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Best computer for game development.


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#1 RJBonner   Members   -  Reputation: 100

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Posted 17 November 2010 - 06:17 PM

What I need is a computer with enough power to run z brush max, maya and C+ etc. Basicly a computer powerful enough to support building a game from the ground up without slowing down. I am not very studied in this area, and while this thread gathers viewers and hopefully insight from all of you I will be gathering knowlage of my own.

Any advice or experience chipped in is greatly apreciated.

Thanks in advance!

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#2 YoYoFreakCJ   Members   -  Reputation: 100

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Posted 17 November 2010 - 06:44 PM

There really isn't much needed for that. Every standard graphics card is enough for modeling jobs. You don't work while rendering, and it's probably not expensive to do 3D modeling depending on the program you're using. I myself like Cinema4D, and it even works like a charm on my notebook, which is 256MB VRAM, 1GB RAM and a 2GHz dual core. Same goes for coding. Compiling always takes a few seconds. Having extra cores or extra GHz might give you a few extra seconds back, but maybe not.
So every standard pc is basically ready for game development.

#3 karwosts   Members   -  Reputation: 836

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Posted 17 November 2010 - 06:45 PM

Well your question doesn't really have an answer. There's no computer that can handle everything without slowing down, more expensive ones will be faster to accomplish certain tasks, but eventually they all reach their limit in terms of modeling, compiling, etc.

If you had some more criteria (budget?) someone could probably suggest where to focus your dollars, but you've given no criteria with which to make a tradeoff.

#4 RJBonner   Members   -  Reputation: 100

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Posted 17 November 2010 - 08:11 PM

Thanks everyone, I was planning on getting an aleinware desktop exept they are several thousand dollars. I have slightly over 1200$ to spare as of now but I could get it to over 2000$ in one month.

This makes me feel better for I have had bad expereinces with incompetent computers before. Like loosing several hours of artwork all becasue my comp couldnt take a custom brush and crashed.

[["If you had some more criteria (budget?) someone could probably suggest where to focus your dollars, but you've given no criteria with which to make a tradeoff."]]

I suppose the best bang for around 1500$

#5 Ravyne   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 6779

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Posted 17 November 2010 - 08:35 PM

You don't need some uber PC to do any of those things. As other's have said, essentially, a computer is a computer -- you won't get different results, you'll just get through some of the heavy-lifting stages more quickly. That said, 99% of the time you, the slooooow human, are going to be the bottle-neck.

For most of the folks here, even the very serious hobbiests and professionals among them, a fairly standard PC does them just fine.

If you're building or buying a desktop PC today, there's little reason to get anything with less than 4 cores. AMD makes 4 core parts for as little as $150 bucks. Likewise, there's probably little reason to get anything less than 4GB of RAM. Finally, since the competition has been so fierce lately, we're enjoying some spectacularly powerful graphics cards at very reasonable prices. Basically, any machine that is reasonable in this day and age is up to the task.

One place people sometimes skimp on their hardware is in the motherboard and PSU -- I would avoid that. That doesn't mean getting the best "gamer" mobo, or some 1200 Watt PSU, but rather getting really reliable kit. Intel makes some damn fine motherboards, being as most of their clients are corporate customers. There are entire websites dedicated to PSU testing that can recommend efficient units that put out clean power at any wattage rating.

For some important things that are a little bit out of the norm --

Get a decent battery-backup unit. You'll never loose your work or corrupt a file due to a power-outage. They'll also protect you from power surges and make sure your PSU is getting fed nice, clean power. Most will also have have fuses for Ethernet and coaxial data lines to help make sure a power surge doesn't sneak in the back door.

If you're doing important work, get yourself 2-3 identical drives and put them in a RAID configuration that supports mirroring. It's a good idea to get at least one of the drives from a separate source to spread out the manufacturer lot numbers just to protect against the possibility of getting a bad batch and having all the drives die in the same time period -- I might be inclined to buy a spare as well.

