Hardware: The Infinite Conundrum

By Jim Rossignol on January 13th, 2011 at 3:05 pm.

COMPUTERS COMPUTERS
So I am going to rebuild my PC soon, and that got me thinking about the infinite variations of hardware, and I wondered how many of you guys are planning to upgrade or get a new PC, given this year’s avalanche of PC games. I mean, clearly it’s not the same as it was a few years ago, when the march of graphics cards went hand-in-hand with software that supported them, and we all started moaning about it costing £7000-a-month to run a PC, but I am still considering how top-notch I want The Witcher 2 to look, and whether I could get Call of Pripyat running at even higher detail levels on a fresh, rather more resplendent, machine. I can wait no longer for the computational newness. So…

EDIT: Argh, I can’t get polls working. Something has made the buttons stop working! This internet science is beyond me. Instead, I’ve posed some questions, below, that you can consider in the comments.

1. Are you going to buy a new PC, or upgrade your PC this year?

2. If buy, how much do you think you might spend?

3. If upgrade, what parts do you expect to change?

4. If you don’t intend to buy or upgrade, is that because your PC is still good? When was that PC built? (Mine has not really had much of an overhaul in two years, for example, and I am only just thinking of tinkering with it now.)

5. Do you use a laptop for gaming? If so, why that rather than a lovely desktop box?

6. Are you clueless about building stuff and think it costs £2000 for a new PC? If so, would you like RPS to show you how to build a cheap, fast PC?

7. If you’re buying a new graphics card, what are you getting, and why?

8. And why are decent PSUs so expensive!? Seems like a big old price gouge to me. But anyway.

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233 Comments »

  1. banski83 says:

    It no worky, sadly.

  2. Lewie Procter says:

    I vote for [poll id="13"]

    Edit: although in all seriousness, I am going to get a new PC at some point when I can afford it, ideally this year. It’ll be a super wizzy one, I and will pay a shop to make it for me. I reckon I’ll go Nvidia this time, because I’d like to play Mirror’s Edge with the Phyx whistles and bells. Probably one of the high end cards since I have a 1920×1080 monitor.

    I suspect I’d be aiming to spend somewhere between £700 and £1000 all in.

    Where is the best place to get a prebuilt PC these days? I hear Cyberpower are good.

    • jaheira says:

      “I hear Cyberpower are good”

      Hmmmm. I got my last pre-built from them. Intermittently faulty video RAM on one of the cards. The card failed altogether in the end, which is the only time that’s happened to me in 15 years of peesea gaming.

    • Martha Stuart says:

      i just built a new rigg, although i did build it technichally last year. my specs are as follows

      intel Core i7 950 quad core (overclocked 200 Mhz per core) – 549$ combo with mobo
      ASUS P6X58D mobo
      8 Gigs ram – G.Skill 2x 4GB sticks – DDR3 2000 – 319$
      2x EVGA Geforce 460 SE – 159$ each (running in SLI)
      1200 Watt PSU – 200$
      scrounged Hard drive and case from old computer
      _______________________________________________________________
      Grand total = > 1400$

      This setup will run any current game with all settings tapped out without even breaking a sweat.

      i ordered all parts from newegg.com and prices listed in USD$

      P.S. with CPU overclocked and 2x Graphics cards this baby runs a little hotter than most other setups. but nothing to worry over. and if you are planning on overclocking CPU or GPU’s make sure to get an aftermarket heatsync and fan, and a case with good ventiliation is also highly recommended.

  3. Groove says:

    I vote poll id 12 for president

    • President Weasel says:

      Bah, the spam thing ate this post and then later regurgitated it next to my very similar replacement post. Bah, I say.
      Still, it’s better than a lot of posts about shoes.

    • President Weasel says:

      The incumbent in these races has all the advantages.

      I’ve had my PC for 2 and a bit years now, I think. Maybe even more!
      I replaced the graphics card when the 8800 GTX in there stopped working, and I think it had 2GB of RAM when I got it which I’ve since replaced with 4GB of slightly faster, but still DDR2, RAM.
      Still seems to be chugging along nicely and hasn’t complained yet about any game I’ve tried to play on it.

      I probably won’t buy a new PC. I may buy a gaming-capable laptop as a second PC depending on finances.
      I have no intention of upgrading, since the main performance upgrade would be a new processor and a new motherboard that can handle better than DDR2 RAM, and at that point the voices start telling me “but now you’re most of the way to a new PC!”
      I would happily read an article from RPS telling me how to build a new PC.

    • simonh says:

      Indeed, mine has 2x 9800GTX, 4gb RAM and a e8400, it still performs well after almost three years.
      Of course I have to tweak the graphics settings, can’t just put them on maximum anymore, but in general the actual differences are negligible. I think this is the upside of the consoles domination and their long generational cycles: we’re still getting prettier games, but the developers are forced to optimize instead of just raising the specs.

  4. CMaster says:

    No immediate plans, although if I get in a comfortable financial situation, I may get a new PC.
    Thing is, my current, 3/4-year old ish machine (with a gfx upgrade about 2 years ago) is still plaing new games comfortably at 1680 x 1050. SO not really feeling the pressure to upgrade.

    Core2Duo E6400
    4gb PC6200 Ram
    975X chipset
    Radeon HD4850 512

    For those who are interested.

    NOT.
    TO
    QUICK.

    • kirkbjerk says:

      I’m in about the same boat as you are, however, I’m still stuck in the 8800gt still. This year I’m tempted to either grab up one of the i760′s or just hold out longer and see if this detritus span chip is everything people are yelling about.

      Thing is, if I go the cpu way, I will need to poney up for the motherboard and ram. If I go the gfx route, only one thing….

    • CMaster says:

      8800GT isn’t much worse than the 4850 mind.

      My thoughts were when I do build a new one, I could whack the old CPU, old GFX, the memory probably (new stuff is all DDR3 right?) and one of the HDDs I don’t use at the moment into a media centre case.
      Not too quick, stupid bot.

  5. Jockie says:

    Having suck rotten luck with my PC lately, that most of my ‘PC upgrade’ money is going towards replacing broken parts. Waiting on a new PSU to arrive currently.

