The strange story of the PC’s not-death

Remember when the PC was dying-going-on-dead? Actually, it’s still dying with analysts prognosticating a further five per cent slippage in PC shipments this year. And yet the PC gaming hardware industry hit record sales in 2016, busting the $30 billion barrier in the process. Meanwhile, the market for innovative PC technology that’s at least ostensibly gaming-relevant has gone positively mental. Not that gaming PCs doing better than regular PCs is breaking news. But I wonder how much we’re all actually benefiting from those 18-core CPUs, VR headsets, 240Hz superwide monitors and 1TB SSDs. How much better, in other words, have your gaming PCs really got?

People don’t buy as many PCs as they used to. And for sound reasons. For most, PC technology is already good enough. They don’t need or even want more performance or capability bar perhaps better battery life from portable systems. A laptop that lasted a week really would be a worthwhile upgrade.

Meanwhile, phones and tablets have closed much of the performance and capability gap. So the PC as a domestic computing appliance is on a gradual slide towards relative obscurity. So far, so obvious.

If that’s the generic PC death narrative, the flip side has been a gaming and enthusiast PC market in rude health, with 2016 breaking records in terms of hardware revenues. For a while, that was arguably only true in terms of dollars, cents, unit sales and, indeed, those revenues. The hardware itself felt fairly stagnant.

Not any longer. The latest bombshell is Intel’s decision to leap from 10 to 18 cores for its top desktop CPUs. But that’s just the latest in a series of innovations over the last 18 months to two years.

32:9? Stop that, it’s silly.

From flat screens to VR headsets, it’s all gone a bit mental. Samsung recently announced a 49-inch 32:9 aspect ratio gaming monitor with quantum dot backlight technology, FreeSync 2 support and a 3,840 by 1,080 pixel native resolution.

In the past I’d have assumed it was a flight of fancy, mere technological showboating on Samsung’s behalf and utterly impractical. But then I once thought the same about curved 21:9 aspect superwide screens and now they’re not only offered by every major monitor maker, I’ve also come round to them myself.

At the same time, SSDs are rapidly taking on multi-GB/s capabilities that used to be the preserve of system memory and motherboards are sprouting all manner of weird and wonderful features. Asus will do you one of its fancy new X299 motherboards for those crazy Intel CPUs with an integrated OLED status display capable of showing not just a few debug codes but actual graphics. Pointless, perhaps, but also symptomatic of that high-end PC market in rude health.

It’s also a £500-odd motherboard and it brings me to my main point here. For what you might call conventional gamers who just want to play games, both the slow demise of the domestic PC and explosion of pricey trinkets are arguably both irrelevant.

Would sir care for a £500 motherboard to go with that £1,000 CPU?

Back in the mainstream of gaming hardware where most of us operate, even the arrival of AMD’s otherwise impressive Ryzen CPU hasn’t done much for performance – or as yet pricing. Meanwhile, graphics cards have grown progressively more expensive to the point where the $1,000 GPU is no longer remarkable and mid-range cards are priced up where the high end was five or six years ago. Remember when AMD said it was going to focus on the $200-300 market that mattered most?

In short, all we gamers really want is a good CPU and a quick video board at a decent price. The ability to achieve that hasn’t exactly disappeared. But the recent boom in fancy, high-feature gaming kit hasn’t really helped much, either.

You could argue that the one exception is screens. You can now choose from various high-res options at relatively reasonable prices. 1440p is no longer remotely exotic. You can also buy a tolerable 1080p panel for pennies. On the other hand, if you want properly good 1440p display, one with an IPS screen and 120Hz-plus refresh, it still costs a bomb. That Samsung screen I mentioned, incidentally, is around £1,500 / $1,500).

Remember when $200-$300 bought you AMD’s latest high-performance graphics cards?

Given that a half-decent 40-inch-plus 4K TV can now be had for under £500 and likewise that tablet computers with super-high pixel density can be had for pennies, I’m not sure I understand what is propping up PC monitor prices. The combination of high refresh, high res and a decent panel remains really expensive.

All of which means that despite the good and bad news stories at either end of the narrative scale, not all that much has changed for your common or garden PC gamer. 18-core CPUs, motherboards with OLED displays, bonkers-wide monitors are fun. Moreover, I’m as guilty as the next hack of arguably giving such innovations more airtime than they deserve and bigging up all the latest developments with breathless enthusiasm. But for most of us the high-end shizzle is ultimately neither here nor there. My sense is that the gaming PC for most of us today is little changed from that of five years ago.

