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Is my HTPC capable enough for gaming?

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January 28, 2013 8:01:26 PM

Hi, I've been out of the 'gaming' world for about the last 10 years or so but I've got a little extra free time on my hands and would like to get back into it. I was thinking of just buying an XBOX 360, but I remembered that I've got a perfectly capable little HTPC already hooked up to my TV and surround sound that might be powerful enough to play games. It'd be one less piece of hardware sitting around the house waiting to go obsolete if I could turn my HTPC into a gaming rig. It's currently specc'd at:

Pentium G620
GA-Z68M-D2H Mobo
8GB 1600Mhz RAM
450W Antec EarthWatts PSU
Nvidia GT 240 GDDR5 512MB
80GB Intel SSD
2TB RAID array

I built it to be power efficient with the G620 and GT240, so I know those aren't going to be perfect for playing everything I throw at it. I'm not really familiar with any of the new games, but I like FPS and played a lot of the Halo series (multiplayer and campaign), and would be into something similar. Since I haen't gamed in a while if the title is 2-3 years old, I probably wouldn't even know the difference so if I'm limited to some older games that's OK. I'll probably be playing this from my couch on my HDTV so I was going to purchase an XBOX 360 for PC controller because I'm familiar with using that controller already and liked it when I played Halo.

My two main questions:
Is this HTPC capable of playing some newer games that are similar to Halo? What games would those be?
If I needed to upgrade something in order to really improve the experience, what would it be?

Thanks!

More about : htpc capable gaming

January 28, 2013 8:13:31 PM

Hey there,

When you say you'd like to play games can you be any more specific?

As far as FPS gaming goes, your specification suits the minimum requirements for Battlefield 3. So if you can run that game you'll most likely be able to run the majority of the games currently on the market.
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January 28, 2013 8:23:00 PM

Cihan1994 said:
Hey there,
When you say you'd like to play games can you be any more specific?


I'll try:

I honestly know zilch about any games that are currently on the market. I like playing multiplayer and single-player (campaign?) first-person shooter war games like Halo on the XBox. I don't like playing car racing games (like GTA) or walk-around strategy games (like WoW). I don't like games that are really dark or hard to see where you are creeping around in the dark half the time (my eyes aren't great). I just googled Battlefield 3 and it looks like it would be right up my alley. Thanks for the suggestion. One question: would I be at a disadvantage in multiplayer games if I am playing at lower-quality settings, or is it more of just an eye-candy setting?
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January 28, 2013 8:50:37 PM

If you could possibly fit a 7750 into that HTPC you would have much more luck with newer games.

7750 requires no extra power cables & is a pretty fast card, Just not sure how the fit would be I know its not a very big card but bigger than the GT240 i think.

I know it means costing money but the GT240 will struggle with newer games

BF3 Multiplayer may not be pretty with a Dual core CPU though no matter what GPU you had.


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January 28, 2013 10:59:56 PM

I would swap the G620 for an i5
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January 29, 2013 12:11:36 AM

Quote:
Thats a big jump in price and we don't know what the OP wants to spend.


Ideally, I'd like to spend nothing unless I'm going to have a terrible experience with what I've got. My HTPC build is really well-balanced (the G620 and GT 240) so my fear is that if I spend a lot of money to upgrade one of those, I'm going to be bottlenecked by the other. Then if I do both, I'm looking at spending $300 on top of the parts I've already got and at that point I might as well just get an XBox 360 with all of the bells and whistles.
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January 29, 2013 12:29:18 AM

I would say the above spec is fine if you can stand lowering the res and the detail settings on a few of the more demanding titles. You might need to drop from 1080p down to 720p to get playable framerates in some games.

GTA IV for example is a bit of a system killer but if you drop the res and lower stuff to 'LOW' settings it should work. I think for the main you're going to be gaming at 720p on medium pretty much.

The Call of Duty series are actually based on a pretty old engine that's just been modded a lot so you should be able to get decent frames out of that (FPS game). Battlefield 3, erm...not so much.

