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CPU, RAM, Video Card, and Motherboard Questions

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September 17, 2012 12:56:43 AM

I am reading a book on how to build my own gaming PC which I plan to build sometime between January and June of next year on a budget of $2,000. I am looking at the AMD FX 8150 CPU or its successor the 8350 if it is released by the time I order the parts. I want to have overclock capability on the CPU, RAM, video card, and motherboard. Because I want to keep any form of stuttering to an absolute minimum, I have the following questions:

1. I have looked at the memory speed of the AMD FX 8150 CPU which is rated at 1866 MHz. The motherboard that I am considering can support memory speeds of 2133 MHz. My Plan to buy 16 GB of RAM. For best performance, should I buy RAM sticks that have a memory speed of 1866 MHz like the CPU or 2133 MHz?

2. I am considering buying one or two 2GB video cards. How can I make sure the video cards will perform well with the CPU, RAM and motherboard with as little stuttering as possible? Should the capabilities of the video card be more closely matched with the RAM, CPU, motherboard or all three?
a b à CPUs
a b U Graphics card
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September 17, 2012 1:05:49 AM

Hi :) 

I will answer the video card question...

I will tell you exactly what I tell my customers when they come in my shops for a GAMING pc....

Spend HALF your budget on the card....

The reason is that the more you spend on a video card the better you get, and make doesnt matter...if you spend $1000 on the card its not going to bottleneck anything..and you will get brilliant gaming...

All the best Brett :) 
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a c 145 à CPUs
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a c 137 V Motherboard
September 17, 2012 2:10:04 AM

You may wish to PRINT/COPY this. I gave a few highlights.

*Intel is the only good choice for a CPU in a gaming PC.
AMD has dropped the ball and can't compete in that market at all. Anyone who recommends an AMD CPU for a gamer doesn't know what they're talking about. If unsure, look up gaming benchmarks for the i5-3570K and keep in mind it's also much cooler/quieter than any AMD equivalent.

Currently the motherboard and CPU of choice is:
a) 1155 socket, Z77 motherboard, and
b) i5-3570K Intel CPU

**Some tips:
1) 8GB DDR3 RAM 1600MHz (or higher frequency)
- this won't change. 8GB is ideal. More is a waste for gamers. Don't pay more for anything fancy. (G.Skill is one of the good brands)

2) CPU
- "K" means overclockable for Intel. Get this even if not used
- beyond an i5-3570K there's little value to gamers
- so $200 to $300 is the budget for a high-end gamer

3) CPU HSF:
- get an after-market CPU heatsink + fan. Several choices you can research.
- water cooling is another option but pump noise and other issues can make it hard to recommend

4) Motherboard:
- high-end gamer should spend about $100 to $250 depending on features
- USB3 rear, and USB3 front
- Realtek sound OR better Creative type chip?
- Asrock, Gigabyte, Asus, MSI (Asrock my current favourite for value)
- Virtu MVP (interesting feature. Not quite ready. worth reading about. Can disable.)

5) Case:
- spend $50 to $150
- water cooling MAY need special case (like Corsair 500R + H100 cooler)
- cable management
- extra fans
- front USB3 etc.

6) Graphics:
- multiple cards (SLI, Crossfire) create micro-stutter
- micro-stutter can be minimized with THREE CARDS but not gone
- single GTX680 can run MOST games at 100% quality (single monitor 1920x1080)
- NVidia's PhysX is nice eye candy for some games but can cause huge FPS hit (even with a GTX680) but don't have to turn PhysX on.
- NVidia has the nod IMO (driver support, TXAA and Unreal 4 support, PhysX, Adaptive VSYNC)

*Graphics is usually the bottleneck for gamers. I usually recommend one card only and the best card (arguably the GTX680 presently).
**ALWAYS spend a little more money (not much) and do research for a card that uses non-reference cooling. You should READ THIS to start:
http://www.hardwarecanucks.com/forum/hardware-canucks-r...

7) OS:
Windows 7 Premium 64-bit OEM ($100) or Windows 8 equivalent
- *MUST BE 64-bit!!

8) PSU:
- always get a quality brand (Corsair, Antec, several others)
- spend a little time researching
- spend $80 to $150 (look for sales, i.e. NCIX.com )
- 550Watts CAN be enough but may be noisy (noise ramps up after 50% load)
- recommend 750W or 850W for below build

9) accessories
- XBox 360 wired gaming controller (wireless receiver prone to failure, other similar controllers have issues. trust me.)
- gaming mouse (Logitech MX518 or similar. very few good mice. No good wireless gaming mice)
- Keyboard (lots of choices depending on wants/needs)
- BluRay burner? (don't bother unless you know you'll read or burn BluRays). Otherwise get a $30 LG/Liteon or similar DVD burner

