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  new computer purchase advice  (Read 2678 times)
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Offline philfrei
« Posted 2014-03-31 07:28:49 »

Would the "system 2" at this site be a reasonable computer for libgdx dev?

I'm on a tight budget, but need an upgrade pretty badly. I like working with the folks at this store--they've been very good about service and warranty over the years.

The computer I currently have:
Pentium 4, 3.2 GHz, 3GB RAM, definitely wasn't up to Android emulation via Eclipse plugins.

From the site:

    ASUS H61M-F
    On-Board W/Audio/VGA/DVI / USB3.0
    4GB DDR3/1333-RAM(UP to 16GB)
    500GB/16M S-ATA3 Hard Drive
    Dual Layer Rewritable DVD/CD
    Mini Tower Case w/350W Power Supply (In-Win Z589BL+)
    USB Keyboard & Mouse(Logitech)
    Windows Win 7-home 64bit OEM or Win-8 64 bit (Upgrade to Pro+$85)
    Upgrade to: P8Q77-M CSM w/HDMI/USB3/RAID +$80

    i3-3240 3.4G/3M cache LGA1155 CPU

But a couple upgrade options are available on the CPU.

"It's after the end of the world! Don't you know that yet?"
Offline trollwarrior1
« Reply #1 - Posted 2014-03-31 07:35:01 »

I doubt anyone uses android emulator to develop games..
Offline princec

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« Reply #2 - Posted 2014-03-31 07:51:01 »

Get an i5 preferably over an i3 (i7 even better!). Clock speed becoming less important than core count.

4GB RAM is not quite enough these days. I'm running out with 6GB.

Stick to Win 7 64-bit if you can.

Most important of all you've made no mention of the GPU. Always always always get a proper Nvidia or AMD part in there. Intel just Does Not Work Properly.

Cas Smiley

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Offline Gibbo3771
« Reply #3 - Posted 2014-03-31 08:38:59 »

If your going budget, say <£500. Then I would go with an AMD APU setup.

If your spending a little more, you can get a nice i5 build.

I recommend having a look at the Gigabyte DHx range of motherboards, they range from £60-80. You can get a second hand i5 3570k for around £100. RAM is just cheap anyway but I recommend a minimum speed of 1600mhz. In terms of GPU, you can probably get away with using the HD4000 built in until you have £150+ to spend on a card.

You can easily go with an i3 3240, Gigabyte D3H Mobo, 8 GB 1600mhz RAM, 450w PSU would be fine and a AMD R7 260. This comes to like £360, a second hand i5 3570 would be better and roughly same price.

I used to code on a similar setup except with a 7870XT. Worked flawlessly and being honest, it pretty much ran everything I threw at it.

"This code works flawlessly first time and exactly how I wanted it"
Said no programmer ever
Offline princec

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Medals: 409
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« Reply #4 - Posted 2014-03-31 14:05:35 »

The HD4000 is utter shit  Stare

<edit> Qualifier: the hardware might be almost reasonable... the drivers are just utterly atrocious. If there's one thing you spend the money on, spend it on the GPU, and get Nvidia.

FWIW priority these days for an easy life is in this order:
Windows 7 64-bit

as in, get the things at the top of the list before spending any money on the things below.

Cas Smiley

Offline Longarmx
« Reply #5 - Posted 2014-03-31 14:15:52 »

I agree with princec. Get a dedicated graphics card (gtx 500 series or AMD equivalent). Also, an i5 will give you the nice boost in performance. That 350w power supply might give you trouble though. I would go onto neweggs power supply calculator and make sure you would have at least 50 watts of buffer.

Online BurntPizza
« Reply #6 - Posted 2014-03-31 15:07:20 »

That system isn't too bad, but like others said watch out for the somewhat dubious power supply rating and (lack of?) GPU. If you like the shop, fine, but you could definitely do better for $600.

The Nvidia GTX 750 Ti is looking real good for budget systems, although you can back of to an older card if you really want to save money.

While Nvidia GPUs are really what you want, in the CPU arena, AMD is unbeatable for cost efficiency in the medium performance bracket. I'd recommend a Phenom II, they deliver good performance at ~$100, here's a comparison between it and other CPUs for power/cost, notice that the nearby processors are 3 times more expensive for similar cost efficiency.