If you don't mind something a little older but still good looking I'd say that Battlefield Bad Company 2 is a pretty nice game.

Also anything Unreal 3 engine should run pretty well, Borderlands (FPS), Batman AA (3rd person), Batman AC (3rd person), UT3 (fps)..........erm Transformers: War for cybertron (3rd person).
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January 29, 2013 1:40:09 AM

I would agree with joeh_87. A 7750 would be a decent upgrade. The Pentium isn't that bad. That CPU is actually better than some of the AMD FX processors for gaming. xD (Bulldozer, that is. Not Piledriver.)

I'm not sure if the 7750 would fit in your case though if it is just some sort of HTPC Micro ATX case.

With that PSU you could support up to a 7850 or so. Not sure if you want to spend that much though. 7850s are about $200. One of them would let you play BF3 on highish. Keep in mind your CPU will start to slow you down in large multiplayer matches though.

Alternatively you could just get the Xbox. Basically, ask yourself these questions:

1. How much do you care about graphics?
2. Are you interested in modding? (Both using and making.)
3. Do you have more friends on PC or Xbox?
4. What kind of games are you interested in? If all your going to be doing is playing Call of Duty or something, a console may work just as well.

That should help you decide. I have a PC and an Xbox and use both about the same. I generally prefer to play on PC for the superior graphics and mod support, but I prefer driving games and Call of Duty on console since most of my friends play console and the driving controls are better on console. (Easier since a console control stick is analog instead of just pressing A or D to go left and right.)

Hope this helps,
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January 29, 2013 12:08:22 PM

GimmeBurgerTime said:
Ideally, I'd like to spend nothing unless I'm going to have a terrible experience with what I've got. My HTPC build is really well-balanced (the G620 and GT 240) so my fear is that if I spend a lot of money to upgrade one of those, I'm going to be bottlenecked by the other. Then if I do both, I'm looking at spending $300 on top of the parts I've already got and at that point I might as well just get an XBox 360 with all of the bells and whistles.



if anything the GT240 is bottlenecking the G620 atm in my opinion, as Voiidwulf said the Pentium is not a bad CPU at all, and a GT240 is pretty horrible gaming terms

a 7750 might set you back £90 but i'd rather buy one of those than a Xbox.

as Voiidwulf says your PSU is capable of up to a 7850 but that's a pretty big card have one myself and doubt it will fit into a HTPC

I would measure your space and choose between a 7770 or 7750 if i was you.

even then you may have spare cash to buy an I3 which would also be a viable upgrade.

That's if you're willing to really spend that on an HTPC!
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a b 4 Gaming
January 29, 2013 12:39:43 PM

Heat may become a factor. HTPC cases weren't designed for gaming. They are geared more toward running cool and quiet.
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January 29, 2013 1:38:21 PM

Hawkeye22 said:
Heat may become a factor. HTPC cases weren't designed for gaming. They are geared more toward running cool and quiet.



True. We will definitely need to know his case.
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January 29, 2013 2:31:02 PM

Thanks for all of the info!


voiidwulf said:
True. We will definitely need to know his case.



I don't think space will be a concern: I have an Antec NSK4480 w/ an upgraded PSU. I am worried about an increase in noise, however.

It is sounding like the consensus is I should upgrade my video card. Any reason for choosing AMD over nVidia?
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January 29, 2013 4:28:28 PM

GimmeBurgerTime said:
Thanks for all of the info!





I don't think space will be a concern: I have an Antec NSK4480 w/ an upgraded PSU. I am worried about an increase in noise, however.

It is sounding like the consensus is I should upgrade my video card. Any reason for choosing AMD over nVidia?



enough space in that for most GPUS within reason.

Only problem I see if you was to buy a 7850 / Nvidias equivalent(budget gone) your CPU would be a huge bottleneck MAINLY in battlefield 3 multi player even people with I3's struggle in Battlefield 3 multiplayer mainly because Frostbite engine really relies on 4 physical cores. could get away with 3 cores but 4 is recommended for optimal performance (I don't call 30fps Optimal :D )

most other games at the moment you may just get away with for now with the dual core Pentium

as for your noise issue, Modern GPU's are fine up to 100ish oc I cannot see you reaching that anytime :)  7850 @ 20% fan speed is silent and it's actually very quiet till about 60% then it starts to get loud. (Dual fan card)
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January 29, 2013 9:24:14 PM

GimmeBurgerTime said:
Thanks for all of the info!





