RPS Asks: Graphical Cardware?

By Jim Rossignol on September 29th, 2011 at 10:11 am.


This is entirely anecdotal, of course, and entirely unscientific, but 2011 has been the first year since we started RPS that I’ve really noticed a rise in the number of you guys talking about upgrading PCs, or building entirely new PCs. The main reason for this seems to be Battlefield 3, but it’s also been true to a lesser extent for The Witcher 2, and to some degree just for the general upward trend in PC gaming performance.

So then: hands up if you bought a graphics card in the past year! (So since September 2010.) And also let me know how much you spent.

o/ (£199)

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325 Comments »

  1. sockeatsock says:

    It seems just as important to say if you didn’t buy one, otherwise you have nothing to benchmark off. I for one, am using a one year old, $250 card.

    • sneetch says:

      Likewise I haven’t bought one in the last year. I did get a Radeon HD 5850 in February 2010 though. I haven’t really come across all that much that it can’t handle very well in awesome-o-vision (apart from Metro 2033). When I do start coming across that kind of stuff I’ll get one or two not-quite-top-of-the-line cards to replace it but for now it’s doing fine.

    • Chris D says:

      Good point, my guess would be that if you only count this years upgrades the results will be skewed towards the high end, as the guys who like to have high performance are likely to be upgrading more frequently than those of us who don’t particularly care so long as we can still play our games.

    • ashereize says:

      @Sneetch I managed max settings on Metro on my HD 5770, so I’m thinking the problem is elsewhere in your rig.

    • sneetch says:

      @ashereize

      Might be, might be, as I recall there were a fair few people with mystery problems with Metro 2033, at the start at least. In my case my brand new, pretty high spec, PC was struggling with high settings in DX11 especially, I might check it again to see if the various patches since have improved it at all.

    • PoulWrist says:

      @asherize maybe at like 1024×768. That game can hardly run max settings on a geforce 580. http://www.guru3d.com/article/asus-mars-ii-review/19

    • Shortwave says:

      Tess in Metro is pretty badly done.
      It looks great but it takes a huge hit.

      My 6950 doesn’t handle it smoothly most of the time.

    • mike2R says:

      I’m still running a Radeon 4890 from June ’09. Still does most things OK although I’ve become used to adjusting towards the middle for modern games.

      I’ve thought about putting in a mid-range current gen card, but I think I’m probably suffering more from still running XP which gives me less than 3GB of addressable main memory with that card fitted.

      Probably just keep it chugging away until I build a whole new box at some point, I’d like an up to date CPU since I play a lot of games which are CPU bound rather than graphics card, but that means a new motherboard.

    • LionsPhil says:

      8800GTX from October 2007. Still not feeling any pressure to upgrade: everything runs great. All hail the console boat anchor for stalling the upgrade treadmill.

    • Llewyn says:

      Still using the 4770 I got when I built this PC, didn’t get around to adding a second before they were discontinued. Strangely it’s still coping just fine with everything I’ve wanted to play, at 1920×1080. I guess I need to find shinier games to justify an upgrade.

    • Resurgam says:

      Lionsphil, you da man, high end 8800s are still outlasting consoles, I roll with the 8800GTS 512mb, there’s just no need to upgrade yet, maybe in a year if there’s something more than BF3, (refreshing origin every 5 mins, BETA is probably gonna break my PC)

      Maybe we should talk about how long we can make them last aswell and still get med/high graphics on 1920*1080.

      Oh and the overheating while playing crysis on high, all part of the charm ;)

      Ahhhhhh 220 quid well spent in 2007.

    • DarkWeeble says:

      I’m also running at 5850 that I obtained for about $220. My 8800GTS shit the bed last Fall.

    • tanith says:

      About 100 Euro for a GTX 460 Hawk, in March/April 2011.
      My last video card was a GeForce GTO 7900 which I bought in September of 2006 to play Gothic 3.

    • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      I’m one of the crazies that plays games on an iMac (booting up Windows 7 for games). It’s not quite two years old, but has a mediocre-tastic 512MB Radeon HD4850. This lacks the grunt to run a good many recent games at the native resolution of the built-in LCD (2560×1440), so I have to run most games these days at 1920×1080, usually on medium settings.

      I’ll probably by a dedicated gaming PC next year and run it headless, plugged into the iMac to use its screen, because the screen is lovely.

