PC Upgrade Time: Hard choices and cooling

Discussion in 'Hardware / Gaming Gear' started by Karl TenBrew, May 22, 2015.

  1. Karl TenBrew

    Karl TenBrew Space Pimp

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    So as a casual gamer who plays a lot of games casually and doesn't need the top-of-the-line gaming gear, I've been doing fine for the past ten years on just three inexpensive computers...the only reason it wasn't two was because my first unit was a learning experience and most of its components outright failed early. Thankfully it wasn't a too expensive a lesson. Unfortunately, my stability and longevity machine has hit its next step and is in need of upgrading.

    Gigabyte Z68XP-UD3
    Intel i5-2400 @3.1 GHZ (4 core)
    GTX 560 (no special branding, just the basic card)
    Windows 7 64-bit Home Premium

    It currently has two hard-drives that I'm not looking to replace until they die, a great case, a serviceable power supply that can support expansion to multiple graphics cards and cooling, and 16 GB RAM (2x 8 GB sticks). The RAM sticks are pretty basic and not top-end

    For these keeping score, the Witcher 3 and Batman: Arkham Knight are pretty simply not going to run on this thing. Or if its technically possible it would suck so hard even at minimum settings that I'd rather not pretend. As if that weren't enough, I'm starting to get more micro-stuttering that is interfering with higher demand games and have a recently problem where certain games like Infinite Crisis will outright tank my FPS because of CPU load. So while I've gotten four years of excellent service out my CPU, I'm pretty sure it's close to kicking the bucket on its own and no longer meets "middle of the road" gaming, so I'd rather give it an honorable discharge instead of watching it fail outright.

    The main dilemma I have right now is funding. I simply CAN'T do a full rebuild.

    The second dilemma is my targets of stability and longevity. I like having upgrade paths...hell, upgrade paths are why I got this mobo in the first place.



    So, since I can't do everything I want yet, I've decided to focus on the two most important bits right now: GPU and CPU. The graphics card made itself a somewhat easy decision:
    1) I need the 600 series, may as well get 700 series for lasting power
    2) 970 vs 770 is small in the long term...oh, and hey, check out this 970 on sale and with those two free games you want

    So I pulled the trigger on a 970, which has a clear upgrade path (get another later and SLI them for slightly more than getting a 980 outright). I still have time to return it, though.

    That leaves me with CPU and the potential issues that will arise from it and the new card: cooling and mobo compatibility.

    I'm reasonably certain I can get a i5 or i7 in the $200-$350 range that will match my goals and save me money in the long run. I'm specifically looking at the Intel Core i5-4690K or Intel Core i7-4790K. Intel Core i7-5820K is pushing my price band, but tempting for being an unlocked card that multitasks. Only then I read about multithreading creating issues specifically with MWO, and it would seem weird to get a CPU just for hyperthreading I would have to turn off to play a game well...so, should I consider that chip? Just focus on the other two? Anyway, I'm pretty sure mobo is compatible with these but wanted to run it across more sets of brains. It also raises a question I've not needed answered until now: cooling. If I'm finally looking at possibly overclocking, how do I keep my unit cool without sacrificing life-span on the CPU.

    To sum up: I need a CPU that is going to last me another 3-4+ years and not kill it by being a greedy n00b, so that I can AFFORD to cool it and later follow other upgrade paths for my computer in the near future (RAM, mobo and OS, multi-carding). H4lp pl0x? Also, if I'm approaching this the wrong way, please tell me.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2015
  2. Blagg Zear

    Blagg Zear Moderator Staff Member

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    I usually do the same but i also like to buy hardware with excellent price-performance ratio.

    First question i would ask - what is your budget? Based on that you can decide what to buy or in which order.

    Second question - what are the applications/games you are Aiming for? More CPU-heavy or GPU-heavy ones? Naturally they are GPU-greedy.

    Third question - at what settings you need to play? If it should be the best of the best (grafix always max plus at UltraHD) then well every year you have to upgrade.

    From the Specs of ur recent rig i would say you are making the right choice to update CPU & GPU first. Most games nowadays require modern multicore tech, at least quad, core frequency should be okay at 3.5-4 GHz.

    Your choices are decent for the next few yrs, and also are top popular atm

    CPU: Core i7-4790K (K-Version for OC) for about 350+ Bucks
    GPU: GTX 970, 4GB for about 350+ Bucks (ASUS Mods are recommended)

    Pair these with 16GB and a SSD for the OS to reduce Micro Stutters.

