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please help with gaming system

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a b 4 Gaming
August 12, 2013 12:16:27 AM

hi All,

I've been researching a gaming system for past 2 weeks now, going back and forth between Intel, AMD, Nvidia, ATI, single/dual graphics etc etc.

I've basically decided that I don't want to over clock. I'm hoping current processors will be sufficient for the next 2-3 years. I'm mainly interested in gaming, specifically Crysis 3, battlefield 4, using a 42" 1080 TV for a display. I was to be able to play these games at max settings. I'm buying in Australia, which tends to be 20%+ more expensive than the US. I'm mainly looking to purchase from http://www.pccasegear.com, so please tailor suggestion based on their stock.

I've always had AMD and I'm still tempted a little as newer games may become more optimised for 8 cores, but currently the I5 seems king, so I've settled on a I5-4570 for $229AUD.

For graphics, I'm still undecided between single GPU or dual. It seems once you get above a Radeon HD7870 or GTX 760, prices increase much faster than performance does. I could settle for one of these cards if they will enable max settings on games for the next 2-3 years. Do you think they would be sufficient, or will games in 1-2-3 years require something better? eg. Dual?

Ideally I'd like to be able to expand with a 2nd graphics card. Most Mobo seem to support ATI crossfire rather than SLI, why is that, especially when crossfire seems to have the worst support and issues?

So I've been looking at Mobo which support 2 GPUs, but have become increasingly confused about the PCIe standards/speeds. I thought I had it worked out that I need at least two PCIe 3.0 x8 slots. This seems to require a Z87 Extreme board (in Asrock talk), even though I'm not overclocking. Are there any H87 boards that support this PCIe requirement? Do I need this PCIe requirement to run 2 x HD7870?

I got even more confused when I see dual at x8 (PCIE2) / x8 (PCIE4) quoted for the Asrock Z87 Extreme4 (ATX) and x8 (PCIE2) / x4 ) (PCIE4) / x4 (PCIE5). What is PCIE4 and 5?

Some of the H87 boards (ASRock H87M-PRO4) quote something like - 1 x PCI Express 3.0 x16 slot (PCIE1: x16 mode), 1 x PCI Express 2.0 x16 slot (PCIE2: x4 mode). How does PCIe 2.0 x16 become x4? Is this when dual cards are used? Is PCI 2.0 x4 enough?

Looking at AMD Mobo eg. ASRock 970 Extreme3 R2, I see: - 2 x PCI Express 2.0 x16 slots (PCIE2 @ x16 mode; PCIE4 @ x4 mode), again, is this sufficient?

Basically, my main question is, what it the lowest cost Mobo with sufficient PCIe bandwidth to support 2x HD7870 or 2x GTX760, that has a reasonable build quality, for the I5-4570?

ps. would this CPU bottleneck 2 of these cards or is it sufficient?

Or, (another thought, sorry) would I be better using just one of these cards for a couple of years, then upgrading it to whatever is current then?

Many thanks for your help.

More about : gaming system

August 12, 2013 1:00:34 AM

Quote:
I've basically decided that I don't want to over clock.

Yes, you want to overclock. If not now, in 1-2 years. It's better to invest in better board now, and replace only the CPU in the future. Even if you buy a non-k model now, in 2 years you will buy a used 4770k and OC the hell out of it.

Quote:
I've always had AMD and I'm still tempted a little as newer games may become more optimised for 8 cores, but currently the I5 seems king, so I've settled on a I5-4570 for $229AUD.

I don't think we will see games utilizing 8 cores anytime soon (not in 2 years). For a gaming build you want to go with an Intel CPU.

Quote:
For graphics, I'm still undecided between single GPU or dual. It seems once you get above a Radeon HD7870 or GTX 760, prices increase much faster than performance does. I could settle for one of these cards if they will enable max settings on games for the next 2-3 years. Do you think they would be sufficient, or will games in 1-2-3 years require something better? eg. Dual?

