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FSX Budget Build (My first)

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April 15, 2009 6:11:42 PM

I bought Flight Simulator X and my laptop is way too slow to play it. I would like to build a PC hopefully for around $500 CAD that will allow me to play FSX with all the graphics settings maxed out. Since I will be getting lower end stuff, I would also like to provide for upgradeability in the future. I'll be using a 40" Samsung LCD TV as a monitor which supports 1920X1080 resolution. I have a bit of technical knowledge, but when it comes down to components like the motherboard and video card, I am totally overwhelmed by all the things you have to look for. Beinga budget build, I have been told to go with AMD instead of Intel. Is this a good choice? I also don't know weather to go with Nvidea or ATI for graphics, or if one of these is better than the other when paired with AMD or Intel. I would like to run XP since vista is so heavy. So far, this is what I was planning:

Processor:

AMD Athlon X2 7750 - http://www.bestdirect.ca/products/204783/AD775ZWCGHBOX/...

or

AMD Phenom X3 8650 - http://www.bestdirect.ca/products/154995/HD8650WCGHBOX/...

The Athlon has a faster clock speed, but the Phenom has a third core and slightly more cache. I am unsure of what cache would do for gaming.

Motherboard:

ASUS M3N78-VM - http://www.bestdirect.ca/products/177243/M3N78-VM/ASUS/

The motherboard is something I am really confused about. I picked an ASUS because to be honest, it's one of the few brands I've heard of. This board claims to be SLI ready, which is good for upgradeability if I ever want to add a second video card, but I don't understand how run it 2 cards with only 1 pci-e x16 slot? Does the second card go into the pci-e x1 slot? Also claims to be able to run 1066mhz ddr2 ram, but I read somewhere it only runs 800mhz unless you overclock it? Also assuming that the HDMI output will be useless since it will have a dedicated graphics card. Would love for someone to reccomend a different board or confirm that this one is a good choice.

Video Card:

Sparkle GeForce 9600 GT 512 MB

Was mainly looking at this because someone has a new one for sale locally. If that falls through though this category is opened. I don't fully understand video cards either. How come some cards have more memory for less? And how come different manufacturers all offer the same models (GeForce 9600 GT for example). Is one particular manufacturer's card better than the rest?


Case:

Logisys CS305 - http://bestdirect.ca/products/213599/CS305/Logisys%20Co...

This case looks nice and is ridiculously cheap. I am only worried about the power supply.. It is a 480W which from my research should be enough, but is it garbage? Coolin should be decent since it has a 80mm and 120mm fan.

Ram:

Corsair XMS2 - http://bestdirect.ca/products/115632/TWIN2X4096-6400C5/...

Not really sure about how much of an effect ram speed has. This one is only 800mhz, but if I what I read about the ASUS board is correct, it will only run 800mhz anyways. It's cheap as hell (MIR expires tonight so it will be a moot point if I don't buy soon). 4GB cause it's all XP will take.

HDD:

Western Digital SE16 320GB SATA2 - http://bestdirect.ca/products/115489/WD3200AAKS/Western...

I don't need more than 320GB. This HDD has 16MB of cache. I know some drives have 32MB, but what does it do and is 32MB really necessary?

Optical Drive:

Samsung SH-S223Q/BEBS - http://bestdirect.ca/products/203512/SH-S223Q%2FBEBS/Sa...

Just a simple, cheap DVD burner with lightscribe.






So I know it's a long post... Thanks to everyone who read through it. Please give me some input on these parts, namely the motherboard, since I don't want it to restrict the performance of the other stuff.. Thanks a lot!

-Adam




More about : fsx budget build

April 15, 2009 11:10:07 PM

You are gonna have a hard time trying to run the rez. and max it out with that setup $ 500.00 is not gonna do it you will need a 4850 minimum to even run that size set up mobo+PhenomII+4850+ will run you $400.00
April 16, 2009 10:49:40 PM

"ridiculously cheap" is OK for the case but in a PSU it's a potential "disaster waiting to happen" with a ~(+/-) medium power gaming build.

