The disparity between gaming and home/office systems is vast. It is not uncommon for people to ask me about what someone should buy. Before answering their question, I always ask the person what they will be using their machine for. The classic response is: "Well, I want to use it for writing and other office things as well as for surfing the Web and email." If that is the end of the statement, I generally refer the person to the company with the lowest price and a solid warranty (I don't want to fix their system). If they continue by saying: "And I want to play some games," I then have a noise go off in my head like a person dragging a needle across a vinyl record. I have to follow that up with: "What kind of games?" Some people just want to play flash and other Web-based games, and if that is the case, I refer them back to the simple build. However, if they start talking about demanding 3D titles, I have to start talking about budgets and expectation levels.
Moving from the office PC to the gaming system demands more attention to performance components. Building one yourself can be the cheapest way to do it but many people do not have the time or the expertise.
I recently had a conversation with the owners of CyberJocks. In addition to providing performance gaming at their LAN Center, they also help customers with their PCs. They described some recent customer PC horror stories. These ranged from thermal paste in memory DIMM slots to people watching their expensive hardware literally explode because they used the cheap PSU that came with their case. These nightmares sound a lot like some of the discussions happening in the forums. If you are in the market for a new PC and want the assurance that it runs correctly right out of the box, this is exactly what system builders are there for.
Custom-built high performance gaming systems can range in price from the extreme at over $25,000 and as low as what we received from ABS. For about $4,000, this system is a bit expensive when compared to the classic "email-and-surfing-the-Web" type system. However, games demand something entirely different from a computer. From the tests we ran, this system from ABS definitely has what it takes to be a high-performance gaming system.