I'm just a kid that tries to cover PC building and gaming the best he can despite running on a beyond-destitute gaming laptop from years past (2007- seven years!) and also talks about assorted Japanese fuckery like No More Heroes and Kingdom Hearts.
I'm also a freelance writer, have made quite a bit of money off of it ($1500 a year for a then-16 year old? Fuckin' sweet!) and I make a lot of jokes (too much) about penises and whatnot.
Keep your expectations low and you'll have a great time. Keep your expectations around the middle and you'll have a good time, but don't have high expectations around me because I am literally incapable of not disappointing you.
If you're reading this, you're likely one of the following parties:
*Today's CBlog recapper (hi!) *A member of the Glorious PC Gaming Master Race, like myself, who wants to see if this guide is up to par
*Someone who has an interest in PC gaming but either doesn't know where to start or wants to expand their pre-existing knowledge
*Some other specimen of loser
Welcome, one and all.
This is a guide that I'd recommend to anyone who wants to get into PC gaming. It may not be the most thorough- because if it was, I could fill a book with it- but the information presented here should be simple enough for anyone to understand without having to know what the difference between a North Bridge and South Bridge is.
Also, this isn't necessarily what PC gaming is about. PC gaming can be an alternative choice to consoles if their exclusives don't interest you or something you enjoy along with consoles if you enjoy the platform's various perks. The "Glorious PC Gaming Master Race" arrogance is a joke- PC gaming is for everyone.
No, seriously. You don't need to spend hella cash to be a PC gamer. You can be using an ancient machine that can't even run Crysis (peasant) but you're still just as much a PC gamer as the guy with six monitors in Eyefinity with 2 R9 290s screeching inside his tower.
Even if you can't play modern titles, there's plenty of options from older games out there for you. PC games simply have a longer lifespan- people still play Counter Strike: Source, and that shit came out, what, a decade ago?
With console-equivalent hardware in the present day, you won't necessarily get console-equivalent performance, but you can still most certainly enjoy playable experiences. Unlike when it comes to consoles, you have a choice about how you play- don't like how higher settings make you lag? Turn them down for smoother performance.
PC gaming- and gaming, period- isn't all about processing power and graphics. Those things are important, yes, and if you have a lot of either or both, more power to you, but you don't need to spend 400 dollars to experience PC gaming for what it is.
With that out of the way, let's get into the meat of this guide.
Benefits and Drawbacks of PC Gaming
The benefits of PC gaming are numerous.
Backwards compatibility, for instance, is much better here. Even if you happen to be burdened with an especially ancient machine, you can still comfortably play older, classic games like Deus Ex or Half-Life.
You can also play emulators. So long as you own the console and game in question and legally acquire your ROMs or ISOs (pffffffff-) there's literally no consequence for playing your favorite classic console titles on your computer. You can make them look better with emulation, too!
No, I'm serious. Get Project 64 and play Super Mario 64 at a ridiculously high resolution with ridiculously high filtering and antialiasing on (which, yes, even a bad computer can do easily) and tell me it isn't ridiculously awesome.
Indie gaming, too, is on the rise. Indie games typically have low prices, try things that are simply infeasible with AAA budgets, and tend to support weaker hardware well, since most of them don't have much in terms of graphical horsepower. Even a game like Trine, which looks absolutely stunning at max settings, is still very much playable on my seven-year old laptop with all the settings turned down, and it still looks beautiful.
Remember The Stanley Parable? Yeah, well, there's hundreds of other games available that also probe your favorite genres in interesting ways. Feel free to explore.
Oh, and mods. The Stanley Parable, Portal, Team Fortress, DOTA...yeah, those big names all started out as mods of something else. Mods on PC provide all kinds of benefits that you simply can't get elsewhere, and in some extreme cases, you can come across completely new games created and released, for free, by a dedicated group of modders.
