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Buying a Restricted Budget PC Dos and Don'ts.
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Magnu





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PostPosted: Sat, 6. Jan 18, 09:42    Post subject: Buying a Restricted Budget PC Dos and Don'ts. Reply with quote Print

I want to buy a PC for my daughter but I only have about £700 max to spend.

She does the usual kid stuff and plays the Sims with all the wallet draining packs installed and her old PC is starting to feel the strain.

Can someone give me some recommendations and the dos and don'ts of buying a cheaper gaming PC? I don't have a clue and am worried about getting burned by a slick salesman.

Thanks.

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PostPosted: Sat, 6. Jan 18, 10:29    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

Some newer video cards like 1050 gtx can be slower than older video cards. Watch out for integrated graphics if you want a video card. The system might look like it has a separate video card but it doesn't.

Hard drive speed. Basically don't get a 5400 rpm hard drive. A SSD drive can have a slight impact on game play in some mmo games. Area loading/transitions are faster with an ssd usually.

Video cards aren't all the same. Look at gigs of ram and speed etc... 2 very similar video cards can be quite different.

Case airflow. Some cases have terrible airflow and the internal components heat up. Some cases are ok but it can be hard to clean their filters.

If you have a vga plug in style monitor is there an adapter?

Power supply quality?

Video cards are currently very expensive. It might have to do with bitcoin miners.

Do you need an adapter to hook up to the internet like a usb wifi thingy or is there a built in wifi?

What are your old system specs maybe an upgrade would be cheaper and better? Cpus haven't become much more powerful recently in terms of gaming. So maybe a video card or some other component upgrade might suffice? The sims seems to have very low system requirements compared to other games. Older components might run it fine. You could also test the current computers hard drive speeds. My old hard drive is about 3 times slower than a newer hard drive. Maybe it's causing the computer to act slower. Watch the hard drive lights on the pc to see if the hard drive is holding the system back. HD tune has a speed test. You can try hdd speeds on a couple computers to see whats going on.

Steam has a hardware forum. They will probably have a set of standard components.

Check the components reliability, etc... on newegg.com and amazon.com. I buy stuff with a lot of reviews and reasonable ratings. Make sure to look at recent ratings in case they pull some funny stuff with rma returns.

Check out the mainboard. Some systems use really cheap mainboards.

Make sure it has a windows 10 operating system. You could use ubuntu desktop in a pinch but it's much different than windows.

You can probably look up the parts cost on partspicker. The pc might cost parts + ~$30-60 usd dollars. Whatever that ends up in pounds.

https://uk.pcpartpicker.com/



Last edited by burger1 on Sat, 6. Jan 18, 12:21; edited 4 times in total
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mrbadger





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PostPosted: Sat, 6. Jan 18, 12:10    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

can you can keep the monitor from the old machine? that will push up the range of hardware available.

A lot of cheaper pcs actually have laptop chips in them, so look out for that too.


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PostPosted: Sat, 6. Jan 18, 14:20    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

If you know some gamer who is always updating to the latest gadget-decked system or somebody who had a new rig for Christmas, why not ask if their old system is in good condition and available for a reasonable second hand price?

Kids tend not to worry about the second hand source until they reach their early teens and start comparing stuff with their peers.

You could also go the slightly more expensive but more secure route of buying refurbished equipment with workshop warranty. Read customer reviews and feedback to perhaps set your mind at rest about the workshop.


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PostPosted: Sat, 6. Jan 18, 15:07    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

Magnu, maybe it's time to get a new rig for yourself? Then you can pass on your "old" to your daughter. That's what I did for many years (my son got my old rig, my daughter the old of my son). But ofc, as Alan mentioned, this works only up to a certain age.

I would not recommend to buy a low-budget all-in-one gaming PC. Usually it caused more problems. An alternative would be to consult with your PC shop (if you have such a thing). I used to buy parts at a small local shop (not PC World or such). They often have used PCs for a reasonable price and can set it up to meet the individual needs.

Cheers Euclid


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Morkonan





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PostPosted: Sat, 6. Jan 18, 16:01    Post subject: Re: Buying a Restricted Budget PC Dos and Don'ts. Reply with quote Print

Magnu wrote:
...Can someone give me some recommendations and the dos and don'ts of buying a cheaper gaming PC? I don't have a clue and am worried about getting burned by a slick salesman.

Thanks.


Well, don't deal with salesmen. Smile

Can you assemble a computer's components, install an OS, put it all together, etc? If so, then buying the parts online and using websites that help you compare prices might be a good idea.

What components and peripheral devices can you keep from her old system?

(What are the specs of her old 'puter? Maybe you can keep things you may not have thought you could - Power supply, RAM, etc. "Maybe.")

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kohlrak





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PostPosted: Sat, 6. Jan 18, 19:07    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

I don't know the sims enough to knwo where the bottleneck would be. My guess is either the CPU, RAM, or GPU (which is a general rule all the time, anyway). It's not enough to know which is faster (GPU is almost always slower than CPU), so it helps to know which is a bigger hog. If the game runs fine without the mod packs installed, i'd lay my money on RAM or CPU, which is easy to test for by looking at task manager. IIRC, the mods mostly add more features and things to calculate, and less graphical enhancements, and 1 or 2 extra pets per house or a clothing mod isn't going to make a major impact given what's already constantly in those houses. Another method to check, although less reliable, is to have her zoom in close to a scene: is it going faster if she's closer to the screen? If so, GPU. If not, rule out RAM in the task manager. From there, once you know what is being eaten the most, you want to find one that leans more towards the problem you're having. X, i've noticed, is really CPU hungy compared to GPU hungry (despite the graphics). However, some games have really dumb ai, but really good graphics, and those usually have a bigger GPU hinderance.

Don't rule out HDD, either. If it's loading screens that are slow and the rest is fast, buy a solid-state drive and don't bother buying a new computer until you can save up more to buy a much, much more expensive one instead of keeping it low budget. Alot of games for some reason don't reuse alot of resources, even if they could, and this basically amounts to eating the HD. I've noticed this is a huge issue with some programs, where they barely use RAM or CPU (and might not even have a GUI let alone a 3d rendered environment), yet it slows the CPU to a crawl, because it's constantly searching the disk for files. Like, if anyone ever wanted to create a virus that is hard to detect, deadlock the HDD with constant accesses, as few people will know to open perfmon.exe to find it (ironically, i just opened perfmon to check the name [since i have it pinned to the task bar], and it hogged the HDD for about 2 seconds, freezing everything). I think this is also what the squirrel method of driver hunting does, too.

EDIT: Unless you're dealing with a laptop, odds are you don't need to buy a new computer if it's not the CPU. Most parts can be exchanged easily. It would help if we actually knew the specs of the machine she has now. Perhaps a dxdiag log or a cpuid log (IMHO, CPUID is more indicative of these types of issues)?

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Morkonan





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PostPosted: Sun, 7. Jan 18, 00:55    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

Like with anything that has continuing iterations and additions built upon the original architecture, optimization is difficult and, eventually, it'll just be a huge mess.

For instance, I have no idea if some add-on has high-def textures or new particle effects. Maybe they increased the polycount of something? Maybe there's now fifty-eleven different things loaded up and waiting on data, rather than the original ten?

My bet would be the CPU calculating events and behaviors for all the new stuff that was added.

("GPU is almost always slower than CPU" - Uh.. wat?)

The specifics we need are the current system specs and which Sims game it is. It shouldn't be difficult to cobble together a great "The Sims" machine for that sort of money.

But, the better value would be just cobbling together a good, general, system. Maybe bump the RAM a little bit, make sure the vid card has what it needs, too. Get a decent SSD for the OS, a nice, cheap, 7200 HD for the rest, etc.

There's also the "new" vs "used" question - We don't know what's available in that region. It could be worth buying a crappy system just to get at the CPU and RAM to be put on a better board/PSU/Vid.

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PostPosted: Sun, 7. Jan 18, 01:52    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

My first piece of advice for anyone buying a modern pc is to not skimp on RAM. If you can afford 16GB of RAM then I think it is always a worthwhile investment.

The second most important thing is a good quality hard drive. Again if you can afford it then something with a solid state drive is well worth the investment.

For only playing things like the sims you won't need a top of the line GPU or CPU, so looking into cheaper parts may be a good idea.

For reference a friend of mine recently got this build https://au.pcpartpicker.com/list/QJGqYr
It is in AUD and a bit over budget but if you sub out the GTX1070 in that build with a 1050 then you would probably have something more in your price range (it would move the price to around $1200 AUD which is roughly £700).


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PostPosted: Sun, 7. Jan 18, 10:56    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

jack775544 wrote:


For reference a friend of mine recently got this build https://au.pcpartpicker.com/list/QJGqYr
It is in AUD and a bit over budget but if you sub out the GTX1070 in that build with a 1050 then you would probably have something more in your price range (it would move the price to around $1200 AUD which is roughly £700).


Needs an operating system which might add 100 pounds to the cost.

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kohlrak





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PostPosted: Sun, 7. Jan 18, 16:10    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

Morkonan wrote:
Like with anything that has continuing iterations and additions built upon the original architecture, optimization is difficult and, eventually, it'll just be a huge mess.


It shouldn't be, but this is EA we're talking about.

Quote:
For instance, I have no idea if some add-on has high-def textures or new particle effects. Maybe they increased the polycount of something? Maybe there's now fifty-eleven different things loaded up and waiting on data, rather than the original ten?


Polycounts are not just a number you can change in a settings menu.

Quote:
My bet would be the CPU calculating events and behaviors for all the new stuff that was added.


I'm willing to bet the same thing, too, but it could be the GPU, if it's something like pets. That's a quick way to up the poly counts.

Quote:
("GPU is almost always slower than CPU" - Uh.. wat?)


Yep. The GPU's job is to unload the CPU's workload. And, as a shock to many, many graphics operations are still CPU calculated, as opposed to GPU calculated. For example, if i have some direct3d code to move the whole camera around, the CPU is better for figuring out the translation matrix, rather than the GPU. The GPU specializes in actually doing the translations and drawing based on the matrices. This and transfer method are often why it can be cited that the CPU is actually slowing down the graphics and causing frame rate issues. This is actually the primary cause of slowdown on my machine. Go get a copy of cpu-z from cpuid, you'll find that your processor is several gigahertz, but your GPU is measured in megahertz.

Quote:
The specifics we need are the current system specs and which Sims game it is. It shouldn't be difficult to cobble together a great "The Sims" machine for that sort of money.

But, the better value would be just cobbling together a good, general, system. Maybe bump the RAM a little bit, make sure the vid card has what it needs, too. Get a decent SSD for the OS, a nice, cheap, 7200 HD for the rest, etc.

There's also the "new" vs "used" question - We don't know what's available in that region. It could be worth buying a crappy system just to get at the CPU and RAM to be put on a better board/PSU/Vid.


I agree, except in terms of the HDD. Games that are heavy on the drive benefit from being on the SDD. OS should mostly be in RAM by the time the system's running, so there's actually little benefit to this other than shutdown and startup times. And, to top it off, your average shmuck uses default install settings, which translate to C drive. My own recommendation (though most would disagree), would be to make the larger base HDD where the OS goes, unless you plan on reformatting often. Then, when a game goes slow and it seems to be related to the HDD, uninstall it, and reinstall it on the D drive (which will be the solid state drive).

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PostPosted: Sun, 7. Jan 18, 16:22    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

kohlrak wrote:

Quote:
("GPU is almost always slower than CPU" - Uh.. wat?)


Yep. The GPU's job is to unload the CPU's workload. And, as a shock to many, many graphics operations are still CPU calculated, as opposed to GPU calculated. For example, if i have some direct3d code to move the whole camera around, the CPU is better for figuring out the translation matrix, rather than the GPU. The GPU specializes in actually doing the translations and drawing based on the matrices. This and transfer method are often why it can be cited that the CPU is actually slowing down the graphics and causing frame rate issues. This is actually the primary cause of slowdown on my machine. Go get a copy of cpu-z from cpuid, you'll find that your processor is several gigahertz, but your GPU is measured in megahertz.


but your GPU has literally thousands of Cores, your CPU has.. eight.. i guess?
Also GPU - or better Graphics Card as whole - often consumes more power than the CPU when used. Assuming similiar efficiency this means the GPU actually computes more than the CPU.


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kohlrak





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PostPosted: Sun, 7. Jan 18, 16:36    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

UniTrader wrote:
kohlrak wrote:

Quote:
("GPU is almost always slower than CPU" - Uh.. wat?)


Yep. The GPU's job is to unload the CPU's workload. And, as a shock to many, many graphics operations are still CPU calculated, as opposed to GPU calculated. For example, if i have some direct3d code to move the whole camera around, the CPU is better for figuring out the translation matrix, rather than the GPU. The GPU specializes in actually doing the translations and drawing based on the matrices. This and transfer method are often why it can be cited that the CPU is actually slowing down the graphics and causing frame rate issues. This is actually the primary cause of slowdown on my machine. Go get a copy of cpu-z from cpuid, you'll find that your processor is several gigahertz, but your GPU is measured in megahertz.


but your GPU has literally thousands of Cores, your CPU has.. eight.. i guess?
Also GPU - or better Graphics Card as whole - often consumes more power than the CPU when used. Assuming similiar efficiency this means the GPU actually computes more than the CPU.


My computer has 2 CPU cores and 1 GPU core, but my case is special. The power consumption likely comes from the complexity of the operations. The more complex the calculation, the longer it takes to "stabalize" the answer, hence why clock rates are what they are to begin with. For some operations, you allow the hardware have more than one cycle to stabalize (like with division if the CPU has the instruction). For a GPU, you have alot of specialized calculations which will likely include muls and divs, so it makes sense to lower the clock rate rather than giving it extra cycles. Moreover, the CPU can go into wait states when the GPU must tick at least 60 frames per second, and the GPU outputs to a larger system, where the CPU's internal voltage might actually be lower than 5v, to help keep it cool (remember, the output ports of a computer are standardized to 3.3V, 5V, and 12V depending on the protocol, and the GPU has a dedicated external connection called a "monitor"), which can also bring that number up quite a bit.

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PostPosted: Sun, 7. Jan 18, 16:43    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

So, Magnu, any wiser from the input of the last few posts? Very Happy

Is this Sims 4 or some other version? What are the "recommended" requirements for the game, and what do you currently have for her as a PC?

A Google showed the below, but that was a 2014 post - so is that the right one?

Quote:

REQUIRED: Internet connection required for product activation.

OS: Windows XP (SP3), Windows Vista (SP2), Windows 7 (SP1), Windows 8, or Windows 8.1

PROCESSOR: 1.8 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, AMD Athlon 64 Dual-Core 4000+ or equivalent (For computers using built-in graphics chipsets, the game requires 2.0 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 2.0 GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-62 or equivalent) MEMORY: At least 2 GB RAM

HARD DRIVE: At least 9 GB of free space with at least 1 GB additional space for custom content and saved games

DVD-ROM: DVD ROM drive required for installation only

VIDEO CARD: 128 MB of Video RAM and support for Pixel Shader 3.0. Supported Video Cards: NVIDIA GeForce 6600 or better, ATI Radeon X1300 or better, Intel GMA X4500 or better

SOUND CARD: DirectX 9.0c Compatible

DIRECTX: DirectX 9.0c compatible

INPUT: Keyboard and Mouse


Really low requirements if that's the one. But what's the game spec and the current pc spec - as it may be a case of a few updates. It may be something else entirely.

On my 5 year old PC I only updated memory (to 8Gb about 3 years ago) and the GFX card (to a Nvidia 970 - also about 3 years ago). Lowering gfx settings the only time i get stutters in my games are when the bloody anti virus starts doing its update despite gaming profile being active, or Windows doing its updates instead - both pushing disk usage to 100% which causes the game to lag like hell (sound stops, blah blah).

Other than that, run low on memory every now and then - but otherwise the game system is "fine".

Of course I could spend £1000 on updating my rig (which is what I've considered) in order to play on higher/max settings and have no issues - but that's one HELL of a lot of money for the intermittent issues I experience, so I've bottled doing it Very Happy I'm not willing to work for 7 days in order to see purdy things and not have the odd bit of irritating lag (I usually just go do something else when updates start while playing. They're not supposed to - scheduler and/or profiles obviously not working correctly).


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kohlrak





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PostPosted: Sun, 7. Jan 18, 17:18    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

Chips wrote:
So, Magnu, any wiser from the input of the last few posts? Very Happy

Is this Sims 4 or some other version? What are the "recommended" requirements for the game, and what do you currently have for her as a PC?

A Google showed the below, but that was a 2014 post - so is that the right one?

Quote:

REQUIRED: Internet connection required for product activation.

OS: Windows XP (SP3), Windows Vista (SP2), Windows 7 (SP1), Windows 8, or Windows 8.1

PROCESSOR: 1.8 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, AMD Athlon 64 Dual-Core 4000+ or equivalent (For computers using built-in graphics chipsets, the game requires 2.0 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 2.0 GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-62 or equivalent) MEMORY: At least 2 GB RAM

HARD DRIVE: At least 9 GB of free space with at least 1 GB additional space for custom content and saved games

DVD-ROM: DVD ROM drive required for installation only

VIDEO CARD: 128 MB of Video RAM and support for Pixel Shader 3.0. Supported Video Cards: NVIDIA GeForce 6600 or better, ATI Radeon X1300 or better, Intel GMA X4500 or better

SOUND CARD: DirectX 9.0c Compatible

DIRECTX: DirectX 9.0c compatible

INPUT: Keyboard and Mouse


Really low requirements if that's the one. But what's the game spec and the current pc spec - as it may be a case of a few updates. It may be something else entirely.

On my 5 year old PC I only updated memory (to 8Gb about 3 years ago) and the GFX card (to a Nvidia 970 - also about 3 years ago). Lowering gfx settings the only time i get stutters in my games are when the bloody anti virus starts doing its update despite gaming profile being active, or Windows doing its updates instead - both pushing disk usage to 100% which causes the game to lag like hell (sound stops, blah blah).

Other than that, run low on memory every now and then - but otherwise the game system is "fine".

Of course I could spend £1000 on updating my rig (which is what I've considered) in order to play on higher/max settings and have no issues - but that's one HELL of a lot of money for the intermittent issues I experience, so I've bottled doing it Very Happy I'm not willing to work for 7 days in order to see purdy things and not have the odd bit of irritating lag (I usually just go do something else when updates start while playing. They're not supposed to - scheduler and/or profiles obviously not working correctly).


That seems a bit low. You sure that's not sims2 or 3?

EDIT: nvm, you're right, but the recommended specs are completely different. Those seem like the specs required to run the game at 0.25FPS.

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