Of course for best value I'd say build your own rig, but if you're not so inclined you can get a rough estimate of how components rate against each other (is that i3 as good as the AMD?) on and it's sister sites for selecting a build from a store.
Any other questions about PC components can be answered/found on /r/buildapc
Also PCPartPicker is amazing.
Offline SHC
« Reply #7 - Posted 2014-03-31 15:12:29 »

I'd recommend an NVIDIA GPU from the GTX 700 series and an Intel i3 processor.

Offline jonjava
« Reply #8 - Posted 2014-03-31 15:36:34 »

How is nVidia vs ATI/AMD these days? nVidia used to be overheating power hungry junk comparatively afaik.

Before you buy anything including a new GPU like many have suggested - upgrade that Power supply (PSU), 350W is not enough for a decent CPU and GPU, otherwise your system will be power starved and it might (it will) permanently damage your hardware and not function properly.

Offline princec

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« Reply #9 - Posted 2014-03-31 15:45:53 »

Nvidia may run a bit hotter than AMD but they're still somewhat ahead in OpenGL driver quality IMHO.

Cas Smiley

Games published by our own members! Check 'em out!
Legends of Yore - The Casual Retro Roguelike
Offline theagentd
« Reply #10 - Posted 2014-03-31 18:07:46 »

How is nVidia vs ATI/AMD these days? nVidia used to be overheating power hungry junk comparatively afaik.
That was true for the 400 series, and to some extent the 500 series as well. The 600 series uses slightly less power than AMD's equivalent cards at the moment.

EDIT: They've basically been focusing 100% on power efficiency since the Fermi disaster. The biggest change from the 500 series to the 600 series was that they tripled the number of shader cores and removed the doubled shader clock, which is so ridiculously more efficient that they should've done that long ago just like AMD's been doing for a while now, but at least they've caught back up when it comes to power consumption.

Offline Gibbo3771
« Reply #11 - Posted 2014-03-31 18:56:46 »

I don't tend to compare nvidia and amd in performance... It's utterly pointless.

AMD is better here, nvidia there, 1 driver runs like shit and the next is fine. Really is completely game dependent.

AMD = cheaper
NVIDIA = slightly more expensive

Really if your going to spend £200 on a card, you are going to get more for the money if you go AMD, anything over £300 you start to get noticeable performance increases for your money.

I never spend more than £250 on a card and never have, after that price it's just a cock swinging contest. Never had my 7870XT struggle at 1080p with any game, anything that does I just kill AA and bump shaders down a touch, looks more a less the same.

Oh yeah it's for coding and hobby games programming...

Really anything with a dedicated card and at least 8Gb ran is fine, if you start firing out AAA like games then it's time to just get into debt and buy a super rig.

"This code works flawlessly first time and exactly how I wanted it"
Said no programmer ever
Offline Riven
« League of Dukes »

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Hand over your head.

« Reply #12 - Posted 2014-03-31 20:07:03 »

Given that he has a budget of rougly $700, advice to not buy a gfx card over £250 ($415) is pretty obvious.

The question is: what is run though the Android Emulator? CPU heavy code, or GPU heavy code?

Will the project be big? If so, then a small SSD (60GB) is one of the most important things: a system with a spinning disk feels sluggish once you've had an SSD.

If you're developing for Android, you can have the cheapest non-Intel GPU money can buy (think AMD Fusion). You can spend way less than $700 for a system that fits your (barely described Smiley) needs.

Given that your current system is over ten years old, it's not too far fetched to assume this one is going to have to last equally long, so keep at least two free memory banks.

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Offline loom_weaver

JGO Coder

Medals: 17

« Reply #13 - Posted 2014-03-31 21:04:29 »

After using an SSD machine I don't think I can go back.  Sub 15-sec boot times and apps opening up pretty much instantly is pretty sweet.

And I've always been wary of what I allow to run on start-up + occasional re-installs to keep things speedy.
Offline zngga
« Reply #14 - Posted 2014-04-01 05:19:45 »

I always recommend building your own, and if you're going to build your own, then I always recommend this site:

My code never has bugs... it just develops unexpected features!
Offline philfrei
« Reply #15 - Posted 2014-04-01 05:21:28 »

This has been hugely helpful!

I have a couple games and an audio tool that could possibly work as Android apps, maybe even iPad apps. Also am hoping to make a version of the audio tool for iPhone or Android phone, so musicians can run them at rehearsals (for warming up). Most already have a phone of some sort.

