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Discussion Regarding the Building of "Console Killers"

Eschaton

59 months ago

This thread should be about strategies to build computers that fit the following definition:

  1. Are designed for use in a living room media center
  2. Are designed to match and/or exceed the capabilities of the most powerful consoles on the market (PS4 is the most common candidate)
  3. Are designed to be competitive with the console in question from a cost standpoint.

Most of my "business" currently revolves around people looking to get out of the console rat race and into PC gaming at a very low cost, so this particular kind of build is very interesting to me.

The first step is to make sure that I am really building a machine that at LEAST matches the PS4's specs. That console is running (according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PlayStation_4_technical_specifications#APU) an 8 core, 1.6ghz GCN-based APU with a 1152:72:32 core config and an 8gb set of DDR5 shared system RAM. Supposedly this machine is based on the Jaguar core design from AMD, but there are inconsistencies in the reporting there; per the aforementioned wiki page, the PS4 features four modules with two cores each. Jaguar, however, is an architecture that does not use CMT (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jaguar_(microarchitecture)), therefore it is difficult for me to understand how it can be understood to share the unfortunate "module" construction of prior AMD architectures. Can anyone assist in explaining this discrepancy?

Then there's the issue of the GPU side: http://www.anandtech.com/bench/product/1080?vs=1130. Given that the aforementioned core config of the PS4 should theoretically put it just under the R9 270, why is it that the GTX 750 Ti is generally accepted as outperforming it? I don't deny the data, and I've seen real-world tests that suggest the 750 Ti is in fact the superior GPU, but does that mean the data on the PS4's GPU is wrong, or is there something else going on that isn't immediately apparent in the numbers?

Comments

  • 59 months ago
  • 3 points

Dang...I'm really sad that this discussion didn't really get that far! I'm not very knowledgeable in the area, so I was hoping to see some good answers.

  • 59 months ago
  • 1 point

As am I, obviously. I think a lot of people don't even believe it's possible.

Anways, further research on my part has still not turned up definitive answers to the questions posed in the OP.

itisamystery.jpg

  • 55 months ago
  • 1 point

What is the current "console killer" you are building/looking into?

  • 55 months ago
  • 1 point

I am most interested in the Celeron J1900 platform and the Athlon X4 550, if they will ever make that available and not just paper-launch it. The GPUs are not really an issue; generally a 750 Ti or 260X will get you there.

  • 55 months ago
  • 1 point

Could you link me to a specific build/parts list?

  • 54 months ago
  • 1 point

Right now this is probably the absolute closest you're gonna get - really hoping MSI updates the BIOS for this board soon to include FSB overclocking options, like the ASUS boards have:

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

Type Item Price
CPU AMD 5350 2.05Ghz Quad-Core Processor $49.55 @ OutletPC
CPU Cooler Gelid Solutions CC-Ssilence-AM1 34.0 CFM CPU Cooler $13.99 @ Directron
Motherboard MSI AM1I Mini ITX AM1 Motherboard $34.98 @ OutletPC
Memory Team Elite Plus 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory $43.99 @ Newegg
Storage Western Digital Caviar Blue 500GB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive $38.40 @ Amazon
Video Card Gigabyte GeForce GTX 750 Ti 2GB WINDFORCE Video Card $109.99 @ Newegg
Case Cooler Master Elite 120 Advanced (Black) Mini ITX Tower Case $24.99 @ Newegg
Power Supply Corsair Builder 430W 80+ Bronze Certified ATX Power Supply $19.99 @ Newegg
Optical Drive LG UH12NS30 Blu-Ray Reader, DVD/CD Writer $39.95 @ OutletPC
Wireless Network Adapter Intel 7260 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Mini-PCI-Express Wi-Fi Adapter $22.98 @ Amazon
Prices include shipping, taxes, rebates, and discounts
Total (before mail-in rebates) $468.81
Mail-in rebates -$70.00
Total $398.81
Generated by PCPartPicker 2015-06-07 22:52 EDT-0400

Other than having a somewhat weaker CPU and a somewhat stronger GPU than the PS4/XB1, as well as a more obnoxious form factor, it has perfect feature parity with the PS4.