Standard approach is to get the best single GPU card you can afford. This will save you trouble with microstuttering, increased noise and heat. Currently the GTX770 is the sweet spot. In 2 years you will buy another one and SLI them or sell this one and buy a new generation single GPU card.

Quote:
Ideally I'd like to be able to expand with a 2nd graphics card. Most Mobo seem to support ATI crossfire rather than SLI, why is that, especially when crossfire seems to have the worst support and issues?

You can use SLI on h87 boards even though they don't have the SLI compatible sticker. The license is expensive, thats why the companies don't advertise they boards as SLI compatible - to reduce the costs.
I can't find any board on H87 chipset that has a PCIe configured in a way to allow usage of SLI. The chipset is physically capable, but lanes configuration is almost always x16/x4, which is not enough for SLI...

Quote:
So I've been looking at Mobo which support 2 GPUs, but have become increasingly confused about the PCIe standards/speeds. I thought I had it worked out that I need at least two PCIe 3.0 x8 slots. This seems to require a Z87 Extreme board (in Asrock talk), even though I'm not overclocking. Are there any H87 boards that support this PCIe requirement? Do I need this PCIe requirement to run 2 x HD7870?

Anything above PCIe 2.0 x8 for each card is enough. No currently available card is capable of using the whole bandwidth offerd by a PCIe 3.0 slot at x8.

Quote:
I got even more confused when I see dual at x8 (PCIE2) / x8 (PCIE4) quoted for the Asrock Z87 Extreme4 (ATX) and x8 (PCIE2) / x4 ) (PCIE4) / x4 (PCIE5). What is PCIE4 and 5?

In brackets this is a name of the slots as you will find it labled on PCB.
This description means:
With 2 cards (dual) you will have both slots (marked pcie2 and pcie4 on pcb, so you know which one to use) running at x8 (PCIe version uknown, probably is specified somewhere before).
With three cards (3-way sli or crossfire): slots marked as pcie2 / pcie4 / pcie5 working at x8/x4/x4.

Quote:
Some of the H87 boards (ASRock H87M-PRO4) quote something like - 1 x PCI Express 3.0 x16 slot (PCIE1: x16 mode), 1 x PCI Express 2.0 x16 slot (PCIE2: x4 mode). How does PCIe 2.0 x16 become x4? Is this when dual cards are used? Is PCI 2.0 x4 enough?

It means that physically the slot is x16 but electrically only x4. In simple words: it can accommodate a card with x16 connector (long one) but will only work at x4 speed.

Quote:
Looking at AMD Mobo eg. ASRock 970 Extreme3 R2, I see: - 2 x PCI Express 2.0 x16 slots (PCIE2 @ x16 mode; PCIE4 @ x4 mode), again, is this sufficient?

This board won't run SLI.

Quote:
Basically, my main question is, what it the lowest cost Mobo with sufficient PCIe bandwidth to support 2x HD7870 or 2x GTX760, that has a reasonable build quality, for the I5-4570?

H87 chipset and above. With dual PCIe configuration of at least x8/x8 (otherwise SLI won't work).
Edit: It looks like Z87 is the only choice.

Quote:
ps. would this CPU bottleneck 2 of these cards or is it sufficient?

Sufficient.

Quote:
Or, (another thought, sorry) would I be better using just one of these cards for a couple of years, then upgrading it to whatever is current then?

Yes.


Give us your budget so we can suggest some builds.
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a b 4 Gaming
August 12, 2013 3:13:01 AM

thanks so much for your detailed answer, very helpful. LOL about the over clocking, yes I'm always tempted to, I did with my Athlon X2 4000 and Phenom 9750 (not by much), I'm an engineer after all, but today's I5's seem to have plenty of power already and I was thinking the money I save with a cheaper CPU/Mobo and no extra cooler could go towards the GPU.
My budget is from $600-800 for the CPU, MB, GPU, Case+PSU. Trying to make savings where possible to get the best GPU.

