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Greed And Hedonism In Computing

By and large, PC enthusiasts are a very spoiled, greedy bunch. Many of us expect our machines to forever be at the top of the mountain when it comes to performance. Perhaps because we put so much into our machines -- money, time in research, effort in making tweaks -- we expect plenty in return.

If we use our machines to play games, we want every single last FPS we can squeeze out of it.

If we do media encoding, we want to get the job done in the very shortest time possible without sacrificing anything to data compression.

If we overclock, we want that very last MHz from our CPU or GPU or RAM.

I'm sure I'm a fuddy-duddy compared to many of the young bucks here on OCN, but my inherent pragmatism, submerged to the degree that it is by my love for overclocking, compels me to declare that I think that a lot of us are just greedy and hedonistic. I mean, really, it's a lot like many pro athletes who think there's a huge difference between $4.0 million a year compared to $4.4 million. I know that's a ten percent difference, but ask yourself this: At the end of the day, how much money does one really need?

Similarly, then, how much computing power does one really require today?

I've written a few times in the past that the hardware manufacturers are taking the PC enthusiast community for a ride. And all for much more than the cost of bus fare, for sure.

Think about things this way: There are really two ways to measure PC performance. There is the performance difference that the end user can actually perceive, then there is one where only benchmarking programs can measure.

In my opinion, far too many people put far too much importance in performance "upgrades" that only benchmarks can measure. This is the mania which the hardware manufacturers count on. The mentality that we all somehow "need" the latest and greatest is a futile pursuit of pleasures what we all already enjoy.

People get all dizzy and hot and bothered when talking about upgrades, but think about this for a second: Given everything else is equal, can you really (I mean, really) tell the difference between, say, a G80 and a G92 GPU? How about a 29xx-series or a 38xx-series?

Unless you're obscenely wealthy and you play your games on a gigantic monitor with HD resolutions (I know there are some on OCN who actually would qualify for this) and have all your eye candy on, chances are there's no difference in FPS as far as your eyes can actually see.

I had a G80 8800 GTS (640mb), but was given a G92 8800 GT. While 3DMark06 gave me a few more points (I can't recall how much more, to be honest, since I don't really care much for benchmarks), in-game I cannot tell the difference between the two. The only difference that I can detect is that the G80 runs cooler per Everest Ultimate (likely due to its dual-slot cooler), but whilst playing games there's absolutely no difference. I can play the same games at the same exact (maxed) settings at 1280 x 1024 resolution (my monitor's native).

Now, if you get your kicks from benching, well, that's another thing altogether. But I'm from the school where you still actually use your machine (even if this machine's primary use is for gaming/entertainment only). This is where being hedonistic and insatiable sort of make sense; you enter into things knowing that you're jumping headlong into a bottomless money pit, a black hole where your wallet's contents must forever go. The strategy of perpetually "upgrading" makes sense (as much as such things could) in this case.

I'm reminded of Latrell Sprewell's infamous comment from a few years ago, when he refused a 3-year, $21 million contract extension. He declared, "I've got a family to feed." Since when was $21 million not enough to feed a family?

Is 60+ FPS for whatever resolution you play on just not enough?

(Even if the human eye can really only detect around 30-40FPS anyway...)

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