Getting my gf's computer game-worthy

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Getting my gf's computer game-worthy

Postposted on Tue Oct 02, 2012 3:40 pm

TR,
My gf wants her computer upgraded to the point where she can play diablo 3 and other modern games with me. She is running a 1440x900 monitor, and this is her current system.

http://support.gateway.com/s/PC/R/1008847/1008847sp3.shtml

If i'm not mistaken, i can still gut the box and upgrade it (i think it's ATX form factor).

I've been eyeing the econobox from the most recent system guide (back to school 2012) as an easy upgrade, as she's not looking for all the eyecandy and AA, and is only driving a 1440x900 monitor. Is the econobox a good goal to shoot for? Should i do the Radeon 7770 or 7750 for a 1440x900?

I suppose i should investigate upgrading her from win xp too, as some modern games no longer support xp. OEM Win7 should be easy enough to get.
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Re: Getting my gf's computer game-worthy

Postposted on Tue Oct 02, 2012 4:05 pm

Sputnik7 wrote:If i'm not mistaken, i can still gut the box and upgrade it (i think it's ATX form factor).
At that point, all you're really re-using is the case -- and it's not like Gateways are noted for their external aesthetics. (You won't even be able to re-use the PATA HD and optical drive on most "modern" mobos without adding an adapter, and it won't support front USB 3.0 ports either). And you're not saving much money. Why not start from scratch, go mATX and get some kind of girlfriend-friendly case? (Tastes vary, but most prefer something other than OEM beige-box or boygamer neon-lit cheese-graters)
I suppose i should investigate upgrading her from win xp too, as some modern games no longer support xp. OEM Win7 should be easy enough to get.
For now. Once Win8 ships, you may find Win7 disappearing rather quickly.
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Re: Getting my gf's computer game-worthy

Postposted on Tue Oct 02, 2012 4:11 pm

Hm i've always wanted to try a mATX build, not that they should be any more difficult than a regular mid-ATX tower.

I'll discuss with her and see if there's a mATX case she likes. The smaller desk footprint would be nice for her too. Am I correct in going with a radeon 7770 or 7750 for her 1440x900?
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Re: Getting my gf's computer game-worthy

Postposted on Tue Oct 02, 2012 4:15 pm

I second the micro-atx board and case idea; it could save you quite a bit. If you wanted to really cut corners you could reuse the hdd and forgo an optical drive. In the end you might save around $200 that way, which would leave plenty of room for an OEM copy of Win7. Alternatively if she's not going to be playing a lot of different games, you might opt for a 120 GB ssd instead of reusing the hdd. Someone else will have to weigh in on the video card thing; more is better imho, but that might not suit you or your budget.
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Re: Getting my gf's computer game-worthy

Postposted on Tue Oct 02, 2012 4:22 pm

Jason181 wrote:Someone else will have to weigh in on the video card thing; more is better imho, but that might not suit you or your budget.

Video card is a tough choice. I'm pretty sure the 7750 would be okay at 1440x900, but that resolution...would be another easy upgrade for her, especially in the future. Considering the prices of 7750's on Newegg, I'd spend an extra $25 on the Econobox's recommendation for the extra headroom.

Also, Jason made an excellent point depending on how much space she needs. I recently trimmed my installed list, but I still have several large games on my drive. Sitting around 180GB, I think. I'd have to check when I get home. But again, easy future upgrade for her. Internal HDD or even an easily portable external to handle pictures, etc., and that leaves you with a good sized SSD in her system now.
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Re: Getting my gf's computer game-worthy

Postposted on Tue Oct 02, 2012 4:27 pm

Looking around, maybe i should be considering the Dorm PC 2.0 from the most recent systems guide. Similar guts to an Econobox with the added SFF, and that 120mm front fan makes me a lot less worried about thermal buildup from doing such a SFF case.

