Coming back to PC gaming. Setup? What to buy?

So after about a decade in consoleland, I’ve come to my senses and will be joining the PC gaming crowd. Yes, I know, I have years of backlog to sort out. I haven’t been a serious PC gamer since at least the early editions of Windows XP.

But I see all these crazy setups now. Multiple monitors, physics cards, giant watercooled video cards. A fella can get a little lost.

My budget, including as many monitors/TVs as I can get, will be around $1500. For that I’d like a decent rig, but I don’t need to run the latest FPS at 60 FPS.

Also, what am I going to be outraged by? Will Rome: Total War for Windows XP not install anymore? Have things changed a lot?

This thread is not exactly for hardware recommendations, it’s for “what in the world is cool with PC gaming now” discussions. VR goggled? Motion sensing? I have no idea what’s going on now.

As a benchmark, I’d like to be able to run ArmA 3 at at least more than 1300 x 768 or whatever I ran last time. I have no idea what a good resolution is. Also, PC speakers. And any other cool accessories.

It also occurs to me that the forefront innovation in PC gaming right now is the indie game scene, who usually have less steep requirements.

Physics cards are bullshit, watercooling is a sucker’s bet. Multimonitor gaming is extremely expensive to do properly, but very cool. Motion control is bullshit too, but Leap motion does have potential. VR is the oculus rift and obviously super awesome, but still in its earliest stages.

All those old games will work fine. Unless they use GFWL, anyway.

What I would suggest is to get a corei5, 8GB RAM, a 240GB samsung 840 SSD, a 2TB storage drive, a geforce 770 videocard, speakers, and a 27" 1440p korean LCD monitor. That should run you well under $1500. If you want to go even cheaper get a 24" 1080p monitor and a 760ti videocard.

It’s more a question of “laptop or desktop?”. You can make a great gaming rig for $1500, especially if you build it yourself, although at this point going stock is way more time efficient. PhysX has just been rolled into Nvidia cards by default. 3D is stupid by default, though many laptops claim compatibility. OTOH, you can get a decent laptop for that amount but it will never be 1900x1080 at 60 FPS at highest settings.

All PC gaming today is through Steam. I mean, there are other digital distributors, like EA’s Origin, but fundamentally you’ll never buy a box again unless it’s a collector’s edition, and 9 times out of 10 you’ll be playing through Steam (Valve is basically the Google of gaming at this point).

The only real, unexpected changes has been the death of PC joysticks (the ones you can buy are basically the same as the one’s you last knew); Gaming Wheels have advanced somewhat, but using a gamepad with PC games has really taken off.

Just in the last year there has been a boom in these crazy direct-from-Korea gaming monitors that you can get for something like $400 shipped for a 27" IPS, but i’m stuck/happy with my setup now and don’t know much about it.

Oh yea, SSDs. Using a computer without an SSD is like going back to the wagon after riding in a Ford Model T. To make the Real Ultimate Gamerpower setup, you might need to break the bank over $1500 to get an SSD, which you should, imo.

Yeah. Don’t worry about all the extraneous BS. You don’t need it. You can play literally every game you will want to play without it.

And for $1500, you could even get a kick-ass laptop that will run great games if you’re so inclined.

The only thing you need is a wired XBox controller (or maybe one of those wireless usb dongle things that lets you use your existing controller (but I personally have no experience with those).

He mentioned Arma, which kind of rules out a gamepad as it is a fps.

I’d suggest a ATI R7870 rather than the GeForce, strongly recommend you get an ASUS motherboard and if you see a good deal on a different brand of SSD, ask here about it. Also, given RAM prices are rising, might be worth throwing 16GB RAM in there.

GeForce cards currently run better, cooler, quieter and cheaper than AMD for single-GPU cards. Better drivers. AMD has a better value if you manage to get a Never Settle bundle. My previous cards before my GTX 660 were Radeon 4870->5850->6950->6850.

How do people even PC game now? Is it still office chairs and desks? How ,any monitors do people have?