10) MONITOR?
- 27", 2560x1440 monitors are currently expensive (i.e. Dell U2711). May wish to wait for prices to come down
- recommend 22" 1920x1080 Samsung or similar monitor
- $250 is what I'd spend on your budget
- don't get speakers in the monitor
- spend time researching (can be confusing)
- anti-gloss screen recommended (glossy screen for basements ONLY)

11) SOUND:
- onboard Realtek is "okay" but not as good as a quality sound card when paired with good speakers (I recently took out my sound card and was truly shocked at how poor movies and games sounded with the Realtek chip. I'm "spoiled" by my present sound quality).
- strongly recommend this combo:
a) Auzentech X-Fi Forte sound card, and
b) M-Audio AV40 stereo speakers

- don't buy a 2.1 system unless the POWER is controlled from the speaker NOT the
subwoofer
- Headphones require a lot of research (Note the Auzentech X-Fi Forte can output to BOTH a stereo AND a stereo or 5.1 system at the same time. Most audio cards can't do this).

SUMMARY:
- building a PC is about balance
- spending too much on a CPU is a waste of money (Intel for gamers)
(i5-3570K CPU will likely be replaced by a similar CPU in several months as the recommended "gaming" CPU)
- 8GB of DDR3 RAM is optimal for gamers
- get a single, high-end graphics card
- 1155/Z77 motherboard (Ivy Bridge) currently (replaced by Haswell in 2013)

FINAL, EXAMPLE BUILD:
- Intel i5-3570K
- Asus GTX680 ("TOP" model)
- Asrock Z77 Pro 4 motherboard
- 8GB DDR3 1600MHz G. Skill RAM
- Antec three hundred (are better cases)
- Corsair TX750 V2 (on sale for $90)
- Windows 7 Premium 64-bit OEM
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a c 145 à CPUs
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a c 137 V Motherboard
September 17, 2012 2:28:37 AM

Update:
SSD's and Hard Drives:

I strongly recommend a single SSD for Windows/apps and a Hard Drive for mass storage (even your "STEAM" gaming folder).

Example:
1) SSD for Windows/apps:
128GB Samsung 830D

2) HDD for other:
2TB Western Digital GREEN

- keep few simple folder and then make subfolder
- my STEAM games are on E:\STEAM
- my other games are on E:\GAMES (custom install)
- All my media is in subolders under E:\MEDIA
- all my downloads are under E:\Downloads
- finally, I use Acronis True Image (free version from WD site if you have a Western Digital Drive) to make BACKUP IMAGES
*It's a very, very good idea to make several backup images using this or a similar tool:

Backup#1 - Windows just installed fresh AND ACTIVATED with all drivers and NOTHING else done. Always keep this backup.

Backup #2 - All Microsoft Updates, programs etc installed. Always Keep this backup.

Backup #3 - Replace this backup periodically so you can RESTORE in case of drive failure, virus etc.

Why keep Backup #2?
Malware can easily sneak onto your computer and corrupt it without you knowing. If so, Backup #2 should hopefully be devoid of malware. Alternatively you can jump all the way back to Backup #1. The reason you create an IMAGE of an Activated Windows is because you have a limited number of Activations. Restoring an Image that is already Activated does NOT reduce this number.

HDD Gaming stutter?
I think it's just my RAID HDD setup but Diablo 3 was stuttering constantly. I reinstalled it on my SSD instead and it ran perfectly.
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September 17, 2012 3:54:17 AM

photonboy said:
Update:
SSD's and Hard Drives:

I strongly recommend a single SSD for Windows/apps and a Hard Drive for mass storage (even your "STEAM" gaming folder).

Example:
1) SSD for Windows/apps:
128GB Samsung 830D

2) HDD for other:
2TB Western Digital GREEN

- keep few simple folder and then make subfolder
- my STEAM games are on E:\STEAM
- my other games are on E:\GAMES (custom install)
- All my media is in subolders under E:\MEDIA
- all my downloads are under E:\Downloads
- finally, I use Acronis True Image (free version from WD site if you have a Western Digital Drive) to make BACKUP IMAGES
*It's a very, very good idea to make several backup images using this or a similar tool:

Backup#1 - Windows just installed fresh AND ACTIVATED with all drivers and NOTHING else done. Always keep this backup.

Backup #2 - All Microsoft Updates, programs etc installed. Always Keep this backup.

Backup #3 - Replace this backup periodically so you can RESTORE in case of drive failure, virus etc.

Why keep Backup #2?
Malware can easily sneak onto your computer and corrupt it without you knowing. If so, Backup #2 should hopefully be devoid of malware. Alternatively you can jump all the way back to Backup #1. The reason you create an IMAGE of an Activated Windows is because you have a limited number of Activations. Restoring an Image that is already Activated does NOT reduce this number.

HDD Gaming stutter?
I think it's just my RAID HDD setup but Diablo 3 was stuttering constantly. I reinstalled it on my SSD instead and it ran perfectly.