Invest in a backup solution of some kind -- RAID is a protection against hardware failure, not a protection against human error or catastrophic loss. In my computer, I have two modestly-sized drives in a mirrored RAID array for important files, and I have a separate backup drive where I periodically copy a snapshot of those important files to. Ideally you would also have a remote backup as well to protect against fire, flood and other catastrophes. You can get integrated backup services for around $10/mo or even less. If you're already renting a webserver somewhere and you've got the space/bandwidth to spare, you can just FTP your files to it as a no-cost solution.

Consider, if your budget allows, an SSD drive for your boot drive, important applications, and current working set of files. Disk I/O is often the bottleneck in many tasks (such as compiling code), program load time and just day-to-day computer operations. You can get a 40GB intel SSD for $100, which is enough to install the OS of your choice, along with a few important applications with a little room to spare -- I imaged my drive containing full Windows 7 Professional, Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Powerpoint), Visual Studio 2005 professional (everything but VB.Net) and the complete Offline MSDN and my image is around 30GB. Realistically, I think 64-80GB is plenty reasonable unless you absolutely have to have everything running at SSD speeds.

Other than that, you don't really need anything special -- maybe get a nice monitor that's easy on the eyes, a comfortable keyboard, and a nice chair since you'll be spending so much time in front of your computer.

[Edited by - Ravyne on November 18, 2010 3:35:42 AM]

#6 demonkoryu   Members   -  Reputation: 976

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Posted 17 November 2010 - 10:06 PM

In order of priority:


  1. RAM. It's quite uncomfortable to work when the PC is always swapping. 2GB is a minimum.

  2. CPU. As said, get a quad-core or larger. That way, rendering/compiling goes faster and you can do other work while it's building.

  3. A fast hard disk. Preferably SSD, or some of these in a RAID.

  4. Graphics card... depends on your target audience. Speed doesn't matter much (although you shouldn't use an onboard solution, since that can be a drain on the rest of your system as it uses your CPU's main memory).



#7 SteveDeFacto   Banned   -  Reputation: 109

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Posted 17 November 2010 - 10:14 PM

Quote:
Original post by Konfusius
In order of priority:


  1. RAM. It's quite uncomfortable to work when the PC is always swapping. 2GB is a minimum.

  2. CPU. As said, get a quad-core or larger. That way, rendering/compiling goes faster and you can do other work while it's building.

  3. A fast hard disk. Preferably SSD, or some of these in a RAID.

  4. Graphics card... depends on your target audience. Speed doesn't matter much (although you shouldn't use an onboard solution, since that can be a drain on the rest of your system as it uses your CPU's main memory).



I disagree with some of what you said. You really almost completely do not need a quad-core and a good duel core would be more then enough.

Also as for the video card since he wants to make video games I would say this is one of the most important parts. I think he should be targeting shader model 5 since by the time he completes his game it will likely be the standard.

#8 Ravyne   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 6779

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Posted 17 November 2010 - 10:47 PM

The difference in cost between a good dual-core CPU and an similar speed quad-core is basically negligible these days. Plus, as I said earlier, you can get a new quad-core Phenom CPU for as little as $150 from AMD and quad-core athlon || for as low as $70, or from intel you can get a core 2 quad for the same or a quad-core i5 for $200. Compiling code, rendering and building assets are a few of the scenarios which really benefit from more cores, so it would be stupid not to when the cost of entry is so low. The OP might have to do some thinking if the choice is fast dual-core vs. slower/older quad core, but even then there's not really a price point where that decision is an issue, and more cores pretty much always wins over clock speed in parallel tasks or where multi-tasking is concerned.

