Joining the PC Elitists

As I am writing this column, I will be simulating my prediction for the Super Bowl. Sadly due to time constraints I was not able to edit a prediction video, but I hope come Super Bowl XI, that will become a reality. I will post the final score at the bottom, but for comparison sakes, here is the official EA Sports prediction, with the Panthers getting a last second 24-20 victory.

But while my prediction is being crunched out, let’s talk about PC gaming.

If you read my last column about the pricing and system requirements for the Oculus Rift, you might have noticed that I hinted at getting myself a gaming PC. But when I made that hint it all depended on how much I was going to receive with my tax refund. That realization came to me on the 25th of January, when I filed my taxes and found out my refund will be larger than usual, clocking in at nearly $1,200 when it usually is under a grand. Considering I also needed to put at least $200 aside to cover my hotel for MAGFest (there was no way I’d be staying at the Gaylord without selling the deed to my house,) I calculated a budget of $900 to get what I needed.

Now before we get started, I know that I am going to hear from the “you can always build your own” honks. I had bad experiences with building my own. I’ve dealt with non-stop blue screens of death every time I started Windows, I’ve had system lock ups, and at one time I even blew up a power supply. I would prefer to not end up wasting nearly $900 only to see it go up in a puff of smoke, so if you’re going to go down that troll tangent, move along.

I also want to mention that despite going with PC gaming, I will still go with consoles as my go to source for games. The Xbox One will still be my main console, while the PS4 will be used for exclusives. And yes, I will get Street Fighter V on the PS4 because I have more friends who will play it there compared to on Steam. The PC will mostly be used for PC exclusive games as well. In fact the first game I want to play with the new PC will be XCOM 2. I want to play it on the current laptop that I am using, but there is one huge issue that I have with it, something I wish I knew before buying: the integrated graphics chipset.

My current laptop, as it runs an Intel Core i7 and has 12 GB of RAM, admittedly is a powerhouse, but not for gaming. If I were to rate the performance level, it would be just under the level of an Xbox 360. I am able to play 360 games at 720p resolution, including Skyrim, Fallout: New Vegas, and XCOM: Enemy Unknown/Within but with the levels turned all the way down. Other games such as Diablo III and Starcraft II run at 1024×768 with decent performance, but anything higher and it will bog down. I’m sure if this laptop had at least a dedicated graphics card, I would be more than adequate to play newer games. But sadly that’s not the case.

So I am looking at two options. One, I get a “gaming exclusive” tower with at least a Core i5 or an AMD FX 6000 series and either at least an NVIDIA GeForce 960 or AMD Radeon R9 380 card. If I go that route I can start with a lower graphics card and upgrade it shortly after. My other option is to go the laptop route again. But since I would use it more for other functions besides gaming (mostly editing videos with Sony Vegas Pro,) I would have to go with a Core i7 or an 8-core AMD FX-8800 series and an equal performing dedicated graphics card. Memory is the same way. I can start with 8 GB (especially if I go the tower route) but can upgrade that over time. As for the hard drive I will also upgrade that with an external USB 3.0. This will also probably be done in the future should I upgrade the Xbox One external to a 4 GB and use the 2 GB currently in use on the new PC.)

Needless to say I’m pretty much ready to get into the realm of true PC gaming. However, there is one thing that is holding me back…the IRS. Usually when I do my federal taxes I have them done electronically and have my refund directly deposited to my account. That was done on the 25th, ten days ago. Usually it takes 8-10 days for my refund to be sent to me this way. Not the case this year, as I still have not received a refund date. In fact, the IRS’ refund network was shut down on Wednesday and just came back up the following day, which means that I might not be even getting my refund until the following week, and that will hurt a lot, especially if I want to get the new computer all ready in time for MAGFest. I’ll just have to see if that changes but I doubt it will ever happen.

Go figure. The IRS loves to take your money. But when they have to pay you back for taxing too much, they take their sweet lazy time. That’s ‘Murica for ya!

Currently Playing: Grand Theft Auto V (Xbox One)

Waiting For: XCOM 2 (PC)

Super Bowl Prediction: 23-20 Panthers in OT after a 57-yard Graham Gano field goal.

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