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Gaming/Moving from PS3 to PC


QUESTION: Hello Bobbert,
thank you for your advice on allexperts.

I need advice on an idea I just had.

I have always loved gaming and I've been playing on the playstation series, up to the PS3. Intead of paying approximately $400 on a PS4, I was thinking about buying a desktop windows gaming pc, which will give me other uses besides gaming. The problem is that I don't know what to look for in a gaming pc.

I want to play the main games out there such as first-person shooters, Mafia II, Battlefield, Age of Empires and GTA V. I don't know which pc is powerfull enough to run those.

Also, I was thinking about buying the parts and then asking a qualified person to build it for me. I believe I can save money like that.

I would like to know the necessary parts that I need to buy.
For example, as far as I understand, a processor, motherboard etc. And, the minimum power each part may need such as +4GB ram and a particular model for a video card.

With that information, I'll buy each part at a time on websites such as amazon or something similar.


ANSWER: You will not beat the console in terms of value for dollar - a competent gaming PC that can handle the titles you've mentioned at settings comparable or better to what the PlayStation 4 can achieve will cost roughly $2000 (US dollars) or more, and will have a substantially shorter usable life-span (roughly 1-3 years between substantial upgrade or replacement on average; whereas game consoles are designed with a 6-8 year life-cycle (think about how long PlayStation, PlayStation 2, or PlayStation 3 existed on the market, and the very wide range of games released for them).

If you're trying to save money, my advice would be to go with the console. If you still want to go with the PC, and you have no experience working on computers or building them, I'd suggest going with an OEM machine from a manufacturer like Alienware. The cost-savings for "DIY" are very minimal (in some cases you can actually get a better deal with the OEM system as they leverage economies of scale to your advantage), and you have no support recourse if you run into problems - which is likely to be the case if you're new to computers.

As far as non-gaming uses, there are a number of inexpensive desktop or laptop PC options that will accomplish a very wide range of multi-media tasks (excepting high-performance gaming) for around $500, and I would suggest going with such a computer if you need that kind of functionality and elect to continue on with a PlayStation 4.

I feel it's also worth pointing out that many of the games you've mentioned, such as Grand Theft Auto 5 and Battlefield, are available for PlayStation 3, and in some cases (such as the Grand Theft Auto series) it's a better route to take, as they tend to run very poorly on PCs (regardless of how powerful the machine is; many of these games are designed primarily for consoles, and the porting to PC results in substantial inefficiencies that harm performance).

None of this is meant to say that a gaming PC isn't a capable device, just that it generally isn't a good value for money. If you still want to go ahead with building one for the enjoyment/experience/what-have-you I'm perfectly happy to provide advice, but felt that it was important to explore the value situation with you beforehand.

If you have further questions, feel free to ask.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

with a budget of about $600, I built two pcs on Pcpartpicker. I don't know if the motherboards are good or not. But, could you take a look and tell me if they are enough to play those games at at least a medium graphics/performance configuration for each game?

Here are both links:

ANSWER: The first one will have a better chance, but the GTX 660 will become out-dated before PlayStation 4 would, and the power supply is small relative to the demands of that computer. The second one is slower in many respects (single channel memory, slower graphics card, etc). Neither would be "wrong" for many games today, however you cannot expect the 5-7 years of lifecycle from either machine as you could from the PlayStation. And keep in mind that many very demanding games, like Grand Theft Auto V, are still unreleased, and thus not benchmarked for performance - there's always the question of "will it run" with a gaming PC, while a console is assured to support any game that is released for it.

If you'd still like to build a machine, I'd suggest expanding your budget slightly on the first build, upgrading the power supply to something more robust (Corsair is a fine maker, but for the parts you've selected you really should be in the 600W+ category), switching to a better quality motherboard (MSI is borderline; I would avoid ASRock entirely) from Asus or Gigabyte, and stepping up to an eight-core AMD processor. You will still be upgrading it in a few years depending on what games you want to play, and that upgrade will probably cost $200-$400 by itself.

If you have further questions, feel free to ask.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

Thank you for the information. I made some changes according to what I learned through your sugestions.

Can you review both updated builds and sugest which specific parts switch for if there are better alternatives (price:value ratio)?

AMD build:

Intel build:

Also, for gaming, is the Intel i5-4690k 3.5GHz quad-core better/faster than AMD FX-6300 3.5GHz 6-Core Processor?

Your links are identical.

The build referenced, however, is a fairly competent mid-tier gaming system. I would suggest another AIB than MSI for parts though - their warranty/support service can be very draconian. Asus, Gigabyte, XFX, Sapphire, eVGA, etc are all good choices.

The machine will, however, run modern games with decent settings. Do not be surprised if you are upgrading it in a year or two though, and do not be surprised if Grand Theft Auto 5 runs very poorly (the GTA games have a long history of abysmal performance on Windows).

It should also be noted this machine does not include an operating system, keyboard, monitor, optical drive, etc - all of those things will be necessary, and will add another $300-$600 to the bottom line. It's likely that you can re-use some existing components from a current computer, however not all of them (for example you cannot legally "double dip" on operating system licences).

To the question of Intel versus AMD - the Intel will be generally superior when measured, however the 4690k is around $250, which eats up a considerable amount of your budget. In practical terms, you will be hard-pressed to subjectively notice a difference between them; you'll see differences in benchmarks where the Intel may achieve higher frame-rates, however that will generally be arguing about frame-rates that exist above your display's field rate (and are thus incapable of being drawn, to say nothing of whether or not you could physically perceive the difference). The AMD costs much less, and would thus be a better value proposition. If you are expanding your budget, I would suggest an octal-core AMD, as that will be more in-line with the $200 segment that the i5 occupies.



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I have nearly two decades of experience in IT, computer repair, and related fields and will attempt to provide the most solid, brand-agnostic advice when it comes time to purchase a new computer, or upgrade an existing machine. I can answer anything from the seemingly basic to the downright complicated - and will do my best to provide this information in a clear and concise manner. I have a personal interest in PC gaming, and can apply my experience to such an end. Questions related to 3D games on OS X or other platforms are less likely to get answered.


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