I don't think space will be a concern: I have an Antec NSK4480 w/ an upgraded PSU. I am worried about an increase in noise, however.

It is sounding like the consensus is I should upgrade my video card. Any reason for choosing AMD over nVidia?


Yeah, that case is definitely big enough for a 7850. We are suggesting AMD cards over nVidia because right now they have the best deals in that price range. If you were $300+ we would probably be recommending nVidia most of the time.

As joeh_87 mentioned, you will run into trouble with BF3 MP on large maps with a lot of people. You might have to stick with like 32 players or less.
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January 29, 2013 11:31:45 PM

voiidwulf said:
Yeah, that case is definitely big enough for a 7850. We are suggesting AMD cards over nVidia because right now they have the best deals in that price range. If you were $300+ we would probably be recommending nVidia most of the time.

As joeh_87 mentioned, you will run into trouble with BF3 MP on large maps with a lot of people. You might have to stick with like 32 players or less.



OK, I think I've settled on purchasing a 7850 2GB with dual fans once I catch a good deal. I can possibly repurpose an i5-2400 that's currently in my number-cruncher (sacrificing work for games, good lord) if I'm having problems with my G620.

This way I know I'll have enough room for my TV tuner card, etc. in the case. If I'm still into gaming a couple years down the road, I could crossfire another 7850 for cheap and just turn it into a full-blown gaming rig, and then build a tiny HTPC for media and server duties.
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January 29, 2013 11:36:19 PM

Sounds good. Have fun. :D 
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January 30, 2013 2:21:43 AM

I don't know what peoples beef with the bulldozer is, I can run any game on highest settings with literally no problem and decent fps on an overclocked 4100 :p 
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January 30, 2013 7:31:12 PM

Why pay extra when my FX keeps up with most i5s ... People who buy intel have more money than sense :p 
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January 30, 2013 9:23:59 PM

Rusty1983 said:
I don't know what peoples beef with the bulldozer is, I can run any game on highest settings with literally no problem and decent fps on an overclocked 4100 :p 


Lol, let's not turn this into an Intel vs AMD thread.

We aren't making stuff up Rusty. It is fact. Benchmarks show that the Pentiums beat the Bulldozers. They are cheaper too.

Plus there is no way you "run any game on highest settings with literally no problem and decent fps". You have a GTX 560 and 4GB of RAM. Even if you had a hexacore i7 at 1000GHz you wouldn't be able to run any game at max settings with a 560.
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January 30, 2013 9:41:35 PM

voiidwulf said:
Lol, let's not turn this into an Intel vs AMD thread.

We aren't making stuff up Rusty. It is fact. Benchmarks show that the Pentiums beat the Bulldozers. They are cheaper too.

Plus there is no way you "run any game on highest settings with literally no problem and decent fps". You have a GTX 560 and 4GB of RAM. Even if you had a hexacore i7 at 1000GHz you wouldn't be able to run any game at max settings with a 560.



Every game that I have tried has ran very smoothly, and there are very few that I have not tested, believe what you want.
And as for intel chips being cheaper!!, where is this information coming from? Intel chips are notoriously more expensive than AMD.
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January 31, 2013 5:39:57 PM

The 360's Xbox Live probably won't last much longer if the long awaited xbox 720 comes out, so if you want to play for awhile you should go PC.
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January 31, 2013 9:56:16 PM

^ True. In the same way, he should probably wait for the GTX 7__s and Radeon 8___s.
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February 1, 2013 7:57:29 PM

My backup computer is running a Core2 duo E6750 (2.6Ghz) and a GT 240 and it games. It will play Just Cause 2 and Portal 2 with the eye-candy turned down.
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