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  1. #1
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus mashakos's Avatar
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    Would you pay extra for an easy PC gaming experience?

    I was thinking about how Apple computers have such broad appeal and that got me thinking about the key aspects of the mac experience. Number one on the list of course is stability. People talk about quality a lot but I think for computers this is the more significant reason. You buy your mac, then when you need anything you head to the same place you bought your mac from - the apple store. Everything in there is obviously hand picked so that it works perfectly with macs of all ages. Contrast that with the windows experience you would get from purchasing a no-brand peripheral at a local electronics shop or more likely a large supermarket. I can tell you are instinctively typing "windows driver download for XXXX-XX" on your lap while reading this.

    Another thing I noticed keeps mac users happy is how apple goes out of it's way to fill the general needs of their user base. Want to make a video? Here's an app for that. Want to play around with mixing music? Here you go. Want to produce a unique presentation for a pitch or an online video? We got your back.

    and the stuff they're offering is really well done, and not token giveaway software that will be replaced later on for more expensive "Pro" apps.
    ...

    Anyway, this got me thinking: would you pay a little extra for a PC if the PC manufacturer offered a service specifically to improve the experience for PC gamers?
    As an example, for the equivalent of a current 24" iMac plus the added support package, you'd get a gaming PC and free subscription to a network that gives you:
    -the best settings for a huge library of games catered specifically for your PC model. The settings would be tweaked to give you the best framerates and later on the best balance between quality and performance once your PC model starts showing it's age (3-4 years down the line).
    -fixes for a huge library of games, compatibility fixes for games from previous generations
    -Articles on new game mods, and pre-configured mods to download - again catered specifically for your system. So you would just download and install, tweaking not necessary.
    -an online store for emulation gaming. That would include refurbished PS2,Wii,SNES etc. consoles to legally own BIOS, older titles from PS2,Wii,gamecube and others. An iso rip and emulator configuration come free with each game. Only games which work perfectly are included in the store.
    -An online store with hard to find or quirky PC hardware like, say a bluetooth adapter that supports keyboards in BIOS, or a LAN HDMI extender. Or even this remote for example if you're into home theater stuff.
    -An overclock profile that you can load directly into your motherboard with a guarantee that it will work perfectly with your PC model
    -Discounted upgrade packages for your now ancient machine that have been exhaustively tweaked and tested to match the claim of their specific price level: budget, mid-range, high end.
    - insane amounts of support from the kind of people you would know are knowledgeable about this stuff, and not "trained support staff"

    In short, all the things that are great about PC's but without the hassle of trial and error, loss of money and wasted time.

    So yeah, I'm curious: would you be willing to pay a bit extra for these kinds of features or save up, build your own PCs and take your chances?
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  2. #2
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus mickygor's Avatar
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    No. It's not worth it. I'd probably have to spend over twice as much on my rig to have it prefab, given the current rates. What's more, I'd probably get lazy and wind up clueless about what I'm buying. Leads to being ripped off, and dependency on a third party for support is a terrible situation to be in.
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  3. #3
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus mashakos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mickygor View Post
    No. It's not worth it. I'd probably have to spend over twice as much on my rig to have it prefab, given the current rates. What's more, I'd probably get lazy and wind up clueless about what I'm buying. Leads to being ripped off, and dependency on a third party for support is a terrible situation to be in.
    what if it was a $100-$150 difference rather than say a $300 difference. Also, everything would be optimised for you.
    So prices would go from $750 up to say $1650 for a top end obnoxious system. Wit hall the systems capable of running everything.
    More importantly: all the software and drivers and operating system and tweaking and ini configs and mods and hacks... that's all taken care of for you.
    If you want a mid-range machine, that's exactly what you would get: a $950 PC that is pre-overclocked to run emulators, and with a nice gpu that can run Crysis at 1080p. Got a bit more cash and want high end? A $1650 PC that can go way above 1080p - think Battlefield 3 on 3 1080p screens. Want to go budget? A $750 PC that can run most games at max settings with the exception of maybe Crysis, and that can run emulaors.

    Basically I'm thinking of a manufacturer that would actually care about their customers and know the market needs. So a budget PC would have a core i5 2500k, while a high end would have something like a phase-change cooled 5Ghz uber cpu and tons of stuff, but NO SLI!
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  4. #4
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    I wouldn't need any of the software side services, and I upgrade so rarely that any upgrade discount scheme wouldn't trigger.

    That said, I didn't build my PC the last time and I might not build the next one either. Rather, I specced it exactly part-for-part, paid for the parts, and 50e for the assembly and 1y whole-box warranty. Absolutely worth it when you consider the opportunity cost of the build itself as well as that of a potential hardware problem. And the shop probably did a better job cleaning up the cabling than I would have; they get lots of practice.

