Historically, gaming computers had several distinct hardware components that set them apart from a typical PC. The push for better graphics began with color fidelity, from display systems such as CGA eventually graduating to VGA, which was adopted for the mass market. Gaming also led the push for the adoption of sound cards, a component that is now commonly integrated onto motherboards.
In the 1980s, several non-IBM PC compatible platforms gained a measure of popularity due to advanced graphics and sound capabilities, most notably the Commodore 64 and Amiga. Video game developers of the time targeted these platforms for their games, though typically they would later port their games to the more common PC and Apple platforms as well. The MSX was also popular in Japan, where it preceded the video game console revolution.
LAN parties helped to promote the use of network cards and routers. This equipment is now commonly used by non-gamers with broadband Internet access to share the connection with multiple computers in the home. Like sound cards, network adapters are now commonly integrated on motherboards.
In modern times, the primary difference between a gaming computer and a typical PC is the inclusion of performance-oriented parts such as more effective cooling systems, faster and lower latency RAM, Faster and extra Hard drives, Motherboards with higher quality components and extras such as RAID controllers, extra sockets and headers and the ability to overclock components such as the CPU from the BIOS menu and some even from the operating system desktop. The most common difference is gaming rigs having far higher performance video cards, which host a graphics processor and VRAM or Video Ram. Some gaming motherboards support multiple identical video cards through SLI or Crossfire. However, such configurations are typically regarded as a curiosity for enthusiasts rather than a useful alternative to single-card upgrade cycles.
Forays into physics processing have also been made, though with Nvidia's buyout of PhysX and Intel's buyout of Havok, plans are that this functionality will be combined with existing CPU or GPU technologies.
Prebuilt gaming PC
While many "hardcore"
gamers build their gaming PCs themselves, some choose to go with prebuilt or custom-built gaming PCs. These PCs can often be more expensive than building one's own, with higher premiums attached to high-end brands with varying levels of customer service. Different companies offer varying degrees of customization, some almost as much as building it oneself. There are however, drawbacks to building one's own computer. Assembling a computer means being personally responsible for any problems that may arise, both during the assembly phase, and after its in regular use. Instead of using a single technical support hotline to cover the entire system, often one will have to deal with individual component manufacturers.
Due to the wide inconsistencies in after-purchase support from component manufactures, trying to get support can be a daunting task for even the most patient of people. Customer support is a major reason why even extreme gaming enthusiasts may look to a system integrator for their custom PC builds. There are many positive aspects in choosing to build one's own system, such as no longer being tied to specific configurations. Pricing on individual components is often better, and thus can save quite a lot of money on a comparable pre-built system. Warranties are often included with the price of each individual piece of hardware when building a PC, whereas a prebuilt PC's warranty may cost an additional fee or may be as little as 1 or 2 years for the entire system. Those who choose to build their own PC often seek help from an online community or forum in the absence of a consumer helpline.
Gaming laptops are the mobile equivalent of gaming desktops and are usually more expensive than their desktop counterparts. Currently, most gaming laptops feature more power efficient versions of high end desktop graphics cards, which nevertheless still significantly drain the battery, and necessitate more advanced cooling systems. One recent development by NVIDIA is SLI for laptops. Generally, gaming laptops are not considered "rigs"
as the term can also refer to the physical size of the system. Modern gaming laptops can achieve respectable game performance, but never quite match desktops in a class to class comparison, and most do not feature upgradeable graphics cards.
Due to the relatively small size that the hardware has to fit in, cooling the heat intensive components is a major problem affecting the performance of such laptops, usually causing degraded value for money performance wise. Attempts at using the same performance hardware as desktops usually end in a decreased clock frequency of graphics chips to reduce heat, causing the poor value for money.
A new sales tactic in the gaming PC industry is to create small form factor desktops that are easier to transport than a normal full sized system.
References: Gaming computer - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia