I will say right now, and verbally obliterate any who disagree, that the desktop computer is, and probably always will be, the best medium for video games, period. That said, the PC gaming market has been receiving significantly less press over the last couple of years, and, thanks to an advancing console and tablet gaming market, it’s safe to say that this trend will continue. There are, however, some interesting advances in the field of PC gaming that should definitely be receiving as much, if not more attention than the Xbox’s Kinect or Nintendo’s 3DS.
While it should go without saying that video games look their best on the PC, there have been a couple of advances in gaming graphics that you should definitely know about.
NVIDIA 3D Vision
NVIDIA 3D Vision is exactly what it sounds like: it enables PC gamers to realize all their favorite games in full, 60 frame-per-second 3D! It’s compatible with practically all modern games too, so if you’re playing Starcraft II, World of Warcraft, Call of Duty, Minecraft, Mass Effect, Dragon Age, or any other major game that has been released in the last two-to-four years, you could be playing it in 3D! The full list of compatible games is huge, more than five-hundred titles altogether.
Gearing up for NVIDIA 3D vision requires a few different components. First you’ll need a 3D Vision compatible video card, these include most of the company’s GTX cards and a smattering of their GTS’s. You’ll also need a 120hz, 3D compatible monitor or TV, and a pair of NVIDIA 3D Vision glasses.
AMD Eyefinity Technology
Eyefinity is a very cool technology that can triple the resolutions of many of today’s coolest games. It uses three monitors and, rather than simply stretching the image across the displays, actually expands the viewers field of vision into their natural periphery. Eyefinity makes gaming much more immersive, since it engages your full field of vision, and can even give gamers an edge over single-display users as they will literally be seeing more of the battlefield!
To set up an Eyefinity rig, you’ll need a sufficiently high-end graphics card. Compatible models will have two DVI outputs and one DisplayPort. You’ll also need three monitors, one of which will have to be compatible with the card’s DisplayPort connector.
Ease of Access
Buying new computer games doesn’t require a trip to Babbages or GameStop anymore; games can be downloaded, or even streamed right to your computer.
Direct2Drive and Valve
While there are other sites that offer similar services, these two are the largest and best of them. Buying games from either of these sites is a cinch—just download and play, and they’re not terribly expensive either. I recently bought Civilization IV on a special from Direct2Drive for only only four dollars, along with both expansions! Plus they’ve got new deals every week.
Onlive is a bit more revolutionary than the pay-and-download sites I just talked about. It’s a “cloud” based gaming service, which means it’s a program that’s hosted and run remotely and then streamed to your computer. In essence you’re playing the game on one of Onlive’s servers and then streaming the video through your screen!
While the quality of the game isn’t quite as good as it would be if you bought the game and ran it from your own machine, Onlive does offer some very worthy bonuses. First, many of their games offer free trials, so you can test out a game before you actually make the investment. Second, Onlive allows you to rent some of their games, five-bucks for a three-day pass and so on. Third, the only thing your computer needs to run Onlive is an internet connection, no hundred-dollar video cards or quad-core processors. Through Onlive you could play Assassin’s Creed II on your mom’s computer!
Onlive isn’t perfect unfortunately; it’s quite new and still has a lot of growing to do. Its library is still very small and the best graphics quality requires a very fast internet connection. I wouldn’t consider it my top choice for a gaming solution, but it’s definitely something to keep an eye on.
Though they haven’t received the same general media attention as have the latest console advances, these technologies have brought huge upgrades to an already stellar PC gaming environment. If you’re a gamer, or want to be, check them out!
Check out OutletPC’s store to shop for the best upgrades for your gaming PC or, if you’d like to learn a bit more before you buy, have a look at my blog series about upgrading called “The Five Best-Bang-for-your-Buck PC Upgrades.”