  5. #5
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus mashakos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by victory View Post
    I wouldn't need any of the software side services, and I upgrade so rarely that any upgrade discount scheme wouldn't trigger.

    That said, I didn't build my PC the last time and I might not build the next one either. Rather, I specced it exactly part-for-part, paid for the parts, and 50e for the assembly and 1y whole-box warranty. Absolutely worth it when you consider the opportunity cost of the build itself as well as that of a potential hardware problem. And the shop probably did a better job cleaning up the cabling than I would have; they get lots of practice.
    here's the thing, when you pay for a high end PC, you just get hardware. What happens when that hardware gets old? You chuck it out.
    What I'm thinking of is this: rather than get the best hardware when going high-end, you'd get the next lowest thing with the extra cash going into a custom cooling or case solution. That way when you need to throw everything out after 5 years, you at least have the custom cooling solution that you can use in future hardware. For high end it's not that inconceivable - the difference in cost between the core i7 3960X and the core i7 3930k was $300 at launch. I of course spent the $300 on water cooling (or rather saved $300 since I already had water cooling), and proceeded to overclock the 3930k over the performance of a stock 3960X. Problem solved!

    The only company I know that does this well is Origin with their phase change cooling system - but they charge such a high premium it's kind of ridiculous. Think $3000 over the cost of the base hardware.
    Last edited by mashakos; 14-11-2012 at 11:10 AM.
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  6. #6
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    I think practically it sounds like an ideal situation but would largely depend on the money asked. The thing is that, personally, since I know how to do most of that stuff (or I know I can google around and find a guide somewhere), I would not pay for them. If this had been when I was starting to play games/use a PC maybe, but back then I did not have a job so would not be able to pay for it.

    In the end, the problem is more theoretical I guess: would the PC get locked down as a platform? Or are we talking about one company? What would happen if you wanted to dual-boot or change something on Windows or the hardware for example, which would void the warranty?

    By the way, all that sounds like a lot of work for one company...

  7. #7
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus mashakos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kataras View Post
    In the end, the problem is more theoretical I guess: would the PC get locked down as a platform? Or are we talking about one company? What would happen if you wanted to dual-boot or change something on Windows or the hardware for example, which would void the warranty?
    the PC can't really be locked down, unless you had a situation where the company designed almost everything in the system: the motherboard BIOS or EFI, the operating system, the hardware...

    kind of hate some of the arbitrary warranty rules out there so let's say hardware warranty is covered by the hardware vendors, so anything other than actual damage wouldn't void the warranty. This is important since PCs are designed to be upgraded in the future.

    Quote Originally Posted by kataras View Post
    I think practically it sounds like an ideal situation but would largely depend on the money asked. The thing is that, personally, since I know how to do most of that stuff (or I know I can google around and find a guide somewhere), I would not pay for them. If this had been when I was starting to play games/use a PC maybe, but back then I did not have a job so would not be able to pay for it.
    I guess my real question is: do you enjoy googling/researching and are comfortable enough with your own abilities to not care about the manufacturer going the extra mile for you?

    Quote Originally Posted by kataras View Post
    By the way, all that sounds like a lot of work for one company...
    most of what I described is free. Aside from custom cases/hardware cooling, all the software stuff is either open source or freely available. Putting it together in a nice package won't be so challenging for a team of proficient users. I should stress that all the config stuff would be more or less freely available to everyone (it's illegal to do otherwise with open source intellectual property). The difference is that while it won't be guaranteed to work on random custom PC #2423, it would work perfectly out of the box for the manufacturer's PCs.
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  8. #8
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Jesus_Phish's Avatar
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    Questions about this.

    Am I buying a service for my current PC or am I buying a boxed PC, prebuilt for me, like I would buy a Mac?

    If I'm buying a box, like a Mac, have all the components been selected for me and is the box sealed up so I can't get into them? Do I get a choice of components? Do I get to pick all them, some of them or none of them? Are all vendors of graphic cards available or am I limited to what this company deems the cream of the crop for price or performance?

    What happens if a piece breaks? If my graphics card fries or my psu blows, am I allowed replace it myself with an off the shelf component from a local source or do I have to go through this company?

    And finally how much would this cost for me? I'd never buy a Mac brand new because of the price and I don't like buying second hand so I'd never own a Mac. I will agree that they are great pieces of kit and provide one of the best user experiences around and Apple really are second to none when it comes to the experience, but I still think so much of what you pay for with a Mac goes towards getting that logo on the back. If this gaming pc + support service cost me the same price or a similar price of a Mac then no I wouldn't pay for it.

