Up For Debate - Is there a higher barrier of entry for PC gaming today?

Written by Chad Norton on Sun, Oct 17, 2021 5:00 PM

One of the most defining features of PC gaming is the ability to customize your system. The modular designs of PCs nowadays mean you can simply upgrade a certain component when you want. But with the PC platform bigger than ever before, is the barrier of entry into PC gaming higher today? Or is it lower?

There’s a lot of arguments to be made on both sides here, so we wanted to get your guys' opinions! On the one hand, PC gaming is easier than ever to get into with more resources available for new gamers looking into buying their first PC, or even upgrading their POC for the first time. Components are also generally easier to install and manage than before.

On the other hand, there’s a great deal of choice out there today, which can be quite overwhelming to a lot of PC gamers who are just starting out: what motherboard do I get? A B500? Z500? What if I want to save some money, is a B400/Z400 good enough? WHat am I missing out on buying one or the other? What’s the difference between a B and Z mobo? And those are just the questions asked about a motherboard, let alone the rest of the components needed to build a PC.

And that’s not even touching the price for entry now.

The point is that whilst the PC gaming community is growing by the day, it seems that the barrier of entry is changing. But is it going up or down? And what can be done about it? Let us know in the discussion area down below!

So what do you think? Is there a higher barrier of entry for PC gaming today? Or is it lower? Is it easier than ever to build your first PC? Or is it harder? What resources can new PC builders use to gain the proper knowledge? And what can be done to help newcomers? Let’s debate!

Do you think the barrier of entry for PC gaming is higher or lower than 10 years ago?

What was your first ever gaming PC?

What would you recommend for first time PC gamers?

How often do you upgrade or build a new PC?

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21:26 Oct-19-2021

I'll keep my message as short as possible.


So here's to you first time PC gamers and keeping in mind that you have no knowledge of a gamers PC at all.


Start with a pre-build one and make sure your new gaming PC fits at least the recommended requirements for a demanding game.


Then you will be sure you are off for a good experience and a good start.


You will find enough demanding games on this site as an example.


Note: Don't go for the top of demanding games either cause that will cost you a lot of money to start with.


Make sure that you know besides gaming which other purpose your PC will be used for.


Meaning. Don't let stores sell you things you don't need, especially what software concerns.


Always keep a vision in mind of what you need and want.


Use if possible only SSD's as harddrives with enough space cause the latest PC games (since several years now) need more and more space on your harddrive.


Cooling, make sure you have enough of that.


All the other fancy stuff for a gaming computer is just an extra and personal choice if you have money to spend.


Gonna leave at this cause this is just the tip of the iceberg.


Good luck new PC gamer :)

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14:30 Oct-18-2021

It's easier to build your own PC than it ever was, with youtube, google and it's just easier to match components. So in that way the world is pretty good if you want to get into PC gaming (or building your own PC specifically).


But it depends what you mean by "barrier", It's definitely more expensive than ever. 10 years ago you build a proper gaming PC for 800$, now it would cost you 1300-1400$ (mostly because of the insane GPU prices, but everything has gotten more expensive). You can still get a decent console for 500$ though. I used to have debates with people about if PC gaming is more expensive than console gaming, and i'd argue overall it was usually cheaper to buy a PC. But these days it's 100% cheaper to buy a console, if you only use it for gaming.


Games also just require stronger hardware these days, so you can't get away with cheap gaming PCs anymore.. (unless you only play old or very light games)


I would say for the enthusiast it's better and easier than it was (except pricing), but for the average kid, teenager or adult that wants to start gaming it's probably better to get a console at the moment.. If you really do want to get into PC gaming, buy a second hand or pre-build PC. Unless of course you have big cash to spent ;)

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16:41 Oct-19-2021

Considering that FarCry6 runs on a dual-core CPU and an iGPU that costs less than the game itself - I'd like to remind you that gaming is a very flexible hobby with people having a vast array of performance/visual expectations, ranging from those who want all the bling at 4K and high fps to those who just want to play the games regardless of how potato they look. And what a console still can't match is the openness of PC, which leads us to things like mods, tweaks, etc. No need for "HD remasters" either, when you can run ancient PC games at unlocked resolutions as well.


