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Episode 23 - Building a Computer

edited December 2005 in Technology
Ok, so we tried to do an informative episode. We thought that being informative might suck, but this seemed to work out. But I need to know how other people liked it. Also, feel free to discuss the art of computer construction.


  • I do however think it's funny that you think I'll trying to buy high end.. I've always built midrange computers that cost around 1000-800 dollars (In the past).

    You guys make it sound like I'm trying to buy a 3,200 dollar computer or something.

    Anyhow, What would you suggest as the best midrange graphic card? I've been looking around and have a few ideas but what do you think?
  • edited December 2005
    We know you're trying to buy an $800-$1000 computer. What you don't realize is that $1000 these days is high end. A $400 computer does absolutely everything you need to do at amazing speeds, except play fancy games. With PC gaming being mostly dead, are 3 or 4 new PC games worth $400? For that kind of money you can get an Xbox 360 which will be more powerful than a $1000 computer. Not to mention that 90% of PC games are all released for Xbox anyway.

    As far as video cards just get a GeForce FX something. Just be sure it fits in your motherboard. To figure out which number just keep increasing the number until prices start to increase exponentially, then go down one card.

    Also, for dual monitors check to see if the monitors are DVI or VGA. Then make sure your video card has two matching plugs on it.
    Post edited by Apreche on
  • I have to wonder about your "PC gaming is mostly dead" comment.

    Granted, we are not blessed with a derth of wonderful new PC games, but I wouldn't say the market is dead; it simply does not offer to you anything tremendously interesting.

    Tell me, Scott, aside from Half-Life 2, what is the most recent PC game you've played? I'm curious as to what evidence you use to back up your "PC gaming is dead" comment.
  • RymRym
    edited April 2006
    $400 is mid-range. $800-$1000 is very high-end for a PC. $1500 is pretty-much balls-out maximal. $3000 would buy an enterprise-scale server.

    The last standalone PC game to gain any real mindshare outside of the PC gaming community itself is Half Life II. Even non-gamers are cognisant of "Halo," "Grand Theft Auto," "Mario -something-," et al. Most people, however, aren't familiar with a single PC game since Quake/Half Life aside from the current run of MMORPGs.

    Part of the reason ultra-high-end PCs are so cheap these days is that there isn't much of a market for them. Gaming is their only purpose. (3D, audio, or image work requires a different sort of "high-end"). Alienware and the like GROSSLY overprice their systems.

    A mid-range PC (~$400) will play most of the games that exist just fine. A high-end one will cost double and allow you to play one or two more games.

    As for PC gaming actually being dead or not, I defy TheWhaleShark to name a "good" PC game that has come out in the past 6 months. ;^)
    Post edited by Rym on
  • The only reason that stay with a pc rather than a Mac is because I have all of my graphic programs for the pc and not for the mac. Though I wish I have the money to switch over... the interface on Tiger/Panther/feline species is freakin awesome. More intuitive than windows.
  • I have to agree that a high-end PC is mostly worthless even to a gamer; you can play even the most cutting-edge games out there with a solid mid-range system, probably no more than a grand.

    I could name a few "good" PC games that have come out in the past 6 months, sure. Of course, what games we all consider to be "good" is a subject of debate, being that "goodness" is not some objective concept. I don't care how many Ayn Rand books you've read, you can't quantify fun.

    Off the top of my head, FEAR and Dragonshard come to mind. There's also Dungeon Siege II, and there were some relatively recent expansions for Dawn of War.

    Of course, that's wholly irrelevant, considering I am attempting to ascertain how recent Scott's experience with PC games actually is. Technically, Rym, I should ask the same of you, considering your PC is old as death and I'm sure you couldn't actually PLAY any games from the past 6 months. :P
  • Yeah, Rym totally got it. Let's name amazing PC games that have come out recently that are not available for consoles or have a PC version that is better than the console version.

    Civilization 4
    A bunch of MMOs

    Quake 4 came out, and nobody cared. It was just Quake 3 with better graphics. That Battlefield 2 game came out. I guess it was good, but not nearly enough to support the PC as a gaming platform. Also, now that the Nintendo DS and the Xbox have internet multiplayer there are fewer and fewer things making the PC different for gaming.

    I do see the PC as worthwhile for the indy gaming scene. Anyone can make PC games, therefore lots of new interesting indy games are going to appear on the PC, especially due to the renewed interest in such games. Just look at Darwinia and Rag doll kung-fu on Steam. But indy games are going to have low system requirements due to low budgets, no fancy graphics there. You'll get all of those with the $400 computer just fine.

    Again, Civ4 and Steam appear to be only $50 each. But add the cost of Windows and a doubly powerful computer. Would you pay $700 for just those games? That doesn't even count the cost of MMOs which, by the way, require more bandwidth than video card.

