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27 June 2005

Should I bother? This is long. [More:]Having planned on getting enough graduation to fund a new computer, I went ahead and planned the system I wanted. It's definitely optimized for playing games, but the big step up in speed from my current PC (an 850 MHz Athlon with components from roughly the same era) would be, most likely, noticeable in all of my endeavors. However, now that I've got the scratch, I'm starting to wonder if it's worth it. I have a Mac mini for internetting, graphic making and, although in limited scope, music recording. A console will allow me to play games while being considerably cheaper. On the other hand, gaming opportunities on a new PC would be more robust than on a console. I have a copy of Sonar 3, a recording program that a friend got to me, which is definitely too much for my PC to handle (and is considerably more useful than garageband). I also have access to 3d rendering software and am interested in learning, although this is also out of my hands due to limited processing power at the moment.

Given my situation, is the new computer worth it? It will end up costing me most of the money I have. Are there any benefits that I'm missing? Thanks in advance for reading this!
Pick one:

[ ] Geek answer: new computers are always worth it.

[ ] Responsible adult answer: it sounds like you have quite enough computers to do everything you need to. Spend the money on starting a savings fund to buy your first house.
posted by dg 27 June | 23:23
i'd wait, invita, and then buy this year's computer next year.
posted by amberglow 27 June | 23:34
posted by Cryptical Envelopment 27 June | 23:54
Are you talking about buying an off-the-shelf gaming PC? If so, you should really look into building one for yourself/having one built for you at an indie computer shop. It'll be much cheaper, and you can scrimp and splurge where you want.
posted by me3dia 28 June | 00:02
Depends what kind of games you like, invita.

I was just playing Guild Wars (another time suck) and if that's your thing, then you know what you're looking at. Then again, me and my sig other were one of the many couples who bought a PS2 almost exclusively to play Katamari Damacy. Not that that's the norm, but it's pretty impressive how addicted you can get to console play sometimes. On the off-side again, I played Vice City religiously on PC. On the PS2, not so much. (I hate loading times, for one thing)

A computer is more of a gaming machine, in addition to other things. You suspect that the "other things" is partly an excuse, and you're right. Also, don't underestimate the ability of even an expensive system to work poorly, in terms of all components not working in synch, etc.. My experience that the higher-end the components, the more likely this is to happen, also. So I think fondly of my bug-free, simpler computer days, while this beast (last year's best) works great when it's not crashing (yes, I've done all that can be done, and it's partly a matter of heat. anyway /derail).

I go with amberglow on this. Or, you know, buy last year's best computer, now. :)
posted by dreamsign 28 June | 00:03
oh yeah--last year's now too. : >
posted by amberglow 28 June | 00:10
No. Buy an x-box and keep the mac-mini.
posted by seanyboy 28 June | 03:26
Upgrade your machine. Find used ATX cases in the trash, replace the power supply if needed, stuff full of new stuff.

Except for larger hard drives and some accessories and upgrades, 90% of my computers and gear are either totally free or insanely cheap.

But then, I don't have any fancy video cards or anything. But I do a fair amount of audio work. I don't really play any new games - I do some MAME, an oldschool RPG called 'Avernum', a bit of Descent and Freespace and stuff from that era.

If you have the skills to do your own upgrades and box-building, it's always cheaper.

For PCs, buying 'brand X' hardly ever makes sense, unless maybe you're buying hundreds of machines and you want the support/installation contracts. (Though, I hear good things about Dell's small business programs and related machinery, even for single units)

If you don't have the skills, learn. It's totally worth it. It's not that difficult to plug a machine together out of parts.
posted by loquacious 28 June | 05:40
But then, I don't have any fancy video cards or anything

The video card is the item which is going to make or break a system versus a console. That and RAM (which is pretty cheap these days). The video card is also the beast that is less likely to be perfectly compatible the more you spend on it (the highest-end cards have a lot of compatibility problems). And for what you spend on a high-end video card, you can buy a console. And a few games.

In regards to building your own, you can do this, for sure. But most (non name-brand) computer shops build for barely anything over component price. They can't afford to do otherwise. I've got a 3-year warranty on mine as a result (a pain when I want to do my own work) and cheap-as-can-be parts. Now if you're talking second-hand parts, well that's another matter entirely.
posted by dreamsign 28 June | 17:37
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