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Gaming Computer vs. Gaming Console

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Last response: in Systems
March 5, 2008 6:11:54 PM

So I am in bad need of a computer upgrade since mine is ancient. I have wanting to get into gaming but haven't done it simply because my computer is so old. I'm looking at either building a new system built for gaming or building a new system built for word processing, internet, video capture, watching T.V., etc. and buying a gaming console to play my games on.

I'm not exactly sure what my budget is but it's in the range of $600-$800. I've got a Coolermaster Centurion Case and CoolerMaster Extreme PSU 600W. I got it before I realized CoolerMaster is a bad brand for PSUs but I got it from Newegg for the cost of shipping after MIR. The case I also got for $5 after MIR. At the same time I got a CoolerMaster Gemini II CPU cooler for free after MIR. What does everyone think about the cooling performance of the CPU cooler I got? If it sucks, it was free so I don't really care.

Here's what I've been thinking about getting:

Gigabyte P35-DS3L
Hauppauge WinTV-HVR 1600 (PCI Interface) or Hauppauge WinTV-HVR 1800 (PCI Express x1 Interface)
2x1GB Crucial Ballistix DDR2 800 RAM
Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 500GB HD

Do you think I should go with a different brand TV tuner? Also, what are people's thoughts on getting a PCI Express vs. PCI T.V. tuner?

I'm planning on reusing my old DVD burner (IDE).

The things I need the most help on is picking my video card and picking my CPU. If I go with the basic desktop I was thinking of either the E2160 or the E4500. I am leaning towards the former simply because it's $50 cheaper and I can OC it to 3.0Ghz pretty easy with my MOBO choice. Will it make a difference in a basic desktop whether I have 1MB or 2MB L2 cache? That seems to be the only real difference because I'd plan to OC both of them anyway.

As far as video cards I definitely want 2 DVI outs but for a non-gaming rig what kind of video card should I get? I'm planning on installing WinXP Pro 32 bit on my computer again once I build the system but I'd like the video card to be "future proof" enough so I can run Vista Aero well once I upgrade to Vista.

Since (according to the Tom's Wiki PSU list) I have a Tier 5 PSU should I upgrade since I'm planning on OCing no matter what kind of system I get? Or will I run into problems with my PSU in OCing?

I'd like some recommendations on CPUs and video cards for gaming given my $600-$800 budget for the entire build. It seems like I'd be better off spending $400-$500 on a computer and the rest on a gaming console. By the way, I have a 20" LCD monitor running at 1600x1200 resolution so I'd like to be able to play games in full screen mode.

I've been reading a lot of reviews on video cards and it seems like, at least on some games, the difference between two different cards at the same resolution, etc. is the difference between maybe 60fps and 75fps. I am going to notice a real world difference in getting 75fps over 60 fps? What's a good number of fps to have when it comes to real world playability? If I'm looking at a review of a video card at 1600x1200 resolution, what should the fps be in order for the game to be playable?

Thanks for all of your help.

More about : gaming computer gaming console

March 6, 2008 1:05:22 AM

Get a decent computer and a Playstation 3 my friend... You will not leave the house :) 
March 6, 2008 1:20:12 AM

That's what I'm leaning towards...getting a gaming console and a decent PC. That way I can also hang out and play games with friends on my T.V. downstairs.

Do you have any suggestions for non-gaming video cards that will run Vista Aero well? If I'm not doing gaming, how much RAM should I get? And should I get GDDR2 or GDDR3, or does it really matter? Keep in mind I'll be watching T.V. and movies on this computer too (I don't know if that makes a difference).

Thanks again.
Related resources
March 6, 2008 4:23:56 AM

the new 9600GT is apparently quite cheap and pretty powerful (targeted to mid-range users). Also take a look at maybe the 8600GT which is like $50 now.

You should only get 2Gb of memory DDR2-800.

Another upside to the playstation (if you're considering one), cheap blu-ray player, free internet play, and overall just a fine piece of console greatness.... Can you tell I just got one? :) 
March 6, 2008 4:37:47 AM

I actually was thinking about the 8600gt. My question is, should I got with 256MB RAM or 512MB RAM? And, should I go with GDDR2 or GDDR3? Obviously the DDR3 is newer and I was planning on going with that. I was looking at the EVGA branded 8600gt's from Newegg--they have 4. The 512MB versions have a Core clock of 540Mhz whereas the 256MB versions have a core clock of 684Mhz. From what I've read on here and other review sites/forums EVGA is probably the best video card manufacturer. Is this true?