    Only that fatality guy needs a $1000 computer.
  • Honestly, if there were games I wanted to play, I'd have bought a new PC ages ago. The only reason I haven't is simply that no new games interest me at all. Half-Life II does a little, as does Civ IV.

    I've gotten to the point where I feel I'm better off always staying one generation behind on PC games. Half-life II will be just as good next year as it is now, only I'll be able to play it at full framerate for less than half the cost.

    Well, maybe. I don't have Windows anymore, and I don't plan on buying Vista anytime soon...
  • I splurged on a new $1100 pc built from scratch because of 2 main reasons:
    -last computer died
    -to make high end graphics faster (ie create 11x17 300+dpi paintings in photoshop)
  • I'm having this argument on New York State taxpayer dollars. Goddamn, I love my job.

    If you honestly say that there are NO PC games that interest you, I can't argue with that. My contention is that unless you acutally TRY new PC games, you can't really give an opinion on them with full confidence. Perhaps some games you can immediately weed out as being crap, but I doubt either Rym or Scott have played, say, Farcry. Have you actually ever heard of Dragonshard or Dawn of War? It seems to me that your "PC gaming is dead" attitude is more of a predisposition than an actual conclusion reached from experience.

    I will, however, grant that given a choice between spending 200 bucks to upgrade your PC or 200 bucks to buy a DS and some games, you're better off with the DS.

    Rym: Wouldn't your opinion on PC games, always staying one generation behind because the game will be just as good in a year, also apply to console games? Hell, doesn't it apply to games in general?
  • edited December 2005
    If making giant paintings in photoshop you are definitely going to need that powerful PC, so can't blame you on that one. In fact $1100 is not so much for a powerful art box when compared to the Macs.

    I played Farcry, just another crap fps. A few tiny innovations and shiny graphics here and there, but not worth a dime. Half-Life 2 wipes the floor with it.

    Honestly never heard of Dragonshard or Dawn of War until just now. But I did just peruse their official websites. I would like to point out two things. First, the minimum sytem requirements for Dawn of War listed a GeForce 3. This is not a game that requires more than a $400 computer. Second, I contend that you are only interested in these games because of the D+D and Warhammer licenses. If these games did not have those licenses you wouldn't give two shites about them. In other words, it is highly unlikely they will be such great games as to be worth the added expense. If I wanted to buy games just for licenses I'd get some crap X-Men or TMNT themed gauntlet clones for my favorite console. (Oh, burn!)

    Also, Rym DOES play console games a generation behind. He still has yet to play Zelda 64. So he wins there.
    Post edited by Apreche on
  • "Wouldn't your opinion on PC games, always staying one generation behind because the game will be just as good in a year, also apply to console games? Hell, doesn't it apply to games in general?"

    The DS is the last system I played first-gen. The SNES was the one previous. I'm JUST NOW playing N64 and PS1 era games. I'm planning on buying a PS2 a week or so after the PS3 comes out.

    The DS is special. First, I didn't own an SP, so it gave me access to the old/cheap GBA game catalogue. Second, the system was very cheap, as are the games. (I also note that I'm buying many of my DS games used).

    I play Gran Turismo II, Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and Civ II. I play Counterstrike (not source) and Natural Selection. There are so many good old games to play that it would be outright silly to waste money on new games now.

    The only thing that can rouse me to action is a truly revolutionary game that warrants the expense of immediate play. The last game to do that was Quake II. The last console to do it was the DS. The ball's in the game industry's court.
  • Rym hasn't played Zelda 64? Damn.

    Of course, then again, both Scott and Rym were early adopters of the DS, so the "one generation behind" is certainly not consistent.

    It is true that what sparked my interest in both Dragonshard and Dawn of War were the respective liscenses; however, the actual mechanics of each game were intriguing, and if the mechanics were advertised sans liscense, I STILL would have played them. They brought some freshness to the RTS genre, which is in bad need of some new hotness.

    I will contend that Half-Life 2 is better than Farcry, but that doesn't stop Farcry from being good. Led Zeppelin is the best hard rock band ever; that doesn't stop AC/DC from being good and enjoyable. Again, it seems to me that you're just speaking from a preconceived bias rather than actually trying to enjoy a game for what it is. When all is said and done, Half-Life is just an FPS. It's immersive, certainly, but the game is, at its core, the mechanics are no different from any other FPS.

    Though the real point of all this is that nobody really needs a $3000 Alienware penile compensation device; as Scott said, doing Photoshop and other artisty and rendering intesive things will require a powerful PC, but otherwise, spending more than $1000 on a computer is a waste, even if you play current games.
  • Oh. If you have a good argument or counterpoint, feel free to send us a wav file or voicemail. Since the "getting a computer" segment is ongoing, we'll address your comments on the air.

