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I need advice on a build and a hug. What broke? What do I upgrade? General help.

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April 13, 2013 12:02:28 PM

My first computer build has been a real journey. I need advice before I go further. Here's the full story (pull up a chair if you want):

I currently am completing school and do graphic design work part time from home. The laptop issued by my company was running too slowly. My old Macbook Pro crapped out a year ago so I figured it was time to get my own computer and this time I would be adventurous and build it! I contemplated the idea in college because on of my roommates worked at intel and was getting his masters in computer science. He gave me a general run down of how to do it. He also told me about this site.

So it began. I wanted to build a budget machine that I could upgrade later, but one that would have the capacity to play most games at a high level. I didn't want a SUPER fast processor, just one that would be fast enough to not make a difference when it came to gaming. I had enough money saved up from selling old crap on eBay to buy about $800 worth of components. This is what I got:

AMD FX-8320 3.5 GHz 16MB cache processor

ASRock 970 Extreme 4 Mobo

Corsair Vengeance 4GB Memory x 4

Cooler Master HAF 912 Case

Cooler Master Elite 460w PSU

MSI Geforce GTX 550 ti Graphics Card

Western Digital Caviar Black 7200 rpm 500GB HD


I followed the build instructions that NewEgg puts on youtube. I was extremely careful and precise putting it together, following all the steps, de-staticizing myself on a large metal object, testing it outside the case before I installed it, etc. To my surprise everything worked! But I did upgrade the power supply to a thermaltake 650 watt that I bought at best buy that day. I installed windows 32 bit (oops) I thought x86 was faster than x64. The next day I reinstalled windows 64.

The games I had already bought on steam ran way better than ever before. Games like Modern Warfare 2 and Battle Field Bad Company 2. There were a couple drawbacks to the msi gtx 650 ti - no sli support. As well, newer games like Far Cry 3 ran with extremely low framerates. I would have to upgrade, and I may as well do it sooner than later so I can return my old graphics card.

I went to bestbuy and purchased (with the intent to return) two GTX 660 Ti's. One did a great job, but two wasn't that impressive. I posted something on the forum about this, and was told to overclock because my CPU was a bottleneck. I did and it improved things. However this was disappointing because I thought the CPU I bought was top of the line because I looked at its benchmark here: http://www.cpubenchmark.net/high_end_cpus.html but come to find out that's because it has 8 cores, and it's not relevant to gaming, and an intel quad core cpu would be faster.

I was also told that the GTX 660 ti had low memory bandwidth. I checked out the stats on gpureview.com and saw that it had a 192 memory bus and the HD Radeon 7950 had a 384 bit bus. I decided to order one. It came yesterday. I installed it pronto and took out the EVGA Geforce 210 I had in there just to run basic stuff in lieu of a gaming processor.

That's where hell began. Modern Warfare 2 was extremely slow, slower than even the GTX 650 ti. Far Cry 3 couldn't be played above medium. Something was wrong. I tried installing and reinstalling the drivers with the amd catalyst uninstall and reinstall programs to no avail. I decided to return it and just go back to best buy and buy a GTX 660 ti made by EVGA.

I used the AMD catalyst uninstall to remove the video card drivers and installed the nVidia card. Something evil happened though. Whenever I turned my sound on I heard weird interference noises. Whenever I moved the mouse the interference became worse. There was no sound. If I cranked the volume ALL THE WAY up and played a sound on the computer a weird distorted noise would come out. Clearly something was wrong with the onboard sound. I installed, reinstalled, the realtek hd audio, i enabled, disabled, re enabled it from bios, cleared my CMOS by pressing the CMOS button, removing the battery and using the CMOS jumper. TO no avail. I decided it must be something wrong with windows. I flashed my bios, and formatted my hard drive and reinstalled windows. Surely this would fix it....

NOPE. Still broken. I have no idea what went wrong. Did I break something physically when I installed the new GTX 660 ti? Everything works but the sound. I just get this awful interference noise. I figure the mobo is broken or the CPU. I have an RMA in to NewEgg to return this beast (the mobo). I'm planning on getting a new mobo and a better CPU for gaming: an i5-3570k.

