New Gaming PC for son

Jul 3, 2020
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2
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Hello.
My son is looking to sell his Medion Erazer p6681 (as this m/c has serious limitations when it comes to playing Fortnite and Apex Legends) and buying a desktop set-up. The problem we have is that we see a lot of manufacturer and retailer claims about suitability and performance, but we really have little clue about their validity. We don't want to make the same mistake we made when buying the Medion a couple of years ago.
At a minimum, my son has 3 basic requirements:

  1. play Fortnite and Apex Legends 100+FPS without freezing/stuttering
  2. stream gameplay
  3. good base for future component upgrades as and when required
As a starting point, does anybody have an opinion on the Novatech Core Ember (https://www.novatech.co.uk/pc/range/novatechcoreember.html )? Which of the components are fit/unfit for our purpose? Or do we need to raise our sights?

PROCESSOR
Description : 3rd Gen AMD Ryzen 5 3400G 3.7Ghz Quad-Core Processor
Clockspeed : 3.7GHz / 4.2GHz Turbo
No. of Cores : 4
MEMORY
Description : 2 X 4GB DDR4 2400MHz Memory
HARDDRIVE
Description : 240GB SSD
Description : 1TB 3.5" SATA Hard Drive
Interface : SATA
POWER SUPPLY
Description : 400Watt Power Supply
MOTHERBOARD
Description : Gigabyte A320M-H Mo[/QUOTE]therboard
Form Factor : Micro ATX Form Factor; 24.4cm x 19.5cm
CPU Support : AMD Ryzen processor, AMD 7th Generation A-series/ Athlon processor
Chipset :AMD A320
RAID : RAID 0, RAID 1, and RAID 10
SATA Ports :4 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors, 1 x M.2 connector (Socket 3, M key, type 2242/2260/2280/22110 SATA and PCIe x4/x2* SSD support), Supports only M.2 SATA SSDs when using an AMD Athlon™-series/ 7th Gen. A-series or Athlon™ X4 APU.
PCI : 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x16 (PCIEX16), 2 x PCI Express x1 slots
Memory Slots : 2 x DDR4 DIMM sockets
Max Memory Capacity : 32GB

Many thanks in advance.
 
Jul 3, 2020
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Thanks for the rapid response Oussebon.
At the moment, my son has about £570, so it depends how much he can raise from the laptop sale (and a few more car washes) - but I guess the budget would be something like £800-£900
 

Inspireless Llama

Community Contributor
Dec 20, 2019
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I think that, especially with prebuilt on a budget, the risk of "making the same mistake" is fairly big.

I notice that when you're looking at prebuilt systems (not always just the more budget ones) they'll always cut on costs and unbalancing a PC to something I don't like to recommend. Wether it be storage, videocard or power supply.

Also what can be an issue, but doesn't have to be: Some prebuilt PC's, and especially from big manufacturers, may have their parts built specially for them, making it harder to upgrade. As far as I'm aware Alienware has their own motherboards and power supplies and they may have their own connectors too.

I'd like to hear if you (or your son, or both) are open for building a PC yourself too. There's someone on this forums (actually forgot who) who recommends that for bonding :D. It also may open up recommendations as the available choices will increase and we can help advicing on building a balanced PC too.

Specifically for the PC you posted: It doesn't have a videocard. I think Vega graphics are decent, but they're integraded and in no way able to combine playing games and streaming.
 
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Jul 3, 2020
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Thanks for the thoughts Inspireless Llama - some real food for thought there. Yes, we really want to avoid the pitfalls that you have referred to as much as possible, but we're also aware that, on a budget, we may have to make some compromise.

Our hope is that, with the right guidance, we:
(a) go into this with our eyes open, and are aware which component is less than optimal, and the expected impact of this choice, and​
(b) at least have the ability to easily upgrade that item at a later date when more budget is available.​
I'd like to hear if you (or your son, or both) are open for building a PC yourself too. There's someone on this forums (actually forgot who) who recommends that for bonding :D. It also may open up recommendations as the available choices will increase and we can help advicing on building a balanced PC too.
I like the idea of this - especially the ability to configure exactly how you want - but I suspect the reality would be less rosy if we have to do the physical build ourselves - the risk of us messing something up is, sadly, very real. What about sites where you can configure the components and they do the build - is this an option?

Specifically for the PC you posted: It doesn't have a videocard. I think Vega graphics are decent, but they're integraded and in no way able to combine playing games and streaming.
Understood - I guess that's why the price was low.
 

Oussebon

Community Contributor
Feb 17, 2020
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What about sites where you can configure the components and they do the build - is this an option?
There are lots of them in the UK. PC Specialist, Cyberpower PC, Scan, Overclockers UK, Dino PC, to name a few. CCL and Novatech might do that service too. They're all reputable stores afaik.

