Budget Gaming PC – Is it Good Enough?

There is a generation old rivalry between PC gamers and console gamers. In many ways, the console gamers are oblivious to this rivalry but PC gamers are often all-too aware. Console games get all the attention, they often get first release of games, and console gamers can just pop their discs in and play without having to go through an install process or anything. On the other hand, console gaming lacks a certain depth that PC gaming is famous for. PC gaming offers wider ranging control with a keyboard instead of a handheld controller with only a dozen or so buttons and PC’s offer the latest in graphics and sound technology. Unfortunately, PC gaming also has a history of being fairly expensive. This is one thing many console gamers tend to be very aware of, and it leaves many PC gamers nursing sore wallets. This doesn’t have to be the case, though.

A true budget gaming PC can be had for generally the same price as a console system, although for a gaming PC that will take you through to the next console release you will either want to spend a bit more, or expect to buy another budget gaming machine about halfway through the console life cycle. The trick is to look at the curve in the price points. Top end PC hardware can be prohibitively expensive, but prices drop sharply as you look to slightly older (by a few months) technology. In mathematical terms, the performance of new PC hardware tends to go up like a straight line graph, but the price of the latest and greatest tends to be a geometric progression, like graphing X vs X-squared. Somewhere in the middle of the graph you will find a point where pricing has dropped into the range you can afford, but performance has not dropped nearly by the same amount. This is the sweet spot.

There is no such thing as “planned obsolescence” from a manufacturing standpoint with PCs. Generally speaking they will last a long, long time. The problem tends to be that in many cases they become less useful when faced with the latest games or other multithreaded software, and we feel the need to upgrade. Any serious gamer is going to want to keep this in mind. Most gamers will want to buy a new PC every 1-3 years depending on their budget, how much they game and how graphics-intensive the latest games are. That being said, a bargain hunter with an eye for price vs performance can end up buying a budget gaming pc every 3-4 years and do very well for themselves. The trick isn’t just about finding a good price though, it’s about knowing when you plan to replace the machine. Someone who spends thousands of rand on a new gaming pc will likely be unhappy with its performance 3 years down the line, while someone who spent 1/3 the price could buy a new PC every year and enjoy good overall performance year after year.