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Time to build/buy a gaming rig... Help me God

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  • Time to build/buy a gaming rig... Help me God

    Ok guys... my vaunted AMD Duelie has gasped its last breath with regards to gaming. I must say, I will miss this box... I've had it since '02 I believe. Basically it's a duel 2.0GHz (4 GHz) thoroughbred system. She started out on the original MP's (the palominos - 1.2GHz) with a Leadtek Geforce 3 and grew from there (my brother still uses that old Geforce 3 in his box today - arguably the best overall vid. card ever made). Vid. card now is an HIS Radeon 9800 PRO (best radeon ever made). About 1.2 GB of ram. All on duel LCDs.

    Basically, I plan on keeping this box as it's one of the most stable workstation multiproc systems there is. I'll use it for servers and for content creation (programming, 3d CAD work, rendering, etc.) And basically as a 2nd PC. The mobo is maxed out so there can be no upgrading. The throughput bottlenecks at the procs in regards to gaming and the mobo barely is able to run the old AGP radeon effectively.

    SOOO.. that being said I want to build a pure unadulterated gaming machine, bent on total gaming immersion through superior graphics and VR peripherals. I dont need an application box because I already have one (my current rig) I'm focusing on raw single-proc processing power. Duel-core systems dont interest me because, you guessed it, I've already basically got one. As well, the last game to take advantage of parallel-processing was SWG... the smoothest running game I've ever played (go figure). As such, I see no reason to believe developers will suddenly code for such a thing, as well there is NOTHING out there on the horizon within 2 years time that will. Why people are touting Core2 Duos as the best gaming rigs is beyond me - makes no sense.

    As for single-procs... I'm assuming AMD still owns this market? Which proc. should I be looking for? And arent there new ones coming out very soon that will at the very least make the current generation cheaper?

    For vid-cards, I'm going straight duel PCI. Originally this was to be an ATI crossfire system as they were the only effective multi-gpu systems out there... BUT, things may have changed. Are Nvidia's SLI's up to snuff yet? And are there any major changes on the horizon? Also, do the newer Nvidia drivers support 3d acceleration (for VR displays)? I know ATI didnt in the past.. of course, this may have changed.

    For HDDs, I'm leaning towards a traditional RAID array like I currently have (2 80GB ultra ata WDDs striped). It's the cheaper route, but I know there's stuff out there that'll bring a bigger pipe and cache, and even speed if combined in a raid (2 x 10,000 rpm?). Question is, do games really take advantage? What I've noticed in today's game is with the vast landscapes that have to be textured that the HDDs definitely seem to come into play. It's not as simply as a level being loaded. Is this true? How much impact will they have? Of course, the weakest part of systems these days is the HDD.

    Anyways, I guess the smartest thing to do would be to buy 2 kickass Crossfire cards and slap in a thick single-proc AMD die and OC it. Later on I could upgrade to a duel-core perhaps? Is there an ability to do that now or is an entire mobo upgrade necessary? I realize in a few years multithreaded games will be prominent but for NOW there really are none.... so i might as well save the money IMO and spend it in another area of the system.

    So, thoughts guys? I've been out of the hardware loop for a while now so forgive my newbishness. And if you're wondering what piece of software brought all this on it's Microsoft Flight Simulator X. I HIGHLY recommend getting this software if u really wish to push your system and maintain a high level of tweakability... As far as games/sims go I've never seen as much available customization. It's actually built for DX10 systems and I dont know anyone who's able to run it smoothly cranked up fully. Also, the amount of DIFFERENCE in settings is amazing... it's not like nitpicking a FPS.. In FSX things pop out at you when you can pump up the juice. So now I need a system to take advantage of this.

  • #2
    Re: Time to build/buy a gaming rig... Help me God

    Hmm.. I just checked and the Unreal 3.0 engine supports multithreading. And UT07 will support it as well. So maybe we'll see some things in 07 with newer tech. that actually will benefit greatly from duel-core. Also realized that ol' Falcon 4.0 supported dual proc (which explains why that runs better on my pc then a lot of newer games).

