What is gaming pc?

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The terms gaming PC and gaming computer refer to computers specifically built to play personal computer games at a higher resolution or higher graphical settings than domestic PCs. They commonly feature extravagant casings and high-end components, and are sometimes liquid cooled.

Although PC games will run on general-purpose home computers, a true gaming computer is specifically made to process the instructions necessary for 3-D graphics acceleration processing, physics modeling, unified pixel shading technology, dynamic geometry rendering, and enhanced sound processing and effects engines. They also include readily available external connection points for a variety of accessories such as, headphones, USB formatted devices and firewire connection points. Although gaming computers, sometimes called a "gaming rig", may be bought retail in the same manner as the common computer, they are frequently built by their creators for use in single player, or online gaming. Gaming computers are purpose-built to gain the best possible performance advantage in order to produce a computer that will out-perform the opponents computer, thereby winning the game in an online contest, or to simply enjoy the best images and effects a new computer game has to offer.[1]

The personal computers made specifically for playing games started being popularized with the introduction of games back in the 90's such as Doom by id Software, made for Microsoft DOS based personal computers. These games pushed standard business and home computer hardware to their limit, and game enthusiasts began building computers with the highest performance hardware to run Doom at the best possible performance (measured in frames per second). Therefore, the gaming computer began as a modified utilitarian device for competitive events.

* 1 Games drive hardware performance trends
* 2 History
o 2.1 Origin
o 2.2 Cost of gaming PCs
* 3 Hardware description
o 3.1 Graphics
o 3.2 Display
o 3.3 Audio
o 3.4 Physics
o 3.5 CPU
o 3.6 Memory
o 3.7 Storage
o 3.8 Networking
o 3.9 Interfaces
o 3.10 Cases
* 4 Performance and benchmarks
* 5 Overclocking
* 6 Prebuilt gaming PCs
* 7 Gaming laptops
* 8 Portable gaming desktops
* 9 Gaming PC manufactures (A–Z)
* 10 See also
* 11 References

[edit] Games drive hardware performance trends

Since the introduction of Doom, each new game generation pushes the envelope of what computers will do. Game developers consciously code their software to be impressive for a year or two into the future. This creates a dilemma for both the developer and the user of the software in that the hardware available when the game is made available for sale may not run the software at its highest level of performance.

This is the reason why most mass marketed games found in retail stores have two sets of required hardware listed on the box. The first set is the "minimum hardware requirements" and the second set is the "recommended hardware requirements."

The minimum requirements are the oldest and lowest-performing hardware components that the game developer successfully operated the game software on during testing. The suggested hardware requirements are what the game developer wants the user to play the game on to get a satisfactory experience from the game; games will generally run faster and look better the higher the performance of the hardware. Thus the very high end gaming computers will be composed of the latest publicly available hardware.

[edit] History

[edit] Origin

As computer games started becoming graphically and computationally complex in the 1990s, with games such as Quake and Tomb Raider using hardware accelerated graphics, the concept of building PCs specifically for gaming was born. As such, the power of a gaming PC's GPU has always been the top priority. [2] In the early and mid 90's, companies such as Voodoo PC, Falcon Northwest and Alienware, focusing entirely on gaming and high-end PCs were launched. Games like The 7th Guest and Myst [3] helped CD-ROMs and sound cards become far more popular. In 1998, AMD incorporated the 3DNow! instruction set into their K6-2 CPU line as well as every CPU model thereafter. The technology was designed for vector processing, a frequent task in 3-D games. Intel responded with Streaming SIMD Extensions in the Pentium III, which AMD eventually also incorporated from Athlon XP onwards. However, it wasn't until the 2000s when major computer manufacturers such as Dell made any serious attempts at building gaming PCs, later purchasing Alienware, Inc in 2006 after Alienware had accumulated a whopping total of 172 million for the previous year, 2005. [4]

