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Why Is PC Gaming So Expensive?

Why Is PC Gaming So Expensive?

PC gaming is known to be one of the most expensive hobbies someone can pick up. A solid PC can outperform most new gen consoles, but it’ll also be double or triple the price.

So, why is PC gaming so expensive, and more importantly, is it worth the price?

Why Is PC Gaming So Expensive?

PC gaming is expensive because in order to play the latest PC games, you’ll need to constantly keep your PC and its components up to date. Since gaming PCs use state-of-the-art microchip technologies, keeping your PC updated is very costly.

Here are some of the factors that make gaming PCs uniquely expensive.

GPU (Graphics Card) Demand

GPUs / Graphics cards have skyrocketed in demand the last couple of years, which has driven their prices through the roof. Crypto mining has been the root cause of this demand increase, but there has also been an increase in the number of people building new PCs.

I’m sure you know, but the power of your GPU plays a huge role in determining your computer’s FPS during games (and the quality of graphics). So an expensive GPU means an expensive computer. Even before the demand increase, new GPUs were never cheap, and almost certainly never will be.

CPU Costs

The CPU is the other half of the PC power / price equation. You can get away with having a lower quality CPU, but it will also depend on which games you play. For example, I had a really strong graphics card, with a mediocre CPU. I was able to play every single game without lag, except Overwatch, which uses the CPU more than most games.

You want your CPU to be on par with your graphics card in order to avoid any bottlenecks in your build. This means that if you have an expensive graphics card, you want an expensive CPU. Luckily, CPUs aren’t usually quite as expensive as graphics cards, but they’re not exactly cheap.

RAM Requirements

PC gaming is so expensive, in part, due to its RAM and other hardware requirements. If you play really demanding games, then you probably want 16-32 GB of RAM. This is far from cheap, especially if you want DDR4 (which you should).

This price gets compounded by the fact that most people recommend not mixing RAM sizes and brands. So, if you have older RAM, most of the time you’ll want to opt for two brand new sticks instead of attempting to add on to your existing RAM. RAM isn’t as expensive as a new GPU or CPU, but you’re still going to feel it in your wallet.

The Monitor(s)

If you’re a hardcore gamer, or simply want your games look as beautiful and crisp as possible, then you need to invest in a monitor. Sure, compared to the TVs that you play consoles on, monitors aren’t quite as expensive. However, keep in mind you’re getting a much smaller screen for a much more specific use.

If you play competitive games and want every edge possible, you’ll need to buy a monitor with a very high refresh rate and low response time, which will increase the price even more. On top of this, you may also want G-Sync, which can easily add a couple hundred dollars to the price of the monitor.

In summary, even “cheap” monitors cost a pretty penny, but if you want a monitor that is excellent for gaming then you’d better be ready to shell out an arm and a leg.

Peripherals (Mouse, Keyboard, Mousepad, etc)

Monitors aren’t the only expensive peripheral when it comes to PC gaming. Gaming mice are very expensive, for a few reasons. First of all, quality gaming mice are made with quality material which raises their price from the start. You can find really cheap gaming mice on Amazon, eBay, etc, but they will feel really plasticky and cheap.

Other than their build quality, gaming mice are made for gaming and offer many quality of life features other mice don’t. Gaming mice also usually feel much better to game with, and glide much smoother over your mouse pad. The manufacturers know people need their mice for gaming, so they have no incentive to cheapen them.

Just like gaming mice, gaming keyboards from trusted brands are built with quality material (most of the time), and the manufacturers know people will pay for them. Unlike a mouse though, you can probably get away with a cheap keyboard for most games.

Beyond the mouse and keyboard, there are many more peripherals out there targeted towards gamers. The price of your set up slowly adds up over time as you buy all of these things.

There are headsets, mousepads, mics, glasses, the list goes on and on. Not all of them are necessary, but most of them do add some quality of life to your gaming experience.

If you’re not careful, then before you know it you’ve dropped a few hundred on your peripherals alone.

Minimum Spec Requirements

PC gaming is expensive because many new PC games require powerful specs just to play them. If you want to play these games on max settings, the price increases exponentially. Brand new AAA games, and even some indie games require fairly new GPUs and CPUs to run, on top of 16-32 GB of RAM. All of these components quickly add up.

Sure, you can play some pretty good games on a cheap PC, but if you want to play the same games as consoles, with the same quality of graphics, then it’s going to be much more expensive.

The good news though, is that your state-of-the-art PC will outperform consoles once you’ve dropped all that money on it. For some, this price is definitely worth it.

Technology Progression

PC gaming hasn’t gotten any cheaper over the years because technology hasn’t stopped improving. Every year new hardware is being created that is stronger / smaller / whatever than the previous year. This would be fine, and we could ignore this, except when technology improves, so do games.

So, every year, games become harder and harder to run, especially on max settings.

At the end of the day, this progression in technology means that you can’t just build your PC one year and use it for the rest of your life. You need to constantly upgrade it if you want to keep playing brand new games at max settings.

Technology doesn’t progress as fast as it used to, but you’ll still probably need to look at upgrades every 5 or so years, which will be expensive every single time.

Labor

If you’re in the market for pre-built PCs and are wondering why they’re so expensive, then labor is one of the main costs. Parts, of course, are very expensive, but someone also has to put the entire PC together. This can actually be a pretty daunting task, all things considered.

