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A Shogun 2 Worthy Computer...

evotucevotuc Senior MemberPosts: 983Registered Users
edited December 2010 in Technology
A little history:

My kids' computer found the path to electronic heaven recently. (Isn't that where they filmed the Tron movies?) At first I was going to repair it, which would have been a hard drive and a DVD drive. I found myself not being able to justify any further expense on a 3.2 GHz LGA 775. Hyperthreaded or not, these are definitely showing their age. This left me with the opportunity to pass down my computer, (my first build), to my girls and assemble a new one. It should last them for some time still - Phenom II X4 @ 2.6, 790 GX chipset, 4 GB DDR2, XFX 4890. It was great for Empire, [email protected] and Crysis. This most likely would have been fine for Shogun 2, but where I messed up when building this one was by not getting a board which could run two graphics cards at x16 speeds.

In with the new:

I am not seeking brand names and stickers for my case, unless that means better support after purchase. :) Also, I sought the highest quality components at competitive prices, read numerous reviews and comparisons, read, read, and read some more. I thought I should share, because overall, this is awesome bang for the buck. Certain pieces could be downgraded slightly and still, I believe, keep up with S2 and other games for about the next year. After that, just add another 6870.

http://secure.newegg.com/WishList/PublicWishDetail.aspx?WishListNumber=16347346

Notes:
A lot could saved by changing the case. I just wanted to have lots of airflow and space to work in.

A quadcore in place of the hexcore is also a money saver and should be sufficient for some time to come.

The power supply that I included is a beast. I have had this model for over a year with zero problems. Many of its components are high quality and robust for a power supply of this rating and price. It does produce a moderate amount of electrical noise, but stays within acceptable limits.

I hope this will help someone out there... If you have any suggestions, questions, or comments, please feel free!
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  • WartonWarton Senior Member Posts: 103Registered Users
    edited December 2010
    evotuc wrote: »
    This most likely would have been fine for Shogun 2, but where I messed up when building this one was by not getting a board which could run two graphics cards at x16 speeds.

    [...]

    Certain pieces could be downgraded slightly and still, I believe, keep up with S2 and games for about the next year. After that, just add another 6870.

    I don't recommend Crossfire. It causes a lot of trouble, with very little benefit.
  • naishonaisho Senior Member USAPosts: 3,425Registered Users
    edited December 2010
    Isn't SLI the better system for dual graphics cards?

    have you checked Tiger direct? you might be able to compare prices between the two.
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  • evotucevotuc Senior Member Posts: 983Registered Users
    edited December 2010
    Warton wrote: »
    I don't recommend Crossfire. It causes a lot of trouble, with very little benefit.

    Trouble can always be sorted out...

    As far as the benefits of crossfire and SLI go, I will just refer you to this page:

    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/radeon-hd-6870-radeon-hd-6850-barts,2776-20.html

    Only slightly less than double the performance.
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  • evotucevotuc Senior Member Posts: 983Registered Users
    edited December 2010
    naisho wrote: »
    Isn't SLI the better system for dual graphics cards?

    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/crossfire-sli-scaling,2742.html

    Believe me, I lost sleep over this question. They both seem to scale quite well. The Nvidia cards do come with slightly more memory and are known to have better drivers. When pushed really hard, Crossfired cards do tend to bottleneck slightly. The difference seems to be slight though. One thing that made me decide on the ATI card is that I have had such a good experience with my last one, an XFX 4890. This card has been fantastic for the money. Overclocking was almost non-existent, but I only do that after a system is broken in with the new drivers and shown to be stable on the surface. Then, I only do it to see what it all is capable of and turn everything back down. Stress testing if you will. To test cooling and stability.

    Edit: Also, the MSI 890FXA-GD70 that I chose only seems to be capable of Crossfire, not SLI. One thing that kept me away from the Nvidia cards is that they are power hungry. With the power supply that I have chosen, I will be pushing it a little with a pair of 6870's as it is.

    have you checked Tiger direct? you might be able to compare prices between the two.

