Do Die-Hard Gamers Really Need Top End Parts?



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Phat Bastard

I normally only build a new PC every 5 yrs or so. I'll upgrade vid cards in there somewhere. I buy the best parts I can afford @ the time which, allows my system to rip for 4 or 5 yrs. I build my systems for one purpose. Gaming. I don't want to play games on medium or high quality. I play on ultra quality with every setting maxed @ 1920x1080 on my 27" monitor. Thats just my hobby. I like max quality with high performance. I just built my new rig last month. I normally don't list my system specs. Because I think its for n00bs, but since i'm proud of it i'll bragg a little.

CoolerMaster ACTS 840 case

CoolerMaster UCP 1100w PS

Core i7 960 oc'd to 4 ghz

CoolerMaster Hyper 212 plus cooler

ASUS P6X58D Premium mobo

6 gig OCZ 1600mhz triple channel ddr 3

1TB Seagate Barracuda 7200.12

2 XFX Radeon 5870 XXX Editions in Crossfire X (these cards rule)

LG 27" 1080P monitor

64bit Windows 7 Home Premium



you can either spend $2000 over the course of several years or you can buy a whole new computer at the end of that time.



2.4ghz dual core processor cooled by zalman 9700led

4gb ddr2 gskill ram

8800 gts 320mb

250gb hdd

500w psu

windows 7 ultimate



If you're much of a gamer you're probably about due for an upgrade.  Definately on the 8800GTS, and if you're going to upgrade that you're probably going to need to upgrade your PSU at the same time.  Depending on how much you game and what else you use your pc for you might want to think about upgrading your cpu and mobo to a core i5 or i7 as well (which means your ram to ddr3).


If you've got money to spend you might as well upgrade your whole system.  If you have a limited budget you can upgrade to a 5770 for about $150 on newegg and sell your 8800GTS on ebay for about $60.  That's a pretty massive upgrade for $90.  Your powersupply may be able to handle that card, but it might not, so make sure you can spend another 50 bucks or so on a psu if you need to. 


What I usually go by as far as upgrading is can I play the games I want to play at my monitor's native resolution with a satisfactory amount of the eyecandy enabled?





yeah the 5770 was what i had in mind next. The rule my friend told me is only upgrade if it's a 50% performance upgrade so i was thinking of getting a quadcore also and a psu. 



Today, die-hard PC gamers don't need high end parts to play most of today's games. Unless they're really anal about 60FPS (I swear to God, people on Tom's Hardware refuse to believe Crysis is playable unless you have it at 1920x1200@60FPS), then you could buy a midrange machine and run practically any game at 30FPS or better at at least 1280x720, the cutoff point for "High definition".

But the need of getting high end parts wasn't really as big years ago as it is today. What gives? I basically blame console gaming for this.  Since companies want to commerciaize games to everyone (exclusives are now a thing of the past, unless the company bribes the publisher), they develop for the lowest common denominator. Thus while the PC gaming requirement has remained virtually stagnant for some time, it also means that development for using more features is also kind of slow. Only developers who still exclusively develop for the PC actually make games that are... well... PC worthy.

Besides that, we also have this chicken and the egg problem. Who's really slower? Software or hardware? I blame software more or less. If not for the time it takes to actually use features correctly, it's also because I feel software engineers tend to not optimize as much as they should (and for good reason, as I'm learning at work).



I currently own E7200 OC'd to 3.0GHz with 4GB RAM PC6400, MSI P35 Neo-F, 420W PSU & GeForce 8600GT (W7 64bit).  I do not play a lot of games, just BF2, Bioshock 2 and COD MW1 with some occassional CrossFire and battlefield heroes.

 I was planning to get BF BC2 and downloaded the demo but my GPU was way underpowered for it.  I really have no money to upgrade my GPU so I decided not to buy it but wait until BF3.  At that point, I will upgrade my videocard to a 5770 which should suffice for the near future. I will also upgrade my PSU to a good brand and 650 Watts.  Those 2 are my major upgrades.  I do not believe I need to update my CPU for now.