[edit] Cost of gaming PCs

The purchase of a gaming PC can be quite expensive. As an example, the graphics card ATI Radeon 9700 Pro was released at US$399 in 2002. [5] This one part is comparable in price to a sixth and seventh generation console, and many gaming PCs support the use of multiple video cards in SLI or CrossFire, making it possible to spend even the equivalent on that of an older automobile in graphics cards alone.[6]

It should be noted, however, that those parts do not represent major sales, and are not required to play even the most graphically intense games. For example, the demanding late-2007 game Unreal Tournament 3 can achieve extremely high frame rates with the USD$250 8800 GT. [7] Manufacturers are targeting the ultra-high-end parts market, but the majority of gaming PCs use older parts such as outdated graphics cards, from older generations (such as nVidia series 7 videocards) and older CPUs (e.g., single-core CPUs) [8] , as well as any other computer peripherals, fitting the user's necessity, budget, and/or interest in final performance. The cost of the PC platform itself has dropped significantly, with even low-cost computers boasting multi-core processors, large quantities of system memory, and monitors similar in resolution to high-definition TVs. [9]

CPU manufacturers offer CPU models geared towards gaming and overclocking, usually priced for the top market segments. Examples can be shown such as "Pentium Extreme Edition" and Athlon FX series in 2003[10] by Intel and AMD respectively. Similar to the ultra-high end graphics cards, these CPUs are not commonly used, and in many cases will not provide a large performance benefit in games. [11] To reduce final cost, users can build gaming PCs using cheaper (but still effective) parts, sometimes overclocking low-to-mid-range parts to higher frequencies in order to match or exceed the performance of top-of-the-line parts. Gaming PCs can also be upgraded, funds from the old parts subsidizing the purchase of newer, faster ones. [12]

[edit] Hardware description

[edit] Graphics
A mid-range video card with ATI X1950 chipset.
A mid-range video card with ATI X1950 chipset.
A high-end video card with nVidia 8800GT chipset.
A high-end video card with nVidia 8800GT chipset.

Main article: Graphics card

Gaming PCs use hardware accelerated graphics cards which offer high-end rasterisation-based rendering/image quality. The graphics card is the most important part determining the capabilities of a gaming PC. [13] Memory capacity on 3-D cards is usually at least 256 MB to 1 GB. The amount of video RAM is only important while gaming in higher resolution, as it does not directly affect performance. The type of memory used however is an important factor. Modern graphics cards use the PCI-E expansion slot. Two or more graphics cards can be used simultaneously on mainboards supporting SLI or ATI CrossFire technology, for nVidia and ATI based cards respectively. Both technologies allow for two graphics cards of the same model to be used in unison to process and render an image.[14]
“ A well-made, top-class video card should at least adequately play all the new games for about two years, though hardcore gamers will eagerly spend the money to upgrade more often. To keep up with the technology while spending the least amount of money, waiting two years to upgrade is the most accepted compromise." - Microsoft.com[15] ”

[edit] Display

Main article: Computer display

While the superiority between LCD screens and CRT monitors is still debated, it is clear that a fast response time and high refresh rate is desired in order to display smooth motion. A framerate of 30 frames per second (fps) is the minimum for smooth motion in a video game. As games approach 60 fps and beyond, the difference becomes less apparent. Apart from the primary display, some gamers choose to use a secondary display as well. These may include a second screen or an LCD display located on the keyboard or by itself.

[edit] Audio

Main article: Sound card

Gaming PCs are usually equipped with a dedicated sound card and speakers in a 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound configuration. The speaker setup or a set of quality headphones is required to enjoy the advanced sound found in most modern computer games.[16] Sound cards have hardware accelerated technologies, such as EAX. An example is Sound Blaster X-Fi, which the Fatal1ty editions have 64 MB of onboard RAM (unmatched for a sound card) and has gaming PCs as main target demographic with its dedicated "gaming mode".[17]

[edit] Physics

Main article: Physics Processing Unit

While physics cards are now available, compatibility and performance increases are still debated. Some people have experienced performance downgrades in GRAW, [18] one of few games currently available that take advantage of additional physics hardware. Graphics card manufacturers plan on including PPUs on their chipsets and also adding a slot for a third graphics card (in addition to the usual 2 slots for SLI or Crossfire setups) to act as a PPU.[19] At the moment, the cards are expensive and neither widely used nor widely supported in games.

