What Is The Ultimate Gaming PC?

Category: Gaming

I spend a lot of time playing WoW, Call of Duty, and other PC games. My rig is almost three years old, and I'm starting to think about a new system for my gaming. I actually don't live in my parents' basement, and have money to spend. What would you say is the ultimate PC gaming machine?

High End PC Gaming Systems

When it comes to gaming PCs, it's all about the speed. Every component must be the fastest in its class. Of course, the best is not cheap; high-end gaming PCs can cost from $3000 to $5000, and up to $10,000 at the extreme.

Some gamers build their own dream machines from scratch. But most turn to boutique custom-build companies that specialize in high-performance PCs for gamers. Alienware, CyberPower PC, Velocity Micro, iBUYPOWER and Falcon Northwest, Digital Storm, Origin PC, and Maingear are some of the most respected names in the custom-built gaming PC market.

Whether you are going to build or buy, you should be aware of the ingredients of a high-performance desktop PC designed for gaming:
Ultimate Gaming PCs

CPU: specifically, a multicore processor such as the Intel Core i7-2600K. The faster, the better; the Core i7 can be overclocked to a staggering 5 Ghz! The 2-core and 4-core processors are common; some CPUs come with 6 cores for blazing multi-threaded speed. Speaking of "blazing," you definitely need a good liquid cooling system to keep these babies from overheating.

RAM is often maxed out in high-end gaming PCs, with as much as 16 GB. Speed is important in RAM, too; top gaming PCs use 1333 or 1600 Mhz DDR3 RAM.

Graphics processing units are critical for fast, smooth animation and 3D effects. You will often find more than one GPU in a high-end gaming PC, each sporting at least a gigabyte of memory. The Nvidia GeForce GTX 570 and 580 GPUs are a popular choice. ATI is another preferred vendor in high-performance GPUs.

Hard Drives and Peripherals for Gaming PCs

Solid-state drives are the performance gamer's choice. They're much faster than spinning hard drives, and they're silent. However, SSD storage is very expensive per gigabyte so most high-end gaming PCs use a mixture of SSD and spinning magnetic storage.

Hard drives in high-end gaming PCs tend to be huge in order to hold lots of games. Each game can occupy 35 GB of disk space or more. Speed is critical in retrieving data from the drive, so a very fast hard drive the Western Digital Velociraptor is often chosen.

Of course, a top-flight monitor is essential for high-performance gaming. Bigger screens are always better, but 19 inches is considered a minimum for hard-core gaming. A pixel response time of 5 ms or less is essential to keep up with fast-paced game action.

Gamers use many peripheral devices including mice, joysticks, steering wheels, digital guns, etc. So a high-end gaming PC comes with lots of connectors and many types of interface: USB, HDMI, Firewire, and so on.

Gamers' penchant for flashing lights and special effects extends to the cases of their macho PCs. Many gaming PC cases are made of see-through materials that show off the high-performance components inside. Internal lighting is also considered cool. But when all is said and done, it's the speed, baby.

So you want a recommendation for the ultimate gaming PC? The Alienware Area-51 ALX Desktop is designed for total domination, with a price tag that starts at $3499. I configured one with an overclocked Intel® Core™ i7 990x Extreme Six Core Processor (4.0GHz, 12MB Cache), 12GB of Triple Channel 1600MHz DDR3 RAM, dual 4GB GDDR5 AMD Radeon™ HD 6990 video cards, a 1.2TB hard drive (SATA-II, 10,000 RPM), and the Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium sound card. Price: $7818.

Do you have something to say about gaming PCs? Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "What Is The Ultimate Gaming PC?"

Posted by:

26 Jul 2011

Why no sold state drive for your gaming machine?

EDITOR'S NOTE: I didn't see that as an option in the config screens. But the drives I selected spin at 10,000 RPM!

