(A little Introduction first, if you're too lazy to read, please just skip to the hardware questions further down...)
Long time ago (when Athlon's XPs were out...) I loved to play video games with my little brother. Money was short, so I had to build computers by myself, because that saved a lot of money and I wanted to know how my money was spent exactly. After that I didn't have much time for computers and games anymore. So the years passed. But 5 months ago my little brother bought a new PC and now I want in again. I had no idea what CPUs or graphic cards were in, how fast they were etc. I've been reading Tom's hardware and other sources for the past 2 weeks and tried to catch up a little. But some questions remained unanswered and I would really love some opinions or feed-back!
1.) IVY-Bridge OC or Haswell?
I know, I know... there has been a lot of discussion about this. But I have a very specific question:
(I don't care about the future-proof socket argument or any of it. It's just about clock speed and performance in games. right now!)
From what I have seen, the Ivy and Haswell CPUs (3570/4670) have about the same Base/Max CPU clock (3.4-3.9Ghz) and the haswell is a tiny bit faster. But without a pretty expensive cooling system the haswell is nearly impossible to OC. The Ivy CPU (e.g. 3570K) on the other hand is easily OCed to 4.5Ghz. Are there right now any performance related reasons why I should get a Haswell with 3.5-3.9Ghz instead of an Ivy @4.5Ghz?
And how much difference does it make to have 500-600 more Mhz in games today? Is it nice to have for later or is it actually pretty irrelevant because at those clock rates the graphics card will always be the weakest link?
2.) RAM: 8Gb or 16Gb?
I know, for games 8 Gb are enough. But is there a difference in performance between 4x4 Gb and 2x8 gb? How big is it?
3.) RAM: 1600Mhz or 1866Mhz (or even 2133Mhz)
I've heard, that I sould stick to 1600Mhz. It seems to be the sweet spot for Ivy and Haswell. But for overclocking the CPU, I should get some RAMs @1866Mhz or even 2133Mhz. I am still thinking about buying an Ivy, so this is pretty relevant to me. Is this true? which RAM do I now buy for what?
In principle: The lower the better, I know. (same with voltage) But I have the feeling there is a thin line, where lower latency doesn't pay off anymore. To what should I pay attention here?
5.) Motherboards: Why are some of them so damn expensive?
(in my example I'm talking about a socket 1150 board. The principle should be the same for 1155 though..)
When I was looking at Motherboards I had two things in mind:
- Buy the fastest chipset (Z87 when OC planned, else H87, right?)
- SLI and 2x PCI-E 16x! Just in case I would like to get a second graphics card later on and want to run them in SLI
- 1gb (W)-lan
I get that for ca. 100$ (e.g. Asrock Z87M Extreme4 or ASUS Z87-A). So why are there boards twice as expensive? And why do people buy them? (e.g. Asrock Z87 Extreme6 or ASUS Z87-PRO or a sabertooth)
What am I not seeing? They aren't faster, aren't they?
6.) Graphics card memory
Why are there older and slower cards with 4 Gb (EVGA GTX680 FTW+ 4GB) and some newer, faster cards with "only" 3Gb? I know the FTW+-Version ist pimped, but why? How much difference does that make in games? If there is a big difference, why is there no GTX780 with 4 Gb?
7.) Graphics card: core/memory speed
I'm afraid this is a stupid question. But what the hell: Why are some GPU-models faster than others, despite their lower core and memory speed? In my (Fantasy-)world a new, faster GPU modell should have more Mhz...
(e.g. Why is the EVGA GTX 780 SC ACX with 3072MB GDDR5, 6008/967MHz faster than the Palit GTX 770 JetStream 4G with 4096MB GDDR5, 7010/1046MHz) Well I kind of know the answer: because it's a GTX780. But what technological detail makes this thing faster than a card with higher core and memory speed? (In the old days more Mhz = better! And I liked it..)
8.) Is a sound card helping the CPU
Not considering sound quality, only performance. Does the sound card take some heat off the CPU? Is it worth to buy a 100$ sound card for that?
9.) Same as question 8.) with LAN-cards
Pretty much all the motherboards have onboard Lan/wLan (1Gb/s). Is there any upside to buying a LAN-Card?