    Granted, we'll touch on them anyway, but here's your chance to appear on our show as more than just a quotation ;^)
  • It's generally easier to banter in person, of course, but pontificating into a mic could make for a decent retort. At least as far as I'm concerned, I might do just that very thing at some point in the future, once I get a decent mic and perhaps a mixer. I'm sure, of course, that you directed that at everyone; anyone's commentary is welcome.

    In particular, I'd like to hear some other folks weigh in; amethisttomoe brought up one reason for having a more powerful computer, and I have brought up the notion of playing the latest games. What do some of the rest of you think?
  • Well, I just had a long argument with Scott on AIM, and while he would probably claim that he totally pwnd me, I will claim that he only MOSTLY pwnd me.

    The final conclusion that I would posit is this: a hypothetical 400 - 500 dollar PC will play all the shiny games that are currently out there, so right now, if your reason for wanting to spend about a grand is gaming, 400 or 500 bucks will do you fine. Probably 400, really.

    The next round of PC games, however, would probably prove more troublesome. There, the debate would then be: would it be better to plunk down an extra 500 or so for a more muscley PC, or just get an Xbox 360? I contend that for future gaming, the difference between a 1000 dollar PC and a 500 dollar PC plus a 360 is roughly negligible, if one accounts for the popularity of MMO's and the tendency of the 360 to crash and of its power converter to be larger than your house. Of course, this is all up to the individual.

    Really, though, if you're that into gaming, just get a Gamecube and a DS. Don't buy a brand new PC just for games; if you have a PC, maybe you could upgrade a component to open up new PC game possibilities, but buying a brand new rig for games is silly these days.
  • Civ 2 is pushing it. Face it; civ 3 was better, and civ 4 destroys civ 3.

    I can run civ 4 just fine. I also run quake 4 just fine. My computer was $800...over 2 YEARS ago. Anyone who cares, price out the following:

    Pentium 2.4 Ghz (800 Mhz FSB)
    512 MB DDR500 (I have 1 GB, but only for WoW)
    GeForce 6800 (or, alternatively, 6600 GT)
    Some damn motherboard (don't get's a crappy ASUS that prevents me from running Linux)

    I OC it to 3.2 (which gives me maybe a 5% increase in Quake 4 framerate).

    I'm sure that would cost very little now. And, as I said, perfect performance in Quake 4, Civ 4, World of Warcraft, Star Wars Galaxies, Call of Duty 2, Doom 3, etc etc.

    For most people (everyone reading this), the difference between a $500 computer and a $1000 is not what games it can play. It's whether you're buying a new core (cpu+mobo+ram+video) or a new computer (core+sound+case+monitor+speakers+peripherals). That other stuff makes up the other $500.

    People really overlook that when buying, say, a Dell. You are buying new components (such as a case, fans, psu, hard drives, etc) that you do not need, because you already have them.
  • On the non-computer bit, just don't explain how viruses work. Just gah... Pete/Scott/I will explain this to you so its not so painful in the future -_-
  • I haven't listened up to that one yet...did they try to make a biology analogy? Bad computer geeks.
  • Rym and Scott tried to explain how viruses work in cells and infections... it just hurt to listen to. Maybe its just because I took my virology final last week and its all extremely fresh but it really really hurt.
  • No no Rym and Scott can explain all they want it's more fun that way ^_^
  • So I just listened to that podcast.


    We have some explaining to do.
  • edited October 2013
    What you don't realize is that $1000 these days is high end. A $400 computer does absolutely everything you need to do at amazing speeds, except play fancy games. With PC gaming being mostly dead, are 3 or 4 new PC games worth $400? For that kind of money you can get an Xbox 360 which will be more powerful than a $1000 computer
    I have to wonder about your "PC gaming is mostly dead" comment.
    Post edited by Starfox on
  • Oh this is an awesome thread to reread :-p
  • Oh my God, it's like I'm 12 all over again.
  • edited October 2013
    In 2005, PC gaming was mostly dead. It was a mega-lull. You can just as easily go back and find wrong things as right things. Nobody can see the future perfectly. Nobody.
    Post edited by Apreche on
  • edited October 2013
    Oh we know it's still awesome to see you extoll the virtues of the X-box 360 and console gaming.
    Post edited by Cremlian on
  • Oh we know it's still awesome to see you extoll the virtues of the X-box 360 and console gaming.
  • In 2005, PC gaming was mostly dead.
    Funny how it cycles like that. Everything old is new again.
  • Oh we know it's still awesome to see you extoll the virtues of the X-box 360 and console gaming.
    If it was 2005, I would be 100% correct.

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