Buying a PC to Minecraft
May 8, 2018 8:55 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for advise on buying a PC so my 9 year old son can play Minecraft. Would it be a bad idea to buy a used computer online? I'd like to spend as little as possible, but if I should purchase a computer new, is there a particular model that is low-cost but will allow him to install Minecraft?

He has the xbox version, but apparently the PC version has more features?

We're in the US and usually purchase electronics from Costco.

Thank you for your help with this!
posted by okay-quiet-time to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
This is not a complete answer to your question, but I hope it is helpful...

PC Minecraft is definitely worth a little bit of an investment, since it has both more features than the console version and also a fairly robust "modding" community that creates free content for the game. And if your son gets interested in that, there are a lot of cool, creative things he could learn to start to build his own, like programming, digital art, and 3d modeling.

As far as I can tell, Minecraft should work fine on a low-end computer. Minecraft System Requirements are here but apparently I am out of the loop enough that I don't know how to definitively compare those things with the specs on the lower-end machines on (Also, the Costco prices don't look that great compared to, say, Best Buy, so shop around.)
posted by He Is Only The Imposter at 9:35 AM on May 8, 2018

Minecraft for pc is surprisingly resource-intensive and you should be looking at the "recommended" requirements as pretty much the floor for reasonable performance. The $600 Lenovo desktop w/RX 560 at costco would be fine.

Buying used is fine as long as you're okay with the risk of getting janky hardware that someone is getting rid of for a reason. You might look at the dell/hp/lenovo outlets for refurbs, which will at least have a warranty.

Biggest thing: you need a real video card or an "APU" from AMD, not not not the integrated video in an Intel chip. Exception: the "kaby lake g" chips from Intel.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 10:36 AM on May 8, 2018 [2 favorites]

If you're going with a laptop, keep in mind Minecraft is a horribly optimized application that can easily overheat the system, so watch out for poorly ventilated machines. Back in 2012, I didn't have any problems running AAA games like Saints Row 3, Mafia II or Borderlands (although often in mid-range detail and in the later, sub-HD quality), but one hour with Minecraft and it could keep coffee warm with the hot air blasting from the fan.
posted by lmfsilva at 11:41 AM on May 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

posted by patnok at 6:07 PM on May 8, 2018

Yeah, no, minecraft uses a huge amount of resources once you start getting into the game seriously. It has infinite world gen and multiplayer within a LAN so his friend can play too. Once he finds out you can install mods the game will likely expand to humongous. I would definitely not go with a laptop. I would definitely go with a good graphics card not a built in. I would definitely look for good cooling. And I would go with a refurbished.

Good graphics cards lately can be hard to come by and used ones may be burnt out by a bitcoin miner. I would definitely go with a refurbished that you can return if the graphics card is a dud, or from a source that you trust not to send you a used bad graphics card. I would not buy the graphics card on E-Bay. Your local BuyWay or Office Depot or any place like that should be fine.

You'll probably want to upgrade to a newer model in a couple of years to deal with his expanding interest in the possibilities of his own computer, so used is a good plan. If you get one with a replaceable graphics card you can consider only replacing that two years down the line.
posted by Jane the Brown at 6:38 AM on May 9, 2018

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