Buying/building a "PC console"?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by whooleytoo, Dec 1, 2011.

  1. macrumors 603

    whooleytoo

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2002
    Location:
    Cork, Ireland.
    #1
    Is there any existing high-ish performance PC out there which I could use with a HDTV & game controller rather than monitor and keyboard? I like console gaming in my living room with big screen & surround sound, but the console graphics are falling well behind what's possible on a good gaming PC; plus consoles lack the 3rd party mods.

    I'd love a small, fast gaming PC, connected via HDMI to my TV. Controlled (ideally) by some 360/PS3-esque controller. 1080p resolution would be great - at TV watching distance - and you'd have the benefit of higher resolution textures too.

    Is there any suitable PC which is (in order of priority) :
    - Quiet (Don't want the drone of loud fans all the time)
    - Fast (with upgradable GPU and/or CPU)
    - Small (at least it needs to fit under/near the TV)
    - Cheap (I might have to give up on this one! :p )
     
  2. macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2009
    #2
    You could build and/or buy any computer and just use a USB Gaming Controller. As long as you don't buy something like a mac mini, any desktop you buy should be upgradable.... I guess I'm confused on the question....

    Oh and just fyi: PC gaming is expensive.... I used to be a heavy PC gamer and would spend $600 every 6 months on new video cards and/or Processors. Console gaming is much cheaper. But you do have to deal with subpar graphics especially at the end of a consoles life cycle.
     
  3. thread starter macrumors 603

    whooleytoo

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2002
    Location:
    Cork, Ireland.
    #3
    I guess my question is really are there any useful gaming PCs that aren't big towers with wind-tunnel like fans? If I Google 'gaming PCs', most of what comes up doesn't look small, quiet or fitting in well with my other under-TV boxes! :)
     
  4. Moderator emeritus

    Hellhammer

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2008
    Location:
    Finland
    #4
    Quiet, small, fast and cheap don't go hand in hand. You can have one, but not all four. I think we need a bit more info. How small exactly? The smaller you go, the more it will cost and the noisier it will be (less airflow). Mini-ITX rig is an option, but they cost a premium and they are definitely noisier, plus fairly non-expandable (no space for extra HDs etc).

    I think a micro-ATX rig would be ideal for you. It isn't the smallest, but more like a mid model. Not too big, not too small. On top of that, micro-ATX boards are relatively cheap and support the fastest components too. There will also be enough airflow to keep the parts cool and fan quiet.

    A budget would be welcome too so I could recommend some parts. That said, I built a i5-2500K + AMD 6850 rig a few months ago, and find it to be a perfect balance of power and affordability. I sit (and sleep) next to it, and it's almost inaudible. Paying a bit more on the GPU and getting a 3rd party CPU fan would definitely reduce the noise even more, but I'm sure this would be completely silent at TV watching distance. Oh, and I also use my PS3 controller, works perfectly with MotionJoy. You just need a supported BT adapter (I don't have one though).
     
  5. thread starter macrumors 603

    whooleytoo

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2002
    Location:
    Cork, Ireland.
    #5
    Appreciate the advice guys!

    Size isn't crucial I guess; I'd prefer not to have something the size of a Mac Pro alongside my TV, anything shorter than that would probably be fine. As for budget, I'm just sounding out the options at the moment, but I did expect to pay at least 1,500 euros (a little over $2,000); if I need to go higher to get something worthwhile then no problem. I'd rather spend 2,000 euros well than waste 1,500!

    I might be able to cut a few corners - I won't need a monitor, keyboard, mouse, Bluray, DVD burner or Wifi; but they probably don't add up to much cost anyway!

    Is fitting 3rd party fans easy? Are we talking a few screws, or soldering work? ;)
     
  6. Moderator emeritus

    Hellhammer

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2008
    Location:
    Finland
    #6
    Well, my system ended up costing around 900€, and that's with 8GB of RAM and SSD. You could easily lower the cost to around 600€ be choosing cheaper components, so staying under 1500€ isn't a problem at all ;)

    I think you should look for a similar setup as mine, just with mini-ITX mobo and case. i5-2500K and AMD 6850 are really the best bang for buck components when I researched. You will be limited to 1920x1080 anyway, and so far all the games have ran at high graphics for me. Getting a new GPU every two years or so is better that shoveling 500€ for a high-end GPU now IMO.

    As easy as fitting the stock fan ;)
     
  7. macrumors 68020

    Firestar

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2010
    Location:
    221B Baker Street.
    #7
    Not very much, but most flat screens should have HDMI ports, which would therefore substitute as your monitor (if you have HDMI ports in the case, which you probably do).
     
  8. thread starter macrumors 603

    whooleytoo

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2002
    Location:
    Cork, Ireland.
    #8
    Excellent! <rubs hands together evilly>

    If I can get a system for less than €1,000; that means I can start on this a lot sooner (very expensive time of year to buy what's definitely a "luxury" item!). I don't think I need an absolute top-of-the-line GPU, I think just about any decent current GPU should easily outperform current console graphics. SSD would be great, if affordable, for both noise and faster load times.

