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How low can you go cost-wise on a PC?

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Unfortunately my sim-racing buddy is moving out of state. He currently uses my rig over at my house. We are trying to figure out how to get him his own rig so that we can race online together once he moves. His budget is really tight.

When we add everything up, the PC is one of the biggest costs. Because of this, he is wanting to go with an XBox instead of PC. I do have two separate rigs - one is my original sim-racing rig that was XBox based, the other is my badass PC-based rig (still kind of incomplete at this stage). So we could race together on XBox. But I really want to try to get him into a PC setup so I don't have to "step down" to my old rig every time we race.

How cheap could he build a PC for that would still allow for functional sim racing? I know he would be completely fine with a single 1080p 21:9 monitor, and I know he won't care about impressive framerates. 60fps on sunny days with 15 cars on the grid would be fine. I typically race iRacing or Project Cars 2, but he won't want to pay for an iRacing membership, so PCars 2 would probably be the sim we would use most often. Definitely no ACC.
 

Andrew_WOT

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Depends on what he wants to play, if you say PCars 2 only, and may be Forza, I'd say XBox is a much better buy. You can get stunning HDR visuals on 4K TV for what us PC users pay thousands of dollars.
Forza is cross play, so you can race against each other, plus it's arguably better than PCars2 anyway.
 
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Wait - he could play Forza on his XBox and I could play it on my PC?!? I guess I didn’t realize that.

FM7 was our original “true love” - its what got us into sim racing in the first place. He actually prefers it to other sims (I think because it’s easier handling and he doesn’t get as much time behind the wheel as I do).

If this is the case, and I can stay on my new rig and play, then maybe XBox is the answer
 
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Ryzen 2600's are £70-80 on Ebay with cooler. 8gb Radeon Rx580's are about the same and are good for single 1080 gaming. A B450 m/board for around £80 would offer the chance to upgrade to 3000/5000 cpu's later on. 16gb ddr4 3200 kits start at around £60 or 3600 kits for £75 should a cpu upgrade be in the plans.

120gb ssd £20 - system drive, 1Tb hdd £40 - bulk storage.

At least £50+ on new PSU, no cheaping out here. Something like Seasonic's S12III 550w at £58 would be ideal. £25-30 for a cheap case, just look for airflow. Some may frown upon it but you can get Win 10 key's for as little as £10-15.

That would be a solid little 1080 machine for around £450 that will run all sims at decent fps provided he is willing to adjust settings as needed. You could maybe shave off a some money by going first gen Ryzen or with a lesser gpu if you had to.

I know nothing about Intel/Nvidia so maybe someone could suggest something better/cheaper.
 

Andrew_WOT

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Wait - he could play Forza on his XBox and I could play it on my PC?!? I guess I didn’t realize that.

FM7 was our original “true love” - its what got us into sim racing in the first place. He actually prefers it to other sims (I think because it’s easier handling and he doesn’t get as much time behind the wheel as I do).

If this is the case, and I can stay on my new rig and play, then maybe XBox is the answer
FM7, FH4, and even FH3 are cross play.
 
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The new year will probably be a good time to buy a 2nd hand GPU, a lot of people will be upgrading to one of the one cards. There's nothing all that wrong with the 20 series GPUs if your aiming for 1080.
 
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I've discussed all of this with him and it sounds like he is just going to go XBox for now. He can probably get one used in the US for $250 that will do just fine. I'd rather see him get some load cell pedals (like the new Thrustmaster T-LCM) than build a PC and get garbage pedals.
 
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i bought a used PC with 500w PSu, 8GB RAM and 4670k CPU for 100GBP. Add in a 1050ti for another 100GBP and for 200 I have something I can use to run AMS, AC, rF2 at 1080p 60+ FPS. Get your friend to have a look on ebay for some cheap base PCs with decent CPU that will take a graphics card. He should easily get good framerates on iRacing, PCars2 with the above config.
Something with similar specs to this, not future proof and not good enough for VR, but fine for pancake gaming at 1080p in existing sims.
 
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RasmusP

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i bought a used PC with 500w PSu, 8GB RAM and 4670k CPU for 100GBP. Add in a 1050ti for another 100GBP and for 200 I have something I can use to run AMS, AC, rF2 at 1080p 60+ FPS. Get your friend to have a look on ebay for some cheap base PCs with decent CPU that will take a graphics card. He should easily get good framerates on iRacing, PCars2 with the above config.
Something with similar specs to this, not future proof and not good enough for VR, but fine for pancake gaming at 1080p in existing sims.
Great advice! I would say the same.
AMD 2600/3600 or an i5/i7 k variant from 4th Gen onwards should do fine for 60 fps in all simulation games.

