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  1. #1
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    Cheap ready-made gaming PC - can you better this?

    Mate of mine blew-up his PC last week and wants a new one - budget is, however, tight.

    All that's salvageable from his old PC is the HDD/DVDR - the psu/board are knackered and the memory in the board is DDR2 so...

    He asked what I could find for 250 - I said 'not a gaming PC' - so he disappeared for an hour and then emailled me this

    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/AMD-A8-560...item53f0353577

    My first reaction was 'you need cash for a GPU' but the figures on that APU actually seem quite decent - it actually gets 60% MORE on 3DMark 11 than my PC does - it should play most things at a sensible res/settings!?!?

    My next reaction was 'the PSU will be crap - the HDD will be an offbrand and so on" - but the HDD doesn't really matter, he could even delete it, and I think a PSU swap is within his powers (building a whole PC isn't)

    Assuming it comes with the mobo shown, that gets decent reviews tho and seems to have most of what you'd need.

    The casing is a bit nasty but there are other options and he has his existing case which is OK if he feels brave enough (or I get bored enough) to swap it over.

    Only other downside I can see is lack of upgrade options (maybe an A10?) - but he's not likely to do that anyway - even 4Gb is probably 'enough' memory (tho if it's one stick, that's no dual-channel?)

    Anyone care to rip that to bits and/or find something 'better' for not much more cash (no component lists tho - he can't build it and I can't be bothered!)??

    TA

  2. #2
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus mashakos's Avatar
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    I say that the linked system is crap, but i have lost perspective. In college, I had enough cash to buy a $275 celeron 300mhz PC with a little known graphics chip dubbed the Trident Blade3D that was in AGP video cards which were selling for $90. I heavily researched the card and cpu for gaming performance, crossed my fingers, purchased the gear and put the system together. That thing turned out to be a little beast, playing Quake 3, Heretic 2, F/A 18 Super Hornet, NOLF2, many many other directx/opengl games and even PSX emulators at a crisp 800x600 resolution (consoles ran at 320x240 then) and a stable 45fps - 60fps.

    So yeah, with a bit of research you can put together seemingly inferior hardware on the surface that may surprise you with it's performance. Sadly, I don't have nearly the same amount of time I had then to devote to cross referencing and cataloging every minute detail regarding mid to low end hardware.

    Word of advice: ignore 3DMark benchmarks when the gap in results is small.
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by mashakos View Post
    Word of advice: ignore 3DMark benchmarks when the gap in results is small.
    The first numbers I found seemed a bit unrealistic - digging further I suspect they were either a mistake or "cooked" in some way.

    Realistically, it's about 2/3rds of my system's overall 3DMark, must more powerful as a CPU, must LESS powerful as a GPU - I suspect a dedicated GPU would be needed to play anything remotely taxing (and his GPU is cooked)

    Problem with building to a low-price is that self-build will never come close to the prices a company buying in bulk can pull-off - but they're always cutting corners so you have to find the company which cuts the corners you care about least...

  4. #4
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus mashakos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trjp View Post
    Problem with building to a low-price is that self-build will never come close to the prices a company buying in bulk can pull-off - but they're always cutting corners so you have to find the company which cuts the corners you care about least...
    I managed fine in 1999, as I said $275. I'm pretty sure it's still possible to build a $300-$350 gaming PC today if you work really hard at reaching the right balance between price and performance. That $275 PC? Lasted me from 1999 to 2002 (not a small feat in those times), it was pretty much obsolete by the time the PS2 and geforce rolled in.
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  5. #5
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Grizzly's Avatar
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    found some benchmarks for you.
    here is another one./

    Dunno about anything cheaper, although you could take a look at hwo much the costs of those components are if you assemble one yourself.
    Last edited by Grizzly; 02-02-2013 at 11:52 AM.

  6. #6
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    I do actually think it's impossible to start any thread about PCs - no matter how much you emphasise that self-build isn't an option - without someone bringing-up self-build ;)

    Those benchmarks sort-of-confirm my guess - they're OK but they're not really QUITE good enough for a gaming PC

    I looked into the dual-graphics thing but, as I suspected, it's limited to such a tiny range of possible cards that it's just pointless - so a proper GPU would really be required as that's at least 75 - budget well blown there...

    I suspect his only realistic option is a pre-built older system - something like a 965 Black Series in a board which could reuse his DDR2 memory perhaps - with a decent GPU added with the change...

    Not ideal but you can't spend what you don't got...

