View Full Version : Price versus Performance Gaming PC?

20-08-2002, 01:40 PM
Question: If I am going to relent and get on the gaming PC treadmill, how carried away do I get?

If it is going to be used for basically splatter games (Return to Wolfenstein, Jedi Knight 2, Warcraft III) without going bonkers on textures on the walls, what does one really need?

In particular:
How much ram in the video card?
How much ram?
What sort of processor?

I am looking for balance of capability versus cost.

The Warcraft III box (which I haven't even opened) says minimum is 400MHz PII, 128Mb Ram, 8Mb 3D video card. Recommended is 600MHz, 256Mb Ram, 32Mb 3D video.

Sounds like the processor requirements are almost unimportant. I am leaning AMD direction.
Sound card again sounds largely unimportant.

Emphasis is not OTT, but bang for buck. Ideas? (please give rough idea of cost with item you suggest)
(being cheap)

20-08-2002, 01:47 PM
> If it is going to be used for basically splatter
> games (Return to Wolfenstein, Jedi Knight 2, Warcraft
> III) without going bonkers on textures on the walls,
> what does one really need?
> In particular:
> How much ram in the video card?
> How much ram?
> What sort of processor?

Well I don't have any idea on cost as I just buy new stuff as I get the money - it's been a long time since this was a new machine (it used to be a Gateway LOL... not much left of it now, besides the box and the screen). However I do know that running JK2 on this really uses every resource it can find - the tin (didn't come in a box, it came in a tin) says Pentium II or Athlon 350 or higher, 64mb RAM, 16mb Open GL video card. I'd be very surprised if someone with those specs could run JK2 without getting utterly annoyed at it - I've got a 750 with 256mb and 32mb vid and I have to run it on almost minimum settings to get it to play smoothly. Now I know that most new computers come with better specs than that, but it won't be long until your system is struggling to keep up with your games :)


20-08-2002, 01:57 PM
I would suggest:

AMD Athlon 1800+ (approx $265)
512 Mb RAM (approx $350)
Geforce4 TI4200 64Mb DDR (approx $415)

More video ram would be better, but in the interests of cost :(

Of course, you can't go past a MS Sidewinder FF & Logitech FF Racing Wheel B-)

Scott Bartley
20-08-2002, 02:44 PM
That's good advice.

Robo...don't get anything less than a 64MB video card or you'll regret it sooner than you'd think. Besides, GeForce 4 Ti4200/Ti4600's are well cheap these days.

Those 3 games you mentioned will all run beautifully on a system using an AthlonXP and a GF4.

Check out http://www.pricespy.co.nz before you shop...

20-08-2002, 02:53 PM
Buy 2nd hand on trademe.co .nz anything over 1 gighertz is fine with 256 memory and a good graphics card geforce 256 32 meg ddr upwards is fine warcraft 3 will run fine on most systems the software has to catch up to the hardware at the moment so bleeding edge technology is wasted really dont over spend next year there will always be a better faster PC out there but really do you need it??

20-08-2002, 02:57 PM
Pay for the video card - a moderate GeForce 4 in a P4 1GHz is a better bet that a crap GeForce2 in a P4/AMD 2.4GHz. I've been focusing on upgrading main RAM and the video card first and CPU last for a while and have maintained a decent games rig this way. Not knock your socks off games rig, but does the work required.

20-08-2002, 03:02 PM
Whoa! Are you encouraging me Scott? I told you I was going to wait a little but now I am not sure I can!
Pricespy rocks. I have put it on my links bar already. Someone should mention this in an internet magazine or PC World or somewhere :p

I am finding it very hard to resist the temptation. According to pricespy I can get the bits I need for about $400 bucks (If I don't get that outrageous video card you mentioned and stick to one a bit cheaper).

20-08-2002, 03:04 PM
So is a $100 GeForce2 MX400 64Mb AGP a waste of space? That was what I was wondering about in Scott's list as the card he mentions is about $350.

20-08-2002, 03:06 PM
Bearing in mind I don't want to be able to recognise the type of mould on the wallpaper when I smash into a room in Wolfenstein. I just want to be able to buy a game and be sure that I can run the bugger, even if I have to turn down the graphics.

BTW, Bruce, I just finished a PS2 adventure-style game where you go up levels and stuff (Drakan Ancients Gate) and I have to say it sucked. It just doesn't allow the flexibility of a PC game. PS2 still has it's place, though.

20-08-2002, 03:14 PM
If you can spend more on the video card do so. I wouldn't get a Geforce 2. I lve with a 64Mb GeForce2 right now and it is the next component I want to upgrade. It is fine now, but withthign slike Doom III and Combat Flight Sim 3 coming along, it will be past it's day. A purist would say get a high-end card, not a MX card (just ask Tweake), but I'd certainly rather have a GeForce4 MX than a GeForce2.

20-08-2002, 03:18 PM

Spend the max you can on a video card ... better that it lasts you for a couple of years than wishing you'd got a better one in 3 months time.

