For Avid Computer Gamers, Only Wicked Fast Will Do

Many Americans are cutting back on high-ticket items. Not Robert Pasque.

The Warren, Mich., resident recently saved enough money to drop about $7,500 on a blazingly fast desktop computer, and another $7,500 on a companion laptop with similarly advanced features.

The machines, from boutique manufacturer Falcon Northwest, sport matching paint jobs that combine digital camouflage patterns used by the U.S. military with a logo and member names from Mr. Pasque's computer gaming team — a custom option that added about $4,000 to the total price tag.

Did the tough economic times make him think twice about the costly purchase?

"Not really," says Mr. Pasque, a 35-year-old technician who works on transmission towers. "If you are a serious gamer, and you find your system lagging, you find a way to upgrade."

Others have been making similar decisions. Companies like Falcon and Velocity Micro Inc. that specialize in ultrafast PCs favored by gaming enthusiasts report that fourth-quarter sales were surprisingly strong in view of the recession — and first-quarter sales are continuing at a rapid clip.

The action isn't limited to the most extravagant systems, those priced at $5,000 or more; big companies such as Dell Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co. already offer gaming systems for less than half that price, and some smaller vendors now report brisk sales of machines that start at less than $1,000.

"We had record sales in January," says Darren Su, co-founder and executive vice president of iBuypower Computer, a Los Angeles-based PC maker that also caters to gamers. "We are on a pace for another record this month."

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