What is a PC Gaming System
PC gaming systems operate like any personal computer you might have but offer much higher performance in comparison to low-end computers. Even though they are higher performing, they are still made up of the traditional computer components but may have extra components as well. PC gaming systems are made up of the following components: RAM, CPU, Motherboard, Graphics Card, Power Supply, HDD/SSD. Additionally, these computers may have more fans or a liquid cooling system in order to cool the system since the computer is running much harder to power all of the powerful computer components. PC gaming systems have evolved immensely over the past decade, so it is important to understand how they have evolved over the years.
History of PC Gaming Systems
Computers and gaming originated long before the first gaming computers were built. The first computers were being used during the 1930s and they were size of a living room. Gaming on the other hand came about in 1962 with the introduction of ‘Spacewar!’. During the following years many gaming consoles were introduced; these are technically computers but will be considered as consoles throughout this paper. In 1984, the first ‘affordable’ gaming computer came to the market — the Amstrad CPC 464. This computer’s storage was contained on a magnetic tape, had a CPU clock speed of 4Mhz, 64-128KB of RAM, and produced a resolution of 160×200 (2017). At the time of manufacture, these computers allowed much more complex games to be played and opened the door for the expansion of the PC gaming market.
Around a decade later the power of the gaming computer was boosted astronomically in terms of the time period. Intel and AMD had started producing CPUs which clocked at 66Mhz. RAM had also seen a boost during this time and was now capable of 4MB — much higher than what was available in 1984. Along with these performance boosts, storage had also seen an upgrade. Most computers previously averaged around 1GB of storage. Five years later in 1998, there was another spike in performance boost. CPU speeds boosted to 233Mhz, RAM was now capable of 64MB, and average storage was now around 10GB (2017). The boost in gaming PC performance did not stop here, after Y2K gaming PCs performed landslides better than before.
In the years following Y2K, gaming PCs reach much higher performance in comparison to previous years. In 2004, home building became popular because PC components became more affordable and accessible. These home-built PCs were powerful considering when they were built; CPUs clocked at 1.7Ghz, RAM was up to 512MB, and the average storage had grown to 50GB. Since then, computers have seen an astronomical boost in performance. PC gaming systems currently average around 1TB of storage, have CPU clock speeds of 3.0Ghz+, has 8GB+ of RAM, has dedicated graphics card(s), and can now reach resolutions of up to 4k (2017).
Building Your Own PC Gaming System
Advantages and Disadvantages of Building a PC Gaming System
There are many advantages and disadvantages to building your gaming PC yourself. In terms of advantages, there are 2 main advantages to building your own gaming PC. The first is customization; by building it yourself you are able to customize the components to your liking allowing you to create a gaming PC the specifically fits your needs and plays the games you want to play. The other main advantage is the upgradability. When building your system, you know exactly what components were put in and what other components are compatible with your system (McClain, 2019). Customization and upgradability are important to some PC gamers, but it is also important to understand how you might be disadvantaged by building your own PC.
While building your own gaming PC has its advantages, it also comes with disadvantages. One disadvantage is that your PC does not come with warranty, individual parts will more than likely come with warranty, but if one component happens to fry another then it will most likely not be covered by warranty. Another disadvantage is the time and effort necessary to build a gaming PC. It takes time to acquire all the required components, putting all the components together, and troubleshooting to ensure the system is running popular. This last disadvantage can also be classified as an advantage; price can be either cheap or expensive (McClain, 2019). You can build a high-end gaming system with brand new parts for a hefty price, or you can achieve the same high-end build by buying pre-owned components. In the end, price is circumstantial depending on how you go about acquiring the components for your build.
Market Shar of PC Component Manufacturers
In terms of market share, it is hard to determine the share of home-built gaming PCs in entire gaming PC market. Instead we will analyze the major PC components, their manufacturers, and the market share each of these manufacturers hold. Intel and AMD are the most common chipsets found in gaming PCs today. Currently in Q1 of 2019 Intel holds around 78% of the market and AMD hold the other 22% (2019). The CPU market is clearly dominated by Intel, but in recent years AMD has made strides to increase their overall share of the market. NVIDIA and AMD are the dominant manufacturers of GPUs. During Q4 of 2018 NVIDIA’s GPU market share grew to 81.2% and AMD’s share fell to 18.8% (Mujtaba, 2019). The GPU market is dominated by NVIDIA with AMD nowhere close to having a substantial portion of the market. The other PC components are clouded by ten or more manufacturers making it much harder to determine the market share of each manufacturer.
