Budget gaming rig for son. . .Suggestions

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Budget gaming rig for son. . .Suggestions

Postby Raven70 » Tue Jul 21, 2015 9:01 am

First, I noticed my signature is like 6-8 years old I think. . .please ignore. Haven't been on in a while.

QUESTION
What is a good CPU, MB, Video card combo for under $500 for a budget gaming PC?

BACKGROUND
In January 2012, I built my son (10 at the time) a budget PC (~$400 total) so he could play Minecraft, Roblox, Pirates of the Caribbean, and other low requirement games. It was an AMD A4-3400 using onboard graphics, 4GB of RAM and a half gig hard drive. It was perfect and has had zero issues. However, after the first year or so of use, I loaded Steam, Skyrim, Fallout, Gary's Mod, Just Cause 2, and long story short, this rig does not cut it any longer. Even Roblox is bad.

I have already pre-ordered him the Pip boy edition of Fallout 4 for his birthday at the end of December. Between now and then probably pickup Just Cause 3 or maybe Star Wars Battlefront. I have a PC copy of Witcher 3 as well, but I am not sure he would like that. That should give you idea of gaming requirements, but he seems to have no issue turning down graphics in order to have decent gameplay.

I've already gotten a new XBox 360 controller for Windows, and I have a spare, unused 24" 1080p Acer monitor from 2014 BF sale.

I'm budgeting $800 total for CPU, memory, HDD, Case, PSU, graphics and OS.

I'm thinking 8GB Ram to start but maybe 16, 1TB HDD, $50-100 case, $100 PSU or less, and $100 OS Win 10 when available. Although I know an SSD would bump speed, I really don't care and see as place to save money. So, possibly $400-500 left for CPU, MB, and Video card.

I have built numerous PCs over the years, and I know the "sweet spot" for any one of those tends to move around (bang for your buck). I also know you get what you pay for. I'm not an enthusiast though, so I only research ever 3-5 years to update my rigs (going back about 15 years now on homebuilt PCs). I have not been on in years and will start reviewing threads now as well. TIA

SIDE NOTE
I will mention that I am not in a hurry. Instead of single component recommendation, what might help me is a low/high recommendation for each item so I can price shop between now and December. I see bargains once in a while, like Staples having MSI GTX 960 Gaming 2G 2GB Video Card for $145 AR a couple of days ago. I assumed Windows 10 as coming out soon. All of my systems now are Windows 7 and have not touched 8 or 8.1. I just figured 7 was getting old. Again, been out of touch with what is in these days.
AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+ Manchester
MSI K8N Neo4 Platinum nForce4 Ultra
eVGA Geforce 7600GT
2GB OCZ DDR 400 Unbuffered Dual Channel Platinum
WD 250GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s HD
Antec TX640B Case with SmartPower 400w
Raven70
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Re: Budget gaming rig for son. . .Suggestions

Postby Roach412 » Tue Jul 21, 2015 11:47 am

you're in the right spot for GPU pricing - I'd keep about 150 as the floor for it, and really be looking at things up to $200. in my opinion, shoot for something (if possible) that has 3gb+ of VRAM. that'll at least give you some breathing room for the next 2-3 years. personally, I like EVGA, and tend to run NVidia...but, I just spied a pretty good deal on a redeon r9 280 here - for $150, that's a pretty solid card.

as for the cpu/mobo, that's a more of a personal needs-based-decision - but, if you've got 200 for a mobo, then you've got another 100-150 for cpu. most likely you're going to be looking at another AMD - the intels are a bit pricey, both in processors and the boards for them. you'll probably save a couple bucks here and there by going AMD and get pretty similar performance real-world. things like usb3.0, # of usb ports, #of pcie slots and their speeds/spacing...SATA....

honestly, I'd reconsider not getting an SSD - I think they're almost a must-have for any new builds, and really are very reasonable in price. it's not uncommon to see 256gb drives dip below $100, and 128's even under $50 sometimes. if large storage is needed - sure, get a spinner - but in terms of gaming machines...I'd never go back from my solid states.

