[SOLVED] HTPC: Gaming Upgrade?

Doogals

Distinguished
Dec 5, 2014
72
2
18,645
1
I have a low budget HTPC that I originally built in 2015 for streaming TV shows and movies online and also to use as a Blu-ray player (see specs below).

It was never intended to be a gaming machine, other than Minecraft or some of the old Valve titles like Portal and Team Fortress 2 (which are playable but the frame rate and resolution are not great).

My question is, would upgrading the GPU in this system be enough to improve its gaming performance?

If so, would anyone have a budget friendly recommendation for a GPU that would make a difference?

CPU (Integrated): Intel Celeron J1900 Bay Trail-D @ 1.99GHz
Motherboard: ASRock Q1900M
RAM: 8GB (2X4GB) G.SKILL DDR3 @ 666MH
GPU: 1024MB ATI AMD Radeon HD 5450 (XFX)
SSD (OS): Samsung 850 EVO 250GB 2.5”
HDD (Storage): WD Blue 1TB 3.5” (WD10EZEX)
SATA PCIe Controller: Syba SD-SA2PEX-2IR
Power Supply: Antec VP 450
Optical Drive: LG Blu-ray Disc Rewriter (WH14NS40)
OS: Windows 10 Home 64-Bit
Audio: AMD High Definition Audio
Case: Silverstone Grandia GD05B

(Note: Optical drive is connected via the SATA PCIe controller.)
 
Last edited:
Reactions: lucyshuker

geofelt

Titan
I do not think the fps improvement you might get to 10-12 is worth doing anything .
The power of your cpu is simply too anemic.

To upgrade, you will need a cpu, motherboard and ddr4 ram.
That can be as little as a Intel G5600 for $110, a B300 series motherboard for $60, and a 2 x 4gb DDR4 ram kit for $40.
You will get a G5600 4 thread processor with a passmark rating of 5660 and a much stronger single thread rating of 2257.
The G5600 also includes HD630 integrated graphics which has a rating of 1121, that is considerably faster than your current HD5450 at 232.
HD630 just gets you going.
About the cheapest gpu that can be considered for gaming might be the GT1030.

A similarly priced alternative would be a ryzen 2200G.
It includes a good integrated graphics adapter about as strong as a GT1030.
My problem with that approach is that a future graphics replacement wastes the premium you paid for integrated graphics on the 2200G

Such an upgrade should be considered as a starting point.
The B300 series motherboard can support a 9th gen future upgrade processor costing $200+

Your psu will support a card as good as a GTX1660ti.
 
I have a low budget HTPC that I originally built in 2015 for streaming TV shows and movies online and also to use as a Blu-ray player (see specs below).

It was never intended to be a gaming machine, other than Minecraft or some of the old Valve titles like Portal and Team Fortress 2 (which are playable but the frame rate and resolution are not great).

My question is, would upgrading the GPU in this system be enough to improve its gaming performance?

If so, would anyone have a budget friendly recommendation for a GPU that would make a difference?

CPU (Integrated): Intel Celeron J1900 Bay Trail-D @ 1.99GHz
Motherboard: ASRock Q1900M
RAM: 8GB (2X4GB) G.SKILL DDR3 @ 666MH
GPU: 1024MB ATI AMD Radeon HD 5450 (XFX)
SSD (OS): Samsung 850 EVO 250GB 2.5”
HDD (Storage): WD Blue 1TB 3.5” (WD10EZEX)
SATA PCIe Controller: Syba SD-SA2PEX-2IR
Power Supply: Antec VP 450
Optical Drive: LG Blu-ray Disc Rewriter (WH14NS40)
OS: Windows 10 Home 64-Bit
Audio: AMD High Definition Audio

(Note: Optical drive is connected via the SATA PCIe controller.)
Really, that CPU will bottleneck most cards. If you can find a GTX 1050, then go for it. The new GTX 1650 is also not a bad choice, but there will be serious bottlenecking and lower performance due to the low clock speed of your RAM sticks as well.
 