As for graphics cards, yes, the primary concern should be feature set, not performance, but that doesn't mean buying the latest and greatest video card. Its entirely dependant on what type of game you're making -- If you have the desire and know-how to build a AAA 3D engine in the next year, then yes get the biggest and the best, but if you aren't targeting massive performance and still want to play with new features just get something current-gen thats closer to the middle of the pack. I got a Radeon 5770 4 months ago or so that serves me well, and at $130 it was a steal. If you just want to make simple 3D games, 2D games, flash games -- just pick up a low-end card from the current or last generation: just something to make your desktop user experience pleasant.

#9 Rich Brighton   Members   -  Reputation: 100

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Posted 12 December 2010 - 02:39 AM

The more you spend the more frequently you should be upgrading. Generally there is no point in spending $1500 dollars unless you can afford to spend another $1500 in eighteen months time. You're better off spending less and holding some back for your next upgrade. In Eighteen months / 2years time you'll be able to get a lot more bang for your buck and software producers will constantly find ways to use up ever more extravagant amounts of computing power. Or in other words never waste money buying the computer of tomorrow, today unless you've got money to burn.

#10 daviangel   Members   -  Reputation: 600

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Posted 12 December 2010 - 08:41 PM

Quote:
Original post by Rich Brighton
The more you spend the more frequently you should be upgrading. Generally there is no point in spending $1500 dollars unless you can afford to spend another $1500 in eighteen months time. You're better off spending less and holding some back for your next upgrade. In Eighteen months / 2years time you'll be able to get a lot more bang for your buck and software producers will constantly find ways to use up ever more extravagant amounts of computing power. Or in other words never waste money buying the computer of tomorrow, today unless you've got money to burn.

Ditto.
If you can wait couple of months Intel’s new Sandy Bridge is around the corner.


#11 nfries88   Members   -  Reputation: 259

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Posted 20 December 2010 - 05:56 PM

I'm going to speak a little on the programming side, hope you don't mind.

If you intend to write games for Mac OS X or iOS (iPhone/iPad/iPodTouch), you absolutely cannot do this without a Mac computer, and a newer one at that (10.5 should be good, but I'd recommend 10.6 or even better wait for 10.7). Apple has made it pretty much impossible to develop for Mac without it.
An alternative is to turn a normal PC into a "Hackintosh" by simply installing OS X on it, but this is a violation of Apple's EULA for OS X and OS X has strict hardware requirement in comparison to Windows and Linux (which are built to work on pretty much any hardware; except Windows is limited to x86/x86_64 processors); so you'll need to select the hardware very carefully (there's a site on the net dedicated to this, google should help).
But you don't need a $1000+ Macbook to have a genuine Mac computer -- the Mac Mini** is a surprisingly powerful little desktop computer and costs around $600 for the basic unit; which is fairly cheap for an equivalent Windows-based desktop.

If you plan to develop for Linux (or Unix/X11 in general) or Android***, you should go with Linux.
Linux has the widest hardware support of any modern Unix-based OS and there's a few distros like Ubuntu that are excellent even for Linux novices. Linux also has readily-available cross-compilers for Windows and Windows CE (aka Windows Mobile) through mingw (the gcc port to Windows), and can run some windows applications through Wine (Wine is very finicky). Also, if you have a Mac, you can install Linux in a second partition and switch between OS X and Linux through Apple's "bootcamp" program, which is available for free of their site (and I believe it is shipped with OS X 10.6).

If you plan to develop for Windows, nothing beats Windows. Wine, quite frankly, blows. Developing applications on Windows gives you access to Microsoft's powerful Visual C++ compiler (aka MSVC), which is generally preferred for Windows and Windows CE development. Some like myself who became too used to gcc on Linux tend to prefer mingw (Minimal GCC on Windows, or something along those lines), which not only ships with a few of the development tools we're used to on Linux, but also the familiar implementation of libC and STL (and some stuff to ease the translation between a POSIX and non-POSIX environment). You can also install Windows to a partition on a Mac and switch between the two with bootcamp. It is also possible to compile GCC to cross-compile to Linux from a Windows PC (or even from a Mac), but this process is generally about as painful as having all of your wisdom teeth pulled by a dirty hobo with a rusty G-clamp and no anesthetic; unless you're familiar with GCC internals (in which case my post should be largely useless to you anyway) I would not advise even attempting this.