-Roach
Lian Li Lancool First Knight Series PC-K59W
Intel Core i7-960 Bloomfield 3.2GHz
EVGA X58 FTW3 132-GT-E768-TR
EVGA GeForce GTX 1070 FTW GAMING ACX 3.0
G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 12GB (3 x 4GB)
Crucial M4 128gb SATAIII SSD x2
Crucial M4 256gb SATAIII SSD
OCZ Saber 1000 960GB Enterprise SSD
Corsair Professional Series HX850 PSU
Dell UltraSharp U2713HM 27" w/drop ceiling mount
Logitech G930 7.1 Headset
DBPOWER RGB LED Keyboard
Logitech G402 Hyperion Fury
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Re: Budget gaming rig for son. . .Suggestions

Postby Raven70 » Tue Jul 21, 2015 12:15 pm

Roach412 wrote:. . .honestly, I'd reconsider not getting an SSD - I think they're almost a must-have for any new builds, and really are very reasonable in price. it's not uncommon to see 256gb drives dip below $100, and 128's even under $50 sometimes. if large storage is needed - sure, get a spinner - but in terms of gaming machines...I'd never go back from my solid states. -Roach


I can't see why? I have more than 250GB of games most likely or in near future (I share my Steam library on that system). If he plays a game for 2-4 hours at a time, what is the slight delay in load time to start the game. My work laptop has an SSD, and yes it is cool to boot in seconds every morning, but $50-100 better served in GPU or CPU don't you think? Convince me.
AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+ Manchester
MSI K8N Neo4 Platinum nForce4 Ultra
eVGA Geforce 7600GT
2GB OCZ DDR 400 Unbuffered Dual Channel Platinum
WD 250GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s HD
Antec TX640B Case with SmartPower 400w
Raven70
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Re: Budget gaming rig for son. . .Suggestions

Postby Roach412 » Thu Jul 23, 2015 7:00 am

i'll grant you that it depends on the game, but when I was playing fallout and skyrim, my environment switch times(i.e. buildings to wasteland/etc.) went from 30-45 seconds to 3-4. in fallout, depending on your style of play and where you are in the game, it can literally save you half an hour to an hour of game time in a 2-3 hour sitting.

load times for bf4 went from over a minute to 20-30 seconds.

company of heroes loaded near-instantly rather than a 20-30 second lag.

the list goes on and on...

my anecdotal experience is a 50-90% drop in load time for any and every game(by level/round-load basis). like I said though, if you're playing small or non-intensive resource loading games, sure, a 7200 will be fine. however, for anything that you need to check system specs on when deciding whether you can play it or not(a general indicator in my opinion for "intensive" games) I will recommend every day, and twice on sunday, that an SSD is worth the investment.

I value my time I have to play games - it is worth cash-in-hand to save minutes in an hour. if I were to do a cost-benefit-analysis, and say an hour of my time is worth just 5$...it's still worth it for the hundreds of rounds I've played in just bf4. that doesn't even include any other games.
(just did the math, on ~1600 rounds played, averaging a 1 minute load going down to 30 seconds gives me an extra EIGHT HUNDRED MINUTES of time not waiting for a level to load...that's over 13 hours...my 5$/hour pays back $65 - easily worth it IMHO).

once you go SSD, it's painful to go back. I want to throw my xbox against a wall because of load times, and actually don't play it because some days I'm just not up for waiting for a round to load. it's that dramatic.

-Roach
Lian Li Lancool First Knight Series PC-K59W
Intel Core i7-960 Bloomfield 3.2GHz
EVGA X58 FTW3 132-GT-E768-TR
EVGA GeForce GTX 1070 FTW GAMING ACX 3.0
G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 12GB (3 x 4GB)
Crucial M4 128gb SATAIII SSD x2
Crucial M4 256gb SATAIII SSD
OCZ Saber 1000 960GB Enterprise SSD
Corsair Professional Series HX850 PSU
Dell UltraSharp U2713HM 27" w/drop ceiling mount
Logitech G930 7.1 Headset
DBPOWER RGB LED Keyboard
Logitech G402 Hyperion Fury
Roach412
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