You can get a 20" widescreen monitor for $100. That’s three mo intros for $300. Insane. Or is it better to go large middle screen, smaller side screens? What games use these setups?

Also, speakers. On board sound has been ok forever.

My wife just got a dirt cheap windows 8 computer for like $450. It looks cool! I’ve never seen 8 before.

Well of course you get a ducted cooler ATI :) I prefer HIS.

Windows 8 is dirt. It is also cheap. However, it is not good.

Getting an SSD (at least one) as an OS/Games disk should be almost mandatory. I have had good luck with Kingston and Crucial; Intel and Samsung also makes best-in-class drives. Easily the biggest impact you will have on your day-to-day computing experience. With a large, 2+TB old-school HD disk for less-speed sensitive storage, its the best of both worlds.

With Start8 from Stardock, most of the things I didn’t like about Win8 were dealt with.

I agree on the onboard sound. While I have owned discrete soundcards for various reasons, the onboard sound quality wasn’t one of them.
I prefer one big monitor: LG 39LN5300. Easily one of the best monitors I have ever owned. “Just” 1920x1080 and MVA but looks absolutely amazingly gorgeous. Really close to going LLL with two more.

Lots of Portrait-Landscape-Portrait vs. 3xPortrait vs. 3xLandscape discussion here, with pictures of folks’ setups: [H]ardforum Display subforum and Widescreen Gaming Forum, although I don’t spend much (any) time at the latter anymore.

My favorite speakers:Logitech Z623s fantastic 2.1 speakers that don’t make me miss my old 4.1 and 5.1 speakers.

I don’t know when this became a “my favorite stuff” post but welcome back to PC gaming. We’ve missed you. </Agent Smith>

I have two pretty decent monitors because i work from home sometimes. I’ve never played a game with both. What i often do is play a game on one and then do other/supporting stuff with the other.

This. I have a 15" IBM, which was like £2k when it was new. And a cheap Acer 24" widescreen monitor. (Shit, the Acer only has VGA input…which was why it was £30odd. £35? Anyway…cheap!)

I agree that SSD is more than worth it, especially with a $1,500 budget, but i think people vastly overrate the speed increase you will see. In most games it has been pretty small, but still generally present. I think most people would be hard pressed to notice whether their average game was running from their SSD or their high speed HDD.

Would advise a small SSD with 2 partitions. One for windows and one for your top tier games. Then i would buy a high speed HDD for the rest of your games. Otherwise you will always be running against that space limit.

I think you’re nuts, or have a crappy early SSD. My Agility 3 turns boot times from a minute to 12 seconds, and it’s an older and rather slow SSD.

I’m also perfectly happy with 5400RPM hard disks.

This. It’s a vast and stark difference between the two. Whether you are talking about boot times, or load times on levels in games, it makes a huge difference in the user experience. I used to think that the components worthy of spending more on were the monitor and the chair, as those two things were very seldom upgraded and provided the most constant feedback in your use. I would put an SSD over a traditional platter-based hard drive on that level.

For archival or media purposes, I wouldn’t disagree.

Why wired? I have 2 wireless xbox controllers connected to my PC and am very happy with them.

Hook it to your TV! You get everything that’s good about a PC with the comfort of the sofa (plus you save on monitor).

P.S
Unless your’e planning on playing racing games with a wheel and pedal setup. In this case you need a sturdy desk unless you have room and money for a racing seat frame. This is my only sorrow about my TV setup.

Indeed. Don’t support MS trying to screw over the PC platform down the line. Look for Windows 7 Pro (minimum level for access to ‘Xp mode’) or Ultimate (top of the line).

One option ElGuapo, is to buy a brand desktop (HP etc). You can pay more to get specs close to what you want, or buy a cheaper model and put in your own choice of GPU. I agree with stusser that an i5 is still the sweet spot for a CPU.

Single 20" monitor here, single office chair here. Not that complicated. :P

5.1 headphones and onboard sound.