And I guess I always can upgrade to a 8800gt or 9600gt video card if I want to start gaming on my computer. Or, whatever else is out when I decide to upgrade. But if I do end up getting a gaming rig, what kind of video card should I get to play at resolutions of 1600x1200 and above? I feel there's no point in getting a card that won't play at those high resolutions because those are the resolutions my monitor is at and if I get a 2nd monitor it'll be a 22"-24" widescreen, thus I'll need to run games at high resolutions.

I didn't know about the free Internet play of the PS3s Beurling. That's the thing that was steering me away from an Xbox 360--I don't want to have to pay for XBox Live.
March 6, 2008 4:40:44 AM

Beurling, I notice you have a 8800GTS 512MB video card and with that kind of card I'm assuming you game on your computer as well?

When I'm looking at reviews of video cards, what kind of FPS rates should I be looking for in terms of playability of a given card at a given resolution? Will I notice the difference between 70 FPS and 80 FPS? What would you say a minimum FPS rate would be for good playing of a game? Or does that just depend on the game?
March 6, 2008 5:16:46 AM

Anything above 30 is playable. You shouldn't notice a difference between 70 and 80.
March 6, 2008 6:06:34 AM

Don't worry about your PSU. I've got a 550w version and the voltages are spot on and rock solid. The PSU while being simple and without frills, does use high quality capacitors etc... shouldn't have any problems. Way too much hype over expensive PSU's in my opinion.
March 11, 2008 4:25:30 AM

Thanks for the help nukchebi0 and Maximus_Delta. I figured that a lot of what was going on in the PSU world is hype. And I figured that I've got a 3 year warranty and so if anything happens to it I can just send it back. And besides, I only paid $8 for it so I'm not that concerned.

Thanks for the info on the playability of games too. I just didn't want to get a new system and get a game on there and see that it was unplayable at my high resolutions because the video card wasn't good enough. I figured anything around 30-40 would be fine simply because that's what is used in TV.
March 11, 2008 5:41:48 AM

Depends if you gonna play mmorpg, fps, sim, racing, etc. with a fps your going to notice some lag at 30-40 fps these days, youll probably get tired of seeing someone run past, turn to shoot and your dead. Also worry about psu, unless your rich and can afford a cheap psu to fry your whole system, why make a computer with sub par parts? The old adage, you get way you pay for still applies, and is a good rule of thumb for building your own pc.
March 11, 2008 5:55:46 AM

utaustinstud said:
Thanks for the help nukchebi0 and Maximus_Delta. I figured that a lot of what was going on in the PSU world is hype. And I figured that I've got a 3 year warranty and so if anything happens to it I can just send it back. And besides, I only paid $8 for it so I'm not that concerned.

Thanks for the info on the playability of games too. I just didn't want to get a new system and get a game on there and see that it was unplayable at my high resolutions because the video card wasn't good enough. I figured anything around 30-40 would be fine simply because that's what is used in TV.



Generally, two things can happen when a PSU craps out.
1 - it give you warning signs and if you're smart you replace with a quality unit
2 - it doesn't give you warning signs and it fries your motherboard and possibly CPU


An 8600gt is NOT going to make games playable at 1600x1200, unless Call of Duty (the first one, from 2003) is what you plan on playing. For modern games like Call of Duty 4, Crysis, Fuel of War and similar, you need an 8800gt 512mb, which can be had for $180'ish after rebate.