I have an SSD already (I love SSDs.....as long as they stay working-touch wood!)

I've chosen this case and 500W PSU for $75;
Thermaltake Black Versa II Mid Tower Case with 500w
http://www.pccasegear.com/index.php?main_page=product_i...

and this memory for $89 (8GB of cheap stuff is still around $80 so thought this was good value (would like a Mobo with 4 DIMM slots for future upgrade);
G.Skill F3-14900CL9D-8GBXL 8GB (2x4GB) DDR3
http://www.pccasegear.com/index.php?main_page=product_i...

I put together the table below (sorry the formatting doesn't come out well) to try and choose the GPU, the last 3 columns are passmark score, cost AUD, score/$. I know the passmark doesn't give the whole picture, but it's something to go off. Above the HD 7870 or GTX 760, the price shoots up for a smaller increase in performance, hence considering dual GPU. I read that 2x GTX 650ti boosts have blistering performance and Nvidia tend to keep their SLI drivers more up to date and suffer less stuttering.

Radeon 7970 5095 $369 14
Radeon 7950 4610 $329 14
Radeon 7870 4243 $229 19
Radeon 7850 3707 $189 20
Radeon 7790 3108 $155 20
Radeon 6850 2232 $180 12
Radeon 7770 2150 $129 17
Radeon 7750 1631 $99 16
GTX 770 6245 $449 14
GTX 680 5711 $408 14
GTX 760 4990 $299 17
GTX 660 4112 $235 17
GTX 650 ti boost 3519 $185 19
GTX 650 ti 2686 $169 16

Here's a similar table for CPUs, I5-4570 seeming the best value. AMD FX get good scores, but assumes all 8 cores are used so not realistic with games.

i5-4430 6326 $212 30
i5-4570 7167 $229 31
i5-4670 7508 $252 30
i5-4670k 7555 $275 27
i5-3330 5895 $215 27
i5-3470 6603 $222 30
i5-3570 6990 $239 29
i5-3570k 7121 $262 27
A106800k 5207 $175 30
FX-6300 6381 $142 45
FX-8320 8200 $189 43
FX-8350 9123 $235 39

Some examples of Mobo I've been looking at;
ASRock H87M-PRO4 Motherboard $105
- 1 x PCI Express 3.0 x16 slot (PCIE1: x16 mode)
- 1 x PCI Express 2.0 x16 slot (PCIE2: x4 mode)
- 2 x PCI slots
- Supports AMD Quad CrossFireX™ and CrossFireX™

ASRock Z87M-PRO4 Motherboard $135 (I guess more suited to o/c)
- 1 x PCI Express 3.0 x16 slot (PCIE1: x16 mode)
- 1 x PCI Express 2.0 x16 slot (PCIE2: x4 mode)

But I'm thinking these aren't sufficient for a 2nd GPU because the 2nd slot is PCIe 2.0 x4 (as I understand now thanks!). I believe I really need PCIe 2.0 x8 minimum, preferably PCIe 3.0 x8

ASRock Z77M Motherboard, uATX $85
I thought this was excellent value, if I went for a I5-3750K, for a bit of o/c
but it's only got 2 DIMM slots
1 x PCIe 3.0 x16
1 x PCIe 2.0 x16
2 x PCI
PCIE1 will work at x16
PCIE2 works at x4 bandwidth. So the PCIe 2.0 slot will only be x4.

ASRock 970 Extreme4 Motherboard $119 (AMD)
- 3 x PCI Express 2.0 x16 slots (PCIE2/PCIE4: single at x16 (PCIE2) / x8 (PCIE4), or dual at x8 (PCIE2) / x8 (PCIE4) ; PCIE5: x4 mode)
I think this means dual PCIe2.0 at x8, could be just enough

ASRock Z87 Extreme3 (ATX) $165
- 2 x PCI Express 3.0 x16 slots (PCIE2/PCIE3: single at x16 (PCIE2); dual at x8 (PCIE2) / x8 (PCIE3))
now we're getting to PCIe3.0 x8 on 2 slots.

