Help me spec out a new work at home PC?

(EDIT: I recommended these games upthread before reading the kind of games you might like. Based on this new info I’m recommending them again.)

You might enjoy Subnautica. Possibly a lot.

There is a chance a work-like feel might seep in. Then again, you can disable food and water to remove some of that and still get a full experience. (But maybe not needed. The food and water system isn’t onerous.)

By contrast, I don’t think I would recommend Oxygen Not Included (which I think is very good) because one of the complaints of that base-building game is that it starts to feel like work. I concede that that complaint isn’t unfounded.

You might like Control. It’s a third person shooter, as opposed to FPS, but pretty forgiving and you definitely feel very powerful. It’s short enough that there’s a good chance you would finish the story before losing interest.

I have GTA V installed, which Google says takes 72 GB but my folder says 101 GB. So now I’m doubting that Cyberpunk 2077 is really only 70 GB like Google claims.

While I was checking I also checked Subnautica (7.6 GB) and Control (49.5 GB), but I do not have Control Ultimate Edition, just the base game. The ultimate edition bundle is the thing you would normally buy, and it will be bigger.

Weird, I have Control Ultimate Edition and it takes up 42.83 GB on my machine.

I second Subnautica. If I was wanting to tease out someone’s joy of gaming and what genres they’d like, I’d probably start with Portal 1 and 2, then Subnautica, then perhaps something like a Planet Coaster or Theme Hospital, then open world and finally a shooter.

You can toss in a few missed genres, such as Adventure, MMORPG, 4X, Flight Sim, City builder/Civ X, or JRPG, if you happen to know the person well.

So I bought Control Ultimate Edition! Some initial observations:

Fantastic world building in the creepy office areas. As a former graphic artist, I’m amazed at the level of detail.

I’m getting the hang of working the controls-- WASD kind of sucks for moving around, because, at least on my keyboard, the W is offset from the S a little bit. Fortunately I’m left-handed, so I use the arrow keys with my right hand to move around and I have a Kensington turbo mouse I use with my left hand. The turbo mouse has a trackball, like the old 80s Centipede arcade game, which makes it very easy and effortless to look around and change perspective. I wonder, is being left-handed actually an advantage for a PC gamer?

My computer handles the graphics great-- the CPU is always in the yellow zone between 50 and 80C during game play. Never seen it spike up to red since I changed the cutoff to 80C. There was only one brief glitch / freeze moment that lasted maybe a 1/2 second.

I did notice a game glitch-- my female avatar ran into a cart with coffee cups, knocking them off, but then she became part of the cart. Who knows though-- there have been hints of paranormal stuff, so maybe that wasn’t a glitch, but a feature!

I’m stuck on the astral plane level right now. Think I need to shift-run, then jump just at the right time to get over that one long chasm… Not looking for game tips, just thinking out loud.


There can be glitches. I’m not sure if there’s a way to manually save your game but if so it wouldn’t hurt every now and again. The game auto saves at the start of each mission but you probably haven’t begun the mission part of the game yet.

I bought an Xbox controller for gaming, and it’s one of my favorite decisions. I played both Control and Subnautica using the controller. Obviously a mouse and keyboard offers more control when you get good at it, but I really enjoy the videogame feel of using the controller.

My motherboard ended up not having Xbox wireless so I couldn’t natively connect the controller wirelessly. It also didn’t have Bluetooth, but I wouldn’t have wanted to connect via Bluetooth anyway. Instead I bought a 12-ft USB-C cable and plugged the controller directly into the back of my motherboard. Both being Microsoft, Windows natively supports Xbox controllers.

(I originally got the controller for a racing game, where the controller offers better control than a keyboard. But then I fell in love with it and now the controller is my first choice for all games. Most of them seem to support controllers.)

Interesting. My son told me you always want wired connections for gaming , because they’re more reliable and less latency.

Agreed. I would give Xbox wireless a try if my motherboard already had it, because everything I’ve read about it suggests it’s pretty good. But I wouldn’t trust Bluetooth.