    I have always used Newegg. Their RMA procedure is great from what I have read. I just haven't had to use it. A lot of the time, I find prices slightly higher on Tiger. How has your experience been with them?
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  • evotucevotuc Senior Member Posts: 983Registered Users
    edited December 2010
    By the way, I would like to add that these two sites are awesome if you ever have questions or want a very thorough review of components:

    http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/

    http://www.tomshardware.com/us/
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  • naishonaisho Senior Member USAPosts: 3,425Registered Users
    edited December 2010
    I was only meaning to check for deals, sometimes tiger will have deals. If your lucky you might be able to save yourself a few bucks which you can turnaround and either pocket or invest into slightly better hardware. Its what hardwaremaster did for his monster system.... his system is evil....
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  • Maeda_ToshiieMaeda_Toshiie Senior Member SingaporePosts: 3,601Registered Users
    edited December 2010
    If you want an AMD hex-core, get a 95W version. Phenom II X6 1055T 95 W:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_AMD_Phenom_microprocessors#.22Thuban.22_.28E0.2C_45_nm.2C_six-core.29

    However, most games don't even really utilize 4 cores at the moment. I'd rather spend the same amount of cash on an i5 760. Or wait for Sandy Bridge.

    But really, 4 cores vs 6 cores is dependent on the kind of applications that you run. Would they use the 6 cores?

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  • evotucevotuc Senior Member Posts: 983Registered Users
    edited December 2010
    If you want an AMD hex-core, get a 95W version. Phenom II X6 1055T 95 W:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_AMD_Phenom_microprocessors#.22Thuban.22_.28E0.2C_45_nm.2C_six-core.29

    You are absolutely right! Thank you for pointing that out. Unfortunately, Newegg doesn't carry that model at the moment. I will look around to see if I can find one elsewhere.
    However, most games don't even really utilize 4 cores at the moment. I'd rather spend the same amount of cash on an i5 760. Or wait for Sandy Bridge.

    The i5 760 is a better performing CPU, (http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/best-gaming-cpu-core-i5-760-core-i7-970,2698-7.html) but I decided to go with an AMD board.
    But really, 4 cores vs 6 cores is dependent on the kind of applications that you run. Would they use the 6 cores?

    A hexacore was chosen so that it would keep up with games for a long time. The same reason I chose a board that supports crossfire.
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  • evotucevotuc Senior Member Posts: 983Registered Users
    edited December 2010
    If you want an AMD hex-core, get a 95W version. Phenom II X6 1055T 95 W:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_AMD_Phenom_microprocessors#.22Thuban.22_.28E0.2C_45_nm.2C_six-core.29

    Also, thanks again, the above article also pointed out to me that the memory that I had chosen wasn't compatible with that chip. It shows that it only supports up to the PC3-10600, while I had chosen the PC3-10666. I'm now wondering if that might cause problems.
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  • AlJabberwockAlJabberwock Moderator USAPosts: 7,729Moderators, Tech Moderators, Knights
    edited December 2010
    Well that's a pretty interesting question because the answer has to do with the sloppy playing field memory mfger's play on. In reality, 1333mhz 10600 is the same as 10660 or 10666, and is basically just the sloppy way that some manufacturers round the transfer speed, because they can round it any way they please.

    Because the transfer speed or bandwidth is determined (in SDR) by muliplying the data rate by 8 (8bytes in a 64 bit connection), you get 1333 times 8 is 10664. Some use (the fairly close approximation) 10666, some the slightly less accurate 10660, and some the very sloppy 10600. So, the chip supports up to 1333, regardless of which blackguard got lazy with the calculator.