    Question is, is there a point to spending all the xtra dough on a good dual-core CPU right now? can I get by on a single and simply upgrade the cpu later? Are there mobos out that can support either or? i.e. pin arrangement, etc.

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    • #3
      Re: Time to build/buy a gaming rig... Help me God

      Hey Gambit, if you don't want to build a box yourself here is a system that might just fit into what your looking at getting. It isn't cheap but I think you already know your in for a pretty big expense for what you are wanting.

      http://www.gateway.com/products/GCon...fx530xg&seg=hm
      sigpic

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      • #4
        Re: Time to build/buy a gaming rig... Help me God

        Thanks for the link. That actually doesnt seem bad for a crossfire system with 2 cards included. The next one up is tempting too with the included LCD speakers, etc. Gateway LCDs are actually not bad (i have a 19" right now).

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        • #5
          Re: Time to build/buy a gaming rig... Help me God

          For gaming, nothing is better than a core 2 duo system at the moment. AMD tried to beat it, and failed. Just go that route.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Time to build/buy a gaming rig... Help me God

            I have a buddy who swears by Gateway, he has bought a few systems from them and hasn't had a complaint. I think it is a pretty fair price considering the 2 cards you get with the system. Good luck and you might want to PM Sarc about other suggestions he is probably the best hardware guy in the community in my opinion. He can give you some good advice.
            sigpic

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            • #7
              Re: Time to build/buy a gaming rig... Help me God

              Originally posted by BHack View Post
              For gaming, nothing is better than a core 2 duo system at the moment. AMD tried to beat it, and failed. Just go that route.
              I realize RIGHT NOW that's the issue. But in the future I'd like to be able to just swap CPUs when I need more juice, w/o having to change mobos. I get the impression I wont have this option with the duos... but I will with the X2s. Is this indeed the case?

              I remember hearing about AMD releasing something in February that may in fact simply plug into existing socket AM2 boards. If that's the case, then going AMD is the long term better choice.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Time to build/buy a gaming rig... Help me God

                Any high-end CPU is going to be dual core. I haven't really seen high GHz single core CPU's anymore. AMD and Intel are pushing the multi-core processors now. Both currently have upgrade paths for quad cores. You can easily check which motherboards have support for quad core. Currently, Intel has a quad core available and AMD's 4x4 is really two dual cores. AMD will have a true quad core sometime 2007.

                For CPU performance, Intel has the crown. The Core 2 runs cool, overclocks a lot, and is competitively priced with AMD's X2's. If you check benchmarks, you'll see E6600's (~$400) beating FX-60's (~$650) in quite a few tests. Although, there's not much difference in gaming between Intel and AMD systems. You mainly see the benefits with encoding audio/video. I wouldn't be surprised if you make this new PC do application stuff too.

                Be aware that multi-GPU solutions are best used for large displays. You really get a huge benefit trying to run high resolutions (>1600x1200). I believe that any lower resolutions are a waste to SLI/Crossfire. You can get great performance on one beefy card.

                SLI is more mature than Crossfire. Nvidia has released many iterations of their drivers since SLI was introduced. Crossfire is not as mature but it does have comparable performance to SLI. Just remember, both solutions is going to make a loud system. I think a lot of gamers are going to be building silent PC's instead of powerhouses over the next couple of years.

                I'm not a big fan of RAID (1 or 0) setups. RAID 0 would potentially risk all your data so you should only put game installations on the drives. RAID 1 is expensive for disk space but even random crashes will cause the array to recheck itself. Usually, it's fine but you'll have your harddrives thrashing for about an hour as integrity is checked. I'm running an old 120GB WD 8MB cache drive. It just has games on it and is fine for load times. It might be a little faster using RAID but the difference could be 5-20 seconds depending on the game. Although, I usually load first in Raven Shield when others are using RAID setups. There's not much difference while gaming if you have plenty of RAM and a good video card.

                - It's who you game with.