    So go for it if you can afford it.
     
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  3. The Verge

    The Verge Moderator Staff Member

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  4. Karl TenBrew

    Karl TenBrew Space Pimp

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    And this is exactly why I put this up here before grabbing up anything else. PCI-E 2.0 vs 3.0 completely slipped past me during the theorycrafting!

    In terms of budget, I have SOME wiggle room, but I am trying to be seriously thrifty right now. If it for realz means 4+ years of quality and stability with clear upgrade paths should a windfall come along, I could throw as much as $750 at the problem and use certain no-interest promotions through work and PayPal to make things squeak. That would mean almost a true rebuild, though (keeping essentially only the power supply, massive data storage [non-boot] hard drive, and RAM sticks for now). It would have to be $750 for mobo, CPU, cooling, and the SSD(s) to use as the boot drive and backups. Being $300 into the graphics card already is why I'm looking to stagger this upgrade if possible instead of doing it all at once...but if I can get 6 months or longer to actually pay, I could make it work all at once now.

    For games, I'm looking to be able to run games at all for the next four years...top graphics is just not a priority for me, but top end games are (if that makes sense). CPU and GPU needy games. As evidenced by my jumping to the 970 but not to the 980, I am perfectly willing to pay if it means longevity and stability without going haywire on price:preformance. Getting the option to play pretty is a perk, just not one I'm willing to throw money at.

    As it turns out, working retail is giving me more wiggle room with my budget than I thought, but I don't know quite how much yet. It means I should be able to get one of the processors for much less (~1/3 - 1/2 list price if I can wait a few weeks) after some leg work with Intel's employee accommodations program, and gives me a line on cooling products and certain types of RAM. For mobos and SSDs, it's showing much less benefit, to the point where current sales and promotions outweigh trying to employee-nab them. However, it looks like enough that I should be able to use the savings for the CPU to get the mobo. I'm not particularly familiar with using SSD drives, though, so I would need advice on how to setup the boot drive and possible secondary drives for best performance considering possibilities such as uninstall/re-install using Steam and the need to have multiple 'primary' games stored at once to keep up with multiple play groups (Dungeons and Dragons Online, MechWarrior, League of Legends, and Firefall is the short list). This is actually the primary reason why I don't already have an SSD, as four years ago needing a boot drive that was also a speed drive for multiple large games simultaneously was prohibitively expensive and compromising with my current device was the best solution at the time for my budget. As it looks like my 'short list' is now going to be even bigger, I'm open to all solutions, including multiple SSD game drives where each drive is set aside for certain games so long as the total solution remains in budget.

    This is why I'm sort of in a weird spot as a more casual gamer. I need stability and performance that will last another long time, and I'm willing to sacrifice graphics to do it. I'm also pretty space intensive but use a multi-TB secondary drive for media and low-end Steam games that aren't resource intensive as part of the solution. Once I actually net full-time and get everything squared away bills-wise, I can look at making the graphics prettier.
     
  5. The Verge

    The Verge Moderator Staff Member

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    dude, a mobo is a supporting piece, and so is a SSD. They are not the powerhouse! A new CPU will show a slight difference in games, but a new GPU is where it really is at. For about $50, I can get a nice 120gb SSD to boot from. This lets me install a few games, but not Steam, as I have too many games, and need secondary drives. For about $75, I can get a new intel Mobo that will do SLIGHTLY better than your current one. Ram isn't too important, as you already have more than enough for games. But if your hard drives are not 7200 RPM+, they are REALLY holding you back.

    BTW, I recommend building your current PC with this site. I've done it a few times, and it works well for shaping things out. It isn't great at prices however, so keep that in mind.

    http://pcpartpicker.com/
     
  6. The Verge

    The Verge Moderator Staff Member

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    Also, this isn't about building a computer, as you have already done that. It's about getting rid of bottle necks in your system. So far, SSD and CPU seem to be the most important so far.
     
  7. Karl TenBrew

    Karl TenBrew Space Pimp

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    Boot drive is THIS PUPPY. Less than $150 and have had no issues with it for over three years.

    [edit]Secondary drive is this-other-puppy[/edit]. Has done alright for storage. Can't seem to find it's RPM information.