But if I'm going for this, then I might as well get a K CPU, but then the costs are creeping up and money for GPU is getting less. This seems to be the price of allowing for dual GPU in the future.

Or, cheaper non-K CPU (still awesome performance), cheaper non-o/c non-crossfire/sli Mobo and extra $100-150 on GPU, but just don't feel like I'm getting bang for the buck on the higher end cards, when 2 cheaper ones will perform better. eg. 2x GTX 650ti boosts

ps, I've quoted Asrock boards here as they tend to be good value and my current one is Asrock (NF7G-HDready), it's been knocked around for 6 years and I've just dropped the phenom into it and running 8GB of DDR-800 memory at 1066 6-5-5 (actually will do 1133!) and a HD7750. I'm really surprised it still took all of this and I can play Crysis 2 and BF3 on reasonable settings. But it's no match for modern rigs. I'm open to other Mobo too though.

Build time isn't too important, probably next 1-3 months.
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August 12, 2013 6:00:19 AM

I would just get a I5 (High end e.g 3570K/4670K) with a Z87/Z77 motherboard with SLI capabilities (Z77/Z87 supports overclocking best). On the other hand, the FX-8350 is more than enough CPU power. It's also a great overclocker the only disadvantage is that is gets hotter, So I would recommend an all-in-one CPU water-cooler.

The 760 is very good value for money, it will play all games on max settings as a single card. But when you put them in SLI they out-perform the likes of the GTX 780 and the GTX Titan, for only $600 (or around that).

PCI-E 3.0 only has a VERY slight improvement over PCI-E 2.0, so don't worry about that.
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August 12, 2013 6:06:17 AM

First of all I have to advise against buying this case + psu combo. Case is good, but PSU is junk.
According to it's spec it has two internal +12V rails, capable of 14 and 16A. This is enough (barely) to power a single card similar in power draw to gtx650ti boost. If you decide to get a second GPU, you will need to change this PSU as well.

My advice is to get a non-k haswell CPU, so you may upgrade to broadwell in the future.
Z87 board for sure, question is with or without SLI support. They are priced some $20 apart so I say go for one with SLI.
Getting all this (with decent PSU), unfortunately, won't leave much money for GPU. Buy the best one you can. Later you will decide whether to go with SLI (again you will be limited by current PSU choice) or to sell you current card and buy new, more powerful one.

In 3 months time you can save a little more, and in the mean time volcanic islands will be released and video cards pricing will change.
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a b 4 Gaming
August 12, 2013 3:38:06 PM

Matt Fulcher said:
I would just get a I5 (High end e.g 3570K/4670K) with a Z87/Z77 motherboard with SLI capabilities (Z77/Z87 supports overclocking best). On the other hand, the FX-8350 is more than enough CPU power. It's also a great overclocker the only disadvantage is that is gets hotter, So I would recommend an all-in-one CPU water-cooler.

The 760 is very good value for money, it will play all games on max settings as a single card. But when you put them in SLI they out-perform the likes of the GTX 780 and the GTX Titan, for only $600 (or around that).

PCI-E 3.0 only has a VERY slight improvement over PCI-E 2.0, so don't worry about that.


Thanks for your reply Matt, yep overclocking is definitely tempting. So is AMD, more so because they tend to keep the same socket and I'm sure I could drop something else into the AM3 socket in the future as I've just done with my AM2+ and the Phenom.
760 is tempting too, with SLI, it would be awesome.
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a b 4 Gaming
August 12, 2013 3:46:26 PM

Bejusek said:
First of all I have to advise against buying this case + psu combo. Case is good, but PSU is junk.
According to it's spec it has two internal +12V rails, capable of 14 and 16A. This is enough (barely) to power a single card similar in power draw to gtx650ti boost. If you decide to get a second GPU, you will need to change this PSU as well.