Thanks for the advice on the CPU, I will be doing some more research on Intel CPUs. However, I still do not feel my first question was fully answered. For best performance between the CPU (Intel or AMD) and RAM sticks, should both of their memory speeds match? For example, as I said, the AMD FX 8150 has a memory speed of 1866 MHz. Would I be better off using RAM sticks with 1866 MHz memory speed or sticks with 2133 MHz? Thanks.
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a c 145 à CPUs
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September 17, 2012 4:23:56 AM

jpolk1138 said:
I am reading a book on how to build my own gaming PC which I plan to build sometime between January and June of next year on a budget of $2,000. I am looking at the AMD FX 8150 CPU or its successor the 8350 if it is released by the time I order the parts. I want to have overclock capability on the CPU, RAM, video card, and motherboard. Because I want to keep any form of stuttering to an absolute minimum, I have the following questions:

1. I have looked at the memory speed of the AMD FX 8150 CPU which is rated at 1866 MHz. The motherboard that I am considering can support memory speeds of 2133 MHz. My Plan to buy 16 GB of RAM. For best performance, should I buy RAM sticks that have a memory speed of 1866 MHz like the CPU or 2133 MHz?

2. I am considering buying one or two 2GB video cards. How can I make sure the video cards will perform well with the CPU, RAM and motherboard with as little stuttering as possible? Should the capabilities of the video card be more closely matched with the RAM, CPU, motherboard or all three?


RAM vs CPU SPEED:
There is NO relationship in the way you describe. The RAM SPEED refers to how quickly it can be read and written too (also affected by the TIMINGS such as 7-7-7-24). The speed can also be bottlenecked if the Memory Controller. The Memory Controller was solely on the motherboard but is now on the CPU (can be on both).

CPU frequency refers to how fast it can process commands. This is affected by both its frequency and the architecture.

*The bottom line is that you only have to figure out which Intel CPU is best for you which would be the i5-3570K or its successor as well as pick some half-decent RAM (8GB of DDR3 1600MHz or higher frequency).

Overclocking:
RAM at 1600MHz would never be a bottleneck for you. There is no need to overclock the RAM itself. In fact, it's possible to accidentally due so while overclocking the CPU and make your system unstable. If you change the Base Clock frequency it can not only overclock the CPU but the RAM as well. In this case you would adjust the RAM multiplier.

Example of RAM overclock:
- RAM was at 1600MHz (133MHz x 12)
- CPU overclocked by changing Base Clock to 200MHz (4GHz = 200MHz x 20)
- RAM now at 2400MHz (system would crash or not start!)
- RAM multiplier dropped to "8" (1600MHz = 200MHz x 8)

SUMMARY:
- only relationship between CPU and RAM is the Memory Controller
- 1600MHz DDR3 is plenty for current gaming PC's
- don't accidentally overclock the RAM
- always run MEMTEST after making CPU or RAM changes
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September 17, 2012 4:45:27 AM

**IGNORE SOME OF MY ABOVE POST** (couldn't edit it)

I believe your computer can use either of the Memory Controllers (motherboard or CPU). Again, 1600MHz is plenty though.

Stuttering.
There are many different types of stuttering, but your RAM at 1600MHz will NEVER cause any form of stutter.

Here's some rules to follow for different types of stutter:
1) Some games access the hard drive too frequently to load things (despite having enough RAM or Video RAM). Only fix is to install to an SSD. Not an issue I've noticed much.

2) If a game drops below 60FPS or whatever you have VSYNC set too, this can cause a sudden stutter. There are two fixes:
a) lower quality settings so this doesn't happen as often
b) use Adaptive VSYNC (currently NVidia only)

3) Video RAM. For single monitors up to 2560x1600, 2GB is enough Video RAM. 3GB or more is only needed when dealing with multiple monitors while gaming (i.e. three monitors).

4) there was some stutter with the new NVidia cards (GTX600 series) but that's fixed now in the latest drivers

5) Video game design. There is still stutter that is unavoidable due to bad game design.

SUMMARY:
- RAM frequency has no bearing on stutter
- various forms of stutter require different approaches
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a c 145 à CPUs
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September 17, 2012 5:01:03 AM

Lucid MVP:
http://www.lucidlogix.com/product-virtu-mvp.shtml

This technology is quite fascinating:

PROS:
- Can increase performance in some games
- Can run a game above 60FPS but still SYNCH to the monitor (not as sluggish as normal VSYNC but no screen tearing like you get without)

CONS:
- can drop performance in some games
- AFAIK it has to be enabled in the BIOS.

If I could choose NVidia for most games and Lucid MVP for only the games that benefit this would be perfect. Unfortunately I think it has to be enabled in the BIOS and then replaced the main NVidia or AMD solution. I'm not about to keep rebooting to swap between solutions.

This technology is really worth watching though.

Things to note:
1) Will DRIVER updates to Lucid MVP make it the best approach?
2) Will a PCIe card with better Lucid technology become available as an upgrade?
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October 7, 2012 5:22:43 PM

Thanks for the input.
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