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Gaming and Motion Graphics - Suggestions

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January 8, 2013 3:22:29 AM

This will be my third computer to build. I think it could be useful to know where I'm coming from in order to see where I'm trying to go. So I'll briefly describe what I do with my computer and what my current computer is.

With my computers I primarily game and secondarily create motion graphics (using Cinema 4D and Adobe's Creative Suite primarily After Effects), and am interested in podcasting but haven't dabbled in it yet. I built my current computer exactly 5 years ago. Never upgraded a single component in it. Q6600 2.4ghz, 4gb ram, GeForce 8800GTS 512, 500gb HD. Even today I can still play many modern games on pretty high settings at 1080p, usually just a bit below max and with AA/AF disabled. But sometimes I find a game that I have to play on settings that leave something to be desired.

Gaming aside, render work in Cinema 4D is obviously painfully slow compared to modern hardware. And working with After Effects isn't fun with only 4gb of ram. I may need the ability to work on large files in Photoshop and Illustrator as well for more traditional graphic design work.

So I'm looking to build a new PC that will treat me as well over the next several years as this one has. One that will play all the games out now maxed, and years from now still be able to play many new games at reasonably high settings. And one that will render like a beast!




EDIT 1/10/13: Made some updates. Stepped down a bit on the HDD and SSD, changed cases, sidegraded the video card to a 2GB model but with faster clocks and better cooling, and changed mobos upon doing some research on the Noctua's immense size.

Only two questions remain!

1. I intend to OC the i7 to about 4.3ghz. Is that reasonable? I care about longevity over minor increases in performance, so I will gladly step down to a gentler OC if that ensures long processor life.
2. As for attaining that OC... is the 850 PSU sufficient and the P280 cool enough? I calculated about 675w usage, but my math could be wrong. And with 3 120mm exhaust fans, I assume I'll need to buy a couple of intake fans separately yes? I know the Noctua is a beast, but that ASUS 680 isn't an exhaust type, so I wonder how much hot air will be sitting around in the case...

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i7-3930K 3.2GHz 6-Core Processor ($569.99 @ Newegg)
CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-D14 SE2011 CPU Cooler ($74.99 @ Amazon)
Motherboard: Asus Sabertooth X79 ATX LGA2011 Motherboard ($329.21 @ Amazon)
Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws Z Series 32GB (4 x 8GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($159.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($98.79 @ Amazon)
Storage: Samsung 840 Pro Series 256GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($249.99 @ Amazon)
Video Card: Asus GeForce GTX 680 2GB Video Card ($519.99 @ Newegg)
Sound Card: Asus Xonar DG 24-bit 96 KHz Sound Card ($27.00 @ Amazon)
Case: Antec P280 ATX Mid Tower Case ($109.99 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: Corsair Professional 850W 80 PLUS Silver Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($159.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Lite-On iHAS124-04 DVD/CD Writer ($22.98 @ Newegg)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Professional SP1 (OEM) (64-bit) ($136.98 @ Amazon)
Total: $2459.89
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-01-10 07:57 EST-0500)




Original build/thoughts:
Spoiler

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i7-3930K 3.2GHz 6-Core Processor ($569.99 @ Newegg)
CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-D14 SE2011 CPU Cooler ($74.99 @ Newegg)
Motherboard: ASRock X79 Extreme6 ATX LGA2011 Motherboard ($228.49 @ Newegg)
Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws Z Series 32GB (4 x 8GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($159.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Western Digital Caviar Black 2TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($179.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Samsung 840 Pro Series 512GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($499.99 @ Amazon)
Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 680 4GB Video Card ($578.49 @ Newegg)
Sound Card: Asus Xonar DGX 24-bit 96 KHz Sound Card ($48.25 @ Newegg)
Case: Cooler Master HAF 932 Advanced ATX Full Tower Case ($119.99 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: Corsair Professional 850W 80 PLUS Silver Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($159.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Lite-On iHAS124-04 DVD/CD Writer ($16.99 @ Newegg)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Professional SP1 (OEM) (64-bit) ($139.99 @ Newegg)
Total: $2757.14
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-01-07 23:23 EST-0500)



Thoughts:

  • 1. First and foremost, is there anything standing out that I could save money on by stepping down a notch (I do intend to overclock, hence the cooler)?