  6. westyfield says:

    Not planning on upgrading internal components, my monitor and mouse are slowly wearing out so I’ll probably get new ones this year. Saving my corruption points for a laptop when university time cometh.

  7. Navagon says:

    My advice: don’t buy anything from Don Intelio. Oh and buy a 400 series Nvidia card. That should help cut your heating bills this winter.

    1. I doubt it. Nothing really seems to tax what I have enough to warrant it.

    4. This PC was upgraded last year to a quad core with a new GPU too. So it’s about as good as I need it to be for a good while yet.

    5. No. I doubt that it is lovelier somehow. I’d get a DS for portable gaming.

    6. I think a guide like that would be a nice thing to do and help clear up these misconceptions. I don’t need it myself, but that’s no reason not to support the idea.

    7. The graphics card market has been fairly crap for a while. But at least now we’re seeing more of a focus on fixing existing problems rather than trying to come up with the next big, pointless thing. If I were to go either with Nvidia or AMD right now it would be Nvidia. I’m seeing more effort from them in fixing their hardware problems than I’m seeing from AMD with regard to finally sorting out their drivers.

  8. Torgen says:

    Being so very poor, I have a firm graphics card update schedule: when the $100 recommended card on the monthly Tom’s Hardware’s “Best Graphics Card for the Money” article is two tiers above my present one on the hierarchy chart at the end of the article, I upgrade.

    It’s actually getting close to upgrade, as I have a 9600GT right now, but I just went from XP to Windows 7/64, and it now does DX10, so I’m re-experiencing all my games with updated graphics right now. That’ll keep me entertained til the prices drop a bit more. (see also: going from 2GB to 4GB RAM since switching to Win7.)

  9. Tei says:

    Life is long, but memory is limited. So I have forget the last time I updated my comp.. I think It was buying a new graphic card.

    So my 2 cents is writting this upgrading plan:
    – new computer
    – upgrade graphic card
    – upgrade graphic card
    – bigger screen/hard disk
    – new computer
    – upgrade graphic card
    – upgrade graphic card
    – bigger screen/hard disk
    ….

    And so on.

    A new computer cost me about €400, and a new graphic card about €300, a new hard disk about €60 and a new monitor about €100.
    If I upgrade the monitor and the graphic card, the total is €400 (in a whole year).

  10. The Hammer says:

    I’m planning to get an upgrade to the PC around April time, but I’ll only have a budget of like £200 or something. I figure it’s enough for an injection of ram, but knowing the price of some processors, I think I’ll have to stick with my elderly looking one.

    At the minute, GTA4 is pretty sluggish on my machine, Ruse seems to work reasonably fine on high-ish (and, it must be said, attractive) graphics, Dragon Age I can play pretty much at high, WOW occasionally chokes when I have view distance to max (and considering its stunning environments, it’s a shame to NOT run it to its full potential!) and Medal of Honor seems to work quite well on medium/high.

    To be honest, the varying competency with which software takes to machines is as wide-ranging as the output of the machines themselves.

    EDIT:

    “would you like RPS to show you how to build a cheap, fast PC?”

    Oh, yes please!

    • Torgen says:

      I’m pretty much at the end of the CPU upgrade path, myself, with a LGA 775 motherboard. I bought a E7500 Core Duo last year to replace the OCed E2160 I had in it.

      I bought the E2160 when I got the mobo, since it was a $95 chip that was child’s play to overclock to match a $250 chip. I’ve been doing this since the days of the Celeron 300a, and it’s what drives my motherboard upgrade decisions. Until a sub-$100 chip comes out that can easily see a huge performance increase, I limp along with the CPU I have.

    • MikoSquiz says:

      GTA4 is sluggish, period.

      Personally, I’m mostly on ca. 2008 hardware except for the video card (which is 2009) and everything seems to work as well as I need it to.

  11. McDan says:

    Poor student here so laptop gaming it is, it works well enough to run Dragon age, The Witcher, Amnesia etc. so it’s been fine so far. Would be very much interested in no.6 (showing how to build a cheap, fast pc.)

  12. Edgar the Peaceful says:

    Jim. If you’re rebuilding your PC I’d heartily recommend getting an SSD drive and putting your OS and work apps on it. You’ll never look back. Stuff starts instantly and your whole machine will feel more responsive.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Yeah, that is the plan.

    • Nallen says:

      SSD is the only thing I’m really interested in at the moment.

    • HexagonalBolts says:

      OOoooohh but, so little space, so much money, it makes me wallet’s tiny little wallet-sized heart oh so sad.

    • oceanclub says:

      Still not prohibitively expensive? 120GB drives are still €200 euro (no point in a 60GB one, as Windows 7 is such a monster, most of that is gone on your Windows and User folders).

      P.

    • Edgar the Peaceful says:

      @Oceanclub. Respectfully – nonsense! I have Windows 7 & plus most well-used apps, and even a couple of games on a Crucial 64GB SSD. No slowdown even when it starts getting full.

      I keep a couple of standard hard drives for data, and have a snazzy programme called ‘Steam Mover’ or something which allows your main steam installation to be on C: but all the games moved over to another drive.

    • Trans says:

      I wanted a new soundcard in November last year so bought a Xonar D2X. I looked inside my case when the shiny item arrived and discovered there wasn’t enough room above the gfx card (huge gt260). So I bought a new mobo with i7 and 6GB of RAM. Then I got silly and bought a 128GB SSD for around £180. Win 7 boots into desktop in about 10-12 seconds and applications that occasionally hung when loading are almost instant.

      In the end I spent about £800 and all wanted was a new soundcard. I sold my car to pay for it.

      No more upgrades for many years. I’m not sure what I was thinking but my PC is very quick and I love it like an imported Thai wife.

      Anyway… all I wanted to say is a dedicated sound card and an SSD make a massive difference to the PC experience.

      For competitive FPS players the good quality dedicated soundcard is a must!