    • PeteC says:

      I upgraded my whole PC in April last year. Got an ATI 5870 which I’m really happy with. Handles everything on the highest settings well enough so far (haven’t played The Witcher 2 yet though) so can’t see me upgrading for a few years yet at least.

      The only upgrade I’m really thinking about is an SSD.

    • ASBO says:

      I have a first generation mac pro. The chipset is so old there’s nothing I can upgrade it with. So I’ve been waiting since Feb or so for the next generation to become available.

      I will upgrade at the whim of Apple, not some video game (unfortunately).

    • Thoridan says:

      @sneetch

      I have the same card, and I’ve not yet met anything that it can’t handle, Except Crysis 2 with the new DX11, and Hi-Res patches, but i think that may be my rig, since I can run everything else i throw at it.

    • Fierce says:

      I bought my first 5850 in November 2009 for $370 CDN (after tax, they’d just come out, still have the receipt) and then a second 5850 this February off Craigslist for $200.

      The high prices are due to the context under which I bought them and the high resilience of 5800 series pricing due to Bitcoins and comparative results against the similar priced 6800 series which survives even to today.

      I would definitely say that these cards, especially together, handle everything I can throw at them, including playable rates in Metro 2033. Free driver-side performance bumps are getting fewer and farther between though as AMD almost abandoned the 5800 series for the 6000 series under the Mjolnir project, and I got the 2nd one mostly as an experiment in CrossFireX and its nuances.

      All in all, I’m still satisfied with them, and will have no compulsion to upgrade to anything short of the 7970 next year. Hoping for a holiday sale on RAM and SSDs before then.

    • mike2R says:

      @ ASBO

      Despite what Apple says, you can put the Mac Edition Radeon 5770 into a 1st gen Mac Pro. 5870 into the 2008 and later models. 5770 is Open CL compatible if that matters to you.

    • dirtyword says:

      Bought a EVGA GTX 460 1Gig in Feb. for $200 (aka ~£128)

    • Kenny007 says:

      Had it not been for the now abandoned original release of APB, I’d likely still be rolling with my 8800GTS w/ 640mb. Didn’t have a problem with any game until Summer of 2010 when APB came out. It was APB’s fault most likely. That game became the catalyst for my i7 update. Then the game went dead…lol.

      Still like what the update has brought me (now running with a GTX 470) but I probably would have continued to limp along on that 8800…it was a great card. Bought it in 2007.

    • Specials4uc3 says:

      I am running 2 GTX570s and Metro 2033 turns into a slideshow if I activate DX11 max settings. I think it’s pretty much just broken. Witcher 2 at max (no uber) sits on the vsync at 60fps no problem.

    • ASBO says:

      @mike2R last year I managed to get an EVGA 8800GT which has a large enough ROM that I could flash it with an EFI firmware. Works very well. But I’m not going to get a new card only to replace the entire system in a couple of months or so (at which point I’ll invest in the GTX285 most likely)

      Edit: Mis-read your post. I’m looking into upgrading it with something a bit meatier, but don’t want to invest in ATI…

    • bill says:

      Bought a laptop 3-4 years ago which has some form of ATI Mobile card in it (who cares about the confusing numbers).
      It managed to play portal 2 pretty well, and i HAVE NO PLANS to upgrade my laptop for as long as humanly possible.

      If it gets to the stage where it can’t play modern games on reasonable settings, well, there are loads of current/older games I haven’t played yet.
      If it gets to the stage where it can’t play games at all.. well, I’ve just spent a lot on a smartphone, so I might pick up a cheap console for a while, and a netbook.

  2. Gothnak says:

    2 weeks ago I bought a load of cards at a local end of line auction…

    A 570, 6 x 460′s, and a 6850.

    After testing them all and seeing the money they go for, i decided to keep one of the 460′s and sell my 4850…

    So, my Zotac 460 GTX SE i bought, cost me around £48 :).

  3. Dlarit says:

    o/ £295

    • ashereize says:

      Sorry for my ignorance, I understand the contextual meaning but what does ‘o/’ literally mean?

    • Benga says:

      its literally a man with his hand in the air. As \o/ is both hands up as in cheering.

    • rapchee says:

      its an emoticon: little guy putting up its arm, o is the head / is the arm

    • Rublore says:

      Which is why whenever someone says ‘lol’ i picture a man surrendering.

  4. Rusna says:

    o/ Sapphire 6950 DiRT3 Edition for 230 Euro delivered home. Not bad.