A good PSU for the cheap is the Corsair 450vx at buy.com that will easily power any single card system (aside from a dual GPU card).
March 11, 2008 8:11:14 AM

why not juist scrap a games console and get a gaming PC? am i the only one who notices that the Xbox/PS3 games are WAY more expensive with crappier gfx (according to the system spec of the user ofc) than PC, whilst also not being able to do word processing? the PC iw s the way forwards...

you have the perfect bugdget base for a good gaming PC... i have similar specs for the Pc and can say it does me proud... and no, the E2160's low cache makes no percievable difference in real world apps... in games it does apparently make a difference, but legionhardware (http://www.legionhardware.com/document.php?id=653) claims this can be negated using higher clockspeeds, while Toms Hardware claims otherwise...
March 11, 2008 10:05:55 AM

Let the flame-war begin!
March 11, 2008 10:09:01 AM

The 8600GT won't be a scorching FPS gamer but it will play COD4 just fine. Just use the game optimized settings. Not my choice but several friends are using without a problem.
March 11, 2008 11:01:31 AM

beurling said:
Get a decent computer and a Playstation 3 my friend... You will not leave the house :) 


If you "really" want to game; I mean the way real gamers do; then get yourself a decent PC and forget about the console once and for all.
March 11, 2008 11:30:22 AM

Get a wii, they are simple and fun, and the cheapest. Then use the extra couple hundred bucks to get do a little better on the video card/processor combo :) 
March 11, 2008 11:30:44 AM

amd_fanboi said:
why not juist scrap a games console and get a gaming PC? am i the only one who notices that the Xbox/PS3 games are WAY more expensive with crappier gfx (according to the system spec of the user ofc) than PC, whilst also not being able to do word processing? the PC iw s the way forwards...

Please don't tell me you were implying PC gaming was cheaper. I hate consoles as much as the next PC guy, but man... as far as TCO goes, consoles are the way... and this is especially true if the next gen console has support for previous-gen titles. Look at people's sigs here... many have $1500+ rigs. In console speak that would be the console and maybe 20 games.
March 11, 2008 2:54:32 PM

rodney_ws you could easily spend that 1500 dollars on a console also over the years, games being 60 bucks a pop and all, plus a 300 dollar console, its just with computers you need that money now, not later on down the life of the console.
March 12, 2008 3:12:06 AM

So if I go with an 8800GT, which one should I get? I was looking at the Tom's VGA charts and the 8800GT looked impressive in the FPS realm using high quality settings (which is what I'd use) but what kind of computer did they use to get those FPS rates? I don't want to get a $200 video card only to find out my performance on gaming is being bottlenecked by my CPU.

Also, the one Tom's used on the charts is an OCed version--660 Mhz and 1900 Mhz which will obviously produce better results than the standard version.

Some questions:

1. How hard is it to OC your video card? And if I do OC it, will I need to purchase a after-market GPU cooler?
2. If I OC it, what will happen to the warranty? I've read most manufacturers will void the warranty--except with XFX and EVGA (correct me if I'm wrong).
3. Should I just go with the cheapest model? Is the only difference between the cards beyond whether they're OCed and by how much, price?

Thanks for ya'lls help.
March 12, 2008 3:21:05 AM

blacksci: I definitely understand the old adage of "you get what you pay for" but is a 600W CoolerMaster PSU bad? I read on Tom's Wiki that you should NEVER buy a CoolerMaster PSU but then I read a review on Tom's where they used a CoolerMaster PSU. I think it was in the same product line as mine, only that one had 1000W vs. my 600W.

And, the PSU I have right now is going for $80 on Newegg and it seems to get at least decent reviews (65% are 4 or 5 eggs) and so I guess I just don't understand how an $80 PSU that gets fairly good reviews (the main complaints are the noise and I have had none of that) could be bad? Sure I paid only S&H for it but that's because of a good sale price and a great MIR.
March 12, 2008 9:14:36 AM

for a start don't really trust shop reviews... they can be an iffy source of info...
March 12, 2008 6:42:13 PM

I personally would go with antec, they have quality products, a high efficency rating, great customer service, and good warranties, the psu is nice and heavy and i have never seen a complaint about them, its what i use myself.
March 12, 2008 7:20:13 PM

Personally...
Console = sports games
Computer = everything else

exceptions out there as always
March 12, 2008 7:24:57 PM

Console is also nice for driving games too, i prefer by far to play racing games on console then pc, I can get a better "feel" of the car that way.
March 12, 2008 7:44:55 PM

consoles always seem like the newbie gamers choice.

For example: Halo comes out... and suddenly EVERYONE is a "gamer".

Ill stick to the mouse and keyboard.

