Without talking about frame rate, resolution, power, price, or the amount/quality of games, I want to talk about what makes the PC platform unique. PC isn’t just Windows, it encompasses all Operating Systems and hardware. Even ARM CPUs, which are mostly found in mobile devices but are starting to make their way into cheaper Laptops.
This is the second part of a mini-column about what makes PC unique, this part will tackle customizability of both hardware and software.
With desktops and laptops, you are able to swap out and refit most of the components for better and faster ones. The larger desktop chassis, the more you are able to swap out more parts.
Say you have a 250GB hard drive and want a larger one? Just buy one, backup your data, and transfer everything across. Want a new graphics card? PC has that sorted, and laptops to some extent.
Improving you PC is not just about getting better stuff, but also getting more fans, overclocking, or getting a CPU cooler, and so on. PC tech is constantly evolving, to keep on top of the increasing demand games have on your system you can temporarily boost your performance by overclocking. However, this can cause the system to become unstable if you overclock too far or incorrectly. Getting more fans can allow your system to stay cooler, which will boost the lifetime of your desktop. You can even get external fans for laptops.
This is mostly self-explanatory, but just like with consoles or your phone, you can stick stuff to your system, and make it personal to you. With the difference being that you can get your own case, big ones, small ones, any size, shape, or colour of case.
Different angles of my PC. That case is a full tower NZXT Phantom.
What do what you want out of your PC?
PC allows for a lot more flexibility with how you build the system, it allows you to tweak and change what you want, within reason. Want a super computer? Spend $7000 on a top of the line i7 CPU, with four graphics cards, a 1500w power supply and 32GB of G.Skill RAM (and all the other components needed), or spend $300 on something which can run Hearthstone, and some indie games… the choice is yours.
There is, however, an overwhelming amount of choice. This comes with drawbacks, optimisation of games is the primary issue. With consoles, the hardware is static, and with time developers can push that hardware far past its initial capabilities.
That’s the one major issue with PC: the hardware is ever-changing.
To optimise for several million different combinations is extremely taxing. There are ways to do this, the main one is the optimise for specific CPU or GPU architectures, which can sometimes apply to upwards of 50 components which share the same architecture.