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Computer Optimization Questions

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November 7, 2010 6:21:47 AM

Hey Gang,
I have a few questions about my new computer and I’m hoping to get some answers.
Here’s my computer parts: (All parts were purchased 8 days ago and can be returned if needed) (Except the main OS HDD, I owned it already)
Intel i7-950 CPU OCed to 3.7ghz
Noctua NH-D14 CPU Cooler
ASUS Sabertooth motherboard
Corsair XMS3 6 Gig kit of RAM rated at 7-8-7-20 timings @1600MHZ.
300GB WD Velociraptor HDD (Main OS Drive)
2TB WD Black for my spare HDD
Corsair HX1000 Modular PSU
Samsung Touch-a-color 26” 1080p Monitor
EVGA 220 1GB Videocard (This will be changed, it’s one of my questions)
Windows 7 64-bit Ultimate

Below are my questions. I thank everyone in advance for taking the time to read my post and offer any suggestions or advice they can.

1. I normally disable the pagefile on any OS I run for max speed. Will 6gigs of ram be enough? Or is a 12gig kit better?
2. I planned on running x2 480’s for my video, but put a stop that that when I heard about the 580’s. Any suggestions on videocards for an sli setup?
3. Will my PSU with an OCed CPU and adding 25% Capacitor degrigation be enough for x2 480’s/580’s?
4. Considering that I will want x2 high cards, how high of an OC do I really need to not bottleneck my videocards? I would love to run a balanced system (Ram at 1:1 also if possible)
5. To get my OC to 3.7ghz I ONLY upped my bclk. I changed nothing else, no voltages or anything. My hardware monitor and cpu-z both show my cpu using 1.2 volts. Am I just lucky on this? Should I be worried about any other settings or voltages like the cpu_pll? (passed OCCT with 4 hours load)
6. What about my system would you change and why?

Thanks everyone!

More about : computer optimization questions

November 7, 2010 5:17:40 PM

Bump!
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a c 346 à CPUs
a c 131 K Overclocking
November 7, 2010 5:20:02 PM

1) Don't fiddle with the page file. When Windows 7 needs it, it really needs it; when it doesn't it doesn't . 6gb is plenty for gaming and some multitasking. 12gb is good if you use a app like photoshop that can make use of large amounts of ram.

2) A single 1080P monitor does not need more than a GTX480, certainly a GTX580 for good gaming.. Only if you are planning on 2560 x 1600, or triple 1080P monitors gaming would you need more.

3) Your psu is more than enough for any graphics configuration that your motherboard can hold.

4) Few games will use three or 4 cores, and can use a clock rate much over 3.0. There are exceptions, like FSX. At 3.7 you don't need any more.

5) Your OC is good as it is, and normal. Stretching for max results is not needed, and will increase your probability of problems. Leave it as it is.

6) a. Change the velociraptor to a SSD for the OS and apps.
b. Get a second identical monitor.
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November 8, 2010 5:11:22 PM

Geofelt,

Thanks for the suggestions. I have some responses to your answers.

1. I'm used to a machine with 8 gigs of ram (my old one) and running no page file. There were some moments like with GTA4 where 5 gigs of ram was used by the system and game, so it just makes me nervous to run 6. But if it's all I really need, then ok.

2. I have seen too many review sites of benchmarks with games run all ultra-max settings with even a single 480, and couldn't go beyond 30fps. I mostly want sli so ensure that there's no game I can't run at ultra-max for the next 3 years. (I don't plan on upgrading my videocards for all that time)
3. I agree on the PSU. There are a few websites that prefer a 1200W for x2 480s, but it's not required.

4. I agree, i'll leave my CPU alone.

5. Same comment.

6. I already owned the velociraptor before I built this rig, so I can't return that. I would love an SSD, but I heard that they loose speed over time and I don't want that. Also, I care mostly about FPS. HDD's generally only help games that require on the fly loading, like fallout or oblivion. I'm not sure how much more of a benefit an SSD would be over my drive. Also, I would love a 2nd monitor!, I just don't have that kind of space on my desk.