I will have to check SSD prices vs mechanical, because i doubt she'll ever need 1TB of space. She has 256gb drive in her old gateway right now and it's only half full.
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Re: Getting my gf's computer game-worthy

Postposted on Tue Oct 02, 2012 4:29 pm

I have a 6850 which has equivalent performance to the 7770. I just completed the single player campaign of Battlefield 3 which is well known for being very demanding on GPUs. My monitor is 1600x900, I had all settings on high, 4x AA, and the lowest fps that I saw with fraps during gameplay was 45fps and most of the framerates were in the mid 50s. Keep in mind, this is with the system in my sig. Not sure how much Lucid Virtu was doing for my framerates, but it did report that it was doing its virtualization (d-mode) while I was playing. The i3-3220 shouldn't suffer any fps losses in GPU bound games like BF3. For processor bound games, reference this article where TR used a GTX 460 discrete graphics card which is roughly the same as a 6850 or 7770. i3's do quite well. A 7770 would be a good choice, I would not suggest going any lower than a 7770 so that you have a little extra horsepower to get you through a few years of use.

A 120GB SSD will cost you about $80 these days. Re-use her old hdd for additional storage of music/movies/pictures etc.
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Re: Getting my gf's computer game-worthy

Postposted on Tue Oct 02, 2012 4:46 pm

Part of me wants to use her box as a testbed for those Seagate hybrid drives. Speed similar to a SSD with the storage capacity and pricing of a mechanical drive.

Also the 500gb momentus xt is on sale for like 75 shipped, which makes it pretty attractive to me :D
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Re: Getting my gf's computer game-worthy

Postposted on Tue Oct 02, 2012 5:07 pm

You should let us know how much you want to spend to turn her machine into a gaming machine.
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Re: Getting my gf's computer game-worthy

Postposted on Tue Oct 02, 2012 5:11 pm

I'd "like" to do it for 500 or less, and she already has a monitor/keyboard/mouse/speakers.
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Re: Getting my gf's computer game-worthy

Postposted on Tue Oct 02, 2012 5:26 pm

I think the mATX build is an excellent choice then. The kind of games she plays is what it really comes down to. I think the 7750 is an excellent GPU based off of benchmarks. (I own a 6850 so I can only comment on that).
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Re: Getting my gf's computer game-worthy

Postposted on Tue Oct 02, 2012 7:05 pm

For the money, I'd suggest this Fractal Design model as the best choice in mATX; if she'd rather not go with the deathmetal black monolith look, you could spend more for Silverstone in white or LianLi in real aluminum.

Of course none of those are really SFF, so if you want something more compact I'll to defer to the folks who regularly build pocket-rocket gaming boxes.
Last edited by UberGerbil on Tue Oct 02, 2012 7:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Getting my gf's computer game-worthy

Postposted on Tue Oct 02, 2012 7:12 pm

Sputnik7 wrote:This is her current system.
http://support.gateway.com/s/PC/R/1008847/1008847sp3.shtml
I'm sorry, but your best bet really is to start over. As a stop-gap measure, you could add a $120 -15MIR Radeon HD7770 1GB graphics card to the existing system, but any other upgrades are best made in a whole new PC. If you start with the graphics card, you can later migrate it to a new PC when you give up on the Gateway as a gaming system.

Do you live close enough to a Micro Center to take advantage of some of their excellent in-store deals (particularly the Intel Core i5-3570K + ASRock Z77 Pro4-M for $250+tax)?

The Econobox is a reasonable starting point, but let's go with a micro-ATX option as others have suggested. The Antec NSK3480 is compact and it isn't flashy, but it is a decently-constructed micro-ATX case with a quiet full-ATX power supply.
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Re: Getting my gf's computer game-worthy

Postposted on Tue Oct 02, 2012 9:08 pm

Here's a list of things to consider. Remember, if you're shopping on newegg, you can oftentimes save some money by nabbing a combo deal. Amazon.com has free shipping on a lot of items also, check there before buying from newegg.
Fractal Design Core 1000 Case for $37 (I was very impressed with this case when I used it for a recent build. Make sure she's ok with the power buttons and usb ports being on the side though. Buy a 92mm fan for the back for extra cooling)
AsRock H77 motherboard for $70
Intel i3-3220 for $130 OR G2120 for $100 (both will game very well) I don't see any Microcenters near Oregon, but if that was an option, the i3-3225 also qualifies you for $50 off a motherboard. You could get an i3-3225 and a Gigabyte B75M-D3H for $150 that way.
Power Supply for ~$50 (you only need about 360W for this system)
AMD 7770 $117
$40 for 2x4GB DDR3 1600 memory.
Re-use the disc drive from the old machine.
SSD won't increase framerates, but it will make the system more responsive in general. If her old hdd is SATA, I'd just reuse that to keep cost low. If you do want to get a SSD, don't go any smaller than 90GB, performance starts to drop off past that point and cost/GB gets worse also.
Are you or do you know anyone in college? College students can oftentimes get a retail Windows 7 disc/license for $60 or less from school. My brother got me one for $30.
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Re: Getting my gf's computer game-worthy