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                • #9
                  Re: Time to build/buy a gaming rig... Help me God

                  Originally posted by =Sarc= View Post
                  Any high-end CPU is going to be dual core. I haven't really seen high GHz single core CPU's anymore. AMD and Intel are pushing the multi-core processors now. Both currently have upgrade paths for quad cores. You can easily check which motherboards have support for quad core. Currently, Intel has a quad core available and AMD's 4x4 is really two dual cores. AMD will have a true quad core sometime 2007.

                  For CPU performance, Intel has the crown. The Core 2 runs cool, overclocks a lot, and is competitively priced with AMD's X2's. If you check benchmarks, you'll see E6600's (~$400) beating FX-60's (~$650) in quite a few tests. Although, there's not much difference in gaming between Intel and AMD systems. You mainly see the benefits with encoding audio/video. I wouldn't be surprised if you make this new PC do application stuff too.

                  Be aware that multi-GPU solutions are best used for large displays. You really get a huge benefit trying to run high resolutions (>1600x1200). I believe that any lower resolutions are a waste to SLI/Crossfire. You can get great performance on one beefy card.

                  SLI is more mature than Crossfire. Nvidia has released many iterations of their drivers since SLI was introduced. Crossfire is not as mature but it does have comparable performance to SLI. Just remember, both solutions is going to make a loud system. I think a lot of gamers are going to be building silent PC's instead of powerhouses over the next couple of years.

                  I'm not a big fan of RAID (1 or 0) setups. RAID 0 would potentially risk all your data so you should only put game installations on the drives. RAID 1 is expensive for disk space but even random crashes will cause the array to recheck itself. Usually, it's fine but you'll have your harddrives thrashing for about an hour as integrity is checked. I'm running an old 120GB WD 8MB cache drive. It just has games on it and is fine for load times. It might be a little faster using RAID but the difference could be 5-20 seconds depending on the game. Although, I usually load first in Raven Shield when others are using RAID setups. There's not much difference while gaming if you have plenty of RAM and a good video card.
                  Thing is... one of the main selling points of the Unreal 3.0 engine was it was the 1st engines to utilize SLI vid cards(roboblitz is out now actually.. Huxley in Q2 07). All this will take place in '07. Reason I mentioned FSX because it's in that genre also simply because of the type of game it is, where you'll notice significant improvements with 2 vid. cards, let alone DX10. Also, FSX greatly needs efficient, fast HDDs... because in reality it cant draw everything it needs on your screen w/o it. Kind of like Falcon 4.0, or WW2O (a better example). Those folks who played ww20 and had lots of money in their HDDs basically never noticed things loading that were beyond the horizon that suddenly came into view.

                  Another point, with the pricepoint of high-end LCDs dropping like rocks, the next few years will see 21" monitors as the baseline and 1600x1200 as the standard. When u combine all this together, what you get is software that IMO will take advantage of multi-gpu quicker then we all anticipated. In reality, dual-gpu is already old tech... so might as well jump on the bandwagon.

                  What I'm leaning towards is a system where I can upgrade CPU and add another GPU w/o stripping it down. Ideally it'd be a socket AM2 that could simply be replaced with a high-end Intel killing quad-core or next gen. dual-core. GPU-wise I'd simply put one ATI 1900xt 512MB in it and add another later I like ATI simply because in every award-winning gaming machine there is a dual Crossfire system (i.e. falcon nw and voodoo). As for Intel, if I can build a good Core2 Extreme or Duo system (any recommendations?) with a xfire system and obtain an easy uprade path that'd be great too. Any ideas?


                  p.s.
                  As for Raid 0 risking data... gaming data is not important. But if there's anything that needs to be backed up- IMO the best way is a nice cheap external HDD. I've already got an 80GB just sittin here gathering dust. Not to mention all your next. gen. PMPs will serve as external HDDs also (iPod, Zune, etc.) Course, u could always just buy another internal.. :)

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                  • #10
                    Re: Time to build/buy a gaming rig... Help me God

                    If this is a 2007 job, why not wait for the DX10 cards to become more available. One of these cards outperforms just about any SLI system.