    • Huggster says:

      I recommend the 80 GB Intel G2 SSD – seems to do well in reliability as well. Everything feels more snappy (web browsers, apps) and long load times in games are much less of an issue (obvious benefits for things like Bad Company 2 where you can get a head start). i have my old 500gb SATA as data storage for music and so forth.

    • Zaboomafoozarg says:

      SSD is the bomb and a half, it made my compy running an E8400 feel new again.

  13. AndrewC says:

    Yes! Tell us how to make a £500 tower, or, even better, point us at deals with reputable companies that are guanteed to play this year’s biggest-balled games on high.

    I don’t even know how to change RAM these days. I can’t be buggered!

  14. trjp says:

    90% of people who upgrade their machines regularly, do so because they can – not because they need to.

    Many of them only use games to showcase their hardware (not the other way around) – some never play a game at-all, content with benchmarks and the like.

    Right now a C2D with 2GB+ of RAM and a half-decent (£80-100) GPU plays almost anything to a decent level – taking ‘decent’ to ‘amazing’ will cost 10-20 times as much.

    Summary: Do you really need those almost un-noticeable fps’s???

    p.s. instead of asking loaded questions, why not just do an RPS Hardware Survey?

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      “why not just do an RPS Hardware Survey?”

      Because we’d need to use survey software again, which is more hassle than I can be bothered with at the moment. We do actually have some numbers on this stuff from the last survey, but I was wondering if people generally felt like 2011 was an upgrade year, given the surplus of games coming out.

    • trjp says:

      You can’t be bothered with a survey but you’re offering to enter the arena of gladiatorial combat which is recommending a PC to make!?!?!?!??!

      You’re insane – no really, there are a million places which already hack away at that particular chestnut surely???

    • The Hammer says:

      To be honest Mr trjp, with your excitable ramblings, unproven percentages and many, many question marks, you’re presenting yourself as the undisputed insane one here.

      Have you thought that perhaps there isn’t much crossover between the “millions of sites” you imply and this one here?

      ????????????????

    • MattM says:

      Really? How do you know the reason for other people’s upgrades? I upgrade frequently, but it is always prompted by some game that I really want to play at high settings. Metro 2033 is currently my target.
      Do I need more performance? No I don’t really need any videogames, but its a fun hobby. I both like and notice high quality game settings and high framerates and consider the money I spend to be a reasonable luxury expense. People don’t need to fish or water-ski, but people dont call them crazy when they spend $15,000 on a recreational boat.

    • trjp says:

      re: The Hammer you call me insane and suggest there’s no crossover between RPS and sites which go into the minutiae of building PCs…

      I’ll say more when I’ve stopped laughing my fucking teeth out.

      What there IS no crossover between, is RPS (a games site) and a the obsessional hobby of getting “just one more FPS” from a game – they are totally unrelated. Feel free to continue both hobbies, but don’t pretend they’re anything to do with each other…

      Then there’s the matter of bringing in the “nVidia sucks” and “that rig is shit” types – on the whole, I’d rather than all died, let alone invaded this place…

  15. Schmung says:

    1. Are you going to buy a new PC, or upgrade your PC this year?
    If I get some money together, then yes.

    2. If buy, how much do you think you might spend?
    £400 or thereabouts I should think

    3. If upgrade, what parts do you expect to change?
    Mobo, CPU, GFX, RAM.

    4. If you don’t intend to buy or upgrade, is that because your PC is still good? When was that PC built?
    Purely financial, my current rig is just about ok for gaming, but the meagre core count is bothering me with all the photoshoppery and game dev stuff I do. For the record – E5200, 4gb, Radeon 4830.

    6. Are you clueless about building stuff and think it costs £2000 for a new PC? If so, would you like RPS to show you how to build a cheap, fast PC?

    I think the specialist hardware sites are properly better for this sort of thing, though perhaps some sort of occasional summary piece would be nice?

    7. If you’re buying a new graphics card, what are you getting, and why?

    8. And why are decent PSUs so expensive!? Seems like a big old price gouge to me. But anyway.

  16. groovychainsaw says:

    I usually have a ’2 cards behind the current generation’ rule for graphics cards (which i slightly borked by then buying a second 8800gt for SLI fun last year), haven’t seen much need for a new cpu since core 2 duo was introduced, and am pretty happy with 4GB ram for games (and can’t see that changing in the near future whilst console/indie games hold sway for me).

    PSUs are expensive, but cheap ones in the past have crapped out on me, whereas my relatively expensive one I got last time has run nicely, so maybe the components inside are better? I’m always looking at new graphics cards purchases , but think i would mostly be disappointed by anything less than a 20% jump in performance. So no plans for upgrades really, happy with my current spec, and don’t see anything that will stretch it this year, unless i HAVE to run in max everything mode.

    I’d genuinely prefer RPS to stick to games rather than hardware, too. Whilst your writing could liven up reviews a bit, other sites do the numbers pretty well and hardware reviews give you less scope for flights of fancy. I’d prefer more games articles, in short :-)

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      No plans for regular hardware coverage, but I am tired of people saying “Oh I’d love to get into PC gaming, but I can’t afford £1000 for a PC”.

    • Torgen says:

      Jim, perhaps then just link once or twice a year (the holiday season seems an apt time) to one of the dedicated hardware site’s building guide. I haven’t looked in forever, but someone (Anandtech?) used to do a $500/$1000/$1500 “best gaming PC feature” on a semiannual basis.

    • groovychainsaw says:

      Yeah, that IS tiring, I could make a decent ‘average settings’ system for <£300 I think (with no research done!) that would play everything that has come out up until today (except Crysis!) on average at a decent lick. But I reckon most people here know how to that, or can find an article that tells them? Trouble with writing a 'builder's guide' is that it would get out of date quite quickly as prices change, so would have to be updated. Writing about software creates a piece for posterity (especially with the writers on here being a pleasure to read), hardware writing is transitory…

      /Edit – Just saw Torgen’s reply – linking to a hardware site would be fine :-)

    • battles_atlas says:

      Bittech do a monthly buyers guide for varying budgets. It, or its sister Custom PC mag, is where I get my info. I wouldn’t see the point in RPS doing this, as whilst it will do doubt be better written, the research wont come near to that done by those guys.

      http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/buyers-guide/2010/11/03/pc-hardware-buyer-s-guide-november-2010/1

    • Richard Beer says:

      I don’t think anyone should buy a PC just for gaming; it’s ridiculously expensive. If, however, you need to do all manner of other stuff like browse t’Internet, write things, draw things etc etc, then you should get a PC that can handle games.