Postposted on Wed Oct 03, 2012 1:17 am

Better buy her some flowers while you're at it; not all gf want to game! :)
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Re: Getting my gf's computer game-worthy

Postposted on Wed Oct 03, 2012 8:45 am

JustAnEngineer wrote:As a stop-gap measure, you could add a $120 -15MIR Radeon HD7770 1GB graphics card to the existing system, but any other upgrades are best made in a whole new PC.

The more I think about it, this might be your best option. $500 is a lot to spend on non-jewelery items for girlfriends... unless you're loaded.
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Re: Getting my gf's computer game-worthy

Postposted on Wed Oct 03, 2012 4:52 pm

Thank you all for the feedback, i will keep all of these options in mind.

@Jason181: always quality advice, she's got some nice flowers chillin in a vase right now. Maybe some sunflowers would be nice before the weather turns cloudy and wet here for 9 months in Oregon.
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Re: Getting my gf's computer game-worthy

Postposted on Thu Oct 04, 2012 10:42 am

looking at her current gateway computer setup, will it be able to accomodate a 7770?
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Re: Getting my gf's computer game-worthy

Postposted on Thu Oct 04, 2012 2:52 pm

Using the power supply calculator I linked you to earlier, the sytem should draw about 160W at 90% system load. (That calculator recommends wattage for the PSU to be roughly 50% loaded at 90% system load) So, provided the motherboard has a PCIe x 16 slot (not AGP) and you can get a 6-pin PCIe power connector to power the GPU, you should be ok. (you can buy a molex - 6pin adapter if need be) Being a junky OEM power supply, I normally wouldn't recommend this since it's getting into "unknown territory" but I get the feeling that this setup isn't meant to last for more than a year or two. So, as a temporary fix, this should work just fine.

Otherwise, buy her a 380W - 430W power supply also and you're 2 components closer to a new system. (both can be reused of course)
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Re: Getting my gf's computer game-worthy

Postposted on Thu Oct 04, 2012 4:56 pm

I would probably just get her a Trinity based laptop at this point, it'll game better than anything you can get working on that machine based on the CPU alone.
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Re: Getting my gf's computer game-worthy

Postposted on Thu Oct 04, 2012 5:04 pm

Go for the i3 over the pentium for sure and a 7770 will game great fine at 1440 resolution.
My 7750 uses around 55 watts has no pcie power connector and it games at 1080p pretty dang good....BF3 on medium gives me a steady 50fps- 70fps and its a chopped down 7770.
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Re: Getting my gf's computer game-worthy

Postposted on Thu Oct 04, 2012 5:53 pm

DPete27 wrote:Using the power supply calculator I linked you to earlier, the sytem should draw about 160W at 90% system load. (That calculator recommends wattage for the PSU to be roughly 50% loaded at 90% system load) So, provided the motherboard has a PCIe x 16 slot (not AGP) and you can get a 6-pin PCIe power connector to power the GPU, you should be ok. (you can buy a molex - 6pin adapter if need be) Being a junky OEM power supply, I normally wouldn't recommend this since it's getting into "unknown territory" but I get the feeling that this setup isn't meant to last for more than a year or two. So, as a temporary fix, this should work just fine.

Otherwise, buy her a 380W - 430W power supply also and you're 2 components closer to a new system. (both can be reused of course)



I agree. Looking at my first post, it says the system has a PCIe x 16 slot. I'm not sure if it's PCIe 1.0 or 2.0 though. Does that matter? I'll also check to see if there are 2 spare perpiheral power plugs i can use for the 6-pin power.
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Re: Getting my gf's computer game-worthy

Postposted on Thu Oct 04, 2012 6:34 pm

Sputnik7 wrote:Looking at my first post, it says the system has a PCIe x 16 slot. I'm not sure if it's PCIe 1.0 or 2.0 though. Does that matter?

