Gaming computers are very similar to personal computers. Both types of machines have the standard pieces of a computer such as motherboard, RAM, CPU, and HDD/SSD. The biggest difference between the two is the inclusion of a performance-oriented video card. These video cards host a graphics processor and have dedicated memory (Gaming computer). Most gaming machines are built with the idea of maximizing performance. An example of maximizing performance would to overclock your CPU past the recommended settings. A 3.4 GHz CPU would typically be overclocked to at least 4.0 GHz. While this would give a gamer more power it also degrades the CPU faster.
Gaming computer systems offer a lot of flexibility when it comes to the equipment in each machine. There are many difference choices when it comes to the type of machine you want to have. Consumers have the choice of low-end, mid-range, and high-end machines (Gaming Computer). With the low-end machines the equipment inside may meet the minimum requirements for a modern video game. Mid-range machines may have one or two pieces of high-end equipment but the majority of the system will be a step above the minimum requirements. High-end machines are often were you find PC enthusiasts who will spend top dollar on the very best equipment that is on the market. No matter which route a consumer decides to take, most gaming machines are pre built by companies that specialize in producing gaming machines (Gaming Computer) or assembled by the consumer themselves. Gaming PC’s have been prevalent in society for many years and will continue to do so mainly due to eSports and online gaming.
In order to understand where gaming machines are heading, you need to understand how gaming machines started (Overmars). The first computer game was created by Alexander Douglas in 1952; it was called “OXO”. As the name of the game hints at, it was a game that simulated tic-tac-toe. This game was built on the EDSAC (Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator). The EDSAC was very advanced for its time. It was one of the first stored-program computers which also had memory that could be read from or written to (OXO). This machine used cathode ray tubes to display the game, which was a three 35×16 dot matrix (OXO). The computer did not have a gamepad or joystick to input your commands, in order to choose where you wanted your X or O to be placed you had to use a rotatory phone. Players would choose which number they wanted in order to place the symbol. The board read from left to right and top to bottom. If the player wanted to place their symbol in the middle row far left then the player would choose the number four on the rotatory phone.
Gaming machines continued to change as computers changed. The next big stop in gaming machines was the release of Windows 95. With the release of Windows 95 came one of the most influential games of all time, Doom. Consumer computers were starting to become more main stream at this time. The minimal requirements for Windows 95 were an Intel 80386DX, 4 MB of RAM, and 50-55 MB of disk space (Windows 95). Windows 95 was a huge leap in computing with the addition of a GUI, plug and play features, and the “start” button (Windows 95). Doom was one of the original first person shooters to be played on a personal computer. Enthusiast who wanted to play Doom on the highest settings were building “dream machines” which included a 486 66MHz DX/2 motherboard, 256k Cache RAM on motherboard, 8-16 megabytes of 70 ms RAM, VESA compatible local bus video card, SoundBlaster 16 ASP w/Roland Sound Canvas, and a 20” CAD monitor (Gaming computer). With the popularity of Doom, the players of the game wanted to be able to play with each other. These players would host “Lan Parties” in order to play with each over. These parties would allow the players in the room to have their gaming computers hook up via network card (Gaming computer).
Gaming machines have changed quite a bit since the days of Doom on Windows 95. Gaming PC’s are much stronger and can rival a server class machine. The pieces of hardware that should be taken into consideration for a modern gaming machine are GPU, CPU, motherboard, DDR memory, SSD/HDD, PSU, Cooling system, and a case that offers great air flow. Each piece is just as important as the next in terms of maximizing performance. Each piece of equipment has grown in power over the years. The amount of RAM required to run Doom compared to a modern game has grown by 2000 times. A modern high end game has a minimal requirement of 16 GB of RAM, compared to 4 MB for Doom on Windows 95. The on board graphics on a Windows 95 machine pales in comparison to the dedicated graphics cards that are on the market today. It was inconceivable to have a standalone PCI bus that could deliver 8 GB of video RAM. The Intel 80386 ran at a standard of 12 MHz which compared to Intel’s Skylake processor which runs standard at 4.0 Ghz.
