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View Full Version : Wanna do some PC gaming on the cheap?



Runefox
01-05-2014, 04:02 PM
So something I've been doing lately is keeping up on pricing for very low-priced computer builds. For what purpose? For gaming! Specifically, for SteamOS, though you could use Windows if you so desired (either +$100 or use an existing copy). All you need is some elbow grease and some computer know-how to put these together, or get a friend to do it!


But Runefox! PC gaming is expensive! You need to spend, like, $1000 on a gaming PC to get in on sweet Steam deals!

Not so, Timmy! Why, it just so happens that I've got PC responses for both major next-gen consoles, at their price points (in the US, at least)! Even if you added a copy of Windows to the mix, they're still well within basic PC pricing.

The PS3 Killer (http://pcpartpicker.com/user/Runefox/saved/3fv5) - $390.93 as of Jan 5, 2014
Runs without a separate graphics card
Will play any modern game at low detail at around 30FPS at 1080p (older games much higher); Between last-gen and current-gen performance
Can be upgraded later with a dedicated graphics card for better performance
The Xbox One Killer (http://pcpartpicker.com/user/Runefox/saved/35d3) - $494.93 as of Jan 5, 2014
Has a dedicated SteamOS-compatible graphics card
Will play any modern game at medium or higher detail at least 30FPS at 1080p; Current-gen performance
Can also be upgraded later
Both machines have USB 3.0 support and can be fitted with WiFi, Bluetooth, and any other features you might want later down the road, and parts can be swapped in and out as desired in the builds; These are starting guidelines. Prices can and will change over time, so I'll try and keep these lists updated.

Happy gaming!

Krespo
01-05-2014, 04:16 PM
Sweet Jesus, that PS3 killer... it is the cheapest, dirtiest, bastard of a build I have ever seen and I am in LOVE with it.

And my name's not Timmy >:v

Runefox
01-05-2014, 04:30 PM
Cheap and dirty is how I roll, Timmy.

Lucy Bones
01-05-2014, 04:33 PM
But Xbox One has Killer Instinct.

Automatically makes it worth getting. :B

Onnes
01-05-2014, 04:48 PM
The dual core in the last one sort of makes nervous, given the emphasis of newer engines like Frostbite 3 on multiprocessor performance. Battlefield 4, for example, could well be CPU limited by a fair amount with the GTX 660 there.

Runefox
01-05-2014, 04:56 PM
But Xbox One has Killer Instinct.

Automatically makes it worth getting. :B

But you can't join the Cult of Gaben (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RoGxA48HQ1g) with an Xbox. :B


The dual core in the last one sort of makes nervous, given the emphasis of newer engines like Frostbite 3 on multiprocessor performance. Battlefield 4, for example, could well be CPU limited by a fair amount with the GTX 660 there.

Not quite. The i3 4130 is actually faster than the "quad core" AMD A10 6800K and "6 core" AMD FX-6300 that's the same price as the i3 4130. In reality, the A10 is a dual core with 2 extra integer units (useless for gaming), and the FX is a triple core with 3 extra integer units (also useless for gaming). It's kind of like back in the olden days when a 486SX was extremely slow compared to a 486DX. And for the same reason.

The i3 4130 is a dual core with hyperthreading, which depending on the workload can handle more game-related tasks at once than either of the AMD chips. In addition, it's faster per thread than the AMD chips to boot. It's not a real bottleneck, though obviously a much faster processor would be faster; You'd probably see something like 5-10 FPS in CPU-bound games. Really you won't find much faster until you get at the top end of AMD or the Intel i5's.

It's worth noting that both the PS3 and Xbox One use AMD chips based on the same design, meaning there are actually only four useful cores for gaming in each console. The other "cores" can handle operating system and other light tasks. AMD is pretty vague about the specifications though. They tend to use the word "core" very loosely, so while it's not exactly clear what they mean by "core" when they're talking about their Jaguar architecture, it's very likely they're including integer cores.

Tiamat
01-05-2014, 05:09 PM
Very cool thread Runefox!

Onnes
01-05-2014, 06:22 PM
Not quite. The i3 4130 is actually faster than the "quad core" AMD A10 6800K and "6 core" AMD FX-6300 that's the same price as the i3 4130. In reality, the A10 is a dual core with 2 extra integer units (useless for gaming), and the FX is a triple core with 3 extra integer units (also useless for gaming). It's kind of like back in the olden days when a 486SX was extremely slow compared to a 486DX. And for the same reason. ...


I'm not sure why we're going into AMD vs. Intel here. Battlefield is somewhat notorious for its CPU utilization in multiplayer with a high player count and for hitting CPU bottlenecks with Intel dual core systems; I'm pretty sure this is why Intel Quad Core is given as a recommended system requirement for it. I'm rather doubting that the situation is going to improve going into the future as more games take better advantage of available CPU power.

Runefox
01-05-2014, 08:22 PM
I'm not sure why we're going into AMD vs. Intel here.
Price! The only CPU's that are in around the same price point as the i3 4130 are the FX-6300 and A10 6800K (which is actually more expensive), both of which the i3 4130 outperforms despite supposedly having a lower core count. In reality, the faster per-core performance coupled with hyperthreading puts it closer to a triple core CPU, which is what the FX-6300 is in reality. I'm also fairly certain that if the build had the FX-6300 in it with the description "six core", you wouldn't have said anything. Either way, you'd be free to swap the motherboard and CPU to do exactly that if you didn't want to use the Intel. This is just my recommendation.


Battlefield is somewhat notorious for its CPU utilization in multiplayer with a high player count and for hitting CPU bottlenecks with Intel dual core systems; I'm pretty sure this is why Intel Quad Core is given as a recommended system requirement for it. I'm rather doubting that the situation is going to improve going into the future as more games take better advantage of available CPU power.
Check this out (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jMLFGw62kfw). And this too (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e2kBphAWKX8).

EDIT: I fiddled around with it, and the only way to put a quad core Intel into the build is to drop the GPU down to the GTX 650. That build is here (http://pcpartpicker.com/p/2wiN4). The 650 is a far less powerful card, and what's more, the only way to keep it below $500 is to use the 1GB version, which is another kick in the teeth for performance. The difference in CPU performance won't compensate for the difference in GPU performance in this case.

Onnes
01-05-2014, 08:43 PM
Price! The only CPU's that are in around the same price point as the i3 4130 are the FX-6300 and A10 6800K (which is actually more expensive), both of which the i3 4130 outperforms despite supposedly having a lower core count. In reality, the faster per-core performance coupled with hyperthreading puts it closer to a triple core CPU, which is what the FX-6300 is in reality.
My post was thinking out loud as to whether the system would have consistently high performance across a variety of games, as I never even mentioned price concerns or alternatives.


Check this out (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jMLFGw62kfw). And this too (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e2kBphAWKX8).
I'm mainly going off of 64 player benchmarks and troubleshooting I encountered a month ago trawling through performance posts, but ...


I'm also fairly certain that if the build had the FX-6300 in it with the description "six core", you wouldn't have said anything.
I have no desire to continue if it's going to come to insults. Forget I posted anything.

Runefox
01-05-2014, 08:54 PM
My post was thinking out loud as to whether the system would have consistently high performance across a variety of games, as I never even mentioned price concerns or alternatives.
The whole point of these are to provide a low cost alternative to high-end gaming PC's. For the sake of argument, I did look into changing the i3 4130 to an i5, and the results of that are over here (http://pcpartpicker.com/p/2wiN4). It wasn't possible to maintain a $500 price point unless dropping the GPU to the GTX 650, which is a much larger drop in performance than the difference in CPU power accounts for.


I have no desire to continue if it's going to come to insults. Forget I posted anything.
... Insults? Uh... I didn't realize that was considered an insult. I'm just saying, your entire point is about how many cores the CPU has, and that doesn't really matter as much in this case. I'm not looking at this as an AMD vs Intel debate, I'm looking at it from a price to performance perspective, which is the entire purpose of this thread. The i3 4130 is Intel's lowest value-priced CPU that still performs well; The alternatives in this price range are the AMD A10 6800K and the FX-6300, both of which the i3 outperforms.

piņardilla
01-05-2014, 10:11 PM
Nice cheap builds. Why not use a 2x4GB RAM kit (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820148719) to reap the benefits of dual channel memory, though?

Runefox
01-06-2014, 04:42 AM
Nice cheap builds. Why not use a 2x4GB RAM kit (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820148719) to reap the benefits of dual channel memory, though?

Future expansion mostly, since both these builds have only two RAM slots. Though with the A10 build in particular, you're right, that would be a fairly decent benefit since the IGP runs off system memory and its speed makes a pretty big difference to overall performance. I'll look into changing it; There's a bit of cost headroom, too, so maybe I'll look at bumping the RAM up to 2133 as well.

EDIT: Yup, that fits into the budget. That should boost the APU performance pretty well. Adjusted the build.
EDIT2: Apparently the AMD build has 4 RAM slots. I could have sworn it had 2. This works out even better then.