DSzymborski

Titan
Moderator
Yup, you'd definitely need a better CPU, which also means a new motherboard, and if we're to leave you unencumbered by out-of-date technology, new RAM. The power supply could remain if the GPU is light (say, a 1050 Ti), but your GPU options will also depend on the case.

Honestly, you built an excellent HTPC, but to make an actual gaming rig, it's going to be a major overhaul as you'd more or less building 80% of a new rig. It's hard for a simple budget-friendly upgrade to do much. Now, if "budget-friendly" means $600, we can put together something that will destroy this rig in gaming (which is why it's always good to be as specific as possible, because terms like "budget-friendly" mean very different things to people).
 

Doogals

Distinguished
Dec 5, 2014
72
2
18,645
1
Thank you guys for all the advice and recommendations, and also for preventing me from purchasing an overpowered card that would be severely limited by my other components.

I looked at three new GPU options and compared them to what I currently have installed (Radeon HD 5450) using UserBenchmark.com, then looked at the performance increase each option offers over the Radeon HD 5450.

If my system can handle it, a GTX 1650 seems like it would be a reasonable upgrade?

https://www.gigabyte.com/Graphics-Card/GV-N1650IXOC-4GD


UserBenchmark Avg. Bench %​
% Increase​
AMD Radeon HD 5450
1.33​
-​
Nvidia GTX 1050
33.6​
25​
Nvidia GTX 1050-Ti
38.2​
29​
Nvidia GTX 1650
51.2​
38​


Any other considerations I should be making before purchasing the GTX 1650?
 
Last edited:

DSzymborski

Titan
Moderator
First off, make sure you can fit it. Depending on how small your case is, the two slots might be a dealbreaker.

Second, you may have trouble getting the benefit of even a GPU this powerful. Your CPU will be a severe bottleneck with most modern GPUs. The CPU benchmarks around the level of Pentium Ds and early Core2 Duos, but that's only because it has more cores; in terms of ipc, it's actually as slow as a late Pentium 4. That's fine for an HTPC, but a problem for modern gaming. I don't think you'll see much of a benefit past a GT 1030.
 

Doogals

Distinguished
Dec 5, 2014
72
2
18,645
1
That's fine for an HTPC, but a problem for modern gaming. I don't think you'll see much of a benefit past a GT 1030.
Not sure how much of a difference it makes (or how it compares to more recent titles) but my current gaming requirements might be considered less than “modern”:

 
Not worth the effort without platform overhaul. CPU is basically an Atom CPU for very basic browsing/games. A tablet SOC, really. You would not see any real benefit from a modern GPU. It was never intended with decent gaming in mind. The CPU's video processing features(streaming, ect.)you are using currently are what J1900 is best suited for. What kind of budget are you looking at, or how serious is this project? Have a Ryzen based HTPC/Gaming setup as well myself.
 

Karadjgne

Titan
Ambassador
Putting new shoes, tack and harness on an old horse won't make it run any faster or pull a heavier load.
That cpu has serious limitations when it comes to gaming, you could put a massive gpu on it and not get better fps, nor graphics nor ability. At most a GT1030 2Gb will be the best value, unless you find a decent gtx660ti or similar card used at a great price. Anything bigger will just be over-powered, over-priced and wasted on a cpu that can't deliver the frames to start with.
 
U have to assume the above comparison table is using an all-powerful CPU, so it doesn't affect what's being under test.

So folks here are telling u, u can't just throw in a major turbo charge kit and expect a Honda to beat a Lamborghini. Honda engine just can't handle it. According to what I read from folks above who sounds know what they are talking about, so if you can run your games with a 1030, go for it.
 
Last edited:

Karadjgne

Titan
Ambassador
The cpu sets the fps. It'll pre-renders only so many frames according to the game code complexity, restrictions, processor IPC, processor speeds. So let's say you get 60frames in that Lego game. The cpu sends that 60frames to the gpu, which now has to deal with the graphics settings and resolution.
Your current gpu may or may not handle all 60 fps, it might only do 50fps at your settings. A GT1030 will do all 60 and have room left over, but it can't increase that 60. It can only reproduce whatever the cpu gives it. You could put a RTX2080ti in there, you'd see identical results, 60fps.