What price is that 9600GT?
Are you OK with a bit of overclocking to get more out of a budget CPU?

FSX likes Nvidia GPUs a bit more than AMD/ATI video cards. For 1920x1080 res and a high quality game graphics you'd want to look at 9800GTX+ or GTS 250. Anything less is going to have you running your game graphics in the medium range.

AMD is not a bad choice for gaming - but some combination's are better than others.
Phenom II X3 720 and Gigabyte GA-MA780G-UD3H are the CPU and MB I'd suggest. About $90 more than the parts you picked, but worth it IMO.

That ASUS M3N78-VM "SLI" motherboard you picked isn't a great choice. And the SLI in question is Hybrid SLI where the onboard 8200 graphics chip is the 2nd GPU in "SLI".
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April 17, 2009 12:37:18 AM

I've heard FSX is demanding. How demanding? What's needed for 2560x1600 with graphx @ high?
April 17, 2009 1:35:37 AM

Well let me put FSX into perspective. I have a Q6600 overclocked to 2.8 with 8GB of DDR2 800, an 8800GTS 512 (G92 Core) with Vista x64. I have my sliders all around medium and all traffic around 20% and I get 35-50 frames per second on a 19"wide at 1440x900 on average.

The game locks up randomly though, and has gotten so frustrating that I just went back to FS9.
April 17, 2009 11:01:46 AM

Wow, it looks like it will be a good test for my system with content that I'm quite interested in.
April 17, 2009 11:48:01 AM

I think you'd need i7 or hexa-core's if FSX supports it then.

when's asus's version of skulltrail for i7 coming out again, damn, with the octa cores you'd have 32 threads.
April 17, 2009 12:47:17 PM

Wow I didn't realize FSX was so demanding.. It came out in 06 I thought it would be easy to max it out by now... Anyways I was thinking of going with ATI graphics since AMD owns ATI I just figured it would be better to stick with them. I was looking at the ASUS Radeon 4850. Someone told me to stay away from triple cores because they are disabled quad cores? Is a lower clock speed in a triple core better for gaming than a higher clock speed in a dual? Also I know the Hybrid Crossfire or SLI uses the integrated graphics in conjunction with the graphics card. I know integrated graphics suck, but if it's on top of the card shouldn't it help? And yes I will probly take your advice and get a better psu. Will FSX at least play with medium or low graphics at a decent frame rate on my budget? Thanks for all the help..

EDIT: Just wanted to add that I wouldn't mind overclocking the cpu if that's what it'll take to play decently on a budget. Also while a quad core is quite expensive right now, I would like to provide for it as a future upgrade. If the $80 7750 will work for now, I won't feel bad replacing it in a year or so. Do all AM2+ mobo's support the Phenom II Quad Core?.
April 17, 2009 12:59:26 PM

the more cores the better in FSX.

and with Hybrid sli or CrossfireX the integrated gpu doesn't help with fps it just helps lower power consumption.

IMO get a Phenom II 955, 8gb of ddr2/3 ram and a 4850 as base, it'll cost like $800 Canadian already but thats what you need for an FSX build. and thats minimizing the gpu.
April 17, 2009 4:37:09 PM

norco kid said:
I know the Hybrid Crossfire or SLI uses the integrated graphics in conjunction with the graphics card. I know integrated graphics suck, but if it's on top of the card shouldn't it help?
Not so much that you'd notice any improvement. Also, sticking an ATI card into a SLI (Nvidia) MB won't give you any SLI option at all.
It is possible to max out FSX - just not on your budget. Medium-high graphics (+/-) on medium res (14x9 or 16x10) sound about right for the parts you're looking at. You'll be able to bump up the graphics if you don't mind the FPS dropping a bit. Unlike first person shooters 20~25 FPS seems comfortable in FSX. In the same price ranges, Nvidia GPU are probably worth 1 or 2 FPS over ATI GPUs.

