PC gaming is still alive and kicking.
Despite the rise of touchscreen mobile games and gaming consoles, PC gaming is not going quietly into the night.
A recent Global Games Market Report by games market research firm Newzoo estimated that PC gaming will generate 39 per cent of global gaming revenues this year, higher than the 36 per cent for consoles.
The next-generation consoles from Microsoft and Sony are based on the x86PC architecture, which makes it easier to port a console game to the PC platform. Hence, you can expect more games to be released simultaneously for both consoles and PCs.
Major game titles and franchises were often exclusive, or were launched first, on consoles. Mobile gaming has been booming with the explosive growth of mobile devices. The threat of piracy on the PC platform was often used as a reason not to develop games for it.
But with the current generation of consoles reaching their use-by dates, the perception has changed.
In addition, digital game distribution platforms, such as Steam and Origin, are also assuaging fears of piracy with their built-in digital rights management. Besides, there is probably less incentive to pirate a game knowing that it will be discounted in the next Steam sale a few months later.
"PC is still the platform of choice for many specific genres of games, such as real-time strategy (StarCraft II) and massively online role-playing games (World Of Warcraft)," saidMrMarcus Wee of Aftershock PC, a local company that sells custom gaming laptops.
These are all good reasons why your next gaming machine should be a PC. And more often than not, it would be a gaming laptop because it takes up less space than the desktop equivalent.
With new Intel Haswell processors and updated graphics chips from AMD and Nvidia, the latest gaming laptops are faster than before. Mobile graphics may not be as powerful as the desktop version, but they are becoming good enough for many gamers. For instance, graphics chipmaker Nvidia claims performance gains of up to 55percent for its new GeForce 700M graphics chips.
Prices of gaming laptops have also fallen over the past two years. In 2011, 95per cent of gaming laptops with screens that were 17 inches or larger sold in Singapore cost $2,500 or more, according to market researcher GfK. The proportion declined to 36 per cent in the first half of this year. Three of the six gaming laptops in this round-up start from less than $2,500.
Consumers appear to be buying these affordable gaming laptops. In Singapore, sales of 17-inch gaming laptops in the first half of this year have increased fourfold from the same period last year, based on GfK data.
"Generally, consumers place performance-per-dollar as their top priority," said Mr Wee.
As laptops with 17-inch screens have become the standard for gaming, some of the new 17-inch models are starting to weigh less than 3kg. These machines are about as portable as 15-inch models and not much thicker. Two such gaming laptops from MSI and Razer are tested in this round-up.
Finally, there is the versatility that a laptop offers. With quad-core CPUs and dedicated graphics chips, gaming laptops are suited for heavy duty computing tasks such as video production.
So, if you are looking for an all-in-one computer that can serve double duty for both work and play, a gaming laptop looks like an excellent choice. Game on.