Say it with me: “Building a gaming PC is getting more and more expensive.” Price is a priority when building a gaming PC in 2022, and why shouldn’t it be? Today, the best graphics cards will cost you well over $1,000, DDR5 is insanely expensive, and processor prices are double or even triple what they were a decade ago.
It’s easy to add up the numbers and come to a conclusion, but that ignores gameplay optimizations, lower prices for other components, and the various scaling tools available to gamers to squeeze out extra performance. from their PCs. Instead of adding up what you could spend on a gaming PC, I added up what you would have spend.
And after digging into what $1,000 buys you today versus a decade ago, I can confidently say that PC gaming isn’t getting more expensive.
What is $1000 buying you right now
You can still build a respectable mid-range PC for $1,000 right now, despite GPU prices soaring. Although AMD has released its Ryzen 7000 processors (read my Ryzen 9 7950X review for more) and Nvidia has released the RTX 4090, we are still halfway between last-gen and next-gen. That mostly means next-gen components that offer great value now that prices are starting to drop.
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 5600 – $160
- CPU cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo – $45
- Motherboard: ASRock B550 Phantom Gaming 4 – $105
- Memory: Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB DDR4-3200 – $60
- Storage 1: Samsung 970 Evo Plus 500 GB – $70
- Storage 2: Crucial MX500 1TB – $90
- Graphic card: ASRock RX 6750 XT Challenger Pro – $400
- Case: Focus 2 Fractal Design – $70
- Power source: Thermaltake Smart BM2 650W – $60
- Total: $1,060
For today’s most demanding games, you’re looking for 60+ frames per second (fps) at 1440p with this configuration, as well as 4K with upscaling tools like FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR). This setup can play the most demanding games available today at max setting, given that you’re willing to sacrifice a bit in the ray tracing department.
Today’s most popular and demanding games include Cyberpunk 2077, Horizon Zero Dawn, Red Dead Redemption 2, and Dying light 2. Tom’s Hardware shows that the RX 6750 XT achieves over 110 fps in Horizon Zero Dawn and 80 fps in Red Dead Redemption 2 at 1440p, while TechPowerUp shows the card hitting just under 60 fps in Cyberpunk 2077 at 1440p.
This is our baseline. If you spend $1000 today, you’re not quite able to hit 4K in the most demanding games, but 1440p is still within reach (often above 100fps). You also get 1TB of game storage, a recent six-core CPU, and a case and PSU combo with room to grow.
What $1,000 bought 10 years ago
Step back in time to 2012: AMD had “HD” in the names of its graphics cards, every motherboard was adorned with blue plastic, a metal PC case would cost you over $300, and even a 60 SATA SSD Go was over $100. We have come a long way.
Looking back, it’s interesting to see the same talking points that are present today, especially for the GTX 570 graphics card in this configuration. A decade ago, reviewers complained about the “arm and leg” price of the GTX 580, which launched at $500. This echoes what we’re seeing now with the RTX 4080.
Thoughts aside, here’s the setup I settled on from 2012, using prices on Newegg available through the Wayback Machine.
- CPU: Intel Core i5-2500 – $210
- Motherboard: Asus P8Z68-V LE – $130
- Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws X DDR3-1866 – $60
- Storage: Seagate Barracuda 2TB 7200 rpm – $160
- Graphic card: MSI N570 GTX 570 – $370
- Case: Antec three hundred – $60
- Power source: Cooler Master Silent Pro M600 – $60
- Total: $1,050
Back in 2012, DirectX 11 was brand new, and the demanding gaming landscape was much different. Batman: Arkham City led the lineup of titles, joined by The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Crysis: warhead, Battlefield 3, and Metro 2033 (the original version).
Ten years ago, 4K was still a pipe dream, with 1440p being the ideal resolution for the most expensive graphics cards. Or rather, 1600p was the ideal resolution. At the time, 16:9 had not yet become the de facto aspect ratio, so most tests were run at 16:10. It’s important to remember that there were no scaling options at the time – you get what you get with performance.
The GTX 570 was able to exceed 60 fps in Batman: Arkham City at Full HD at maximum settings, though it did drop to 1600p with an average of 38 fps. It was the same in Battlefield 3, offering nearly 70 fps at Full HD and around 40 fps at 1600p.
This time it was still a lot in the “can he run Crysis” time, which is clear from Crysis: warhead performance. The GTX 570 is short, delivering just under 50fps at Full HD and closer to 30fps at 1600p. Metro 2033 was the real reference at that time — similar to Cyberpunk 2077 now – where you can expect around 30fps at Full HD and closer to 15fps at 1600p.
Are PC games getting more expensive?
It’s hard to answer whether PC games are actually getting more expensive, because the answer is yes and no. For proof, you need look no further than Nvidia’s latest GPUs. A flagship product 10 years ago cost $500. Today it’s $1,200. If you want the best of the best, PC games are more expensive today than they were ten years ago.
But it’s a select segment of buyers who want this setup. On the contrary, you get more for your money today than ten years ago. Upscaling tools like Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS) enable higher resolutions with less capable hardware, and your CPU plays far less of a role in gaming performance, saving you tons of money. money by opting for options from past generations.
Today, $1000 buys you above 60fps, and often closer to 100fps, at 1440p with the ability to play in 4K. Ten years ago, you could get around 60fps in Full HD without much recourse to up the resolution. Obviously, game resolutions and requirements change over time, but it’s clear that games ten years ago were much more demanding on hardware than games today. You get a better experience, even with the most demanding benchmarks available in every era.
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