It is also great to be a PC gamer because of just how many storefronts give away games constantly. For example, I've got well over a 100 free games, some of which are genuinely big titles, on EGS - and that is with me missing a bunch of them as well. GOG, Steam, Ubi - they all give out free games. Sales are great too! And then there are...other ways...of obtaining games when you're low on cash.


While gaming on PC has become more expensive for sure, thanks to the glamorization of PC components as if they were phones or purses (and I'll ignore the shortage here deliberately because it's not the norm) - you can certainly be sensible with the way you spend and have a great experience on PC, well worth the money spent. Plus we only really need to buy the game once for PC, we don't get sold a new compatible version after every GPU upgrade.

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11:04 Oct-18-2021

Well if you mean higher barrier means higher price then the barrier is definitely up and going only up till the point where every hardware is maxed out and can't make any improvements. As for the GPU prizes are right now building a new PC from scratch is a lot more expensive than before. Your average cost of GPU is half of the price of your PC if you want high end one. But there're definitely choices of gpu's that are not as expensive as the high end once which can get you straight into PC action if you're moba/sport fan as for 3A titles thats another story, but high end nvidia 1000 series or mid range 1600 series is enough to run all games by now with 2x8gb ddr4 ram.

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11:09 Oct-18-2021

Also as for the question whether you buy prebuilt or built on your own its up to you. If you can't built it yourself if you're buying the products from a company that it is in your country you can always ask them if they can build it for you. I bought all my PC parts from X company in my country and i asked them if they could built it and they did. And since then i haven't changed anything except my GPU 760 ti dying from 4-6 years of service or so i dont remember. But after this PC i would definitely want to built a PC on my own one day.

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11:01 Oct-18-2021

I feel like the barrier is higher today because of the GPU prices and the stock being low still. Not to mention those living in third party countries.


*Just save up*


Yeah work really hard for a whole f*cken year for a PC when you want one now and even need one now.

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04:15 Oct-18-2021

I decent gaming PC in 2011 was like 800 dollars. Adjusting for inflation that brings it to just under 1000 US dollars.


800 dollars (970 adjusted for inflation) got you a flagship class gaming CPU in the i5 2500k.


A very competent GTX 560 that was capable of 200fps gaming for counter strike go and 120 fps in other esport titles.


A 60-fps experience in the biggest game at the time Battlefield 3 with 2x MSAA and high textures (It was one of the first games to fully saturate a 1GB frame buffer so ultra would introduce some frame time spikes) at a very high resolution at the time 1920x1080.


What does 970 dollars get you in today's market at MSRP?


5600x is 300 dollars, a 11400 is around 200, unfortunately would be a compromise, the 11400 delivers far from a flagship experience in today's breakneck 240hz era. Both would be a compromise because we can already see that 6/12 CPUs will be thread limited in the near future as 4/8 CPUs have recently experienced.


A decent motherboard B550 motherboard like the Aorus Pro will set you back about 200 US. A decent motherboard for the 11400 would be about 150 for the Asrock Steel Legend, which would unfortunately bar you from overclocking, thus making upgrading to a K SKU pointless. Not to say the 11700 is bad or anything though.


The RTX 3060 while very capable and has the ability to shore up its shortcomings through upscaling methods like DLSS or FSR, or even Intel's upcoming AI upscaler,


It is just not the same value monster that the GTX 560 or 560 TI were. These Entry-Level enthusiast cards delivered ludicrous performance at modest prices. The RTX 3060 is simply good enough.


