First and foremost, my homebuilt configuration. It is roughly 8 months old:
WIn 7 64 bit Home
Asrock P55 Extreme Mobo
Intel i5 750
Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus 120mm CPU fan cooler
4G Corsair XMS3 DDR 1600 (PC3 12800)
Seagate Barracuda 7200 RPM
XFX 5770 (Juniper XT) 1G GDDR5
Thermaltake Xaser VI w/ Thermaltake 850W PS
LG 30" HD LCD
Altogether the system cost ~1400 dollars. I fall within the "bang for your buck" category. Nothing in my system is overclocked and I'm still, to this day, very nervous about OCing, even if done by a professional, especially with money concerns in mind. I also feel a bit eerie about any sort of liquid cooling. I haven't installed any programs to monitor system temperatures. According to Catalyst Control Center, my GPU when idle is ~39C with 40% fan speed; when gaming I turn it up no less than 60% and my temperatures seem to over around the mid 60s.
Gaming: I mostly play Borderlands, WoW, Champions Online, and Battlefield: Bad Company 2. I have other goodies like L4D2 and TF2 that I haven't really touched. I've no complaints about my gaming experience so far, but I'm looking to take it to the next step.
Earlier this week I've been toying with the idea to go CrossfireX. I did some looking around and found some reviews showing a drastic increase in performance when going CrossFireX with my video card in demanding games such as Crysis.
In the case of Borderlands, I play with everything maxed and Dynamic Shadows enabled. There are noticeable FPS drops to ~25-30 FPS in certain areas of the game, especially when playing The Secret Armory of General Knoxx and riding in T-Bone Junction/along the highways.
In WoW, there are noticeable FPS drops when in flight. I keep my draw distance medium to low as well as ground clutter and the like. If I max those features out, my eyes start to hurt with how choppy the outdoor environments get.
I've had Champions Online crash reliably in certain areas of the game (especially when in a full team) with an error message that pertained to video memory. I attributed this to a conflict with the game, but I haven't experienced it when I tuned down some of the features.
Battlefield: Bad Company 2 I keep at the recommended settings when I first installed the game (Medium). For the most part it runs smooth, but when in heavy smoke my game runs very choppy. I also see a noticeable drop in frames in certain larger, outdoor maps (Port Valdez being one culprit).
I want to iron out these kinks as best as I can, excluding Champions Online. I'm including a link/picture to my mobo for cooling concerns (mainly with running a CrossFireX setup). Any advise and/or feedback?
Looks like you've put some thought into this, which is nice for a change!
First of all, overclocking... Don't be so scared! It's really not that hard to get a basic overclock on a i5 750. There is a lot of complex stuff in overclocking a PC, but if you just want to take your processor up to 3.2 from 2.66 (or something like that) it's really simple. Check out some guides / basic tutorials if you're worried, but give that a shot before you do anything else. Games like World of Warcraft really do not benefit from SLI / Crossfire too much, but will definitely perform more smoothly with a little more processing power. You've got a nice CPU cooler as well, so your temps should be fine.
As for Crossfire - there are some things to think about. First of all, one decision is always whether or not to add a second card, or simply upgrade to a single more powerful one. Personally, I wouldn't invest in another 5770. I'd say buy a single faster card, and sell your old 5770 on craigslist or something! I just bought a GTX 460 (MSI, Talon Attack or something - an OC version) for about $215, and at stock clocks it will keep up on most games with Crossfire 5770s. I've run SLI and Crossfire in the past, and honestly, they run GREAT on benchmarks, ok on most games, and become completely useless on some others (Blizzard games for example). Some games will even run faster with only 1 of the 2 cards enabled (Starcraft 2).
@ saikoesis - Welcome to the forums, newcomer! ( but your post doesn't show your one)
I'd want to point out a thing in your post, Crysis isn't demanding, the developers of the game just wrote the script for the game horribly thats why its used as a benchmark for new GPU's. If the GPU tested can slice and dice...its good for deeper waters.
Its good to know you've done your part of research. Like Jason mentions, SLI/crossfiring looks good in your case, sounds good while bragging, looks even cooler with benchmark numbers but in real world usage it's like having a ferrari in a busy capital with gridlocks...its useless unless you can take full advantage of it. Some games can use the multiple GPU feature and with the passing of time, more and more games are adding support for them. But there are still limitations.
Crossfiring the card you have only comes as an option when you can buy it off REALLY cheap, as opposed to buying a single powerful that may break the bank.
Regarding OC'ing. I know that ASrock have a feature for setting profiles with your OC and they also have predefined profiles to help you OC. Kinda like Asus's CPU level up feature. OC Tuner is what i think its called - Here
Another aspect of OC'ing is the heat produced and the need to get rid of it as quick as possible otherwise you have stability issues and possible hardware malfunctions/damage. The cooler you have is the best out there, but keep in mind the mosfets will also heat up so in that aspect do some cable management, use a couple of smaller fans for them, maybe go all out and watercool it...but the key here is airflow. Tt's cases are awesome with airflow, i have an armor Jr (has lasted me 4 builds) and a Spedo.
You have some headspace for OC'ing mildly without getting into hairy situations...
My 2nd riggs specs:
Asus Maximus III Formula w/supreme fx x-fi
i5-750 @ i7-860 specs i.e: 2.8Ghz
OCZ XMP 1600 DDR3 4GB dual channel kit
Corsair H50 w push/pull
xfx 5770 (will crossfire in future when prices drop)
500GB samsung HDD
Tt Armor Jr
HP litescribe DVD burner
Point to be noted, I did the OC with a predefined profile and BOOM , i'm at i7 specs a wall of text,but i hope it'll help you with the OC confidence.
I did a mild overclock on Sunday to 3.2 gHz. CPU-Z says I'm actually running at ~3.33 @x21 multiplier when under load even though my BIOS has 3.2 gHz @x20. The more the merrier. I also OC'd my RAM to the built in profile. I honestly haven't run Sandra or any RAM tests yet to see if there's an improvement, but as far as Prime and temperature readings go for my CPU, everything is well within the playing field.
I'm still suffering the same FPS inconveniences as I was before I OC'd. As mentioned, they aren't crippling, but I want to iron them out (Starcraft 2 just joined my library). Before I go higher on an overclock, do any of you have input on the Intel Speedstep feature? I was thinking (and very well could be wrong) that having my CPU run at max speed at all times would help when gaming.