Good cheaper computer for Skyrim/Second Life?

My daughter wants a computer that will run Skyrim and Second Life decently. She is looking at this one:$abcat0501000&cp=1&lp=3#tab=specifications

Here’s the deal. She has 600 dollars. She wants a computer now and neither of us have a clue about computer workings. She doesn’t want to save for something more expensive so that suggestion will not fly. She does not have the ability or desire to build something on her own.

All she needs is the computer. She has a good monitor/accessories. But it has to be something we can trust, because there will not be another 600 dollars like this until next year and I don’t think I can handle life with that girl without Second Life for a whole year. Help a mama out? Is this a computer to steer clear of or will it do for the price?

Accepting you at your word that you need an out-of-the-box system and you will not build nor open the case to upgrade, I’ll recommend this over your system:

Avatar Gaming FX6325X
The GPU is a rebranded Radeon 7770 which is still a very decent card for its price point and was very popular around the time that Skyrim released. Processor on yours is a little better but both are perfectly adequate for your games and the graphics card in the NewEgg one just blows the BestBuy one away. Both have 8GB memory, both have 2GB memory on the graphics card, both have some iteration of Win 8 (mine has 8.1). The keyboard and mouse might seem like you’re buying something you don’t need but they really don’t bump the price much. Plus mine is cheaper on sale right now – and free shipping!

To me that looks great, but she gripes about AMD over Nvidia, and while I know nothing about it I have no idea if she knows what she’s thinking here.

All I know is my little old eMachine is still kicking after seven years and everyone griped about them!

AMD offers better performance per dollar than Nvidia. Although I erred and the straight 250 is essentially a rebranded 7750 (the 250X is the equivalent of the 7770).

It’s her money and choice but the AMD card in mine is just plain better than what she’ll get by sticking with Nvidia.

Just to add a little more (and you can have her read it if you don’t care to follow):

The GT 620 is a rebadged GT 520 (though I also saw it compared to a GT 530).

The GT 620 isn’t on the Tom’s Hardware Graphic Card Hierarchy but the GT 530 is and it’s 19 ranks down. The GT 640 is on there but it’s 14 ranks down so it’s safe to assume the less powerful GT 620 is several ranks below that.

The R7 250 (DDR3 model) is twelve ranks down. It’s in the same tier as the Nvidia 9800 GTX+, a card I used to own and played Skyrim on very successfully. Now, if the choice was between the R7 250 and the 9800 GTX+ then maybe I’d say to go with the Nvidia card. But it’s not; it’s between the R7 250 and the far inferior GT 620. At that point it’s time to just go with what’s going to play your games better and it’s not the GT 620 no matter what label is on it.

I did try looking for prebuilts with an Nvidia card but nothing within the same range of specs was available for $600 or less (or slightly more).

Steer clear.

That has a Geforce 620 GPU which will not provide even a moderately good gaming experience. Skyrim is pretty hard on GPUs, so you should be looking at systems with a Geforce 750 or Radeon R7 260 at least. Both cards are about $110 on Amazon

Pair one of them with something like this Lenovo desktop and she’ll be good to go.

My two-year-old off-the-shelf Dell has a GT 530, and it plays *Skyrim *excellently. Hell, it plays Bioshock Infinite at maximum resolution, too. I’ve yet to encounter a game it can’t handle.

At which settings and at which resolution?

Maximum resolution, and as far as I remember (I haven’t played a while), very high settings.

Bioshock Infinite, which I’m playing now, is at maximum resolution and medium settings, which is good enough for me.

Well yes, but what is your maximum resolution? And what are your frames per second? At 720p others are getting ~35 fps at medium settings. Personally I like my framerate to be rather higher - about 50 fps - it makes gameplay a lot smoother and copes with sudden drops. I’m not one of the 120 fps twitchers.

You know what, I’m not an expert or an enthusiast. The game plays smoothly and it looks good. That’s all I care about.