Just need to comment that link:

- then take out 4gb of ram to gain fps in all Sims if you're not getting your graphics card maxed out due to a cpu limit

12gb of ram just hurts to see :roflmao:
 
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Hi all,
Sorry to dig this up again. I never thought about doing this but it sounds feasible. I'm trying to find a budget PC that will run ACC better than my ps4 pro, find some more gt4 multiplayer, and try out some other sims. I have a 3440x1440 60hz 8ms monitor I don't intend to replace so sounds like i could get something playable used for under £500 (including Windows). It's been 20 years since I last bought (built actually) a gaming PC so I guess it's time to try to get up to speed on hardware again :O

Edit: I see the CPU/GPU shortage has hit ebay prices hard since the original replies.
 
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(I was about to say that I doubt a budget PC will run ACC better than PS4Pro, especially in 3400x1440, but then I remembered ACC is capped at 30 fps on PS4Pro. Feels bad man. So I guess it actually might. )
 
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i could get something playable used for under £500 (including Windows). It's been 20 years since I last bought (built actually) a gaming PC so I guess it's time to try to get up to speed on hardware again :O
Don't just look for complete PCs. A CPU upgrade will sometimes mean having to change mother board, CPU (maybe cooler too) and ram. So you can often find that type of bundle for sale.

I think ACC will run fairly well on a single screen, it's only when you start looking at 4K, triple screens and VR that things get difficult. Just look up the recommended specs for ACC, and see if how much higher you can go in your budget.
 
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(I was about to say that I doubt a budget PC will run ACC better than PS4Pro, especially in 3400x1440, but then I remembered ACC is capped at 30 fps on PS4Pro. Feels bad man. So I guess it actually might. )
So they upped it to 60fps and downgraded the graphics quality I believe. Doesn't look great but I would prioritise smoothness and reduced response lag.

Don't just look for complete PCs. A CPU upgrade will sometimes mean having to change mother board, CPU (maybe cooler too) and ram. So you can often find that type of bundle for sale.

I think ACC will run fairly well on a single screen, it's only when you start looking at 4K, triple screens and VR that things get difficult. Just look up the recommended specs for ACC, and see if how much higher you can go in your budget.

I will check out the bundles too. Or maybe look for something new but upgradeable when prices get less insane.

I saw someone recommend this type of thing, but I haven't checked for compatability with future upgrades yet: https://www.cclonline.com/pc/gaming-pcs/pbm/ccl-knight-gx-gaming-pc/

Thanks everyone for your replies.
 
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I will check out the bundles too. Or maybe look for something new but upgradeable when prices get less insane.
There are plenty of higher end chips that will work with the motherboard in your link (don't overlook the specs of your motherboard either a lot of features depend on motherboard support), it's the same socket set I'm on. Although it is an old socket now, they have moved on so maybe check what you can get on the new socket so you can upgrade to those new i9s in the future.

There is of course a price to doing things that way, you'll have to buy two chips and take a loss on the first one, so it will end up costing you more in the long run. You could probably get a better case by building yourself. A decent case that is made for self builders can make your life easier long term. The standards in case design has shot up recently and you'll get a lot of case for your money these days.
You could pick the system then post up here. People with system building knowledge can correct any mistakes. I don't keep up to date, I only really research the market when I'm looking to buy.

The price of PC parts isn't going anywhere but up over the next few months though.
 

RasmusP

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Or maybe look for something new but upgradeable when prices get less insane.
EDIT: wow wtf I really got sucked into this :roflmao:
Hope my mashed together thoughts are helpful...

There are some problems with this:
1. AMD 5000 is the last gen on that socket. Next gen will feature DDR5, new socket etc.
-> You could get a B550 board and a 3600 and then upgrade to a 5600x or 5800x in the future
-> Problem: 3600 (x/xt) went up to insane prices too...

2. Intel 6th,7th,8th,9th,10th gen are all basically the same architecture on the same nanometers...
-> 8th gen got 6 cores instead of 4
-> 9th gen got higher boosts
-> 10th gen got hyperthreading on the i5

The next gen is coming out in March. It's finally a new architecture but still 14nm. You'll gain quite a lot in single thread performance (most important vor simracing!) but the i9 will have 2 cores less and the heat will be similar due to the same 14 nanometers.

However you'll be able to run the 11th gen on a 10th gen motherboard (z490).

Here are multiple problems:
-> 9th gen is a lot cheaper. Mobo and CPU wise while basically having exactly the same performance for simracing!
-> 11th gen will probably be expensive and still worse than the AMD 5000 CPUs. The 11th gen Intels might have a little bit better performance for simracing but will be a lot hotter and less efficient...

Buying a 10th gen mobo+cpu now and then upgrade in a few months isn't really a great idea. 12th gen will need a new mobo and feature DDR5. And it probably comes out in Autumn 2021.

Solution:
We're all screwed :roflmao:

What I would do: get a 9600k + z390 board with good USB ports (Gigabyte is quite good. The gaming x has all features you need, good VRMs, 8x USB. Friend of mine has it, I have the 10600k with a z490 gigabyte gaming x. Basically same boards, we're both happy with them.)