In my opinion the best part of a gaming machine is the Graphics Card. The GPU is essential to any gaming machine either on the low end or the high end of gaming machines. Modern cards connect to the motherboard using the PCI or PCI-E bus (Gaming computer). GPU are generally designed, manufactured, and creating of cooling shrouds by third party vendors. However the actual architecture of the GPU is designed by the proprietary company. There are two major vendors in the market which are NVIDIA and AMD. These two companies are the gold standard for GPU’s in the market. There are companies that will use the architecture of the GPU to create different versions. These companies include MSI, Asus, Gigabyte Technology, and EVGA (Manufacturers). The modified versions of the original GPU’s are focused on cooling and different components such as gold plated connectors. Currently NVIDIA is the market leader with a total of 78.8% of the total sales of graphics cards. Out of a total of 50 million add in boards, 5.9 million AIBs were enthusiasts level products were are at least $299 cards (Mujtaba). AMD is considered the cheaper option when getting into enthusiast level GPUs. The GPUs from AMD have gotten better over the years but they still lack the build quality of NVIDIA. Since the company has started to produce a better quality gpu their market share has increased from 18.8% to 21.1% in Q4 of 2015 (Mujtaba).
The workhorse of a gaming machine is the CPU. There are two major brands when it comes to CPU. These two brands are Intel and AMD, similar to GPUs Intel is the market leader in quality CPUs. Intel’s architecture has been superior to AMD for gaming enthusiast; the big difference is Intel’s hyper threading which AMD does not have in their chips. Intel has dominated the market share, 87.7% in Q4 of 2015 compared to 12.1% from AMD. Intel has grown from 86.3% in 2014 and AMD has fallen from 13.6%. The difference will continue to grow as AMD has significantly cut its manufacturing of PC CPUs (Shah).
Motherboards are the integral piece when it comes to bringing all of the components together. There are quite a few manufacturers of motherboards but the two largest manufacturers are Gigabyte and Asus. Gigabyte has reported 4.7 million motherboards sold in 2015 while Asus has sold 4.5 million in the same time frame (Jonnalagadda). Both companies offer very reliable and excellent build quality. Motherboards come in form factors such as ATX, mATX, and Mini-ITX (gaming computer). The ATX motherboard is considered the standard for gaming machines as they have the greatest ability to expand. The mATX is a good choice for smaller computer cases as it is smaller than an ATX board. The Mini-ITX is a great choice if a consumer is building a small portable gaming rig.
Memory is also essential for any computer system as it allows the CPU to address more data for it to quickly access instead of reading off of a comparatively slow disk drive or SSD (gaming computer). The standard for memory is DDR4 however there are still quite a few machines that are running DDR3 memory. The industry leader in DRAM is Samsung Electronics which held a 46.4% share for the 4th quarter in 2015. The 2nd place position is held by SK Hynix which commands 27.9% of the market for the 4th quarter in 2015. The global earnings for DRAM has fallen from 12.1 billion in Q1 2015 to 8.56 billion in Q1 2016 (Shilov). This is probably due to the decrease in the amount of computers being purchased in general.
There are two choices when it comes to mass storage, hard disk drive and solid state drive. Either is integral for a gaming machine as it stores all of the files for the machine. SSD drives are continuing dropping in price per gigabyte. In a perfect world a gaming enthusiast will have large SSD drives as it will help load games much faster than a HDD. The market leader in SSD is Samsung, with a commanding hold of 44.7% of the market (Sohail). The 2nd place manufacturer is SanDisk with 11.1% of the market (Sohail).
Power Supplies are important as well, they make sure there is enough power for the equipment to run properly. Corsair has been the industry leader for many years. It is considered the gold standard when it comes to PSU for a gaming machine. It has the best warranty and efficiency compared to other competitors. The biggest rival for Corsair is Silverstone which also provides a solid choice for consumer power supply needs.
Cooling systems help keep the CPU temperatures at a reasonable level while overclocking. When a CPU is being overclocked it generates more heat than it normally would. Water cooling systems run water through the pipes and to the water block, which sits on top of the CPU (gaming computer). Corsair offers the best choice when it comes to water cooling kits. The next best choice would be from Swiftech which offers a comparable option to Corsair.
While personal computers have stalled in terms of sales numbers due to the rise in the mobile platform, there is still a future for gaming machines. One of the biggest saviors for the gaming machine world is the rise in eSports. eSports is also known as electronic sports which is a form of competition that is facilitated by personal gaming machines (eSports). The global eSport market has generated $325 million dollars in 2015 and is expected to make $463 million in 2016 (eSports). As with any sport there will always be fans that want to emulate what they see. With a global audience of 226 million people there is still quite a bit of enthusiast who will spend money to build their own gaming machine (eSports). Most of the major equipment manufacturers are sponsors for eSport tournaments, which is a great way to advertise.
Gaming machines may not be for everyone but for the people who love to play videogames there will always be a market for high end computer equipment. When it comes to maximizing performance there will always be a leader in equipment. Intel, NVIDIA, and Corsair are generally the staples to any good quality gaming machine. Each piece of equipment has a vital role in an enthusiasts gaming rig.