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PC gaming isn’t as expensive as you think

You know, there has been something that has always bothered me. The amount of people that would love to get into PC gaming tends to outweigh the amount of people who want to play console games. Consoles have always been, and will probably always be more successful than PC gaming. And the number one turn of for most people is the price. And that is one of the most often misquoted things that you can find on the internet. If you ask a PC gamer how much will it cost you to build a cheap but powerful gaming machine, most of the time you will get given a price of around seven or eight hundred pounds/dollars. And why would you pay that much money just to play a game when you can pay less than half of that and get a console?

Well it depends on what you want exactly.  If you want a pixel perfect 1080p picture well then fair enough go ahead. But for less than £400 you can get a powerful laptop, that contrary what most people say, can actually be used to game rather well. I’m talking about the Advent Monza N3. It can be bought for as low as £360, and for that price you get:

  • AMD Dual-Core Turion II P540 2.4GHz processor
  • 8GB RAM
  • 500GB Hard Drive
  • DVD_RW drive
  • Memory card reader
  • 3xUSB, Ethernet, WiFi
  • 1.3MP integrated Webcam
  • HDMI port
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
  • Integrated ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4250.

First of all, it’s the last piece there that draws the most fire from all the people who have rigs that cost thousands. I think it’s important to say that yes, the ATI Radeon 4250 is a low tier graphics card. But when it’s used correctly it can run the majority of current gen games. In the picture below I captured some screenshots from the games I play to show just how much power you can get from this laptop.

As you can see, it runs some of the best games currently on the current generation consoles (with the exception of Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory which I included because it has a very demanding Shader setup).

Example 1 is Bioshock  on the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3. Everyone knows and generally agrees that this is one of the most beautiful and fun games on the market despite its age. But on this cheap laptop it runs on High resolution, full screen and with the highest possible settings. That means it actually performs better than the console version.  It also performs better with no texture popping or screen tearing even with the frame rate unlocked.

Example 2 is Mass Effect 3 (but also including the previous 2 games). While this game  may not run at the same resolution as the other games on the list, you can still ramp the texture quality and the character details and lighting up to high and medium, once again it is better looking than the console equivalent. The frame rate may drop at times, but never below 50fps which is the same as when the console version chugs.

Example 3 is Resident Evil 5. Now this game is by no stretch of the mind a good Resident Evil game, but that’s a different matter. In the console version you will be attacked by maybe 20 enemies at any given time. But on the PC version it runs on a high resolution, highest possible settings and it never drops below 55fps all the while putting nearly twice as many enemies on screen at any given time. So it is running better, looks better and has more than twice as many enemies on screen.

Example 4 is the Splinter Cell classic, Chaos Theory which saw a HD rerelease on the PlayStation 3 recently. On this laptop it will run on high resolution, with the highest possible settings and the frame rate will not dip at all. And this is with the shaders on max. The HD rerelease doesn’t even run at this level. And on top of that the enemy Ai seems to be improved on the PC version, but this may just be because of the difficult levels in the game.

So let’s do a little bit of number crunching here.  A 500Gb PlayStation 3 will cost you £250 plus £45 for a new game plus £30 for each additional controller. £325 may not seem too bad. But don’t forget that you can use that console for what it is restricted to. Games and any included and compatible service. But the Laptop that cost another forty or so pound can do all that, plus you can use it for browsing the internet, making games, contacting your friends and using social media, listen to or create music and the list goes on, I’m typing this article on the very laptop we’re talking about. So although it may be low tier, don’t be discouraged you can still game to your heart’s content. Now if you will excuse me, I’m away to play Fallout 3.

Martin Toney is a long time Video Game Journalist from Ireland.