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What's the difference between an entertainment PC and game PC?

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August 19, 2007 9:27:48 PM

I am looking to build my new PC as the last one I built was 4-5 years ago. I am a little puzzle about the difference between the so called entertainment and game. I want my PC to be able to:

1. ample of CPU power and memory so I can run applications like CS3;
2. quiet, as my aging PCs are a little too noisy that is becoming annoying;
3. connect to XBOX-360 as the media center;
4. stay ahead of the curve so I can use it for the next few years, just like the one I built in 2003;

Please share your experiences with me so I can make a right decision.

Thanks in advance.
August 19, 2007 9:45:07 PM

An entertainment PC is probably a silent PC (not necessarily powerful) used to watch movies (Standard def or high definition), with a good sound system hooked up to it, and a big screen TV for best playback experience.

A gaming PC is not necessarily silent (doesn't mean it can't be), but it's a very powerful machine, especially (and obviously) for graphic intensive applications (games) and performance all around, it's probably quite a few generations ahead of the average joe's standard PC.

One thing that has me puzzled is why would you want to use an Xbox 360 if you get a gaming PC? I mean it's fine to play sports or fighting games with your friends on the couch, but for the really immersive titles , such as shooters, RPGs, and RTS, a PC is hands down the best (on graphics, immersion and controls). Especially since most "good" Xbox 360 titles are also being released for PC with a lesser price tag.
August 19, 2007 10:04:13 PM

I already have a Xbox 360 and I'd like to be able the beam photo, etc. to it. My understanding is that it can be done by connecting the Xbox 360 and a "media center".

I am not a gamer. The reason I thought of a gaming pc is that it's supposed to be very fast. Obviously speed is the reason of what brought gaming pc into the picture.

At top of my wish list is it must be very quiet! If I spend $1500 or so and I get a fast while noisy PC, I would be very, very disappointed.

Related resources
August 19, 2007 10:07:51 PM

An entertainment PC is strictly for movies and such and sitting next to the TV. It will therefore go into a HTPC case, have lots of HDD space for storage. No big amounts of RAM or CPU are required for playing movies. Any old video card or onboard video is fine. As long as it has a TV out or whatever you want. You can get HD out on video cards now. And SPDIF out onboard is fine for hooking to your home theatre receiver. Also a wireless keyboard and mouse are nice for using form the couch or even a PC remote control system.

A gaming PC on the other hand is designed for power. It needs lots of RAM but not much CPU power. It relies heavily on the video card. The bigger and more expensive the better. That can mean over $500 just for the video card. Because of the big video card you'll want a bigger PSU as well. You'll usually want a sound card as well so you don't loose CPU power to producing sound. Wired mice are better for no lag performance. You'll usually want a 5.1 computer sound system or 5.1 headphones. Lots of HDD is not required. But since you're already building a monster system might as well put a half decent CPU, an aftermarket high end cooler, overclock it, and make it pretty with a nifty $200+ case to show off to all your friends. Gamers are also usually downloaders so they put on tons of HDD. This is why Gaming computers are the cream of the crop and the most expensive. On the other hand an entertainment or HTPC is usually the cheapest and it does fine. A HTPC is usually a second cheapo PC jsut for sitting next to the PC as a TiVO.
August 19, 2007 10:13:08 PM

Well, I'll be honest then, I'm not the guy to advice you much, because I try to advice people on how to get the most performance out of each buck while choosing quality components, however I'm not really into the whole silent PC thing (just doesn't strike me as an important factor... especially since mine is probably on par with jet turbines).

The things I can advice you on is that you'll probably end up getting a liquid cooling system (Runs for about $300-350), and on the PSU, you might want to get either the Antec Phantom 500W (Incredibly silent, however not too powerful) or the Antec NeoHE series (Pretty silent and extremely powerful)
August 19, 2007 10:15:25 PM

Here is the list I come up with after doing a little research:

1. Core 2 Quad Q6600 CPU
2. Asus Striker Extreme nForce 680i SLI motherboard;
3. Zalman CNPS9700 cooler;
4. Corsai Twin2x2048 DDR2-1066 RAM (2G);
5. Asus EN8800GTS/HTDP/640M GeForce video card;