      Just over 4 years ago I bought a beautiful, water-cooled custom-made PC from Beast Computers for just over a grand. It was a Hybrid Evo but… uh, I can’t actually remember all the specs, now that I think about it, but it was a slightly overclocked 6600 Intel Duo with an nVidia 8800 GTX. I upgraded it to 4GB RAM a while ago so I could edit video, but that’s all I’ve done, and I’m happily running COD: Black Ops in some high resolution with zero slowdown, so I feel no real urge to splash the cash on a new rig just yet. It’s certainly lasted a lot longer than I expected it to. I guess I have console owners to thank for that.

      My brother recently upgraded his old PC, actually, so I was going to grab his 8800 GTX and SLi it, but I don’t have enough power leads! That’s the only upgrade I’ve recently considered, even though it failed. Anyone want to buy an 8800 GTX?

  17. Giant, fussy whingebag says:

    Recently got a new GPU, as well as a PSU to be able run it and hopefully anything for the next 10 years (they are indeed disproportionately expensive). Geforce 460, by the way, for the still excellent price:performance ratio.

    I envision my next upgrade will be when pigs fly and 250-500GB SSDs are affordable. Probably, for most people, an SSD would provide the most noticeable performance boost, by the way…

    • Squirrelfanatic says:

      SSDs won’t have that much of an impact on your gaming performance – as I understand it – because their major improvement is the access time which is not really important if you got a sensible graphics card and / or RAM. Same thing with DDR3 RAM in comparison to DDR2. The differences are tiny.

    • Edgar the Peaceful says:

      @Squirrelfanatic. Regarding gaming, that’s true, except level load times are improved. I had BC2 on my SSD for a while, the maps load very quickly but you’re left sat waiting for all the other players to load before starting the round

      Nevertheless, my entire PC response has been improved by an SSD

  18. mowglie says:

    Yes please to #6! Or at least give me some links to follow…

    My current machine has lasted me almost five years (!!!!) and I can still play most modern games on it. I for one have been *loving* the fact that most PC games also have to cope with xbox 360 hardware which means I can run them :D

    It really makes the poorly optimised ones stand out (Crysis, The Witcher, I’m looking at you!)

    However, the poor brave thing is showing its age. The hardware is all slowly failing, and I’d rather upgrade the whole thing at once rather than replace parts over and over.

  19. El_MUERkO says:

    My current rig has a C2Q 9500, 8gigs of ram and I’ve recently updated to an AMD HD6970 from a pair of 4870s. CPU and RAM speeds have outpaced the engines that run on them and 90% of making your game run well is done by the graphics card.

    If you’re a gamer first then the easiest way to save money is to not buy the newest CPU/Mem/Mobo combination as they’re not needed by any of the games currently available (and by looking at next years release list that wont change). I cant see myself upgrading mine my till early next year because frankly there is no need.

  20. Tori says:

    I bought my PC for The Orange Box (was it 2006?).

    Intel Core2Duo @ 2,66
    GeForce 8800 GTS 640MB (they don’t make that amout of memory anymore!)
    4 gigs of ram (was 2GB at first, added more later)

    It still plays most of the new games, usualy on high details at 1980 x 1080.

    I belive that if I’ll have a good financial situation, I might buy something new this year. The amout will depend of course on how much will I save.

    The Witcher 2 is the biggest reason why I would buy a new PC.

  21. Jhoosier says:

    I choose #3. Barring a disaster, I won’t be replacing my machine or any components this year. I don’t think I’ll be buying any high-res games this year, so my PC from 2008 will be sufficient — Intel Core 2 Duo, 8GB RAM and a 9800GTX are enough to run New Vegas at high settings, as well as play Just Cause 2 at a decent clip. Since I have a ton of games from last year, like Bioshock 2 and Call of Pripyat to play, not to mention lower-requirement games like Minecraft, I will wait until my machine is absolutely decrepit before upgrading.

    If anything, I will make the move to Windows 7, but even that is a stretch.

  22. kikito says:

    1. Are you going to buy a new PC, or upgrade your PC this year?

    Upgrading. My girlfriend pushed the PC and it fell from a table. The mainboard died.

    2. If buy, how much do you think you might spend?

    Less than 100 euros.

    3. If upgrade, what parts do you expect to change?

    The motherboard.

    4. (not applicable)

    5. Do you use a laptop for gaming? If so, why that rather than a lovely desktop box?

    Yeah. Because it’s the best one I have now.

    6. Are you clueless about building stuff and think it costs £2000 for a new PC? If so, would you like RPS to show you how to build a cheap, fast PC?

    Yes and yes. I’d also appreciate if you didn’t make it too UK-specific. At least include shops that ship internationally. Also, if you include the currency conversions directly – like this: £2000 / €2397 / $3148 you will save your international readers a lot of time.

    7. (not applicable).

    8. And why are decent PSUs so expensive!? Seems like a big old price gouge to me. But anyway.

    I don’t know what a PSU is. I could google it, but will wait for your articles instead.

  23. Ginger Yellow says:

    Gah. RPS ate my comment again.

    Basically, I just upgraded/replaced a dead PC a couple of months back, so I have no plans for the foreseeable future. I’ve built PCs in the past but tend to buy custom ones now. I typically pay a maximum of £1k, but it depends on how many parts I’m keeping from the old machines. I’d appreciate a building PCs article in the abstract, but in practice I wouldn’t get any benefit out of it for a couple of years. I have a GTX460, because the reviews suggested it gave good bang for buck for a DX11 card, and its quietish and runs cool.

  24. disperse says:

    1.” Are you going to buy a new PC, or upgrade your PC this year?”
    Nope, I don’t think so. (*See note below about Onlive.)