  • 2. SLI/Crossfire - From what I've seen and read about microstuttering, I'm amazed that multi-GPU support has gained any support whatsoever. Am I missing something?

  • 3. Why the 4GB vram choice - I know no game needs that, and no game likely will for some time. Out of the box. But player-made mods can obviously change all that, like with Skyrim. Even Morrowind has been overhauled to require system specs that didn't even exist when that game was released.

  • 4. Should I go 7970? With its 3GB of vram and lower price and similar or even better benchmarks, it seems like a fine choice. I used ATI in my first build 10 years ago, nVIDIA in my second build 5 years ago. I've enjoyed them both well enough, but I have found that a lot of aforementioned player-made mods and tweaks are tailored to nVIDIA cards. I have no intentions of playing Call of Duty 15 or Battlefield 4000, but I do have intentions of playing Obscure Game X with Obscure Mod Y and Obscure Tweak Z, and I think I will have a better chance of getting that to work with an nVIDIA card. Any other compelling reasons not to go with nVIDIA?

  • 5. I see people including fan controllers with their builds. Is that necessary?

  • 6. *IMPORTANT* This could change several parts on the list. I know there are better/cheaper processors for gaming, but that's where rendering comes in. Rendering animations in C4D pretty much scales directly with processor power. Six cores OC'ed and hyperthreaded at 4.4ghz will give me some pretty good rendering capability. The only other option that seems worth considering (aside from more terribly expensive options), is two Xeon E3-1230 V2 Ivy Bridge 3.3GHz (3.7GHz Turbo) which would cost less (doubly so without the need of a cooler, or would I still need one?) and give me even better rendering. But I'd have to change mobos and memory and who knows what else. Plus it would be slower for games since the Xeons wouldn't overclock, right? Should I go that route?

  • 7. Finally, any other suggestions on a case? That case has tremendous reviews and is supposedly very quiet and cool and large enough for all these components, but my current case is the ol' Antec p182 and I love the understated professional look. I somewhat shudder at the idea of having a case with LEDs and giant fans and grills and meshes all over the place. :)  Any clean and simple cases with the same spacious cooling features?

    That's all I can think of for now. Sorry for the long post! My first post no less. Who is this Tom fellow anyway? :D 

    EDIT: Huh, my bulleted list was showing up in the post preview but now it just looks like a wall of text. Weird. Guess I'll space it out.

    January 8, 2013 3:43:32 AM

    1. Not really, looks about right. The 32GB of VRAM may be a bit overkill though, but RAM is cheap so its not going to be an issue.

    2. Your missing the fact that Microstutter isnt really an issue anymore. Was only really prevalent when you were Crossfire/SLI'ing low end cards a few gens ago.

    4. GPGPU and OpenCL/GL performance is much better on Radeon cards, that can help massively in rendering tasks if the software supports it.
    And the 7970 is just a better card IMO.

    5. If you have a ton of fans and dont want them running off the PSU, yes.

    6. That math isnt correct. You cant multiply frequency by the number of cores and get a performance result, otherwise the 8-Core FX-8350 would decimate everything but the high end server chips and it clearly doesn't. Gotta look up benchmarks.

    7. If your after a great case that isnt outspoken in any way, this might be it. It even has sound damping foam all through the interior to hopefully reduce noise.
    Fractal Design R4. $110
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
    Here are some other good choices.
    NZXT Switch 810. $180
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
    NZXT Phantom, various colours. $120
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=E...
    Corsair 600T. $160 ($10 rebate)
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

    EDIT: Also WD doesnt have a well priced 2TB drve on the market. Seagate has an equivalent drive for much less.
    Seagate Barracuda 2TB 7200RPM. $110 (20% promo code)
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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    January 8, 2013 4:17:02 AM

    manofchalk said:
    2. Your missing the fact that Microstutter isnt really an issue anymore. Was only really prevalent when you were Crossfire/SLI'ing low end cards a few gens ago.