What do you guys think?



I am just building a new rig after about 7 years (Primary use, Programming, CAD, and Games) ...

In the 7 years I think I upgraded the processor once and added more memory at the same time.

Asus P6X58D with a Intel i7 980X

Corsair Dominator 6 X 2GB DDR3 1866 (PC3 15000)

Asus EAH5970

Silverstone Fortress Series FT02B-W

OCZ Z Series Gold OCZ1000M Power Supply

Intel X25-M 80G SSD

Data Robotics DROBO-S

Western Digital RE3 WD1002FBYS 1TB 7200RPM X 4

Windows 7 Ultimate

Mike Geppert




While I LOVE to have the best parts out there, it's just not feasable for a college student like me.  I have NO money most of the time, and a couple years back I built a top of the line PC (pretty much) for around 800, maybe 1000, can't remember exactly.  Specs:  e8400 OC to 3.6ghz, 4 GB DDR2 1066 dual channel mode, 512mb Radeon 4870, Biostar p45 mobo, antec earthwatts 650w psu.  This rig STILL plays every game out there (including crysis in DX 10) at 1280x1024 at max settings (well, 8x Ansio 4x AA) with great FPS (and I hate anything lower than 40 really).  And while I would like to upgrade just to have a nifty new i7 with a nifty new 5850, chances are that it won't happen anytime soon and I'm okay with that seeing how well my current PC runs games now.  It really is the best time to be a gamer.



 I always have to have the latest and the greatest. I game on the weekends and maybe a couple nights a week and web surfing. that's it. overkill...


i7 920@4.4GHz,Heatkiller 3.0, (2X)GTX295 Quad-SLI, EVGA X58 3X SLI, 6GB DDR3 OCZ Gold



 I more or less like to keep up with technology, with the exception of SSD's for now. I actually just ordered 2 barracudas for Raid0, and plan on buying AMD's hexa-core when it starts shipping. I have had my HD 5850 for a while now, about 3 months, and still hasn't dissappointed me yet.

Frickin' AMD needs to grasp DirectCompute for 3D calculations. Then they will be an even bigger competitor of Nvidia and CUDA.




Binkie van Es , netherlands antilles

My budget permits me to float a few nothches under topgrade and generally speaking be a year behind of top grade, it play's all games very well and everything else I do with the pc flies.

current rig

asus p5nt deluxe

q9550 2.83 ghz

8 gig memory

gtx260 plus gt9800 for physics

planned upgrade

a core I7 1366 system with ati 5890 , will do this this summer



If I were to get an upgrade (most likely for the CPU), then my rig would last me several years. Upgrading it a few years from now would be tough, given that I'm still rolling AM2+, but the 5870 and 8GB RAM should last me a good while. 

Honorary Family Member:

Phenom II x4 925 2.8 GHz

XFX Radeon HD 5870

8GB G.Skill DDR2-1066 RAM

ASUS M3A32-MVP Deluxe 



If you go High-end it will be the middle-end in 4 months. I upgrade when i cant play a game with my rig. 



My system was comprised of:

AMD X2 4400+
2 GB DDR800
1,5TB HDD (across 1, 1TB and 2 250GB)
MSI K9 Ultra Mobo
GeForce 7300GS

...up to 2 years ago.

I decided to upgrade what I could afford - at the time, only the video card (such are the pockets of a freelancing graphic & web designer).

I got the Radeon HD4670.

Holy crap!  What a difference!
NFS:SHIFT went from 4 fps (laugh) to 40 fps!
FAR CRY (pt1) went from sub 24 frames on low/mid settings, to 40 fps on med/high.
DEADSPACE gave me 50 - 70 fps on high.
I play GRID at 36 fps at 1680x1050; vsync on, 2x aa, and 4x anistropic blah blah.
COD: WAW gives 40 fps on high.
Team Fortress 2 give 60 with 1680 x 1050 2x aa, 4x ani. (FPS drops on some servers though).