  7. #7
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Sakkura's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trjp View Post
    Anyone care to rip that to bits and/or find something 'better' for not much more cash (no component lists tho - he can't build it and I can't be bothered!)??

    TA
    Lol, I really should learn to read through the whole post before I jump on Pcpartpicker.com. Now I have a very nice list of components for no particular use.

    One problem with that system is the slow memory. DDR3-1333 is okay-ish for system memory, but for an APU it also doubles as VRAM, and is just inexcusably terrible. GPUs want bandwidth, or to be precise, they WANT BANDWIDTH. ALL OF IT. Which is why you have things like a 384-bit bus for GDDR5 running at eg. 5 GT/s on some graphics cards. That's 11 or 22 times as much bandwidth, depending on whether that system has dual or single-channel memory. Single-channel would be making it twice as terrible as it already is.

  8. #8
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    OK - the APU isn't buying him anything at all (it's just not powerful enough for anything but the odd game of something at 30fps) so I've been looking for a cheaper system, perhaps based around an FX chip (the Trinity without the GPU?) or an i3 perhaps.

    Problem is, your main expenditure then becomes the motherboard - not sure why but all the cheap PCs have crappy m-atx boards despite the saving only being 10-20 at most!?

    I looked at prebuilt bundles from Scan and Overclockers but you're getting into eBay 'readymade' prices just for the cpu/board/memory alone - and they often still choose a slightly shitting board.

    Is there anywhere online which summarizes motherboards well - I'm tired of staring at digits working out the minute differences between 10 different models :)

  9. #9
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus mashakos's Avatar
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    A Core 2 Duo E8400, with a Maximus Formula motherboard and a gtx570 is a killer combo.
    I had the same combination above (except the gpu was a gtx580) and all my games were running at 60fps, e.g:
    Battlefield 3
    NFS the Run
    Mass Effect 2/3

    All maxed out.
    As for Crysis:
    45fps on Very High @ 1080p

    Don't get quad core from the 2008 intel generation. A friend gave me an Intel Extreme QX9670 cpu for $100 - a steal as that CPU was going for $999 in 2008 - and I was excited to use it as it meant I got quad core without needing to upgrade the RAM or motherboard. Big mistake - that thing was a furnace and it literally had the water boiling in my watercooling loop. The max overclock I could reach was 3.6ghz which is useless as it doesn't surpass the 25% threshold needed to get tangible performance improvement.
    Ended up going from a 4Ghz overclock on the dual core to 3Ghz stock on the quad core and losing performance in the bargain. Games were now running at 50fps or less (especially Crysis, down to 40fps), emulation was severely affected as now Dolphin was running at 30fps or less.

    The only good Quad Core generation started with the Core i7 920 and above in 2010.


    Locally, I can easily find a C2D E8400 + Maximus Formula combo for about $160. Usually from guys who take care of their hardware but are looking to upgrade
    Last edited by mashakos; 02-02-2013 at 08:08 PM.
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  10. #10
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    I have friends running E8400/Q8600 era machines and it's only in the last 6 months-or-so, but they're starting to notice that their CPUs are becoming the bottleneck for some games (dragging down the experience).

    They have GPUs which will be worth dragging into new PCs and they're bound to bug me for ideas on what to replace their cpu/mobos with - but it's not likely to happen before next week :)

    Given that I need a mobo/memory/cpu (assembled), and power supply at least - I think I'm just going to let him get an A8-based system from eBay (he's sent me a few other links - all much of a muchness) - the sotck performance will just-about match his old PC I reckon and he can save-up for the PSU or even faster memory to get more from it later ( I reckon his GPU may even be OK - I think he's cooked his PSU and Mobo tho)

    Not really any other way around it - I found a similar system at Aria (but I hate Aria) - anything we build ourselves is going to cost more cash than he has and take time we don't have so...
    Last edited by trjp; 02-02-2013 at 08:52 PM.

  11. #11
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Grizzly's Avatar
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    A8-based system
    If the old graphics card is alright, it is better not to get any A8 or similar - the power of the A8 lies in it's on-die graphics card - which you do not need. Sink the money into a simerarely priced computer without integrated graphics instead.

  12. #12
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus mashakos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trjp View Post
    I have friends running E8400/Q8600 era machines and it's only in the last 6 months-or-so, but they're starting to notice that their CPUs are becoming the bottleneck for some games (dragging down the experience)..
    they don't overclock do they? I had great performance with my 4Ghz E8400 (front side bus overclocked to 2000mhz mind you) right up until I upgraded, and I don't think games have evolved graphically since BF3.
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