    Do you mind if I ask where you bought your components - was it one site or scavenging across several?
     
  9. Moderator emeritus

    Hellhammer

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2008
    Location:
    Finland
    #9
    If you aren't in a hurry, you might want to hold on for AMD HD 7000 series. There is an announcement event on Monday which will reveal more, but the higher-end GPUs will most likely come in early Q1'12. That should bring good power reductions due to die shrink from 40nm to 28nm, as well as better performance. Or you can grab an AMD 6000 series GPU at a discount.

    If you want to hold on even more, then there is Ivy Bridge in April 2012, but I wouldn't (not much for desktops really).

    I bought all my components from Jimms, a Finnish online store. Buying from one easily ends up being cheaper due to shipping costs, and I don't really care about saving 2€ on one component. You should be able to find better deals in Ireland as out VAT is 23%. I thought about buying from Germany as they have some cheap hardware there (would have saved a hundred or so), but decided against it due to warranty concerns.
     
  10. macrumors 6502a

    LeandrodaFL

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2011
    #10
    The first thing is the case, then you pick what fits in it

    Here is a list of what you should buy and why.

    1) Firstly, the case. I recomend micro-atx over mini-atx mainly because you have little expnadability with mini, and micro is almost the same as full.. Im a fan o Moneual and Silverstone cases. There is one particular thing you have to pay attention, the size of the expansion cards. Since you wil get a videocard, you need a case that supports full range videocards, as oposed to lower videocards. I will give you some silverstone and moneual cases, but feel free to look for other models.

    http://moneualusa.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=155&Itemid=168

    http://www.silverstonetek.com/product.php?pid=175&area=en

    http://www.silverstonetek.com/product.php?pid=138&area=en

    Also, a mini-ixt if perhpas you decide to go with it:

    http://www.silverstonetek.com/product.php?pid=317&area=

    ----------

    Your HDTV will have HDMI inputs, so you need a DVI-HDMI cable to conect your videocard to your TV. Its up to you to decide wich videocard fits your needs.

    Regarding sound, if you go with the Radeon HD series, they have hdmi outputs, so you can pass sound and video with the same cable using your videocard. I dunno if nvida can do the same. Nevertheless, if you go with a DVI output only videocard, ALL motherboards have sound outputs, so all you need is a pair of speakers. Check for creative.com and logitech.com for 2.0 or 2.1 speakers, they have some small designs and great sound quality, and fit perfectly below your TV on your rack

    ----------

    As far as CPU goes, check for TDP, the lowest, the better, as there is less heat and less need of louder fans. Intel has a i7 45W TDP for $400. 45TDP is great, you can find i3 with 35W TDP for a lot less. Just so you have an idea, normal CPUs have 90W TDP

    For the case fans, check silenx.com these fans are the best in the market, you put them to your ear and you dont hear a thing


    Get SSD. since they have no moving parts, they are SILENT and no heat, and fast too btw.

    For keyboard, mouse and gamepad, you need to go wireless.

    For gamepads, check logitech.com they have PC gamepads identical to both ps3 and xbox controlers

    For keyboard, there are some with touchpads or trackballs. And Ive heard the apple magic trackpad is compatible with windows.

    Oh, for memory, get 8GB, any brand is fine, simply check compatibility with motherboard

    for a silent PSU, go with Coolermaster silent pro. The name says it all.

    I hope this helps in your decision, good luck building
     
  11. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2013
    #11
    gaming pc monitor?

    I'm hoping you guys can help me out cause I'm a newbie to pc gaming and I have no idea what to purchase but I need to get a monitor. I've been looking around everywhere and I finally found this website that has reviews http://www.pcitup.com/ and I'm considering the asus monitor that I found on that site but I was hoping some of you might be able to tell me how asus products work with pc gaming and if it's a good way to go, if not I would appreciate some suggestions of trusted brands for pc gaming?
     
  12. macrumors 6502a

    LeandrodaFL

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2011
    #12
    Get the best looking monitor, they are kinda the same, specially for gaming where you get "animated video"

    You have to go with either 22" or 24" Generally speaking, at a arm lengh distance of your eye, wich is the distance you should keep monitors, 22"will give you a nice 1600x900 resolution and 24" will give you 1920x1080 resolution, altough both monitors are capable of displaying all resolutions.
     
  13. macrumors 68040

    Giuly

    #13
    Your HDTV doesn't go beyond 1080p anyways, that's why things like the $99 Ouya gaming console are possible.
     
  14. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2011
    #14
    If you aren't dead-set on building you own, I'd suggest you take a look at the Alienware x51.

    It's about the size of an Xbox 360, but can hold a full sized GFX card. Unfortunately the best card you can configure with it is a 660 Ti, so you aren't going to run every game on Ultra settings (not that you'd expect to with a box so small). You can upgrade it down the road, but the PSU only supports cards that use 150W or less.

    Still a good box, and designed for exactly what you are trying to do with it.
     

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