Im going to be opening up a lan center in a couple months and am just trying to decide what kind of computers we are going to have. We're aiming for around 15-20 computers. I just cant seem to nail down the final specs for the comp we're looking for.
We're just a startup so money is kinda an issue, but that doesnt mean we want to skimp on the parts. The computers will be used for gaming 95% of the time. Im an avid gamer and i know what happens when you start skimping on gaming pcs :wink:
Here's the specs we have nailed down (more or less):
Not much i know, lol. But heres where we get the problem.... the CPU.
The cpu is arguably the most important component of a gaming rig. heres my options:
1: I could go the dual core route - costs quite a bit more, but will pretty much future proof the comp.
2: I could go with a faster single core processor - which will give more performance in the majority of applications.
You would think the decision would be cut and dry - but its not, not for me anyway.
Right now, multithreading is not really prevelant in games, which means the extra core would reamin idle the majority of the time, and thus be a waste of money. True as time progesses more and more games will be going towards the multithreading model. But by the time that happens regularly, we'll have to upgarde the entire comp anyway.
Thats why im thinking of getting the single core processor. Provides more bang for cheaper in current gaming. Besides, some motherboards can be flashed to support dual core processors. So if we choose that mobo, that could essentially be true futureproofing.
Well, what do yall think? Any advice would be appreciated.
Most LAN gamer barracks / LANcafé down here will get the cheapest, but most viable performance per dollar solution for the month, keep some of the parts 6 - 18 months, and then sell of various parts '2nd hand' but in bulk to the community to recoup costs.
That way you can always have around 85% of bleeding edge (percentage depends how you define bleeding edge - chk my sig for an idea ), while being cost effective over the lifetime of the business - hopefully many years
The '2nd hand sales' from LANcafé can generate a fair bit of advertising themselves aswell, esp if the gear is 'recentish' and well priced (possibly with some sort of 'psuedo-warranty') and many gamers who play at such places can not afford a computer 'better than' what is in the shop.... so need the 2nd hand parts. I mean if they could afford an ace PC, with decent broadband (not shared by a family of 3-6 which hurts pings) they wouldn't be playing there very often would they ?
Of course having large discount nights, and 'girls free' nights will attract them anyway , and being in 1 - 4 rooms / segments (for 'clan' matches, or groups of friends vs other groups), all with typical GbE backbones and always < 1 ms pings will still get people with the best broadband to check you out at least once.
You are just giving the typical customers two things that they want (parts and a place to game, & possibly bring their own 'rigs') instead of one (just plain old LAN gaming), recouping costs in a cycle (6 - 18 months) on hardware, and boosting advertising for free all in one hit.
Business is about being the smartest SoB there is compared to your competitors (if any) within a given regional customer base. If no competitors try open many stores within a 3 year time frame to gain a 'mini monopoly' if the area is large enough and to keep advertising and market share (of customers, both gamers and 2nd hand hardware buyers) on your side.
Your main enemy will be the broadband uptake, if any, in your town / area.
eg: Get what is cost effective, provides good performance today, then sell say the CPUs to upgrade them, in 6-12 months... or whenever it makes financially viable sense to do so.
I honestly think Athlon 64 3200 - 3700+ (likely towards the bottom end) with GeForce 7800 GT on an nForce 4 platform will get the gamers. Onboard sound is OK (eg: Realtek 850's ain't bad and have EAX, their 200 series is though), esp if using headsets (w/o mics if people are within 'yelling' range within 'squad segments' of the shop).
I was going to try this when I got out of college, but work for the Gov in IT now instead .... the income is more steady and about 10 other people did the same thing so competition is extreme, many LANcafé / Gamers Barracks all within 50 km radius here.
Most your customers will be 14 - 25 yo males, the older the more likely they can almost always build a better PC than the shop, (that is more viable cost wise to them than playing at your shop), and afford decent broadband to negate the need to play on small LANs.
Some of the places here are interconnected (between shops) by 4 Mbps+ full duplex links, to encourage a 'community battle' sort of thing between shops.... also means they can host servers and players at the shop can play online usually with very good pings and datarates.
Try to get an imaging system going, and image each box every morning. Gamers will dislike things like 'weird key mappings' and some will try to install 'hax' onto the machines (so remove floppy and optical drives, etc), do not permit file download from internet on the 'gamer' PCs. - Have seperate 'browser' PCs for this purpose.
Lock down BIOS with admin and user passwords, get boards with no FSB overclocking features, and make sure cases are hard to break and secure / lockable. (Antec Performance TX series comes to mind - http://www.antec.com/us/pro_en_perfTX.html - the Antec TX640B in particular)
A few fake security cameras in the rooms / segments corners and a locked back room can also go along way to a 'stable' gaming environment, if you get my drift.
I was seriously going to do this with a mate about 6-8 years ago, but many other people did the same thing... we still both work in IT though... feel free to contact me (details in website, link in sig, see contact details page) if you want, this has always been a 'dream' of mine so to speak... although these 'new skool' gamers annoy me sometimes.... and the lack of sleep would too...
Yeah its 2000 dollars per pc. 2000 for all 15 comps would just be wrong, lol.
Broadband isnt an issue, were gonna have 2 dedicated T1s 8)
So the best bet right now would prolly be to justget a mobo that supports dual core, but just get single core for now to save money. (Which wont really matter because dual core wouldnt see much of an improvment) And in a year or 2 trade in the cpus for dual core when game designers start using more dual core features like multithreading.