Hell, you could mod one of your favorite games and see what you can do. Maybe you'll be the next Robin Walker- in the PC gaming arena, the customers are also creators, and if you make something really, really cool, chances are a lot of people are going to notice it and you may find yourself with a hefty bag with a dollar sign sitting in your lap.
This is, of course, where we hit the downsides.
PC gaming can be complicated. Sometimes a game you bought just didn't work because your hardware couldn't support it, sometimes it's a pain to adjust all these settings for your optimal experience, sometimes you see all these crazy words like GPU and RAM thrown around and you have no idea how they relate to you.
And that's okay.
PC gaming is a learning experience. If you're willing to put forth the time, effort and research, it's a better experience.
The huge downside comes to console exclusives, however. Your Halos. Your Marios and your Uncharteds.
It still doesn't mean you don't have a choice, however. Personally, I've had a PS3, Wii and an old laptop this past generation, and that's how I've been enjoying my time as a gamer. Even if you're dying for these next-gen exclusives, you can reasonably save up for a PC alongside them. In this modern age, you need to buy a PC anyways- why not spend a little extra and get something that can also play some pretty sweet games?
With that in mind, let's proceed to the next big point.
Buying a Prebuilt vs. Buying a Laptop vs. Building a Machine Yourself
Let's just get this out of the way: to get the best for your money, build it yourself. You don't need to be an expert to build it yourself. You don't need to take classes to build it yourself, and hell, you don't even need to build it yourself, you can just hire someone else to build it for you or ask a tech-savvy friend really nicely to.
The information is there, it's free, and if you educate yourself, you can save quite a bit of money. If it really looks too hard for you, just buy the right parts and consult a shop to build it for you.
Don't buy a prebuilt. Just don't.
Laptops will see you get significantly less performance than you would for the same price you could pay for a high-end gaming PC, but if portability is important to you, that's fine. Search for a laptop with the highest specs at the right price for you and go for it.
As a warning, though, laptops aren't really made for gaming, even the actual "gaming" laptops. Computer hardware gets really hot, and it's not supposed to do that. Bigger machines have better ventilation and cooling. Laptops are tight and packed-in, and their demise is pretty much inevitable. If you buy a laptop you plan to use for gaming frequently, it's most likely going to last you about three to four years before it starts dying on you. Mine is dying on me, but I can still salvage performance in some of my favorite games and I still proudly consider myself a PC gamer.
I hope that this guide has made some things clear to you.
There's a ton to cover about PC gaming, there's a lot I could cover about hardware, about vendor selection, about pricing and about troubleshooting and about repairs...but this is a beginner's guide, and I'm sure a beginner has taken in quite a bit already.
I've given you all you really need to get into PC gaming. You know most of the important information. You can dig for more with the links I gave you. You can always ask more questions if you aren't sure, and since this is the internet, there will always be an answer.
Also, don't fucking buy an Alienware. Even if you defy my advice and choose to buy a prebuilt, try these guys if you live in the US.
Hello and welcome to the newest rendition of So You Want To Build A PC, a series that actually failed to be posted monthly like I promised last time, so I severely apologize.
In advance, I'm leaving things such as optical drives, SSDs and OSes out of each of these build selections. Optical drives are rarely used in today's age and most operating systems are easily installed by USB. SSDs, while making quite the amount of progress in the past few years, are still a luxury, and when it comes to operating systems, you can choose a Linux distro if you don't have the money, transfer your old Windows installation if you've purchased it retail instead of OEM, or find another way to obtain your operating system of choice. (I do not advocate piracy. DAZ Loader.)
However, separate of the partlist, I will provide my advised optical drive, SSD, aftermarket CPU cooler and monitor here. I recommend an optical drive if you want simpler OS installation, an SSD for your OS and programs (but not your games), and a non-stock cooler only if you intend on overclocking.
All of these builds are chosen primarily with gaming in mind, and the goal here is to have balanced, upgradeable builds that can last you a long while.
With all that out of the way, let's get this list started.
