Cost effective pc build

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    I used a refurbished dell optiplex 7010 from micro center for about $300, plus an upgraded power supply for $40. I used a GTX 2070 video card

    Had to modify the case a bit to fit the card in and you need a right angle sata connector and the front USB ports are disconnected.

    For Linux I couldn’t get Mint 19 to play nice with the video card drivers but 18.3 worked great.

    Hope this helps someone out!


    My build is similar. I also got a dell optiplex 7010, although I paid $80 for it on ebay. I got a fairly nice power supply (BitFenix BF-450G — got a good review on Tom’s Hardware) for $60, and an EVGA GTX 1060 3GB for $190. I was worried about getting the graphics card used — apparently ebay scams are not uncommon — you end up with a lower-end card with higher-end stickers. Also I worry about people overclocking their card, running it hot, reducing the lifespan of the card, and then selling it to me. So I went with new. That being said I’m jealous of OP’s GTX 2070. The graphics card I got is a single fan “mini” model that fits nicely in the optiplex 7010. I wanted a two-fan model, but I didn’t feel like grinding out the hard drive cage on the dell.

    The GTX 1060 seems to be struggling a bit with the water simulation — the simulation looks fine, but I’m getting “out of time” errors on the console. I researched graphics cards a ton, and although I was worried about the limited RAM on the card I got, it looks like video RAM usage is minimal (under 100MB). I wonder if I can somehow tune things so it uses more VRAM and gets better performance on the water sim. I might downgrade to Mint 18.3 as OP suggested and see if that helps. I’ll also try downgrading the resolution.

    The thing I did not really research as much as I should have is the projector. I got a cheap one — refurbished Nebula Mars Lite for $220. I set everything up and discovered that the projector does not have a zoom feature. I didn’t even realize you could get a projector without zoom. So now I’m messing with mirrors and have to deal with the projector creating its own shadow since I mounted it lower on the vertical post (pointing up to a mirror). The projector does have a threaded tripod socket, so mounting it is pretty easy. I wish I had used for comparing projectors, they have product specs and comparison tools.

    Anyway here’s what the bill came out to:
    Computer $80
    PSU $60
    GPU $190
    Projector $220
    Sandbox and equipment boom $200
    Sand $170
    Total $920

    For a real budget build I probably would have gone with regular play sand, but it’s too cold outside to do the wash process.


    That’s awesome you were able to build it for under $1000!

    Tin snips work fine. No grinding required.

    I don’t have an issue with play sand, but instead went with “moon sand” About 2 gallons of oil and 25lbs of flour.


    Good to know about the tin snips, however I own an angle grinder but not tin snips, so it would have been a grinding project for me regardless. 🙂 However I’m happy with the single-fan 1060 card, once I got everything set up and calibrated, the low performance I was seeing pretty much disappeared, although it still struggles when my son mashes on the “make it rain on the whole table” button.

    I’m intrigued by the moon sand idea — I wonder how it acts when you mix it with regular sand. Also does it make your hands oily?

    I ended up spending some more money on the table, so I’m not quite under $1000 anymore. Maybe $1200 total. I tried to design a table that could be lowered and raised on the fly, but I opted for an easier solution — removable legs. My table legs are 4x4s that are attached to ‘support legs’ — 2x6s arranged at each corner of the table. The 4×4 legs bolt onto the support legs with wingnuts. I have a short set of legs for my four-year-old and a longer set for adults. The legs all have castor wheels on them so the table can be rolled.

    Oliver Kreylos

    > I wonder if I can somehow tune things so it uses more VRAM and gets better performance on the water sim.

    No, the AR Sandbox uses as much VRAM as it can use. What’s limiting it is purely the number crunching performance of the graphics card’s stream processors.

    You shouldn’t really have a problem with a 1060, though. Check that your water simulation box does not extend past your physical sandbox, as the simulation is bottlenecked by the water cells that have the fastest-moving water, and cells outside the actual box might essentially be waterfalls.

    You can also reduce the water simulation’s resolution by adjusting the -wts <width> <height> command line parameter.


    I’ll look into both of those options, thank you!

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