I thought to myself, "How could this sub USD90 card (at the time) give such AWESOME results, especially givien the CPU, RAM, etc."; I dunno.  But I am still using the system.

You don't need the latest components, but you need to know how to spend the cash you have.  My next system is gonna be geared towards video editing, but I'll still wanna game too.

Look at my specs above and replace the 7300 with the ATI 4670.  How do I game with this?  Just far.



TreyArch's disgracing of CoD? really..?

I agree with your point however!



I don't have time to play games all the time. I got a Dell laptop with a 2.4Ghz duo core 4GB of RAM and a NVidia 9400M GPU. It's not the best system, but it can do what I want to do. Some "friends" of mine make fun of it just because they spend twice as much on a quad-core phenom system. 



the key to keeping a system relevant for up to a decade is being willing to splurge, although not necessarily doing so to the maximum, on the 3 most key, often disrespected components:  motherboard, case & PSU

personally due to the lack of need & risks, I only turn to liquid cooling, overclocking or overvolting after the system as a whole has reached its end of initial usefulness (nolonger guaranteedvcompetitive within the price-performance range to which it belonged when built) AND the individual components to be affected are all out-of-warranty, after which the installation of liquid-cooling with required dusting, alongside potential overclocking benefits bring new life to an old yet well-planned build of many years ago

if you buy a top-of-the-line motherboard with all of the technologies that'll be relevant for the next decade (SATA III, USB 3.0, PCIe 2.1 or eventually PCIe 3.0 with 2 slots minimum, socket 1336 or 1156 intel, AM3, double or triple channeled DDR3 with 4 or 6 slots minimum, gigabit ethernet etc.) then put it in a case with 7+ expansion slots designed for liquid-cooling or gaming...add an 850 or above high-quality PSU with more connectors than you'll ever need (Enermax or Seventeam, better than namebrand)

if you possess the above combination of best-you-can-get (included technology not pure performance) motherboard, case & PSU then who cares if you startout with an i7-920 instead of the i7-980X or use a still-capable 8800 or 9600 instead of a pair of fermis . . . you can upgrade!

just remember that included technologies are critical for future upgradeability but not neccesarily raw power, so don't buy DX10 or prior graphicards now that Windows 7 is can get a 470, 5770 or 5670 instead of 5870 or 480 so you can just add more cards later!

even if you don't game a discrete graphicard with the parallel processing offload by DirectX11 DirectCompute & its OGL\OCL equivalent (CUDA too) can hive huge & will have larger benefits in the future even for the average home user:  parallel CPU-less rendering of pictures in an album, InternetExplorer9 will use DirectX11 entirely instead of GDI, etc.



The games now seem to just target PS3 and XBox, which a budget pc can handle easily. It's our own fault.  When a game like Crysis came out and it really pushed hardware. The response wasn't "hey NVIDIA get me a faster card."  It was instead, "Hey Crysis, I can't run on max setting, therefore I'm not buying."  

 It didn't used to be this way.   Before people wanted games to push the hardware forward.  They didn't mind upgrading their rig, to get the fancy shadows and smoke.  Now I'm afraid that won't happen again till the next iteration of consoles.



price fixing scandals & profit-only reiterations of existing products havn't helped much but I think Windows 7, DirectX11, OGL 4.0, OCL, oCUDA, IE9 etc. will slowly change that with consoles & mobile gaming firmly situated in the DX9c\OGL3 & equivalent era



I've always been a mid-range gamer as I don't have as much as some other people have to spend on "awesome" parts.  I've actually moved a little more towards the "enthusiast" end when I upgraded from an AMD Athlon 64 X2 5600+ (2.9 Ghz "Brisbane") and my brother's old Radeon HD3650 to an AMD Phenom II X4 955 BE and Radeon HD5770 while I have my other parts still in use (my Western Digital 320 GB SATA, Diamond Xtreme Sound 7.1 sound card, my Pioneer DVR-110D CD/DVD combo drive).  This will keep me happy for a while as I can play more games on higher details and worry less about inconsistent frame rates.  Plus, I can finally have some "bearable" benchmarks.



