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what CPU for a net/gaming cafe?

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January 17, 2006 1:34:15 PM

Hi lads,

I m thinking seriously to get into the netcafe's business with 2 good friends, and i need your valuable advice.

What CPU or machine type should I go generally with?
Mostly it will be LANparty gaming, the stuff youngsters do play these days.
COD2, NFSU, etc..

My choice are:
1. AMD good price, low consumption (energy is very important when u got 100 PC's running) but seems AMD is leaving socket 939, so very soon machines will be obsolete and that means lost money..

2. Intel... but what CPU of all P4's would be good (not best) in gaming and not that much.. and then with which chipset to combine it so next generation will run these CPU's. i915 maybe?
I was also thinking of getting cheap IBM series machines with a decent P4 and then add byself a good graphics card..

I got lots of reading days now to catch-up with you guys.
Any suggestions are very welcome!

More about : cpu net gaming cafe

January 17, 2006 2:08:44 PM

If it were me, i'd price out something from Dell, for the warrenty and support. A gaming solution obviously...

Someone else would have to do a P4 system, because i couldn't build you one, so i won't make suggestions here.



You have two options with AMD in my mind.


Option 1

-3200+ or 3500+ (prices may very well fall when m2 is announced)
-939 socket, non sli, pci-e board; use onboard snd if you use a MSI w/onbd sound blaster, or buy a cheap sb solution otherwise; there's nothing more irritating than a machine that gives scratchy sound during a game; make sure extra sb card is in the first or second slot*; pick a mobo with onbd gigabit (almost every nf4 chipset has gb)
-2x1024mb ddr if you're going to run BF2 (will save you $ in the long run, as games get bigger and bigger...), otherwise 2x512 (cheaper now, but may cost you in performance if you're forced to put another set of 2x512 in...another 2x512 would force you to change the speed the ram runs at, to a slower speed from 400 to 333)
-80gb 8mb sata (i recommend WD and Seagate; 7200rpm; I luv WD's raptor line...but that's a bit more expensive)
-6800gs
-sonata case, looks good and has good cooling.
-350w+ 24-pin psu

*-does not apply if you have msi onboard solution...

Option 2

-wait until the next socket comes out...M2 for cpu and mobo...same deal with sound
-2x1024mb ddr if you're going to run BF2 (will save you $ in the long run, as games get bigger and bigger...), otherwise 2x512 (cheaper now, but may cost you in performance if you're forced to put another set of 2x512 in...another 2x512 would force you to change the speed the ram runs at, to a slower speed from 400 to 333)
-80gb 8mb sata
-6800gs
-sonata case, looks good and has good cooling.
-350w+ 24-pin psu


Extras:
-I'd recommend you put together a ghost server as well, seperate from the server stations hosting your games.
-You don't have to use a sound blaster sound card, but it's about the best in the buisness right now.
-Server solution...dual cpu or dualcore cpu...Win 2003 server over Linux based...I have to promote AMD's server side (opteron), they just outperform Intel in 90% of the app's out there. You'll want a fast hd solution, for loading maps...raid 5 over raid 0, or 0+1; scsi raid over sata raid (however sata is getting better...); ram 2gb. Probably want 2-3 servers for 100 people. 1gb over 100mb network for best response times, but is a bit higher cost for the hardware, wiring is the same, cat 5e or 6.
-surround sound headphones, or stereo speakers...headphones will get torn up fairly quickly and are more expensive...perhaps a high end section with the srs headphones, higher end cpu 4000+ and graphics 7800...


Edit: One more thing...it makes sense to buy two or more *levels* of computer power, so you only have to replace/upgrade half of the computers the next time. It's the same % of money spent, but it's spent over a greater period of time, rather then one giant purchase. We have similiar issues here, where we bought 200 computers for a site one year, and 3 years later we have to buy another 200. It's easier to get funding for 75 every year, then 200 every 3.
January 17, 2006 2:41:40 PM

The P4 mobile chip is definately better on energy savings, and in the long run would save you money there.

