Throughout the 1990’s and early 2000’s, I built one game machine per year, more or less. Faster processors, the advent of 3D accelerator cards, and higher performance graphics cards, bigger and faster HD’s, as well as the ability to have more and more RAM.
All this made playing a growing series of first person shooter games more enjoyable. On top of that, there was an escalation of games. Doom played well at VGA resolutions, but its follow on was Quake, and the resolution, and real 3D experiences kept escalating.
But then I moved to Arizona, lost touch with my gaming friends, and stepped off the upgrade cycle.
Recently, I have been turning to Youtube, and mostly watching RC car videos, but I have branched out. First it was auto motive items, particularly to feed my itch for the “Hot Hatch Fever”, but then I saw an interesting post on prebuilt gaming PC’s. A channel (David Does Tech, if you want to check it out) was reviewing an $800 gaming PC that was prebuilt by Dell, and he rightly ripped it to shreds. Actually, the system was OK, but it had a lot of flaws, garbage peripherals (mouse and keyboard) and a metric crap-load of bloatware installed by default.
Then I found a few others, and I have been watching.
The challenge these days is that commercial cryptocurrency miners are snarfing up all the high end graphics cards, to employ them to chase the riches of crypto. And that means that the casual gamers can’t find cards anywhere MSRP. And that means that to obtain one of these golden video cards sometimes means buying them bundled into a system. And the independent system integrators know this. So you find $1,600 graphics card, stuffed into a case with a mediocre Intel i5 system, with a generic SSD, and some no-name power supply, and dirt cheap RAM.
If you want to buy one of these cards (the nVidia GTX3080) walking into the local Best Buy will lead to a sad panda. But you can buy it as part of a system, then extract it, put it into what you really want (some monster box with Intel or AMD high end processor and better components.
On a lark, I checked out eBay, and there appears to be a cottage industry around people buying Dell Alienware gaming systems, opening the box, removing the graphics card, and then posting the rest of the system on EBay to recover some of the purchase price.
How fucked up is that?
In many ways, I was surprised that the PC gaming market was as vibrant as it is. I had figured that the escalating of the console wars would dampen the PC scene. Clearly, I was wrong.
But my days of fiddling with a PC to get a superior experience, chasing that glass smooth experience at ever higher frame rates are long gone.