But maybe that’s just me. Does all the noise about high-end kit seem increasingly irrelevant to real-world RPS gamers when what you’d far prefer is more affordability from the core components, not another $1,000 GPU? Or have recent innovations radically improved your gaming experience and I’m just being a sour old stick in the mud? Sock it to me below.

71 Comments

  1. CmdrCrunchy says:

    I never tend to upgrade unless something comes out thats far and away above what I currently have on a really sweet power to cost ratio.

    I’m still running an i5-2500K, 8GB of RAM, and two 1080p displays. Most recent upgrades were a couple of SSDs and a GTX 970 nearly two years ago now, and I haven’t had any reason to upgrade anything else since. Theres been no reason to.

    So yeah, Id entirely agree that for the most part, not much has changed in the last 5 years, at least from my perspective.

    • Someoldguy says:

      I’d concur. I’m edging gradually toward thinking it’s time to upgrade my desktop PC but that’s more because there’s pressure from the family to get a whisper quiet rig because it sits in the living/dining room than a need for greater speed or impressive visuals. No amount of cleaning seems to get it quiet these days.

      RPGs and strategy games are my usual fare so although it would be nice to dial Witcher 3 up to max settings, it’s not something I feel a desperate need to achieve. My 8 year old 22″ monitor still feels fit for purpose too.

      • mrbright01 says:

        How much of that is fan noise? Might be better off just replacing the fans and maybe the power source, if you’re happy with what you got. Certainly cost less.

        • fish99 says:

          Yeah some quiet fans and some sound proofing would sort it out, or a new sound proof case (which would come with new quiet fans).

          The other option is redoing the thermal material on the GPU and CPU which can dramatically improve cooling and thus reduce fan speed and noise. If you’ve cleaned dust out of a GPU and it’s still running hot, usually means the thermal material is shot (or bad airflow).

        • Someoldguy says:

          Yeah, it’s one of the reasons I’ve not done it. I’m comfortable replacing parts like PSU, memory sticks, GPU, HDD and cleaning and replacing thermal paste but I’ve never gone as far as switching a whole case, fans or CPU heatsink. Screwing up and buying parts with the wrong connectors or losing my PC for a fortnight while I ship it back to PC Specialist makes me antsy. I’ve been scouting around for a more local shop that I can perhaps persuade to swap the fans or case while I watch them do it, but not had responses from the couple I emailed.

          • Squido says:

            Honestly if you can do all that then you already have the skills needed really, its not massively hard to look up what is compatible with what these days. But I do 100% understand the terror of screwing something up and not having access to your computer for a few weeks. Luckily I have a few backups!

          • melnificent says:

            If you’re worried about compatibility between parts you can always use… link to uk.pcpartpicker.com

            I use it for doublechecking all the builds I’ve done and it’s never steered me wrong yet.

    • Meatpopsicle says:

      The 970 is starting to struggle though. Depending if 1080p and lower than ultra is also ‘good enough’ I’d say it’d almost be time for a new GPU for myself. Though I guess it comes down to use, if you want the greatest looking games you’re going to have to fork out the dosh I guess?

      • UnholySmoke says:

        My 970 is showing it’s age now it’s pushing more pixels on my ultrawide, but it still nobbles pretty much anything with most settings up. The monitor’s FreeSync (1) so come on and release a graphics chip already AMD.

    • Premium User Badge

      Carra says:

      Similar here. I5 3570k 16 gb and an SSD. Now five years old but why upgrade it? It’s still fast enough to run any game. I just threw in a geforce 1060 last year and I’m good for at least a year or two longer.

    • DodgyG33za says:

      I have a very similar gaming rig, which I used to upgrade every two years or so. Now I will prefer to play on my ASUS laptop with its 17 inch screen (or use the 24 inch above it on the wall) rather than turn on the rig sitting next to it with its 27 inch. I think a big reason for this is I generally play indie games such as Dead Cells or Darkest Dungeon which just don’t require state of the art.

      The rig only really gets use when I want to fire up the Vive or dip into a more demanding game.

  2. Drib says:

    Mostly what stops me from trying to buy components to build a new computer is that I’ve been out of the game so long I don’t remember what fits together in what ports.

    But that’s not fixable aside from me actually sitting down and researching it, I guess.