    4. “If you don’t intend to buy or upgrade, is that because your PC is still good? When was that PC built?”
    I have a three year old gaming laptop that has definitely forced me to pass up on a few games I might have checked out otherwise.

    5. “Do you use a laptop for gaming? If so, why that rather than a lovely desktop box?”
    Yes (see above). I don’t really have a desk area and feel less socially isolated if I’m playing a game with headphones while my wife watches TV.

    6. “Are you clueless about building stuff and think it costs £2000 for a new PC?”
    Before buying the laptop I built a new PC for myself probably every other year.

    6a. “…would you like RPS to show you how to build a cheap, fast PC?”
    Sharkeyextreme.com used to have a monthly feature suggesting components for a budget gaming rig. They aren’t doing that anymore. If I were going to build a gaming desktop I would love for someone else to do the research into the best bang for buck in a CPU, GPU, etc.

    8. “And why are decent PSUs so expensive!? Seems like a big old price gouge to me.”
    Fancy power supplies: the new status symbol.

    *I’m going to keep a close eye on Onlive over the next year before deciding to build another gaming desktop. I’m playing Alpha Protocol on Onlive right now and finding it more than adequate. It looks great and my laptop barely breaks a sweat running the client, I can alt-tab to my Internet browser and back and there is something special about being able to observe or be observed by other users as if they were looking over your shoulder.

  25. Crescend says:

    I’ve had my current computer for 5 years now, but I’ve been upgrading the components one at a time so the only remaining original parts are the chassis and half of the current RAM. I upgrade quite rarely, about one or two parts per year but they’ve served me well and still run Just Cause 2 on high settings with 4x antialiasing, so I’m not in a big hurry to upgrade anytime soon. What I propably need to change next is my current 19″ screen which now has a big bunch of dead pixels (I was being careless while moving it..), altough you’d be surprised how easy it is to get used to them and completely forget their existence, as they’re bunched in the upper left corner.

  26. Rich says:

    I plan to build a new PC, but retain the parts from the old one that I’m happy with, such as the PSU, HDDs and my shiny CPU cooler.*
    Based on a discussion in the forum, I’m thinking the following:

    Case: Coolermaster Elite 370 Case – OC UK – £33.70

    Mobo: Gigabyte GA-MA78LMT-US2H 760G – Ebuyer 193510 – £47.40
    CPU: AMD Phenom II X6 Black Edition 1090T – Ebuyer 204933 – £188.60
    RAM: Kingston 4GB (2x2GB) DDR3 1333MHz – Ebuyer 158711- £37.00

    Graphics: HIS ATI Radeon HD 5770 1024MB – OC UK – £99.59

    OS: Win 7 Home Premium OEM – £75.59

    Total: £481.88

    *That’s a point. Have AMD made significant changes to the heat sink mount? My motherboard is old, but the fan is supposed to support AM2, I think.

  27. zergrush says:

    No upgrade plans for this year. Just got an HD6850 and a new PSU that should be enough for quite some time. I can play pretty much anything I want atm, maxed. Only bought the new card because I had to play BC2 on low settings to get multiplayer-viable framerates and couldn’t put everything on Ultra in SC2.

    I built the machine in 2008, it’s an overclocked Q6600 in an Asus P5K-SE board with 4 gigs of ram. Had an 8800GTS before the upgrade.

    And I don’t game on laptops because it’s too expensive and I already have a PSP and DS for portable gaming needs.

  28. nabeel says:

    1. & 3. I plan to only expand my PC’s RAM from 2GB to at least 4GB, before I migrate from Windows XP to Windows 7.
    2. I don’t expect to spend much at all, well within $100.
    4. I bought this rig in summer of ’08, so it’s quite medium/low-end, but it’s perfectly fine for current gen games at slightly-less-than-maximum settings, so I don’t think I will be forced to upgrade for quite a while. Maybe next year.
    5. I shamefully load up lower-end or older games on my work laptop, but my desktop will always be my primary gaming system.
    6. I’m not clueless, but I think this would make for a great feature and point of discussion on RPS.
    7. I really hope I don’t have to get a new for a while yet, but my current one (nVidia 9600 GSO) is quite long in the tooth already. It’s barely managing this console cycle.
    8. I’ve actually had two PSUs in a row blow up because of poor quality, so I just invested in a good quality, reasonably -powered one that would survive an upgrade or two, hopefully it’ll last me longer.

  29. Frools says:

    I might upgrade my graphics card (from a 4870) this year, depending on if any games actually manage to stress it.
    Don’t see myself upgrading from a core2quad, no need at all.
    Will probably upgrade to a faster/bigger SSD from a G1 Intel 80gig

  30. Subject 706 says:

    I am going to upgrade soonish, not because I really, really need to, but because I want to.

    My current computer is :

    ATX asus motherboard
    Core2Duo 6800
    ATI 5850
    4gb of RAM.

    This setup has lasted for several years with no problems running games at 1680×1050. The GPU was changed from a geforce 8800GTX a few months ago, not because I needed to, but because a heatsink had come loose, wrecking it.

    But, since good hardware is not terribly expensive anymore (and I have a good job :) ) I decided to do a little upgrade.

    I will change the motherboard to a sandy-bridge one and probably get the 1155 2500K CPU. Oh and 8gb of RAM. I am also shrinking it to micro-atx instead of ATX, since I am nowadays competing for apartment space with our first child :). PSU, GPU etc will be reused.

    The old cpu and ram will probably be reused in a home-server build I have planned for later this year.

  31. SimonHawthorne says:

    Are you clueless about building stuff and think it costs £2000 for a new PC? If so, would you like RPS to show you how to build a cheap, fast PC?

    Yes please.

    I AM NOT POSTING COMMENTS TOO QUICKLY AND THESE LOVELY PEOPLE HAVE MISSED THE MUCH LONGER, FLOWING PROSE THAT MADE FLOWERS BLOSSOM AND BABIES CRY WITH JOY BECAUSE OF YOU COMMENT EATER.

