As the latest technology comes out it is usually given a premium price tag, often beyond the normal persons salary.
It is our understanding here at GD that for the past few years the PC components being released have been more powerful than the recommended requirements for the vast majority of todays top end games. So why pay premium when you upgrade?
I myself am still playing the very latest games with a rig I put together nearly four years ago.
I read a discussion post earlier today that went as follows
"I've never been a PC gamer because I can't at all afford a gaming PC. That said, the games I have been able to play on PC are engaging time-sinks. Also, no gaming device does multiplayer better than the PC."
Someone then responded with this
"That's what a lot of people think, and is perpetuated by the enthusiast sites. Truth is, for $600 (or less if you hunt for deals) you can build a very competent desktop gaming PC for gaming at lower resolutions. I game on a 42" 720p plasma with a mid-range PC (AMD Phenom x3, 4GB Ram, Radeon 5770) and can run just about every game with all details turned up at 1280x720. You know what? Games look awesome with 8xAA at 720p, and they play smooth as silk.
Forget overpriced options like SSDs, Raptors drives, 1080p LCDs, and SLI/Crossfire - run a lower-end, cheap PC at lower resolutions and start enjoying PC games"
This is so very true. Gamers strapped for cash may often assume that the only option is to buy a console and turn their back on the brilliance that is PC gaming.
This inspired me to plunder the Game-Debate databanks to find the most powerful hardware that is likely to be considered dated (therefore cheaper). The list is compiled up of a few items of hardware that will meet over 95% of all recommended game requirements right now.
Intel Pentium Dual Core E6600 3.06GHz = £60.50 (Note - this is not the Core 2 Duo E6600, which is not as good)
AMD Athlon II X3 440 = £57.99
Nvidia GeForce 9800 GTX = $79.99 ebay
Nvidia GeForce GTS 250 1GB = $70 ebay
ATI Radeon HD 5670 1GB = £80 ($94.99 ebay)
ATI Radeon HD 5750 = £76.26
If possible throw in 4GB ram if you are running Vista/Win7 or 2GB should suffice if you are running XP.
The items I have listed above are workhorse components. If you get a system and put these pieces of hardware in you are going to be able to play practically all the latest games with little fear of frame rate issues. Chances are you will not be able to play Battlefield Bad Company 2 at max settings but if you just tweak a few settings, in my opinion, you will be able to get a great experience for low cost.
I have also chosen these items for their lifespan. I personally think these components will last you for some time to come. Chances are you will get a couple of years good gaming out of them.
If you then factor in the higher cost for console games and maybe even services like XBox Live then PC gaming is certainly still pretty good value for money.
The hardware prices were taken from www.aria.co.uk and www.ebay.com and are used for your basic reference.
I look forward to hearing what you guys come up with as your hardware suggestions.