The 750K has been selected because for price/gaming performance, it's the best you could ask for in this range. It may not be the fastest, and it will be a bottleneck if you were to pair it with an extremely high end card, but for a user on a budget this processor is the best you could ask for.
This motherboard is high-rated, small, and allows upgrades to and from anything in the FM2 and FM2+ sockets. Recommended future upgrades include an FX-6300 and an FX-8350. It supports 2 RAM sticks, and with the RAM provided you can upgrade it to 8GB with relative ease, which is all you'd really need for anything, honestly.
The form factor allows a lower price at the cost of compatibility for CrossFire or SLI. If you're on a budget, that's just a downside you'll have to swallow.
This is a budget build, so you want to go with 4GB RAM. This RAM is on a single stick, and for future upgradeability you can simply buy some more of this same RAM to pop into your motherboard for an upgrade.
For a slight performance increase and support for AMD technologies like Mantle, opt for the 270. For slightly lower performance at a lower price with support for Nvidia technologies like PhysX and GSync, opt for the 650 Ti Boost.
With the 650 Ti Boost, your price is at $453. With the 270, you're at $505. With either build, you're outperforming the Xbox One and PS4 at roughly the same price.
Expect 1080p60fps with most games at medium to high settings.
Congratulations. You've now entered the Glorious PC Gaming Master Race.
To fill in the gap between this rig and the next, consider buying more RAM or going with the FX-6300 or 8350, both of which will offer a significant leap in performance.
Big price gap, right? You're getting into the high-end now. The i3 will provide all the general performance you need and the i5 will be significantly better at gaming, but neither are a bad choice in this range.
The i3 is a dual-core and the i5 is a quad- if you're favoring CPU-dependent games and heavily-threaded applications, I recommend the latter.
It's a nice motherboard. It doesn't support overclocking, however, which is why I didn't choose the 4670K. If you'd like to overclock, consider this motherboard or this one, with the 4670k instead of one of the processors provided above. Also grab an aftermarket cooler.
It's a 760. I'd recommend a 280X, but those offer only a slight boost in performance at an unreasonably higher price. If you'd prefer AMD, snag one, but besides that, the 760 is your best bet at this price range.
Fun fact: you don't realistically need crazy-powerful Power Supplies for gaming. Who knew?
However, if you're going to be overclocking or putting in a stronger graphics card, definitely up your PSU to at least a 650W.
This build, as provided, should reliably max out any modern title at 1080p60fps with performance and graphics far surpassing those of the current consoles.
With the i3, it costs $722. With the i5, it costs $818.
Overclocking options add more to the price.
If you want to do things like making videos, streaming and other CPU-heavy tasks, consider investing in an i7 4770k with this motherboard. The i5 provides the best currently-available gaming performance you can get- an upgrade to an i7 is completely unnecessary for a gamer.
This concludes this guide. I'll probably update it again when new things come out, so this will probably be left alone for a while.
In light of Destructoid's relatively poor PC building coverage, I decided that I'm going to make a monthly column here in the Community Blogs featuring the best builds at certain prices you can get at the time of writing. My cheaper builds will primarily use AMD processors, but note that those builds won't be very high in upgradeability.
This build should be able to effectively tackle current-gen games with little issues. Tone down things like filtering and antialiasing and you should be able to 1080p60fps games no problem- except for the really hard hitters, like Crysis 3 or the upcoming next-gen titles. You'll likely need to tone down the resolution to 720p to keep those playing smoothly.
You can take out the graphics card if this is too expensive for you right now. The motherboard has integrated graphics that aren't very good for most titles- but you'll run day-to-day applications and games like TF2 just fine. However, be sure to upgrade your graphics card in the future.
With this, you can have more room to step up the resolution and filtering. Expect a pretty safe 1080p60fps with modern and upcoming games for the next few years- though, with certain titles, you may need to lower the settings or your resolution to maintain smoother gameplay or sharper looks.
The case and most of the components have stayed the same for these so far- that'll change after his next build, once AMD's architecture and this case w/ integrated PSU takes us about as far as it can go.