With these parts, do you think it can serve both purposes: entertainment and gaming? Most importantly, do you think it can be very quiet? :-)

thanks!
August 19, 2007 10:16:07 PM

gondo said:
An entertainment PC is strictly for movies and such and sitting next to the TV. It will therefore go into a HTPC case, have lots of HDD space for storage. No big amounts of RAM or CPU are required for playing movies. Any old video card or onboard video is fine. As long as it has a TV out or whatever you want. You can get HD out on video cards now. And SPDIF out onboard is fine for hooking to your home theatre receiver. Also a wireless keyboard and mouse are nice for using form the couch or even a PC remote control system.

not all on board video can do hd / hdcp and you will want a low end video card with dvd or hdmi + hdcp if you want to hook it to a HD TV/. Also you don't want to be taking system ram away from things like cs3 and the os for the video.
August 19, 2007 10:25:14 PM

A "Gaming" PC is not necessarily that fast.
It is "FAST" at running games due to a strong GPU.

It does not indicate that it necessarily has a top end CPU.

If you are not a gamer, spending $$$ on a top-end video card is a waste of money.

Your money would be better spent on bigger HDD, More HDDs, or many other items.
August 19, 2007 10:32:10 PM

yes, the video card I was looking into cost upward $600. I just wonder what differences it might make. I am willing to consider it because I want the PC last for another 4-5 years minimum as the one I am having now. However, I dont necessarily spend money on features I would hardly use.

I guess people change.... back then (January, March 2003) I didn't pay much attention to the noisy level. Now I become quite sensitive to it. If my current PC is a little quieter, I would be willing to hold off the upgrade....

August 19, 2007 10:32:25 PM

jjyu2000 said:
Here is the list I come up with after doing a little research:

1. Core 2 Quad Q6600 CPU
2. Asus Striker Extreme nForce 680i SLI motherboard;
3. Zalman CNPS9700 cooler;
4. Corsai Twin2x2048 DDR2-1066 RAM (2G);
5. Asus EN8800GTS/HTDP/640M GeForce video card;

With these parts, do you think it can serve both purposes: entertainment and gaming? Most importantly, do you think it can be very quiet? :-)

thanks!


The striker extreme is an overpriced crapboard with an old chipset (however it's the newest for SLI setups), you REALLY don't need a SLI board unless you're going for a dual Geforce setup. The zalman I believe is anything but silent, I think it's somewhere around 20-25dba. And for your needs the Q6600 is overkill, I'd go with a E6550. Also for your needs, the 8800GTS is simply too much, go for something along the lines of a X1950 Pro or 7900GS.
August 19, 2007 10:36:49 PM

==== One thing that has me puzzled is why would you want to use an Xbox 360 if you get a gaming PC? ===

Yeah., I was wondering about that too :) 

I think a good entertainment PC these days is something with a modest CPU and a modest video card but with hardware support for high-def in the card, and quiet. For example E6400/8500GT. Of course, such a thing wouldn't be good for games.

August 19, 2007 10:39:49 PM

IMO E6400 is way too much for an HTPC, it wouldn't really need the help of the 8500GT. We're talking along the lines of a Pentium 4/Sempron/celeron with a 8500GT/8400GS/HD2400 Pro.
August 19, 2007 10:41:38 PM

I chose striker extreme is because its ability to OC, which I haven't done anything at all in three PCs I've built in the last 7 years. Looking into 8800GTS is because the speed, RAM, and its gaming capability which I might, or might not benefit....

On the CPU side I think I do want to keep the Q6600. Shortly after I built my 2.4G box, I've seen a number of new, more powerful CPU came out from both camp. I feel like I am very under-powered, :-). In the applications I use everyday, I dont feel much except the RAM I use is not the DDR but single DR. With the background, you might understand better why I choose the "high end" parts as I dont want to be let behind again (or too quickly).

What's your choose of CPU cooler for Duo Quad 6600? and what PS should I consider?

thanks.
August 19, 2007 10:49:09 PM

Striker Extreme is a decent OC'er, but not worth paying $300 for it, ESPECIALLY when you can buy a GA-P35-DS3R with equal/better OC'bility for only $130, I told you, ASUS overprices their boards to a ridiculous extent.