    Hmm, seems like I've read a lot of recent stuff about it. Well that's good to know though. I still think I'll go the single card route for now, but now maybe adding a second one down the road doesn't sound so bad.

    6. That math isnt correct. You cant multiply frequency by the number of cores and get a performance result, otherwise the 8-Core FX-8350 would decimate everything but the high end server chips and it clearly doesn't. Gotta look up benchmarks. said:
    6. That math isnt correct. You cant multiply frequency by the number of cores and get a performance result, otherwise the 8-Core FX-8350 would decimate everything but the high end server chips and it clearly doesn't. Gotta look up benchmarks.

    Haha, you're right my math was way off. Upon doing a bit of research of the effects of hyperthreading, I edited the math out of the post and just generally said "Xeons would render better for less money." :)  I'm still not sure if I should go that route... I wish pcpartpicker.com had Xeons and compatible parts to choose from. I'm trying to find some benchmarks comparing the 3930k to 2x E3-1230 now.

    Thanks for the other suggestions! That R4 case looks great! But is it large enough for these big video cards and coolers (if I go the OC'ed i7 route)?
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    Related resources
    January 10, 2013 11:10:33 AM

    Made some updates. Stepped down a bit on the HDD and SSD, changed cases, sidegraded the video card to a 2GB model but with faster clocks and better cooling, and changed mobos upon doing some research on the Noctua's immense size.

    Only two questions remain!

    1. I intend to OC the i7 to about 4.3ghz. Is that reasonable? I care about longevity over minor increases in performance, so I will gladly step down to a gentler OC if that ensures long processor life.
    2. As for attaining that OC... is the 850 PSU sufficient and the P280 cool enough? I calculated about 675w usage, but my math could be wrong. And with 3 120mm exhaust fans, I assume I'll need to buy a couple of intake fans separately yes? I know the Noctua is a beast, but that ASUS 680 isn't an exhaust type, so I wonder how much hot air will be sitting around in the case...

    PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

    CPU: Intel Core i7-3930K 3.2GHz 6-Core Processor ($569.99 @ Newegg)
    CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-D14 SE2011 CPU Cooler ($74.99 @ Amazon)
    Motherboard: Asus Sabertooth X79 ATX LGA2011 Motherboard ($329.21 @ Amazon)
    Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws Z Series 32GB (4 x 8GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($159.99 @ Newegg)
    Storage: Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($98.79 @ Amazon)
    Storage: Samsung 840 Pro Series 256GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($249.99 @ Amazon)
    Video Card: Asus GeForce GTX 680 2GB Video Card ($519.99 @ Newegg)
    Sound Card: Asus Xonar DG 24-bit 96 KHz Sound Card ($27.00 @ Amazon)
    Case: Antec P280 ATX Mid Tower Case ($109.99 @ Newegg)
    Power Supply: Corsair Professional 850W 80 PLUS Silver Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($159.99 @ Newegg)
    Optical Drive: Lite-On iHAS124-04 DVD/CD Writer ($22.98 @ Newegg)
    Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Professional SP1 (OEM) (64-bit) ($136.98 @ Amazon)
    Total: $2459.89
    (Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
    (Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-01-10 08:10 EST-0500)
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    January 10, 2013 11:24:20 AM

    1. I dont actually know how far a 3930k overclocks, so I guess you will have t play it by ear. But if it overclocks similarly to the mainstream Sandy/Ivy chips, that should be an easy overclock to hit.

    2. I would fill every fan mount you can on this build. With the components that are in it you want to keep them cool. And ~$15 a fan isnt really a big a expense on this kind of budget. I recommend Corsair AF120's.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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    January 10, 2013 11:31:03 AM

    Thanks, I'll look into those fans.

    As someone who JUST played Fallout 3 for the first time the other day, I can't help but wonder if your avatar is related. It looks like the art style of some of the things I've seen in it.
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    January 10, 2013 11:42:56 AM

    Its Vault-Boy, the mascot of Vault-Tec.
    Make sure you put Fallout 3 on the SSD, its only 8GB and it really makes the game so much better to play (loading screens are instant!).
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    !