Now these are just about perfect. You'll be running games on Very High, 1080p60fps with impunity for some time. (Minus, yet again, monsters like Crysis, which you'll want to turn things down for.)
Alright. Now we're changing the motherboard to Intel with a top-line i5, and therefore we're also swapping to a new case and a nice PSU. It's a huge price jump from here, but the performance is most definitely worth it.
At the time of writing, the 280X slaughters the 770 at $100 cheaper, and the 290X similarly steps up the game against the 780. I'll put in more Nvidia high-end once they start competing at this range.
I'm not going to make any more builds past this. This is a perfectly solid gaming rig that could last you a good, long while, at max settings, for under a thousand dollars.
If you want, you can pop in an SSD and use it as a boot drive while storing your games and other stuff on the HDD. Or replace it with a higher-end graphics card, like the 780 (which should get a price drop), the 780 Ti (whenever that comes out) or the 290X (when it's in stock).
Footnote: pick up a cheap optical drive if you don't want to install your OS from USB, and take note that these parts don't include KB/M peripherals or a monitor. I'm leaving those up to you.
Never underestimate how feverishly I watch for Kingdom Hearts news.
Anyways, this article is primarily serving as a placeholder until Destructoid inevitably one-ups me and posts another.
Regardless, I'm gonna skip to the basics as to why Kingdom Hearts fans should be excited about this re-release.
For one, it includes Kingdom Hearts II: Final Mix, in addition to Birth By Sleep Final Mix. Also coded's cutscenes but that game did pathetically little to progress the plot that BBS and Dream Drop Distance didn't do better. Really, it's skippable and nothing you should at all be excited about.
Kingdom Hearts II marks the point in the franchise where things became about a thousand times more complicated, but the inclusion of Birth By Sleep in this collection will significantly ease the confusion of fans old and new alike. To understand Kingdom Hearts as a series, the only games that're truly necessary to play are the first one, II, BBS, and 3D. Chain of Memories introduces the Organization and expands Riku's character development; II re-introduces them anyways and shows Riku reach a higher level of maturity. 358 expands on Roxas and introduces a new character; 3D and BBS offer more and the same knowledge on both of those matters. Coded is just plain filler between II and 3D, and if at all possible, please, please don't spend your money on it.
If you've already played II and Birth By Sleep, however, you may be wondering why you should be excited for this at all. Beyond the fact that BBS is likely going to see a much-needed graphical boost and control scheme improvement, Final Mix adds a ton of new content. Also more cutscenes. Love me some cutscenes.
Final Mix 2 New Features:
Limit Form, which allows access to all of Sora's best signature moves from the first game, including Sonic Blade. Fucking love Sonic Blade.
Seven new bosses- five of which lifted from Chain of Memories with new fighting styles and two of which advancing the plot- the formerly unplayable battle against Roxas in the Station of Awakening near the end of the game, plus a battle with the Lingering Will, a possesed suit of armor that'll become very familiar when you get to playing Birth By Sleep.
Replayability- every Organization XIII boss can be re-fought as Data Battles- but they'll be much, much stronger than before, meaning you'll have to stretch the level cap as much as humanly possible to even hope to stand a chance on higher difficulties.
Critical Mode! Like Proud (where enemies deal twice as much damage) except you deal half as much yourself.
Also a ton of other relatively minor changes I don't want to delve into.
Birth By Sleep Final Mix New Features:
Three new bosses: the Keyblade Armor of Master Xehanort, Master Eraqus and a weird boss fight against Monstro. Monstro's relatively easy, but the Armors are not- Master Xehanort's armor, No Heart, is considered the toughest boss in the series for good reason.
Another playable secret ending, which includes an encounter with an extremely tough Pureblood Heartless boss.
While BBS Final Mix's list of added features are shorter, remember that Final Mix is Japan-exclusive: International releases tend to get a lot of extra content they never get to touch- players of the International version of Birth By Sleep would be rather surprised to learn that a certain hooded figure didn't appear as a boss at all in the original!