    • Premium User Badge

      Nauallis says:

      Reddit’s build-me-a-pc sub is very helpful if you give them a budget, a goal, and what peripherals you already have or are wanting to include: link to reddit.com

      This basically takes all of the prep work out of it, in case that’s the thing that turns you off – just buy the parts from your favorite dealer(s) and get to building.

      PC part picker is also a useful site.

      Then, if you want to learn more about it, look at the specs that are suggested and mess around with them.

  3. LearningToSmile says:

    I made a mistake and bought a 1440p 60hz screen before buying my new PC.

    Now I really want to upgrade to 144/165hz display, but since I’m spoiled by my current one and don’t want to downgrade to 1080p/tn, my only choice is dropping half of what I paid for my whole 1070/6700k rig just to get a new monitor. And I’m not exactly keen on that.

    But screen really is the only thing that I think I’ll be upgrading – my current specs will probably last me a good couple years. Since I don’t really feel the need to save up for the next upgrade, I finally invested in some decent peripherals, nice mouse, mechanical keyboard, etc.

    • ColonelFlanders says:

      I would take frames over pixels any day.

    • Flatbread_ says:

      Dell makes a QHD at 165 hz for around 400. I’ve been thinking about buying one for myself. It’s called the “Dell Gaming S2417DG YNY1D.” Looks like Amazon as the best price atm

      • fray_bentos says:

        Indeed, I bought an Acer Predator 27″ G-Sync / 1440p / 165 Hz / TN for £400 on Amazon warehouse back in January. It was on the top end of what I was willing to pay, but other than the naff-looking “gamer-styled” stand it is a great monitor. It came open box, but otherwise perfect. Amazon warehouse always mention dead pixels in the listings so you know what you are getting. I tried a couple of different brand new IPS monitors of similar spec to the above TN panel, but they had terrible yellow backlight bleed in the corners and went back to the shops!

      • LearningToSmile says:

        bu-but muh IPS…

        I guess I would have to hunt one down in a store and see for myself how much difference the TN panel would make in real life.

  4. Morte66 says:

    I think every PC upgrade I ever voluntarily made was because there was some game I wanted to play but couldn’t.

    The one with the Geforce2 to play Neverwinter Nights.
    The one with the ATI9600 to play Vampire Bloodlines.
    The X1600 to play Oblivion.
    The Core2 Quad and 4870 to play STALKER.

    No game made me upgrade the last one, but hardware failures (mobo and GPU) made me replace parts in stages — mostly with bits my flatmate would otherwise have thrown out. I’ve got an AMD6300 and 7970 now.

    I look at things like Dishonoured 2, which absolutely aren’t going to run, and it doesn’t seem worth a few hundred quid to get recommended specs for a game anymore. Especially when I’ve got about 2 years worth of unplayed games in hand, and another 2 years worth on my Steam wishlist that would run if I bought them.

    Wouldn’t mind some of that 90+ FPS, wouldn’t mind a better monitor than my 12 year old 1900×1200, but that combination (CPU, mobo, RAM, 1070/1080, 4MP monitor) is probably on the order of a grand.

    • mrbright01 says:

      That’s where I am. I splurged for an i7-Something mid-range, and a sub-$200 graphics card, and I’ve yet to see the need to upgrade. No, I don’t have 4k high def 90fps framerates… but I don’t really need that to enjoy, and the cost is not worth the gain.

  5. Tiberius says:

    Still rocking a 3500 series i5 and GTX760. While newer options exist they are stupid expensive. Big monitors sound nice but involve a $2k full rig upgrade. One thing I’d like to upgrade as usual is the gpu (to something greater than 2GB) but when even the budget versions of newer series are priced around $500 you’ve lost your consumer base. I’ll wait for an overhaul when this new tier hits its brick wall of progress and forced down.

  6. Laurentius says:

    Well I’m stil on my i5 760 OC to 3.8 ghz that I bought in 2010. 2010!, this is totally bonkers. Imagine sitting on the same CPU betwen 2000 and 2007! Sure, I’ve upgrade my gfx to GF 1060 3 GB so nu DOOM run flawlessly at 60 FPS, it means I’m still good for another year.