    The best brief resume of this industry stupidity is here about a third of the way down:
    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/ddr3-1333-speed-latency-shootout,1754.html

    You can also find it here if you prefer Hardware Secrets:
    http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/printpage/167

    Or any of a dozen other places. Usually you are pretty ok as long as your MOBO supports the memory standard in question and the socket of the CPU you are going to use. Nota Bene: your board, like many boards, supports a number of much faster memory speeds, while all the chips the socket it sports can support according to AMD official spec, basically can only support the slowest or second to slowest speed supported. You may not be interested in overclocking or manipulating the factory settings in any way, but it is highly likely you could run a number of speeds that are not officially supported.

    AL
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  • evotucevotuc Senior Member Posts: 983Registered Users
    edited December 2010
    Well that's a pretty interesting question because the answer has to do with the sloppy playing field memory mfger's play on. In reality, 1333mhz 10600 is the same as 10660 or 10666, and is basically just the sloppy way that some manufacturers round the transfer speed, because they can round it any way they please.

    Ha! Thank you for settling this for me! After your reply, I went into the details in the chip's ad and found this:

    "Integrated Memory Controller Speed: Dual Channel PC3-10667U (DDR3-1333)" So it really doesn't matter, they are really all the same.

    I also read the article. Ya, I really like Tom's Hardware. They are very thorough and seem to be trustworthy. That's great, because now I can switch back to the Ripjaws that have a lesser latency time. I know that I could go with faster RAM, but it gets much more expensive. Also, I would really like to stay away from overclocking. It's not that I don't want to, I just know that I would go crazy with it and want to start looking at liquid cooling and such to see how far I could take it.

    Thank you for sharing all of this information!
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  • evotucevotuc Senior Member Posts: 983Registered Users
    edited December 2010
    Maybe we can all work together to see what we could come up with for an Intel/Nvidia set up for the same price. I am severely lacking in knowledge in this department. Would anyone like to help?
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  • AlJabberwockAlJabberwock Moderator USAPosts: 7,729Moderators, Tech Moderators, Knights
    edited December 2010
    evotuc wrote: »
    Maybe we can all work together to see what we could come up with for an Intel/Nvidia set up for the same price. I am severely lacking in knowledge in this department. Would anyone like to help?

    Er, do you mean alternatives for what can be created for the same price, each person develops their own? This will vary by country and by day as components change daily in many cases and by local market. If you mean something other, can you illucidate? If I have somehow managed to hit on your meaning, I would be more than happy to play - although we are likley to look at very similar items if we don't decide in advance to choose alternative mfgr's platforms.

    BTW, thanks for the comment on liquid cooling. That's all I do for performance machines if allowed the option, and I do not regularly overclock anything! LOL

    Cheers,
    Al
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  • evotucevotuc Senior Member Posts: 983Registered Users
    edited December 2010
    I am working on a configuration that I will post soon. Just as a "what if." What kind of performance can get I out of an Intel based machine for the same price?
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  • evotucevotuc Senior Member Posts: 983Registered Users
    edited December 2010
    Ya... so the more I try to do this, the more I remember why I go with AMD. I think I would rather stick with that. Maybe someone else will post a new thread for an Intel machine.
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  • AlJabberwockAlJabberwock Moderator USAPosts: 7,729Moderators, Tech Moderators, Knights
    edited December 2010
    Set a price or set a performance level. I use both platforms so I can play either side.
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  • evotucevotuc Senior Member Posts: 983Registered Users
    edited December 2010
    Intel based @ $1000. With SLI true dual x16. At least 4 GB with no greater than latency timings of 7. Single graphics card for now and it should be a reference card. Basically the same set up as I originally posted, only Intel based... I find this to be more expensive, with the benefits questionable. To lessen the variables, stick with the same case, DVD burner, power supply and hard drive as the AMD machine above. Also, go with Newegg so the comparison will be a side by side. Thanks Al.
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  • DarkSideHomeDarkSideHome Senior Member Posts: 1,549Registered Users
    edited December 2010
    However, most games don't even really utilize 4 cores at the moment.