[edit] CPU
Intel Core 2 Duo CPU
Intel Core 2 Duo CPU

Main article: CPU

The CPU is mainly responsible for computing physics, AI and central game processes. Modern gaming PCs use high-end Intel Core 2, Phenom, or Athlon 64 X2 (in budget solutions) CPUs. With the rise of multi-threaded games, multi-processor and multi-core setups will become more important than ever, but as of today the individual core speed is still more important then the number of cores. Processor should be capable of running at least the SSE3 instruction set extension, which is available in all modern CPUs.[20]

[edit] Memory
A pair of DDR2 memory modules.
A pair of DDR2 memory modules.

Main article: RAM

Memory, or RAM, acts as a cache for non-graphical resources that games use. Gaming PCs typically have the fastest available RAM modules, with heat sinks to dissipate heat created by the high data transfer rate between the RAM and the motherboard. The fast RAM found in gaming PCs has the benefit of increased performance by having lower latency than regular RAM. [21] RAM capacity is also an issue with gaming PCs, and usually at least 1 GB of memory is used, most however use 2 GB and more, even as much as 8 GB. Such extreme amounts are, however, hardly ever needed.

[edit] Storage

Main article: Hard disk

In gaming PCs, fast hard drives are very desirable. Having a faster hard drive will result in lower loading times in games. For this reason, some gaming PCs use certain RAID setups to lower latency and increase throughput to mass storage.[22] Since the space taken up by games is nominal compared to the total availability on modern hard drives, speed is preferred over capacity.

[edit] Networking

Main article: Online gaming

While typical computers, including high-end systems, tend to use wireless connections to connect to other computers as well as a router, gaming PCs often use ethernet cables for the fastest and most reliable connection possible.[23] Also, some companies sell dedicated network cards to reduce lag and increase the performance of multiplayer. A dial-up Internet connection is not an acceptable solution due to the very high latency (~400ms is common).

[edit] Interfaces

Main article: Game controller

There are many hardware interfaces designed specifically for gaming and while sometimes used with less powerful PCs, they are most often observed with gaming PCs. Such interfaces include keyboards and mice built for gaming (these typically include additional keys or buttons for game-related functions as well as LCD-screens, higher sensitivity (mouse), better aderency (keyboard/mouse) and less/more friction depending on the user's needs[24]), joysticks, gamepads, steering wheels, PC-compatible airplane gauges and panels,[25] etc. It should be noted that touch screens are rarely used for PC gaming at this point. "Haptic feedback" commonly known as force feedback, allows for greater immersion into the games played. While there are no keyboards that support haptic feedback, some mice and most forms of game controllers do.

[edit] Cases

Main article: Computer case

Cases of gaming computers are often subject to case modding. Modding usually includes clear sides to reveal the internal components, which may be adorned with LEDs, images on the graphics cards or power supply units. In addition to aesthetics, gaming cases are also designed for function; the case must be able to provide cooling for high-end, possibly overclocked components, and have room for expansion and customization.

[edit] Performance and benchmarks

Main articles: Benchmark (computing) and Benchmark

As a general guideline, a gaming PC must achieve high scores on 3D benchmarks such as 3DMark when it is first built or upgraded. Gamers who know how to overclock sometimes do so to prolong the usefulness of their hardware. The highest results are always and by far achieved by overclocking.[26]

Outside benchmarks and in "real world" testing, the performance of a gaming PC can be measured by two metrics - framerate and visual quality.