Some follow-up questions and replies:

Comment about developers not using an emulator makes sense. I should probably just have an Android tablet of some form to use for running/testing the programs. When I originally Libgdx for use on Eclipse, the instructions included an emulator add-on. But when I tried to run it, loading anything more than a simple program could take as much as 10 minutes or more. It was quite unworkable. I assumed the problem was my old PC, but your suggestion implies its better to just have another working setup and avoid the emulator. (Recommendations?)

I have the option to go for either Windows 7 or 8. When you recommended Win7 64-bit, was that over Win 8? I'm told the "System 2" package has NVidia graphics as part of the cpu card. Option exists to upgrade with a higher quality gpu at a later time. (As well as RAM and even replacing the i3 with i5 or i7.)

Sounds like great suggestions. I just wish I didn't have to factor in my learning curve.

Cool resource! I did not know about the recommended power supply calculator. It looks like the system has 125 Watts buffer.

More great resources/links! Thank you.

SSD sounds fantastic. I did not know these had become a reality in the market place. (Shows how little I pay attention to hardware.) My projects are on a smaller scale, overall, so it will be hard to justify at this time.


Based on this feedback, I think I can get some reasonable programming done with their "System 2," with the plan of upgrading on an as-needed basis. Will consult again about best video cards and the like, down the road, as family finances improve (knock on wood) and/or I actually start making some money via selling apps. And hopefully, I won't be going 10 years without upgrading again. We got sort of whip lashed by the recession, took me and my wife by surprise in terms of how long it is lasting.

"It's after the end of the world! Don't you know that yet?"
Offline Abuse

JGO Knight

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falling into the abyss of reality

« Reply #16 - Posted 2014-04-01 08:09:08 »

I'd just like to reiterate how invaluable having an SSD is, especially in a development environment.

The sweet spot at the moment is 256GB, which if you hunt around for a good price, can be had for ~£75.

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Offline princec

JGO Kernel

Medals: 409
Projects: 3
Exp: 16 years

Eh? Who? What? ... Me?

« Reply #17 - Posted 2014-04-01 08:44:15 »

+1 for SSDs though if you buy anything under 256GB you will become annoyed with it rapidly when it fills up at an inopportune moment. Also the smaller they are the slower they get, sooner (look up why on Google). But having said that... just having a fecking massive amount of RAM means large amounts of disk cache and little reason to swap and it's swapping and caching where you really notice how slow magnetic disks are.

If you've only got a $700 budget and you want something powerful enough to do Android emulation on... well duh, don't, no emulator is any use compared to the real thing honestly. Get a $600 computer and buy a $100 Android device off of Ebay. Then you will only need a modest CPU (GPU somewhat irrelevant in the emulator).

Win7 over Win8 any day. Win7 is very good. Win8 improves a couple of small things and breaks a ton of other things, though I hear 8.1 refixes some of them a bit. I'm toying with Linux for my next desktop though. Just need to find a distro which isn't totally shit, no luck so far.

Cas Smiley

Offline Roquen
« Reply #18 - Posted 2014-04-01 09:22:37 »

If you want win 8.1 to look like win 7 and earlier...ya still gotta tweak stuff.
Offline theagentd
« Reply #19 - Posted 2014-04-01 11:38:23 »

I got a 60 GB SSD when they were pretty new and expensive. I used it only as a boot drive for Windows and graphics drivers and stuff like that since I couldn't fit my games in such a small drive. Even if I could fit a game was currently playing on it, it wasn't worth the work to move files temporarily to the SSD for faster load times.

Currently I have a 128GB SSD which I bought for less than half of what my original 60 GB SSD cost, and I'm using it as a cache drive for a 4TB harddrive. This worked incredibly well, basically giving me the simplicity of a single drive with around 90% of the performance of an SSD after the first time I load something. It's also extremely easy to set up; just install Windows to your harddrive, install Intel Rapid Storage Technology, click a button to activate caching. In my opinion I get a lot more out of my SSD when I use it as a cache, but if you can fit everything you have into your SSD and don't have any large files (games, completely legally acquired anime, etc) then obviously just skip the cache and dump it all on your SSD.

