The PlayStation 3, followed closely by the Xbox 360 are the most popular gaming consoles out there at right now, but with so many high profile games released on the PC, isn’t it about time we saved some space in our houses and do away with the tired old gaming console once and for all? After all, properly configured PCs can easily surpass the processing power of most consoles and several manufacturers have PCs capable of playing graphically intense games. This is nothing new, of course, but recently PC makers have cottoned on to the fact that some buyers want PCs specifically aimed at gaming. With the PS4 coming out later this year and the Xbox 720 out imminently (maybe), before planning your next console purchase, perhaps it’s time you considered a gaming PC. Another factor to consider is that Valve’s Steam distribution system has long been available on Windows, Linux and Mac and recently Valve has even made a foray into hardware with the upcoming dinky Xi3 modular PC called the Piston. PCs are in!
This week we are looking at some PCs that should be able to run all of the latest and greatest video games at decent frame-rate whilst also coping with our mundane, day-to-day computing needs.
Alienware 14X R2: With the demise of the teeny-tiny powerhouse- the M11X, this 14 inch laptop is now the smallest Alienware laptop available. In its second incarnation, it boasts Windows 7 or 8, i5-i7 CPUs, 6-16GB RAM, up to 750GB HDD or 512GB SSD, a DVD-Burner or BluRay, all the expected laptop connectivity including USB 3.0 and 1GB-2GB NVIDIA GT650M graphics. Like all Alienware computers, you also get a highly customisable system of LED decorative lighting and a useful backlit keyboard. Not a bad compromise if you need to travel and more practical than its 17 and 18 inch behemoth siblings. Screams “GAMER”. Sheldon Cooper’s weapon of choice.
Clevo are an original equipment/design manufacturer based in Taiwan who make and sell complete laptops or components to other makers. They are quite well-known in the gaming world for making low-price, high performance, but rather plain looking machines compared makers like Alienware who festoon their machines with bling. The machines are so plain that you would be hard-pressed to distinguish between a Clevo gaming rig and a boring business machine. Not always a bad thing though as you can usually, for no extra cost, specify niceties like matte screens. Try doing that with boutique makers and their fondness for hyper-glossy and stupidly reflective screens. There is such a wide choice in what Clevo can offer that it is a bit difficult to give you a full run-down of every conceivable option. But taking, for example, their super-charged, little, Netbook-sized powerhouse, the Clevo W110ER AKA the Inferno, you get a wide range of Intel CPUs, hard-disk options and standard laptop fare wrapped around a ferocious 2GB NVIDIA GT650M GPU.
Alienware X51: This small form-factor (SFF) desktop sports Windows 7 or 8, i3-i7 CPUs, 6-16GB RAM, up to 2TB HDD or 256GB SSDs, a DVD burner, lots of I/O including a couple of USB 3.0 ports and multiple monitor ports and, most importantly, a choice of 1GB NVIDIA GT640 or 1.5GB GTX660 graphics cards. So it’s actually no slouch if your can afford to spec the higher grade components. Style-wise, it should fit nicely into the average lounge, but loses points for the immense power-brick resembling some 80s-dinosaur era tech. Also it’s not quite as small or light as you might think. Upgrading might be an issue because there is just not enough room in the case to do anything ambitious without some radical surgery and the power supply is woefully wimpy. All in all, a powerful, reasonably specced, though slightly expensive machine.
There are many also other makers out there, but their equipment is not easy to come by outside of America. Machines like the Lightening Bolt, Falcon Northwest’s Tiki and the Revolt all bear a passing mention.