The framerate is measured in frames per second (frame/s), which refers to the number of times the video card refreshes the image shown on screen. Generally, frame rates of above 30 are desirable in high performance games, though the fastest gaming PCs can often achieve much higher framerates while maintaining visual quality.

Visual quality refers to the visual quality of the rendered image. Higher settings and resolution have a negative effect on the framerate. A key feature of the gaming PC is that it should be able to maintain high values of both framerate and visual quality simultaneously.

[edit] Overclocking

Main article: Overclocking

Apart from hardware enthusiasts, overclocking is used in gaming PCs to achieve higher framerates than the parts in the PC would render using stock clockspeeds. Overclocking is such a big part in gaming PC culture that some PC gaming magazines such as GameStar[27] occasionally publish guides on how to overclock the latest CPUs, GPUs, and motherboards. In order to achieve the highest overclocks, more advanced cooling methods must be employed, such as water cooling.

Pre-built gaming PCs were rarely overclocked, but a trend has emerged with the Dell XPS 600 Renegade and several other companies including Velocity Micro, Vigor Gaming, CustomGamerPC / ACS, War Machine, Overdrive PC, Alienware, Falcon Northwest, and Voodoo PC now offering overclocked and warrantied machines.

There are many hazards when overclocking a computer. When a CPU (Central Processing Unit) is overclocked it will generally run hotter than normal, the additional heat can sometimes stress components to the point of failure. In response to this problem, heatsink manufacturers have implemented innovative solutions in air-cooling primarily based on the incorporation of heatpipe technologies coupled with large-finned tower heatsinks. Alternatively many gaming PCs utilize Watercooling as a means of dissipating additional heat from overclocked components.

Watercooling is able to provide dissipation that is superior to air-cooled heatsinks. The watercooling system can be configured to be either far superior to air-cooling but at the cost of being as noisy, or even more noisy than high-end air cooling (due to large, fast, loud fans used on the radiator); or it can be configured to be about as effective, or even a bit more effective than high-end air-cooling, but far less noisy (usually by utilizing large radiators coupled with slow and quiet 120 mm fans, and quiet, yet powerful pumps.)

[edit] Prebuilt gaming PCs

While many "hardcore" gamers build their gaming PCs themselves, people with little or no experience in computer hardware prefer to go with prebuilt or custom-built gaming PCs. These PCs are almost always more expensive than building one's own. Different companies offer varying degrees of customization, some almost as much as building it oneself. There are also drawbacks to building one's own computer, which is why these companies do so well. Building a computer means being responsible for taking care of any problems that may arise, instead of using a technical support hotline. Customer support is a major reason why even extreme gaming enthusiast look to a manufacture for their custom PC build.

[edit] Gaming laptops

Gaming laptops are the mobile equivalent of gaming PCs and are usually more expensive than their PC counterparts. Currently, some feature inbuilt graphics processors, which tend to use a lot of battery power and create heat, so one concern among GPU manufacturers is to reduce power usage (and therefore heat). These GPUs are roughly equivalent to the desktop graphics cards that share similar names. One recent development by NVIDIA is SLI for laptops.

[edit] Portable gaming desktops

Recently there has been trend in the gaming PC industry to create small form factor desktops that are easy to transport. Several major companies including Falcon Northwest and Alienware now offer such PCs. One company, Lanslide Gaming PCs, is specifically devoted towards creating portable gaming PCs for the LAN party enthusiast and has a patent pending on a backpack to aid in the transport of their computers. The backpack is able to carry and protect all of the peripherals needed for a desktop computer including a mouse, keyboard, headset, cables and up to a 19" widescreen monitor.