Well that's it! I hope this wall of text doesn't scare anyone from giving me some inputs!
I'd really love some thoughts, Feed backs, Inputs from you guys!
Thanks a lot for your time and work!
(P.S. you probably noticed, english is not my native language. I hope it was still an easy read. Just want to say, don't worry about me understanding whatever you write. I understand english just fine. It's sometimes just hard to think of the right word, when you haven't spoken a language for some time...)
1. Both Haswell and Ivy pale to Sandy Bridge. When Ivy Bridge came out the 90+ temps were headlines. Things got better as time went on and everything I have read puts the Haswell's basee speed advantage is equaled by the extra OC ability of the older stuff.
2. - 4. More, Faster, Lower CAS RAM is always better .... that's never been a question to anyone who actually looks at all the numbers. What gets things messed up when the minimal difference in some instance is parrotted as no difference in all instances. It's simply a matter of ROI (return on investment). If you look for example at whetehr 16Gb at $130 is worth the $60 over the 8GB on the basis of the increase in RAM cost, no way can ya say the ROI is justifiable...... If ya look at it from the standpoint of a $2,000 system going to $2,060, that 3% increase is a whole other story
5. Brand (Asus will cost more than Asrock cause they use different quality parts), Feature set (Asus Z87 Pro has built in Wifi and host of other features .... BIOS options, OC ability, warranty (Sabertooth has military components and 5 year warranty)
6. 2GB TO 1920 X 1080, bigger resolution, get more
7. What moves more commuters ...... 4 lanes going 50 mph or 2 lanes going 60 mph .... same principal
1, in games there will be no difference
2, no difference
3, in games, no or 2% difference
4, dont worry, if it works it is still WAY slower than the cpu memory.
5, go for a ~130-150 dollar GIGABYTE or ASUS mobo with a z77 (or z87 if you ignore my 1st answer)
6, unless youre running 3 monitors with a game stretched across all of them, 2GB is plenty.
8, no, not noticibly
9, no, not noticibly
You can get by with cheaper equipment for a 3rd gen overclock, MB, chip, and cooler are all cheaper (about 120 off the total). But a haswell chip will be 5-10% faster at a given frequency over the Ivy chips. So if you can get the ivy to 4.5, the haswell is about as fast at 4.3, that said some people are managing very high clocks with haswell. Haswell motherboards do offer a lot of extra sata III and USB 3.0, which is good if you use a lot of storage devices.
My vote would still be for the Ivy Bridge (I bought Haswell specifically for the Sata III ports, so am not regretting it)
With Ivy, anything above 1333 is considered an overclock, Haswell supports 1600 out of the box. Both will support high ram speeds though. You do get diminishing returns for your money as you buy faster ram. CAS 9 1600 is probably the best bang for the money. 1866 is slowly creeping in to fill that gap with some chips offering CAS of 8 at that speed for not much extra cash.
There are configurations that are extremely efficient when it comes to matching Ram cycles with clock cycles etc with your chip, but that is not very easy to achieve and takes a lot of testing. Performance gains here would only be visible in benchmarks. 8GB is plenty for gaming. The lower the latency the better, in general.
Motherboard features vary based on target markets. Those that support cheaper chips often have less equipment, etc. When you get to the high end enthusiast boards, they up the quality of the electronics, thickness of the copper, add additional power conditioning, etc. All to make your board more stable at higher clock speeds and voltages. (Or so they claim)
The top of the line video cards often have every feature they can design into it at the time. Many of your lesser models of video cards are chips that failed quality control. Those sections of the chip that don't work are removed through software or using a laser to cut circuits. Thus you get 4GB, 3GB, and 2GB models as memory components are cut out. Some cards are just 2GB cards with the ram doubled to achieve 4GB, or 1GB cards with 2GB. It is all about the bandwidth the chip can handle.
As with CPUs sometimes you get a lucky GPU that can run very fast at low voltage, these are tested by the vendor and released at different price points based on the quality of the chip. Same with K series of CPUs, these passed all the tests.
Onboard sound, lan, etc don't really impact your overall performance to a noticeable degree.