While this is a way to go, i'd be wary of a newer design (edit: in regards to the mobo, not the CPU)...If you went this direction, i would definately try to work out a special Tech Support specifically for this product, just in case.

Also something i didn't say anything about, was montiors...19in is about the best size, 17 will be a lot cheaper though. CRT vs LCD...CRT is still better for gaming where there are dark area's on the screen. However, an LCD would save you alot of money in terms of power. So the next question is this...Is an LCD going to affect game play so much that people refuse to play on them? Some people would... Some won't care, and some games won't be affected. Also, LCD's in terms of quality, and end of life. I currently run about 8 labs, which have between 8 and 30 computers in them. It's about half and half lcd vs crt. I'm replacing more LCD's then CRT's, but they're all still under warrenty so it hasn't cost the college a dime so far... However, the LCD's are newer then the CRT's... However, LCD's look more professional, and would serve as a draw... Something to keep in mind.
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January 17, 2006 2:47:01 PM

Maybe you could have it split into several tiers, with customers having the option of paying less for a computer using Dothan w/GF6600 or paying for for a Venice w/7800GT?

That said, C|Net considers the M Desktops worthy of praise. They are just what you need IMO.
a b à CPUs
January 17, 2006 3:04:47 PM

Well if your serious the first thing you probably want to do is go to a few net/gaming cafe's and see what type of PC they are using. Check out the specs play some of the popular games and gauge there performace. Then talk to the player see what they think about the system (performance wise) and then talk with the workers/owners at the shop and try to find out why they select those models of PC and if they have an upgrade schedule.

But getting back to CPU you may want to take into consideration buying a "build" machine (weather you build it or not) which you probably have to buy out right or a lease PC (like something from dell) in which you tend to have upgrade routes. Also if you build your PC you have to think about upkeep I mean if your PC dies and you have to replace part how quickly can you do this, if you build the PC will you be able to find the part close enough to the orignal for a clone to work with out much effort.

Hmm sorry seem to keep going off in a tangent, any way I would say if you go with AMD you want to use the 939, and a name brand MB with good supply and build in gigalan connection and sound as others have suggested.

If you go with a P4 brand name I would suggest going with dell brand my self just because the new machine are much easer to replace parts (access wise) compaired to most IBM (however this maybe a case by case issue) unless you plan to use an OS other than Windows (IBM is very good at providing drivers for many different OS on where PC where dell is only Windows for the most part)

Realy for a net cafe you can get away with just a meduim proforming machine. Since "hardcore" player would have there own PC anways so your realy trying to impress any one just trying to provide good gamming. You could still have a few premuim machine that you could charge more for and possible use for special events. I think you should have the following goals though:

At least 1024x768 res with meduim setting for your "big draw games"
2 gigs of ram for each machine
64 bit processor
6800 GS card or better for standard machines
Gigalan port
80HD sata

Good luck
January 17, 2006 3:42:57 PM

I really think you could actually save the 2GB and put a dual-channel 2x512. I play Battlefield 2 with 1GB DDR400 RAM on a AMD64 Winchester and don't think it's slow at all...
The extra GB is kind of expensive if ur buying 50+ computers...
a b à CPUs
January 17, 2006 4:59:20 PM

"1. AMD good price, low consumption (energy is very important when u got 100 PC's running) but seems AMD is leaving socket 939, so very soon machines will be obsolete and that means lost money.."

Socket M2 will also implement DDR2, and debut with a speed bump or two of the newest processors to accompany it, but a new socket will not make all of your existing socket 939 mbs and cpus perform any less efficiently. (Beyond the processor speed increases, there's no gauruntee that socket M2 will be *any* faster over todays NF4/PC3200 rigs....)