    • Nihil says:

      Snap! Although mine was £149.99 rather than crazy euro money. I also slapped a Noctua Cooler on my processor and overlocked the nuts off it to stop the card getting bottle-necked. Works like a charm :-) Bargin upgrades ftw!

    • Orija says:

      Woo! I’ll be getting the Sapphire 6950 Toxic edition in a few days time.

    • pauleyc says:

      I got the same card about two weeks ago. Excellent upgrade from a 4870 (though I’m still waiting for AMD to verify my Dirt3 serial number).

  5. Forceflow says:

    I did a minor upgrade from a Radeon HD4890 to an HD6850, which cost me €150 minus the €50 I got for the old card.

    Hope BF3 indeed runs well.

    • IncredibleBulk92 says:

      I’m using a 5850 with a 1 St Gen i5 and I’m running bf3 on ultra settings with as on. I think their recommended specss are a little high if I’m honest

    • KindredPhantom says:

      I am currently running a 4890 I bought over a year ago, I’m considering upgrading to a GTX 560 Ti, missed out on a really good deal at dabs yesterday. I was considering a 6950, but it would be too big to fit into my case.
      Waiting to see how my 4890 handles BF3 before I upgrade.

  6. Braindead says:

    3 weeks old, €222

  7. kilometrico says:

    2x PowerColor HD6950s @ $460 AUD

  8. Melchor says:

    Bought GT 560 Ti a month ago. 200€
    To go with new i5 2500K.
    Thus far really content with them.

    • bsplines says:

      Bought the same card as well two months ago, after 4 years with a GTX7950. Not disappointed so far.

    • Gravy says:

      Just built a brand new 2500k system and bought a MSI Twin Frozr 560Ti for £170 really happy with it so far just need Bat beta to test it a bit. Oh and i got new batman steam voucher too!

    • Torn says:

      Yep, 560 Ti and i52500K here also.

      The 560Ti’s are good cards, but beware certain factory-overclocked models have shown to be a little unstable and need a bit of bumping-up voltage-wise.

  9. Gnoupi says:

    Have a laptop, bought last summer. So most likely I’ll keep my 5870 until the end of the whole machine.

  10. Askeladd says:

    I bought a HD4870 for around 130€ years ago. No I got a 460 GTX in my system from a friend that didn’t need it anymore.

    • Snargelfargen says:

      My 4870′s still trucking. Doing an excellent job except it can’t handle SSAO. It doesn’t seem to like particle effects or volumetric light either.

      I’ll be getting a new video card sometime around the holidays so I can play Witcher 2 and DE:HR at maximum awesomeness. Until then I have a backlog of games I got on steam/gog/gamersgate sales. Currently plodding through King’s Bounty, Gothic 2 and Stalker Clear Sky.

  11. Will Tomas says:

    I bought a new PC last Christmas so haven’t replaced the graphics card yet as it has coped with everything I’ve thrown at it. It came with an ATI Radeon 5770.

    • diamondmx says:

      Ditto – Radeon 6570

    • rayne117 says:

      5770 here, from February 2010. Drivers with it are absolute shite, I have found. I can’t run RO2 on ultra, but that’s the first game so far I couldn’t max out. So she still has at least another good year of medium on games. And with no job, it’ll have to.

  12. Outright Villainy says:

    2 weeks ago I got a 6870. Doesn’t really count as upgrading since this is the first PC I built but there you go.

    • Annexed says:

      Picked up a Sapphire HD 6870 Vapor-X for ~ £150 last month and happy with that so far.

      Even more happy with the Be Quiet Straight Power E8 680W Modular PSU I bought at the same time for ~£70 – fairly extravagant, but it’s made a massive difference replacing the noisy Dell PSU that the machine came with.

  13. Obliter8 says:

    First time in a while any game apart from Metro 2033 has challenged my PC!

    Upgraded to GTX580, £340 last week.

    Also i5 2500K, 8GB DDR3

    • Nice Save says:

      I got the 3GB version of the GTX580 a couple of months ago, but the 210 I had was only a placeholder until I could afford something decent.

      ~£400

  14. piphil says:

    Bought a 6870 1GB a month ago for £135 incl. del.

    This was partially because my old 8800 GT started causing blue screens, but also because it’s about 2 years since I last upgraded and therefore the itch has returned.

    It’s surprising me how much power you can get for your money these days – my next plan is to upgrade MB/CPU/RAM to a Sandy Bridge i3 system, for which I’m looking at an outlay of around £200 for something that’s about twice as quick (according to Futuremark) than my old system (E6400 C2D).