    • trjp says:

      TBH – if you have the technical ability to make a PC, you really should have an idea where to find cheap bits to make it from and which bits are best.

      I think what people are really asking is “show me where there are cheap PCs without the hassle of having to choose components and make the bloody thing”?????

      This brings up the issue of the ‘STEAM PC’ again – Steam simply rate all their games in terms of it’s hardware needs and companies sell ‘Steam Level 1′ and ‘Steam Level 2′ machines/hardware!? :)

    • perfectheat says:

      Always remember to copy your post before posting. I might have lost my epic novel if it weren’t for this… or probably not as FF should keep everything for you if you click back.

    • SimonHawthorne says:

      @perfectheat – It is with great regret and sadness that I must admit that I am on internet explorer. In my defence, I’m at work on a temporary PC without my USB stick. I only hope we can move past this regrettable admission. But yes, copy and paste will be my friend from now on.

      @trjp – Yup. I’m not sure it’s a bad thing to be asking for suggestions for cheap hardware – I simply don’t know where you’d go to get it, in the same way I refer my non-gaming friends to Steam for quirky games they’d enjoy, I suppose I’m asking for recommendations from those who are more knowledgeable than I am in the hardware market.

      There’s also the fact that I don’t know if paying more for a quad-core than a dual-core is worth it, that the integrated graphics/processor thing seems odd to me and I can’t get my head round it and that, for those of us who don’t keep up, it’s hard to know which statistics matter and which are marketing fluff. I can generally shove things into the right slot, etc, but have no idea on what I’m shoving where.

      And that’s what she said.

  32. perfectheat says:

    1. Probably because I want to be able to work on my own game using the UDK. Something my 2006 Macbook Pro have some small problems with.

    2. About £1000 (I live in Norway). Basically this with twice the ram and an extra SSD. Or if I have the cash the latest Macbook Pro again. But they cost about a 1000 us homes here.

    3. Everything except cables, sound system and monitor.

    4. MacBook Pro 2006 model.

    5. Because I can work and lan across the world.. even with my buddies in London.

    6. No, I don’t think we need RPS to help us with that. Focus on PC games! There is plenty of resources out there already. The people at build a pc subreddit are very helpful.

    7. ATI because they seem to be ahead at the moment. The latest range. But the mid-price option.

    8. I have no idea. But damn running one must cost a fortune with this winters electrical price.

  33. Fwiffo says:

    I will say one thing about my PC building experience. After relying (or being forced to rely) on the more budget end of the scale and living with semi-shoddy performance for 10 years, splurging on a PC build with upper-mid tier components 2 years ago (A Q9550 and a 4870, about 600 quid in total) has improved my quality of gaming so much and still has little trouble running new games on high settings.

    I advised my girlfriend to do the same for her laptop and she is the envy of her Intel-GMA-owning-Sims 3 playing-friends with her 9800m and smooth gameplay on high.

  34. Oneironaut says:

    My current computer is from January of 2009 and was purchased for $700. So far all I’ve done to it is adding a second hard drive. It runs all games out there well enough that I don’t plan to upgrade anything soon (although I might get Windows 7 in a couple of weeks when I see what kind of discount my university gets me.) I may not be able to run the games at the highest settings, but BFBC2 and Just Cause 2 still look great and run smoothly at medium settings.

    As for #6, I usually know enough that I can do the research to find which parts will work well for my computer, but some sort of guide would probably be useful, especially if you update it regularly to reflect the dropping prices of newer hardware.

  35. Ravenger says:

    I built a new PC last year – i5 760, 4GB RAM, GTX 460, Coolermaster CM690-II case, 500gb HD, and a Samsung Blu-Ray drive. Cost about £700, but you could probably build it for a lot less now as prices have now dropped for many components, especially RAM and GPUs.

    I don’t plan on upgrading the main components for a while, but I plan to upgrade to an SSD boot disk, and add a 1TB HD for all my Steam games (I want to get every game installed so I can easily back them up).

  36. Centy says:

    1. Are you going to buy a new PC, or upgrade your PC this year?

    Yes my CPU is falling horribly behind but at this point getting a new 775 chip would be stupid so a full upgrade is more likely.

    2. If buy, how much do you think you might spend?

    Trying to limit myself to £500 tops not too much since my graphics card, monitors and hard drives are all still fine.

    3. If upgrade, what parts do you expect to change?

    CPU, PSU, RAM, Case and Motherboard.

    5. Do you use a laptop for gaming? If so, why that rather than a lovely desktop box?

    Heavens no.

    6. Are you clueless about building stuff and think it costs £2000 for a new PC? If so, would you like RPS to show you how to build a cheap, fast PC?

    I’m fairly advanced in my knowledge about choosing parts and installing them but a quick referall guide from a trusted source would convince others of the joys of a self built machine.

    7. If you’re buying a new graphics card, what are you getting, and why?

    Not planning but if money was no object a Geforce 580 would be mine but I think my 460 is good for now games tend to be heavier on the CPU these days so that’s where I’d put the choice amount of upgradey cash.

    8. And why are decent PSUs so expensive!? Seems like a big old price gouge to me. But anyway.

    It really is the one part of your system you do not want to fail as it’s the one that creates fire and will kill us all. Plus modular PSU’s are more expensive because you pay for the luxury of a nice tidy case and I suppose they probably cant all be 100% made by robots alá CPUs.

  37. Sagan says:

    1. Most likely not
    4. I have a laptop that is kinda good. I used to have a desktop PC that is really good (Radeon HD 5750 and stuff) but I had to give that away for various reasons:
    5. Yes I do. Mainly because I need a laptop for school, so I decided to get a good one while I’m at it. I’d prefer to have my old (much better) desktop PC back, but a) that would currently mean also getting a desk and chair, which would kind of increase the cost, and b) I wouldn’t even know where to conveniently put it in my current tiny apartment that I share with three other people.
    6. Nope, I’m not.
    7. I’d be getting a Radeon HD 6850 as it’s supposed to have good performance for it’s price.
    8. Are they? Isn’t a decent PSU like 70-80€?