The reason I'm not too sure about 1 480 being enough for my 3 year requirment is because just 2 weeks ago, my old system was a Q9550@4.0ghz, 8 gigs of corsair dominator ddr2-800, x2 evga 260core216 SC's, a PC@powercooling 950W, and a asus p5n-d mobo. I couldn't break 30 FPS on fallout new vegas if my life depended on it. GTA4 sometimes ran bad, and over all, I experienced games where I had to turn down settings to run them decent. And if the benchmarks are true about x2 260s being on par with 1 470, how would 1 480 be that much better?

That's my concern. I really want to make sure I have enough graphics horsepower for 3 years on any game with all settings. That and I need to justify spending money on a 1K PSU. I can't starve it with just one card! :) 
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a c 346 à CPUs
a c 131 K Overclocking
November 8, 2010 6:23:17 PM

1) There is no performance drawback to having more ram than you need. W7 will keep your ram filled with what it thinks you will need most in anticipation of reuse. If you want 12gb, I suggest a 3 x 4gb kit instead of populating all 6 slots. First, a oc is easier if there are fewer sticks to manage, and second, there are some Intel limitations on how many XMP sticks at 1600 you can have. Read the mobo manual carefully for details.
2) Some games limit the FPS arbitrarily. 60 is the usual limit, but perhaps 30 may apply to some games. There are high end graphics card announcements coming this month. It might pay you to see what is offered. A GTX580 is soon, and a 6970 should arrive by the end of the month. I think I would go with a single great card for starters. It preserves your option to get better with sli later. 3 years is not realistic for graphics cards. Next year, we will see 28nm cards which have the potential to obsolete current cards. Who knows what will be available a year after that. I would only count on being able to use the pci-e x16 slots for that time period.
6) The 10k velociraptors are good, primarily because of lower access times. For data transfer, they are ordinary, and even slower than some of the newer high density drives. On balance, there is not much performance difference among conventional hard drives. A SSD gives you virtually NO access time. Modern SSD's use the "trim" command to preserve speed as the drive gets filled. Using windows-7 and specifying sata mode as AHCI(not IDE or raid) passes the trim command on to the SSD. In January, or so, there will be gen3 SSD's arriving using 25nm nand chips. Yhey should be a bit faster, and considerably cheaper.

Remember that dual cards will never run twice as fast. Some games even get a loss in FPS when in dual mode. I suggest you get what you need now, and plan on getting the next best thing in a year or two. Look for the GTX580 or 6970 as the fastest single chip card. If one of them does not do the job, then you can always add another.

For a top end pc, I might also go for a gold certified high wattage psu. They do not really cost that much more than a 750/850w psu. If you pay your own electric bill, it might actually pay for itself.
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November 9, 2010 12:21:56 AM

Geo,

The ram I was thinking of is a 3x4 kit. It's only $60 more than what I have now, so I figured it's worth the upgrade, but i'm still mixed on that.

I purchased my parts to buildout an SLI rig, it's very hard for me to justify only having 1 videocard on a 1K PSU. It's overkill power to the extreme. I believe my corsair HX1000 is gold certified. (not sure)

I do agree that videocards built on a better process or refined later will smack around any 480/580/6970 of today. But look at some using an 8800GTX still. If i ran say x2 470/480/580's now, sure I might loose out on say DX12 or DX13 3 years from now, but I'll still be able to run insane FPS and all settings without a hitch. I am considering x2 475's/570's when they get released. It is however very hard to justify any highend GPU performance-per-dollar. I can get x2 EVGA superclocked highflow 470's for $520 vs 1 480 for around the same price.

I didn't know that TRIM helped out to that degree. I think I will get an SSD, but i'll wait until next year to check them out.

