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May 21st, 2007, 08:50
There are a great many influences on the determination of Basic, Mid-level, and High Level game systems. Previously, before the huge upswing in 3D game production, matched to the horrid downswing in average new PC quality, the video card only was what differentiated a "standard" PC of a given price class from its monetary matchup from the gaming class.

Vista will be affecting things eventually, if it hasn't already. I suppose I need to take some time to rate the systems I see on the shelves at the local brick and mortar PC stores to see what is selling to the ordinary public.

But starting from two years ago, plus maybe six months, maybe not, game systems already needed more RAM than a similarly priced mainstream system not specifically aimed at gaming. A faster CPU also became a needed item, and suddenly the Basic game system was in the price category of the standard mid-level non-game box.

But even before then, the two biggest 3D video design companies had already begun widening the range of products sold, such that the mid-level spanned a larger speed zone than ever, reaching the high level for the prior generation, and well beyond, and the top product was effectively in a brand new super high spot.

Just look at what happened to the ATI product line between the rather few in the 8000 series, and the extensive 9000 series. It was more than mere evolution, it was revolutionary. nVidia took two generations to be able to answer that Radeon supremacy, and finally, in a third generation since their debacle with the ill-designed FXes, they have a couple of high level cards that at present nothing ATI can offer is going to match.

The 7600 GT and the X1650 XT are mid-level cards with excellent performance for the cost, and as the game requirements have scaled up, the "recommended level" stands above those, but they will serve a budget minded player very well. A newer "Lower Upper", or "Highest Mid" range is now popular, in the form of the X1950 Pro, and cards similar to it, carring MSRPs close to $200, and frequently available for much less.

I personally would say that the "balance" when selecting parts needs a bit of an adjustment right now. I certainly don't see the topline XTX 8800 as a normally snesible choice for any system below a mid-level, but I've long since stopped ever suggesting anything below mid-level for any gaming box, at any price.

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Kiwi

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Join Date: May 2007
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