I asked ZDNet to get an idea of what most people consider “overpriced” when it comes to gaming PCs. The general consensus was that if you’re spending between $1,500 and $2,000 , you’ll get a really good setup that will last you at least 5-6 years, but anything over $3,000 will be a waste of money. It all comes down to what components you want and building an anticipatory cushion in your budget for the seemingly ever-increasing GPU prices thanks to crypto mining and chip shortages. If you’re fine with mid-tier or slightly older GPUs and CPUs, you can save a little money on a pre-built tower or building your own rig. But if you absolutely must have the latest and greatest, you’ll need to be prepared to dig deep.
That being said, when it comes to graphics cards, paying more isn’t always the best option. Yes, a GeForce RTX 3090 is one of the best GPUs out there, but do you really need one?
The short answer is no.
You don’t really need an RTX 30-series card or Intel Xeon and AMD Ryzen Threadripper processors to get the most out of your games. The biggest difference between an RTX 3050 and a 3090 is VRAM capacity; the higher the VRAM capacity, the faster your card can render assets. Faster rendering gives you higher frame rates, which is good for keeping playback smooth, but not a benchmark for gaming. Especially if you’re not trying to be a content creator and just want to enjoy your games. The only reason to drop close to $1500 on a GPU alone is if you want to future proof your build. Higher VRAM, more cores, and faster graphics processing mean you’ll be able to keep up with the latest builds for quite some time, even if native 4K resolution becomes more mainstream (and maybe even when we start to see the first games 8K, but we’ll all have to wait and see). But if you’re not planning on 1) becoming a streamer or content creator or 2) trying to keep up with the latest and greatest triple-A titles, there’s absolutely no reason to spend a ton of money. on a gaming PC.
And just because you have a big, fancy, expensive CPU doesn’t mean it’s going to be better than a Ryzen 3 5000 or an Intel Core i3. It won’t sound like a broken record, but if you’re not going to create content, having a crazy fast processor isn’t going to give you any more benefit than a mid-tier or higher option. A more powerful CPU, or dual-CPU build, means you can support more system memory, but be honest with yourself: when will you actually need 256GB of RAM? Or more than 40TB of storage? Never is when. I bet you have a 2TB storage drive that you have never run out of space on. A version with 16GB of RAM, a decent Intel or AMD processor, and maybe 4TB, max, of storage will be fine for you for years to come, even if game downloads consistently hover around 100GB.