For internet/web surfing, a Via MB with integrated video/sound/LAN would do just fine, and you could equip a few, or several, machines for 3d gaming with 6800GS cards, mor ethan adequate for frag fun...
January 17, 2006 7:01:02 PM

Isn't it hard to run that bussines there? I mean here it was a lot different story. Some years(5) ago when very few people had computers at all, but they somehow needed to be in touch with modern technology there were plenty of internet cafes and gameclubs and so on. Rooms full of computers. 4K internet. And people still used them.
Nowadays there are few. Generally the biggest ones survived. Just because people became aware that they can actually buy a pc with the money they've spent on internet cafes and gameclubs.
Is there really a demand for this kind of service where you live?
Advice-look at the Xerox(i know this brand sounds strange for monitors) 19" low latency monitors. They look stylish and have a protection glass. You would like to have one on every monitor there because every little kid likes to stick it's finger in the spot on the monitor it wants to show instead of verbalizing it's thoughts.
Philips HP250 is your choice for phones. Cheap. Good. Durable.
And. There's no such thing like "this pc will last me for 2-3 years" with modern games. You will always have to upgrade if you would like your customers to have a smooth game at some good details.
X800GTO for starters is not a bad idea($<performance). 7800GT-very good idea($=performance). XFX 7800 GTX 512 MB no comment($$=no graphics upgrade for a long time).
For CPU-get a Athlon 4000+ Venice core. No explanations I would like to add.
2 GB of ram will be enough for a long time(more than 8-9 months).
NF4Ultra cause of the gigabit and other stuff.
16MB cache SATA. No comment.
Pentium M does not offer EMT-64. It will soon affect modern games.
That's it. Good luck.
January 17, 2006 10:17:22 PM

there are no words to thank you guys, respect!
Topic started from CPU's (hope the mods wont get pissed, if there's a problem you can transfer where you might think it's more appropriate) and you guys covered many critial issues as CRT's, energy saving etc.

Well truth is that in Greece, such net/gaming stuff have quite a crowd coz our DSL lines etc are too pricey even for me that I work full time.
LAN just make gaming twice the fun! It's 2am here and I just came back from a netcafe, you d be suprised how many people were there playing til this time of the night.

Ok, i visited three different "competitors" and two had Athlon64's coupled with 6600GT's and the other had P4-3.0 HT with Win2000 (!) and 6600's.

Seems Athlon is the way to go.. the PentiumM sees a fantastic idea but it's more pricey than the Athlon and i dont know if those 50e margin will be saved in electricity and gaming performance.
(i have a Thinkpad with PM-1.6 and i can say it's a lovely CPU, but for gaming i m not that sure)

Thing is i can't put too expensive machines, coz first I m starting with loan for the business, so 100 machines you can understand how much money that is in 50e per CPU or 60e in graphics adapter..
Think it's your first business and you have to make smart moves..
keep costs in a normal budget..

Monitors is hard question, maybe split half-half?

And what about the server in the gaming/net-cafe?
What CPU's needed and what OS?
IBM here has good offer for a barebone P4-3.0HT server with 600e (7320 chipset), 1 GB ECC-RAM etc (do i need ECC RAM) 1 SATA disk 80GB, Broadcom Gigabit etc..

Will AMD be even a better choice for server CPU or an Intel will be quite as good? What exactly will be the server need? blood(cpu)sucking apps?

I think this is going to be an interesting topic :) 
January 17, 2006 11:20:17 PM

Quote:
Will AMD be even a better choice for server CPU or an Intel will be quite as good?

The opterons are the only way to go.
At the same time, you could save a lot of cash by getting a s939 dual core opteron chip.
January 18, 2006 4:33:54 AM

i can answer dis question

just answer a couple of mine.

MAX spending limit?
Number of PCs
How many ppl planning durin one LAN?

when do u want your business up and running?
a b à CPUs
January 18, 2006 5:27:49 AM

I see a lot of irresponsible suggestions, very few rational ones, and some unresponsive responses.

For gaming systems you're going to want to go with AMD, and you'll never want to put a Pentium M in anything because current A64's consume barely more energy and are around 1/4 the price to build.

Socket 939 going obsolete isn't a problem, just don't upgrade the machines. Really. Build them cheap, run them 1-2 years, and sell them.

