advice for me and my son please! :)

Hey internet people!

I have little knowledge about computers and all the stuff you guys love… but i need to find out stuff - my kid wants a computer capable of running and creating stuff on unreal, but Im totally skint and can’t spend thousands on a computer that a 12 will possibly get bored of, or find too difficult to use!


–do you guys think a 12 year old is capable of using this software? or capable of learning, or is this too advanced?
–whats the cheapest way to get a computer !? - is there a basic spec? I’m struggling looking at computer specs and understanding the different bits and bobs!
how little do you reckon I could spend but still be able to use unreal? or is it a stupid question?

Thanks for any advice!

ps. I don’t wanna buy a crappy laptop that can only do emails :slight_smile:

Since UE4 is free, there’s no loss in letting them mess with it even if it’s difficult for them.
As for computers, it really depends on your budget. Usually a desktop would be the best value for your money but it isn’t portable.

You could get a computer capable of running Unreal 4 just fine for about 600-800$. It kind of depends on a few things.

The system requirements for UE4 are as such:

Desktop PC or Mac.
Windows 7 64-bit or Mac OS X 10.9.2 or later.
Quad-core Intel or AMD processor, 2.5 GHz or faster.
NVIDIA GeForce 470 GTX or AMD Radeon 6870 HD series card or higher.

These are not extreme requirements, though not super cheap either. I recommend checking Kijiji/Craigslists and seeing if you can find a computer someone is selling for cheap (of course test it before you buy it if you go this route). If you want to buy brand new, you can also check out this section: Gaming & Entertainment,Top Sellers,Intel Core i5 Desktop Computers | All of those computers will run UE4. Since it’s a big purchase though and it seems like you don’t know the technical details (I don’t mean that in a rude way), I’d recommend finding one at your price point, and asking “is this a good choice?” and people will tell you, or suggest a cheaper alternative.

Certainly you do not need to spend thousands and shouldn’t.

As for difficulty - Unreal Engine is both difficult and easy. It is a great way to learn. It’s also possible it might be too intimidating. It’s a very powerful tool. It does make things easy for the average person, but it is absolutely a commitment to get decent with it, so it’s understandable to want to make sure before you spend the cash. Especially since your son is still young. Unreal is comparable to Photoshop - tons of advanced tools, so many that sometimes MS Paint is just a lot easier to get started, even though it’s a lot more basic.

One alternative I might recommend is starting your son off with a program called GameMaker. This is kind of like Unreal, but for 2D games. It’s also a lot more simple, and can teach you the basics a lot faster. This might be disappointing in a way to your son - why start making 2D games when I can make big 3D games? But the reality is GameDev is a LOT of work, it is a challenge and takes time to learn, and the same principles will apply to both. To put it another way, GameMaker would be a good test if your son actually wants to do game dev, and wants to commit to it - it’ll also run on much older and cheaper computers.

Hope this helps in some way. It really depends on your cash flow. If you can afford 800 or so dollars without too much of a problem, it sounds like this could be a great way to get your son into Programming, which is a great field to get into, especially so young. I wouldn’t discourage it. PCs also have a lot of other value, like for school and such. Definitely do not spend more than 1200$ on PC, I wouldn’t even go that high personally, especially if you’re tepid. I’d just make sure you get at least 8 gigs of ram, and a video card with at least 4GB or VRAM (video memory) that matches or exceeds the minimum requirements.

Onboard graphics these days are surprisingly capable of handing a lot of modern graphics processing. You might want to start with a computer with onboard graphics, and see how it handles UE4. If you find that it doesn’t handle UE4 the you could always dish out the money to upgrade and buy a graphics card. It also depends on what you’re kids will be doing in UE4, and if they are new to the program (which is what it seems like), then they probably won’t be pushing the computer to it’s limits. Maybe as they learn more and become more capable with the software they might push it further technically speaking. I would look into researching onboard graphics and seeing what they are capable of. There are a lot of Youtube videos that will show you what Intels onboard graphics can handle. Which most of them can run games like Skyrim with full graphics settings.

