Both Dell and HP emphatically reject the underlying assumptions of these naysayers:
“Let’s start by saying once and for all that the perceived competition between PC gaming and console gaming is mostly trumped-up hype. People who love gaming often have a PC and a console, or multiple consoles. They love the experience of gaming, and while they might have a favorite platform, most are not exclusive to one. Everyone has favorite games, sure, but most gamers have favorite PC games and favorite console games, and they play both regularly. In addition, the number of people interested in gaming is growing at a pretty fast rate, which is why now is a great time to release high-performance PCs. With great games like Tabula Rasa, Bioshock, Battlefield 2142 and Crysis, it’s safe to say PC gaming is definitely not in a slump. In fact, those games all push PCs to the limit, which is another reason high-performance PCs are becoming such a hot commodity” (Kittleson).
“Those who argue that PC gaming is in a slump tend to do so simply because there are effectively three new consoles. Anytime there’s a new console, the Death of PC Gaming topic comes out of nowhere, and it couldn’t be further from reality. There are more quality PC games coming out now than ever before, and now that Vista is stable, we believe DX10 is going to help us deliver an entirely new level of gaming experience to our customers” (Sood).
For us diehard PC gamers, it is indeed refreshing to hear such optimism, even if it emerges from those with a vested interest in the success of PC gaming.
EMERGING DESIGN PHILOSOPHIES
Originally, gaming computers were plain ugly boxes containing components slightly more powerful than those in business machines. Despite the success of the Apple Macintosh, PC makers were slow to recognize the need for aesthetic appeal or user-friendly engineering. Indeed, major innovations in the functional design of desktop PC computers have been so long overdue that many industry observers claimed that — thanks to standardized technology — computers have become largely interchangeable vanilla commodities like toasters. This claim is premature, as Sood wryly points out, “One of our major competitors, known for once referring to the PC as a commodity, finally found their match. The fact that consumers just got smarter and more discerning helped to flip their business model on its head.” With the blending of expertise derived from boutique computer companies and mass marketers, the latest wave of gaming machines have the potential to exhibit significant improvements.
As to what to optimize in high-end gaming computer design, the two most common tendencies among computer manufacturers competing for bragging rights are: 1) to maximize pure speed and power, measured through a variety of arbitrary benchmark tests manufacturers can manipulate; and 2) to maximize the “cool look” by incorporating flashy case designs. Although most online and print game magazines reviewing high-end rigs emphasize speed and power maximization above anything else, as do many hardcore gamers, any advantages here are fleeting, and the performance differences discernible with human senses are becoming smaller and smaller with each passing generation of computers. Turning to the cool look, although many gamers showing off at LAN parties or inviting impressionable friends over want others to gasp with awe at the sight of their powerful beasts, this focus involves incredible subjectivity and does little to ensure that a machine is actually functional or easy to use. It appears that Dell is much more receptive to relying on these two design criteria than HP: