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Anyone else addicted to flight simulators? This build is for FSX

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March 9, 2008 9:33:01 AM

Hello all,
I am an experienced Server 2003 admin but I am not very caught up with newer client technology. So I would really appreciate a few comments on how to improve the components of this proposed desktop build. Basically it's main purpose in life will be for virtual machines and to play Flight Simulator X.

Case - Thermaltake Xaser VI VG4000SNA Silver / Black Aluminum ATX Full Tower Computer Case - Retail

Motherboard - GIGABYTE GA-EX38-DQ6 LGA 775 Intel X38 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail

Video Card - XFX PVT88PYHD4 GeForce 8800GT 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card - Retail **** (By the time I buy it will most likely be a 9800)

Power Supply - ZALMAN ZM – 850 HP ATX12V / EPS12V 850W Power Supply - Retail

Processor - Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 Kentsfield 2.4GHz LGA 775 Quad-Core Processor Model BX80562Q6600 - Retail
**** (By the time I purchase I will probably choose a Q9450)

Memory - CORSAIR DOMINATOR 4GB(2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model TWIN2X4096-8500C5DF - Retail

Hard Drive - Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 ST3500320AS 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM

OS - Vista 64 Home Premium (or ultimate for doing AD domain testing)

Ok so there it is. I am currently doing a tour of duty in the desert right now and will be home around the end of May or so, hence the GPU and processor notes.

What am I looking at as far as what could be a better decision? And don't butter me up, I want real critism (computer related only though ha! :) 

More about : addicted flight simulators build fsx

March 9, 2008 9:35:04 AM

Sorry, I hit the wrong button... I am still editing the post.

*edit* I have completed creating the first post
March 9, 2008 10:33:54 AM

I'm an avid flight sim enthusiast, since FS2000, and that build is very close to mine, except the mobo and OS. I'm running a BFG 8800GT (just a single), and as far as FSX goes, it struggles. By struggle, I mean it renders beautifully, maintaining my preset 30 FPS, but the FPS slows to single digits during dense scenery (ie: traffic near large airports). I'm using the Q6600 overclocked 20% to 2.89 GHz. My RAM is maxed for XP ( I have 4 Gb installed- I dual boot with Linux). The only upgrade path for me is SLI. So grab two GPU's if you can afford it, or you'll have to compromise on your scenery density.

Happy flying.
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March 9, 2008 10:45:11 AM

Wow, I would expect it to run in the 20's to 30's but not under 10fps. I get 6-7 on my old POS computer :)  There are tweaks to the .cfg files if you search online. Also SP2 is available, have you installed both service packs yet? FSX does not utilize but one core until at least SP1 is installed. And from what I have read, but I have no proof or confirmation from MS, FSX does not utilize SLI or Crossfire so a second GPU wouldn't increase fps.
March 11, 2008 11:53:07 AM

Did I offend everyone? I didn't mean to if I did. Or is my topic too specific or something? I was hoping for some experience to chime in and see if I have any compatibility issues or if there are better choices available.
March 11, 2008 12:27:54 PM

Your specs is good enough for playing FSX. You'll get a good fps with high settings (normal autogen and normal environment). I have Q6600 (OCed to 3.2GHz) and 8800GTS 320MB, i got 18 fps on dense airport/environment such JFK and 26-28fps on less dense airport such WMKK or WADD (fps is limited to 31)

As long as i know FSX doesn't support SLI, some said that there's a driver for enabling FSX to support SLI, i don't know exactly though. But if you have the budget you can buy other card and 4 monitor. It'll be more fun playing FSX on multiple monitor.
March 11, 2008 1:06:12 PM

MrsBytch, you must not play FSX. The service packs i was referring to are for the game, and not for the operating system. However yes the resolution and settings make all the difference in the world. I will be using a 19" wide with 1440x900 res and will be tweaking the crap out of all the settings for a decent balance between quality and frame rate.
March 11, 2008 1:21:48 PM

Medium graphics, dynamic scenery on but extremely low, and 1440x900. That's with an AMD A64 3700+ with 2GB DDR400 and an ATI Radeon X800XL.

Which everything is a bottle neck there, but I believe mostly the processor. Either way it's an old AMD 939 board, I had thought about going to a dual core opteron but they are not "officially" supported on my ABIN AN8 board so I don't think I'm going to bother with trying to make it work.
March 11, 2008 2:44:26 PM

With that motherboard and PSU it would make sense to get an ATI video card so you can add a second one later and do Crossfire. Think HD 3870X2. If you really prefer nVidia, avoid the 8800GT and get something with a dual-slot cooler like the 8800GTS G92 512MB. I'm sure the 9800GTX will also have a good cooler - it will need it...

