Sweet-spot for low-power PC/Steam 'console'?

imightbewrong

Distinguished Member
I'm thinking about setting up a PC in the front room so the kids can have a go at a few PC games - some basic ones like Portal, Civ, Skyrim etc and some more recent ones like Horizon Zero Dawn, Guardians of the Galaxy etc. These will be played at 1080p. Not sure how much of a success it will be - not looking to spend loads of money - not easy in this climate. I have considered getting a console but then would have to buy all the games again. Also considered Geforce Now to play via the Shield. As per typical the games I'm interested in above aren't there. Could stream the desktop - did give this a try last year but is a bit faffy - would want something they can just pick up and play independently.

Anyway, any thoughts on the prevailing view for this? New or second hand? Presumably has to be second hand for the GPU. Was looking at ebay and can get something like a 1060 6GB for around £250. For the rest I threw this together in Scan - don't know if it's the right ball park level of components

1640614602811.png


Have a case/psu/peripherals to salvage.

The other option is upgrading an old desktop - it currently has an i3-3220 CPU - pretty old. The motherboard would support an i5-3670 which has twice the 'cpu mark' score on CPU benchmark - but is still 1/4 of the performance of the latest equivalent i5. It has 8GB DDR3 RAM which isn't too bad. So could try and find an old i5-3xxx cpu to go in and a GPU and see how it goes.

Anyway a lot of talking there - any suggestions welcome!
 

ChadR

Member
I would go for the newer processor if putting together a computer. Microsoft isn't supporting a lot of the older processors on Win 11. No reason to go backwards. I3-10100 is better than getting a old CPU. I did the same thing, threw some money at my old Sandybridge last year. Ended up upgrading this year. My Wifi adapter was ancient. Didn't support Win 11. New PC runs so much better with the same GPU, 10603gb.

Throw in the cost of your 1060 which is a good card and you are smack in console territory.

For multiple people/kids, a couch and a tv go console. Hands down this will be the easiest and most inexpensive way to go. The games you listed all go or are on constant sale for the most part. I would say price of the games is a non-issue. Another thing to consider is who is going to maintain the PC? When you get error XYZ ,and you will, will the kids fix it or will it fall on you?

The only reason to get a PC is if you are putting it at a desk with monitor and like to play games only on the PC like most RTS ones.

My two cents.
 

next010

Distinguished Member
Kids learn fast especially with computers, if you have a PC and own the games already the mini PC is the way to go. The cost of games on consoles is far more more than on PC.

You can simplify a PC without too much difficulty, enable auto windows login and some other tweaks, use playnite as the front end if dealing with multiple store fronts, it has a full screen gamepad interface, which can power off system and in settings enable auto start and full screen.

If your steam only then big picture is fine for the task.

You dont need windows 11 for a low spec PC, in fact you could do away with win 10 when Valve releases SteamOS 3 for general PC's which should give us the same front end as Steam Deck.

I'd go with a cheaper lower end GPU and focus more on games that aren't AAA titles, also there is no shortage of older games which will run just fine.
 
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Cloysterpeteuk

Distinguished Member
Don’t go with the old Sata SSD, it's very overpriced, buy a modern m.2 drive like the WDSN550 it’s £70 on Scan though you can get them cheaper still on Amazon.

As for Horizon sure it runs on a 1060 gpu, at mostly 60fps even but that’s at 1080p low settings, you can buy a PS5 for the same kind of money and play it at 2160p, locked 60fps with better settings.
 
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Cloysterpeteuk

Distinguished Member
Kids learn fast especially with computers, if you have a PC and own the games already the mini PC is the way to go. The cost of games on consoles is far more more than on PC.

You can simplify a PC without too much difficulty, enable auto windows login and some other tweaks, use playnite as the front end if dealing with multiple store fronts, it has a full screen gamepad interface, which can power off system and in settings enable auto start and full screen.

If your steam only then big picture is fine for the task.

You dont need windows 11 for a low spec PC, in fact you could do away with win 10 when Valve releases SteamOS 3 for general PC's which should give us the same front end as Steam Deck.

I'd go with a cheaper lower end GPU and focus more on games that aren't AAA titles, also there is no shortage of older games which will run just fine.

Price of games isn’t much of an issue really if the goal of the OP is to play older titles, or those indie games you mention, those are going to be very affordable whether you play on console or pc. They could always just subscribe to one of services like PS Now or Game Pass and pay next to nothing for hundreds of games, great idea for the pc in fact as there’s about a million suitable games on PC pass that would run relatively well on a low power pc.
 

iqoniq

Active Member
I've got a cheap Windows box, that's about the size of two Steam Links stacked on top of one another, and I can use it as a gaming PC in the bedroom. It streams the XBox and PS4, as well as having Geforce Now, Microsoft Cloud Gaming and Steam Link.

