Most Expensive Gaming Computers: $20,000 is a small price to pay for victory

At what point does it go from “invest in a high-end machine that will last” to “now brag”?

I asked around on ZDNet to get a feel for what most people consider “too expensive” when it comes to gaming computers. The general consensus was that if you spend between $1,500 and $2,000 you will get a really great configuration that will last you for at least 5-6 years, but that anything over $3,000 is a waste of money. It all depends on what components you want, and build some anticipatory cushion in your budget for the seemingly ever-increasing prices of GPUs thanks to crypto mining and chip shortages. If you’re okay with mid-range or slightly older GPUs and CPUs, you can save some money on either a pre-built tower or building your own rig. But when you absolutely have to have the latest and greatest stuff, you have to be willing to dig deep.

However, when it comes to graphics cards, paying more is not always the best option. Yes, a GeForce RTX 3090 is one of the best of the best when it comes to GPUs, but do you really need one?

The short answer is no.

You don’t really need an RTX 30 series card or Intel Xeon and AMD Ryzen Threadripper CPUs to get the most out of your games. The biggest difference between an RTX 3050 and a 3090 is the VRAM capacity; The higher the VRAM capacity, the faster your card can render assets. Faster rendering gives you higher frame rates, which is good for keeping playback silky smooth, but it’s not the gold standard for gaming. Especially if you’re not trying to be a content creator but just want to enjoy your games. The only reason to drop almost $1,500 on a GPU alone is if you want to future-proof your build. Higher VRAM, more cores, and faster graphics processing means you can keep up with the latest versions for quite a while, even as native 4K resolution becomes more mainstream (and maybe even as we start to support the first 8K games see, but we’ll all have to wait and see). But unless you plan on 1) becoming a streamer or content creator, or 2) trying to keep up with the latest and greatest triple-A titles, there’s absolutely no reason to spend a ton of money on a gaming PC.

And just because you have a big, fancy, and expensive CPU doesn’t mean it’s going to be better than a Ryzen 3 5000 or Intel Core i3. Not to sound like a broken record, but unless you’re creating content, a super-fast CPU isn’t going to give you any more benefit than a mid-range or upper-mid-range option. A more powerful CPU or dual-CPU build means you can support more system memory, but be honest with yourself: when will you ever need 256GB of RAM? Or over 40 TB of storage space? Never, that’s when. I bet you have a 2TB storage drive that you’ve never run out of space on. A build with 16GB of RAM, a decent Intel or AMD CPU, and maybe a maximum of 4TB of storage will serve you well for years to come, even if game downloads stay steady at 100GB.