We're almost at budget and we still need a Case, FAST RAM or else your esport games frame rates will suffer dramatically, and a cooling solution. You do not want the 5600x or 11400 to be thermally limited in the middle of a close game of Valorant or Dota. Frame time spikes will cause you to make errors and the only way to ensure you avoid these problems is with a superior cooling solution. I will admit however my second PC has a stock cooler for my r5 3600 and it doesn't do a bad job of keeping the CPU cool, however it is terribly loud when the fan ramps up.


In my personal opinion where an optimal PC build started at 800 dollars (970 today) 10 years ago, that bar has since been raised to at least 1200 dollars to make sure you do not compromise in any given area for a 5-year build.

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04:16 Oct-18-2021

I'd even say 1500 is closer to what you want to be spending to include a GPU that will serve for 5 years and storage that won't run out just by installing warzone and rocket league.

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16:15 Oct-18-2021

The RTX 3060 is 913USD where I live... It is a joke, I built my whole pc for 1100USD 6 years ago.

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00:56 Oct-18-2021

To me, pc gaming was expensive from the very start.


If you want and wanted to game cheap, then you should buy or have bought a console.


Keeping the inflation in mind, i think if you start from scratch on pc gaming, it mostly have stayed at the same price.


If you however upgrade from some sort of pc, then it depends on what you gonna upgrade.


F.e, if you need a new mobo to fit a cpu you most of the time wont have to upgrade the gpu, therefor its not that big of a price increase.


If you wanna upgrade the cpu, and switch sockets, you need a new mobo then as well, so there is a bit of a price increase there.


I dont think the increase will drop though, but it all depends on where you start and what you want to upgrade imo

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23:48 Oct-17-2021

currently with the market, it is very much a higher barrier. Hopefully things get back to msrp

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23:13 Oct-17-2021

The barrier overall isn't higher even today. If components were available at MSRP, you could build a banger of a PC for about US $600 which would still be the best way to game and do other stuff. Best bang for your buck.

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22:05 Oct-17-2021

I think it depends on what you want to play. For example I'm playing bf3 on high with an Intel integrated gpu on my office laptop, and I'm a happy guy. My favorite games are older ones and by the looks of what's coming I'll never again need an expensive pc which is refreshing I can tell you, gives you back a sense of freedom.

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19:10 Oct-17-2021

Barrier here really depends on what exactly you mean by it. Only reason barrier went up really are graphic card prices. Since 2x MSRP is way more than it used to be. But other than that, building PC today is easiest it ever was, with so many videos readily available, components made with DIY in mind, plus finding help isn't that hard,... And if you are really against "getting your hands dirty", there also are plenty of shops which will even build it for you, in case you really don't want to go into it yourself. For relatively small fee of course. Though you don't get the experience itself this way, it still is nice way out of pre-built world.


As for me, I actually didn't participate in buying first PC I used, my parents got it for work, via some company that you could hire to set everything up, so I dunno if they did anything custom with it or it was just pre-built. My father owned his own business. But latter I would mostly use it for games, parents only needed it few times per month to run certain programs for work. So that is how I started. Latter, when I grew up enough to buy my own PC, I used above method of ordering parts and paying shop to put it together for me. Which is something I still do, when it is cheap enough, despite me building PCs for anyone who pays me... :-D


For first time? It depends entirely on person, whether they are fine with DIY or willing to put in "work and research" required. Like as I said, it is easier than ever, but for first time builder, it can easily be overwhelming, never wrecking and both of those can lead to them making more mistakes than they would, if they were calm. Building PC isn't for everyone and I do understand that, peace of mind and stuff are worth something too. But for those willing to give it a go, I usually highly recommend it. I say usually, because in the end, with graphic card pricing today and availability, it gets kind of hard to recommend it. And pre-builds aren't that much more anymore, making your own build bit harder to recommend. But it really boils down to whether you want it simple and pay someone else to take care of everything, including support when something goes wrong, since with pre-build, you don't need to do much of diagnosing. Or on other hand you like to tinker with stuff and you want to save on things you don't need and want to have in a way bit closer connection with PC, since you put in more effort yourself.


