How to Build a Modern Commodore 64 PC


You’re ready to turn on the Commodore 64x. If you’re wondering where the power button is, it’s the red LED dome on the right-hand side.

1)This little fan can get whiny, so use a $7 Zalman Fan Mate 2 to lower its RPMs.

2)The Zotac Fusion ION‑ITX T Series wraps the GPU, CPU, PSU, MOBO, and heatsink into one nice little attractive package.

3)The slot-fed optical drive can be substituted for a standard tray drive or skipped completely, but it wouldn’t be quite as classy. Now if we could only fit a 5.25-inch floppy in there.

An Elegant Weapon for a More Civilized Age

The original Commodore 64 packed a 1MHz MOS 6510 processor, which probably has one hundredth of the power of the CPU in your printer. Next to that, the AMD’s E-350 “Brazos” would appear as magic from the gods. In our world, though, the E350 is pretty far off the power band as you can see from our tests. The E-350’s main weakness is its x86 performance.

The Fusion APU is faster than a dual-core Atom 330, but beefier parts such as Intel’s Core i5-2430M—even with the i5’s low clocks—will leave it in the dust. Where the E-350 in the C64x does well is in 3D performance—its integrated graphics solution has enough power to run older games such as Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare at lower resolutions.

The real beauty of the E-350 is its low temps. At 18 watts for CPU and GPU combined, it really stays cool. In our experience, it’s far cooler than Intel’s own low-voltage 35-watt dual-core Sandy Bridge chips. The E-350 isn’t about blistering performance, but neither is the C64x. It’s about the cool factor of having a retro exterior with modern computer brains.


Commodore 64x
Giada i50
Giada Ion-100
Zbox Plus Nano XS
1.6GHz AMD E-350 1.2GHz Intel Core i5-430UM
1.3GHz Intel Atom 330 w/ Nvidia Ion
1.6GHz AMD E-450
Photoshop CS3 (sec) 445 272 552 423
MainConcept (sec) 8,280 4,736 8,858 4,560
3DMark 2003 5,685 1,189 3,371 6,954
Quake III (fps) 204 87 118 161
Quake 4 (fps) 38 9 29 40

Best scores are bolded.

So that's our new, modern Commodore 64 build. What do you guys think? Let us know in the comments.

Best scores are bolded.

So that's our new, modern Commodore 64 build. What do you guys think? Let us know in the comments.

Alan Dexter

Alan has been writing about PC tech since before 3D graphics cards existed, and still vividly recalls having to fight with MS-DOS just to get games to load. He fondly remembers the killer combo of a Matrox Millenium and 3dfx Voodoo, and seeing Lara Croft in 3D for the first time. He's very glad hardware has advanced as much as it has though, and is particularly happy when putting the latest M.2 NVMe SSDs, AMD processors, and laptops through their paces. He has a long-lasting Magic: The Gathering obsession but limits this to MTG Arena these days.

With contributions from