I'd proiritise it like this: video card, ram, processor (actually video card, input device, ram processor - I love force feedback :p )

Scott Bartley
20-08-2002, 03:47 PM
Robo I've just pulled my old GF2 MX with 32MB out of my home Pc because it was the main bottle neck in my AthlonXp 1700 machine.

I got a Radeon 8500 deluxe with 128MB DDR and the difference is unbelievable. Try and stretch to a Ti - based card if you can....otherwise at least get a GF4MX with 64MB (around $170)....not a GF2.

The graphics card is the single most important piece of hardware for any PC...especially when it comes to games.

20-08-2002, 04:09 PM
I totally agreee with Scott and A*man!!! At home, I switch between my 128MB Ram and graphics. Usually I'll go with sacrificing 16MB Ram to put it into Graphics, you can get away with running the latest THPS3 (On this months IMag) using 64MB Ram and VRam! Running most games with les that 16MB Won't get you anything above 640x480 with most options tuned right down, like in JKII!! I'm running 933Mhz celeron and it seems to do okay.

I had a juggle around with a friends PC, he bought a Ti4600X I think it was, 128MB, and it kicked @$$ to say the least, he has a 700Mhz and he can run JKII @ 1024x768! that's with 128MB Ram also, so, Graphics card, a Ti4600X Is near the top of thee line (I hope I got the numbers and letters in the name right :s) and then you'll want Ram, 256 is good, then, anything 1Ghz Up for porcessor and you'll be peachy!

BTW, RUnning Unreal Trounament at home, 16MB Graphics will only get me 640x480 too, with everything tuned right down to a bare minimum! Man I need a graphics card!!!


20-08-2002, 04:52 PM
Q:How much ram in the video card?

A:As much as you like.

Q:How much ram?

A:As much as you can fit into your budget.

Q:What sort of processor?

A:This is already answered. (AMD)

20-08-2002, 05:01 PM
Yeah, I'vwe gotta agree, That's right on!!!


20-08-2002, 06:34 PM
yep leave the MX's for the workstations ;-)

also don't forget a good sound card(onboard sound can really kill a good game), good speakers, a decent mouse, a good cool case (good video cards tend to run hot after hours of fragging) and a decent power supply.

a 7200rpm harddrive (raid? if you can afford it). generally speaking the cpu is a the bottom of the list and is usually an easy thing to upgrade later on when the prices have dropped.

o yes... don't forget that nice screen so you can actually see your target :)

20-08-2002, 06:45 PM
... and the 3d glasses and the VR glove .... :p

20-08-2002, 07:31 PM
Why is the AMD processor deemed to be the "natural" choice? I'm heading toward an upgrade/replacement myself and need to sort these things out. I know that Athlons are cheaper but I've heard horrible tales of burn outs and ovrheating. I'm mainly into graphics stuff - photoshop, and office apps, but do enjoy Quake/Doom/Wolfenstein games. I have always had Intel boxes, other than an old cyrix 386sx, way back. I'm not against change, but is the performance of AMD really superior (I was looking at about a 2.2 P4)? or is it just the price? Not always the best reason for buying a product experience tells me!

20-08-2002, 07:37 PM
amd's tend to be faster per $$$ (untill recently that is)

they have their faults however. high heat output and no thermal protection built into cpu (there is overheat protection but its on the motherboard)

20-08-2002, 08:46 PM
Dumb question, you mentioned DDR on the video card before. Are some configurable? IE add more Ram later on? Just wondered.

20-08-2002, 10:58 PM
some early vid cards had sockets so you could add ram. today i doubt anyone does it now. all good video cards have DDR ram on them. different brands/models have different speed ram as well as clock speed. a good thing to check before handing over the $$. exspcially with ati radeons.

21-08-2002, 02:06 PM
A 32 meg graphics card ddr ram is fine for most people, you only need more if you intend to play at higher resolutions than 1080 x 768 which isnt recommended unless you have a 19 " monitor and a really good modern card ie expensive i have a spare Geforce 256 ddr ram left over from my last upgrade if any wants it for $180 runs almost as quickly as my Geforce 3 85 fps as opposed to 120 fps in unreal tournament

21-08-2002, 02:12 PM
> A 32 meg graphics card ddr ram is fine for most
> people, you only need more if you intend to play at
> higher resolutions than 1080 x 768 which isnt
> recommended unless you have a 19 " monitor and a
> really good modern card ie expensive

Well, I've only got a 17in monitor and I play FS2002 nd CFS2 at resolutions higher than 1024 x 768 without problems - and that's with a Geforce2.

21-08-2002, 03:21 PM
HAH! Beat this... still playing on my old 15" VDU with GeForce2MX (32MB RAM) at 1024x768 playing CFS2, Ghost Recon and Americas Army. Lots of carrots in diet required.

21-08-2002, 06:04 PM
Well, if you wanna avoid those tales, buy a nice big heatsink and fan for it, The things you can get cost upto $80, but they'll keep anything nice and kool, even after those long nights of fragging!!