If you think you'll be gaming, then get the 8800GTS, however don't get them from ASUS, get them from a decent manufacturer like eVGA, BFG, or XFX. Other than that, I'll go for 2GB Crucial Ballistix DDR2 800 or 1066, even though Corsair XMS2 is amazing, I prefer Crucial Ballistix just a tid bit more.

I'd go with the Tuniq Tower 120 for CPU cooling, simply because it's a beast and the best at what it's supposed to do, and as far as PSUs are concerned, go for an Antec Neo (500/550W) or Corsair HX (520) series will power any single card setup just fine, however if you have plans for a SLI setup, then get a PC Power & Cooling Silencer 750W or an Antec TruePower Quattro 850/1000W.

Also, if you are planning for a dual card setup, do not go for an Asus Crapper Extreme, the best SLI board out there right now is the eVGA 680i.
August 19, 2007 11:00:25 PM

ASUS overpriced? it looks like it. Each time when I identify a board I like, I always find its price is in $200 range. I can't help wondering what kind of differences it make from the rest of the choices, just like I am not sure if my selection is the right choice before posting a question here.

I have no problem to use Crucial's RAM as I used them before. How to make the PC a little quiet? Should I consider water cooling? I am a little concerned with the complexity when installing the "water". Any idea what I should do with that?

I think the sources of the noisy from my current box is:

1. CPU fan,
2. PS fan, may be;
3. HD (I use mobile rack so the insulation is not always good.);

Speaking of mobile rack, I want to share this with all of you that it has served me very well. I have mobile racks installed in my both PCs and own 20+ HD. Each time I want to "experiment" something new, I put in a HD into the tray so I dont have to worry something unexpected would screw up my "production" system. :-)

Of course its not too quiet.... If I build the new box, I would use SATA, mobile rack too. Mobile rack is one of the reasons I dont have to upgrade for the last 4 years or so. Dont know how often you guys upgrade yours though.

August 19, 2007 11:05:11 PM

A $600 video card will do nothing to help you if you are not a gamer not add one day of life to your PC.

Forget trying to "Future Proof" your PC.
It's generally a waste of money and does little to help you in the future.

Buy what you need today, toss $500 in the bank ($600-Price of a good non-gamer's video card.).

Then in 2 years upgrade with the money saved.
The PCs 2 years from now will be vastly different from the ones today.

August 19, 2007 11:09:50 PM

Get an Antec NeoHE 500 or 550, I got one (not because I like silent, but because I needed a high performing PSU) and I was unpleasantly surprised with how silent it was... I mean... If im buying something for my jet turbine I better hope it adds more dbas to that tornado-like computer :p . On another note, it powers my 8800GTS system flawlessly (And still got current to spare).

Umm about HSFs, the Tuniq is a cooling behemoth, but it can also be tuned down to a nearly silent mode (~1000 rpm).

And ASUS is not only overpriced these days, but their boards keep showing with these idiotic (for lack of a better word) incompatibilities with ram, power supplies (yeah... believe it), and other stuff that for an extremely overpriced board ($220-230...) shouldn't even exist.
August 19, 2007 11:13:05 PM

I consider my PC to be an "entertainment PC".


Left monitor is a 20" LCD(1680x1050) middle monitor 22" LCD(1680x1050) and right monitor is 17" LCD(1280x1024)
AMD Athlon X2 4800+ @ 2.6GHz :( 
2GB PC3200 (2-3-3-6)
eVga Geforce 8800GTX
eVga Geforce 8600GT
Creative X-Fi Xtreme Music with Creative 5.1 surround sound
BFG AGEIA PhysX
PowerColor Theater Pro 550 PCIe 1x

Also, I'm running XP Media Center 2005 so I've got my Xbox360 connected through Media Center Extender.
August 19, 2007 11:16:25 PM

@Emp: OK, a bit off-topic here, does this apply to Asus video cards too, or DVD burners? Specifically Asus 8800 Ultra and DRW-1814BLT, are those quality products worth the price?

@Heyyou: wow... Let me guess, movie on the left and game on the center, but what's the right monitor for?
August 19, 2007 11:26:57 PM

So Antec NeoHE 550 can power 8800GTS fine? I was thinking of something in 750W range. Dont want to cause power outage in my neighborhood when I turn on my PC, :-).