  9. #9
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus mickygor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mashakos View Post
    what if it was a $100-$150 difference rather than say a $300 difference. Also, everything would be optimised for you.
    So prices would go from $750 up to say $1650 for a top end obnoxious system. Wit hall the systems capable of running everything.
    More importantly: all the software and drivers and operating system and tweaking and ini configs and mods and hacks... that's all taken care of for you.
    Tbh I don't even consider that worth saving $150 for. The concept of downloading drivers is alien to me already, certainly obscure ones. Fresh graphics driver install when the OS is installed, that's pretty much it. I haven't run WinXP in over half a decade now.

    No amount of settings menu automation is worth $150. I already know how to do that stuff, why would I pay for it?

    If the option's available, I would opt against tying myself into one retailer/manufacturer, cost permitting. In my current PC, the only two separate components by the same manufacturer are the heatsink and the PSU. Heatsinks are non-mechanical so there's very little concern on my part for their going wrong. I just think it's a bad idea to be completely beholden to one company. It gives them too much power to bump the price up. I helped a mate upgrade his Mac recently. Saved him 150 on the GPU by buying it from a separate retailer. However, he had to spend 40 on an adaptor to change from Apple's proprietary power socket to molex. That's the kind of stuff I actively avoid.
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  10. #10
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    For $150 for about five years of support for sure. But I wouldn't pay more. And it'd cost a lot more to do all that.

    It's a good idea in theory, but I can do it all myself and you'd never get it cheap enough to make it worth the time savings I'd get from it.

  11. #11
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus mashakos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jesus_Phish View Post
    Questions about this.

    Am I buying a service for my current PC or am I buying a boxed PC, prebuilt for me, like I would buy a Mac?
    both. With the difference being that you'd be getting an upgradeable PC with a few goodies like custom water cooling and built-in IR or bluetooth (things not normally found in a branded PC).

    Quote Originally Posted by Jesus_Phish View Post
    If I'm buying a box, like a Mac, have all the components been selected for me and is the box sealed up so I can't get into them? Do I get a choice of components? Do I get to pick all them, some of them or none of them? Are all vendors of graphic cards available or am I limited to what this company deems the cream of the crop for price or performance?
    the whole philosophy of this magical PC vendor would be: you get to choose from 3 categories or you can select each and every part you want. You would lose some perks if you go fully custom though, like a ready made overclocking profile (basically overclocking settings stored in a usb to be loaded by the bios).

    Quote Originally Posted by Jesus_Phish View Post
    What happens if a piece breaks? If my graphics card fries or my psu blows, am I allowed replace it myself with an off the shelf component from a local source or do I have to go through this company?
    You can use whatever hardware you want but obviously the best approach is to get the piece RMA'd.
    there are obviously two variants: software or driver issues and actual hardware failure RMA. I find the best support system to be the online forum, telephone is useless for this kind of stuff. So you'd first need to pinpoint the problem via the tech support forums. The people in the forums would be the same people who designed the computers, so they can pinpoint whether you need to rma very quickly. You would then get your hardware sent for rma with a detailed description of the issue to avoid delays.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jesus_Phish View Post
    And finally how much would this cost for me? I'd never buy a Mac brand new because of the price and I don't like buying second hand so I'd never own a Mac. I will agree that they are great pieces of kit and provide one of the best user experiences around and Apple really are second to none when it comes to the experience, but I still think so much of what you pay for with a Mac goes towards getting that logo on the back. If this gaming pc + support service cost me the same price or a similar price of a Mac then no I wouldn't pay for it.
    I feel that a fair price set would be:
    $750 for the lowest end (think core i5 and 660ti)
    $950 for mid-range (core i5, gtx680, watercooling, overclocked)
    $1650 for the uber-high crazy rig (core i7 overclocked to 5Ghz, phase-change watercooling, gtx690)

    So you definitely won't get $300 PCs but no something ridiculous like $1500-$6000 price tags from some of the boutique PC vendors.
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  12. #12
    Lesser Hivemind Node Labbes's Avatar
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    Most of the problems I have had with my laptop were with games that, for whatever reason, did not work with my hardware very well. I would really love to be able to play games like Borderlands, Fallout, DX:HR or Oblivion without any issues, but I doubt I would want to pay a premium for it; I'm a cheapskate. In five years time, when I hopefully earn enough money to sustain myself, I'm guessing I would rather pay ~10 or 20% more just to be able to game more hassle-free than I am now.

  13. #13
    Lesser Hivemind Node frightlever's Avatar
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    So, Windows 8 then.

    Also, PC gamers who are also over-clockers, who also care about old games, probably build their own systems and this is anathema to me. I mean them. Us.

    So, how about you pay over the odds for your PC by $140-$120 dollars but there's a chance it might be magical and grant you wishes. Okay, that's crazy. Say, one wish. This isn't the Apple model where purchasers assume they're now fairy princesses, this is an actual chance to be granted a wish. Worth the extra?

    EDIT: you're conducting this same discussion over at QT3 as well. You need to get a hobby. Try video games.
    Last edited by frightlever; 14-11-2012 at 12:18 PM.