    No wonder manufacturers are pushing multiple screens and 3D – a £500 PC can play pretty much any game now, so they need to justify the extra pixel-pushing-power afforded by their higher-end kit.

    • Askeladd says:

      You should maybe wait for Ivy Bridge from Intel. They got some pretty neat new tech in the pipeline for the coming year.

    • piphil says:

      I could probably wait for the next gen after that. Fact is I’ve got £200 in my pocket, and I want a PC that will play Skyrim smoothly. :-P

      I could also wait for AMD to produce a half-decent chip as well… *Ducks* :-)

    • Facelord says:

      @ piphil
      My new Phenom II 955 Black Edition processor rocks, I definitely don’t regret taking a step out of my comfort zone and buying a non-Intel processor. It gives me roughly the gaming performance of a first-generation i7 processor and it cost me $200 less on the card and the motherboard.

      Anyways I just built a new computer a week ago, it has a Sapphire 6850 graphics card and the Phenom II I mentioned, 4 GB of RAM, a Western Digital Caviar Black 500 GB hard drive… nothing’s bottlenecked, everything’s stable. I’m considering overclocking my card or my processor but I have no problems running Crysis, Deus Ex: HR, Batman: Arkham Asylum and tons of other games on highest possible settings at full 1080p with over 60 FPS so it’s not necessary yet. My build’s gonna be more than sufficient for the next few years, I’m proud of it. In the end it only cost me $600 total, my new monitor was an extra $180 on top of it(ASUS ML239H model). After my old PC died(capacitors nearly burst on me) I just scrapped it, it had an integrated Dell motherboard so I couldn’t really reuse anything except the outdated 3870 card and maybe the E6600 Core 2 Duo. My 15 inch 1024×768 monitor’s always been hard on the eyes as well, the new one’s stunning. Again, very proud of my new build.

  15. LimEJET says:

    Last christmas, I bought myself a GeForce GTX 460 for about 1400 SEK, which is about a tenth of that in GBP.

  16. Ertard says:

    Bought my 5850 in September 2009. That was a good £270 or so on release. Sometime last year (I think it was early) I could not stand AMDs atrocious driver support any longer, sold it, and effectively paid another £50 for a 460.

    Yesterday I bought a 560 Ti for BF3, £200. So yeah, £200. Will buy the 6-series whenever that damn well pleases to come out.

    All of these are swedish prices converted to pounds.

  17. NinjaMonkey says:

    I got an ATI raedon 6800 and It’s been killer. Cost me £120 and it’s ruin every game I’ve had so far on full graphical settings.

  18. Belmakor says:

    o/ (£251.48)

    1280MB EVGA GTX570 SC HD PCI-E (June 2011)

  19. choconutjoe says:

    o/ (3100NOK ~ £345)

  20. telpscorei says:

    I had a hell of a time trying to get a 6970 working in my machine. Turns out I’d need to get a newer PSU to support it (PCI-E 8 pins were required, I had 6 pins). So I tried to get an Asus 6950 instead (requres 2 6 pins, which I have). This was “being delivered” for over a month before I just gave up.

    Am now planning to upgrade to a Radeon 7000 series when they come out, as well as maybe upgrading my PSU if it needs it.

    Sigh, so despite all that, my count for graphics hardware this year is still 0, when it should be around £250.

    EDIT: Corrected card numbers

    • Askeladd says:

      Never save on the PSU. My 3 year old PSU can go from double 6 pin to double 8 pin.
      Just remember that next time you build a PC.

    • telpscorei says:

      Didn’t save; got a Corsair 650 or something or other. But when it was made, the 8 pin connector wasn’t a thing.

    • kmv_007 says:

      I just got a 6870 for $150 USD after MIR. Upgraded from a 4830 I’d had for a little over 2 years. The highest resolution I’ll use it on is 1080p so I should be good for several years.

      Combined with the recent upgrade from E5200 to Q6600 I think I’m good for a couple more years.

      I’m curious about the guy who bought a 6870 requiring 8-pin PCIE power. The Sapphire 6870 requires 2 6-pins, no 8-pins.

    • telpscorei says:

      Well spotted mate, I evidently meant the 6970. And, by extension, the 6950.