  • 55 months ago
  • 2 points

The PS3 is probably my last console. I like the question. I think a lot of people are getting PC because it's more versatile. Can do your homework. Internet. Gaming of course. And mods. Consoles are more of a one-trick pony. The compatibility issue is a big problem. Can't play your old games? That was another nail in the console coffin. Maybe more than one nail, more like 10. You can configure and tweak your pc as much or as little as you want. Now with SteamOS getting more mature and stable it's easier to decide on a PC over a console. So I am not sure that having a PC faster than a console is high on the list for someone going to PC. But you can get a nice PC for $500-600 especially if you get a used video card.

  • 55 months ago
  • 2 points

Another significant aspect to the PC vs. Console choice is that the console is a static design and I'm not sure how long before they are released when the design is final. Is it a year, more, less? I'm not sure but the performance clock starts ticking and it doesn't change except with software improvements (which can include firmware). As the console gets older the PC looks better and better.

So static design of a console vs. flexibility in PC.

  • 59 months ago
  • 1 point

What about audio? How does the PS4 7.1 "out of the box" compare to the audio quality provided by that mobo?

DjB

  • 59 months ago
  • 2 points

I opened that, scrolled through 1.5 pages, got a headache, had to drink down the rest of my beer to make it go away.

I think you have me confused with an audio engineer. You have me confused, anyway.

:-)

DjB

  • 59 months ago
  • 1 point

The point is that it also has 8 channel 7.1 sound.

  • 59 months ago
  • 1 point

The 8gb and 1.6 8 core is easily matched cheaply, matter of fact you can just roll out the and FAX 6300 6 core under $100 boom, better. Roll out 8gb DDR 1866 ram 80 or less 1tb 7200rpm hdd 50 Good mobo 50-100 with good onboard audio if youdo some researching Good gpu 140-220

A good PC to out perform consoles can cost $500, I prefer 600-650 and you can get a lot of power for your dollar.

The OS you can get free its not hard. Building it is easy to do thy self.

Consoles are just convenient and simple with no upkeep but the game selection is so bad or they get boring so fast.

Multimedia for PC is limitless. I don't think consoles should be multimedia based at all, they should be pure gaming machines.

  • 59 months ago
  • 1 point

AMD FX 6300 sorry my phone doesn't like me right now lol

  • 59 months ago
  • 2 points

I liked "building is easy to do thy self" better, lol.

Although, as an English major, I HAVE to point out it's "thyself."

XD

  • 56 months ago
  • 1 point

Sounds lark yorkshire slang t'me lad.

  • 56 months ago
  • 1 point

Nice debate here...

  • 56 months ago
  • 1 point

Any input??

  • 56 months ago
  • 3 points

Not really, they both have their own use

  • 56 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks, I hope it was informative.

  • 56 months ago
  • 1 point

It was/is

  • 56 months ago
  • 1 point

Debate aside I moved to PC from Xbox because in over a year I've bought 6 games for around a total of £250 and I've been bored to death with them after about 30 hours of gameplay each. No other games interested me and there was absolutely nothing to play. In my opinion consoles are for people that only really want to play one game mindlessly. CoD makes my soul bleed but its huge on consoles because people can get home from work, lay down on the sofa and shoot ****.

Consoles = Convenient

  • 56 months ago
  • 1 point

Isn't really anything un-convenient about a PC past the initial setup though...

  • 56 months ago
  • 1 point

In the short fall its the cheapest fastest easiest way to game for somebody that can't be bothered to build a pc who only plays 1 or 2 games. A few of my friends only play console and won't build a pc because they only play CoD. Getting a £300 bundle with CoD included would end up being cheaper in the long run for people like that.

  • 56 months ago
  • 1 point
  1. Only in the short term
  2. Only the cheapest, fastest way
  3. Only for someone who can't be bothered to build a PC
  4. Only for someone who only plays 1 or 2 games.

So basically, very few people, and only for a while.

  • 56 months ago
  • 1 point

I know a lot of people who only play CoD on Xbox one. A lot of my friends only have GTA 5 on their Xbox and my brother literally only ever plays Halo or Fifa. It just wouldn't be logical for these people to spend £600+ on a pc. Most of them play casually too after work for maybe an hour or 2. This audience is a lot bigger than you think.

