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Budget Desktop Computer for old games and the like.

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I realize I'm out of my element by consulting the great Oracles of this forum, but hopefully the Wise Ones will have mercy on my ignorant soul.

 

I have a few laptops, the oldest being over a decade old and the newest about five years old. They all suck -- at everything. So I decided to do something that I've wanted to do for years but didn't have the money for, and now somewhat kinda am in the position to possibly have the money for at a future date: build a desktop computer.

 

So my question is: What is some general advice to point me in the right direction for a computer under $300 (for as little as I play video games, it's not worth investing more than that, assuming it was feasible for me to spend that much on it, which it isn't) that can run old and otherwise non-computer-intensive games? Or, what should I focus on, and what should I skimp on? Currently, I'm having trouble running games like TF2 and KSP above 20 FPS on low graphics, which I'd obviously like to improve upon. I'm willing to have a computer with a cardboard case that overheats every 30 minutes in order to have a graphics card that can actually handle decade old games. I don't expect to be able to play LA Noire at 60 FPS and highest graphics settings, but my current situation is a bit ridiculous.

 

It's also worth noting that I'm not, by any measure, an experienced computermatician. If you start throwing a bunch of numbers at me I might start howling incoherently and dance around a campfire with a loincloth. Yes, I went to pcpartpicker, and that was about my reaction.

 

I already have a couple hard drives, a monitor, and a monkey I've trained to wave a fan on request.

 

 

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Hello Deus Ignis! 

 

Welcome to the forum! 

 

Yes we do have some avid builders here and people much more experienced than me with hardware of that time. I built my first PC in 2012 so I may be able to help. There are great youtubers like RandomGaminginHD or TechYESCity that focus on building very budget computers and maximizing bang for the buck. 

 

Here is his channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUzjKyS5r72bfvPkA6GxpRg

 

Here is an example of what you can do with very little money by searching at the right places by Tech YES City bulding a PC for $135 

 


He basically builds a PC with a quad core core i5 760 from the first core i5 generation and a 1050ti whcih is a mid range card from the previous generation with less than $250. That configuration will run you ANY game from 2014-2015 and lower at 1080p medium to high settings at 30-45 FPS for the most demanding games and more than 60FPS at 1080p high for older games like TF2 and I would even dare say Overwatch. 

 

You could even play GTA V at medium-high at 30-60 FPS. That is KILLER performance for that budget. Newer mid-tier parts like a core i5 or Ryzen 5 processors can cost that much. 

 

Now, in order to tailor our recomendations please give us the following information:

 

The resolution you plan to play on (your monitor's resolution) and the Games you want to play and the country that you live in so we can tailor reccomendations to the hardware avaliable over there. 

Since you plan to play games from around 10 years ago, you can probably get a pre-used computer from 6-5 years ago for really cheap and add a relatively new low end graphics card. Basically any graphics card from the last 5 years WILL play TF2 or games like that, even stuff like Killing Floor at more than 60 fps at med-high settings. Back in the day I had a Core 2 Duo E7500 and a HD 5750 and that played TF2 at more than 60 FPS at 720p. 

We can help you chose the right used parts and give you resources so you can do it all yourself. At this price range, basically DIY is your only option to maximize bang for the buck. 

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Yeah, even a 1050ti is a bit expensive for low-end gaming. The AMD RX series does quite well for usually a lower price.

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Thank you for the quick replies.

 

My monitor will be my TV, which is 720p.

Some games I intend to play: Deus Ex, TF2, The Half-life games, Black Mesa, Kerbal Space Program, Left 4 Dead, Rust, Garry's mod, Worms and Worms Armageddon, a bunch of other old games. I'd also rather not have my computer threatening to kill itself whenever I have more than two things running at once.

I live in the United States.

 

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I'd say to start with something like this...

 

https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16883165268&ignorebbr=1 (refurbished DELL Optiplex 7010 MT desktop PC - $179.99 + $3.99 shipping) Have to make sure it's got enough RAM, and has an expansion slot for a GPU. (none of them will come with a GPU) You do not need Windows 10 for this.

https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814131732&ignorebbr=1 (new AMD RX 560 - $104.99 + free shipping) If you need to reduce the price some, you can drop the GPU down to an RX 550 or a GT 1030. (both are about 1/3 less powerful GPUs and you'll only save $10-$20) As a bonus, this can also be a starter GPU for a much better new system a few years down the road.