    • telpscorei says:

      To ANYONE ELSE with a CORSAIR HX620 that has run into this problem:
      http://forum.corsair.com/v3/showthread.php?t=71027
      On that link is the email address of one of the corsair support dudes. If you email them with the requested cable and your PSU, they will bloody well send it to you!

      This is why I love Corsair. I am sending that email the minute I get home. I could actually have a graphics card in my machine that was made sometime this year before Christmas! It truly is a summer in the middle of August miracle!

  21. LarsBR says:

    XFX 6870 1GB, in April for DKK 1599 (which converts to 187 of your pounds of sterling).

  22. skalpadda says:

    My Radeon HD4870 still plays everything I throw at it well enough. The Witcher 2 is the only game where I’ve had problems getting decent performance out of it and I’ll be waiting until there’s more than one or two games that demand more before I start thinking of upgrading.

    • TeraTelnet says:

      Likewise, my 4870 seems sufficient for now. I reckon sometime next year I’ll think about upgrading it, though replacing my Windows HDD with a solid state drive will come first.

  23. grossvogel says:

    MSI GTX 560 Ti, £160

  24. John P says:

    I bought a Radeon 6870 in November last year for about AUD$350. It’s been a good buy; the rest of the hardware is approaching 3 years old but it still plays everything smoothly.

    I should say I only bought a new card because the old one died, though. Otherwise I would have stuck with the old one for a while.

  25. Eraysor says:

    I “bought” a Gainward GTX 570 Phantom earlier this year. I say “bought” because I didn’t pay the £270 it was supposed to cost because my previous graphics card died (a Radeon 5850) and that covered most of the cost under the warranty.

  26. Bishop says:

    Bought a 6870 1GB a day ago for £150 incl. del.

    This was partially because my old GTX 260 crashed constantly if AA was on or I stood too near an explosion. (Team mates shooting me in the face with a rocket on borderlands caused a crash, L4D running through fire, R02 being in a tank when it exploded crashed, camera too close to an exploding pumpkin in TF2).

  27. Spooty says:

    o/ 2x MSI GeForce GTX 560Ti OC Twin FrozR II 1024MB GDDR5 PCI-Express Graphics Card (£358.32 at the time)

  28. mejoff says:

    Grabbed a 450 for about 98 squids a couple of months back.

  29. Domothy says:

    570 for £300 in January.

  30. Icarus says:

    I got a cheap second-hand PC off EBay about February time, but it only had integrated graphics, so I bought a GT430 for about £90. Ended up having to buy a new PSU to accomodate it, but that was only another thirty quid from Maplin, so that was that sorted. Had no issues since, luckily.

  31. halibutpants says:

    o/ £220 (Scan Today only deal, normally £270 ish) Asus 1280MB GeForce GTX 570 DirectCU II

    Best 220 notes I ever spent too, got it about three weeks ago in prep for BF3 :D
    (also required a new PSU too for those bloody 8-pin power sockets on the card)

  32. dandy-pandy says:

    Gainward nVidia GeForce GTS450, 512MB, GDDR5, 128bits, HDMI, DVI-I, PCI-E

    98 euros :) not that rich as you guys

    picked it cause i still use my Philips CRT 107 e, have it since 11 years :D

  33. phuzz says:

    Not been able to afford shiny hardware for about a year or so. However, my trusty old 8800GT has now started to crash after about 20 mins in any demanding games* (ie anything more complicated than civ 5), so I think I’m going to have to spend some of my hard earned pennies soon.
    I will be watching this thread to spot bargains.

    *(blatantly a heat issue, despite the aftermarket Zalman cooler I stuck on it, so I finally got round to fitting the water block I had for it, unfortunately it’s a non reference card and there’s a component sticking up near the gpu, so the block is at a slight angle. Really I’m amazed it works at all, but somehow it’s still soldiering on, so I’m loath to actually fix the problem, and instead I’ve been sucked into civ)

  34. krtecek007 says:

    first, I had to upgrade (4-5 months ago) motherboard and CPU (to be able to play Crysis2 + Witcher 2)
    then i had to upgrade RAM + graphic card (Gainward 560 GS 1GB) to be able to play new Deus Ex (and probably re-play Witcher 2 in higher resolution)
    i hope that this will be enough for Rage, Battlefield and Skyrim

    also I would like to note that after every such upgrade I promise myself that it was “last” such update and any future game “above” this configuration would be then played on my PS3 – unfortunately I’m always defeated…

  35. AMonkey says:

    I spend something like £600 creating a new PC this year. GTX 570, AMD quad core processor, new mobo, hard drive, DVD drive and computer case. Def worth the price being able to play games like the Witcher 2 and BF3. And it will last me for years and won’t take a lot of money to upgrade further if need be.