Sorry, didn't see that when I was looking at the spec sheet. It's most likely PCIe 2.0.

For everyone else, here's a more detailed product page.
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Re: Getting my gf's computer game-worthy

Postposted on Thu Oct 04, 2012 8:15 pm

http://starmicroinc.net/athlon-dual-cor ... p-877.html $97 for a extra 400mhz per core is a little steep, but if you are going to keep this rig for down the road as a HTPC i thinks its a decent upgrade little pricy but not like 939 x2 are floating around everywhere. And 2.4 ghz is as fast as you can find these days only thing faster would be a 2.6ghz fx-60 i believe but that would cost a arm and a leg if you could find one.
I have dealt with them in the past and have had very good luck with them.

If you go with say a HIS icooler 7750 with the gddr5 memory not the ddr3 version. It uses no pcie power connector and will game at 1440 just fine. Since i am getting good framerates with it at 1080p. I cannot run ubersampling aa but on medium settings it plays BF3 great. But i am using a i3 2120 3.3ghz sandy bridge cpu with hyperthreading helps a little bit with BF3.
BF3 is one of the more cpu intensive games out there. Diablo 3 plays at 60fps on max settings. Left for dead 2 plays awesome. Its no slouch for the little bit of power it uses.

I have 2 gateway HTPCs one slim tower with a 220watt psu with a i3 2125 and a asus 6570 LP video card. The other is a full width tower with just the stock 300 watt psu a i3 2120 8gb ddr3 1333 2 1tb HDDs and the 7750. I have the video cards overclocked a lot in both gateways and no problemos :)
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Re: Getting my gf's computer game-worthy

Postposted on Thu Oct 04, 2012 8:38 pm

Some of the Radeon HD7770 1GB cards come with a PCIe power adapter in the box. I've got a handful of them left over from previous graphics cards. If you need to buy one, they're not very expensive.
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Re: Getting my gf's computer game-worthy

Postposted on Fri Oct 05, 2012 9:13 am

HOLD THE PHONE!!! I just got to looking a little more at your system thinking that ATX motherboards from OEMs that long ago seem pretty rare. Can you confirm that it looks like so:
Motherboard
View from Back

If this is correct, you're going to be limited to a single slot graphics card like this thread because the graphics card will go in upside down (fan pointing up) and there are no expansion slots in the case above the PCIe x16 port. You can still get a 7770 with a single slot in the back but you'll need to make sure that the double slot cooler will fit inside your case. (ie, that poorly located motherboard power header, and the audio ports on the rear panel)
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Re: Getting my gf's computer game-worthy

Postposted on Fri Oct 05, 2012 11:59 am

DPete27 wrote:HOLD THE PHONE!!! I just got to looking a little more at your system thinking that ATX motherboards from OEMs that long ago seem pretty rare. Can you confirm that it looks like so:
Motherboard
View from Back

If this is correct, you're going to be limited to a single slot graphics card like this thread because the graphics card will go in upside down (fan pointing up) and there are no expansion slots in the case above the PCIe x16 port. You can still get a 7770 with a single slot in the back but you'll need to make sure that the double slot cooler will fit inside your case. (ie, that poorly located motherboard power header, and the audio ports on the rear panel)



I believe it does look like that, good catch. I think it's BTX form factor =/. So you're saying that the graphics card cooler will face up towards the mobo power header? Maybe i will have to try and find a deal on a 7770 at a brick and mortar store and make sure it has a return policy in the event it doesn't fit.

Does this mean that the standard ATX psu i want won't fit either?
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Re: Getting my gf's computer game-worthy

Postposted on Fri Oct 05, 2012 12:54 pm

The current PSU is ATX so no worries there.
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Re: Getting my gf's computer game-worthy

Postposted on Fri Oct 05, 2012 2:04 pm

Disregard upgrading the cpu "thanks Dpete"

I am pretty sure a HIS icooler 7750 will fit,its small and slightly over 1 slot wide, you will not need to upgrade the pcu. Grab one for $100 and just fly with that. I would not do the PSU unless it dies. Cheaper the better. Then save money for a new Intel rig.
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Re: Getting my gf's computer game-worthy

Postposted on Fri Oct 05, 2012 5:57 pm

The Radeon HD7750 is noticeably slower than the Radeon HD7770 for not much cost savings.
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