What do you guys think? Can anybody comment on how UE4 will handle on onboard graphics? Also, don’t skimp on the Processor, at the very least invest in a mid-range processor (Intel i3 or above). You can always upgrade things like RAM, your graphics card or even HD easily, but upgrading your CPU isn’t quite as easy. Do yourself that favor and buy a computer with a good processor at the very least.

8 GB of RAM are a MUST for any programming, be it UE4, Unity or GameMaker.

As for the rest, a rig that can run UE4 will definitely be able to run the other tools sso if your son wants to switch, no harm done.

I guess UE4 would be easier for your kid than the alternatives because it has visual scripting - blueprints. Basically your kid has those blocks that say “do x” and only has to link them together. No need to code.

Intel GPU is just not good enough

Anyway, all this is probably getting confusing about what specific compontents and upgrading and stuff–but really, if you have an idea of how much you want to spend, I’m sure we can recommend some PC’s within that pricing that will work for you that you can just buy without building a computer or anything.

Run away from integrated graphics, too weak to run anything.

I learned Blender (a 3d modeling software) when I was 16-17, that was really freaking hard because youtube video tutorials weren’t a thing yet. It’s now easier to learn things because of free online video training, but you need to have an awesome attention span which many 12 year olds don’t have unless they have real genuine passion and drive.

But it’s not just Unreal Engine that he’ll have to learn, he needs to learn a modeling software if he wants create his own characters and props. It’s a huge endeavor, but there’s tons of discipline and personal growth that can happen from simply striving to build something.

He doesn’t need to learn modeling, there’s a ton of free assets and textures out there.

Yeah a 12 year old could figure it out, if he uses blueprints to make the game. C++ coding is infinitely more complex.

thank you pinworm!
thats a lot to think over - i will see if he’s tried gamemaker, I know he says he’s outgrown Scratch (I’m not sure what thats capable of though)
thanks for the tips on how much ram and the video card thingy - its these things I’m struggling with! lol!
he’s obviously not up on all the techy stuff either or he could help me!!!

thanks aumaan anubis - I’m realising its not a simple thing! I’m not sure if he realises all the intricate things that go into it - hey who am i kidding I’m sure he’s in bed watching tutorials now!! lol!

thank you everyone!

It feels like he’s probably going to be able to do it to some level - and its a good thing to encourage! I know my way around photoshop and a few editing software programs but nothing as complicated as this seems, so if he wants to do it then I’m up for learning too (until he’s a million times better than me because ehe has the patience to sit watching tutorials! )

Im going to see a pc place that builds them and see what they suggest (and now I’m armed with a bit more info they can’t rip me off) as would this be the best avenue? My other half keeps finding cheap laptops but I’m worried they won’t be able to handle the complicated stuff - but hey that could be way too complex I guess!

yeah, talking to someone in person will help. Laptops cost more for the mobility, so if you want the power for less then you can get a desktop. You’re probably looking at somewhere between $700-$1,000

Whether or not someone (Age doesn’t mean anything unless you want it to :stuck_out_tongue: ) can learn software like UE4 is dependent on determination and persistence. My 11 year old sibling wanted to learn UE4 after seeing me working in it for a while, but after I gave them a small tutoring session, they changed their mind pretty quickly when they found out you can’t just magically throw games together.

UE4 is a big animal, but with time, the ins and outs can be learned.

If I were you I’d get a an i3-6100, 32gb of ram and a gtx 960 in a large tower desktop. In terms of overall bang for your buck that’s probably the best around imo and the large tower is just so much more stress free than trying to Macgyver it all into a mid.

To make some of the games the best possible thing would be to get some of the free scenes/plugins/assets and have him mess around with pre-existing assets. It will be so much easier to play around with things that already exist to get an idea for how things work holistically rather than trying to learn the quadrillion steps it will take to get there on your own. There’s no need to start from square one especially for beginners.