Posted by:

John Palmer
26 Jul 2011

I recently visited the CyberPower web site, went through the configuration selector and then emailed the configuration to myself so I could do some comparison shopping. Interestingly, the email I received was from IBuyPower. Since I'd scoured several PC forums and found lots of horrible reviews of IBuyPower's quality of construction and customer service, I was discouraged and decided not to chance a purchase. Of course, your mileage may vary.

Posted by:

26 Jul 2011


In checking the prices of a 1TB SSD drive, Newegg has only 1listed, an OCZ Colossus LT Series OCZSSD2-1CLSLT1T 3.5" 1TB SATA II MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) and it is priced "Was: $3,149.99 Now: $2,864.99." Likewise, (2) 2.5" 600GB SATA II MLC Internal Solid State Drives (SSD), which would equal 1.2 TB, together cost around $2,600. I think, that pretty much says it all.

Now, (2) 600GB, SATAII @ 10,000RPM hard drives that equal 1.2 TBs, together cost around $450, from Newegg.

Overall, Bob's Gaming PC still costs around $7818! In my book, that's pretty expensive. I could easily build 7 brand new PCs, with that kind of money. Would they be Gaming PCs, no. However, they would be solid, reliable PCs with lots of 'bells and whistles'. }:O)

Posted by:

Tom C
27 Jul 2011

I'll add my 2 cents since I've built a few of these over the years:

Modern games, particularly FPS (First Person Shooters) are most reliant on the graphics card. The CPU actually doesn't does less in some modern games than it did in games of 3 or 4 years ago. Few are actually using the multi-core aspects of the new CPUs - the extra CPUs do add benefit in that they let the Operating System, virus protection, etc, run on their own cores though - leaving at least one core for the game to run by itself. Some of the VERY new games also run their physics engine in a separate core, although the majority use a physics engine built into the graphics card if it has one.

The key though is the graphics card. Buy one with at least 1GB of on-board VRAM - the faster the better. VRAM holds all the textures that make things photo-realistic.
Given the memory stipulation, buy the best card you can afford. There are so many ways to measure performance that I really can't give guidance here - but performance pretty much follows price. All the decent chipsets are made by either nVidia or ATI - never consider anything running some other (like intel) video chipset. ATI and nVideo don't sell under their own names, but all the card makers feature the chipset name in their product names anyway.
New graphics cards typically come out twice a year, with the big introductions made starting in Sept/Oct in preparation for Christmas. For bang-for-the-buck, I usually buy one generation back - the latest models are always overpriced and typically experience driver and overheating problems. anything released at least 6 months ago should be more stable.

The operating system can be a bit of a dilemma. If you are ONLY playing the latest games, then use Windows 7 64 bit. But if you are planning to play some older games, you may want to stick with the 32 bit version of Windows for greater compatibility. The drawback is that the 32 bit version only recognizes 4 GB of system RAM, while the 64 bit version will recognize whatever the computer's motherboard will let you install. And more RAM means faster speed overall. So operating system and RAM decisions really depend on what you plan to run on it.

Bob recommended a Solid State Drive (SSD), and I agree. If you put your operating system and game files be on an SSD, you'll see much faster load times and less lag between levels or rooms. SSD's have no need to move a head back and forth so they can access and transfer data to your computer memory much, much faster. The downside is that they have a limited (however very large) number of reliable write cycles, so you don't want to use it for writing all the time. There are different camps about whether a swap drive should be on an SSD - I personally thing it's no problem.
A 128 GB SSD is enough to hold the operating system files and all the files for your primary game program. If you want to have 3 or more games on your SSD, figure on moving up to a 160GB or larger SSD. You will still need a second regular hard drive for all your other files, but I personally think a slower, 7200 RPM drive is fine for that.

When it's all said and done, I agree with Bob that buying a pre-built rig is your best bet - especially if you want to venture into the overclocking arena. You can spend days, weeks, months, trying to tweak an overclocked system to keep it running reliably - a pre-built rig has been tested and comes with guarantees. Unless you're an Uber-Geek who likes tinkering and doesn't mind crashes during the middle of a raid, a pre-built rig is worth the extra $$$.

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