I also don’t like the idea of batteries. Plugged in with the USB-C cable means I don’t even put batteries in it. It just always works.

Current controllers (I got the “carbon black”) have Xbox wireless, Bluetooth, and a USB-C port so you’re free to experiment.

EDIT: I’m having trouble linking the actual controller I have. I bought it as an impulse purchase in person at a Walmart, and I have no idea what the console generation names are.

Okay, it’s apparently called the “Xbox Wireless Controller”, as opposed to Xbox One or whatever.

Also note that “Xbox Wireless” is the official name of their wireless technology, as opposed to Bluetooth.

I forgot to mention what my younger son said earlier today-- he sorta disdainfully remarked “your GPU is ok at ray tracing, but it’s not that good at rendering polygons”. So disrespectful. Kids these days!

Well sure. Heck, a 3080 would probably be about 50% faster, for instance. Of course, they currently cost more than your entire system just for the card.

Checking my Amazon order history, my USB-C cable to plug in my controller is 10 ft, not 12 ft.

Checking your system specs, your motherboard does not have any USB-C connectors, only normal (Type A) USB ports. Checking Amazon, it looks like you would want something like this:

[2-Pack,10ft] Long USB C Cable Fast Charging, etguuds Nylon Braided Type C Cable Fast Charger Cord Compatible with Samsung Galaxy S20 S10 S10E S9 S8 Plus, Note 20 10 10+ 9 8, A70 A50 A40 A30 A20 A10e

Two pack is always nice; having a spare never hurt anybody.

I can’t 100% say that this would work, but I’m like 99% confident.

Alternately, you could get a USB expansion card, which slots in like a video card but of course is much smaller. More and more things are moving to USB-C, particularly phones, so it might be nice to just have USB-C ports. Something like this for $30 get you three USB-C ports plus a couple extra regular USB ports for good measure:

PCIe to USB 3.2 Gen 2 Adapter Card with 20 Gbps Bandwidth 5-Port (3X USB C -2X USB A) PCI Express Expansion Card Internal USB Hub PCI-E Add-on Cards Riser for Windows 10/8/7 and MAC OS 10.8.2 Above

That might be more of a down the road kind of thing. Just something to keep in mind. (Reviews on that USB card are unfavorable.)

Control was designed for consoles and later ported to PC. So it was really designed around a gamepad scheme. You can play it M+KB (I did) but you might find it easier with a controller.

I’ve played so long with M+KB that I find using a controller to be clunky and confusing with the bumpers and triggers and which colored button is which so I typically just charge through with M+KB even when it’s not optimal. On the other hand, M+KB is superior for fast action first-player shooting action as the mouse is a much better targeting tool. To the extent that controller users usually get “Aim Assist” where the computer gives allowances (“Eh, close enough”) or locked targeting to help land shots.

The one game I’m on the fence about in terms of using a controller is Doom (2016). I typically think of first person shooters as mouse and keyboard all the way, but so far with my new computer the only FPS game I’ve played so far is Halo. I logged countless hours playing the original Halo on Xbox with an Xbox controller, so I’ve been sticking with the controller for Halo as a special case exception for nostalgia purposes.

But then I was able to set up virtually everything to work with the controller: Hitman, GTA V, Resident Evil, Control, Subnautica, The Urquan Masters, my one racing game, PGA Tour Golf 2K21, even friggin’ XCOM, believe it or not.

The only games I still have where I use mouse and keyboard are real-time strategy games (Starcraft, Starcraft 2, Age of Empires) and Oxygen Not Included. Everything else – I have 16 games installed – works just fine with a controller. Well, “just fine” might be an overstatement for Subnautica, but it worked well enough.

Doom let me set up the controller no problem, and I think I remember it having aim assist features. It’s hard to abandon the clear advantage that mouse and keyboard offer with practice. I think my experience with Halo will help me break outside the box and shake off the mouse and keyboard shackles for FPS games in general. I only ever play them in single player story mode anyway. Online FPS with the general public is a hard pass for me.