Plus you can mod your PC to your liking without voiding some warrenty, or worry about getting kicked off xboxlive
March 12, 2008 8:25:12 PM

vangvace said:
Personally...
Console = sports games
Computer = everything else

exceptions out there as always


Console = JRPGs
Computer = Western RPGs.

Consoles are also better with fighting games (unless you count MUGEN).
PCs are infinitely better with FPSes, though.
March 12, 2008 9:35:31 PM

Get the 8800GTS (G92)....price has droped alot in the past month,they were $220 last week.

There are free coverter programs that will let you copy and run the consol stuff on your computer.
March 12, 2008 10:22:05 PM

skittle said:
consoles always seem like the newbie gamers choice.

For example: Halo comes out... and suddenly EVERYONE is a "gamer".

Ill stick to the mouse and keyboard.

Plus you can mod your PC to your liking without voiding some warrenty, or worry about getting kicked off xboxlive

Couldn't agree more ;) . Although you can be IP blocked depending on the game,etc...
March 12, 2008 10:48:26 PM

Consoles for anything local-multiplayer (nothing like a few rounds of Smackdown or Smash Bros. with friends).
Computers for anything else
March 13, 2008 3:09:43 AM

blacksci: I believe I've used Antecs in the past and they've all been great. I guess my question is: "How do I judge a power supply?" I look on review sites and obviously not every PSU is tested and not every model is tested. I bought the CoolerMaster because I needed a new PSU because my old one was dying and I didn't have much money to spend at the time and I needed one QUICK. I also thought "hey, CoolerMaster makes some decent coolers and fans and so I thought they were a 'reputable' brand.

If I go into my local computer store and look at PSUs what do I look for? I know that you should look for one that's heavy but it seems like there are good PSUs out there that aren't $150. I desire a good value on my PSU--NOT a cheap one. It's true you get what you pay for in PSUs but with all these sales and MIRs it's hard to tell what's good and what's not. PLUS you can't exactly open up the PSU in the store to look at the quality of the capacitors. And even if you could I wouldn't know how to tell the difference.

And as for a gaming computer vs. a gaming console it seems to me that a console is better for some games than others. From the little gaming I've done I'm not a big FPS fan on consoles. But I also really like having friends over and playing games and I feel that's easier done in your living room on a big screen T.V. vs. a 20" monitor in your office. I really couldn't agree more with heartburnkid.
March 13, 2008 9:35:13 PM

The 3 things i looked for when i bought my power supply was this, 1. whats is the efficency, if that power supply has a higher efficency rating, it has quality parts. 2. What do there waranties look like? a reputable power supply will have a good warranty, anyone who makes crap wont stand by there product. 3. I trolled in forums for 3 months looking at peoples reviews. reallife experience in my opinion beats any test hands down, see what people are saying about it in the newegg reviews, computer enthusiasts are quick to say if a power supply is crap or not, since we all want to protect our investment and get the best experience possible, corsair is also a good brand, with antec, and also ocz, these are my personal top choices. All three have great warranties, and have been known to put out a quality product, i would stay away from thermaltake and roswell, as both seem to have a 50/50 chance of the power supply making it past your first month, but read customer reviews, no one knows it better, or is going to tell it to you straight like us customers, after all, we all get pretty pissed if a product is sub-par.

As a side note, try fps on the comp if you havent already, i find it a much more enjoyable experience with a mouse then a controller.
March 14, 2008 3:42:35 AM

Once again, thanks for your help blacksci.

I've been reading some reviews on PSUs on Jonnyguru and one thing he says in one of the reviews is you can't really judge a PSU by brand alone. He reviewed a CoolerMaster PSU and he gave it a good review yet on the tiered list of PSU makers that Tom's Wiki has, it says CoolerMaster is tier 5 and you should never buy one.

I think my main problem with selecting a PSU is finding a review. It seems most of the reviews I've seen are for either 450W and below PSUs or for PSUs that are 750W and above. And I don't need a 750W PSU but I think I'll need more than a 450W one especially if I get an 8800GT or 8800GTS.

Do you think a 600W PSU will be enough if I get into OCing if I only have one video card? Or will I need to upgrade to a 650W or 700W one?

