Home Tech The Power to Play. The Power to Make: What's the most popular gear for game developers in 2021?

The Power to Play. The Power to Make: What's the most popular gear for game developers in 2021?

 

Gaming is officially a bigger industry than film and music combined, and the games developers of today require the best possible hardware to compete. 

Novatech provides hardware to a range of the UK's top gaming studios; the same studios that have been behind some of the most critically acclaimed and graphically demanding games of the last decade. 

So what are they looking for from their hardware? 

Well, before we get into the fun stuff, let's examine where the gaming and computer hardware sectors find themselves in 2021.

Not all fun and games

It's no news to most avid gamers and techies that 2020 was a rough year for console and PC hardware alike. The global GPU shortage, catalysed by the pandemic, was just the start of a series of supply issues, and with more demand than ever before for vital components from almost every sector, it's a shortage that unfortunately looks set to continue throughout the rest of 2021.

Global Shortages

With the industry expanding and expectations doing likewise, it's crucial that developers get the hardware right. This is hardware that not only has to be used by coders and programmers but by animators, artists and even musicians. These are machines that not only need to be incredibly powerful, but all things to all people too. 

Factor in how notoriously deadline-dependent the industry is (we've all heard the Cyberpunk 2077 crunch time horror stories) with multiple teams working on multiple projects at any given time, and you begin to realise just how important it is to ensure the hardware is not only powerful enough but flexible enough too.

Uniform behaviour

Specific challenges will, of course, vary from studio to studio. But one thing that's uniform throughout the industry right now is the demand for new talent, particularly given the growth of the industry in the last 12 months. That means even smaller studios are constantly onboarding new staff. 

For the larger developers, however, this constant stream of new blood requires machines, sometimes as many as 30 or 40 a month. In such a scenario it's imperative that all machines are similarly specced with the latest hardware.

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Indeed, such is the volume of equipment turnaround that, for one top developer we work with, they have a system in place for recycling used machines and donating them to local schools. It's a continuous cycle that ensures all of their machines are of a standard specification that covers the entire development team. And that's the same whether it's two PCs for two devs or 50 PCs for 50 devs.

That's why we specialise in building custom PCs that will all fit under that one standard specification.

The most in-demand hardware for 2021 

We devise a specification that works for the entire development team and supply them every month with new PCs. But what exactly goes into these mammoth machines in 2021? What pieces of tech are particularly in demand among developers right now and why?

GPU 

Graphics are incredibly important not just for coders but for artists and animators too, particularly given the increasingly complex 3D modelling that goes into modern games. So, they are always going to be the number one consideration. Right now, mid to high-end graphics cards are quite comfortably the most in-demand piece of equipment, not only for PC gamers but for developers too.

RTX 3090

Currently, it's the GeForce RTX 3070 that sees the most demand but with the launch of the 3080 Ti cards imminent, that could change soon. Graphics cards are always getting better and developers are always striving to ensure they have the best gear but right now the 3070 offers a perfect blend of affordability and performance and will offer most developers more than enough power for at least the next few years.

CPU

Of course, the best graphics card in the world would still struggle without a decent CPU to hold it up. A good processor needs to be either a new Intel i7 or the latest AMD processor, such as the Core i7-11700K or Ryzen 7 5800X. As for which one? That's a contentious issue because AMD continues to hit the perfect price-performance bracket, so a lot of studios we work with are switching over from Intel to AMD at the moment.

Intel Core i7

Developers are always going to be gamers first and foremost so they will always be aware of market trends. And there's a major Intel vs AMD debate raging in the industry right now. The tide seems to be turning in AMD's favour but Intel is gearing up to release its 12th generation CPUs sometime later this year, or possibly early 2022. Ultimately though, for developers, it's always going to be a case of whichever can offer the best bang for their buck.

Storage

Storage is an increasingly important concern for developers, particularly given the lightning-fast SSDs included with the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S, which many feel might change the expectation for loading times and storage going forward.

The machines we put together for developers will often have a good few terabytes of SSD storage and possibly some NVMe drives, because storage requirements for modern games with all the high-definition assets can be massive. As for which drives are most in demand, the Samsung EVO NVMe SSDs are incredibly popular, largely due to their reasonable price and fantastic read/write speeds.

All the gear and all of the ideas 

The demands of next-generation gaming continue to set new benchmarks for graphical power, and consistently widening goalposts need equipment with the specs and reliability to keep up. That's where we step in. 

Building bespoke systems that can be tailored to very specific needs, built and shipped within two weeks, is what we do best. For an industry that works to such tight deadlines, that turnaround can be pretty indispensable. 

Not only do we offer the gear, but we offer the ideas too. In fact, we're quite happy to talk you through a build piece-by-piece to configure the gaming development rig of your dreams, together. 

Contact us today or fill out the form below, and we'll do our best to help take your games to the next level.

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Published on 27 May 2021

Last updated on 27 May 2021

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