  38. Colthor says:

    1. Not planning to, no. But no plan survives contact with hardware failure or irresistable bargains.

    4. It’s still fast enough, especially considering I’ve got heaps of unplayed games that’ll easily run on it, so don’t need to worry yet about upgrading for hypothetical ones it can’t cope with.
    As to its age, it was first built in early 2006 but its most recent upgrades were to a Core2Quad Q6700, 4GB RAM and a Radeon 4870 1GB in early/mid 2009.
    Any further upgrade is new motherboard time though, sadly. It’s one CPU model higher than it supports already.

  39. KindredPhantom says:

    Scan currently have a decent deal going for a mostly pre-built pc, all you need to do is add a graphics card and you should be fine. https://secure.scan.co.uk/aspnet/Shop/Basket.aspx

  40. Initialised says:

    As a system builder:

    1. I expect to work on hundreds of new PCs. I doubt I’ll upgrade my home rig until I can double it’s performance for reasonable money, i.e mainstream octo core

    2. Rolling upgrades

    3. CPU (Bulldozer or Intel 2011), RAM (2x4GB), Motherboard (2011), Graphics (6990 or GTX560 SLi)

    4. I do a rolling upgrade, it’s OK, Q6600 @ 3.6GHz, 4GB RAM, 4870×2 is struggles with the likes of Metro 2033 and Crysis if I crank up the eye candy.

    5. I use my Android, Laptops and PS3 for casual gaming. If I feel the need to mainline I fire up the PC.

    6. Not at all clues less but sure why not run an article that I can copy for low end systems.

    7. GTX560 looks like a good but. GTS450 Passive cooled is also very good and rocks at SLi for a quiet system you can hook up to your big ole HDTV.

    8. Because cheap ones blow up whenever you upgrade.

  41. RC-1290'Dreadnought' says:

    1. Possible Upgrade

    2. If I upgrade this year, around €150

    3. Extra monitor or New Harddrive

    4. I don’t HAVE to upgrade, my pc is still good. 2.5 years old. (replaced the graphics card: it was too noisy)

    5. Only games that don’t require complex graphics can be played on my laptop

    6. I’m not clueless, but it would be interesting.

    7. I recently bought a HD5750 with two fans. The higher frame-rates were nice, but I bought it because the previous graphics card made too much noise when playing games.

    8. Because they have to be safe and reliable, which might be difficult when trying to work with high (possibly unpredictable) voltages, and distribute it precisely to all components that need power (and which will break when something goes wrong)?

    And after posting all this, apparently I’m posting too quickly. Funny bug :P

  42. parm says:

    I recently upgraded my laptop to a reasonably gaming-capable one (although the old one wasn’t bad) – one of the Dell XPS15s with the Core i7/GeForce 435GT and a 1080p screen. It can’t quite manage running newer games at 1080p on full detail, but stick it on high detail or drop to 1680×1050 or something and it can generally get 30+fps. It’s also now the most powerful machine I have in the house, so will be my main gaming rig; I alternate desktop and laptop upgrades, but am finding increasingly that the need to keep up with the bleeding edge is fading away.

    My desktop is a three year old Q6600 with Radeon 3870 and can still put in a decent show of things on most modern games. It’s still running Vista, though, so some time this year, I’ll stick Win7 on it and upgrade the video card, and that should keep it happy for the next couple of years too.

  43. megalomania says:

    I’m graduating this year, so I can finally scrap the two year old, mid-range laptop which has seen me through my cash strapped and transient student days for a nice up-to-date desktop. An RPS guide to building a gaming PC couldn’t be more timely for me.

  44. Yargh says:

    I’d say most likely no upgrade needed until 2012, we’ll see about that when Brink and a few other games come out though.

  45. WMain00 says:

    1: No

    4. Mine was built in 2007 and still handles most games of today without fuss (the exception being Crysis…but hey, it’s a terrible game anyway…)

    6. Are you clueless about building stuff and think it costs £2000 for a new PC? If so, would you like RPS to show you how to build a cheap, fast PC?

    Not clueless, but would certainly like to see a good article explaining how to build a PC. Would be very useful in the long run for everyone.

    8. And why are decent PSUs so expensive!? Seems like a big old price gouge to me. But anyway.

    Generally the more expensive ones are modular and built to last, though I have seen a number of PSU’s that are modular on the cheap. What you’re really looking for in a PSU is reliability and wattage. The better the power output the longer it will last, cutting away a good bit of expense in budget and allowing you to concentrate on other choices.

  46. Pete says:

    I bought a beefy laptop last year, although not cheaply:
    http://www.laptopsdirect.co.uk/ASUS_G51JX_Core_i7_3D_Laptop_G51JX-IX192V/

    The nvidia GeForce GTS 360M is good enough for Crysis on high settings, and WoW. I don’t have anything else which really pushes it. At full load it uses < 175W, all of which is chucked out the side properly so you can sit it on your lap without roasting your groin or hands.

    (what do people consider "expensive" or "decent" for a PSU? I would be suprised at paying more than £50)

    • groovychainsaw says:

      Most ‘decent PSUs (>400W or so as well) are over £50. Name brand rather than own brand, people like Antec, Coolermaster etc. rather than ‘maxvalue’ or some such. I also prefer my PSUs not to be a raging tornado so I’m paying extra for quietness too. I’m sure there are hundreds of people who have never had a problem with the cheaper ones, but the more expensive one is more reliable over several years, in my experience.

    • Starky says:

      There is a reason branded PSU’s are expensive – they are good quality (mostly), using expensive internal components, with all the electrical safety circuits you could want, and work to a high efficiency.

      It is one of the most importaint parts of a PC and one of the few components I’d never recommend skimping on or buying a cheap one.

      That and this may sound backwards but cheap no name power supplies COST YOU MONEY.

      Simply put a 600 Watt power supply from Corsair (one of the best brands) will run at 80-90% efficiency and cost you around £80
      A 600 Watt no brand special will cost you around £30-40, but will be lucky to have an efficiency of 60%.