You wouldn't want a retail settup because you're perfectly good at maintaining your own systems. Make them all the same and put a backup image of the drive on a portable drive. Simple, if a system crashes reload it, takes all of about 5 minutes labor and 20 minutes downtime for the machine.
January 18, 2006 6:34:11 AM

He's talking about Greece dude, Greece! The Balkans, southern part, The White sea, olives, sirtaki...
@Sokos
Most of the guys don't even realize you're not in the US. Maybe even no on the continent. And maybe they don't know that prices are a lot higher all over Europe than in the US. But I bet that prices in your neighbour country Bulgaria are just a little bit lower. So when it comes time for you to compare prices and buy just take a look at here. That's all I can help=]]
January 18, 2006 7:33:36 AM

Grab 100 AMD64 939s with the best price / performance wherever you are buying from along with the best nVidia PCI-E cards you can afford (6600GT, 6800GS/GT, 7800GT).

Then buy your own spares so you can swap parts out when they break.

I would say buy 100 HDDs to put in the systems themselves and other 20-50 spare HDDs so you can swap them out when the HDDs crash or get virused or spywared to hell!!! You can use Norton Ghost or Linux or something to fix hacked, virused or spywared windows installs.

There are reasons to try to keep all the machines identical and you can probably get a deal if you buy 120 of everything you need, however if there isn't strong demand for the high-end gaming boxes and part of your operation is just web surfing instead of gaming you obviously wouldn't need 7800GTs for that. So you have to decide whether your biz is gonna be 100% gaming or N% gaming + n% websurfing.

For the gaming machines I would suggest:
[code:1:1e9951204e]
nForce4 939

decent 939 CPUs 3500+ and up

6600GT, 6800GS/GT, 7800GT

1 or 2GB PC3200

Decent Sound Blaster or Turtle Beach sound cards and mid to high end headphones

high end optical mice (Logitech G series perhaps)

comfortable gaming keyboards

decent low latency 17" or 19" LCDs WITH screen protectors because people DESTROY stuff
[/code:1:1e9951204e]

For the non-gaming machines I would use:

[code:1:1e9951204e]
nForce4 939

lower end 939 CPUs 3000 or 3200

nVidia FX 5200 or whatever is cheapest even nVidia GeForce 2 MX4000s would do

512MB PC3200

onboard sound with the cheapest headphones you can get

generic optical mice (about $10 USD)

entry level USB keyboards (about $10 USD)

the cheapest 15" LCDs or 17" CRTs you can get your hands on just make sure they have screen protectors!!!
[/code:1:1e9951204e]

The reason why I would use nForce4 939s in the non-gaming machines is so they can be upgraded to much better AMD64 single or dual core 939s later on if it becomes necessary.

AMD has the best price performance, power efficiency and dissipates less heat so your power and air conditioning bills will be lower with AMD than with Intel.

Good luck! :D 
January 18, 2006 11:02:35 AM

Ok usage is: 80% gaming , 20% surfing, chating etc..
I think AMD is a big winner here.. as for screens, i ll follow your advice and use maybe 50-50 LCD's and CRT's.
Budget is around 100k euros (1.2 USD) for 100 PC's
(but keep in mind hardware is bit more expensive in Europe than in the US of A)

What about the server(s) guys?
Linux? Raid 0,1, 0/1, 5?
Apart from doing the game servers job, what else should they be doing?

Any good ideas for netcafe software to run the business?
January 18, 2006 11:32:37 AM

FC4 x86_64 Linux on Dual Opteron with Tyan S2882G3NR and 3ware RAID 6 ( six not five ).

You can use that as the caching name server, caching http proxy, router, firewall, anti-spyware/anti-spam/anti-virus proxy and sign-in/sign-out system.

Go to http://freshmeat.net and run a search for the software.