Thanks again for ya'lls help.
March 14, 2008 3:48:06 AM

Well im running a antec earthwatts 500 w psu with quad, a 8800gts, 4 gigs of ram, 2 harddrives and a antec 900 case, everything works fine for me, and my quad is overclocked to 3 gigs, so if you dont plan on runnin anything more intensive then that, i think you should be fine, for this system i knew i needed 500w to 550w anything more and i was just throwin money out the door.
March 14, 2008 5:30:00 AM

Thanks for the help. Obviously the more powerful the PSU the more expensive but I guess it's just hard to know how much to get. The calculator that many people post links to told me I needed like 750W for my system and I plugged in that I was running a Core 2 Duo OCed to like 3.5Ghz, 4 gigs ram, 3 hard drives, and a few fans & USB devices, and one 8800GT I think and that just seemed like overkill. And I used all the recommended settings (I think I did anyway).

What is the general consensus on here about reviews from www.thinkcomputers.org and www.hi-techreviews.com? I googled my PSU (the coolermaster) and found a review of it on those sites and they both seemed to like it. But again, I'm not sure if they're that reliable when it comes to reviewing things.
March 14, 2008 7:05:57 AM

Honestly, if you're not going to play games on your PC, there's no reason to use windows. Ubuntu linux has everything you need out of the box + desktop effects that puts vista aero to shame, real big shame. I can run ubuntu 7.10 with 3d desktop and rotate the desktop cube at 40+ fps on an athlon tbird 1ghz and a ATI 9100pro.

Here's some videos on what desktop effects you can use:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4QAu8pvD358&NR=1
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pn2F-y73Tnw&feature=rela...


Also, here's a video that shows you how easy it is to install:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=njv1A-bjnzw&feature=rela...

I would suggest at the minimum to download the ubuntu ISO and burn it onto a CD, you can actually boot into the OS FROM the cd without having to install it. Of course, it'll run much slower off the CD.

In the case you like using ubuntu, you can actually take your 600 dollars, buy a ps3, a second controler and a couple of games to go with your tv downstairs and still enjoy astonishing eye-candy on your PC without having to invest a dime into it. (Except perhaps the dime you'll spend on a blank CD)
IMHO, it is by far the smartest things to do as you'll be able to use word processing, spreadsheets, web browsing, bittorrent, etc... that comes pre-packaged for absolutely no money.
And if you do feel like playing games, you can always try out wine (Windows emulator to put it simply), dosbox to play dos games.
I got a nintendo, super nintendo and PSX emulator working flawlessly with USB controler on my computer.
For computer games, I got doom3, quake4 and Nexuiz working flawlessly.
Through windows API emulation, I got: Guildwars, counter-strike 1.6, source, hl, hl2, quake 1,2,3 , starcraft, diablo.
One that's highly recommended is Nexuiz, it's a FPS based off Quake1 engine. Although it's heavily modified and can be compared to UT2004 graphics or better. Very fun to play. And free =]
March 14, 2008 11:52:53 AM

That sounds like a good alternative to people who arent going to play games.
March 14, 2008 1:36:44 PM

I say get a gaming pc and a xbox 360 controller. You can always hook your pc up to your TV (will look great on a 1080p tv). Plus you're on a PC hardware site, so how could I tell you to get a console. . .

If you're new into PC gaming, try some of these games, Oblivion (wasted a whole summer playing this game its great), HL2 Orange Box, Enemy Territory (its free tons of people play and tons of fun), and COD4. And with a 360 controller you can even get your favorite EA sports games and play them too :) 
March 15, 2008 11:16:58 AM

blacksci said:
Console is also nice for driving games too, i prefer by far to play racing games on console then pc, I can get a better "feel" of the car that way.


A better "feel" with a **** gamepad or a sub par console wheel? Probably only possible with an arcade racer that breaks and steers for you. As far as "real" sims are concerned, there's only one choice and that's a PC, GTR2 and a Logitech G25. Anything else is for pussies :) 

skittle said:
consoles always seem like the newbie gamers choice.

For example: Halo comes out... and suddenly EVERYONE is a "gamer".

Ill stick to the mouse and keyboard.

Plus you can mod your PC to your liking without voiding some warrenty, or worry about getting kicked off xboxlive


Could not agree more wholeheartedly.