Fast dual vs slower quad CPUs. FSX does it's "heavy lifting" in one core while other tasks are shared among any remaining cores. This is why a fast dual isnt blown away by a slower quad in FSX performance. 7750 and OC'ing a bit is a very good option. AMD Tri-cores are, in fact, a quad with 1 core disabled.

boonality's issue with FSX locking up is probably graphics driver related. I had the same problem for a while before I found an older driver that worked and since then I've had zero problems.
May 6, 2009 12:50:01 AM

Well, the mahine should lok up - and its not windows ;o) ... some 2rd party driver problem in windows core ... or sometings not right with the mahine- I.e. RAM timings, CPU, disks etc.
Leave everything at default, run stable and just buy what you need!

Its getting cheaper all the time.

I just dropped my Q9550 - a calculated loss of 100£ for using it half a year. I build a new mach for an e-commerce customer dropping processing of 20.000 hidef pitures and totalling around 100.000 pictures pr. catalogue ... it went down from few days on his dual core to a few hours on a Core i7 ... and RAID of course.
The jobs where partition and the software changed to parallel computing of course. So bigger speed directly of ore i7 (huge improovement over Core 2 I must say ... single biggest improovement in many, many years)
and ICH10R is sufficient initially to booest speeds up above your average 8-50 mb/s - if you don't use RAID. Remember SATA is just a spec for the max ... you don't get 150 mb/s or 300 mb/s when you buy a SATA disk.
So remember to go RAID 0 and use WD Caviar Blue and best WD Caviar Black that has firmware that will perform well under random read and writes.
You boost your average transfers loading scenery and stuff from 20-50 mb/s to 150 mb/s on average.

So get ICH10R ... or buy a real RAID controller to go faster. Chek i.e. adaptec that already has announced which raid controllers will be supported natively by Windows 7.
May 6, 2009 1:47:06 AM

I ran FSX on my i7 with my GTX295. Runs fine @ 2560x1600. I thought it was going to be like Crysis and be real hard on hardware. It does keep the i7 quite occupied.
May 6, 2009 2:05:11 AM

Im gonna load FSX soon on my system: i7 920/Sapphire O/C 4890. Looking for a monitor though----either 22" or 24"
May 6, 2009 2:08:35 AM

I dont really have any advice if you want it as cheap as 500 bucks for what you want it to do. Good luck.
May 6, 2009 5:23:44 AM

I ended up buying a used PC within my budget. It has a Q6600 on an XFX 680i MB with an 8600GTS and 2GB of ram. I plan to upgrade ram & GPU in the future, and though it wont run it at max, it still runs it quite comfortably for now..
May 6, 2009 11:03:10 AM

norco kid said:
I ended up buying a used PC within my budget. It has a Q6600 on an XFX 680i MB with an 8600GTS and 2GB of ram. I plan to upgrade ram & GPU in the future, and though it wont run it at max, it still runs it quite comfortably for now..


Cool. What kind of controller are you using for FSX? Saitek?
May 6, 2009 12:35:22 PM

Im not the OP, but for FSX I use the CH rudder pedals and Yoke- for Planes that have a yoke.

And a Nice Logitech joystick (can't remember the model #) for the helicopters, jets and gliders.

Happy Flying!
May 6, 2009 6:47:06 PM

Yeah I would really love to pick up some controls and build a frame with seat for them. I was looking at the Saitek ones because they are available at Best Buy, but it's like 180 for the yoke/throttle and another 150 for the rudder pedals.. +tax comes to almost 375...
May 6, 2009 7:01:56 PM

I'm taking donations for a new rig ^_^
May 7, 2009 12:10:01 AM

I'm using the Saitek X52 Pro and I'm thinking of getting the Saitek rudder pedals, but the price is steep so I may wait until I really want them. Joystick twist is fine for my amusement which is what the simulation is for ...so far.
!