more than any other piece of equipment we highlight here. Coaches should examine the standards and requirements of the games their district will participate in.

There are also advanced graphics card options for teams looking to make a big impact, like PNY’s GeForce RTX 3070, combining a graphics card with multiprocessors, fans and memory.

Prebuilt Gaming Computers Allow Any K–12 Player to Get in the Game

For K–12 esports coaches who don’t want to worry about upgrading their graphics cards separately, there’s another option: a prebuilt system.

“The major benefit of buying a prebuilt is it’s all in the box, ready to go. You literally just need to take it out and plug it in,” says Whetherholt.

These systems can be especially beneficial for K–12 districts that want to level up their programs but don’t have the time or knowledge to upgrade existing systems. The key is finding the right power level to balance budgets while empowering esports athletes to excel in their arena. Here are three options for coaches to consider:

The Lenovo Legion T5 is a powerful computer, with a strong graphics card in the GeForce RTX 2070 Super (16 gigabytes). It’s a cost-friendly option for K–12 budgets.

The Corsair Vengeance series is stacked with game-improving specs, thanks to some of the latest hardware from AMD and Nvidia.

One major appeal of ASUS gaming desktops is that the company makes many of its own parts, which allows schools to select from a wide range of options in the ASUS ROG Strix series.

READ MORE: Leverage powerful partnerships to support successful K–12 esports programs.

Aim for the Advantage with Gaming Mice for K–12 Players

Precision is essential for any game, making gaming mice a vital component for an esports competitor. What distinguishes a high-performance mouse can vary among players and games, but there are three common factors to consider.

First, standard competitive mice have six buttons: two primary click buttons (left and right), two side buttons, a clickable scroll wheel and a DPI switch. These buttons help players control every aspect of their game, including quick weapon switching, reloading, scoping, healing, enabling voice chat, adjusting in-game screen angles and moving in various ways. Depending on the game, the buttons can be programmed to perform different functions. Gaming mice can also be used by content creators to control media functions, launch programs, control volume, copy and paste, and more.

Second, a gaming mouse’s sensitivity to dots per inch (DPI) enables in-game actions to register at faster speeds. The more quickly actions register, the more responsive games are. This allows players to compete at higher levels against better opponents.

Josh Whetherholt
If all talent levels and skills are otherwise equal, the person with the better equipment is going to win 9 times out of 10.”

Josh Whetherholt Esports Learning Environment Adviser, CDW•G

Third, and last, there’s the comfort and durability of a gaming mouse. Esports athletes may be at their computers for long stretches of time, so comfort is important to keep them at the top of their game.

Here are four gaming mice for K–12 programs to consider:

The SteelSeries Rival 650, a wireless mouse with a strong sensor, is ideal for gamers who prefer their mouse on the heavier side. The Rival 310 is a great wired alternative.

The Logitech G Pro Wireless is a lightweight option. Praised for their handling and shape, the G Pro series mice have become a staple among many professional gamers.

Despite being a few years older, its ergonomic shape, durable clicks and strong sensors make the Razer DeathAdder a consistently popular choice among esports players.

For gamers who prefer wired mice to avoid the risk of a wireless mouse running out of battery midgame, the Corsair Ironclaw makes an excellent choice.

Command Wins with Gaming Keyboards for School Esports Programs

A good esports keyboard is responsive. The time it takes to register a command needs to be minimized because even milliseconds can mean the difference between a win and a loss. This is why many esports athletes prefer a mechanical keyboard over membrane keyboards: Mechanicals register inputs more quickly and cleanly.

For schools that aren’t looking to break the bank, the Logitech G610 Orion is a good midrange keyboard with great performance.

The yin to the Logitech G Pro mouse’s yang, the Logitech G Pro Mechanical Keyboard is beloved among gamers for its simple functionality and high responsiveness.

A comfortable wrist rest, dedicated media controls, macro buttons and other features make the Corsair K100 RGB a colorful choice for gamers — literally. With slightly fewer keys, the company’s K60 RGB Pro SE is an appealing alternative.

Click the banner below to discover more ways to level up your K–12 esports program.

Invest in a Competitive Edge to Achieve Success

The right equipment can help a team reach competitive levels, setting up players for scholarship success and preparing them for future careers. However, as much as equipment can make the difference in a team’s ability, it’s worth remembering what money can’t buy: dedication, practice, skill and teamwork. Equipment alone can’t win championships for a disconnected and disorganized team, but it can propel forward a team that is prepared to compete at the highest levels.