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Sonic UltraDork
11/28/19 11:02 a.m.

We are putting together a decent sim racing setup and I need help picking a gaming PC and black Friday sales seem like a good time to pick up this stuff.  This will only be used for this purpose, we have 2 other laptops for general use, the good one is a Mac and I don't want to bother with a dual boot.

This will be for actual driver improvement and learning new tracks, not just for LOLs (though those are sure to come).  We are set on getting an Oculus Quest to tie into the PC, a Logitech G920 with pedals and shifter, and a seat base/etc. 

It looks like our primary software will be iRacing and Assetto Corsa.  

Here are iRacing's minimum specs: 

  • 4 core CPU or better – Some examples (but not limited to): AMD FX-6300, Intel Core i5-4430, Intel Core i5-2320, AMD Ryzen 3 1200
  • 8 GB of RAM
  • A gaming graphics card with at least 2GB of DEDICATED memory – Some examples (but not limited to):  Nvidia GeForce GTX 660 @ 2 GB / GTX 1050 or ATI Radeon HD 7850 @ 2GB / AMD RX 550 or better


Here are Oculus's recommended specs:

NVIDIA GTX 1060 / AMD Radeon RX 480 or greater

Intel i5-4590 / AMD Ryzen 5 1500X or greater


DisplayPortTM 1.2 / Mini DisplayPort (with adapter included in the box)

1x USB 3.0 port


There are many choices in gaming PCs and I'm sure most of them are way overkill for what we will be doing.  I want to keep the price as low as is reasonable, can we get something decent under $800? 

Here are some potential choices: 

Dell XPS

Dell G5


hp pavilion


Any of these stand out to anyone who knows more about this than I do?  Any other suggestions? 



BoxheadTim GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
11/28/19 11:13 a.m.

Most of them look OK to me, not great. I'm not a big fan of "tiny SSD + 1TB of spinning rust" like you get with the HP - 1TB SSDs aren't exactly that expensive any more.

Usually you get more bang for the buck with AMD processors, especially right now. Also, graphics card power tends to be more important than processor power - it's usually easier to get better gaming performance with a medium-level processor and a fast graphics card rather than the other way round. The other thing you want is as much graphics card memory as you can get - I'd go minimum 6GB, ideally 8GB.

Keep in mind that VR headsets have higher requirements than "regular" desktop monitors for the graphics card and I think most of the machines you listed are a little underpowered.

BoxheadTim GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
11/28/19 11:17 a.m.

One other thing - Ryzen 1xxx are first generation Ryzen processors, 2xxx second gen. I'd get something newer (those are 2+ year old designs). Ideally you'd want a Ryzen 3xxx - those are better performers than the Intel chips at the same price point.

Sonic UltraDork
11/28/19 11:55 a.m.

Fantastic, thanks Tim, this is the sort of thing I wouldn't know otherwise about the processors.  I agree with the SSD+ 1TB, but at this price point that seems to be what I get.  My daily laptop is SSD only. 

How about this one, it has a Ryzen 3xxx, is SSD only (I don't need huge storage space for my use), would be $800 after coupon:  Skytech

BoxheadTim GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
11/28/19 11:59 a.m.

In reply to Sonic :

Processor wise I think that's probably the best of the bunch so far, plus it's got a decent graphics card.

T.J. MegaDork
11/28/19 1:14 p.m.

This thread is pertinent to my interests. I don’t think I’ll ever get into iRacing because of the costs, but would like to get ACC and PC2 on a PC with VR. 

Usually in these types of threads folks recommend building your own for the best bang for the buck. If there will be a black Friday easy button, I’m interested to learn about it. 

11/28/19 1:23 p.m.

The cost savings aren't *much* better, but have you thought about building a computer instead?

Sonic UltraDork
11/28/19 2:57 p.m.

In reply to GIRTHQUAKE :

Totally I've thought about it.  I'm sure I am capable of it, but it would be learning a new skill set and my priorities for the next few months are on end of season race car fixing and then a pivot to long overdue house projects.  I figured I would save at most $200 or so by buying something already made, and the time/money equation there didn't seem worth it for the amount of research I would have to do and time to spend and troubleshooting/etc compared to an off the shelf solution.   

If someone wants to put together a parts list for me, that might be enough to sway me. 

BoxheadTim GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
11/28/19 2:58 p.m.

IME - and I just built a machine using a Ryzen 9 twelve core CPU - you don't really save any money any more. What it does allow you to do, however, is to be picky about the components that go into the  PC.

ProDarwin UltimaDork
11/28/19 5:42 p.m.

Parts list for you:




I'll be checking back in because I'm about to order a new mobo/processor/ram this weekend

Jesse Ransom
Jesse Ransom GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
8/25/20 4:15 p.m.

Thread resurrection time... Okay, we're not very close to Black Friday, but I was surprised to find there wasn't much ongoing discussion around speccing out a machine for this.