As well as custom builds they often also have special offers on pre-set configurations. Essentially pre-builds, so there can be compromises to hit a price point. But sometimes the compromises are fine.

Ebuyer seem to have a few good deals on their 'Alphasync' range.

£800-900 is a tight budget for an esports + streaming PC + monitor + KB + M.

Possinly something like this for £730
The main compromise here is that the RAM is just 1 x 8gb (3000MHz), but you can just add more RAM / replace the RAM down the line.
Otherwise the R5 3600 is great for gamnig and streaming and the RX 580 should do decently

You'd need to play below max settings on Apex Legends if you wanted 100fps though. You just don't have the budget for 100fps in Apex Legends on high + settings as far as I can see:


Plus a 1080p 144hz monitor for ~£180 or so.
 
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Jul 3, 2020
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This is very helpful Oussebon. That spec is a handy benchmark now for us to do our shopping (once we have sold laptop). Must say it's a mystery to me how you guys are able to interpret and weigh up all that benchmark data - I might be able to get my head around it if there was only one manufacturer and the development/release of new components was linear - sadly, though, my mind just boggles!

Couple of further questions to help clarify things in my mind - sorry for basic nature of questions:
  1. to what extent does the CPU affect the gameplay? Does it have equal weighting to GPU, for instance?
  2. In GPU benchmarks I note that there appear to be different manufacturers producing same models - e.g. both Asus and MSI seem to make an RX 580 8GB (one is suffixed "Strix" and the other is "GX") - is it safe to say that performance of such apparently same components is similar?
  3. Looking at the benchmark data in the link you supplied (Apex Legends Video Card Benchmark) I assume that you'd need the AMD Vega 56 or above to achieve 100FPS+ - have I interpreted correctly?
  4. What aspects of gameplay would be improved by additional 8GB RAM?
Again, many thanks in advance.
 

Inspireless Llama

Community Contributor
Dec 20, 2019
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1. That really depends on the game. What I usually read is that there are 2 kind of games: CPU intensive games and GPU intensive games. GTA 5 is considered a CPU heavy game because there's a lot that needs to be calibrated by the CPU.
I'm not sure if I explain this right, but the GPU usually just calculcates the textures (how the game looks like etc, the graphics), while the CPU calculates everything else. When playing a game where the AI moves, the movement is calculated by the CPU, as soon as he gets into the screen, the textures are done by the GPU.
Also, if I understood this right, the higher the resolution of your monitor becomes, the more important your GPU gets (more textures to be done, more detail).

Conclusion: It depends on what game you play how much impact the CPU has. For fortnite I'm not sure.

2. They're all different manufacturers using the same nvidea or AMD chipset, but with their own overclocks and coolers. Compare it to multiple car brands using the same motor in it, but still they're Opel, Ford etc. They look different.
In terms of performance, all chipsets perform fairly equal, so an MSI RX580 or an Asus RX580 will have equal performances. There may be slight differences, depending on the speeds they're using and how good the coolers on the videocards are.
Usually it can work out to just go for the cheapest one though. Unless you care alot about those small clockspeed differences, looks or how quiet it is.

3. You'd need a Vega 56 or above if you want to reach 100+ FPS on high settings. Would you turn down the settings, you'd be able to get 100+FPS on slower videocards too. As seen in the picture below on medium settings, an RX580 would reach arround 150FPS.

This came from an older review (2018) so the newest cards were never included in here.


@hardwareinfo.nl

4. Oh I really don't know that question haha. I know up to some degree what it does, but I'm not really sure what effect it has on gameplay. I think it may (depending on the game) increase your FPS. That only counts for games that like to use alot of RAM though. I'm not sure how much RAM fortnite usually uses, but I think you'd be fine with 8gb. Unless you tend to have 150 tabs open in any browser (like me), that uses up RAM fast :p
 
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Oussebon

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1) It depends on the game as above. Usually the graphics card matters more in terms of single components but you want a CPU capable of supporting a future GPU upgrade or two without 'bottlenecking' it (beware of bottlenecking as a term - it's way overused).

In your specific case the CPU may matter a lot, because your son wants to stream. There are alternative ways to do it but typically the CPU will handle the streaming. This is demanding because you are asking it to encode video (lots of maths) as well as feed instructions to the graphics card and everything else it does.

An R5 3600 is a capable gaming + streaming CPU and is many times better than what's in your medion erazer (3 times as many cores/threads).

2) There's very little difference between them all, especially if you just plug in and play.

3) Come back to that one.