                    3) Support game play in a near-simulation environment. Where the focus of play would not be solely on doing what it takes to win, but doing so utilizing real-world combat strategy and tactics rather than leveraging exploits provided to players by the design of the game engine.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Time to build/buy a gaming rig... Help me God

                      I don't know of any board that will allow you to just swap CPUs on the fly. As in both single core CPU and dual core CPU support on the same board. Same goes for one cpu and dual cpu on the same board. If you want to eventually "upgrade" to dual-cores, I suggest you opt for a good one now. It won't be worth the hassle, time, nor extra $$$ later on.

                      As for dual/quad card graphics, based on Tom's Hardware GFX card guide, the crossfire x1950xtx's blow anything nVidia has out of the water. Of course the power requirements are high, and heat might also be a factor.

                      RAID 0, good idea. If your not worried about data loss, then don't even have to worry about setting up RAID 5 (0+1). I suggest either Samsung or Seagate brand hard drives. I've used other brands...and they don't last as long. I have 3 Seagate hard drives in current use, all of them 3+ years old. All of them in former gaming rigs. I currently use a Samsung Spinpoint (the system I'm typing on now), which is 2+ years old, and my primary power use system (gaming, photoshop, web authoring/design, programming, combinations, etc.). The SATA300 seems to be popular and mainstream now, and I can't seem to find many SATA150s from Samsung nor Seagate anymore, so go for the SATA300 when you build.

                      Power supply brands that has earned my trust are: Thermaltake and Antec.

                      Case wise, any brand that got a good review and is sturdy enough for your needs.
                      |TG-18th| Acreo Aeneas
                      TG World of Tanks Clan Executive Officer
                      Former 9th & 13th

                      Pronounciation: Eh-Cree-Oh Ah-Nay-Ess
                      Still can't say it? Call me Acorn then. -.-





                      SSDs I Own: Kingston HyperX 3K (240 GB), Samsung 840 Pro (256 GB), Samsung 840 EVO (250 GB), Samsung 840 x 2 (120 GB), Plextor M5S (120 GB), OCZ Vertex (30 GB)

                      TG Primer and Rules

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Time to build/buy a gaming rig... Help me God

                        For the record, many AMD mobos allow you to drop in a dual-core CPU in their existing single-core socket.

                        3) Support game play in a near-simulation environment. Where the focus of play would not be solely on doing what it takes to win, but doing so utilizing real-world combat strategy and tactics rather than leveraging exploits provided to players by the design of the game engine.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Time to build/buy a gaming rig... Help me God

                          I don't see the advantages of RAID to be worth the potential problems. Even if you're just losing game installs, think about the time it'll take to get the array running and installing the games again. The only time I hear my HD spinning is when I'm loading a map. But I guess it depends on the game. I may not be running the type of game that accesses the HD all the time.

                          The only problem I see with Crossfire now is there aren't any DX10 cards. I'm not confident that DX9 cards will mix with a DX10 card for Crossfire. I do like that generations of cards can be mixed but that might not be true when ATI releases a DX10 card. Your upgrade might end up being selling the old card anyway to get DX10 support.

                          If you want to stick with AM2, they have motherboards that will support quad cores later on. It's just a matter of when quad cores show up. You're already keen on an AMD platform so pick the X2 5000+. It's a pretty good price and you can get a motherboard that will support AMD's quad cores. As for any idea whether it'll be an "Intel quad core killer", it's up in the air.

                          AMD's quad core should improve over AM2 performance as it is the first real architecture change since moving to AM2. I don't think it'll be worth it for gaming until at least a year after its release. Even though the Unreal 3 engine is coming out, there won't be many games using it immediately.

                          Intel Quad Core vs. AMD 4x4
                          http://www.extremetech.com/article2/...2065500,00.asp

                          - It's who you game with.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Time to build/buy a gaming rig... Help me God

                            I believe RAID is much easier to setup nowadays then it was say 2 years ago. It has definitely become more popular, and most of the mobos I've looked at recently have built-in support for RAID options. The RAID option, the way I see it, offers great improvements over speed and efficiency when you do other intensive tasks than gaming. Like for example, compiling a very large program, or installing/removing large software packages, transferring files from one location to another (in system), etc.