Did anybody go with any of the above options? Other decisions? Things that have changed since late last year? A thread I managed to do a facepalm-level search fail to avoid finding.

I'm feeling a bit resistant to dropping near a grand on a machine to go with a wheel and pedals I bought because they were a deal, but I'm not sure what better time to get going with the sim than this... this... this 2020. I'm feeling a bit silly about building another machine at all given that I've got a perfectly good laptop for all my other computing, but there you have it. I either need to jump far enough to really enjoy it, or not at all and wait 'til I'm anxious enough to do it properly.

I suspect at this point that while VR capability may add some cost, it's going to bite me if I do one that just won't manage it. I mean, I'm not going to pile a Rift onto the cart this go-round, but assuming I get going it would probably appeal more than adding two more monitors.

Failing any really startling info, I guess I'll probably re-reread JG's article and the logicalincrements site and go from there.

z31maniac MegaDork
8/25/20 4:44 p.m.

You're going to want way more video card than suggested if you want good frame rates with VR.

I like www.pcpartpicker.com 

Check the different reddit subgroups and also some Facebook groups (if you use them) to see what guys are actually using and what frame rates they are seeing with what settings.



spacecadet (Forum Supporter)
spacecadet (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
8/25/20 4:59 p.m.

In reply to Jesse Ransom :

what do you want to do? Is this system ONLY going to run iRacing? VR is also going to demand more than the entry level video cards want to output.

I bought a prebuilt from Alienware back in June because I had a discount from some autocross buddies through them and I didn't feel like building a system myself.

Ryzen based systems have advantages especially in the midrange price points, more cores, similar clock speeds to Intel.

I went pretty overboard myself so i could buy a system and then coast for a few years without hopefully needing any major hardware upgrades.

I personally spec'd an Alienware R10 Ryzen edition with a:

Ryzen 9 3900 (not the X, dell/alienware had the slightly cheaper OEM only 3900 non X as an option when I configured my PC, so I took the savings in exchange for slightly slower clock speeds over the 3900x) but I got the same 12 cores.

Nvidia 2080 Super GPU. I couldn't justify a 2080 Ti for my use and it was double the normal cost upgrade over building the pc yourself if I optioned it with Alienware. So I went for the 2080 Super. the 2070 Super is a better overall value right now.

500gb NVME SSD boot drive and a 2Tb SATA 7200rpm HDD storage drive.

I like this system because it just WORKS. Alienware has a software that can manage all the thermals and overclocking for you, or you can program them all yourself.

But, my system retailed for $2250. I paid a lot less thanks to the discount I got, paired with an additional code Dell threw me the day I bought the PC.

the GTX cards do not have Ray Tracing. but the RTX cards do. iracing still doesn't have support for this but Asseto Corsa Competizione does.

the AMD Graphics cards don't have support for this regardless.

if i was going to configure a PC with decent specs for the money, i might look at going with this.. but you need to do research on your own.

Alienware Ryzen R10 build at $1450 before the 10% off code. Save10 so actually closer to $1300.

and building a PC yourself is still the best bang for the buck.

here's a build from the PC Part picker website with a better 2070 Super GPU and 16gb of RAM with a faster clock speed.

and this build is almost a $100 cheaper than the Alienware prebuilt. 

the alienware PC will probably take 4-6 weeks to arrive. mine took right at 4 weeks. But lead times are hell right now and supply chains are a mess..

Sonic UltraDork
8/25/20 5:21 p.m.

As the OP I'll chime in.  For the computer, we ended up with this:

CyberPowerPC Gamer Master Gaming PC, AMD Ryzen 5 3600 3.6GHz, GeForce GTX 1660 6GB, 16GB DDR4, 500GB PCI-E NVMe SSD, WiFi & Win 10 Home (GMA1400A)


It has done everything we needed it to do and has been problem free. At the time it was about $750. We also added some Logitech G920 pedals/wheel/shifter which have been fine. I bought a simple seat stand and welded up some brackets for a 300ZX seat we had here. We got an Oculus Quest and use that, but didn't know that you can't just use that as a monitor, you need another monitor as well.  The Oculus is fun on its own and is great once in the race, but takes some extra setup to get started racing and have it inthe right place and the sound working, etc. We've now figured it mostly out but it caused some frustration initially.  In retrospect I might just go with a 3 monitor setup or a big curved monitor, but the Oculus is fun to have for other stuff.  



Jesse Ransom
Jesse Ransom GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
8/25/20 5:26 p.m.

First: Thanks!

Second: Oof!

False economies are false economies, but it's going to take some absorbing to adjust to that. Once you're at $1200, spending a hundred more to get a polished, integrated, managed package like the Alienware seems perhaps sensible. It's the getting to $1200 I'm having trouble with. I'll have to chew on that.