ASUS definitely is getting pricy over the years. My boxes are P4B533E (2.4G 1G RAM), and P4B8X Deluxe 2.66G running Fedora 6. The board are getting more expensive each time I look at them. On the other hand, until I identify another board with the same level of confidence or comfort, I might have to put them at top of the list. What do you use? Anything good to recommend?

And any thought on water cooling?
August 19, 2007 11:27:04 PM

So Antec NeoHE 550 can power 8800GTS fine? I was thinking of something in 750W range. Dont want to cause power outage in my neighborhood when I turn on my PC, :-).

ASUS definitely is getting pricy over the years. My boxes are P4B533E (2.4G 1G RAM), and P4B8X Deluxe 2.66G running Fedora 6. The board are getting more expensive each time I look at them. On the other hand, until I identify another board with the same level of confidence or comfort, I might have to put them at top of the list. What do you use? Anything good to recommend?

And any thought on water cooling?
August 19, 2007 11:29:24 PM

oh sweet, its all about triple monitors
August 19, 2007 11:32:23 PM

aevm said:
but what's the right monitor for?
You know, even I haven't figured that out yet. :lol: 
August 19, 2007 11:42:11 PM

I can pull the DVD writer from my existing boxes. That's why I didn't include them....



August 19, 2007 11:45:13 PM

The Antec NeoHE 500 is powering MY GTS just fine and got a LOT of extra current, Antec NeoHE 500 has an output current of 38A constant, any GTX based system fully loaded needs around 28-30A to be on the safe side. So yeah, it gots more than enough juice. Water cooling is not my area of expertise, so I rather not comment, I just recommend buying Danger Den products? I've heard they're good.

@aevm: I would've bought ASUS stuff maybe... 2-3 years ago, but I wouldn't buy any of their products now, their crapboards are so overpriced and full of problems that I just steer clear from them, their video cards can be faulty or fine, but there are better manufacturers like XFX, BFG, and eVGA... so why bother taking chances? And I can't comment on optical drives.
August 20, 2007 12:01:29 AM

That's a messy desktop... and I need a screen too :)  still playing on the old 17" CRT. On another note, my mobo is my PC's achilles heel, I got it on a moment of desperation, the only plus of it is that it's rock stable because it's an intel mobo (however you can't OC or anything), it's a D946GZIS.
August 20, 2007 12:09:34 AM

yeah ... i work hard. :-).

do you think Tuniq is better than Zalman CNPS9700? I am a little surprised by the size of them. Compared to the old days (4 years ago), these are HUGE. I really need to pick something quiet.... if water is doable and the result is far better than any other choices, i am willing to consider it.
August 20, 2007 12:11:04 AM

The Tuniq is god... the best and simply the best. The zalman is probably on Top 20 though.
August 20, 2007 12:14:23 AM

thank you. i thought zalman could make it to top 5.... now it is slipping. i will take a closer look at Tuniq. Any advice about water cooling?
August 20, 2007 3:55:26 AM

jjyu2000 said:
Here is the list I come up with after doing a little research:

1. Core 2 Quad Q6600 CPU
2. Asus Striker Extreme nForce 680i SLI motherboard;
3. Zalman CNPS9700 cooler;
4. Corsai Twin2x2048 DDR2-1066 RAM (2G);
5. Asus EN8800GTS/HTDP/640M GeForce video card;

With these parts, do you think it can serve both purposes: entertainment and gaming? Most importantly, do you think it can be very quiet? :-)

thanks!


Avoid the Striker because it's overpriced and buggy. Get a P5N32-E SLI instead.

Reducing noise:

Avoid the Zalman, it can reach 62 dB under load, it's not a good choice for quiet PCs. Get a Thermalright Ultra 120 Extreme or a Tuniq Tower or a Scythe Ninja, with a fan from Noctua or Scythe.

Replace your case fans with S-Flex fans if they are noisy.

Get a case with soundproofing foam in the panels, like Antec P182.

Get a quiet PSU, like Corsair 620HX or PC Power & Cooling Silencer or Seasonic (not sure the PC P&C fits in P182).

Avoid Raptor or Barracuda drives.

Get a quiet DVD-RW drive. TBH can't help you here, I got an LG-H62N and I'm not 100% happy. It's an excellent drive but it makes more noise than I expected. Maybe somebody can help us here: what would be a quiet DVD drive, preferably without rip-lock?