    • Otterley says:

      I’m in almost the exact same situation, with an i5 750 (from Q3 2009) also at 3.8 Ghz – from 2.66 Ghz O_O

      Until last week it was paired with an RX 470 (Sapphire OC model) and was enough for nu DOOM, The Witcher 3, GTA V, Prey and Watch Dogs 2. Enough meaning 1080p at very high settings. I’m constantly amazed at how this chip just keeps going.

      Similarly, my last GPU – an Nvidia GTX 285 – lasted me till the advent of DX11 gaming. Of course I couldn’t max everything out, but the compromises weren’t that bad, either.

      I will admit that I’m looking out for a CPU-upgrade very soon though. The poor CPU is now paired with a GTX 1070 and bottlenecking like mad – though the framerates are absolutely playable.

    • DanMan says:

      I’m also still rocking an i5 750 @3.5GHz & 160MHz FSB (up from 100) combined with 8GB of CL7 DDR3 RAM and a GTX 970. I have to tweak the setting more than others, I’m sure, but I can still play most games at high settings @1080p30. Not where I’d like it to be, but far from bad.

      I have very specific demands off new hardware though, because I want to further my switch to Linux. Getting GPU passthrough to work without big annoyances is the key, and that means researching the right components. The ideal stuff isn’t even out yet, so I’m still on the lookout. An 8 core Threadripper APU would be a good start.

  7. euskalzabe says:

    No, you’re in a perfectly fair and advisable state of mind. It’s fun to read about exotic gear, yet I have absolutely certainly I’ll likely never ever buy it. I just upgraded my whole PC a couple months ago:

    Samsung KU6290 40″ 4K TV – $300
    i5 7500 – $200
    RX 480 – $160
    8GB DDR4 – $40

    So, $700 to upgrade pretty much everything on my rig. The “monitor” will last me until I can buy an OLED for <$500, cpu/gpu/ddr4 will last for 2 years easily. I mostly game at 1080p 60fps, sometimes at 1440p variable 30-60fps, old games at 4K. Perfectly happy like that.

    • spleendamage says:

      I’ve got the 6290 as well. 4k gaming on the cheap (aside from the 1080 pushing the pixels).

    • fragmonkey says:

      Friend, those RX 480s are going for three times the MSRP these days thank to Ethereum mining. Do yourself a favor and sell it on eBay and buy something better (or a new suit, whatever)

  8. Kingseeker Camargo says:

    I bought a GTX 950 to play Dark Souls 3 last year, and then my old Athlon II X4 640 became a pretty serious bottleneck; so a few month ago I did the biggest upgrade in the last 5 or 6 years: A B250 motherboard, some DDR4 ram and a G4560 CPU.

    HDMI’d that up to my 42 inch tv, and really, this thing handles everything so fine that I doubt I’ll be upgrading anything else for a good while. I might get an i5 or something down the road since I already have a 7 series motherboard and all, but I’m certainly in no rush.

    I still love reading about those insane gazillion-core chips, mind, but they might as well be science fiction for the chance I’ll ever have to try one myself.

  9. phenom_x8 says:

    Honestly,even my 4 yrs old GTX660 are still quite decent to run the latest game at 1366x768p(the samsung monitor I had for almost 7 yrs ). So almost no reason to upgrade whatsoever.

  10. Premium User Badge

    garfieldsam says:

    Moving from mid-range to a beat with a gtx 1080 and a g-sync 144hz 1440p monitor, I can comfortably say it would be hard for me to go back to the old days of lower, non-display-synched frame rates. Shit it’s even hard for me to play games like Dishonored 2 which just don’t perform up to snuff.

    Now is that out of most people’s price range? Probably. But I think most people who make the leap will also have a hard time going back.

    In terms of future developments I can’t see anything on the horizon that’s going to make as big a diff as g-synch and the move to 1440p, so my guess is the hardware will get cheaper, it’ll become the standard, and everyone will have a hard time imagining how they lived without it over the next several years.

    • sosolidshoe says:

      I bumped up to a 1080 when my old 7970 died a while back since I found a good deal on mine, but I’ve yet to find a 27″+ monitor with g-sync, high refresh, and decent picture quality in 1440p at anything less than kidney-selling prices.

  11. H. Vetinari says:

    I’m at the cash hoarding stage atm, so I hope all these new “advancements” with gazillion cores and whatnot will bring the prices at Christmas time a bit down.
    Since I play mainly platformers and strategy games (plus the occasional rpg), I recon a €1000-ish rig (without screen and kbm) will last me a looooong time, especially when my screen is only 23″ fhd (I don’ need bigger to be honest)

  12. Asurmen says:

    That’s why you go for the Samsung CHG70 instead. 27 inch 1440p QD HDR Freesync 2 and 144hz. Only drawback possibly is that it’s a VA panel. It’s also a lot cheaper than its big brother.