      Even a moderate gaming PC pulls around 200 watts idle and 400-500 watts when gaming, so if you use your PC for more than 5 hours a day you’ll lose money in electricity costs.

      Say you’re a hardcore gamer, and spend 200 hours a month on your PC (split between gaming and general usage.
      That’s around 200 hours using roughly 300 watts for a good PSU, and 200 hours at about 350 watts for a crap on (to power the same system). That is about £20 of electricity extra per year.

      Oh and did I mention that cheap PSUs shorten the lifespan of components? Especially RAM and CPU, due to issues they all tend to have with voltage ripple. They also carry a real risk of just flat out killing your system with a current spike as they lack the protection circuitry of the better brands.

    • Starky says:

      Oh and I forgot to mention (would edit but that always marks me as spam)…

      Cheap brand PSUs almost never live up to their supply rating…

      A good rule of thumb is just to flat out half it – so a 600 watt unbranded cheapo PSU will realistically be a 300 watt supply, as running more than that will over heat them, and cause issues.

      This is where the quietness Groovesaw mentions come in, a good brand PSU will supply it’s max rating wattage (and often quite a bit more, though losing some efficiency, I’ve seen some good 600 watt PSUs able to supply 700-800 with only a minor drop in efficiency) – while a cheapo one will start to huff and buff at 400, efficiency will drop sharply and the unit will heat up fast, causing the cooling fan to spin up to ludicrous speed and sound like a hair dryer.

      to be fair most single CPU, single Graphics card medium power machines only need around 350 watts at full load, but I still would not trust a cheap power supply with that.

      Hell you can get 400 watt Antec PSUs for around £40-50 that will be superior than any no-brand PSU (even if it says 800 watts on it).

      That and the 3-5 year warranty with the good PSU’s is nice.

  47. Jetsetlemming says:

    I just built my PC last summer, for $220. Literally. Two hundred twenty US dollars. After the fact I added on a $60 video card, to bring the total to Still Less Than A PS3, And Significantly Less Than My Mother Spent On That Wii/Wii Fit Bundle HSN Bilked Her On.

    Pentium Dual Core E5300 2.6Ghz dual core processor
    2GB DDR2 RAMs
    2TB Seagate Barracuda hard drive (in addition to this I had a 640GB WDBlack I use as a boot drive that I bought last January)
    Zotac budget cheapo motherboard (has not been an issue)
    Corsair 400w Power Supply (highest quality component I selected, and the single most expensive thing in the case)
    SIGMA budget cheapo computer case (POS, worst purchase I made, front audio ports don’t work, super loud case fans, and is a dust magnet: Avoid brand in future)
    Radeon 4670 1GB video card (for $60 it’s pretty great)

    And I’d love to have RPS have a PC buying guide.

  48. Scatterbrainpaul says:

    It says this story has 50 comments on the front page, but when you click into the story it says 34.

    Madness

  49. Sander Bos says:

    1. My 2007 Core duo 2GHZ 3GB machine is still going strong, with a video card (radeon 4600) upgrade last year. It is still only Crysis games that don’t work right.

    2. Were I to buy a machine, I expect to spend no more than 700 euro (same as last PC).

    3. Video card, it is really the only things that makes games quicker. Bought Radeon 4600 last year, most expensive silent card that fit into one PCI-express slot at the time.

    4. Yep, and if a game doesn’t run I just take down the resolution in a big way. But Mafia 2 and BC 2 can run at 1920×1080, with most settings on, so really no issues. Thank you long lasting Console cycle.

    5. Desktop, although I would expect (have not looked) that the very long current console cycle might actually make laptops interesting now.

    6. Nope, but I also think everyone wants something else (for me for instance, silence is golden). Also, there are plenty of sites that have recommendations for varieties of gamers (e.g. http://tweakers.net/reviews/1504/tweakers-punt-net-best-buy-guide-editie-januari-2010.html, in Dutch but the system names and parts should still be clear to English speakers).

    7. The most expensive silent card that fits in a single PCI-express slot, and that’s a remarkably small category. Also, I used to be a serious NVidia fanboi, but that is just not maintainable anymore (especially if you want a silent card). Also the catalyst drivers are great now.

    8. Wouldn’t know, I have never built my own system, only replaced memory and video cards…

  50. Casimir's Blake says:

    There is a lot of people talking specs here, and very few talking products. Well, as builds, tech and servicing is my day job, for what little its worth since none of you know me… my recommendations:

    Motherboards: Asus or Gigabyte. Wouldn’t bother with anything else.
    RAM: Corsair XMS, the faster stuff is completely unnecessary, even if you are overclocking, unless you want to take Sandy Bridge to 5GHz (you crazy foo’ you!).
    Hard disks: Western Digital, or Samsung Spinpoint F3. WD would normally be my preference, but these “newer” F3s are excellent. The 1TB is currently the best bang-for-buck for a performance hard disk. For low-power storage, WD Greens tend to be quieter and consume less power. I’d avoid other manufacturers. Techreport seem to be the most reliable with storage reviews.
    PSUs: Antec Earthwatts are good, solid inexpensive PSUs. Not convinced by Corsair’s CX alternatives, would sooner suggest spending a touch more and getting a VX. If you must have modular then spend more and go for their TX models, or something by Seasonic. Enermax and Nexus are also pretty good. Consult Silent PC Review.
    Video cards: I’ve had few issues with XFX and Asus cards, EVGA also have a superb reputation.
    Optical drives: If you want a solid DVD writer, the only reliable choice is the Sony Optiarc 7240 or 7260 series.

    • Stephen Roberts says:

      Bookmarked! Kudos Mr. Blake!

      I’m not going to bore anyone question anwers and my specifics. I am definitely clueless about building PC’s but it doesn’t stop me trying. I tend to break stuff, then spend ages fixing it and learning about it then I go ahead and break it some more.

      My secret super plan is to slowly replace everything in my current PC until I have two PCs. Like single cell reproduction!

    • Daniel Klein says:

      What about SSDs then?

    • Casimir's Blake says:

      I hope this helps you and others. I use components by these brands, and have done for years, so I feel that these are not impulsive recommendations.

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