To answer the question above, probably almost all iRacing, but not unlikely some Project Cars 2 (or, I suppose Asseto Corsa, but iRacing is really where I have the most interest), and if I have something capable of VR, we might try other stuff for the experience, but when it comes to gaming... I bought a Switch when they came out, and I'm still on my first trip through Breath of the Wild. "Casual" is the word. It's only the less-casual automotive interest that has me digging around in the video card bins...

That ray tracing thing is crazy!

spacecadet (Forum Supporter)
spacecadet (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
8/25/20 6:16 p.m.

In reply to Jesse Ransom :

yes, and everything SIM racing and PC gaming is going for top dollar right now because of lack of supply.

I said i was going to build myself a rig this year back in January.. then the price of EVERYTHING in computer gaming shot up.

I found a stroke of luck to get my pc for nearly 25% off.. and Dell threw me a credit line with 18 months of 0% interest.. so i don't have to pay everything upfront. so i'm not.

Jesse Ransom
Jesse Ransom GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
8/25/20 6:28 p.m.

In reply to spacecadet (Forum Supporter) :

I got excited after finally unearthing the Fanatec stuff after the move and thought I'd finally get it hooked up, but I'm thinking maybe I should just put this all on the back burner 'til things are saner on that front again. It's the "perfect" time for sim racing, but it's not like I'm all out of productive things I could be doing...

EDIT: Thanks again for the guidance!

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
8/25/20 9:38 p.m.

We wrote about this topic not too long ago. The article is now online

spacecadet (Forum Supporter)
spacecadet (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
8/26/20 4:58 p.m.
David S. Wallens said:

We wrote about this topic not too long ago. The article is now online

$925 build using the GRM guide..

Taking the this will be enough approach using a modified PC part picker build that i changed out a 1Tb SATA SSD for a NVME 240Gb SSD and a 7200 HDD 2Tb storage drive.


Jesse Ransom
Jesse Ransom GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
8/26/20 5:39 p.m.

In reply to spacecadet (Forum Supporter) :

That's awesome, thank you!

dps214 HalfDork
8/27/20 8:11 a.m.

If you're primarily concerned with iracing, there's some good news. They've recently put a lot of effort into optimizing the VR performance (read: not processing the entire game on one CPU core). Over the past year my system went from struggling to keep up with VR on basically min settings to doing a decent job on almost max settings. CPU was always the bottleneck, now I think graphics and processor are pretty evenly matched. That's with an i5 6500 (3.5ghz max) and 1060-6gb graphics card. My VR headset is only 60fps but I imagine you could turn down the settings some and get a bunch more framerate out of it. FWIW my system was around $800 total, ~3 years ago. I imagine you could build a comparable or better system now for about the same price...assuming you can actually find the parts.

I went the medium sized SSD / big spinny HD route, but at the time SSD was still somewhat new and unclear how reliable they would be so I wanted a good quality one and couldn't justify the cost of big capacity and high quality. At this point I'd probably just go for a big SSD, though 3 years later my cheap HD hasn't exploded yet (knock on wood).

z31maniac MegaDork
8/27/20 9:22 a.m.

In reply to dps214 :

That's good news. I really want to try VR, but I'm afraid to buy it, not like it, and lose money.

I've used multiple 3 monitor setups before and I liked those just fine.

dps214 HalfDork
8/27/20 4:08 p.m.

Yeah, I got a lenovo explorer back when they were first discontinued and only like $100 so it was a pretty cheap experiment. I do think it's a pretty substantially better overall experience than triples but does have some drawbacks and isn't for everyone. But if you build a computer that's a little overbuilt for triples it should handle medium quality VR pretty easily as well if you ever decide to give in and try it.

ProDarwin UltimaDork
8/27/20 6:47 p.m.
dps214 said:

 But if you build a computer that's a little overbuilt for triples it should handle medium quality VR pretty easily as well if you ever decide to give in and try it.

Most triple setups push more pixels than VR.  The only headset that takes a signal with more pixels than triples @ 1080p is the Pimax8k.

Display Pixels
Single 1080p 2,073,600
Oculus Rift 2,592,000
Vive 2,592,000
Ultrawide 1080p 2,764,800
Single 1440p 3,686,400
Lenovo Explorer 4,147,200
Samsung Odyssey 4,608,000
Vive Pro 4,608,000
Valve Index 4,608,000
Oculus Quest 4,608,000
Ultrawide 1440p 4,953,600
Triples 1080p 6,220,800
Pimax 8k (signal) 7,372,800
Single 4k 8,294,400
Ultrawide 4k 11,059,200
Triples 1440p 11,059,200
Triples 4k 24,883,200
z31maniac MegaDork
8/27/20 7:47 p.m.

I'm hoping to build the actual computer before the end of the year, and unless 2080Ti's magically fall DRAMATICALLY in price, I'm planning on building it around the best 5700XT I can get my hands on.

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