And for upgrades, I usually do them every few years. Depending on few factors, I usually keep CPUs for about 4-5 years, I try holding on graphic cards for about 3 years. But sometimes it depends on whether I feel the need to upgrade or if I get good opportunity. Like with my current CPU, Ryzen 2600X, I bought that because my old i5 6600 was struggling with some games I wanted to play and experience was just not good enough. 1070 I got during previous mining crisis, because MSI released new one fan version that was shortly sold at MSRP, meaning I could sell my old RX480 8GB for pretty much same price as I got that 1070, so I kind of just jumped on it, didn't end up with that exact model, since they obviously ran out of stock, so I picked different one, since they had to honor the deal regardless. And RX480 was because my previous card, GTX960 started to struggle with something, or at least required bit too many sacrifices. GTX960 was also card I had for shortest amount of time. Of course I also took care that none of those parts went to landfill, some were given to friends who needed them, some got sold to new home,... So they don't get wasted on landfill.

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19:06 Oct-17-2021

How anyone can say "build a PC on your own" in today's market is beyond me. "Elitist" PC gamers themselves who would rather game on a PS2 rather than a prebuilt have confessed that in today's world a prebuilt is a better choice if only to get parts. What is going on in this website lol!

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20:22 Oct-17-2021

Pre-built PCs have decent CPUs, RAM and storage, but the GPU is always garbage for the money you're spending. It's always cheaper to build your own. That's what all our elitism is about, so no elitism in reality.

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22:53 Oct-17-2021

was the case, but what he wanted to say is that its cheeper for example to buy prebuild that has rtx 3060 in it then to buy rtx3060 separetly

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00:58 Oct-18-2021

It depends honestly, its always one or the other.


So either good cpu and bad gpu, or good gpu and trash cpu.


Ram, mobo, pcu wise it doesnt matter that much tho, although ram can be a bit low when you buy a cheap pre built pc sometimes

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01:03 Oct-18-2021

So what is it youre trying to say here? No offence meant here though.


But from what i understand you say that a pre built one is only good for parts?


To me, its a simple law. Always build your own pc, so you have a choice in everything, instead of to having rely on whats built in, in the pre built pc's.


Dont get me wrong here, pre built ones can be good, but most of the time you pay the jackpot for a really good pre built one, which in most cases can be built for half the money or even less if you do some research for the parts that were in the pre built one.


So, in this case, its much much better to stay with build your own.


Thing is though, that you have to either assemble it yourself, or let it be assembled by someone you know, or a store. In case of the latter it costs some extra money, but you always have warranty in case something goes wrong..


Therefor, i do a build it yourself, but let it assemble by the store since a couple of years, after i bought a water cooler which died after a year when i purchased it and assembled it myself.

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01:03 Oct-18-2021

So what is it youre trying to say here? No offence meant here though.


But from what i understand you say that a pre built one is only good for parts?


To me, its a simple law. Always build your own pc, so you have a choice in everything, instead of to having rely on whats built in, in the pre built pc's.


Dont get me wrong here, pre built ones can be good, but most of the time you pay the jackpot for a really good pre built one, which in most cases can be built for half the money or even less if you do some research for the parts that were in the pre built one.


So, in this case, its much much better to stay with build your own.


Thing is though, that you have to either assemble it yourself, or let it be assembled by someone you know, or a store. In case of the latter it costs some extra money, but you always have warranty in case something goes wrong..


Therefor, i do a build it yourself, but let it assemble by the store since a couple of years, after i bought a water cooler which died after a year when i purchased it and assembled it myself.

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01:03 Oct-18-2021

So what is it youre trying to say here? No offence meant here though.


But from what i understand you say that a pre built one is only good for parts?


To me, its a simple law. Always build your own pc, so you have a choice in everything, instead of to having rely on whats built in, in the pre built pc's.