Offline zngga
« Reply #20 - Posted 2014-04-01 15:07:32 »

Off topic just a little bit,


If you are looking for a good Linux system, I recommend Ubuntu-Gnome. They do away with the god-awful Unity Shell, and replace it with the Gnome 3 desktop environment. You still get all the benefits of vanilla Ubuntu (updates, applications, and upstream bug fixes) but with a usable workflow instead. If you are looking for Linux, then IMHO Ubuntu-Gnome is the way to go right now.


My code never has bugs... it just develops unexpected features!
Offline saucymeatman
« Reply #21 - Posted 2014-04-01 21:02:11 »

Whats wrong with windows 8? Sad

Ive used it for over a year now, and so far its been fine for me. I hear alot of bad shit about it, butmy only issues are as follows :
-It thinks I have a pirated copy, which is annoying but probably my fault
-The start menu is pretty useless

With windows 8.1 you can boot directly to desktop if you prefer. Ive never had any compatabilty issues or any other problems I would assosiate with the operating system.
Offline Roquen
« Reply #22 - Posted 2014-04-02 06:46:31 »

You can fix the start window with classic shell/win8 start button (I think it called not in front of one ATM).  My experience is minimal, but other than the PITA getting the UI back to usable for issues.
Offline GoToLoop
« Reply #23 - Posted 2014-04-02 07:23:09 »


I've also got some Linux distro advise which I've posted @
But it's half digested by the "Chit-chat Monster" now though!   Undecided 

Luck I've saved my post offline and gonna re-post it here!   Roll Eyes 

Go to to get the picture of all open source distros.   Roll Eyes 

In general, any Ubuntu derived distro is good for 1st lookers.
As mentioned, Mint is overall the better choice. Zorin is good too.

But if you're inclined to more aesthetically gifted distros, I'd go w/:

    Elementary ->
    or Deepin   ->

For lighter Ubuntu-based distros, go w/:

    Bodhi ->
    LXLE  ->

For non-Ubuntu & non-DebIan options, perhaps these 3 below:

    PCLinuxOS ->
    Fedora       ->
    OpenSUSE ->

If you feel pretty adventurous, there's PC-BSD ->
Which it's not even a Gnu/Linux distro, but a FreeBSD 1!   Tongue
Offline Roquen
« Reply #24 - Posted 2014-04-02 08:26:17 »

Make a wiki page and support why you think these are good ideas.  I've started to peek at CentOS...I'm going to look at the other light wight disto's you mentioned.
Offline Grunnt

JGO Kernel

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Exp: 5 years

Complex != complicated

« Reply #25 - Posted 2014-04-03 08:08:46 »

Alternatively for the same money you could buy a small collection of Android test devices.  Wink

Offline gimbal

JGO Knight

Medals: 25

« Reply #26 - Posted 2014-04-03 08:22:49 »

What ELSE is going to be done with this machine I wonder?

Is noise/power consumption a factor? If the computer is in the living room you'll go nuts if it constantly sounds like a vacuum cleaner.
Offline Gibbo3771
« Reply #27 - Posted 2014-04-03 09:36:14 »

What ELSE is going to be done with this machine I wonder?

Is noise/power consumption a factor? If the computer is in the living room you'll go nuts if it constantly sounds like a vacuum cleaner.

Being fair a decent after market fan will cost around £20, most GPUs can run idle with there fans at 5%.

I do not hear my i3s fan, or my 7870XT unless I start playing games.

"This code works flawlessly first time and exactly how I wanted it"
Said no programmer ever
Offline princec

JGO Kernel

Medals: 409
Projects: 3
Exp: 16 years

Eh? Who? What? ... Me?

« Reply #28 - Posted 2014-04-03 09:52:13 »

As luck would have it the Ars System Guide has just been updated.

Cas Smiley

Offline philfrei
« Reply #29 - Posted 2014-04-03 22:11:31 »

I'm okay if there are "hijacks" off the topic, as long as it generally stays pertinent to issues concerning purchasing a new computer with an eye towards supporting an Android development environment.

I may just get a Tablet as a first step, as suggested (thanks again for making me aware that this could work!), and and take it from there. It might be possible to push back the purchase of a new computer yet a few more months (with the hope we become a true dual-income family again in the meantime).

Meanwhile, I can switch over to my Ubuntu partition (I am dual-booting anyway) for all Internet access, drop the use of XP in that regard. Pain in the butt, but frugal.

"It's after the end of the world! Don't you know that yet?"
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