So overpowered gpus are pretty much wasted money, you'll only need something that's just over whatever the cpu can do. That's the guessing game.

Where most ppl see improvements in upgrades is when the cpu is capable of 200fps, but the gpu can only reproduce 100 fps, so there's an instant gratification with the extra fps. However, they don't realize that's due to freeing up the cpu, they believe it's because of a stronger gpu increasing fps. Cpu sets fps. A gpu can only tie that number or decrease it, never increase it.
 

tennis2

Judicious
Here's a thought. Buy a new GPU and try it in the existing system. If you want to game, buy something that's decent at gaming at 1080p. GTX1650/RX570 or above. AMD launches their Navi GPUs tomorrow (7/7) so I'd recommend waiting to see what we get from them.

The GTX1650 is the top card you can buy today without needing external power. The GTX1650 isn't a great value compared to the $110 RX570 which is ~15% faster. However, your PSU only has a 6-pin PCIe connector, so any GPU that requires 8-pin power would need an adapter.

Best case scenario - Everything works great, no CPU upgrade needed. Depending on what GPU you buy, the GPU could be transferred into a new rig down the road.
Worst case scenario - You find that you DO need a CPU upgrade, but hey, you already have the new GPU you'd need anyway.

What case is this in?
Country?
 
Last edited:

Karadjgne

Titan
Ambassador
@tennis2

Its a jaguar series cpu, as in soldered to the motherboard. There is no cpu upgrade, only platform upgrade. It's an old htpc running rudimentary games on a low grade gpu.

For all intents and purposes it's a desktop version of a laptop with a few modular/replaceable parts. Because of its age, it's technologically limited in upgrades and doesn't require the most powerful, non-external powered gpu, because that's a waste. At only 2.4GHz on a quad core with a 10w TDP, it can't handle gaming as such, so overpowered gpus are pointless.
 

Doogals

Distinguished
Dec 5, 2014
72
2
18,645
1
The cpu sets the fps. It'll pre-renders only so many frames according to the game code complexity, restrictions, processor IPC, processor speeds.
This... thank you for the detailed explanation. I was not aware that FPS was determined by the CPU.

Any recommendations for a program to measure what FPS I’m currently getting? I turned on the FPS display in Steam but it doesn’t show up in game.

Also here is the GT 1030 I’m now considering:

https://www.gigabyte.com/Graphics-Card/GV-N1030D5-2GL#kf
 

Doogals

Distinguished
Dec 5, 2014
72
2
18,645
1
UserBenchmark results for my current setup.

CPU: Intel Celeron J1900 - 21.6%
GPU: AMD Radeon HD 5450 - 1.4%
SSD: Samsung 850 Evo 250GB - 50%
HDD: WD Blue 1TB (2012) - 64.8%
RAM: G.SKILL Value DDR3 1333 C9 2x4GB - 28%
MBD: Asrock Q1900M

Also, the Nvidia GT 1030 I’m looking at has an average benchmark of 18.3% which would make it equally inadequate with my CPU (21.6%) and RAM (28%).
 

geofelt

Titan
What is your case?
Many HTPC cases have limited height available for a strong graphics card.
Your HD5450 has a passmark rating of 232.
A Low profile GT1030 would probably be appropriate.
GT1030 has a rating of 2243.
GT1030 is probably the absolute minimum that can be considered as a gaming card.
Your cpu is very weak with a passmark rating of 1839 and a single thread rating of 535.
The single thread rating is usually the most important for games.
Unfortunately, the cpu is soldered in and can't be replaced so far as I know.

What is your budget?
 

Doogals

Distinguished
Dec 5, 2014
72
2
18,645
1
What is your case?
Silverstone Grandia GD05B

https://www.silverstonetek.com/product.php?pid=241&area=en

Your HD5450 has a passmark rating of 232. GT1030 has a rating of 2243.
Would you consider PassMark to be a better benchmark tool than UserBenchmark?