NOTE: I de-clocked my cpu back to stock. Dispite passing OCCT and prime95 for hours on end, My machine seems to reboot once-a-day on it's own. Apparently I'm missing something.
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November 9, 2010 12:23:56 AM

Geo,

The ram I'm using now is corsair dominator 1600MHZ at 8-8-8-20 timings with an xmp profile. For $60 more, I can change to Corsair XMS3 3x4 12gig kit at 1600MHZ with 7-8-7-20 timings. $150 vs $210. Just not sure of the gaming benefit.
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a c 346 à CPUs
a c 131 K Overclocking
November 9, 2010 1:15:40 AM

I would not expect any direct gaming performance benefit with 12gb.
But, if you are multitasking while gaming, then added ram will insulate your game from interference by those other tasks.
The increase of $60 for an extra 6gb of ram seems like a bargain, and is appropriate for your build; particularly if you are used to 8gb. Did you see any benefit going from 4gb to 8gb?
Another benefit, is that once you have loaded your game, much of it will remain in ram ready for the next time you start up again.
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November 9, 2010 2:08:46 AM

Well, I did see a small benefit. I noticed an overall system (snappyness) that was really nice on 8 gig. And with 4 gig, I always wondered if my running apps/browsers effected my gaming, and with 8 gig I didn't feel that way. However, 6 gig is 50% more than 4 gig, and I am running triple channel at double the MHZ. I'm probably just being a little OCD about the 12 gigs. I need to think about this....

Another thing to note is that now when I play games, I generally have nothing running while doing so. I think i'm my own worst enemy on this ram situation... lol

I'm not currently playing any games right now so I can wait on video cards until I hear more about the 580s and 6970s to make a decision. Geo i'm curious, what are your thoughts on 2 midgrade cards in sli vs a single powerful one? I'm not meaning 460s vs a 480 (as an example) I'm meaning like x2 470s vs 1 480. (They are only $20 in price differences) (this question also pertains to the upcomming videocards on both sides)

I know not all games support SLI, but I'm pretty sure that 90% of all future DX11 games will. Also, any thoughts on a single powerful card with a dedicated physics card? Like 1 580 and 1 560? I have heard that having a dedicated physics card can actually hurt you in some games.

I'm sorry for asking so many many videocard questions, but I am just flat out confused on which direction to go. Additionally, I really want a balanced system. I mean, a computer is only as fast as it's slowest component. Also, please understand that I'm not sold on the whole SLI idea, I just keep thinking that if I don't do SLI in some way, it would be like putting a ferrari engine together with a 1 gear transmission. I would get to 40mph really fast and flatline at that speed. I would hate to have a awesome i7 with say 12 gig of ram, killer cooling and a huge 1K PSU, for one little bitty card.

Your suggestions will help me decide on how to spend the last of my budget. Good example: After reading a bit more about the new SSD's and TRIM, I plan on getting an SSD very soon. So thanks for that! (Now i'm not sure if I should do SSD in raid....)

My brain hurts...
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Best solution

a c 346 à CPUs
a c 131 K Overclocking
November 9, 2010 2:54:35 AM

1) I know of no games that use more than 3gb; most use 2gb or less. 6gb should be fine. But, if you ever should want 12gb, it is better to get it all up front in a 3 x 4gb kit. Some motherboards are very sensitive to slightly mismatched ram; that is why ram is sold in kits. You will likely have no problem upgrading later, but there is no guarantee. Ram vendors can, and do change the make up of components in sticks with the same part numbers.
2) I favor one strong card vs. two when one can do the job. It preserves your sli upgrade option. And some games, particularly newly released ones do not play well with sli.
3) Many games are limited to 60FPS. That is the refresh rate of a typical LCD. Newer ones can go faster, but if you are at 60FPS, that is about as good as you need to be. Check out benchmarks for your games and your resolutions. Look at the minimum rates which are harder to keep at 60. What is good today will be puny in a year or two, so don't anguish over the choices. Get what you need for today, and plan on updating it when and if you need to. Graphics is about the easiest thing to upgrade.
4) SSD in raid is not that great. I tried it with two 80gb Intel X25-M drives. Benchmarks looked impressive, but I think I got better results for normal activity with oje 160gb unit. Then there is the lack of "trim" with current raid drivers. When your drive starts to fill up, performance degrades.
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November 9, 2010 12:55:07 PM

Thanks for all your input Geo, I believe I will upgrade the ram to 12 gigs now rather than later. Additionally, I'll just purchase a single powerful gpu for now. if it's not enough later, i'll revisit my options at that time.

On SSD's I believe 1 SSD thats very fast will do the trick. I have always been a fan of RAID on paper, never in actuality.
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November 9, 2010 1:11:11 PM

Best answer selected by Wickedsnow.
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