Goodbye gaming machines?

Numerous tier one computer manufacturers build high-end gaming PCs but is there really a market for these rigs?

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By  Jason Saundalkar Published  June 3, 2008

I've always believed that there are only two ways to buy a PC; either construct your own purpose built rig or buy a prebuilt machine that's just as focused as one you'd build yourself. Now with the second option, if you're after a fire-breathing gaming rig that can dance with any game you throw at it, you have numerous options from tier one vendors such as Dell and HP. However, as a hardcore gamer, would you really buy a pre-built machine today?

Being a hardcore gamer myself, I'd have to say no. You see personally I've never ever purchased a pre-built rig for my home, I've always found the process of planning, buying, building and finally tuning a very interesting and rewarding experience. But beyond the ‘feel-good' factor there are a number of reasons why I think the market for high-end gaming rigs is tiny.

You see when it comes to games, I've come to realise that hardcore gamers who want the best performance at high resolutions usually have a good degree of tech knowledge. (Some are even frequency-crazed overclockers.) So, like them, I'd be extremely picky about what parts are fitted in my rig.

Now when it comes to buying a pre-built PC, this poses a problem because when you're selecting components for a rig from a tier one vendor, you're limited to buying components which that manufacturer uses. Say you're configuring your rig's graphics subsystem, the vendor will offer a choice of two or three vendors' graphics cards but if the vendor you wanted is not in there, there's no real way you can fit that part.

Worse still, in some cases you just aren't given the choice when it comes to certain components. Generally, I've noticed that most companies never give you the chance to choose what motherboard you want. So, if you want one of Gigabyte's newest DQ6 models or perhaps one of Asus' Republic of Gamer beasts, you're out of luck. If I, or indeed any gamer, was building a rig, this just wouldn't be a problem.

Another negative point when it comes to buying a high-spec gaming rig is that they are usually very expensive. Recently, I spec'd up a fully-fledged gaming rig on Dell-owned Alienware's website and the grand total came up to a whooping $6,800. That's a pretty steep price for sure and surprisingly, when I worked out how much it would cost me to buy all the components myself, I found I'd actually save a cool $400 in the process. Usually, it's the other way round because big tier one vendors buy stock in bulk and thus are entitled to better prices on components from the respective parent companies.

Perhaps my biggest bugbear with a prebuilt gaming machine is that there's no flexibility when it comes to post-purchase upgrades. Say I had a top-spec rig for Alienware that I wanted to overclock and found that the cooler that shipped with the PC wasn't cutting the mustard, I couldn't swap it in favour or something I wanted because that would likely void the entire PC's warranty - not a good thing.

I'm not damning high-end gaming rigs completely however. They are still great options for hardcore gamers who don't actually have much technical knowledge and would feel better just buying a pre-built rig. I just don't think that these rigs will appeal to the rest of us that want to enjoy games but at the same time want to enjoy the process of putting together the rig we're playing the games on.

4003 days ago

With the first gentlemen! I agree with Jasons article too - it IS much better to put your own machine together. I'd appreciate the authors thoughts on the PC vs Console Gaming future. As I see it even many 'hardcore' gamers are leaving the PC platform as the console power and ease of use (no fiddling with gfx settings for individual games, no re-speccing your pc on a new release). BUT many youngsters are playing a lot of free flash games on thier pc's and as internet speeds increase its likely that hardware consoles and physical game media will vanish and we'll all be accessing sony/microsoft/nintendo content directly to platform agnostic multi-purpose set-tops beneath our tv. Discuss. :)

4003 days ago
Ali Kattan

I agree with Abdulrahman, the title is misleading. But in my case I thought that the author was trying to say that prebuilt gaming machines are now being favored over self-built or customized ones.

4004 days ago
Abdulrahman Hajjar

Nice article but the title was misleading. When I read the title I thought Jason wanted to say that Game Consoles are becoming more popular than gaming machines but it turned out that he meant to say that prebuilt gaming machines are not preferable.

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