[edit] Gaming PC manufactures (A–Z)

* Alienware (Dell)
* AVA Direct
* CustomGamerPC.com / ACS
* CyberpowerPC
* DigitalStorm
* Falcon Northwest
* HipePC
* Hypersonic PC
* HP Blackbird
* iBuyPower
* KC Computers
* Lanslide Gaming PCs
* MainGear
* NSYSonline
* Polywell
* Puget Custom Computers
* Yagear
* Velocity Micro
* Vigor
* VoodooPC (HP)
* Xi Computer

[edit] See also

* Overclocking
* Computer and video games

[edit] References

1. ^ "Falcon Northwest Co. - Gaming PC seller". Falcon Northwest Co.. Retrieved on 2007-11-07.
2. ^ "Puget Systems' Computer Building Guide". Puget Systems (2006-10-19). Retrieved on 2006-10-19.
3. ^ "MYST Review" (2006-10-19). Retrieved on 2006-10-19.
4. ^ "Alienware Bought Out By Dell Article" (2006-03-23). Retrieved on 2006-03-23.
5. ^ Shimpi, Anand Lal (2002-08-19). "ATI Radeon 9700 Pro - Delivering as Promised". AnandTech. Retrieved on 2006-07-11.
6. ^ Wilson, Derek (2006-03-09). "NVIDIA's Tiny 90nm G71 and G73: GeForce 7900 and 7600 Debut". AnandTech. Retrieved on 2006-07-11.
7. ^ "BFG 8800 GT OC review?" (HTML). Neoseeker.. Retrieved on 2007-10-27.
8. ^ "Valve Corp.'s Hardware Survey" (HTML). Valve Corp.. Retrieved on 2007-10-11.
9. ^ "How Low Can They Go?" (HTML). TechGear.. Retrieved on 2007-10-27.
10. ^ Shimpi, Anand (2003-09-16). "Intel introduces the Pentium 4 Extreme Edition". AnandTech. Retrieved on 2006-07-22.
11. ^ "CPU Charts." (HTML). Tom's Hardware.. Retrieved on 2007-10-27.
12. ^ "The $500 Gaming PC Upgrade." (HTML). Firing Squad.. Retrieved on 2007-10-27.
13. ^ "GPU vs. CPU Upgrade: Extensive Tests". Tom's Hardware (2008-05-15). Retrieved on 2008-05-26.
14. ^ Wasson, Scott (2006-06-05). "GeForce 7950 GX2 explained". Tech Report. Retrieved on 2006-07-22.
15. ^ "Windows XP: Video Card 101". Microsoft (2003-11-10). Retrieved on 2006-07-11.
16. ^ "Hear It All with Surround Sound". Microsoft (2003-11-10). Retrieved on 2006-07-11.
17. ^ "Sound Blaster X-Fi Fatal1ty". Creative Labs. Retrieved on 2006-07-11.
18. ^ Wilson, Derek (2006-03-05). "Exclusive: ASUS Debuts AGEIA PhysX Hardware". AnandTech. Retrieved on 2006-07-11.
19. ^ Justice, Brent (2006-03-20). "nVIDIA SLI Physics Tech Preview". [H]ard|OCP. Retrieved on 2006-07-11.
20. ^ Wall, Michael. "Optimizing Games for AMD Athlon 64 processors in 2006 and beyond". Advanced Micro Devices. Retrieved on 2006-07-24.
21. ^ Woram, John (2005-10-06). "CNET on gaming RAM". CNET. Retrieved on 2006-07-22.
22. ^ "Why upgrade your hard drive?". Alienware. Retrieved on 2006-07-23.
23. ^ Mitchell, Bradley. "Wireless vs Wired LANs". About. Retrieved on 2006-07-11.
24. ^ "Logitech G15 gaming keyboard". Logitech. Retrieved on 2006-07-23.
25. ^ "The Real Cockpit". TRC Development. Retrieved on 2006-07-23.
26. ^ "3D Mark hall of fame". Futuremark. Retrieved on 2006-07-12.
27. ^ Issues August 2005 and September 2005 of GameStar featured multi-page guides on overclocking

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Categories: Video game hardware | Personal computers

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