  • 56 months ago
  • 1 point

I think you should ask them how much they spent on their gaming system and their PC/laptop, and compare it to what you did when you built just your PC.

The audience is huge, but they don't have a legitimate reason other than ignorance to prefer consoles over PC.

  • 56 months ago
  • 1 point

The thing about consoles is even you play one you are farther away from it, playing it on a bigger screen. You really would not notice much of a difference between 30/60 fps. Some tvs can't even play tv shows at that speed since they have a low refresh rate

  • 56 months ago
  • 2 points
  1. Noticing the effect of framerate has nothing to do at all with distance.

  2. Most LCD HDTVs that I know of have a higher refresh than 30fps.

  • 56 months ago
  • 1 point

You would definitely be surprised, I know it can effect frame rate just by being on a bigger screen too...

  • 56 months ago
  • 1 point

I would not be surprised, because it wouldn't happen. That's not how our eyes work. A bigger screen, yes, that does have an effect. But a TV at 10 feet basically just reiterates a monitor at 2 feet in relative size - therefore the distance will have no effect.

  • 56 months ago
  • 1 point

so basically this is just about building a pc that can play games at 1080p 30 fps at medium setting since that is what the ps4 can do?

and IIRC i know the xbox 1 but not sure about the ps4 that 1 core is dedicated to OS.

  • 56 months ago
  • 1 point

This is preferably about beating that.

Try to ignore anyone who tells you that one core is "dedicated" to anything. That's not how threading works.

  • 56 months ago
  • 1 point

ah well that's good to know. i have put 0 effort into dissecting them. but im guessing by now you have a list of hardware that beats it then?

  • 56 months ago
  • 1 point

Not really yet. You should give it a go!

  • 56 months ago
  • 1 point

For the most part. There are still some kinks to be worked out:

  1. It's REALLY hard to match the number of threads the PS4 can throw at something.
  2. It's REALLY hard to match the vRAM the PS4 can theoretically throw at something.
  3. It's REALLY hard to be feature-complete with the PS4.

1 and 2 just mean that we have to shoot for performance superiority instead of flat hardware superiority, and that's pretty easy to do at least right now.

3 means that the PS4's one big draw is as a sort of compact, all in one media center that really does everything you need in your living room.

In other words, and this is going to sound kind of funny, but I fully believe it 100% - the Xbox One is easily the better console. It's cheaper than the PS4 and packs in all the non-performance related features of the PS4 under that price tag, while simultaneously promising future integration with Windows 10 and its software environment. That is a compelling little package, as far as it goes (still not upgradable, has retarded DLC issues to contend with, etc.)

The PS4 is shooting for performance superiority over the other consoles, but it can never match PC, so it's destined to ultimately be uninteresting for people who care about performance. The Xbox One, I think, comes closest to achieving acceptable performance along with a good feature suite.

I've always imagined what it would be like if the Wii had shipped with BluRay, a more feature-complete UNIX OS, and a little more onboard storage, for maybe like $250 instead of $200. That would have been a truly compelling package.

  • 55 months ago
  • 1 point

The question is are consoles 400-500$, or are they worth 400-500$.

  • 55 months ago
  • 1 point

necrokid99

But to answer your question: intrinsic value no, market value yes, because in real terms an item is worth whatever people are willing to pay for it, and the alternatives to a PS4 or XBox One are basically just each other (ie very few).

  • 55 months ago
  • 1 point

Well according to the market, neither one is worth more than $400, so I'm not sure where we are getting our numbers here...

[comment deleted by staff]
  • 59 months ago
  • 2 points

You do realize that efficiency has little to do with power, right? And that the GPGPU compute you refer to is just AMD's HSA technology, which is already widely in use in PCs? And that with the release of DX12, it's going to become the standard for all modern PC titles?

Finally, it's swell that the PS4 has that much vRAM - but it's too bad all it can be used for is as a crutch for sloppy coding, since the machine itself has trouble at 1080p and could never fill that up with actually useful texture preloading.