    • brucethemoose says:

      VA is a good thing, as it means blacks are at least decent. I’d trade my IPS for VA any day.

      Yeah, that Samsung is basically perfect. The only thing it needs is a cheaper price (in line with their 4k TVs, which are certainly more expensive to produce yet are often cheaper).

    • DanMan says:

      I’d be more concerned about its HDR quality. Only 600nits on an LCD without a FALD backlight probably won’t be impressive at all.

      • Asurmen says:

        Any reason? Still a better contrast ratio than non-hdr screens.

  13. Blad the impaler says:

    Upgrading hardware’s a pretty firm hold until the whole Threadripper situation is figured out. Personally, I think Intel was caught totally off guard by it and made a dumb decision in response.

  14. SirSnake says:

    Due to space and travel issues I (sadly) sold all my home-built desktops a few years ago and bought myself a laptop.

    With a decent i7 and 16gb RAM with GTX870m I am still (just) running Witcher 3, D3, even ME andromeda at 40-60 FPS with reasonable settings.

    The frostbite engine especially is taxing on the mobile GPU but other than that, I literally have no need to upgrade. If I had the exact same rig in a tower I’d swap out the GPU for something better but otherwise there is no need.

    A substantial upgrade, even from this laptop, would cost me at least 2k (plus I’d need a monitor etc) and I can’t justify the relatively small increase in performance for that.

    As above I’ll wait until the prices settle before I bother.

  15. Premium User Badge

    Alpha1Dash1 says:

    My answer to “Does all the noise about high-end kit seem increasingly irrelevant to real-world RPS gamers” is … sometimes.

    For established tech components (gpus, monitors, storage etc) the answer is “nope, its interesting – and may herald price drops to come even if I can’t afford/justify the top spec version”.

    For new, emerging tech (and I can only think of 2 recent examples here – pci SSDs & VR) my answer would be “yep, won’t even be looking at that until its at least 3rd gen”. Mainly because it’s likely to be radically different by then (Wright Flyer 1 vs F16).

  16. racccoon says:

    I never ever went on that path of thought that the PC was &&&&, as its never ever been seen to the people who use the PC.
    The PC is the only domain left that is private and can lock everyone out! it can mask itself and it can do what it wants to do as long as you say it can.
    The PC is the god of all computers & will always be, you may walk away from it, but, there will always be a PC guy/gal who can use it to its best! & that is to code programs to a vast array of paths.
    The PC is “THE” start point to any programing for any other platform game or ideas.
    The PC is an adventure for freedom of expression.
    The PC is the god of computing and will always be to those that know what it can do.
    Only silly people who do nothing with it, do not understand its power.
    The PC has & will always be, alive & well, forever & ever.

  17. Sin Vega says:

    I’ve bought one PC new in my life, and that only because the exclusionary hardware dickwaving war was finally over. And not coincidentally, a golden age of PC games happened right after it.

    I do not mourn the passing of the hardware race. Rot its bones forever.

    • ColonelFlanders says:

      Without that exclusionary hardware dickwaving we wouldbt have had the competition and innovation that led to the golden age of PC gaming in the first place. You should thank the morons that continue to buy ridiculously expensive top-of-range, do-you-even-overclock-bro hardware, since their purchases are what drive the innovations that make mid range hardware affordable to peasants like you and me.

      • Sin Vega says:

        That’s bollocks though. If all that were necessary to make games innovative, the market would have collapsed when the race stopped, not blossomed. And it was never necessary – many of the most successful and influential games in the last decade had low system requirements even at the time.

        And it actively put me off buying mid-range hardware at all, because buying anything was a waste of money if it’d be obsolete in 6 months. That’s not good for a market, it’s good for a niche of rich obsessives.

  18. fish99 says:

    Not a fan of superwide monitors. Even on a 16:9 everything at the edge of the screen is stretched horizontally so characters look short and dumpy, and that effects gets worse the wider the screen. The best way to handle this problem is 3 screens and have your GPU render 3 separate views to them, with the outer screens rendering and positioned at an angle. It’s not cheap though.

