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A Grog's Guide to Game Rigs

by Andy Mills, 15 April 2012

The Grumpy Grog helps you decide on the ultimate system for your gaming needs !

Are you sick and tired of “ivory tower” gaming gurus postulating on what they consider to be the ultimate gaming PC? Time and time again, the super charged system they choose is beyond the reach the reach of the fiscally restrained, “real world” wargamer and aimed at a small, wealthy, overzealous first person shooter crowd. These PC elitist are so focused on bleeding edge technology and identifying yet to be established trends that they usually overlook one critical factor – the actual needs of the gamer. This piece is dedicated to debunking the myth that extreme hardware equals a great gaming platform.

In order to determine what comprises a great gaming system you must first look at the user – in this case, you the wargamer. What do you do with your system? Is the majority of your time spent playing action or strategy games? Do you buy several new titles a month or focus on older games with a high replay value and a ton of mods? Are you a serious game hack or a casual player? You should ask yourself all of these questions before you take anybody else’s word on what PC you should or shouldn’t buy.

Although most gear heads and hardware manufacturers would have you believe that single core or dual core processors are dead, this is not necessarily the case. If the majority of games you play are classic titles then an older processor (like a single core) may be a fine choice. In some instances, the addition of more RAM or a new video card may be the only upgrade needed if you are happy with your current library of wargames. Several recently released games also run well on older dual core processors and don’t require that you own a quad core system with screaming high-end video cards. If things are working fine for you, don’t get caught up in myths propagated by all the techno-mongers and sales people out there. You may already have the perfect gaming system for your needs!

Peripherals, which can add serious value to your system, also seem to be in a state of constant evolution. Upgrade hype can have you feeling downhearted about the age or specs of your input devices, speakers, or monitor. The key to peripherals is quality. Sure, some guys have a 400 watt, 5.1 surround sound speaker system, but I’d rather take a vanilla two speaker set-up as long as they sound great. I often find very few people take the time to create an optimal set-up that maximizes the full potential of their current hardware. A speaker system that isn’t aligned properly or a monitor that is positioned too high or an at uncomfortable angle adds very little to the gaming experience

The topic of mass storage seems to be another area that receives little treatment in from the conventional, spec-heavy approach to creating the perfect gaming PC. Most serious wargamers spend as much time tweaking their games and creating custom missions or scenarios as they do actually playing. Additionally, almost every game released has numerous patches or downloadable content. Most of these add-ons or mods take up copious amounts of hard drive space. This leaves the gamer with a dilemma if he starts to run out of hard drive space or encounters a catastrophic system failure. The best way to deal with this situation is to use external hard drives with a foolproof USB 2 interface. The addition of mass storage capacity ensures that you won’t have to lose those kick-ass custom scenarios, useful mods, or game-specific utilities if things go south. Some people prefer to use an online storage/cloud-based solution which is a great option as long as you have a speedy and reliable Internet connection.

A gaming PC can only be labeled an “ultimate system” when it meets your needs as a Grog. Don’t let advertisements or techno-junkies pressure you into upgrading for the sake of upgrading. Remember, whether you have a single core system or a zillion cores with multiple video cards, if it allows you a transparent window to a quality gaming experience, you have found your ultimate gaming system.

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