Pre-Built PC Gaming Systems
Advantages and Disadvantages of Buyinga Pre-Built Gaming PC
Like home-built PCs, there are many advantages and disadvantages when buying a pre-built gaming PC. There are three main advantages to buying a pre-built gaming PC. Pre-built gaming PCs can be cheaper than building a PC, but also has a chance to be more expensive than building depending on the circumstance of the builder. Another advantage would be the included warranty. This warranty covers the whole system so if anything malfunctions you are covered under warranty. An additional advantage would be ease of startup. Pre-built systems are plug and go, you do not need to worry about building the system just plugging it in and setting it up. The last advantage is the technical support provided by the manufacturer. If a user has a problem, they can scour the internet for answers. However, having technical support from the manufacturer guarantees your computer is up and running faster. Technical support allows you get back to what you were doing more efficiently (Padilla, 2019).
Pre-built PCs have their advantages, but it is important to understand the trouble you might face after buying a pre-built gaming PC. One disadvantage when buying a pre-built gaming PC is the fact that you may not get the exact configuration you need/want. The other disadvantage is the pre-built gaming PCs are often harder to upgrade in comparison to a home-built computer. Some parts are easier to upgrade than others, but upgrading major components is next to impossible with a pre-built system because you are limited by the size of the case given (Padilla, 2019). These disadvantages aren’t major but may affect you later in the life cycle of your PC gaming system.
Market Share of Pre-Built Gaming PC Manufacturers
Pre-built PC market share can be hard to determine as these manufacturers are much smaller in terms of company size and data regarding these companies are much harder to find. These manufacturers are companies such as iBUYPOWER, Origin PC, and Cyberpower PC. Instead the market share among low-end, mid-range, and high-end gaming PCs will be discussed.
It has been noted that gaming PC sales have been dropping year after year, but it could just be a shift in to another performance range. Low-end gaming PCs have seen a drop-in market share from 26% to 22%, but this has caused a spike in the market share of mid-range gaming PCs. The mid-range gaming PC market share grew by the same amount that the low-end market shrunk, growing from 31% to 35%. This shows that some gaming PC owners have upgraded their systems because their previous system was no longer performing as needed. In terms of high-end gaming PCs, the market share has not changed. High-end gaming PCs currently hold 43% of the gaming PC market which is the majority market share over low-end and midrange gaming machines (Orland, 2017).
PC Gaming vs. Console Gaming
PC Gaming System vc. Conosle Gaming System
Both PC gaming systems and console gaming systems are computers, but how do they differ? PC gaming systems allow user to reach higher graphic fidelity and provide upgradability to the user without having to buy an entire system; these tend to be more expensive but can bring more to the table. PC gaming systems also have more variety in terms of games to play which could be the selling point for some consumers. There is some exclusivity in terms of game titles, but these tend not to be “Triple A” titles.
Console gaming systems does bring things to the table that PC gaming systems don’t. These systems are much cheaper but require you to buy a whole new system when hardware is updated for the new games coming out. They also provide some exclusivity since there are some games released on console that never make it to the PC platform. They also allow the user to game more comfortably since these systems do not require a mouse and keyboard for use. These are some major differences between the system types, but each of these differences contributes to which system the consumer will buy.
PC Gaming Market Share in Comparison to the Console Gaming Market
PC gaming systems and consoles hold most of the market share together with mobile gaming sweeping up the rest of the market share. PC gaming systems currently hold 35% of the gaming market; this only contains consumers who exclusively game on PC. In comparison, console gaming only holds 21% of the market; again, this only contains consumers that exclusively game on console. Mobile gaming holds the remaining 34% of the market (Bailey, 2018).
With that being said, PC gaming system and component manufacturers need to determine how to increase PC gaming market share because the console gaming market share is rising rapidly. This is mainly due to how expensive it can be to get into PC gaming; yes, you can build/buy cheaper systems, but these low-end systems do not have the capability a console system has. In order to increase the PC gaming market share, manufacturers need to find a cost- effective way to lower the prices of pre-builts and components. The lowered prices may not create an immediate increase in market share but should help the market share increase steadily over the coming years.
In summary, PC gaming systems have evolved substantially since 1984. Building your own gaming PC allows you to customize it to your liking and upgrade it as you see fit but requires a lot of time and warranty does not cover everything. Intel and AMD hold the entire CPU market with Intel holding the majority. NVIDIA and AMD own the entire GPU market, with NVIDIA holding the majority. Buying a pre-built gaming PC allows easy setup, provides warranty that covers the entire system, and the manufacturer provides technical support, but you may not get the exact configuration you need and may not be able to upgrade your system as easily. Lastly, PC gaming only holds a fraction of the gaming market and must do something in order to combat the rapid increase of the console market share.
Future of PC Gaming
Performance has been boosted astronomically since the first PC gaming systems were built. What does the future hold in terms of gaming PCs? These systems will see another great boost in performance in terms of hardware. Future gaming PCs will have 64 core CPUs clocking at speeds around 5.2Ghz, RAM will be capable of 128GB in a single system, and GPUs will also have a RAM size of 128GB (2017). You can see by the hardware components listed above that there will be another great boost in gaming PC performance. When it will come out and what it will cost has yet to be determined, but in terms of when it will come out it may be closer than it seems.