    As for CPUs my I5-3570K and GTX1070 still gives very good result and I’m pretty sure I could switch to 1440p without major problems. There really isn’t much incentive to change CPU/mobo/ram, which is obviously a problem for the companies who need to sell new hardware.

    The new consoles and 4K don’t really change this either since the PS4 Pro/Xbox One X have mediocre CPUs by PC desktop standards, and 4K is mainly a challenge for the GPU.

  19. Budikah says:

    I like new developments, and I appreciate the tech – but it largely isn’t for me. Not until the price drops to plebe prices.

    I’m still using a i3-4130 / GTX 760 myself and only recently have I considered a desire to upgrade. I can do all the things I still want to do – so there isn’t really any pressure to upgrade anything soon. I’ll just continue to wait and watch releases and price drops and call it a day.

    At the end of the day, there is such a backlog of available PC games that don’t really need a high end rig, I think that is a major part of it. New games really haven’t been my thing either – they’re well made, fancy, and shining but things just seem off.

    It’s 2017 and I’m going back and playing Dark Age of Camelot myself. I suspect I’ll stay where I am until something breaks or a game comes out that I really need to upgrade for.

  20. frogulox says:

    I havr had a garbage PC for ages and knew i need a new one, but no longer do i know where to start.
    Anyway, i was gifted a new i5 7400 3ghz with an asrock b250m pro4 and an ssd
    My life is changed.
    Can actually play a bunch of stuff with settings turned up a bit even though its onboard intel graphics. Amazing.

    So to answer the question somewhat, im keen on bits and bobs but do i care about 1000$ worth of nvidia dropping to 700? No, its still past relevant for me.
    Latest screen does the thing and the sync but not this thing and its *that type* of sync?
    Cool – what can i get for 200$?

    • ravenshrike says:

      Right now, enough to play games at 1080p med to low settings at 60 fps. It used to be you’d be able to get something that would let you play high settings at that speed, but then Etherium miners decided to flood the market and buy all the cards at that price point. So until that craze dies out you can only get the lower cards at that price. Course, once it does they’ll flood that portion of the market and you’ll easily be able to get one of those cards for $200 or less. Anything more and you’re pretty CPU bound.

  21. ravenshrike says:

    The latest bombshell is Intel’s decision to leap from 10 to 18 cores for its top desktop CPUs.

    They’ve “announced” an 18 core CPU. In reality, the plan was to bring the 12 core as the new EXTREME edition and then AMD slapped them across the face with the Threadripper lineup. The 10 core they’ve put out is already pushing thermal limits at very modest overclocks as is, which means either significantly declocking the 18 core or requiring a serious 240mm AIO liquid setup at minimum with something better than the Dow Corning paste they use internally. The 120mm liquid cooler they’re bundling certainly won’t be able to deal with the temps.

    As for the assertion that Ryzen is inadequate for gaming, that only applies to twitch gamers who game at max settings on 1080p with a 120+Hz monitor. Which are very few of them. In the realm most people game at, the difference is negligible at best, especially since the chip that sees the most advantage, the 7700K, stutters randomly in games even though it has the better framerate. Not often, but at random instances and mainly in prettier games like Fallout 4, GTA 5, and Battlefield 1 instead of stuff like CS:GO, the CPU will lag noticeably for a moment. Not a problem you get with the Ryzen chips.

  22. Tomo says:

    I built my current PC last year with the advent of VR. Outside of VR, this is my first PC which I’ve put in the living room, so I play it at 1080p on a 50″ television. And it’s really fucking good.

    It’s got a 970 GTX and it feels like there is plenty of power there to play everything, pretty much on Ultra or thereabouts. I feel like graphics in games have relatively stagnated whereas the cards continue to be upgraded. Unless you want 1440p and higher. But currently, I’m just not bothered by that stuff. 1080p looks wonderful to me, settled on my sofa with the screen 2 metres away.

    So, I don’t see myself upgrading my PC any time soon. Which gives me a twinge of sadness as it’s always a thrill getting your nerd on and making a new one!

  23. brad drac says:

    I’m rocking a 3 year old gaming laptop which cost about a grand at the time. It can handle just about everything I throw at it just fine, with decent graphics settings too. Sure, 120hz ultra settings 4k in 32:9 would be nice, but games are really well optimised for less beefy rigs these days.

