FAQS and myths about PC gaming
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I'm making this thread to discuss some of the most asked questions on here, and to correct a few misconceptions. If all goes well, I should learn a few things myself.
I. PC gaming is an expensive hobby. I will need a $1500 PC to be able to run games well.
A. An $800 PC (self-built) will be able to run almost anything on high. People who spend $1500 fall into an enthusiast category that enjoys getting the maximum framerate. To be able to get 45-60 fps, you don't need a $500 graphics card. While still nothing to scoff at, much of the costs are first-time costs, such as your power supply, case, and hard drive. From then on, the main things you will be changing are your CPU, motherboard, RAM, and video card.
II. Building a PC is difficult. I should stick to prebuilt computers due to my lack of knowledge.
A. It's easy to see why it could be intimidating to handle $800+ worth of electronics which you have little knowledge about. I've been there before. However, there are many guides available which will walk you through the process. Only one step (connecting front-panel headers) requires much thought. The rest is simply plugging things into where they fit.
Building your own PC has several advantages. First and foremost, it feels extremely satisfying to use a machine you built with your own hands. You can choose your own case, processor, video card, etc. and you can feel accomplished having built it.
Second, a properly built self-build is cheaper and more durable. Companies like Dell (Alienware) often hike prices and use cheap parts. They cut costs in power supply units and other components, which in turn can cause system failures. When self-building, you can pick and choose parts from reputable manufacturers, ensuring that your computer will last a long time.
Third, and often overlooked, it better prepares you to fix your computer should it have problems. Having built your own computer, if the video card is on the fritz, or if the RAM is causing blue screens of death, you will know exactly how to replace it, and what kind to replace it with. If your prebuilt Acer starts crashing 18 months down the road, then what? How about if you decide to stick to PC gaming, and then need to upgrade your graphics card for the next Crysis, Battlefield, or Metro?
I should mention here that, for newcomers bent on buying a prebuilt rig (Alienware, iBUYPOWER, etc.), we're firm on trying to convince people to build, for reasons stated above. It may sound like arrogance, but we're trying to prevent people from getting scalped by builder price hikes. If you really feel intimidated, try seeing if any of your friends can help you, as you'll never know who you'll run into that can build.
III. I already have an HP/Dell/Gateway/other computer. I can just stick a GTX 560 in here, and I'm good, right?
A. As mentioned before, prebuilt computers often have cheap power supplies in them. You'll often see them with 300 Watt power supplies of an unknown brand. Not only is 300 Watts not enough for a high-end gaming system, actual power draw is sometimes significantly lower than specified on these power supplies. Your best options are to either use a lower-end graphics card, such as a Radeon HD 6670, or upgrade your power supply along with your graphics card.
IV. Integrated sound is just as good as dedicated sound.
A. This is a personal pet peeve of mine. Many people jump to this conclusion without having experienced a dedicated sound card. While onboard sound is good enough for gaming, it suffers from a flaw called "crosstalk". Crosstalk is a phenomenon in which an electronic circuit interferes with another one in close proximity. In audio circuits, this can cause a buzzing noise at high volumes.
Since dedicated sound cards have their circuitry seated above the motherboard, away from the bridges and other integrated peripherals, it doesn't suffer as much from this problem. In addition to this, dedicated sound cards offer additional features such as OpenAL support. (On a sidenote, I've seen people mention a night-and-day difference between onboard audio and budget-priced sound cards. While not necessary, a dedicated sound card is recommended.)
V. I still plan on playing console-style games on here. I'm planning on getting a gamepad. I'm going with an Xbox 360 controller, since many games support it exclusively.
A. This is somewhat true. Games support a newer controller interface called XInput. The Xbox 360 controller uses this interface, but is not the only controller to do so. The Logitech F310, F510, F710, and Cyborg V.5 (I believe, as it is an Xbox 360-styled controller) all support this interface. Some of these have advantages over the Xbox 360 controller, such as better dpads and the option to use different interfaces.
VI. That Intel CPU you guys suggested to me looks nice, but AMD has one with the same frequency for half the price. AMD also has one with more cores for the same price. Shouldn't I go with one of those?
A. In CPU terms, frequency doesn't matter as much as it used to. At the time of writing, Intel CPUs are able to do much more per hertz than AMD ones. Games also do not use more than four cores. For a more accurate measurement of a CPU's performance, check benchmarks.
VII. I need to upgrade my internet bandwidth in order to play games online. This modestly-priced broadband is nice, but I'd like a lower ping.
A. While ping and bandwidth are two factors of internet speed, they are unrelated to each other. Upgrading your bandwidth should not have an impact on your ping. Bandwidth is the maximum amount of data that can be transmitted or received at any given time. Ping determines how long it takes for the data to reach there after a request is sent. Online gaming typically won't be bottlenecked by your bandwidth if you have a broadband connection. I need help wording this better.
VIII. The graphics card does most of the work. If I have a good dual core CPU or any kind of quad core CPU, I should focus on upgrading my graphics card.
A. This is true to an extent. This highly varies from game to game. If you have a dual core CPU and are getting less than playable rates at very low settings, there's no way a simple graphics card upgrade will remedy that. The CPU must be capable of getting decent frames on its own, or else it will bottleneck your graphics card.
Please feel free to add some. I could use some help with this.
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Last edited by BetaWolf47; 09-05-2013 at 01:38 AM.