Any PC gamers here?

Reply Fri 17 Jun, 2016 06:06 am
My 15 year old son wants to move into PC gaming. He's working this summer to save the money to buy a computer that will allow him to play games and also do his homework. His budget is $500. I might be willing to pitch in a little if it makes a big difference but I really want him to feel like he's done this himself so I want to keep my contribution small.

I've looked at all the "best gaming PC for under $500" sites and he's talked to some gamers and we've narrowed it down a bit but I'm hoping someone can offer us some solid advice on what to look for and what to avoid. He's found one that is well reviewed except for the power supply which can be upgraded for a small charge. He already has a very nice gaming keyboard, mouse, and headphones so he doesn't need those things.

I don't think either of us are competent enough to DIY from scratch but a system that was upgradable/expandable would be a good idea.

Any advice?

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Reply Fri 17 Jun, 2016 06:42 am
IMO the first step is to gather requirements.

In this case, the questions are, "what games does he want to play" and "where will he be playing."

The first will determine the hardware and operating system requirements of his rig. The second will determine the form factor. (desktop vs. laptop)

FYI, many older games can be played just fine on bargain rigs. Newer games usually have greater hardware requirements, though.

Also, you can look for refurbished equipment to get the most bang for your buck. My rule is that it must come with a factory warranty.
Reply Fri 17 Jun, 2016 06:57 am
Thanks DrewDad!

I'm sure he'll continue to play his big games through XBox one but he also wants to play via Steam. He definitely wants a desktop.

This is the one he's really looking at: https://www.amazon.com/CyberpowerPC-Gamer-GUA880-Gaming-Desktop/dp/B011B9E928/ref=sr_1_3?s=pc&ie=UTF8&qid=1466030823&sr=1-3&keywords=cyberpowerpc

If you have a minute to look at its specs (they're meaningless to me) I'd really appreciate hearing your thoughts.

Where would one look for refurbished equipment? I'm not sure I know enough about things to ensure a good deal.

Reply Fri 17 Jun, 2016 07:23 am
I usually look for refurb laptops; I haven't seen many good deals on refurb desktops, sadly.

Some key differentiators for gaming systems:
Graphics card. Make sure you read reviews for the particular model of graphics card.
Memory - size and speed. Don't just look at whether it's 8 GB, check what the bus speed is.
CPU - this is probably less important nowadays.

Some other considerations: Does he need wifi? Does he need a monitor? (a rig with an HDMI port can connect to a regular flat-screen TV, though, so he might be covered there.)

Based on the graphics card, I'd suggest considering the almost-identical https://www.amazon.com/CyberpowerPC-Gamer-GUA3100A-Gaming-Desktop/dp/B0111MTSZ8/ref=zg_bs_13896597011_2 (video card comparison: http://gpuboss.com/gpus/Radeon-R7-240-vs-GeForce-GT-720)
Reply Fri 17 Jun, 2016 07:46 am
Wow! Thank you!

That looks pretty good! It addresses the problems that the reviews for the other one noted -- not so good graphics card and power supply. It would include only a small contribution from me, which is exactly what I thought best.

Plus, judging by the Q&A, their customer support is really good.

He doesn't need wi-fi and he has a really good monitor so I think we're okay on that front.
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Reply Fri 17 Jun, 2016 09:45 am
What about this one:

Reply Fri 17 Jun, 2016 10:15 am
The CPU is better: http://cpuboss.com/cpus/Intel-Core-i5-6600K-vs-AMD-FX-4300

I couldn't find a direct comparison between the two graphics cards (the comparison I found was a 2 GB card vs a 1 GB card).

Personally, I'm not sure the CPU is worth it.
Reply Fri 17 Jun, 2016 10:36 am
Thank you for looking!

I think I'll order the one you recommended. I really appreciate your advice!
Reply Fri 17 Jun, 2016 11:41 am
Happy to help! I hope it works out.
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Reply Sat 18 Jun, 2016 03:18 am

This can be a guide for either building one yourself or for assessing one that is for sale:


The four levels that you choose from:


are supposed to represent increasing price brackets by representing a rarer animal (pet?) -- the puppy represents the cheapest level and the unicorn represents the most expensive.

For the most part you can mix and match between expensive and cheap price brackets if you want to go more expensive on one component and less expensive on another, but an AMD CPU will need to go into a motherboard for AMD CPUs, while an Intel CPU will need to go into a motherboard for Intel CPUs. The type of RAM might matter too.
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Reply Sat 18 Jun, 2016 04:35 am
I just finished a long session of Dungeon Siege, which is from 2000, making it ancient. It is an RPG--a role playing game. Before PCs became common, Dungeons and Dragons was the granddaddy of RPGs. There is a great series of RPGs using the infinity engine, based on D & D 2, and authorized by Wizards of the Coast (who own D & D)--but they date back to the '90s, so it would be hard to purchase them. I beat Dungeon Siege a long time ago, but then i found a mod on line (an unofficial modification of the game) which has made it interesting again. Most mods are just silly--they make you invincible and all powerful, destroying the play balance. With this one, you don't have to add the unrealistic components. Very smart code writer behind that one.

As DD points out, you can play older games on less sophisticated machines which costs less. The Rolls Royce of PC gaming systems is Alienware's Area 51--but those machines start at $1300 and go up from there--and that's without the trivial peripherals such as a screen. Screens which would be worthwhile with a system such as that are going to be very pricey, too.

A good compromise is Gateway. You can call them up and describe what you want, and they'll give you good advice, not just trying to make a sale. I used one back at the beginning of the century until i found a little shop which will help you build your own box or upgrade it, where the people weren't your typical snotty, "you're an ignorant peasant" IT types. Find people like that, and you can do things such as upgrade your video card which can turn a clunker PC into a gaming hot rod for not a lot of money.

Windows 10 sucks.
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Reply Tue 5 Jul, 2016 06:57 am
wow supportive parents Smile

Mostly its going to be for gaming rather than homework so I would suggest
nVidia GForce Video Card
64 Bit Operating System with 8GB to 16 GB ram
Core i5 or higher
real big monitor for maximum enjoyment
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