Dont get me wrong here, pre built ones can be good, but most of the time you pay the jackpot for a really good pre built one, which in most cases can be built for half the money or even less if you do some research for the parts that were in the pre built one.


So, in this case, its much much better to stay with build your own.


Thing is though, that you have to either assemble it yourself, or let it be assembled by someone you know, or a store. In case of the latter it costs some extra money, but you always have warranty in case something goes wrong..


Therefor, i do a build it yourself, but let it assemble by the store since a couple of years, after i bought a water cooler which died after a year when i purchased it and assembled it myself.

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01:05 Oct-18-2021

Its my bad i clicked reply so many times. Ofcourse i meant to post this text only once, but it seems there was some delay, and i thought the post wasnt there

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02:42 Oct-20-2021

It is possible to build your own pc at a reasonable price point (depending on what sort of visual experience you're aiming for).

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18:45 Oct-17-2021

I dont really understand the question "is there a higher barrier of entry for pc gaming today?"


i mean pc gaming exist for more then 30years, wouldnt that mean the more time passes the more accesible it is like you can buy 20years old hardware and play 30y old games.


Or is this question just for newest hardware and latest games

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18:13 Oct-17-2021

It's a bit higher now and much higher if you're not buying directly in Euro or Dollar. Also part availability is also influencing this... sadly.

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18:02 Oct-17-2021

The GPUs alone are a big part of this barrier

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17:46 Oct-17-2021

Well compared to the period of the 8th generation of console yes, but that was the exception to the rule. Along with 2007-2009 when the best GPUs costed 200-300$ and amazing CPUs costed 120-180$.

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17:49 Oct-17-2021

Also my first PC was built my dad, so I didn't build it myself, but it wasn't pre-built either.

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17:50 Oct-17-2021

Also I build a lot of PCs a year, but for myself, I used to build one every 2-3 years, but due to slow progress in hardware performance in the past decade, it's more like 4-5 years between builds, nowadays.

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Core i7-7500U 2-Core 2.7GHz GeForce 940MX 2GB 8GB
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Ryzen 9 5900X 12-Core 3.7GHz Radeon RX 580 Sapphire Nitro+ 8GB 32GB
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Core i5-10400F 6-Core 2.90GHz GeForce RTX 3060 Ti Inno3D Twin X2 8GB 32GB
100% Yes [3 votes]
Ryzen R5 1400 Radeon RX 560 2GB 8GB
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1440p
Core i7-11800H 8-Core 1.90GHz GeForce RTX 3060 Mobile 32GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
| 60FPS, High, 1440p
Core i7-7700K 4-Core 4.2GHz GeForce GTX 1080 MSI Gaming X 8GB Edition 16GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
Core i7-3770 4-Core 3.4GHz GeForce GTX 950 MSI Gaming 2GB Edition 8GB
0% No [1 votes]
| 30FPS, Medium, 720p
Core 2 Duo E6600 2.4GHz Radeon HD 5570 1024MB 4GB
0% No [1 votes]
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Core i5-11400 6-Core 2.7GHz GeForce RTX 3060 Ultra 16GB
100% Yes [2 votes]
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1440p
Ryzen 5 5600X 6-Core 3.7GHz GeForce RTX 2080 Super Gigabyte Aorus 8GB 32GB
0% No [1 votes]
| 60FPS, High, 1440p
Ryzen 5 5600X 6-Core 3.7GHz GeForce RTX 2080 Super Gigabyte Aorus 8GB 32GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
| 30FPS, Low, 720p
Core i5-480M 2.66GHz HD i5 M480 8GB
| 30FPS, Low, 720p
APU A6-5400K Dual-Core Radeon HD 7450 4GB
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Ryzen 3 3300X 4-Core 3.8GHz Radeon RX 570 4GB 16GB
| 30FPS, Medium, 720p
Core 2 Duo E7500 2.93GHz Radeon R7 250X Sapphire 1GB Edition 4GB
0% No [3 votes]