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Acer America
Acer America Corp. is a computer manufacturer of business and consumer PCs, notebooks, ultrabooks, projectors, servers, and storage products.

Location

333 West San Carlos Street
San Jose, California 95110
United States

WWW: acer.com

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News & Articles

December 10, 2010 |

New Demand for High-End PCs—Gaming

As PC games become faster, more interactive, and more processor-intensive, system builders focusing on this market have flourished.

As PC games become faster, more interactive, and more processor-intensive, system builders focusing on this market have flourished.

By Sharon Florentine

Far from being obsolete, desktop and laptop PCs have found a niche with hard-core gaming enthusiasts. The market for customized, souped-up machines with lightning-fast processors, enhanced video rendering capabilities, and other high-end technologies has opened up lucrative opportunities for system builders who might otherwise find demand for desktops and high-end laptops dwindling.

“The way we see it, computer gaming is driving the entire industry technologically,” says Sergey Uroff, co-founder of Centaurus Computers, a system builder specializing in high-performance custom gaming PCs with offices in Charlotte, N.C., and Myrtle Beach, S.C.

If it weren’t for games like the new Starcraft, for instance, computers would have stopped evolving…

“If it weren’t for games like the new Starcraft, for instance,” Uroff says, “computers would have stopped evolving, because you don’t need a lot of new technology to check your email, write a document, make a spreadsheet, [or] connect to the Internet.”

It was this constant pushing of the proverbial envelope that spurred Uroff and his business partner, Alex Raven, to start Centaurus in 2003. And as PC games evolved to become faster, more interactive, more realistic, and more processor-intensive, the opportunities in the space have expanded and business has flourished, even though sales slumped during the recession.

“It became really slow about a year and a half ago, but we adjusted our prices and focused on what we found to be the sweet spot for customers—around $1,200 to $1,400 machines,” says Raven. “We always offer free overclocking to boost performance by 20 percent to 30 percent, and we’ve seen great success with a 3D system package that includes 3D monitors, 3D glasses, and a machine to support that technology. It’s not really cheap, but everyone we have built this package for has been blown away.”

In addition, Uroff and Raven say they’ve had great success upselling customers to higher-performance video cards and state-of-the-art cooling systems for the entire system and the CPU.

With razor-thin hardware margins and a PC market dominated by volume-driven, commodity players like Dell, Acer, and Hewlett-Packard, there are still plenty of opportunities for system builders to stay profitable by catering to the PC gaming market, according to Forrester Research.

Forrester’s May 2010 consumer strategy report, Which Gamer is Right for Your Product? shows that PC games have an incredible 81 percent penetration rate in U.S. households, and that 66 percent of online adults have played at least one PC or gaming console game within the last six months. With more than half of the average gamer’s time spent playing games on devices not primarily meant for gaming—personal computers and mobile phones, for instance—there are increasing opportunities for system builders to capitalize on this market, according to the Forrester report.

Using brand-name, higher-quality components is one way to boost margins, as well as using only open source and/or free software and office applications, says Raven. While system builders like Centaurus can squeeze higher profits from each sale this way, Raven says there’s still a fine line to walk, since it’s tough to compete with the high-volume commodity players on price.

“We don’t necessarily want to make the highest margins possible, because we still need to remain competitive on price first,” to attract new customers, Raven says. Though once customers invest in a custom machine, he says, they are won over by the quality and the value of the system.

“The big box companies use no-name, lower-quality parts, which become obsolete much more quickly,” Raven says. “Using high-end, cutting-edge, brand-name parts means we can push the longevity of these systems out to around three or four years. We don’t get a lot of the same customers returning to upgrade their machines, but we get tons of word-of-mouth referrals from former customers to their family, friends, and the folks they game with.”

SHARON FLORENTINE is a Connecticut-based freelance writer who covers technology, medicine, and other subjects.


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