  24. dangermouse76 says:

    I went from an i5 760 / GTX 660 2GB build to a R5 1600 / RX 580 8GB build.
    Honest answer, I got some more pretty and fps but actually I could have held off for another year or 2. I’m very happy with the finished build but at 1080p my GTX 660 was ‘good enough’in the games I play.

    The bonus is I have a new PC,SSD’s rock, it runs cool,looks great, and I have an upgrade path the i5 760 never really had. So I dont regret the spend ( around £700 ) but I will be part upgrading this one longer than my previous build.

  25. Marclev says:

    Why buy anything new? It’s not like the olden days anymore where the next Quake, or Grand Theft Auto would mandate an expensive hardware upgrade every few years. No surprise sales are slowing down.

    I have an i7-2600k + 8GB RAM + motherboard from 2011, and a GTX 970 from 2014, and because I put it all together myself I’m not affected by OEM bloatware slowing everything down.

    That set up can still run any new AAA games at 1080p on Ultra settings at a nice frame-rate. Once it stops being able to do so, I’ll start considering upgrading it, but until then what’s the point?

    • ravenshrike says:

      While it’s okay now, within 3 years it’ll be struggling, even if you upgrade the graphics card. The reason is that the top end games were already starting to saturate the 4 core CPUs. Racing games in particular already work better on higher core count CPUs. The only reason Kaby Lake does as well as it does is because of the high clocks. With the plethora of cores that were just thrown on the mainstream market, game makers will figure out how to adapt and utilize those cores for various things. Course, after the next upgrade you’ll be good until the shift to 5nm is mature and CPU makers are forced to figure out how to majorly increase clock speed again.

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    Thirith says:

    Speaking for myself only, I’ve benefited a lot from VR over the last year. It’s not replaced non-VR gaming, but I never expected it to. Still, many of my favourite gaming moments in the last 12 months were in VR. As such, it seems a bit of an odd fit for this article, in comparison with the other tech mentioned.

  27. Premium User Badge

    wonderingmonster says:

    My current rig is 5 years old (excluding an upgrade to SSD) with a GTX 560 Ti and it plays most of what I want to play just fine. It can’t handle newer AAA titles anymore but that’s not much of an issue since the amount of games that I want to and can play with it is more than I have time for. I might consider upgrading in a year or so. I’m generally only interested in the upper-midrange segment of cards, which is a bit sparse at the moment, so I’m in no rush to upgrade. My last two graphics card upgrades before the GTX 560 Ti were a Geforce 8600 GTS in 2007 and a Geforce 2 MX around 2000.

  28. alh_p says:

    My PC was a mid range (circa £800 for the box and no external gubbins) 2013 unit. I’m still happily playing on 1080p with my GTX 660Ti and marginally overclocked i5 3570K. I have added new SSDs in the last few years so the GPU is probably what’s holding things back now but I haven’t been able to justify splurging on a new card yet. I am content with graphics on the more demanding games i play: Witcher 3, xcom2, CIV6 and TW Warhammer. The GPU is even irrelevant to my bread and butter of strategy games from the paradox stable.

  29. rowan_u says:

    Why are PC monitors so much more expensive than TV’s ? Chroma Subsampling. A 4k TV image is very very compressed, missing a lot of color and brightness data that is present in a PC monitor image. See this article.

    link to rtings.com

    • DanMan says:

      Wrong. Both can display 4:4:4 chroma or RGB just fine. The limitation to 4:2:0 at 2160p60 is due to HDMI, not the displays.

  30. PersonThatPlaysGames says:

    I think gaming PCs attract a lot of the tech people who love to show off their new gadgets. As for me I’m playing Jade empire on a cheap Craigslist PC from years ago until I have some disposable income. Which might come when Ryzen 3 comes out…

  31. KingFunk says:

    I bought mu current rig in time to play Fallout 3 (2007 I think) and it was reasonably high spec at the time – 2x CF 4870 512mb, Core 2 Q9450 and 4gb RAM. It still played Skyrim satisfactorily (even after 1 gfx card died) until I upgraded last November.

    What was my upgrade? I bought 2 more identical RAM sticks to up me to 8gb, used the bios to set the auto-overclock settings equivalent to a Q9650 and bought a 1050 Ti 4gb. I can still play modern games (Ethan Carter looked great) at acceptable framerates (for me at least) and the total spend was about £170. The new Styx demo runs very nicely on high settings.