  14. #14
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Jesus_Phish's Avatar
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    The prices you suggest actually seem very reasonable.

    How long would support on a PC last? How often would you expect/hope people upgrade and would support be tied into this, ie, you hope people would upgrade every four years, so you give them four years of support with drivers, overclocking profiles, tweaks etc.

    If a company like this was around, I'd go for it with prices like that.

    How is future software taken care of? For example, I buy a game and it hates my graphics card drivers and doesn't work right. What's the advantage to owning this box pc rather than my own, when most likely I'd just end up trawling forums looking for info on why I need to change part of a .ini file to force dynamic shadows off because my cards drivers don't like it? How would this company handle that so I don't have to do it.

  15. #15
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus mashakos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jesus_Phish View Post
    How long would support on a PC last? How often would you expect/hope people upgrade and would support be tied into this, ie, you hope people would upgrade every four years, so you give them four years of support with drivers, overclocking profiles, tweaks etc.
    I feel that support in general is a rip-off and generates bad will with consumers if the ripping off is blatant and in your face. Case in point: $100 premium for retail windows for "support" which involves calling clueless employees probably given half a week of MCSE training.
    Suppot would be comprised of hardware vendor support (usually lifetime or 3 years), and an online forum which more or less would give you an ongoing dialogue with a group of people intimately familiar with your hardware.
    The online services would also be ongoing. Things like mods, game fixes and configuration tweaks would be available for two generations so about 8 years more or less. Ideally this vendor would release a new configuration every four years rather than every two minutes like Dell,HP etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jesus_Phish View Post
    How is future software taken care of? For example, I buy a game and it hates my graphics card drivers and doesn't work right. What's the advantage to owning this box pc rather than my own, when most likely I'd just end up trawling forums looking for info on why I need to change part of a .ini file to force dynamic shadows off because my cards drivers don't like it? How would this company handle that so I don't have to do it.
    basically the company's employees would regularly be posting fixes and/or mods for games. So you'd be able to cut down on your browsing time dramatically. Also, any downloads would be pre-configured for your system, so you won't have to go back to a forum asking about an issue you might be having with the mod/config tweak. Kind of like gold farming on WoW, just for PC tweaks.
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  16. #16
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus mashakos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by frightlever View Post
    EDIT: you're conducting this same discussion over at QT3 as well. You need to get a hobby. Try video games.
    haha. Nothing wrong with getting a wide range of opinions!
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  17. #17
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus mashakos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mickygor View Post
    No amount of settings menu automation is worth $150. I already know how to do that stuff, why would I pay for it?
    that's missing the point really. Sure, everyone knows how to set draw distance to max. Then again, figuring out how to overclock your specific hardware set is time consuming. So is searching for and installing clever mods. None of these activities are impossible but they do require a time commitment.

    Quote Originally Posted by mickygor View Post
    If the option's available, I would opt against tying myself into one retailer/manufacturer, cost permitting. I just think it's a bad idea to be completely beholden to one company. It gives them too much power to bump the price up.
    that's a legitimate concern, but again it's not possible with PCs. We're still talking about custom PCs here and not completely branded systems where you need to purchase everything from the original manufacturer.
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  18. #18
    Lesser Hivemind Node Labbes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mashakos View Post
    that's missing the point really. Sure, everyone knows how to set draw distance to max. Then again, figuring out how to overclock your specific hardware set is time consuming. So is searching for and installing clever mods. None of these activities are impossible but they do require a time commitment.
    Not only that, I find it really tiring to find out which settings affect the look of the game/my performance how much. It gets worse when you can only do it from the main menu, or even a launcher.

  19. #19
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus mashakos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by frightlever View Post
    Also, PC gamers who are also over-clockers, who also care about old games, probably build their own systems and this is anathema to me. I mean them. Us.
    not really. There's a whole spectrum of users, it's not either or. My personal systems have been overclocked since the athlon days, have never bought a branded PC and love old games, but if I found an offer for a decently priced HTPC with high end specs and that's overclocked, I'd go for that in a second. I have better things to do with my time than deal with all this, but right now there is absolutely no good solution that doesn't come with a $3000 premium over the standard PC price - so I push on and do everything myself.
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by mashakos View Post
    I guess my real question is: do you enjoy googling/researching and are comfortable enough with your own abilities to not care about the manufacturer going the extra mile for you?
    Hmm, I don't enjoy it and I would gladly get rid of it. I am comfortable with my abilities to some extent but only up to some point. Till now I did not break any software/hardware that I could not fix or replace.

    I think however that the googling/research/trying to fix things give you a feel for certain things and maybe even some confidence with PCs and software that can be useful for other areas like your job (of course working in non-IT sectors). This is a by-product of the above, but I have found out it's quite useful and some of those skills are appreciated in other areas.

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