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How do you know when to upgrade?

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So I got to thinking the other day. Upgrading my gaming computer used to be a ritual that happened every 2 years with a yearly graphics card upgrade. But every two years, from top to bottom, I would have a new gaming machine. This was partly due to the development of games always being one or two steps ahead the development of hardware. These $500-$1000 upgrades every two years were always worth it as it allowed me to play the latest and greatest games, such as Quake, Max Payne, Command & Conquer Generals, Half Life 2, and Crysis.

Things are different now. They are different, and I am not sure if it is a "good" different, or if it is a "bad" different. My current gaming rig might have one hell of an overclock on it, but I am using technology that is 3 years old, and it eats everything I try to feed it. I mean, you would think that the latest and greatest games would demand the latest and greatest hardware, right? Before I continue, here are the basic specs of my system:

CPU: Intel E8400 @ 4.0 GHz
Motherboard: ASUS P5K Premium Black Pearl Edition (P35 Chipset)
Memory: 6GB OCZ Reaper @ 960 MHz
GPU: 2 x ATI 4850 in CrossfireX

Not an entry level system by any means. In fact, it was near top of the line during the original build back in September 2007. The only real performance upgrades I have made in the almost 3 years was swapping out the E6850 for the E8400 and deciding to go with the twin 4850 graphics cards to replace my continuous over-heating HD2900XT.

So here I am with the aging P35 chipset, still running DDR2, running 2 budget level graphics cards in CrossfireX, and I am able to handle every game I can throw at it. But why? With all of the multicore and multithread technology, quad SLI/Crossfire and SSD Drives, are the hardware developers just getting that good? Or better yet, are the game developers just getting lazy? With the release of the latest XBOX 360, I realized that the game developers are not being lazy, but they are just doing good business. The life of the XBOX 360 is long for a console gaming system, and it isn't over yet.

Nowadays, most games are being developed for console systems and being "ported" to the PC. This isn't true for all games, but it is true for most of the hottest titles, such as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. These games are being developed for systems that are literally half as powerful in terms of graphics and CPU processing capabilities. Unfortunately, this means the PC gamers get the versions that are buggy, badly ported, or similar to the console version, but probably having some advanced graphics setting options. So that brings me to my question: Why should we upgrade?

What benefit do we have if the game developers are not going to give us anything worth throwing at our new rigs? Don't get me wrong. I love the excitement of the build, the overclocking, and benchmarking. But what is the point if the games will run on my current rig? I know that with the down economy not all people can afford to upgrade. But I can, damnit, and I want to... but for what? Nothing. There is no "good" reason to upgrade. Hell, PC gamers got screwed over AGAIN by Alan Wake. A game that was originally a PC game is now only available on a console. At this point, I don't know what to expect for future games. At least Valve continues to put out good stuff, even if their games are using an aging graphics engine. But hell, they are selling console games now too.

Am I bitter? I think so...


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    vafaskillz's Avatar
    I def agree with you...I still have a quad core q9450 from 2-3 years ago on a 790i board and these components still rock my socks off. Thats why I upgraded to a new monitor and will take the plunge into 3d gaming soon. At least my upgrade will be offering me a new gaming experience
    QuickLightning's Avatar
    I was thinking this while contemplating my new build as well. The one big title I am really looking forward to, Diablo III, is expected to run on "a very wide range of machines." So I am not really expecting to necessarily need an upgrade anytime soon.
    GReYVee's Avatar
    Agree completely. Heck My build is from late '06 and still does very well. I think the biggest thing here is the recent advancements in hardware have changed.
    5-6 years ago we were seeing more interface changes. New sockets, Core2Duos, big jumps in clock frequencies, larger need and support for additional RAM., Sata/Sata2, PCIe Graphics, etc.
    Now it's just the slow step process at fully utilizing these large bandwidth interfaces. And software devs havent even gotten the multicore use down to it's fullest.

    You can build a brand new rig and it will show, but nothing compared to building a rig and seeing the difference from 2002 to 2006.
    hannibal's Avatar
    Yeah, I have an E8500 with an ATI 5870 and it is almost a maxed out performer according to futuremark. As I have stated previously though all benchmarks like. You probably get more from the move to a DDR3 setup than from a new processor.

    Updated 07-19-10 at 12:54 AM by hannibal
    Mr_Blonde_OPS's Avatar
    Is BF3 being made for consoles, then ported to PC? Or the other way around. How does PC gaming compare to Console gaming these days? To the average gamer, like me, it seems that console gaming is the more profitable area. That makes me think that BF3 was first made for the console....but I hope not.
    DJ Ms. White's Avatar
    According to the devs, BF3 is a PC first game.
    HeavyG's Avatar
    Yes, console gaming is more profitable. Consoles are cheap to manufacture, cheap to buy, so more people have them. They give a wider marketing target to game developers. That being said, PC games still have a lot of extras to offer if you can afford a high end PC. XBOX and Playstation simply can't compete with the high resolution and high details of a high end PC. Those that demand the absolute best experience from their games should invest in a PC.

    Consoles still have some great games, but some games are just better suited for the PC, such as Battlefield 3. They can likely make a scaled down version of Battlefield 3 for the consoles, but I wouldn't expect anything compared to the PC version.