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Super Cheap old school emulator box

Hello -

I am trying to spec out as cheap of a machine as possible to emulate old consoles and DOS games, nothing newer than Super Nintendo. I may consider emulating Nintendo 64... If it doesnt increase my cost/system requirement.

This is a pretty low power build...probably could use parts that arent even made anymore. If anyone has a suggestion on where to get older/cheap parts, I am all ears. My only modern requirement is it needs to output via HDMI to integrate into my current home theater setup.

Thanks.


Approximate Purchase Date: before Christmas
Budget Range: as cheap as possible
System Usage from Most to Least Important: old school emulation, (atari, NES, SNES, Genesis, DOS....MAYBE N64)
Parts Not Required: Monitor
Preferred Website(s) for Parts: any (used?)
Country: USA
Parts Preferences: N/A
Overclocking: no
SLI or Crossfire: no
Monitor Resolution: 1080p (tv)
Additional Comments: as small of a form factor as possible. Must output via HDMI
10 answers Last reply Best Answer
More about super cheap school emulator
  1. --bump--
  2. PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

    CPU: AMD A6-5400K 3.6GHz Dual-Core Processor ($69.98 @ NCIX US)
    Motherboard: ASRock FM2A75M-DGS Micro ATX FM2 Motherboard ($55.98 @ Newegg)
    Memory: AMD Entertainment Edition 4GB (1 x 4GB) DDR3-1333 Memory ($12.92 @ Amazon)
    Storage: Western Digital Caviar Blue 500GB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($55.99 @ Amazon)
    Case: Athena Power CA-GSB01DA (Black) ATX Mid Tower Case ($30.98 @ Newegg)
    Power Supply: Corsair Builder 430W 80 PLUS Certified ATX12V Power Supply ($24.99 @ Newegg)
    Optical Drive: Asus DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS DVD/CD Writer ($16.99 @ Newegg)
    Total: $267.83
    (Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
    (Generated by PCPartPicker 2012-11-12 09:22 EST-0500)
  3. Go for the AntecVP350. From what I've read the new builder series have a higher failure rate than the V1s, and the Antec is just slightly more expensive than it.

    http://pcpartpicker.com/part/antec-power-supply-vp350

    Anyway, you don't really need an APU for SNES emulation. Back in the day I could emulate it just fine with a P4 and a dirt cheap radeon, so I'd say you will be fine with a cheap celeron and it's integrated graphics.

    http://pcpartpicker.com/part/intel-cpu-bx80623g465
  4. Looking at the system requirements, a Celeron would do the job fine. Even the recommended specs for Project 64 don't mention more than one core. It recommends a 1.5Ghz Pentium 3 and some 9-10 year old 256MB GPUs with 512MB RAM.

    This setup would be fine and have ultra low power consumption, we are talking 20W under full load. Also would be a hell of a lot smaller and quieter than pretty much any PC out there. The only source of noise will be a single ~40-50mm fan.

    ASRock E350M1 AMD E-350 APU (1.6GHz, Dual-Core)
    Mushkin Enhanced 1x4GB 1066Mhz CL7
    Crucial V4 64GB
    Antec ISK 110 with 90W PSU

    Total - $258.97 on Newegg

    If you cheap out on the case and PSU you could make it closer to $200. Not something I'd usually recommend though.
  5. Ok. Lets say I drop the N64 requirement... and I will only be emulating old DOS games (primarily pre-2000) and Super Nintendo or earlier.

    Any way to drive the cost of this down? Anyone have a good source on obsolete parts? The smaller form factor I can cram this into, the better.
  6. If you want a new system with new parts then less than $200-something isn't feasible.
  7. Best answer
    This is what I got

    PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

    CPU: AMD A4-3400 2.7GHz Dual-Core Processor ($47.61 @ Amazon)
    Motherboard: Biostar A75MG Micro ATX FM1 Motherboard ($59.98 @ Newegg)
    Memory: AMD Entertainment Edition 4GB (1 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($16.99 @ Newegg)
    Storage: Western Digital Caviar Blue 160GB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($39.99 @ Microcenter)
    Case: Rosewill FBM-01 MicroATX Mini Tower Case ($34.98 @ Newegg)
    Power Supply: Antec 350W ATX12V Power Supply ($23.17 @ NCIX US)
    Total: $216.72
    (Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
    (Generated by PCPartPicker 2012-11-13 15:22 EST-0500)
  8. A used PC or a cheap prebuilt with semi decent integrated graphics would be the only way to get it cheaper I think. Any AMD A (or E) series or Intel 1155 socket CPU should do the job without a graphics card.
  9. Best answer selected by ptsawyer.
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