You can dual-boot Windows and Linux freely. There is also "coLinux", which runs a linux kernel as a cooperative kernel on Windows; but this isn't nearly the same as having an actual Linux distro installation.

So you're probably thinking: "The solution is obviously to get a Mac, and install both Windows and Linux on it!" -- not quite. Boot camp only allows you to install one "guest" (for the lack of a better term, this is actually a misnomer on my part) system IIRC, so you can't do this. Your best bet would be to have two computers -- one a Mac mini, the other a Windows-based PC with Linux dual-booted. You can develop and test on both. I used this setup for a short time before I had to leave my computers at home (since then I've bought a Windows laptop, but not another Mac) for convenience's sake.


** - The only problem you may have with the Mac mini is that it does not come with a monitor; but that is easily remedied. Newer Mac minis also dropped support for VGA and picked up mini-DVI, but many newer monitors with VGA ports have DVI ports as well and the Mac mini comes with a DVI-to-mini-DVI cable. You can also find plenty of VGA-to-DVI cables, in fact Apple sells one for about $15.
*** - Google provides an Android SDK download for Windows, Linux, and OS X. You are not limited in how you can develop for the Android at all. However, I found it significantly easier to use on Linux, especially when building native code using the NDK.


As for hardware specs, I agree with the above. Once you're over 256MB of RAM (on Linux or XP -- more like 2GB on Vista and probably just as much on Windows 7) and 2GHz processor speed (or dual core), it shouldn't be an issue.

In fact, I recommend testing on the lowest-grade hardware you can find that supports your target platform. (A very typical [for its time] PC bought in 1999 with Windows XP and Ubuntu 7.10 is what I used back home) This allows you to truly stress test your application, and see how it would do even on the unlikeliest of your end-user's system hardware. That said, compiling took for several minutes on that thing (so did switching between Windows and Linux but that was less avoidable), so I recommend it for testing ONLY and not actually writing code.

PS: If you have a multiple-computer development setup, I recommend storing everything in an external hard drive. The size you need will depend on your project, but 1TB USB 2.0 hard disks are commonly below $100 nowadays and I'm confident that will be plenty.

#12 Zoner   Members   -  Reputation: 232

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Posted 22 January 2011 - 01:18 AM

I can't speak for artist needs but as a programmer HP Z800 is pretty pro, though they don't get all that interesting until you get to the dual 6-core configurations.

http://h10010.www1.hp.com/wwpc/us/en/sm/WF06b/12454-12454-296719-307907-4270224-3718645-3718646-4193576.html

#13 glassofwater   Members   -  Reputation: 100

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Posted 04 February 2011 - 10:06 AM

Build your own pc and use a core i7 920 then something like the geforce 9800gt 8gb of ram and a copy of Win 7 64bit

#14 aersixb9   Banned   -  Reputation: 57

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Posted 13 February 2011 - 03:18 AM

I just got a 6-core moboproc at newegg.com for $270, works good, is fast. Also got 4gb ram for $45 since ddr2 and ddr3 slots look similar.New power supply and case for $150 locally too! Already had the 460 and 3d glasses/screen from nvidia. They also sell assembled gaming and non-gaming computers, however game building typically has not been very demanding, although some 3d modeling can be....you don't actually have to render anything very often! Programming is a text editor with a rarely run compiler. Also if you're indie maybe target old computers for free, make it as simple as possible to practice shipping and having players, and start free with donations until you get players then plan.
*-----------------------sig------------Visit my web site (Free source code and games!) @ http://SpaceRacer2025.blogspot.com--------------------------------------*