 

And unless you already have a mouse and keyboard, just a cheap combo pack should do it.

https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16823126193&ignorebbr=1 ($20.39 + free shipping, but that puts you $10 over your stated budget)

 

Note that this system design should never drop below 60FPS on any of the listed games.

Edited by BTGBullseye

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22 hours ago, BTGBullseye said:

I'd say to start with something like this...

 

https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16883165268&ignorebbr=1 (refurbished DELL Optiplex 7010 MT desktop PC - $179.99 + $3.99 shipping) Have to make sure it's got enough RAM, and has an expansion slot for a GPU. (none of them will come with a GPU) You do not need Windows 10 for this.

https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814131732&ignorebbr=1 (new AMD RX 560 - $104.99 + free shipping) If you need to reduce the price some, you can drop the GPU down to an RX 550 or a GT 1030. (both are about 1/3 less powerful GPUs and you'll only save $10-$20) As a bonus, this can also be a starter GPU for a much better new system a few years down the road.

 

And unless you already have a mouse and keyboard, just a cheap combo pack should do it.

https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16823126193&ignorebbr=1 ($20.39 + free shipping, but that puts you $10 over your stated budget)

 

Note that this system design should never drop below 60FPS on any of the listed games.

 

This system could easily handle the games you mentioned at 1080p/60 fps if you decided to upgrade your monitor. I would even venture to say you could run L4D2 at more than 80fps on high settings and no AA with a 560.

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Considering my tests with the RX 580, I'm guessing the L4D games could be done at maximum with AA at 720p for his current "monitor" and maintain 60 FPS without issue. 1080p might drop them to 35 FPS when there are super swarms in the rain, but that's about it.

Edited by BTGBullseye
Mistyped 35 FPS as 45 FPS...

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That's essentially what I suggested, just at a higher price point and with no return policies if it fails in 2 weeks... Never use ebay for computer products. Amazon is for if you can't get the stuff on Newegg. Besides, you forgot a case and CD drive. (an extra $50 if buying new)

 

Newegg is your friend, they are the most reliable computer parts seller on the continent, and they have the best return policies and customer service. (even though the CS went down in quality for a while there) Also, their refurbished stuff is usually very high quality, as long as it's sold by Newegg themselves, and not another store through Newegg.

 

FYI the "grade A refurbished" when it's a DELL is basically as good as if it came new from their factory, but has been running for 6 months instead of in a box.

 

If you want to increase your pricerange, let me know... I can definitely design better for you. The next best thing you can do from this point is go to a DDR4 system, so probably a Ryzen setup. You'll be looking at $600+ if buying all new components. Alternatively, just add an SSD to the build for an extra $75 and you're in the top 10% of gaming computers currently in operation in the country.

Edited by BTGBullseye

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I didn't forget the case or anything, I left it out on purpose. For things like CD drives, I will wait until I have a functioning system to worry about stuff like that. I will look on Newegg and see if I can get all the parts from there.

 

And I most certainly do not want to increase the price range. The $370 I'm looking at is pushing it as is. There's not a whole lot of sense in me starting off with a computer "in the top 10% of gaming computers" when I'm in the bottom 10% in terms of hours played per week, bottom 10% in terms of working knowledge of computers, bottom 10% in terms of income I can reasonably allocate to this, bottom 10%  in terms of how much I intend to push my system with CPU-intensive and photo-realistic games, bottom 10% in terms of how settled down I am and likelihood I will be in such a position in the future that having such a system would be a reasonable investment, so on and so forth.

 

I've had just barely passable laptops for years, because I've never had the money to build a desktop, and now that I have a befitting income, I'm kinda late to the train. With that being said, I only really expect to build a desktop that falls squarely between a good entry-level setup and my current potato. If computers were houses, I live in a decrepit cottage out in the country that used to have charm to it, but now has questionable integrity, missing shingles, stained carpets, and probably should be demolished in a few years, and isn't really meant to be permanent, it's just a step above renting an ugly and equally unsuitable house in the slums. I don't expect to go straight from that to a gated community in Chattanooga Hills, especially since I don't really belong in that type of neighborhood in the first place.

 

That being said, I fully appreciate all of your help and suggestions. I wouldn't know where to start otherwise. I will keep researching and post an update before I make a final decision.

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One quick thing, if your statement is true, you don't need to buy new for anything but the GPU. Refurbished or open box will save a LOT of money, and you'll still get a PC that will last for a decade. (don't get refurbished SSDs or HDDs though)

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