A Quad is essential for FSX. Overclocking it would help a lot, because the game is totally CPU-bound. Add a Thermalright Ultra-120 Extreme and a SFF21F fan to your shopping list.

March 11, 2008 3:10:37 PM

MrsBytch, I looked at the BIOS updates from ABIT's site and they released a BIOS for X2 support. Whew.

*edit* I just went back and looked, the BIOS update is for FX-60. Hmm this could prove the end of the line for my motherboard. But for $35 it's probably worth attempting lol.
March 11, 2008 3:38:22 PM

aevm said:
With that motherboard and PSU it would make sense to get an ATI video card so you can add a second one later and do Crossfire. Think HD 3870X2. If you really prefer nVidia, avoid the 8800GT and get something with a dual-slot cooler like the 8800GTS G92 512MB. I'm sure the 9800GTX will also have a good cooler - it will need it...

A Quad is essential for FSX. Overclocking it would help a lot, because the game is totally CPU-bound. Add a Thermalright Ultra-120 Extreme and a SFF21F fan to your shopping list.


FSX does not support multi GPU and the 3870x2 is just that on one board. Now I realize that it could work out fine but it may not, and not many people are playing FSX for me to bounce questions off of. In addition, it is (for the money) not as good as an 8800GT or GTS on a performance per dollar ratio when I can find an 8800GT for $230. Though I will probably be going with a GTS for around $280~300.
March 11, 2008 5:35:24 PM

Sounds good. Still, like they added multi-core support in a patch, they might add multi-GPU support in another. A 780i motherboard and an 8800GTS 512MB would be a good choice - you can add a second GTS if/when needed.

Or, if you're absolutely sure you'll never have 2 GPUs, you can save money by getting a smaller PSU (550VX from www.buy.com for example, or a Silencer 610W).

March 11, 2008 5:46:02 PM

boonality, I've been a Flight Sim enthusiast since 4.0. I designed and built my PC primarily to run Flight Simulator X. I can tell you with 100% certainty that aevm's advice is essentially correct. Flight Simulator X is indeed extremely CPU bound, and is affected very little by high-end graphics cards. If you check out Tom's VGA charts, you can see for yourself that although the simulation performs better with nVidia cards, the difference in frame rate between a 7800GT and an 8800GTX is only 2FPS at ANY resolution!

The secret to frame rate in FSX, as aevm stated, is a highly overclocked Quad. I've tested frame rates at 2.4, 2.7, 3.0, 3,3 and 3.6Ghz, and frame rate scales nearly 1:1 with CPU clock frequency. I've also tested FSX frame rates by incrementally underclocking graphics cards, as well as testing FSX frame rates by comparing a 7600GT with an 8800GTX, and the difference in frame rates are barely discernable.

Additionally, when I upgraded many months ago from an E6600 to a Q6600, I tested each processor for frame rate comparisons at 3.6Ghz, and the Quad increased frame rates by an astonishing 80%.

FSX is unique in the manner by which frame rate is achieved, and in terms of CPU / GPU hardware requirements, can not be compared to conventional "gaming". If your intention is to build a dedicated FSX rig, then an 8600GT will suffice, however, if you want the option to also run "games", then by all means purchase a high-end card. Again, as aevm stated, the 8800GTS is worth the money over the 8800GT for one reason alone; dual slot rear exhaust. The last thing you want to do is recirculate graphics heat inside a computer case with a highly overclocked Quad Core CPU.

Hope this helps,

Comp :sol: 
March 11, 2008 6:31:36 PM

That much is certain for sure. It would be nice for a quad to be clocked at 3.0GHz stock with room to grow. I however will be waiting for the Q9xxx series of procs anyhow since I won't be back home for a few months because of work. I have already swapped the case with a Lian Li and the PSU with a 750w... it's an ever changing thing until i do finally leap into it with a purchase.
March 11, 2008 10:01:26 PM

Boonality, thank you very much for starting this post. I too am a flightsim enthusiast, and I'm in the process of determining what I want for my next build too. Based on this thread, I will also lean toward the Quad, so I really appreciate the input. I'm also considering SLI vs. Non-SLI, and I appreciate all of the perspectives here.

I think it's worth noting the commentary on the link below regarding SLI for flightsim. This person makes the point that FSX does not need to be designed in a specific manner to leverage SLI. I'm not an expert...does anyone have an opinion about what is being said on this link?

http://www.steve-lacey.com/blogarchives/2006/01/flight_...
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