  36. stone says:

    MSI Geforce GTX 560 Ti 1GB TwinFrozr II at a bargain (~£150). I wasn’t happy with the old card when I ran DXHR. So that’s the reason. Hope it will run BF3.

    • godgoo says:

      It will, i’m running the beta on the oc ed of that card with 4xaa fiiiiine.

  37. Novotny says:

    o/ £279, 6970

  38. thekeats1999 says:

    Last month upgraded to a gtx 560 ti. Mainly for Skyrim and Batman.

  39. Mitchk says:

    I can just about get away with running Witcher 2 on high/ultra on my few-year-old setup, but I’ve been doing done serious umming and arring about upgrading for Battlefield. The more I look at the game and the spec it’s likely to have the more things I realise I’ll probably need to upgrade, so it’s a difficult one for me to decide on. Seeing it in all it’s glory at Eurogamer may just have swayed me…It could be an expensive end to the year!

    • godgoo says:

      judging from the beta I would say if you can run TW2 at high you should be ok for BF3, maybe wait n’ see!

  40. WMain00 says:

    Bought a Gigabyte GTX 560 only yesterday. Expecting to arrive today!

    How odd that RPS would post such talk only a day after buying!

    GET OUT OF MY HEAD!!

    o/ £158

  41. evilmatt says:

    Picked up a HIS 6970 last christmas for a shade under £300. And added a £10 mini displayport adapter for some sexy triple-screen gaming!

  42. simonh says:

    o/
    GTX 570, £226 (if converted from SEK) I also got an Intel i7 2600k etc, updated everything except harddrives.
    Primarily for BF3 and Skyrim (and work), but it was really time to upgrade anyway.
    Bought it two weeks ago. Before that I had dual 9800GTX that I bought for £207/each in April 2008.

  43. abigbat says:

    Bought my new rig a few months ago with a GTX590.

    The machine’s power is mostly for my work, but the GPU is purely for gaming (BF3 beta runs at 90fps+ at max settings]

  44. Alexander Norris says:

    o/ HD6870 for £150. I bought it to replace my trusty 4850, which was starting to show some signs of fatigue. It has treated me well, running pretty much everything except Shogun 2 on the highest possible settings at 1920*1080.

  45. Metonymy says:

    Being a little contrary here, but to me, the days of upgrading are forever gone. There hasn’t been a meaningful upgrade in gaming visual quality in nearly a decade.

    Add this to the my belief that improving animation+model quality, visual aftereffects, and artistic content don’t directly improve game quality, and I find that I always buy the ~$100 card.

    If anything, the better graphics are harming gaming, since the artistic grunt-work investment is simply too high for investors to take risks with the game itself. This is exactly why we are playing the 30th iteration of call of duty/halo, games that were never very good to begin with.

    • evilmatt says:

      Tried Eyefinity, Surround, or 3D yet? The increased level of immersion is great stuff, particularly for FPS and driving games.

    • abigbat says:

      have you been experiencing some sort of media blackout? CryEngine 3, iD Tech 5, Frostbite 2 and the upcoming advancements to Unreal are a massive step forwards in graphical fidelity, not to mention it’s looking likely that the next Xbox will be revealed at next year’s E3. Plus a lot of major developers have been bemoaning the lack of technical progress brought on by the current extended console cycle which has to prompt hardware manufacturers to up their game.

      I agree that the last few years of Unreal dominance have lead to a lot of samey-looking titles, particularly shooters, it’s looking as though that’s set to change now that the big budget games are starting to outgrow their understated hardware.

      Plus, as a game artist myself we’re desperate for technology to move on; it’s not a case of the grunt work become more taxing and thus more expensive as hardware improves, increased technology allows us to stop holding back for fear of overloading the systems we’re designing for!

    • The Sombrero Kid says:

      A Decade ago we were playing Deus Ex, half a decade ago we were playing deus ex 2, 3 years ago we were playing mass effect – all of these games to the modern eye look like shit.

      & also that line about improved hardware decreasing game quality is a crock, the faster the hardware the easier it is to develop for, the wider the talent base, it’s only the developers who chose to increasingly optimise thier products that have exponentially increasing budgets against a linear increase in power, everyone elses development budget gets lower the more powerful the hardware.