My advice is to get a non-k haswell CPU, so you may upgrade to broadwell in the future.
Z87 board for sure, question is with or without SLI support. They are priced some $20 apart so I say go for one with SLI.
Getting all this (with decent PSU), unfortunately, won't leave much money for GPU. Buy the best one you can. Later you will decide whether to go with SLI (again you will be limited by current PSU choice) or to sell you current card and buy new, more powerful one.

In 3 months time you can save a little more, and in the mean time volcanic islands will be released and video cards pricing will change.


Thanks again for your advice. What would be your recommendations for a PSU (total power and 12v rails), assuming I might go dual graphics in the future? Is it best to have split 12v rail or single?

Corsair VS650 ATX
Single 12v 50A $79;
http://www.pccasegear.com/index.php?main_page=product_i...

Corsair VS550 ATX
Single 12v 42A $69;
http://www.pccasegear.com/index.php?main_page=product_i...

Aerocool VP650 650W
Split 2x 12v 22A $69;
http://www.pccasegear.com/index.php?main_page=product_i...

And just to make sure I get the right one, which (reasonable priced) Mobo support SLI (2x GTX760 or 2x 650ti boost)?

Would the Haswell cope with 2x GTX760?

Do you reckon Broadwell will perform better than Haswell, or just a reduced power CPU?

I feel that, although haswell has slightly better IPC than Ivy, it was more about reducing power. With AMD not really competing like they used to, Intel might not push the performance as much. They also seem to be at a brick wall at 4.8-5Ghz.
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a b 4 Gaming
August 12, 2013 6:39:14 PM

My current idea for most flexible system ie. to add 2nd GPU and o/c CPU are either;

i5-3570 K (with cooler)
ASRock Z77 Extreme3
G.Skill F3-14900CL9D-8GBXL 8GB
Corsair VS650 ATX Power Supply 12v 50A
CoolerMaster K350 Gamer USB 3.0
GTX 760
$927

or

i5-4670 K (with cooler)
ASRock Z87 Extreme3 (ATX)
G.Skill F3-14900CL9D-8GBXL 8GB
Corsair VS650 ATX Power Supply 12v 50A
CoolerMaster K350 Gamer USB 3.0
GTX 760
$986

over my top end budget, but should be pretty awesome system, especially with a 2nd GTX 760 in the future. Ivy is better to o/c, but Haswell need less o/c due to better IPC. (And here's me saying I didn't want to o/c!. But it seems I need a Z board to have decent PCIe for dual GPU anyway, so might as well get K CPU).
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Best solution

August 13, 2013 1:38:02 AM

I am leaning toward Haswell based build, because of the newer socket.
Broadwell surely won't be a revolution in performance, but it is good to have a possibility of upgrading without changing the motherboard. I think this will be like a sandy -> ivy bridge transition. Maybe we will see more performace increase than between ivy bridge and haswell. Who knows...

You can shave off a few bucks by going with a non-k CPU for now.
Oveclocking a CPU means another expense - you have to buy an aftermarket cooler, because the stock one won't cool the CPU fast enough.

This Corsair PSU you chose is good, way better than previous one. Single rail is better than multi-rail solution. Only downside is that it actually has only 2 PCI-e power connectors (6 and 8 pin). If you add another GPU you will be forced to use adpaters to power it. Most cards come boxed with 2xMolex to 6/8Pin PCI-e power plug. It depends on the brand of GTX760 you want to buy, but they usually need two of them. So you will have to use 4 molex out of 4 this PSU has. This means no power left for other peripherals (IDE ODDs, HDDs, fan controllers, fan splitters etc).
As far as power is concerned, 50A is more than enough to run two GTX760.

Welcome to the world of SLI - more power, more heat, more troubles.

Consider the following path of upgrades:
Now you buy a non-k CPU, Z77 mobo (with or without SLI, what is cheaper), GTX760.
In a year or two, when you saved enough for another 760, you sell your current one and a buy a new more powerful single card. This way you don't have to worry about the SLI.
Same story with CPU. If you can't afford a unlocked one now, buy a used one in a year or two.