    A little off-topic: Certain games have been proven to be modular and scalable according to the number of cores that you have and the speed of each core. iirc Grand Theft Auto (the last one) and Dragon Age: Origins both used all cores you threw at it and the performance increased dramatically between a dual core and a quad core.
  • evotucevotuc Senior Member Posts: 983Registered Users
    edited December 2010
    Dark Side wrote: »
    A little off-topic

    Not off topic at all!
    Certain games have been proven to be modular and scalable according to the number of cores that you have and the speed of each core. iirc Grand Theft Auto (the last one) and Dragon Age: Origins both used all cores you threw at it and the performance increased dramatically between a dual core and a quad core.

    Thanks for this!
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  • AlJabberwockAlJabberwock Moderator USAPosts: 7,729Moderators, Tech Moderators, Knights
    edited December 2010
    Dark Side wrote: »
    A little off-topic: Certain games have been proven to be modular and scalable according to the number of cores that you have and the speed of each core. iirc Grand Theft Auto (the last one) and Dragon Age: Origins both used all cores you threw at it and the performance increased dramatically between a dual core and a quad core.

    My friend, perhaps, but these are examples of exceptions to the rule to date. Even S2, will be a breakthrough for the TW series if it actually has significant and persistent multiple and even quad core support in (simultaneous) real time. Support to this point has been lamentable in simultaneous terms in use. I love to torture poor Maeda, but I would absolutely agree with the point that the majority (even the VAST majority) of games presently on the market have poor to no real support for simultaneous multi-core operations that are significant, persistent and useful.

    @evotuc
    Ok, I will try to put that together tomorrow... West Coast US time.
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  • evotucevotuc Senior Member Posts: 983Registered Users
    edited December 2010
    @evotuc
    Ok, I will try to put that together tomorrow... West Coast US time.


    It seems AMD is the "Better Bang for the Buck" right now. I have tried and tried to put together an Intel/Nvidia set up within that price range and performance level. Either it is too expensive or draws too much power. Is it possible?

    Ordering won't be until about the end of February, leaving me plenty of time to watch the price/performance wars. That's part of the fun.

    Be sure that I will be sharing the build experience and possibly reviews of the components. Maybe I will benchmark my current system and the new one to show the difference.
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  • AlJabberwockAlJabberwock Moderator USAPosts: 7,729Moderators, Tech Moderators, Knights
    edited December 2010
    Sorry, I have three sons and Christmas being just around the corner has caused both some particualr friend's needs to peak with my own, and I have not followed through on my promise... Let me see what I may do with respect to this in the next ten minutes.
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  • evotucevotuc Senior Member Posts: 983Registered Users
    edited December 2010
    No rush. Nothing will be set in stone for a couple of months. I thought you ran into the same price/performance issue that I did.

    Merry Christmas!
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  • AlJabberwockAlJabberwock Moderator USAPosts: 7,729Moderators, Tech Moderators, Knights
    edited December 2010
    LOL, we can do it, don't worry. Thanks and Merry Christmas to you as well. Back in a few
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    “Every so often things happen that can’t be rationalized in a conventional way. People wanna know their government has a response. I am that response.”
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    For most general problems, for which you have no idea of the culprit, your first port of call should be:
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  • evotucevotuc Senior Member Posts: 983Registered Users
    edited December 2010
    By the way, I added and exchanged some of the components from the original due to out of stock items. The heat sink that I added isn't necessary, just a thought.
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  • AlJabberwockAlJabberwock Moderator USAPosts: 7,729Moderators, Tech Moderators, Knights
    edited December 2010
    Hmm, to keep it consistent I will also use the wish list configuration to cut down on the links.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    “Every so often things happen that can’t be rationalized in a conventional way. People wanna know their government has a response. I am that response.”
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    For most general problems, for which you have no idea of the culprit, your first port of call should be:
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  • evotucevotuc Senior Member Posts: 983Registered Users
    edited December 2010
    That's great. In the future, if I change anything, I will just make a new list so that this thread continues to make sense. :)
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  • AlJabberwockAlJabberwock Moderator USAPosts: 7,729Moderators, Tech Moderators, Knights
    edited December 2010
    Well, it apparently will take some time for the wish list to be published so in the meantime, let me say that I cheated in two fashions, but not really unfairly:

    1) I did eschew the very beefy Corsair as more than was neccessary and saved about $40. However, while I dialed you down by 100 watts that you probably don't need, I did marginally increase your 12+v amps by 9 (+15%) in what I consider to be the very equally beefy and reliable Antec 650. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817371021
    2)I completely ignored the after market cooler as I don't think it much use and a waste of cash. Either get a pretty good one, or work with the default until you can afford one. Additionally, an i5 will use a different cooler most likely and price comaprisons on this are probably not going to reveal much.

    As a result I was able to JUST squeak in under the mark at $993 BUT I am including in my build the much more powerful XFX 6950! http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814150518

    I used the Asus board to get the lowest price dual 16x mobo - this feature basically caused me to have to spend an extra $100, so I wouldn't pay for it unless I was pretty sure I was going to use it. Honestly, unless you are going to use a pretty large screen with absolutely insane multipliers for units and such... it may be a waste... :http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131594

    The board is an 1156 slot and I used the i5 760. This is a 2.8ghz, but it self turbos up to 3.33ghz without any overclocking. This gives the benefit of higher freq. when its needed but more efficient idling. The headroom for oc-ing is also enormous, if that becomes an issue or an interest. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115067

    I used the same case, dvd and hard drives. The mem was a 1066 from G skill since there were no 7 Cas sticks in the 1333 range for a single stick of 4 gigs that I thought worth it. The performance hit would show p on a benchmark test, but I doubt you would see it in gameplay. If anything, you would want to up your limit and make the ram 8 gigs instead of 4. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231307

    So, $993, and not bad. Sure, the 760 is still stepped if you want to OC, but, you are likley not needing to OC it for a while yet either!
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    “Every so often things happen that can’t be rationalized in a conventional way. People wanna know their government has a response. I am that response.”
    ― Kent Mansley (in "Iron Giant")

    For most general problems, for which you have no idea of the culprit, your first port of call should be:
    https://support.sega.co.uk/hc/en-us/categories/200307381-Total-War-Support

    If you are aware of a bug or a specific issue for which you know the cause, post in the support section for the specific title on our forums. ~Al

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  • evotucevotuc Senior Member Posts: 983Registered Users
    edited December 2010
    Al, thank you so much for you time.

    Certainly, I will be using a Crossfire/SLI setup in the future. With Crysis 2 coming out, how can I say no?


    PSU:

    It says this only has one ATX 12V 4 pin connector and the board calls for an 8 pin. Although, it says it has an 8 pin EPS 12V, and to be honest, I don't know what that is yet.

    Also, we start to run into the problem of multi vs. single rail and the modular cable debates.


    VGA:

    I am definitely watching the prices on the 6950 and 6970. The 6870 only has 1 GB and single precision floating point calculations.


    Board:

    For just ten dollars more, I think the MSI board would last longer and give me more options.


    It always seems like a sacrifice to go to Intel. The other components have to take a hit in order to use their chips. Maybe by February...
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  • evotucevotuc Senior Member Posts: 983Registered Users
    edited December 2010
    "... LGA 1156 processors have an inherent limit of 16 PCIe lanes for graphics use. This is an architectural detail that the LGA 1156-based Core i5 and Core i7 processors share, so if a gamer plans to use more than two graphics cards in CrossFire or SLI, the LGA 1366 Core i7-900-series processors are the way to go."

    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/best-gaming-cpu-core-i3-athlon-ii-x4,2791-5.html

    Does this mean that the 1156 chips are not capable of true dual 16X lanes?

    Edit: I see now. If it is more than two cards, it can be a problem.
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