    I believe an important factor is that I still have my Benq 1680 x 1050 monitor, which eases the load (though I do run Steam Link to my telly at 1080p). If you buy bigger/better screens you need more grunt. My screen is fine for my desk. I also believe the 1050 Ti is a surprisingly nice piece of cheap kit if you want a budget upgrade – I can even run D:OS – EE using DSR for extra smooth edges…

  32. vast_anusse103 says:

    I’m still using the computer I built for Crysis 1, oh about a 100 years ago, still runs every game I’ve tried.

  33. that_guy_strife says:

    1080p has been standard for displays for a long time. Playing it at max settings also. It will be years until 4K and VR are widespread enough to replace it. Not mentionning the breakthroughs required in processing power to adequately employ those technologies.

    In a way it’s a good thing. My kid brother is building is first desktop this summer, it’s nice to know that the grand he’ll be dropping will carry him easily for the next three years at least.

  34. Rainshine says:

    I smile, read the articles, and shrug my shoulders, remembering I don’t actually spend that much time pushing my PC. Built it… six years ago or so? i7 k-series, 16 or 24 RAM, raid array. Runs fine. The only components I’d kindof like to swap at this point are the vid card (6790) and monitor. I’m running with an old 24′ at 1080 and it’d be nice to step it up. The thing that’s pushed it most recently was the Overwatch free weekend, which with high settings in windowed mode forced me to turn up the GPU fan to 75% to push temps under 80. In order to step up the monitor though, I’d want to change video cards, and in order to do that, I need to figure out what my mobo will support — that last point being the particular sticky wicket.

  35. zBeeble says:

    I think that what you may find is that the people who do upgrade are more selective. I’m still running an i7-4770k, but to facilitate more overclocking I got some much faster ram on sale awhile ago. I’ve seriously thought about Ryzen, but with a penchant for more expensive motherboards (ROG), the “upgrade” is a larger deal.

    I still have a 1200W power supply (legacy from my first generation I7 and much more hungry video card). When my primary monitor went bad, I got a 1440p gsync ROG monitor “reconditioned” on sale. That sent me looking for more GPU power, but the stupidly overclocked 1070 AMP extreme was on sale a few months later.

    As someone who actually cares about hardware performance, we’re running out of good ways to get bits in and out. That could drive an upgrade. But another thing that’s always true, riding the back of the wave is safer and cheaper than riding the bleeding edge.

    (of course, then I go an play factorio for several months and wonder why I bother to upgrade.)

  36. GenialityOfEvil says:

    I wouldn’t mind the $1000 GPU if it had the performance to back it up, but 3 years of “4K ready” GPUs and they still can’t reliably hit 60fps, never mind 144.

  37. hurlster says:

    i recently upgraded my rig, was running a dell xps17 i7 gtx445m 4gb laptop for 6 years and that was purchased for DoW2 as the laptop i had another dell inspiron 9300 wouldnt look at it, ive now got 6600k 1070 16gb 500gb ssd and in all fairness man, if the xps had given me decent fps on DoW3 i possibly wouldn’t have got a new one..ive only got a 1080p monitor too and the only thing i’ll be upgrading in the near future is storage, the monitors need to come waaaay down before i can justify and to be fair everything else is tip top tastic

  38. Siimon says:

    link to i.imgur.com

    Graphics cards have not gotten more expensive, adjusted for inflation.

  39. Jeremy Laird says:

    Yes they have. That graph omits two important features. First it omits Nvidia recent full high end GPUs. Secondly, it equates the GTX 980 with previous high end GPUs. The GTX 980 is in fact a mid-range GPU in die size and wafer yields, with the Titan GPU the actual high end GPU. So Nvidia is now selling its mid-range GPU at high-end prices and has moved its high-end GPU up into the stratosphere.

    It’s pure marketing and if you think Titan XP and the like is something other than the current equivalent of a 6800 Ultra, you’ve fallen for the marketing I am afraid.

    Meanwhile, the only reason why AMD hasn’t matched Nvidia’s pricing at the top end the last few cycles is because it has failed to create GPUs that can compete. And so has to price its big GPUs up against Nvidia’s mid-sized GPUs.

    • Asurmen says:

      Whether or not it omits the most recent is irrelevant to statistical analysis, as those will be outliers and can safely be ignored at this moment in time. One data point doesn’t mean a trend has been set. At present, that graph is correct.

      Whether or not the 980 was mid range for the process is also irrelevant. Its market was high end.