Get a BFG video card, they have quieter coolers than others. I have a BFG 8800 GTX OC2 and can't hear it. All I hear is airflow from the case fans, and the LG drive when it has a disk inside. eVGA also does well in reviews from this point of view, at least for the GTX. Sorry I didn't do any research on the noise levels of GTS cards.

Good luck!

August 20, 2007 4:57:07 AM

I might as well drop in my $0.02 since I will be will building a new silent HTPC to replace my current 4 year old HTPC next year.

A Quad Core is probably over the top for your purposes since games are more GPU limited than CPU limited. I would drop down to a Duo Core because it will produce less heat and if you do not overclock then it will be possible to passively cool it. Thus, you will have one less fan to cause noise.

Since you want to game and have a 8800GTS you will need to deal with noise because they are a bit noisy. You might want to use an after market GPU cooler if the stock cooler is too loud. An example would be the Thermaltake CL-G0099. Also note that the 8800 series has no video decoding hardware to offload video decompression from the CPU, unlike the slower 8500/8600 series.

For the power supply, I would actually recommend a Seasonic S12 or Corsair HX (made by Seasonic) PSU. Antec contracts out their some of their PSUs to Seasonic, but Antec generally uses lower quality components to cut down on costs. Seasonic S12 PSUs are very quiet, I have the S12 500 in my PC, which I cannot hear over the GPU fan.

Whatever case you plan on using, I would simply throw away the fans that comes with it because they will most likely be loud for a "silent" system. You should choose a case that uses 120mm fan since they need to spin slower to move the same amount of air as a 90mm or 80mm fan. I have a tough time looking for a case with 120mm fans for my HTPC requirement so I will most likely need to buy quiet 90mm or 80mm fans. Some quiet fan brands are Nexus, Scythe, GlobalWin, and Noctua.

As for hard drives, you will have some decent choices. Samsung Spinpoints are the quietest hard drives you can buy. Hiowever, their performance is merely average. Western Digital 7200 drives are only slightly louder than Spinpoints, but have better performance.

---------------------------------------------------------

As for my next HTPC, I am basically going to take the MSI motherboard, C2D E6600, Seasonic S12 500, Scythe Ninja Heatsink, and RAM from my current PC and dump it in a HTPC case. I will simply build a more powerful primary gaming rig.

My HTPC will be used to watch movies/video and listen to music. I really doubt I will play games.

Since I need to fit the HTPC in a confined space I will probably buy the SILVERSTONE SST-LC17-B Black Aluminum case. But I am not too happy about it 'cause it uses two 80mm fans. But it does have plenty of drive bay that I will be using.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811163055

The 80mm fans that comes with the case will most likely be too loud for my taste, I will replace them with a pair of Nexus 80 mm Real Silent Case Fans.

http://www.endpcnoise.com/cgi-bin/e/std/sku=nexus80mm.html

Since I will not be overclocking the E6600 in the HTPC, I will remove the 120mm Scythe Fan from the heatsink, thus silently cooling the CPU. Yay, less noise.

Since this is a media PC I will be dumping a lot of data on this PC. For storage my plan is to RAID up to four Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000 1TB drives. I will initially only install two of theses drives in a RAID 1 setup, but when I run out of space, I will drop in another pair of 1TB drives. For the OS and temporary data, I'll probably just use a 160GB Spinpoint hard drive which is nice an quiet.

Here are some hard drive specs from an Anandtech review, the Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000 is both relatively quiet and cool:

http://www.anandtech.com/storage/showdoc.aspx?i=3061&p=5

Because I will most likely not play games I will probably just drop in a GeForce 8600GT/GTS or whatever replaces them by the time I am ready to by a new HTPC. As I stated before, the 8500/8600 series has hardware for video decoding, while the 8800 series do not. The 8600GTS will allow me play some games just in case I decide to.

I'm selecting nVidia over ATI 'cause traditionally over the last 3 (at least) generations of video cards, nVidia video cards tends to consume less power which means they produce less heat. Less heat means I can slow down the fans to reduce noise.
August 21, 2007 12:42:02 AM

thank you all for the inputs. i think i now have a much better idea about what i need. i will come back to update you after i build the new box. thanks again.
!