A Low profile GT1030 would probably be appropriate. What is your budget?
From what I’ve learned in this thread my budget is now based on finding a suitable GPU that will not be bottlenecked by my existing CPU and RAM, and knowing that more money would be better spent on new components to build a dedicated gaming machine instead of updating this old HTPC.

Right now consensus seems to be a GT 1030 is the best option without upgrading any other hardware:

https://www.gigabyte.com/Graphics-Card/GV-N1030D5-2GL#kf
 

geofelt

Titan
I like the case. I think you can keep it for a considerable upgrade.
The vp450 psu is probably ok for most any graphics card you want up to a GTX1660ti.
Here is a chart for other options:
http://www.realhardtechx.com/index_archivos/Page362.htm

Try this test to see what you might get out of a better graphics card:
Run YOUR games, but lower your resolution and eye candy.
If your FPS increases, it indicates that your cpu is strong enough to drive a better graphics configuration.
If your FPS stays the same, you are likely more cpu limited.
For fast action games a strong graphics card is good.
If you buy a graphics card, buy a EVGA unit. If you decide within 90 days that you need stronger, they will take your old card at your paid price towards a stronger card.

For cpu centric games like MMO, sims, and strategy games, you want a stronger cpu, particularly single thread performance.
The J1900 is very weak, particularly in single thread performance.
A cpu upgrade will entail a new motherboard cpu and ddr4 ram.
$250 should do it for a nice upgrade.
 

tennis2

Judicious
Are you considering the new CPU+mobo+RAM sometime in the near future? (This year? )

Again, GPUs can be carried over from one system to the next. The GT1030 is a pretty poor value for the performance it offers.

Country?
 

Doogals

Distinguished
Dec 5, 2014
72
2
18,645
1
Try this test to see what you might get out of a better graphics card:
Run YOUR games, but lower your resolution and eye candy.
So I installed Fraps, and with the game set to 1280x720 resolution (default) and all the effects turned ON I’m getting 6-7 fps in game.

With all the effects turned OFF the fps increases to 10-12.

Are frame rates this low even worthy of a GT 1030? Any guesses what kind of fps increase the new GPU would make?
 

geofelt

Titan
I do not think the fps improvement you might get to 10-12 is worth doing anything .
The power of your cpu is simply too anemic.

To upgrade, you will need a cpu, motherboard and ddr4 ram.
That can be as little as a Intel G5600 for $110, a B300 series motherboard for $60, and a 2 x 4gb DDR4 ram kit for $40.
You will get a G5600 4 thread processor with a passmark rating of 5660 and a much stronger single thread rating of 2257.
The G5600 also includes HD630 integrated graphics which has a rating of 1121, that is considerably faster than your current HD5450 at 232.
HD630 just gets you going.
About the cheapest gpu that can be considered for gaming might be the GT1030.

A similarly priced alternative would be a ryzen 2200G.
It includes a good integrated graphics adapter about as strong as a GT1030.
My problem with that approach is that a future graphics replacement wastes the premium you paid for integrated graphics on the 2200G

Such an upgrade should be considered as a starting point.
The B300 series motherboard can support a 9th gen future upgrade processor costing $200+

Your psu will support a card as good as a GTX1660ti.
 

Doogals

Distinguished
Dec 5, 2014
72
2
18,645
1
I do not think the fps improvement you might get to 10-12 is worth doing anything .
The power of your cpu is simply too anemic.
Wanted to post a quick follow up with my findings after playing two older game titles.

I installed The Lego Movie Videogame (2014) and Lego Batman: The Videogame (2008), and both seem to be running great without any issues.

So far I’ve only used their default video settings without making any adjustments, and Lego Movie averages around 30fps and Lego Batman closer to 60fps.

Could my issue with The LEGO Ninjago Movie Video Game (2017) be that it’s simply too current of a title for my underpowered system?
 

ASK THE COMMUNITY