    If getting a SSD boot drive, and possibly a second one, can give me a boot and base-line performance I'm game to try it. But it sounds like mobo's the current bottleneck to fix from what you're saying after I get the new CPU. Or heck, maybe even before. What should I be looking at for in SSD(s) for this? I have no idea where the tech and price points have come to and have very little to compare to except my current drive. If $250 or less can get me the mobo and SSD(s?) I need to go strong for a few years, that's money I can live with as well spent.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2015
  8. The Verge

    The Verge Moderator Staff Member

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    There are all kinds of SSD. The most common are the 2.5 inch models. They go in many laptops and desktops, and use SATA III. Then there is PCI-E SSD. These are a bit more complex to set up, but are much faster, and much more expensive. There is also M.2, which are very specific to some motherboards, but mostly laptops. I recommend the 2.5 inch SATA standard drive. With the last one I installed on a build, I was getting about 240Mb/s read and write speeds. I have one in my rig as well, and it's lasted for about 5+ years. The speed will be noticeable, even when compared to this drive you have.

    But yes, having 3.0x16 PCI-E=1GB/s VS 2.0x16 PCI-E=500Mb/s for your videocard. So that is kind of a big bottleneck.

    So yes, I recommend getting a SSD and a MoBo.
     
  9. The Verge

    The Verge Moderator Staff Member

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    the problem with a new mobo, is you will need a new CPU. There are 2 current top end chipsets from Intel that make things complex.

    x99 and z97. Just looking them up will hurt your brain.

    basically, the z97 is for last years high end, and the x99 is this years. I'll recommend the z97, as it is cheaper, and fits the speed requirements.

    Mobo- http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128715R
    CPU- http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819117369
    SSD- http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820233464

    I will say I have use a Corsair Re-certified SSD, and it has worked well so far. I have also had good luck from Newegg with their Open Box Mobo's. and Gigabyte is a great brand in my experience. BTW, SSD is optional, but the MoBo and CPU will improve performance for sure.
     
  10. The Verge

    The Verge Moderator Staff Member

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    But if you don't want to upgrade your CPU, you could get this mobo. You can't interchange the CPU and Mobo on this set, so you would have to use a 1155 CPU and MoBo if you don't upgrade.

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157293R

    and you would be 2 gen's behind, instead of on. But the cost for both THIS motherboard and a 240gb SSD is about $190. Which ain't bad! AND, you fix the problems you have, as cheap as possible. Also, if you really want a new SSD, this is an ok brand as well.

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820226371
     
  11. Karl TenBrew

    Karl TenBrew Space Pimp

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    Well, I'm definitely looking to upgrade the CPU since I now have a line on one at such a good deal. And I'm probably looking at some version of the i7-4790K because of the method (it gets discounted the most and the price difference between it and the i5 are negligible because of that, but higher-end CPUs would price jump much closer to retail price). I think the best method for me right now would be to get the motherboard and SSD first, then the CPU when I can. I definitely like that SSDs larger than my current boot drive have come down in price enough that there's really no reason I shouldn't convert...makes the decision easy! Knowing that I can get all three and be straight upgrading for roughly the price I was originally grumbling about needing to pay for the CPU all by itself is pretty liberating.

    I am wondering about the board, though. The ones you link don't have true 2 x PCI Express 3.0 x16...how would that affect the possibility of SLI in the future? I'm curious about boards like http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131979R , which are normally more expensive but can be gotten for $75-100. Is the PCI Express 3.0 the only differentiation? The only one that matters? DOES it matter? I'm happy sticking with Gigabyte as a maker as long as I can expand on the board should the opportunity come knocking.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2015
  12. The Verge

    The Verge Moderator Staff Member

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    Regarding the mobo. Like I said, you can't run the new mobo without a new CPU, due to socket compatibility issues. You also can't use your current CPU on the new mobo. Just keep that in mind with what you will purchase.

    regarding the possibility of SLI in the future. Having seen benchmarks comparing the effect of 8/8 SLI vs 16/16 SLI, you will see a 2-5% difference between 8/8 and 16/16. It only starts to get notable with three or more cards and at higher resolutions.Nothing to go crazy over. Especially the cost.

    Also, ASUS and ASrock are also good companies for mobo's. But the real issue here is the chipset compatibility comparison on a new mobo.
     
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  13. Karl TenBrew

    Karl TenBrew Space Pimp

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    Right, because my current CPU is LGA1155 chipset and the new stuff uses 1150. Gotchya!

    Thank you very much for all the advice. I think for the price I'll wait the few weeks to be able to line up all the parts. The mobo and SSD I can get anytime but the CPU means choosing between "now" and "$200 or more in savings"...I can live without Infinite Crisis in my life for that time frame. If MWO and other things become unplayable before then...I don't know. We'll see what happens.
     