Similarly outfitted PCs (in terms of money spent) perform better even in console-optimized titles, sorry: http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/digitalfoundry-2014-call-of-duty-advanced-warfare-pc-performance

http://gamingbolt.com/geforce-gtx-750-ti-runs-battlefield-4-better-than-console-counterparts

PS4's GPU IS more powerful than the 750 Ti on PAPER, which is why it's so mysterious that it definitely gets trashed in IRL. That's kind of what I wanted to find out about here. It's the weirdest thing. I have to believe it has something to do with a specific spec like memory frequency or timing or something like that, but I just don't know.

[comment deleted by staff]
  • 59 months ago
  • 2 points

BF4 has been out for a while now and has received substantial updates. You can't say that the difference is because development was rushed anymore. Moreover, you don't know what you're talking about; BF4 can use Mantle, which is the kind of API that should most directly benefit PS4, and it BARELY gets 1080p and can't maintain a 60fps average at that level.

You can make assertions all you like, but I suggest you go out and read about it before you keep opening your mouth. All that vRAM essentially exists for the purpose of supersampling, and supersampling doesn't automatically make everything about a game look better - it's basically just an expensive way of doing antialiasing.

If the PS4 is still selling at $400 in 2-3 years, you'll be able to buy even better PC hardware then, to put any little efficiency gains they get in the code to shame with brute force hardware capability. Sorry, but that's just how it is; PC is always more powerful than console in every equal measure, simply by virtue of form factor if nothing else. The only things keeping consoles going are:

  1. Consumer ignorance/laziness
  2. Artificially-imposed exclusivity.
  • 56 months ago
  • 1 point

And couch coop.

  • 56 months ago
  • 2 points

Uhhh, there's definitely couch coop for PC. Just spent a lot of yesterday playing Hammerwatch and Gauntlet with two other people on a single screen.

[comment deleted by staff]
  • 59 months ago
  • 3 points

I've cited sources and clearly explained myself. You've cited no sources and relied on mumbo jumbo ("coding to the metal" etc.) to explain your position. vRAM is for visual data - including supersampling - but I can tell you right now that the visual data you need for the sub 1080p/60fps (upscaled) visual quality you get on a crappy console like the PS4 just does not take up more than 2-3gb vRAM. My midrange GTX 760 doesn't go over its 2gb allotment for any game I run on it at 1080p - because the pixel data you load into memory isn't so large that 2gb vRAM can't handle it. Hence why I said that the disgusting amount of vRAM you can get on the consoles is not good for anything except supersampling, where you render at a much higher resolution than the screen can support and then downscale to the correct resolution, loading massive amounts of pixel data into vRAM. It's still true - all that vRAM is just there for something that a well-written game won't take advantage of except to maybe supersample a little, for the purposes of making edges look a little smoother on-screen. It's laughable. You can do the same thing with APUs in computers, btw - you can take an A10-7850K, put 16gb of RAM into your PC, and allocate 8gb to vRAM if you like. See how far that gets you in games. Pro-tip: it won't make up for the fact that the A10's GPU is a piece of crap compared to something like the 750 Ti.

If you're right about the PS4 dropping to $300 straight (no funny business about game inclusions, since by that logic you could bring down the price of the PC to basically free, given how many AAA F2P games you can load on the system from the moment you get it up and running), then you might have an argument. I don't think PC hardware will be that cheap, that fast. I also think you're full of crap though, and that there's no way the PS4 will cost $300 in 2016. In 2014 they said it would be down to $350 BY 2015. Didn't happen.

Tomb Raider runs 1080p62fps absolutely maxed on my PC, which features a CPU from 2010 and two 760s - not a $1200 system by today's standards at all. Using benchmarking software and information available from other reviewers online, I can also tell you that it is a very crappy port of a console-focused game - the game runs on only one large thread, leaving my GPUs relatively unstrained once vsync is off, and FPS can go as high as 80+ under these circumstances. You know that is not how the game is coded for PS4 since its CPU has no single core that is super-strong to the point where it could run the whole game on a single thread; the developers just collapsed all the multithreading on the PS4 version into a single stupid thread for PC and released it. This philosophy also shows up in the fact that they released the PC version without the latest TressFX tech and didn't get the final facial expressions onto Lara - and not because PC can't handle it. In fact, per that video I linked, the PC version has access to two levels more AA than the PS4, as well as a few other graphically-demanding settings that ultimately make the game better looking on PC.

I don't know what you did wrong with your reading or with your PC building, but something very wrong clearly occurred with both.

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