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Energy efficient budget gaming?

Last response: in Systems
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November 21, 2008 8:47:02 PM

Hey guys,

I'm in charge of building a little over a dozen rigs that are going to be in operation in a Cyber Cafe. The owner wants the PCs to be energy efficient, as running all those machines at once can put a huge dent in the electric bill. The owner wants the machines to be powerful enough to run WOW, CS:S, D2, SC and SC2 when it comes out. I have a general idea of where I want to go with this but I could use some feedback.

Priority:

Must be energy efficient
Must play Source engine based games comfortably (40+FPS) at 1280x1024
Must be able to handle Starcraft 2 when it comes out.
Must be cheap!

Right now, I'm debating whether I should go with the AMD X2 4850e or the Core 2 Duo e7200 as the base. The owner's already ordered a boatload of Earthwatt PSUs at 380 Watts so that's non negotiable. However, everything else is still up in the air.

The area I need some help on is with the Graphics cards. It's pretty hard to find a good balance between power consumption, value, and enough power to play the before mentioned games. I'm pretty sure the CPU's I mentioned will not bottle neck these games to a point below 40fps so the graphics card is the area I'm struggling with the most. I'm thinking a card in the $50-$100 range will suffice but which one???
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November 21, 2008 9:18:33 PM

4670 looks like a good choice in power consumption, and the price is right.

Several onboard solutions will offer OK frame rates in FPS... such as the 790GX boards... but will struggle in online raids.
November 21, 2008 9:59:46 PM

Wow, you guys come up with some really nice suggestions around here. Thanks! I would have never thought of the 4670 (a geforce guy myself).
Seems perfect for this build.

The link seems to be broken outlander but I think I know which article you're thinking of. From an economical point of view though, wouldn't a X2 4850e paired with a 690 mobo chipset and the 4670 be sufficient enough to run these games?
November 21, 2008 10:22:49 PM

There is this to consider:

The Intel stock cooler is very quiet, and works well at stock CPU speeds. It's not as easy to get right during installation as AMD however.

I don't think you'll see a great deal of difference on boards as long as you are being conservative. ASUS makes various claims that look real good to folks not in the know... but they don't work out in the testing lab.

Still, you can save a watt here and there:
ASUS P43 P5QL-E
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
"8-phase power, EPU-6 engine"




November 21, 2008 10:32:04 PM

dirtmountain said:
This HD4670 at $80 no rebate includes a free copy of World or Warcraft and has excellent dual slot cooling.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


It's just a non-expansion trial CD, but how did I miss that card? That's clearly a better deal. Maybe it only just came up.
November 21, 2008 11:52:19 PM

Bah. MSI :p 
November 21, 2008 11:59:12 PM

Just keeps getting better and better :) 
November 22, 2008 12:13:24 AM

starcraft II doesn't seem to be particularly demanding on a system, and since you want an energy efficient, maybe an athlon x2 45W would be a good buy for you.
November 22, 2008 12:44:47 AM

Nik_I said:
starcraft II doesn't seem to be particularly demanding on a system, and since you want an energy efficient, maybe an athlon x2 45W would be a good buy for you.


Yeah, that's exactly what I'm thinking. If there were some way of knowing for sure that the x2 is powerful enough to not bottle neck the 4670 when running games like SC2/D3/CS:S/TF then the X2 seems like the more logical power saving choice.

Edit: Actually, now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure the X2 will bottle neck the graphics card. The more important issue is whether it'll be able to maintain a playable experience at above 40 fps
November 22, 2008 1:05:55 AM

There will be some bottleneck, but it probably won't be too bad. For comparison, I have a 9600gso overclocked in a system with an X2 4200+ @ 2.2ghz. It scores about 8K in 3dmark06. When overclocked to 2.4ghz, it gets about 9K. And with an e2200 system @3.2ghz, it scores 11K. A 9600gso is very similar to a 4670 in performance.
November 22, 2008 1:31:49 AM

orangegator said:
There will be some bottleneck, but it probably won't be too bad. For comparison, I have a 9600gso overclocked in a system with an X2 4200+ @ 2.2ghz. It scores about 8K in 3dmark06. When overclocked to 2.4ghz, it gets about 9K. And with an e2200 system @3.2ghz, it scores 11K. A 9600gso is very similar to a 4670 in performance.


Hmm...that does seem like a pretty comparable build. I'm not too familiar with the 3dmark bench scoring system. How do those scores translate to in game performance?
!