#15 LilBudyWizer   Members   -  Reputation: 495

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Posted 07 March 2011 - 11:59 AM

Just my two cents, monitors, monitors, monitors. The more the better. There is never too much data, too much code, too much documentation visible at once. I run three monitors and I don't know how I ever got by without them. Particularly the portrait one. When it comes to landscape though 16:10, not 16:9. Acrobat reader fits two letter sized pages side by side just right at 16:10, but leaves a bit to be desired at 16:9. A 5770 supports DirectX 11 and runs three monitors. It's a bit underpowered but is a good target. As far as I know nVidia doesn't support three monitors without two cards. Two PC's are nice too. It's nice being able to restore to a clean OS install, but you don't really want to do that on your main machine. Programable keyboards and keypads like the Logitech G510 and G13 are really handy as are gaming mice. I hate remapping keystrokes in applications and with a programable keyboard you don't have to. Just map whatever contorted key combination is required. Dual drives are nice for doing mass conversions reading from one drive and writing to another. Almost every CPU has multiple cores and you need them if your going to multi-thread. Failing to lock something becomes a whole lot more obvious when two threads change it at the same time instead of in sequence.

Overall you're testing. You don't really want anything more than the minimum system requirements. If you're running $1k worth of GPU's then it's easy to release something that going to require your user to have $1k worth of CPU's and there aren't many of those users. If you want a high end gaming machine then use a seperate machine. A $600 machine will do development just fine. The issue is productivity, not performance.


Keys to success: Ability, ambition and opportunity.

#16 swiftcoder   Senior Moderators   -  Reputation: 9658

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Posted 07 March 2011 - 12:36 PM

What I need is a computer with enough power to run z brush max, maya and C+ etc. Basicly a computer powerful enough to support building a game from the ground up without slowing down.

Everyone in this thread is preaching serious overkill, and perhaps overkill is what you want (it certainly sounds like you can afford it). But I will chime in with the opposite side of the coin:

Everything you described there, will run just fine on a $500 laptop, which you can buy off-the-shelf from BestBuy/Wallmart.

Now, I personally don't recommend using a laptop as a primary dev machine (mostly due to the low screen resolution), but even a low-end laptop has plenty of horsepower for the needs you described. So I would suggest you take a closer look at the other things you will need to use this machine for (i.e. do you plan on using it as a gaming machine?), and come back with an additional set of requirements.

Tristam MacDonald - Software Engineer @Amazon - [swiftcoding]


#17 MartyrOfKharak   Members   -  Reputation: 128

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Posted 08 March 2011 - 03:12 PM

I just use my aging IBM laptop. The only fancy thing about it is that I have a second monitor I can plug in when I have it on my desk. Two monitors is definitely a huge productivity booster, since I can keep documentation up without having to constantly flip windows.

You don't really need a top of the line PC to do anything, and you need to keep in mind that not everyone in your audience will be playing on a supercomputer. In fact, most won't be. If there's any consolation for people like me it's that if I know it works at a fine framerate on my computer, no one else is ever going to have a problem with it.

#18 freeworld   Members   -  Reputation: 325

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Posted 08 March 2011 - 03:19 PM

never buy alienware, you're paying a grand just for cable management. Always build your own pc, it's not that hard, in fact it's very easy. Peruse newegg.com for cheap hardware (don't pay for faster delivery either, newegg has the tendency to ship stuff too fast 3 day always shows up in atleast 2 days for me.)
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#19 jameswilddev   Members   -  Reputation: 112

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Posted 31 March 2011 - 05:34 AM

It's pretty much impossible to buy a bad PC in this day and age even off the shelf as long as you clear out all the junk OEMs like to install to make it *unusable*. Just make sure you've got a decent graphics card and the rest will be fine. I have a quad in my desktop and most high-end software like Max and Premiere can barely use two cores when rendering/baking - though interestingly Blender has absolutely no issue using all four at 100% when asked.




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