I'll take the 5770!! (:


Sebie Kay

I've always been modest on my builds.  My last overhaul, which was about 3 or 4 years ago topped out at $650 for a complete new machine, minus optical drives, keyboard/mouse, monitor, speakers. However, I do like to upgrade halfway inbetween builds.  A year after I did my build, I added a Radeon 4850 (up from the 2900 series). I attempted an overhaul last year with switching to an intel based system (was running on an AMD system), but I had multiple MOBO failures and fainally gave up, switching back to the AMD system, which I still run to this day.

It is WAY overdue for an overhaul (still running an AM2 board with an Athlon 64 x2 3800+   yikes!!).  I am looking at switching to an Intel Core i5 system, or AMD Althon x4 system. I like the performance of the i5, but I love the cost savings of the AMD system. And with a big trip out west this summer, I'm leaning in the direction of saving several hundred bucks.  On the bright side, moving from the old 3800+ to even a current budget processor, the performance gain will seem huge!  

To bad I got out of computer gaming a couple of years ago... I would have splurged on an i7 system with a Radeon 5870!

-=Do unto others... THEN RUN!!=-



"Gamers" and "gaming" - these are words. Sometimes they come across as silly words. Playing games is a hobby and it is an interesting hobby to those who share that interest. And that's great!

Then there is power, computer power. There is always going to be a segment of computing that wants utter power, the newest, the best, the fastest (regardless of their personal needs), and by its own nature that will cost the most and be the coolest. Every industry seem to have such a segment. The computer industry calls it "gaming." A few years from now, when the survey says a different percentage point here and there, perhaps they will change the word from "gaming" to something else - big deal.

But there will always be people who wants something different than HP, Dell and Acer, something more exclusive, something that is pushing the bounderies, because it makes them feel good. It makes me feel good. I don't play games. I have work to do.


Sebie Kay

Well said!  I use my PC for work nowdays, as I got out of gaming a couple of years ago. On occasion, I still fire up an old copy of Myst IV or URU if I feel the itch.  But those games are so old, a budget build can handle them with ease.

I prefer my custom built system for a reason similar to yours: I want to feel good about MY computer.  I want to control what goes into it, and not have to worry about the red tape that system builders throw at you with the 'If you want this feature, you must also add this $300 add-on first'.  

I want MY computer to be just that:  MY computer.  'Nuff said.

-=Do unto others... THEN RUN!!=-



if you need a laptop you're stuck with an OEM COTS PC

if you want a desktop you can build it cheaper, faster & better with parts off of newegg or direct from vendors, occassionally BestBuy to save on shipping etc.



I think anyone that games with top end hardware has either got too much disposable income or does not know what their games actually require as far as requirements.



All depends on what I can get when they come out.  I would love to get my hands on a GTX 470.

i7920 @ 3.38Ghz, Corsair H50, MSI x58 Platinum SLI, OCZ DDR3-1800 @ 7-7-7-16 w/ Cooler, 160GB VR RAID0, 2TB Storage, Antec P182 w/ window, XFX GTX 275....Until Friday



I don't run on on high end hardware and i do great i just know what needs to be on abetter grade then some other parts in my computer.


 I'd rather die on my feet then live on my Knees!



i've always been a computer parts dumpster diver, just trying to get the best parts i can on a very limited budget... but then that's because i've always been a poor student.  i'll definitely be moving into the enthusiast category as soon as my wallet lets me!  for now, with such powerful hardware available on the cheap, it does definitely seem as though its a great time for we computer junkies, "enthusiast" class or otherwise.

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