Stoopid Computer – Are Better Graphics Really Worth The Extra Effort?

pcBack in the olden days of March 2014, I decided to buy a computer capable of playing games. I had not had a full-blown computer in many years, preferring to rely on a laptop, but I didn’t want to try to play games on any laptop – high-end or otherwise. This lead me to debate my purchase for weeks before finally pulling the trigger in early March. Since then, it has been nothing but a seemingly unending endeavor in frustration.

From the beginning there were problems involving the graphics adapter that could only be solved by moving the card to a PCI-E slot on another bus. This eventually lead to me sending the entire computer back for repair. The attempted repair did not gain me much since the computer had the exact same problem. Thus it went back to the manufacturer, again.

amd290xThird time is the charm? Not so much, because after I got it back again it was still unstable. It would run anywhere from two minutes to two hours before locking completely, basically rendering the device useless. After yet another call to the manufacturer, they wanted to replace the video card – which is exactly what they did when they last had it. This time they wanted to send me the video card so that I can do the replacement instead of them (PS: thanks).

Even though I told them I did not feel it was a hardware issue, I went through with the exchange. Much to my dismay, the new card exhibited the exact same behavior.  Time to break out the troubleshooting skills and Google so that I can fix this myself! After a good bit of searching and reading, followed by equal amounts of trial and error, the system seems to have become stable. I managed to play Mass Effect 2 on it for two sessions of over two hours each.

pc-graphicsWhat was the magical fix? Well… it involved taking the system’s memory that is manufactured to run at 1333MHz and under-clocking it to 1000MHz. If that were not enough, I also had to enable OverDrive on the graphics adapter so that I could under-clock its memory as well, from 1250MHz to 1000MHz.

Perhaps I’m wrong in thinking that I shouldn’t have to do these things. If these devices are built to run at higher speed, then why won’t they? I really didn’t want to enable OverDrive on my card since it should be powerful enough to run almost anything at this point, and it feels so stupid that I have to enable it just so I can make the card run slower.

ps4-hrdware-large19Throughout this entire process, I could turn to my left and see all of my consoles that work just fine without me having to do all of this extra effort. I continually asked myself “why am I even doing this?“. This was a clear example to me why people prefer console gaming over PC gaming. You can make all the arguments about graphical quality and overall costs, but in the end, consoles are more accessible and easier to deal with for the masses.

Obviously I have another call to make to my PC manufacturer, but this entire experience has me wondering if it is even worth having a PC capable of gaming. I’m kind of dug in at this point since the money is spent, unless I get an offer of a full rebate.

Has anybody else had similar issues? Please tell me I’m not alone in this madness. If there are people out there that have had pains like these to deal with, I feel for you.

Bio Card Paul

Paul Novak is a self described Polish ninja toiling away as an IT professional but more into gaming and writing. Physically existing in the west side of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania yet existentially flowing with the ether of the Internet. Found here at What’s Your Tag? and on the Twitter @dudewantshisrug. Game on with Team XBRO!


  1. I know the feeling. Sometimes it just seems ridiculous that you have to do all this ‘prep’ work to get a game running on a PC. I’ve had games break on me for no apparent reason, and have then had to spend a good fews hours on Google to find out why. The fix is usually something like, “Go to this folder, locate X file, open it, find line 32, change the 2 to a 3, then delete another file” blah blah blah. It shouldn’t have to be like that.
    Yes PC’s are a lot more powerful, and can offer much better quality in terms of graphics etc… but sometimes the pain to get to it, just isn’t worth it.
    I am however going to be making the PC jump towards the end of the year, as I currently have a laptop, which isn’t bad, but its a laptop… so not ideal for gaming. I know I will be pulling my hair out at some point with it.

  2. I think I’ve been lucky with my PC experience (probably because I got my first PC a year ago, it was laptops and consoles for me until then too). I got it for FF14:ARR, and the only problem I ran into was that I had plugged something into the wrong graphics card (it meant I was playing at 15 fps… and dying constantly to area attacks. But thankfully a friend noticed and then I could play just fine). The biggest problems I’ve had involve windows 8 (skype must always be on at all times once installed? Some of my steam games don’t work without downloading/changing random files?)

    1. If you install the desktop version, not the Win 8 app version of Skype, I’m pretty sure you can have it only run when you want it to. At least your video issue was a simple fix.

    2. If you go into settings whilst logged into the skype app, you can change the permissions so it doesn’t run in the background. Signing out of it also means that it doesn’t auto boot (Sometimes nibbles at the memory, so I just task manager it to death)

      With regards to PCs, I was about to make the jump earlier this year, but jumped instead to a powerful laptop as I need heavy programs and mobility for work, and it may have just so happened to have a decent graphics card as well. It’s not without it’s teething troubles though- I had endless problems with Audio and had to do heavy tinkering to make sure it actually used the decent graphics card and it was a prebuilt unit.

      Whether it’s worth it depends on what you play ultimately.

      1. Good Skype tip. I don’t use it enough to know it well.

        I looked into a high-end laptop but it ultimately was personal preference not to get one. Plus, I already had a MacBook Pro.

      2. Thanks! I’ll try it out this weekend. Will be nice not to have to kick off my boyfriend from his laptop when I want to talk to my parents =P

  3. I’m not PC smart enough to fix any problems that may arise without step-by-step instructions, and our PC builder/fixer friend moved out of state, so… I stick with consoles. Most games are available for everything now, though I feel like I do miss out on the Steam sales. We have a gaming laptop that my hubby’s played Diablo 3 on and thankfully hasn’t had the mountain of issues you’ve had. But, honestly, I grew up playing console games and just feel more comfortable with a controller in my hands.

  4. My recent computer issue came with playing The Secret World. Essentially, I would play for 10 minutes or less, and it would crash. Not just crash, though, but completely reboot the entire system. Complete failure. Happened 5 times in about an hour or so. I fixed it by cleaning out the registry, uninstalling the graphics drivers, and reinstalling the latest drivers.

    But you hit the nail on the head. People go to consoles because they’re less complex, and they just work. No futzing with settings or controls, they just work. You relax more and can focus more on the game knowing the system won’t explode on you. It’s like going to a restaurant and not worrying about the waiter spilling food all over the place. The best waiters and waitresses are the ones you don’t remember. They didn’t interfere with the experience, they just helped to make it happen.

    And yeah, for a PC… that takes a little work. Now me, I *enjoy* that extra work. If you don’t, then yeah, it might not be worth it.

    (Sidenote: where’d you get the PC from? Having to throttle the memory is a band-aid over a much worse problem. It either means the memory is incompatible with the mobo and proc, which means a bad build, or there’s something wrong with the memory, mobo, or proc. Pray it’s the memory, as that’s the easiest thing to fix… just get new memory… Any way to get a full refund and use it toward a new system entirely?)

    1. The unit is from CyberPowerPC and I still need to call them back about it. I got the fix because apparently this problem happens a lot with the AMD R9 290 series. Not sure if it is a problem with the system’s memory or the graphic card’s. Either way, it should not be an issue at all.

  5. I gave up on PCs very early on in my gaming life for the exact reasons you describe in this article. I was recently thinking about giving PC gaming another go, presuming that they must be a lot more stable and reliable these days. Evidently not.

    It’s bad enough waiting for the Xbox dashboard to update, I’m not sure I could handle all the technobobbins you describe above! My sympathies on your plight.

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