Is the Gaming PC Dead?7:42 AM EST Tue. Dec. 23, 2008
Rahul Sood, an industry leader in PC gaming and the CTO for Hewlett-Packard's global gaming business, is sounding a siren of caution for those in the PC gaming space:
. . . The gaming PC as we know it is doomed.
I am not saying PC gaming is doomed, because it's not - - far from it - - but the PC with four GPUs, a 2-kilowatt power supply, 16 gigabytes of memory, and a stack of hard drives is all but distant memory, at least for the PC gamer. . .
(Q)uite frankly I cannot justify buying three $500 video cards just to play a game.
And hey, if I can't justify it, how are we supposed to sell it to our customers?
It's really worth reading the whole thing.
But a good argument could be made that he's simply wrong. Few people these days would suggest "buying three $500 video cards just to play a game." But when, for example, the Everything Channel Test Center designed and built our Ultimate PC a few weeks ago, we did go for a Tri-SLI configuration, using three EVGA GeForce GTX 280 cards (in addition to a Core i7 965 Extreme CPU from Intel.) The configuration gave us the highest benchmarking results we've ever seen without any overclocking at all. Without a display, the bill of materials for the whole thing was about $4,500 - - including the three graphics cards which run about $350 each on the street.
Would it be cheaper to overclock the CPU instead of adding the GPU cards? Yes. Would it mean sacrificing system stability to do so? Quite possibly. But the key point is that the PC gamer can pay for whatever configuration works to his or her satisfaction. And a PC that starts out with on-board graphics can very easily upgrade to one, two or three GPUs as the need or desire arises. It's the very essence of customization that works so well in the PC gaming space, and it's that same customization capability that makes it so easy to adapt to market or economic or technical conditions.
A year from now, three GPUs could cost $80 each to snap into a PC. What then? (If you think price declines like that can't happen, take a look at what's happened to oil prices in the last six months.)
Sood asks, "The question is, just how high-end does one need to go in terms of hardware before he blows his brains out?"How much room do you have in that chassis?
More: Patrick Moorhead, AMD's vice president of advanced marketing, responds via Friendfeed:
"PC gaming isn't dead its just transforming. Casual games are exploding on the PC driven by a lots of things, but made capable by better integrated graphics (real 3D games) and better CPUs (Flash games) . You don't need to pay $5K to have a good experience anymore. That's one of the points of AMD's Spider and Dragon platforms with the combo of hardware AND software goodies to get a good experience."