The most obvious benefit of a desktop computer’s extra power and stability, unless you’re working with advanced graphics or video, is gaming. But a few things have changed in recent years that make this fact relevant to many more. Games are transitioning from a retail model to a Netflix-style subscription model, which is great for people who want an immediate and large library of games, and a PC offers most of the choice.
PC Game Pass has all of Microsoft’s own games and hundreds more, EA and Ubisoft all offer their games on subscriptions, and even the charity-focused Humble Bundle (which lets you pay what you want, and keep the games) has a subscription level.
A powerful computer can cost more than twice as much as you would pay for the latest game console – PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X cost $ 750 each – but between sales and subscription you can save a lot on games. In addition, a PC is also your general computer or work machine, and both Xbox and PlayStation games are now published on PC, so it is basically a machine to play most of your games.
Another thing to keep in mind is virtual reality. VR has had a huge increase in popularity recently, mainly due to new headsets like Meta’s Quest 2 that do not need to be connected to a PC or external equipment. But all of these new VR fans are likely to discover that the most impressive and complex (and most numerous) collection of VR experiences is on computers.
Fortunately, Quest 2 pairs well with a PC. As long as you have a decently fast router and your computer is connected to your network with a cable rather than Wi-Fi, you can transfer the latest VR experiences wirelessly from your computer directly to your eyes. This will only become more practical as social and work-based VR applications become more common.
It’s easier than you think
All-in-one computers such as Apple’s iMac, and compact shelving units made with custom parts, have their place. But to get the most out of a desktop PC, you want a composite of modular parts that are easy to replace. Not only is this the most cost-effective and flexible way, it means cheaper and easier repairs plus the ability to upgrade parts as you go instead of throwing away your old machine and buying a brand new one every four years.
Physically building a desktop PC yourself is not difficult these days – you may not even need a screwdriver – but planning and buying compatible components is the tricky part. However, there are many stores and websites that will build a PC to your specifications, giving you the benefits of a hassle-free desktop computer, and which usually come with a warranty. Recently I tried a PC from NZXT, a global PC builder with a store in Melbourne, and although it takes custom orders, the main selling point is its preset models. Especially for those who want to start with PC games, a standardized design allows you to see exactly how your machine will perform before you buy it.
For example, the machine I tested was NZXT’s “Starter Pro” configuration, which the company said would achieve 110 frames per second in Grand Theft Auto V in Full HD, and if anything, it worked a little better. I also guessed from its list of estimates that most new games would work well in medium to high settings, and they did. Halo is endless for example, had no problems at 1440p and 60 frames per second at its high graphics preset.
For $ 2600, this computer would only make sense if you were really replacing game consoles, a workstation and mobile machines with it, but I was impressed with how close the price was to the sum of the individual parts. The graphics card, a GeForce RTX 3060, can cost you almost $ 1000 on its own, plus there is a 1TB NVME SSD for storage.
You can also choose to have a tower PC built without a discrete graphics card, depending on the integrated graphics in your chosen processor which will be good for work and good for easy gaming, and reduce a lot of costs in advance. You can always add a card later.
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