EDIT: on newegg the reviews are quite bad for the z390 gaming x.. So maybe get an Asus board (way better BIOS!) and if you need more than 6x USB, buy one of the recommended USB extension cards. Since simracers often need a lot of USB ports, you'll find recommendations here).

And you'll just run that 9600k at 4.9 GHz or up to 5.1 GHz on all cores with a good cooler until it's not enough for you anymore.
Then buy Intel's 12th or 13th gen or AMD 6000 or whatever will be available then.

Pair it with a 650 or 750w psu to be able to slap some future graphics card or a bigger CPU in there and that's it.

I wouldn't buy faster RAM than 3200 cl16. It's good enough and from there the price curve becomes steep! And with a new generation, it'll need DDR5 anyway...

Case is difficult... Yes, it makes your life easier but there are very cheap cases that still do the job just fine.
I would buy a case from a known brand for sub 100€.

Be Quiet pure base DX, Fractal meshify C, something like that.

And another edit: 10600k is only 8 pounds more than the 9600k on newegg. In Germany it's a bigger difference.. Anyway, same Asus prime-A board is 133 for z390 and 177 for z490.
Might be worth it to be able to slap a 11600k in there in Summer?



About your linked ready-built PC:
- 9400f only boosts to 4.1 GHz.
- The mobo can't overclock memory so you're stuck at the 2666 MHz

The issue: simracing really needs a powerful CPU! You can always turn the graphics setting to make it look "bad" but run fluently and you can always buy a new GPU and just slap it into the PC.

But when your CPU can't run more than 10 opponent cars, it really sucks.

Here's a memory benchmark I did for Assetto Corsa Competizione:
1612362117245.png


That's 8.7 fps on memory alone! Or 10,1%.

Then every 9600k can easily run at 4.9 GHz all cores!

Most simracing titles run on 2-3 threads.
9400f = 4,0/3,9/3,9/3,8 GHz

So for simracing it would probably be running at 3.9 GHz.

That's 1 full GHz less compared to an easily overclocked 9600k...

That's 25.6% less performance.

For my ACC benchmark that would mean:
94,7 fps -> -25.6% = 70.5 fps -> -10.1% = 63.4 fps
That's 49,4% more for the 9600k

So in the end you'd have only barely enough fps for a 60 Hz monitor.

Price difference on newegg:
9400f = 149,99
9600k = 205,19
Mobos:
Gigabyte B365M DS3H = 65,99
Asus Prime Z390-P = 125,99 (that's the cheapest one.. But definitely still better than the B365...)

Summary:
331,18 vs 215,98 = 53,3% more for the 9600k.

Price vs performance, the read-built PC isn't bad.

My problem with this though is that a used 4770k built will give you the same fps and probably be cheaper...

Or get a 9600k build from gumtree or something?
 
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@RasmusP Is AMD the better choice for CPU at the moment? I know Intel have good single core performance which is good for gamming, but if your not chasing ultimate performance but best bang for buck, would AMD be a better choice?
 

RasmusP

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@RasmusP Is AMD the better choice for CPU at the moment? I know Intel have good single core performance which is good for gamming, but if your not chasing ultimate performance but best bang for buck, would AMD be a better choice?
If you go with the msrp, then yes. Currently: no!
Ryzen 3600 is more expensive than a 9600k in Germany...
Ryzen 5600x is more expensive than a 10700k!

The Ryzen 3000 have a way lower single thread performance than Intel 8,9,10 gen while the Ryzen 5000 have a lot higher single thread performance!

The upcoming Intel 11th gen will have a little bit more single thread performance than the AMD 5000 CPUs, price isn't known yet.

So currently, "bang for the buck" is completely screwed for any AMD cpu, while still okay for the 9600k and 10600k.

But for simracing, in theory, at normal prices, the AMD 5600x would blow them all out of the water, price for performance!
The Intel 11600k looks very promising. Probably having a slightly better single thread performance than the 5600x but just a bit more power consumption.
Depending on whether or not Intel's own factories can keep the price lower, it will be the better overall CPU, when taking the price into consideration.

But right now there's really nothing to buy...
Best decisions would've been to get a 9600k when it was released and buy Intel's 12th gen at the end of 2021 or AMD 6000.
Or getting a B550 board and Ryzen 3600 right before the price went up and replace it as soon as the 5600x normalizes.

Here's the price chart of the 3600x:
1612366003522.png
 
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I've never bought an AMD product but I am rooting for them, competition in this market is a good thing.
 
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I don't know where you are located (OP), but I'll have my "old" PC for sale in a few days (Ryzen 3800x, MSI B450 Mortar MAX, Asus Strix 1080, GSkill 16gb, etc.). If something might interest you PM me.
 
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Thanks everyone. A lot to take in.
I suspect I'll go through the familiar process of:
1. I'll buy a cheap PC
2. Actually, a cheap one is not worth it, I'll get this better one.
3. Actually, I better future-proof it a bit so I need to get some up-to-date parts.
4. Actually, that's really a lot of money. Forget about the whole thing!
 
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