                            @Tempus, hmm that's interesting, will have to look more into that. Been researching heavily in Core 2 Duos, since that's my CPU for my next build :p
                            |TG-18th| Acreo Aeneas
                            TG World of Tanks Clan Executive Officer
                            Former 9th & 13th

                            Pronounciation: Eh-Cree-Oh Ah-Nay-Ess
                            Still can't say it? Call me Acorn then. -.-





                            SSDs I Own: Kingston HyperX 3K (240 GB), Samsung 840 Pro (256 GB), Samsung 840 EVO (250 GB), Samsung 840 x 2 (120 GB), Plextor M5S (120 GB), OCZ Vertex (30 GB)

                            TG Primer and Rules

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Time to build/buy a gaming rig... Help me God

                              Yah, the more I dig into this the more of a mess it seems. Hence the "help me god" statement. The revolution goin on right now with all chip manufacturers jumping on the "parallel processing" bandwagon is amazing. Heck, it took em long enough! DUH!

                              Anyways, yah... benchmarks show that the 1950xtx Crossfire beats all EXCEPT the new nvidia 8800GTX. WHICH is a DX10 card and is $200 LESS then 2 1950xtx's. :) So, I'm leaning towards just jumping the gun and bein the new kid on the block with the 8800GTX. If I went this route I'd probably build a Core2 Duo E6600 OCed to 3.3Ghz with liquid cooling. Perhaps a 3 X s-ata 150GB Raid 0 setup. The upgrade path is the Core 2 QX6700 or 6800 (quad-core) running on Vista. This would net me a system that beats this year's gaming rig of the year (voodoo quad-core intel system with crossfire).

                              Problem with the 8800GTX I hear is that there are no real drivers for it as of now... which worries me. Anyone else around here have one?

                              Now, the other more interesting long-term option is sticking with AMD and the new AM2 socket with their X2s and FX cpus. Later I can move to DDR3 and the AM2- socket and then the AM3 as well as quad-cores. If I eventually want HT 3.0 I can then upgrade mobos. Problem with this option is I'd have to spend $600 on an FX-64 CPU to even come close to the E6600's performance, and they cost around $300. <sigh> And benches are showing AM2 socket right now of course getting absolutely slaughtered by Intel. Other thing is, AM3 really wont be a reality until 2008. Also, to maximize this option I'd have to purchase new and improved memory later on. To off-set costs I'd pair this system with an ATI 1950xtx, instead of an 8800gtx and later add another.

                              Choices choices... I'm kind of leaning towards Intel at this point with the Nvidia card. This way I'll be set for DX10 and can fully utilize games like FSX, etc. The money saved in CPU can be spent on the single 8800GTX. Later on I can upgrade to the QX6800 when the price comes down and push to 3.5Ghz and maybe add another 8800GTX. I tell you, studying the charts on the 8800GTX reminds me of when the Geforce3 came out... it's ridiculously advanced and wins flat-out even by itself against dual-gpus. I shudder to think what would happen with TWO of those in one box.

                              You guys think that's a good idea? Or should I stick with the lesser AMD system and work my way up for the distant future? Has Intel hit the roof on their 775 cores? (conroe)

                              BTW, Raid is the future... all parallel processing/data is the future. Where's there's more then one CPU working together there should also be more then 1 HDD. If you can minimize ur HDD bottleneck the sky's the limit. Every time I sit at a computer without Raid 0 I cringe. With Raid u can lean on your hard drives all that much more, increasing ur pagefile, etc. And it minimizes stutter when ur cpus ask for more information. All those pretty renderings you see in still-life? Well imagine those moving in real time in a game. Imagine the into scene to WoW being the actual gamespace. U can only do this with a killer Raid array, otherwise as soon as you move beyond line-of-sight your box will stutter exponentially. If I can cram 3 s-ata 10,000 rpm Raptors into my box, best be sure I'm gonna do it.

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