And therein lies the rub. Rushgeekgirl’s daughter is likely to have a 1080p monitor and to have a decent experience at that resolution requires a lot more GPU power than you running at a resolution perhaps as low as 1024x768.

My monitor is a bit old, but still good. Maximum resolution for me means 1600X900.

I’m not a complete Luddite. I’m just not whatever you call the graphics version of an audiophile.

That’s fine and I wouldn’t try to argue that you’re not happy with it. However, it would play better with the R7 260 which is a more powerful card. Which is in a computer for actually a few dollars less than the one she was considering.

I’m not saying you should feel your card is bad, especially if it’s doing its job for you. It’s just outclassed by the alternative in this case. Dollar for dollar, there’s no good reason to go with the GT 620 system.

I don’t know if you’re running the official High Def PC mod but that’ll put extra load on the card as well. Plus numerous other graphic-enhancing mods which you can take advantage of if you have a system that can handle them.

I tried combing around some more and couldn’t find an out-of-the-box Nvidia system that came close to R7 260 in performance and still came in under $600. They were all GT 620’s or worse. That NewEgg system is a steal for what she’s looking for.

Would an improved graphics card make the gameplay more fun? Deepen the characterization? Streamline the dialog tree? Improve the worldbuilding? Make the game more balanced? Make the visual design more imaginative? The only thing better graphics *might *do is improve immersion, but if the game’s good I’m usually pretty immersed anyway.

That’s a worthwhile thread to read since it’s essentially comparing the two cards in question (again, the R7 260 being the 7750 with a new name).

I don’t disagree with Quartz that buying an “office” system and upgrading the card might be a way to go but it sounds as though that’s not in consideration for Rushgeekgirl and kin. I’d worry too about the power supply in the computer. Speaking of, the Best Buy system comes with a 300W supply and the NewEgg system with a 450W supply. I doubt you could even make a substantial upgrade to the Best Buy system without including a new power supply as well.

It can for me. I like it better when I can play a stealth game with dynamic lighting. I like being able to run weather effects in Saints Row and see the neon reflected on the streets in the rain as I race through downtown. I like seeing a truly breath-taking vista in Skyrim because I’m running in high definition. I like it more when I can run TressFX in Tomb Raider. Now we could argue if that meets “makes game play more fun” but I’m having more fun and that’s what counts.

But, again, this is all academic since there isn’t any sacrifice to picking the more robust card. I’ve played both Nvidia and Radeon cards and most of the tribalism claims are overblown. One hasn’t given me more driver issues, incompatibility or durability issues. They’ve both worked just fine. For every game with an Nvidia badge in the splash screen, there’s one with a “Optimized for AMD” splash screen. If the Best Buy system came with a GeForce card from the R7 260’s tier, I’d say by all means go with that one.

Maybe you don’t see any need to upgrade but for a first time buyer, why not pick the better system?

I don’t disagree, and when I buy a my next computer I’ll make sure that it comes with a good (although not too expensive) graphics card. My point, though, is that even an old, weak card like the GT 530 can handle most modern games at a level the 90% of gamers who are not hardcore graphics nuts would find perfectly satisfactory; and that, in turn, means that the OP shouldn’t worry too much about a graphic card, because anything she gets will probably be good enough.

There’s a pretty wide excluded middle between “good enough” and “graphics nuts”. People get into Field of View and Vsync and the like and I usually just shrug.

I know prettier from uglier though and I far prefer prettier. A big part of Skyrim is the spectacle of the world; might as well make it more spectacular. Besides, requirements are only going to move in one direction so a better card now is more future-proofing for later.

Maybe I have a lower awe threshold than you, but I found plenty of spectacle in Skyrim, including more than a few times where I just stopped and stood where I was for a good five minutes to take it all in. I don’t know what level of graphics you’re thinking I had, but in my eyes at least, it was pretty damn good.

As for the future, yes I agree - now that the new generations of consoles are out, graphics levels for games in general are going to leap in the coming few years. For current games like Skyrim, a cheap card is all you need. For the games coming out next year it probably won;t be enough, unfortunately.