KHII is honestly the gem of this collection, but BBS is a great game in its own right. If you've never played these games before- try out 1.5. It's completely worth your money.
I'm not going to conflict this claim- he's the dev, not me. I don't know how much money and time and resources it takes to make a modern AAA title, much less something on the scale of PS4/Nextbox/PC. I do consider the Wii U a next-generation console, but it's likely going to face downscaled resolutions and graphics compared to its competitors. That, however, is a subject for another time.
The comments for this article have quickly spiraled into a debate, some people all for the idea and some strongly, strongly against it. It's a good thing to note that episodic development has, well, been done before: look at a good amount of independently-developed games, for instance. A set of more mainstream examples could be found in The Walking Dead and Half-Life 2- and that's a perfect place to start in this discussion.
I think you know what's coming.
The pros of episodic development are obvious- publishers get a monetary incentive to stick around, developers get important feedback, and us, the gamers, get good-sized bites of the game.
The Walking Dead quickly found critical acclaim, finding the soft spot in old-fashioned point-and-click adventure-oriented gamers and new fans drawn in by the universe of the Walking Dead. It took an already popular concept and "gamified" it perfectly- the player's choices play a huge factor into the story while still maintaining its identity as a game, instead of, shall we say, an emotional outlet.
This image, uncompressed, contains exactly 244000 emotions. If you think I'm above flogging this dead horse, you're talking to the wrong guy.
Half-Life 2 and its episodic sequels were widely loved, both as technology demonstrations (Steam and the Source Engine, represent) and as wonderful games in their own right, fusing first-person shooter, puzzle and adventure into a cinematic tale told from the eyes of a completely silent protagonist with a frightening penchant for killing things with crowbars and just stone-cold not giving a fuck when encountered with danger.
However, that's where we're encountered with a problem. It's time to ask the question that provokes devoted fanatics and desperate developers alike- Where is Episode Three?
This isn't the blog post to answer that question, though. This is the blog post about why that question was asked to begin with, and why it's a question that should be paid attention to. With episodic development, what happens when the devs hit a standstill, or funding stops? This is "normal" episodic development- what about Mega Man Legends 3, which, as this commenter so helpfully pointed out, never saw a full release even though an episodic prologue had been planned?
Here's the thing about that, though. Half-Life, Mega Man? Those are best sellers. Those franchises bring in a crazy amount of money because they're fucking established intellectual properties.
In the former's case, the developers can't figure out what to do from where they left off, and in the latter's case, the publisher axed things because they thought a portable game based on an established franchise wouldn't make them enough cash.
Now, think of indie hits like Braid (for the record, Jonathan Blow can blow me) and cult hits like Killer7. For these games, what makes you check them out? Impulse buys during severe discount on Steam sales? A lucky happen-by in a bargain bin? Insane amounts of praise from critics, or a single friend's recommendation?
The thing about these games is that there's not much of an incentive for most gamers to even try them out, much less throw their money at them unprovoked. Who wants to invest in an episodic prologue for a game they may not even like? Why not stick with something familiar, like Call of Duty or Uncharted?
Every gamer wants to say that they love the underdog, that they support the little guy through thick and thin. Damn those big publishers, killing our favorite franchises and producing bland sequel after bland sequel!
Episodic development could help in many ways, but it can go horribly, horribly wrong just as easily. Hell, established franchises that sell like hotcakes still get the ax from big publishers- if not enough people try out and like prologue demos or episode ones, what gives the publishers incentive to back it up and what gives the developers incentive to keep pressing forward with the game?
Cult hits like Killer7 wouldn't survive in this kind of arena. Indie games and Triple-A could see some serious damage themselves.
Done right, episodic development can be a wonderful, wonderful thing- but in today's industry and in the future, I don't see it as a viable option.
Don't get me wrong, though, Kojima. I love you.
I want your Naked Snake in my Ground Zero all night long.