Also, my wireless mouse and keyboard are less than 100% reliable. Worse, the keyboard signal doesn’t really work if I put the keyboard in my lap. So the next time I get really into a mouse and keyboard game, I’ll probably need to buy a wired keyboard. In the meantime, my controller is wired, so works just fine in my lap. Plus it feels more fun and “gamey” when I have a controller in my hand.

I’ve never understood using these unless the cable distance from keyboard to PC was unmanageable somehow (you can buy USB extension cords…pretty cheap). The hassle of having to re-charge them, their greater latency and unreliability are just too big of a downside.

That said, to each their own. Do whatever you like.

I used cabled keyboard and mouse but I sit at my desk so I figure worrying about batteries and stuff is more hassle than it’s worth. It’s not as though the cords get in my way in my setup. I do know a guy who PC games (M+KB) in his recliner on a big screen television so that’s a use case for wireless peripherals if ever I heard one.

Latency is supposedly better than it used to be although, for the average gamer (and especially for the casual gamer) I doubt it matters much anyway. That’s the sort of thing you worry about when playing competitive Fortnight/Overwatch/Apex/etc and milliseconds mean coming in first or second, not when you’re running through Metro: Exodus on Story mode.

That’s silly, IMHO. Sure, it’s not as fast as the 2080 or the 3070 or higher cards, but that doesn’t make it “not that good.” And the 3070+ cards are all better at raytracing, too. To me, it sounds like your kid is buying into the hype a bit. I have a 1060, and I have no problems gaming on it.

Also, if you’re having trouble with games taking up too much space, I would like to recommend compressing them after you download them. You can do the default compression by just right clicking on the game folder and going to properties to find the option.

But if you want decent compression that should have a negligent impact in speed, you need to use the more advanced compression built into Windows 10+. It’s a bit of a pain to use by default (as it runs on the command line), so I recommend a GUI front-end designed for games and other apps:

(Even Photoshop can be compressed, if you need to.)

I used to feel this way, but I’ve since decided that I like wireless better. I just like the freedom of being able to sit back and move things around without the cables getting the way.

@EllisDee: I started having that problem, too. It didn’t make sense to me, as the equipment was supposed to have a 30 feet range. yet I’m no more than 5 feet from my computer.

Turns out, the problem is the location of the USB dongle. Sure, it has a 30ft range, but that’s basically a straight line. What I wound up doing was adding a small USB hub to the top of my computer, so that the wireless dongle points up. It not only improved the connection, but basically eliminated the latency problems I had when the keyboard did work.

I definitely prefer this to having a cable. I used to have way too many problems with cables getting tangled or pulled if I left them long enough to be able to move around. The only downside is that I can drop the mouse, and can’t just follow the cord to find it.

Yeah, it’s silly talk. The 3060 is roughly comparable to the 1080 Ti (plus ray tracing and some other advancements) which was the flagship card in the 1000 series. Considering that the 1060 is still by far the most widely used GPU, followed by the 1050 Ti, it’s well above the average and considered an excellent card for 1080/1440 gaming. I have to assume the son is either misinformed, an AMD devotee or just razzing his elders.

The son was obviously just busting balls.

It already is, sadly. My dongle is plugged into a USB 2.0 front port.

The only reason I use wireless mouse and keyboard is because Walmart no longer carries the corded ones. Or at least my local one stopped carrying them around 2018.

The worst is if I plug in another USB device to another front port. Hoo boy, talk about latency then. Yikes.

EDIT: In a perfect world I’d have a corded keyboard but a cordless mouse. The mouse never lags (better line of sight to the dongle) and it’s much nicer not having a cord on a mouse.

That’s the thing, though. The front port didn’t help. The dongle has to point upward. The front port was actually worse, which is what blew my mind.

It seems dumb design not to make these dongles multi-directional. The older ones used to be, I’m sure of it. I could go to the bathroom and still type on the computer in my living room, even though I couldn’t see the screen.

Oh, gotcha. Okay, that’s something I can actually try. Thanks for the tip!

Do note, BTW, that my computer is on the floor, below my keyboard. If your computer is level with or below your keyboard, this might not help. But it doesn’t hurt to try.