AsRock Z77 extreme 3 is excellent choice in this price range. It's not a OC monster but will do the job.
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a b 4 Gaming
August 14, 2013 8:37:07 PM

thanks for all your help guys, it's given me a lot more information to go off. I'm still undecided about o/c, dual GPU, Haswell, Ivy, AMD, still thinking AMD might start to take off with the consoles having low clocked AMD 8-cores and AMD GPUs. The prices are dropping for 1 or 2 graphics cards here, but they come down much slower than in the US, there can be $200-300 difference!. I'll close off this thread as I think I got the info I needed.
Cheers
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a b 4 Gaming
August 25, 2013 1:28:02 AM

just a quick update to show the kit I finally purchase;

Xigmatek Alfar MT Black Case with Window $55.00 (this seemed to be one of very few which supported a 160mm cooler, due to the window on the side panel being slightly raised. Turned out to be a great case, easy to put together with a hole in the back for access to cooler mounting. Nice textured front panel. Plentry of space for hiding cables).

Corsair VS650 ATX Power Supply $79.00 (nicely braided cables, barely raises a sweat with current system, very quiet.)

Intel Core i5 3570K $265.00 (awesome CPU, easily over clocks to 4.6GHz with temps below 75C, max'd out at 4.8GHz, but temps up to 85C. Clocked to 4.4Ghz without even raising Vcore, temps under 67C. Also under volting to 0.9v drops whole system power (with CPU at 100% running prime95) to just 90W. That's with 5 fans and lighting!! (Although with HD7750 fitted). Just 50W on idle, temps at 29C when downloading games. Awesome).

G.Skill Ares F3-2133C11D-8GAO 8GB (2x4GB) DDR3 $89.00 (2133 memory was only $4 more than 1600. Great performance and will easily o/c to 2400 at 1.6v, 11-12-11-24-1T. Also low profile so will fit under the CPU cooler fan). Barely gets warm.

CoolerMaster Hyper 212X CPU Cooler $49.00, (amazing cooling performance and barely audible. Just fits inside case).

Arctic Cooling 120mm F12 PWM Fan $9.50
Arctic Cooling 120mm F12 TC Fan $9.00 (a couple of extra case fans. Actually I prefer the TC-temperature controlled version as it runs slower at idle (slower than PWM on min), the thermocouple can be inserted into the GPU heatsink for example and it ramps up quickly when things get warm.

Asrock Z77 Extreme4-m $129 Ebay (good o/c performance, 2 x Xfire or SLI at PCI3 x8 (or x16 for 1 slot). Decent heatsinks on VRMs. 4 x DIMMs up to 2800. Unfortunately I noticed the PCI x1 connector wasn't soldered properly and 1 pin was bent and not soldered. I'm not using this connector, but pretty poor quality control. I noticed it straight away. Trying to get a small discount from the seller to save returning it.)

Zotac GTX-670 $319 Ebay (awesome performance, passmark rates it at 5367, but I got 5621 stock. Unfortunately (again), the stock cooler was terrible. They spoilt an awesome card by saving $2 and fitting a fan motor which made a buzzing/grinding noise from idle. It's really disgraceful. A near silent PC spoilt by a grinding fan on a $320 card. When I did more research, there were many people complaining of the same thing and returning their cards. I couldn't live with this noise, so promptly returned it. Plus some reviews showed the heat sink to be tiny, smaller than my HD7750!! Pretty poor really.

Currently got my HD7750 in my rig until this comes.....

Gainward Phantom GTX 680 $330 Ebay (next card up so hopefully more performance. Heatsink is immense and 2 large fans, so hopefully better/quieter cooling.

Win7 64 Ultimate, 128GB Sandisk ultra plus SSD and 500GB HDD, from my old PC.

cheers
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