If you go down this route, one thing I'd suggest is forgetting about using any of them across wifi. Using ethernet is the only way to get it all working reliably, so you need to make sure the box has a built in ethernet port. If you're making it for the kids set it up using an admin account for yourself, and then make an account for the kids and it will give them their own profile (except on Steam, although this may be possible).

There are a few drawbacks. You need a strong internet connection for the streaming from Geforce Now and similar services. I know Geforce at the lowest settings requires around 5GB an hour for the data flowing back and fro, and a very low ping rate (as low as you can get it). I've had success using Powerline ethernet for internal stuff, but anything external was choppy, although your mileage may vary.

You'll also be using extra electricity for anything running internally. The Steam PC or consoles will need to be on to stream from them.

With a Steam link, there is a way to access the host desktop, and it's actually quite easy. Depending on how savvy your kids are you may want to create an account on the host desktop for the Steam Link to connect to. DO NOT GIVE IT ADMIN PRIVILEGES. I intentionally wrecked a Windows install just to see if it could be done (it was the same with the actual Steam Link consoles they sold).

If you get a cheap windows box, do a bit of research on it first, especially how easy it is to get replacement install files, do a factory reset and how much bloat it has. The one I'm using turned up with a load of crap on it, and the moment I put Bitdefender on it the antivirus went crazy. Thankfully I was able to do see what drivers it needed, and made sure I was able to get them before completely reinstalling it with files I knew were clean (for Windows 10 expect it to take a couple of hours because eMMC memory isn't the fastest, although some do contain an SSD).

On that front, make sure you have enough storage. You want no less than 64GB of storage, and Windows will take up around 20GB of that. I'd install something like CCleaner and every couple of months recover any disk space possible (delete old restore points, reclaim any dead space left by installs updates, etc).

There's also a piece of software called ShutUp10++ (link at the end) which will allow you to configure some things beyond what you could normally. It's a great piece of software for any Windows PC and is aimed primarily at privacy, but it also allows things like long term deferral of updates, stopping most of the telemetry (make sure you don't use the options that kills XBox and Windows Marketplace), and a few other useful features.

To be honest, if your kids are around 10 and up, these also double as great homework or first machines as well. My niece had one when she was at school for her homework and art related stuff, and now that she's traded up to a desktop, it's used as a streaming box for her TV. If it's not a success with your kids, they can usually be repurposed for something useful.

O&O SU10++ link...
 

Delvey

Distinguished Member
Have a look at running nvidia now on the older hardware. It's free for an hour so you can give it a try. No good for multiplayer but for something like Civilisation it will be fine.
 

imightbewrong

Distinguished Member
Thanks for the suggestions all. In the end I grabbed a few components to upgrade the old PC with a new graphics card and some storage - works a treat. Tried out Horizon Zero Dawn, Guardians of the Galaxy and Jedi Fallen Order - the kids are very impressed.

Thanks @next010 for the suggestion of Playnite - it has picked up all my installed games across Steam and Epic - the PC boots straight into it and it works off the controller.

The controller is probably the weak point. Currently I am using the Shield controller which I already had - it works ok but two problems:

- It seems to lose the settings sometimes and needs to be re-enabled
- It doesn't work wireless (or I can't make it) - I think it is because it is not bluetooth but it actually uses a wireless network to connect to the Shield. I hook it up by USB but the connection is very flimsy.

So my next question is - are there any magics to make the Shield controller work with the PC wirelessly? If not, any suggestions for a decent enough wireless PC compatible controller?

Thanks!
 

sykotik

Distinguished Member
Thanks for the suggestions all. In the end I grabbed a few components to upgrade the old PC with a new graphics card and some storage - works a treat. Tried out Horizon Zero Dawn, Guardians of the Galaxy and Jedi Fallen Order - the kids are very

So my next question is - are there any magics to make the Shield controller work with the PC wirelessly? If not, any suggestions for a decent enough wireless PC compatible controller?

Thanks!
I just use the xbox controller ( the newer X version) and the wireless adapter
Coming from the PlayStation controler took and a little while getting used too.
Works with every game with out problems.
 

next010

Distinguished Member
Nvidia state the Shield controller must be updated via a firmware on the Shield and then unpaired from the Shield set top box. Then you can use it on the PC with GeForce experience software.


As sykotik says I would just get an Xbox controller its so much less hassle than using others.

If your not a fan of Xbox button layout 8-bitDo make an Xbox controller in the layout of Playstation.

 

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