Good luck!
January 18, 2006 11:56:44 AM

if your really concerened about price i would try and get some sort of deal with the manufacturer if your buying alot of pcs at oncce you should be able to get big discounts also dont forget to claim back all the VAT since your running a business(actually come to think of it i dont know if you can where you live).
a b à CPUs
January 18, 2006 12:00:02 PM

I can build you 100 systems and ship them in a cargo box...
January 18, 2006 12:20:06 PM

Dang Crashman :D 

How many PCs can you build a day?

You must have a 20mil sq. ft warehouse and an army of system assemblers ;-)

Do you get your parts shipped in shipping containers?

I've never shipped anything over to that part of the world but I hear customs in some countries is vicious, like some guy from Brazil was saying customs charged a 60% tariff on everything... I dunno about Europe or VAT and whatnot.

Umm... there's another problem you may need an export license from the State Dept. to ship 100 or more powerful PCs to a foreign country like that because they could be used for all kinds of nasty things... like WMD development and such.

We certainly wouldn't want Iran getting their paws on 100 or more AMD64s. 100 AMD64s is considered a supercomputing cluster IIRC.
a b à CPUs
January 18, 2006 12:51:41 PM

I could build around 40 of those systems a day by myself. Yes, by myself. Takes only about 10 minutes to assemble them, and 1.5 hours to load test them. Overlap using multiple stations means I can do a bunch in a row.

Had I been in Las Vegas I would have one this year's PC building Race for Charity. That is, if they would have let me participate.

As for shipping, I've shipped to Europe. The large container could be a problem with the U.S., but I actually have a real business "on the down low" which I could haul out of mothballs. Furthermore, I could fake a lease program to get around most customs.
January 18, 2006 1:16:46 PM

lol

hehe

It takes me 15min per machine unless I'm building them in assembly line fashion which is faster.

I like to burn them in for at least 24-48 hours for normal machines and at least 72 hours for servers.

I hope customs doesn't read THG's forums.

Semper Fi carry on :-D
January 18, 2006 1:59:20 PM

The cost of shipping that box would probably would probably 'compensate' for the savings of having then built in America. :lol: 
Joking aside, how much would such shipping cost?
My friend is considering going into a similar venture.
January 18, 2006 2:58:44 PM

It costs about $5,000 to $8,000 USD to ship a standard 40ft container by ship from the East coast of the US to just about anywhere in the world.

That is not that bad for a shipment of 100 PCs costing about $100,000 USD

Insurance and customs is probably extra.
January 18, 2006 7:00:30 PM

Quote:
For gaming systems you're going to want to go with AMD, and you'll never want to put a Pentium M in anything because current A64's consume barely more energy and are around 1/4 the price to build.

Socket 939 going obsolete isn't a problem, just don't upgrade the machines. Really. Build them cheap, run them 1-2 years, and sell them.

You wouldn't want a retail settup because you're perfectly good at maintaining your own systems. Make them all the same and put a backup image of the drive on a portable drive. Simple, if a system crashes reload it, takes all of about 5 minutes labor and 20 minutes downtime for the machine.
I've really got to agree with Crashman here. It's very sound reasoning. I'd even take things one step further and instead of an external portable drive, I'd just try to minimize the initial setup on the drive and then Ghost the image onto a DVD. No fuss, no muss, easy restore when those hard drives get chock full of crap. Minimizing your maintanance work will no doubt save you a lot of frustration.

And whenever you need to update your software (drivers, OS, whatever) just wipe a system clean using that image, do your updates, record your new image, and update all other systems from that image.
January 19, 2006 11:52:22 AM

containers forget it, it's too much shipping costs and customs and no warantee... when price per CPU is maybe 10% more expensive from the US here in Greece, why to go into such trouble?

As for the exports laws that were mentioned, that's a joke! If bad guys want to get CPU's they can go get them from any shop, u think AMD's are only in the USA? :roll:
Dont let Bush's stupid politic games poison ur mind guys.. seems there's an awful lot of propaganda on the other side of the Atlantic..

Thanks guys for all your valuable information! I m in search now for cheapest M/B with 939 socket, AMD 64 - 3200 and GF6600GT.
Seems a good cheap combo for gaming!
!