    • Bhaumat says:

      I sort of agree with this, but for different reasons – I’m almost never interested in the releases which demand incremental upgrading. More often than not they are games which are showing off their use of new, more powerful graphics capabilities at the expense of gameplay. Plus being the forerunners of said graphics capabilities, they end up being buggy and inefficient.

      I build pcs to be fairly cost efficient, but mainly with a few years of being “good enough” in mind. When I last rebuilt my pc (and to answer the article question – ATI 5850, £175, exactly a year ago), it was because it was no longer good enough for the h264 decoding I was demanding of it, not for gaming.

    • The Colonel says:

      Cryengine2 over Cryengine3 surely? There are very few games nowadays that even come close to Crysis in terms of graphics. TW2 being one of them.

      I think the concern of the OP is more that game design is very conservative because you have to invest so much more time and money in art assets with modern engines. In my opinion there ought to be much more sharing of assets and engines between teams and companies. Look at Valve who have used the same engine for years and it’s still one of the nicest (if not most powerful now).

    • Wilson says:

      @The Sombrero Kid – I have to take issue with the comment about those games looking ‘like shit’. There’s no argument that they don’t look as nice as modern games, but claiming that they look like shit is too much exagerration.

      Obviously different people have different thresholds for the kind of graphics they can stand, which is fine. But there’s no need to disparage graphics just because they’re old. I can happily put up with Deus Ex/Mafia type graphics, and I can still enjoy the atmosphere they provide. I wouldn’t want new games to aim for graphics of that level, but if a game with enough interesting ideas and fun gameplay came out with Deus Ex graphics, it wouldn’t put me off buying it.

    • abigbat says:

      I don’t agree that game design is becoming more conservative at all. Certainly a lot of games have similar visual styles simply because they choose to stick to a formula which sells [Gears defined action characters as hulking, log necked brutes, Warcraft encouraged MMOs to work with bright palettes and exaggerated proportions, strong white men in their 30s with shaved heads and rugged jaws prevail over female characters and ethnic groups every time] but that’s not to say those tropes extend throughout the industry. In fact a lot of AAA games are starting to push visual design forwards to escape the cliches created by their peers: Guild Wars 2′s art direction is astounding, Deus Ex: HR managed to make it’s dull engine shine thanks to a strong visual ethos, and the ever-growing indie scene is packed with inventive, original design.

      I believe that strong visual direction should go hand in hand with strong game design and an engine which enables the artists to realize their vision. In fact I think the best way to describe the current trend in game art would be “intelligent design”; taking an established formula and tweaking it to best work with the game engine and concept. From that angle improved graphical fidelity and power is ALWAYS a good thing.

  46. pyjamarama says:

    It”s funny because I think that 2011 will mark the year that dedicated graphics card will begin there decline for gaming. This was a flat year in terms of high end graphics performance it’s all small refinements of 2010 releases this is mainly due to new fabric technology being delayed to 2012. But 2011 marked the year of reasonable competent CPU/GPU or APU as AMD likes to cal it architectures, in 2012 is only to get better, the low even mid range of dedicated graphics card will be completely unnecessary only the high will remain an option, and I wont be surprised that by 2015 even the high end will start to look not that important.
    I spend 0 this year but next year I will upgrade.

  47. Item! says:

    I upgraded the whole PC this year…including buying 2 x GTX 570s.

    It is pleasing to me to have everything I can throw at it locked in at 60fps on full settings…

  48. Chris D says:

    Only just inside of a year, Palit GeForce GT 220 1GB at £51.46 inc vat. Had to replace my old card when the fan jammed solid. With hindsight I should probably have splashed out a bit more but I haven’t found anything I can’t play yet. Proof PC gaming doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

  49. godgoo says:

    I built a new PC just before TW2, i7 2600k based set up with a GTX 560ti OC edition (£189). Very pleased with it so far, I was surprised at how much bang you get for your buck you get nowadays compared to 4-5 years ago!

  50. Davee says:

    Nope. My two SLI-bridged Nvidia GTS 250′ies (that are now very much budget cards) have been able to push out decent FPS with decent looks the last year and a half. Although they’re a bit slow for the latest releases; so I can’t help but think that I may want to upgrade soon. Which would be perfectly bad timing if there’s going to be a push for new consoles (with shiny hardware) any time soon after that, since I’d probably need to upgrade once again when that happens (game graphics takes a step forward).