I’m not sure how to begin this column because lately my mind has been wandering off to distant lands where milk and cookies are aplenty. I’m not sure if the technology industry is going to offer up anything juicy for the next few months after the release of Fermi, so I decided to voice my thoughts on this age-old war.
I know I’m not alone in thinking that the PC is becoming an aged dinosaur. All I really see is more cores, more transistors; the engineers trying to put as much power as they can into a product without having it blow up whilst being efficient. Once that’s out of the gate, they work on the next biggest thing – which just turns out to be a previous product modified to be preposterously more powerful. Do I really need that extra power? Do I need that ridiculous feeling of gluttonous glee knowing I’m averaging 60FPS in the latest Crysis-wannabe? Is it even worth spending more money for an extra 10FPS?
I ask, because in spite of all the recent advances in processing power, consoles still attract more and more newcomers – more gamers. Yes, you can cry foul and say that PCs have never been stronger than now, and I’d agree. Windows 7 is excellent for games, DX11 will bear fruits, and hard drives are living on borrowed time, making way for SSDs. Intel and AMD are still racing to release the most overclockable and value-for-money hardware yet seen. Nvidia’s GTX400 series is gaining market share and looking good, and ATIs Eyefinity has managed to leave me breathless.
But I write this column more as a gamer than a hardware enthusiast (this is a site dedicated to games, after all). I couldn’t give a damn how fast the game runs, it must just run well enough so that i may enjoy it comfortably, and that’s why I love my PS3. I’ve always been a console fan, and my recent plunge into buying my own gaming computer leaves me wondering whether this was the right choice.
In season 14 of Top Gear, Clarkson laments the impending death of the supercar while testing the Aston Martin V12 Vantage. The war on speed and exhaust emissions means that cars such as the Ferrari 599 aren’t going to work in this green environment that we strive for, and summarily they’ll be replaced with a green equivalent; slower, cheaper, greener. The same goes for computers, I guess. Consoles continue to get smaller, more affordable, more simple, and more “green”; people are naturally going to flock to the product most readily available to them. I paid R6200 for my computer: I could have gotten an Xbox360 and an HD-ready TV for that same money.
Consoles as a games platform work very well because there’s no complexity for the end-user. Sure there are features which can make things hugely complex (media streaming for example) that most won’t bother with because they’ve no ambition. If it has hardware faults, there’s likely a cheap fix for it. If it dies, its not horribly expensive to replace. If it gets stolen, you can use the controller to find it. If you’re worried about where to put it consider that a PS3 Slim takes up half the space of a decent amplifier. Second-hand games are hugely available, which is far more than the PC could ever dream of achieving in this world riddled with DRM rubbish.
If you’re buying a gaming PC now, I salute you for your patriotism. Is PC gaming dying? “No” would be my final answer. But the PC as we know it is changing, and the beasts that we all hope to own will one day disappear, replaced by something cheaper, greener, and less interesting – a console. It is that which saddens me.