Here are my questions: What do you think broke? Is it still fixable? Would getting a new CPU and mobo fix this issue? Is that a good CPU for gaming? Are there other things I should upgrade while I can? I want to know what went wrong so I can avoid it in the future. The end. ;) 
April 13, 2013 1:06:17 PM

Okay - very very important question: When you installed your motherboard, did you put little gold standoffs between it and the case?

The symptoms you're describing sound exactly like what happens when you have a short between the motherboard and the case. If that is the case, we cross our fingers, install standoffs, and hope nothing was permanently damaged. (Also, just saying, if your RMA was a replacement, not a return, an i5 isn't going to fit in that socket.) As for your CPU, the 3570k will be BETTER for gaming, but the difference is only 20-30%.
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April 13, 2013 7:38:56 PM

Where have you connected your audio? Green 3.5mm on back of motherboard, Optical, or GPU? Have you disabled the audio capabilities of your other devices completely?

Gaming performance issues were not GPU brand related. With proper configurations both the 660ti and 7950 can play FC3 on Ultra at high frame rates. Both excellent GPUs.

I think with some persistence you should be able to resolve this here at Tom's, but if I'm honest I would for sure send back your AMD hardware for an Intel chipset if it's not too late. Will likely fix all your issues and the performance improvement will be significant. Furthermore, with a much larger user community troubleshooting will be less of a headache.

DarkSable said:
(Also, just saying, if your RMA was a replacement, not a return, an i5 isn't going to fit in that socket.) As for your CPU, the 3570k will be BETTER for gaming, but the difference is only 20-30%.

Hahaha.


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April 14, 2013 5:47:52 PM

DarkSable said:
Okay - very very important question: When you installed your motherboard, did you put little gold standoffs between it and the case?

The symptoms you're describing sound exactly like what happens when you have a short between the motherboard and the case. If that is the case, we cross our fingers, install standoffs, and hope nothing was permanently damaged. (Also, just saying, if your RMA was a replacement, not a return, an i5 isn't going to fit in that socket.) As for your CPU, the 3570k will be BETTER for gaming, but the difference is only 20-30%.



Hi,

I did put the gold standoffs in initially. Unfortunately that wasn't the issue, I removed the board and tried running it on just a cardboard box to no avail :( . I got a new mobo and am about to try it. I'll keep you posted!
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April 14, 2013 5:49:28 PM

RangerFromTheNorth said:
Where have you connected your audio? Green 3.5mm on back of motherboard, Optical, or GPU? Have you disabled the audio capabilities of your other devices completely?

Gaming performance issues were not GPU brand related. With proper configurations both the 660ti and 7950 can play FC3 on Ultra at high frame rates. Both excellent GPUs.

I think with some persistence you should be able to resolve this here at Tom's, but if I'm honest I would for sure send back your AMD hardware for an Intel chipset if it's not too late. Will likely fix all your issues and the performance improvement will be significant. Furthermore, with a much larger user community troubleshooting will be less of a headache.

DarkSable said:
(Also, just saying, if your RMA was a replacement, not a return, an i5 isn't going to fit in that socket.) As for your CPU, the 3570k will be BETTER for gaming, but the difference is only 20-30%.

Hahaha.





I've definitely disabled all other audio. I even tried disabling the onboard audio and using an external card. I feel like something may have shorted. I'm trying out a new mobo in the next hour or so to see if that was the issue.
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April 15, 2013 12:56:35 AM

I installed a new motherboard! Same processor and everything else. Sound is back to normal. Everything is working great... I have yet to try a game. But that did fix the sound problem. Something must have shorted on the old ASRock mobo, I got a Gigabyte instead. Can't return the processor to NewEgg otherwise I would have swapped it for the i5-3750k. Anyway, I thought I was cursed: Today the processor was stuck to the heat sink from the old board and I twisted it and pulled it off but it flew out of my hands and bent many of the gold prongs: oops. Fortunately a tutorial on how to bend them back into place with a credit card saved the day. I'll let you know how the games perform.
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May 4, 2013 1:12:22 PM

I went ahead and replaced the motherboard again, and the CPU with an intel i5-3570k. WOW! What a difference. It is unreal how much better games are. I feel like I can really tap the potential of the gtx-660ti. Great recs to upgrade. Thanks everyone.
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