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Build Suggestions Please

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Hi Folks,

I'm hoping to get some suggestions for a new PC. Links would be extra-appreciated - but I don't mind doing some digging either.

Here are my criteria:

  1. To be used as a media center for primarily: LAUNCHBOX (BIG BOX) , Kodi, and some light internet browsing. It should be able to run LAUNCHBOX with all bells & whistles (plug-ins and graphical effects) with no problems.
  2. It should be able to handle Dreamcast and PS2 games up to the limitations of the the emulators - not the computer. 
  3. I'd like to spend under $500 - the lower the better - but not at the expense of losing any of the prerequisites below.
  4. It will connect to a projector through HDMI
  5. I will NOT be playing any PC games - only retro-gaming.
  6. I'd prefer a mini size - but this is not an important issue. Just a preference.
  7. Hard drive size not too important as all ROMs will be kept on an external hard drive.
  8. I'd prefer something pre-built - but am totally willing to build it myself if I can save at least $100.

Any help would be awesome. I can't seem to find good and recent suggestions to fit my needs.





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So, this is an older machine, older CPU and older GPU, but it has a GPU in it period. It's also using Windows 7; 10 would be better, but you can find that later. 8GB of DDR3 RAM is probably the min. that I would go, but higher is better. That can be replaced at a later date. It's also normally $800, but on sale for $500. You might not actually save much more if you were to build this machine yourself, unless you got it part by part as they came on sale. So this checks all of the min. requirements for me. If you need a slightly beefier GPU or RAM at a later date, there are cheap upgrades available. Also, this was a crap shoot that I found this and the sale ends in 6 days.


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I would be reluctant to buy new old hardware I'd rather spend a few hundred more and get a machine with new components just to get better life and access to new features but that is me and I know not in every ones budget.

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That may struggle with the PS2 and Dreamcast stuff because it only has Intel HD graphics and there is obviously no room for a GPU in there. Also that comes with FreeDOS and not Windows so you would need a Windows license also in order to use LB and BB


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3 minutes ago, DOS76 said:

That may struggle with the PS2 and Dreamcast stuff because it only has Intel HD graphics and there is obviously no room for a GPU in there. Also that comes with FreeDOS and not Windows so you would need a Windows license also in order to use LB and BB



Thanks so much for the quick feedback. Now I'm starting to understand the requirements. Getting there...

What about this one - https://computers.woot.com/offers/hp-pavilion-560-intel-i5-rx480-1tb-desktop?ref=w_cnt_cdet_pc_dly_tl ? or is the original posting above from Newegg still better due to the i7? The $50 is not a big saving, but I was also considering the Windows 10 inclusion. Also, not sure about the graphics card on the HP.

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One has a Raedon card and one has a Nvidia but its a GT GeForce and not a GTX GeForce there are various things to consider I think I'd go with the newer hardware and the i5 6400 just because it newer and $50 less.

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Slight confusion - what's the difference between a Graphics card and a GPU? 

Which one is better for emulation?

Are they both (Graphics cards and GPUs) upgradable?

IS the HP (https://computers.woot.com/offers/hp-pavilion-560-intel-i5-rx480-1tb-desktop?ref=w_cnt_cdet_pc_dly_tl) graphic card  (or is it a GPU?)  Is it good enough for high end dreamcast / PS2 emulation - and Launchbox with all effects on?

Is it upgradable down the line?

Once again, I really want to thank you for the help. I'd love to purchase something today or tomorrow.

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Check out this build from Pauls Hardware https://pcpartpicker.com/user/paulshardware/saved/JVcsYJ?ref=paul

You will have to build it and supply your own OS but it's 400$ USD and will handle any emulation you throw at it (WiiU and PS3 will be hit or miss of course) and pretty much any modern PC game if you decided you wanted to do that later on. You could of course shave a few bucks off with a cheap GPU but at 100$ for a 4 GB GPU why not have it in there for upscaling Wii and PS2 games.

He mentions in the video that for more storage to swap out the SSD for a an HDD or add one in along side the SSD.

Video about the build:


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This sounds good, but I worry that the CPU is underpowered? I see similar prices for packages with i5 processors. Shouldn't I be looking for an I5 or I7 at a minimum to run Bigbox with videos, music, artwork, and higher-end games?

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I know that this a few years old, but this is the recommendation i was given when i was building my PC for pretty much the same purpose :


Not even close. The Nehalem i3 is just not as fast as the Sandy Bridge, Ivy Bridge and Haswell i3s, especially in complex emulation like GameCube / Wii.

You'd be better off with something like this, to get the performance advantage of Haswell's faster architecture:

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

Type Item Price
CPU Intel Pentium G3420 3.2GHz Dual-Core Processor $67.99 @ Amazon
Motherboard ASRock H81M-DGS R2.0 Micro ATX LGA1150 Motherboard $51.38 @ Newegg
Memory G.Skill Sniper Series 4GB (1 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory $36.99 @ Newegg
Storage Toshiba 2TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive $83.18 @ Amazon
Video Card PowerColor Radeon R7 260X 1GB Video Card $99.99 @ Newegg
Case Rosewill FB-03 ATX Mid Tower Case $29.99 @ Newegg
Power Supply EVGA 430W 80+ Certified ATX Power Supply $34.99 @ Amazon
Operating System Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (OEM) (64-bit) $97.27 @ TigerDirect
  Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available. $501.78
  Generated by PCPartPicker 2014-06-04 13:45 EDT-0400  

Since then, i've upgradded my CPU to an i5 4460 3.20GHz , PSU to 750W, my RAM to 16gb Gskill Ripjaws, a bigger mid tower case, and my GPU to an XFX R9 290x 8gb.

Edited by alexis524
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The one I originally linked has a GT 705 in there, so yes a GPU can fit. in fact, one comes with it. It's not an emachine case or anything like that, so it could probably do a half size GTX card, or a low profile card. I'm sorry, but that link I sent is still a good ass deal for $500 straight, pre-built. I would get that if I had a need for a smaller machine like that.

Edit: Like I said, it's not a perfect machine, but if you want something no hassle, that's under budget (though only while on sale), then it's a good machine to do this specific job. It's not gonna wow you on brand new emulation or games, and you could always upgrade the RAM and GPU later; But it comes in under budget, and you wont have to put it together. The upgrades can be something you could figure out in a year. I also don't like that Windows 7 is in that machine. I would certainly change that out to Windows 10. I just installed W10 on to a new machine for my mother in law, and we thought she was gonna have to buy it. After logging in with her account, that I did the Windows 7 to Windows 10 free upgrade on, Microsoft gave her W10 for free on her new machine. I just Installed Windows 10 Home, skipped the key part, logged her in, and it was done automatically. So if you ever did that process, you might have W10 for free.

Edit 2: I also haven't seen that video that Monkus posted, but I assume that's someone building the machine by the thumbnail. If you hunt, or look hard enough like that, then of course you could do better for less. Pre-built comes a bit more expensive. Too big or too small, and the price also goes up even if you're building it.

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