4) With the Alphasync PC I linked it's not so much the RAM amount as the fact the PC only has 1 stick, which means the motherboard runs the memory i single channel. Modern PCs can run RAM in dual channel. So having 2 sticks allows more bandwidth for the memory. AMD Ryzen CPUs like the R5 3600 in that PC are particularly sensitive to this and you can see substantial performance gains / more consistent performance with dual channel memory in some gaming situations.

16gb can matter over 8gb in terms of sheer quantity too, and give slightly higher or more consistent framerates, but it varies depending on the game and settings (not all games would see a difference).

So adding more RAM / replacing the RAM with a new 2 x 8gb stick kit would be one of your first upgrades for the system. Upgrading RAM is a very easy DIY upgrade.

===

3) Vega 56? Yes and no.

i) First off, you wouldn't buy a Vega graphics card as it's an older series and newer ones are better bang for buck.

ii) There's also the question of a 'balanced' build. A GPU of that order today (RTX 2060 / RX 5700 sort of thing) would set you back £300+ or so just for the graphics card. What you have left over to spend on the rest of the system may leave it unbalanced, i.e. you need to cheap out on other things such that you hurt the overall performance / limit upgrade options etc.

You can and will upgrade the graphics card down the line (every couple of years potentially) so having a system that's a little bit constrained by the GPU isn't a major issue.

iii) Also, the 'best' graphics card - the one that gives most frames per second - is the RTX 2080 ti. A £1000 graphics card. It is really intended for 4k gaming or 1440p ultrawide/high refresh, rather than 1080p. There might be some valid use cases where you could buy one for 1080p gaming, but not for 99.999%+ of people.

Same sort of thing applies from around the RX 5700 onwards to be honest - you're paying for horsepower that for most gaming scenarios is excessive or just plain bad value for that resolution.

Look at the Apex Legends chart and divide framerate by the GPU cost. An RX 580 gives 80fps average on High settings in Apex and costs ~£150 as an individual component. An RTX 2080 ti gives 160fps average and costs £1000.

iv) Apex is a multiplayer game, so you can't get entirely consistent performance, because every match is different - where you point the camera, how many explosions and other visual effects are on screen, etc. It all varies, because what other players will do each time will be different. So nobody can promise "buy X graphics card, definitely get Y frames per second). The articles I linked are a good indicator, but not a cast-iron promise of performance.

Also, there are 'average' frames per second, but also 'minimum' frames per second - or more accurately the 1% and 0.1% lows in the graphics in the article. i.e. framerate isn't constant, it will vary, and the lows numbers shows you to what level those can drop down to during gameplay.

v) If your son is chasing framerate for competitive play / advantage, he is probably best off lowering the settings
(I don't know if that site is any good as a source, but the general advice of turning settings to 'low' is in keeping with competitive settings for gaming)

Which will give higher/ more consistent framerate than the 'high' or better settings benchmarked in those articles for any given graphics card.

This is what competitive players tend to do in games.

If your son is not overly bothered about competitive settings, and wants higher visual fidelity (high settings) then he'll probably need to accept the limitations of his wallet and settle for more pedestrian framerates.
 
Last edited:
Jul 3, 2020
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Thanks again Oussebon and Inspireless Llama.
Really appreciate your patience and the extremely useful guidance. My key conclusions for the time being are:
  • for CPU, then, will look to trust recommended/reputable integrator and consider the R5 3600 as minimum benchamrk.
  • we will make a RAM upgrade (2 x 8gb stick kit) our priority. I have done this before, so well within my limited skillset!
  • with regard to GPU and framerates, there's still a lot of info to take in, digest and juggle, but my key takeaway is the concept of system balance and cost. I think I'll need to sit down with my son and make sure he understands what compromises he needs to make within the time/money-framerate-gamesettings triangle.
 
Jul 29, 2020
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Hi, I am sorry to say I can offer no assistance but would like to thank you for your thread. I am also a parent trying to advise my son and it is so hard. My son has recently become interested in VR gaming and a basic Vr ready PC is £1000 so I am so worried advising him where to spend his money. If you do find any good sources of info please let me know. Also I am looking for a trusted Pc builder and if you have found one please advise me. Let me know how you got on.
 
Jan 13, 2020
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Hi, I am sorry to say I can offer no assistance but would like to thank you for your thread. I am also a parent trying to advise my son and it is so hard. My son has recently become interested in VR gaming and a basic Vr ready PC is £1000 so I am so worried advising him where to spend his money. If you do find any good sources of info please let me know. Also I am looking for a trusted Pc builder and if you have found one please advise me. Let me know how you got on.
I recommend watching some YouTube videos that explain the build and the reasoning behind the selection of each of the components. A channel like Paul's Hardware would be an excellent place to start as he generally has monthly PC build videos for varying budgets and purposes.
 

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