Starting with 3d modeling is a bad idea as it is going to be the most time consuming and he might get discouraged before ever really getting into the meat and potatoes of the Unreal Engine. 3d models are only one small part of the entire toolset.

Also it’s good to try out all the templates that come with UE4 by default, the flying, the fps, the 3rd person. Just messing around with the blueprints in those free templates will give him a handle on how everything works. At worst he’ll gain valuable tech experience and give it up.

It’s a good idea to let your son experiment with ue4 if it’s what he want. Even if he don’t manage to do big stuff with the software he’ll learn something about how games are made. He can use the engine and existing projects as a sandbox learning tool. Back in my days I had the worldcraft editor (valve hammer editor) hehe!

My current computer specs that I run UE4 with:

CPU: AMD FX8350 (you could easily use an AMD FX8320 which is less expensive)
GPU: Nvidia GTX760 2GB

Your CPU is for processing physics and game logic among many other things, Your GPU (graphics card/videocard) is for handling all the shading, rendering the characters and everything, the pretty visuals of your game.
My point is that you don’t need anything more expensive than this set up, you could in fact aim for a bit lower spec PC.

What you need to know about PC hardware:

Processor (CPU)
AMD CPUs are inexpensive, the two I listed range from 99 to 160 depending on where you get them. But these CPUs aren’t as powerful as Intel ones (intel is also much more expensive) AMD gets the job done, but their CPUs run quite hot, and I can only use mine at full power because I manually installed an after market cooler and heatsink with high performance thermal paste, this kind of cooling you won’t get buying stock, but it’s very VERY needed for AMD CPUs. Intel CPUs in general don’t run as hot, but have more power.

The reason why this is an issue because your son needs to know that he has to take care of his computer (that means shutting it down every night, or at least putting it in sleep mode when he leaves the room or hibernate if he’s going to be gone a while). Otherwise there will be a lot of stress on the hardware that will shorten the lifespan of the components.

  • So you can spend more money on an Intel processor (which is faster, less hot)
  • Or get a LOT more bang for your buck and get an AMD processor (not as fast, and need after market coolers to really last and perform well, I built my PC so installing this wasn’t an issue for me, but if you need to pay someone to install an after market cooler for you, then you should consider just getting an Intel instead to avoid all that).

Hard Drive:
Two main kinds of hard drives, HDD (hard disk drive) and SSD (solid state drive).
HDD hold data much longer, even without being powered for for a few years. SDD are much faster, but don’t hold data as long.

Remember these two facts if you don’t know them already:

  • Fact 1, ALL HARD DRIVES WILL EVENTUALLY FAIL, that’s right ALL OF THEM. So be sure to remind your son to back up is work on cloud storage or something.
  • Fact 2, never buy a “Hitatchi Deskstar” brand hard drive, these have the nickname “Death Star” for a reason.

This all might seem overwhelming, but just take this piece at a time. Same goes for your son, his goal shouldn’t be to create next Uncharted or Halo, at least not yet, his goal for now should be just to learn how to use UE4 on a basic level, the process of making games. Once he can open blank project, and create a character that can walk and jump on his own, and maybe even shoot, then that’s an achievement and should be recognized as a milestone (yes, even if he’s using tutorials or guides to do it. Because real developers read tutorials and guides too if they need them)

I highly recommend watching Techquickie on youtube to help you understand computer parts so you know what you’re looking for and why:

He does these really short videos where he explains the basics about each thing, no longer than 5 to 7 minutes usually.
Watching these will arm you with good knowledge, just look for the main topics here, like CPU, GPU, things like that.

i7-6700 with 1060GTX
256 SSD + 1TB HDD
16 GB RAM for about 1100$

For example at

If you change the CPU to an i5-6500 and the change the GFX to a 1050Ti to get the price below 800$, although i wouldn’t recommend that. In any case make sure there is at least 16 GB RAM available.