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Upgrades & Living Environment

Get into the console game, and it's a fact that about every five years you'll have to ditch your current system, put all your old games in a box in the attic and shell out £300 or more for a new one. Buy a PC and you can keep upgrading it and playing the latest games during that period. Of course, to keep getting maximum resolutions and detail levels you'll have to spend big bucks on a new processor and motherboard, but as long as you're careful about your decisions you can get away for a long time by just changing your graphics cards and adding memory.

It's surprising what even an old single-core Athlon 64 will do if you can fit a Radeon X1950 Pro graphics card and take the RAM up to 2GB. Buy a 45nm-ready Socket 775 motherboard, an 8800GT graphics card and a budget Core 2 Duo processor now, and with a few judicious upgrades your system could still be running games when your Xbox 360 has been relegated to the shelf.
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nVidia's new GeForce 8800 GT makes a choice upgrade for any flagging PC.

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I know a lot will depend on how you live and who you live with, but in my household it's not always possible to occupy the TV in the living room for an evening and lose myself in a game. If you've ever tried to explain why you need to reach the next save point or polish off that boss when Desperate Housewives or Match of the Day is about to come on, you'll know exactly what I mean. With a PC it's so much easier. You can tuck yourself away in the study or spare room, immerse yourself for an hour or two, and then come back to the land of the living when you're good and ready.

PC gaming isn't always a social experience - though MMOs and team-based shooters can be as social as gaming gets - but there are times when it's nice to leave the real world behind and venture out into strange new lands or distant worlds. There aren't many better places to do that than with a good pair of headphones on, sat two feet away from a big PC screen.

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