They need to pick out the perfect parts, put them all into place, and most importantly, manage all of the wires. This is why I prefer to build my own computers. Not only can you pick the exact parts you need, but you can avoid any unnecessary labor costs that get added to pre-builts.

Of course, I completely understand just wanting to purchase a computer and play it without having to worry about setting everything up and hoping it works. In which case, that extra labor cost may just be worth it for you, and you can always install upgrades yourself a few years down the line.

Maintenance

Maintenance is one hidden cost of PC gaming that makes it so expensive, especially in the long run. PCs are made up of many moving parts, all working together. Where there are many parts, there are many problems. When something breaks down inside of your PC, you need to replace it, which can range from pretty expensive to extremely expensive.

If something like your GPU or CPU goes down, your wallet is in trouble. If only a single fan goes kaput, then you’re lucky. Now, something people don’t really think about when talking about repair costs, is the cost to figure out what’s wrong.

I’ve spent a couple of hundred bucks replacing parts in my computer trying to figure out what was wrong with it. Sometimes you might suspect one part is the issue and replace, just to find that it was a completely different part. This can be pretty frustrating, but the silver lining is that you usually end up with a slightly upgraded PC in the end.

Chip Shortages

There has been a global semiconductor (aka chip) shortage going on for quite a while now, at the time of this article. This isn’t the first chip shortage, and probably won’t be the last. Without chips, manufacturers reach their own bottleneck.

They’re able to make 99% of everything, but can’t produce their products because they can’t get enough chips. This means there isn’t enough supply to meet demand, so when there is a product on the shelf, it is immediately purchased.

Unfortunately, these shortages also lead to scalpers and resellers buying up all of the GPUs and reselling them on eBay at double the price. All of this makes PC gaming very expensive, especially if you’re unlucky enough to start the hobby during one of these shortages.

RGB And LEDs

This isn’t a necessity and isn’t a reason for all of PC gaming to be expensive. However, if you’re looking at a pre-built PC and are wondering why the price tag is so high, then take a look at its lighting. If it has a lot of fancy LED fans and strips, that is undoubtedly adding quite a bit to the price.

Now, some people absolutely love their RGB and are willing to pay extra for it. However, it’s definitely not necessary and makes PC gaming seem more inaccessible than it actually is.

How To Save Money On A Gaming PC?

You can save money on your gaming PC by buying old or used parts and scaling back on your CPU and motherboard so you can spend more on your GPU and other parts. Refurbished computers and parts are also a great option for gamers on a budget, and usually have some protection in place for the buyer.

Almost every single part in my PC is a used part. I actually bought my PC from a friend for about $100 because it was having issues. Afterwards, I started replacing parts to figure out what was causing the issue.

Then, over the next few years I’d simply wait for someone I know to upgrade and buy their old parts, or I’d hop on eBay and buy something used from there. Now I have a beast of a PC and paid a lot less than I should’ve for it!

If you plan to use your PC mostly for gaming, your main focuses will be your GPU and your RAM. You can actually get away with a pretty lackluster CPU, as long as your GPU is solid.

There are some games, though, like Overwatch that use the CPU a lot more than others. Generally speaking, though, your GPU and your RAM will be the major determining factors for which games you can play.

Is PC Gaming More Expensive Than Console?

PC Gaming is not more expensive than console gaming, and for many people it may actually be cheaper. Putting a solid PC together can cost more than just buying a console (not always), but that PC will also last much longer than a console with the option to upgrade. PC gaming also offers cheap and free games.

If you spend the same amount of money on a PC that you would buying a brand new console, you’re going to get a bigger bang for your buck. This isn’t a hard set rule, as it also comes down to which games you play. But PCs do not go obsolete like consoles do.

A new PC will be able to play games for many years to come. It may not always be able to handle brand new AAA games at max settings, but there are many indie games released every year with much lower spec requirements.

Upgrading your PC is also much cheaper than buying a new gen console. So after the initial cost of building your PC, things get much cheaper.

Now, another advantage of PC gaming for budget gamers is that there are many ways to get cheap and free games on the PC. Humble Bundle, Steam Sales, and Key resellers are all great options for people that want to game for cheap.

I have a couple websites that always have older games on sale for $1 – 10, that would usually cost $40+ on console or on Steam. There are also many great free games like League of Legends, Valorant, Apex Legends, Rocket League, Starcraft 2, etc.

Is An Expensive Gaming PC Worth It?

An expensive gaming PC is absolutely worth the price. It will last for the next decade and be able to play any game that comes out. Buying an expensive PC also means that less upgrades will be required over the years, keeping the costs down even more.

PCs have many more gaming options than any other console on the market. The downside is that most regular PCs can’t run the best games. However, an expensive gaming PC will be able to run any game that your heart desires for the next decade. This makes it very much worth the price.

👋 Hey There, I'm Eric!

Since 2018, I've been making streams come true.

I like gaming, streaming and watching other people stream. I created this website to help streamers and viewers of streams answer some of the questions they may have regarding live streaming. I am a Twitch affiliate and currently stream on Twitch 3 days a week. I hope you find my content helpful. Feel free to stop by one of my streams to say hi.