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  14. The Verge

    The Verge Moderator Staff Member

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    technically, the NEW stuff uses 2011v3. But that is rather expensive.
     
  15. Motörhead

    Motörhead Benefactor

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    A note for you about the Witcher 3, people with 2000$ PCs are complaining about its optimization, so don't count it in too much when evaluating.

    I got the 1 and 2 getting ready for the 3 as I would think an offline game would do just fine on my laptop, but after reading the reviews I've skipped it until they fix it.
     
  16. Blagg Zear

    Blagg Zear Moderator Staff Member

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    Yes, you need to check your CPU Socket form first before buying new CPU. If you want to stay with lga1155 (because of budget limit) you should check the better CPUs for that socket size, e.g. Core i7-3770K or my Recommendation the Xeon E3-1275 v2. They are slightly slower than The Core i7-4790K, but they still have enough Power for the next yrs.
    But if you want longevity you should check up the current Intel CPU Roadmap.
    http://m.hexus.net/tech/news/cpu/80206-new-intel-roadmap-reveals-unlocked-broadwell-due-q2/

    About PCI-E 2.0 VS 3.0:
    http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/answe...ss-x16-graphic-card-pci-express-x16-slot.html

    About SSD and OS Migration we have a thread here. Tldr: there are Tools to migrate your C-partition (OS) easily to the SSD with no configuration thereafter. And Games don't need to be installed on the SSD, but if you have space you can install few ones you play the most recently.
     
  17. Michael

    Michael Grand Poobah Staff Member

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    One of the problems you will run in to is that in order to build anything that is relevant you will have to spend a moderate amount of coin; nothing super major but not a $50 solution either.

    Replacing gear all over the rig adds up to a lot of small to moderate amount of expenses and before you know it you have snowballed into an realm of the insane. You should see the equipment I have on order just for the ShipSpecs.com YouTube work that is going on. "You just need a camera bro"... Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiight!!! Then a better lens, three stage lighting, a better microphone since my headset one sucks, blah blah blah. I'm actually in the process of building a ground up rig myself as Star Citizen will need a bit more than my current rig can deliver at 1440p. You don't even want to know how stupid expensive that build is. Even I look at it sometimes and blink a few times.

    All I can say is that if you are upgrading an old system and just wanting to "remove the bottlenecks" as @Vergere says then great you can do so relatively cheap but that is a bandaid solution and won't really keep you current for 4+ years. If you want 4+ years of stability and being able to at least work your way through new game titles you are looking at a complete rebuild and THAT, my friend, is painfully expensive.

    TL;DR - Bite the bullet and ask yourself the hard questions of "Do I want to spend a little money now and then a little more later and then a moderate amount later?" (which still equals a lot, just spread out and eventually you reach End of Life on that rig) or "Do I want to spend a moderate / major amount now and not have to touch this thing for at least 2-3 years?".
     
  18. Soy

    Soy Legendary Member

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    The rig I built (I think it's in that "Whats up guys..." diary-esque thread in gen disc I had a couple months ago) for ~$600 is beasty as fuck.

    But it's not gonna be running Witcher 3 and other new titles coming out with max settings @ 60+fps, certainly not while recording. Also get a lil slow when I do serious vid work, but whatever.

    Maybe this info helps.
     
  19. Karl TenBrew

    Karl TenBrew Space Pimp

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    So, a good temporary solution just came my way. Someone even geekier at work is currently doing a rig upgrade of their own and looking to unload their current mobo and CPU. This is an unlocked i5-2500 that will meet my current needs for about a year (or even more if it winds up being necessary) and the mobo to support it with a cooling unit. Ironed out the details with him, I will literally be able to unplug everything, pull out current mobo with CPU attached, insert new mobo with CPU attached, and plug everything back in with a cooling unit. Troubleshooting and such provided at work.

    This will give me the time needed to get all topped off and ready to do a nearly complete (graphics card reuse only) new build at the end of this year to early next year. I'll post some theoryspeccing here when I get home to actually do said speccing, with the understanding that pcpartpicker will in no way represent what I actually plan on paying for said parts with a breakdown of said plan and swaps may happen depending on what happens to pricing and availability in a year. I just want to iron out my understanding since...oh, right, it's been 4 years since I built one! ;-; I really need to get geekier about franken-rigging.

    Working retail apparently has its advantages! I'll probably be picking up an SSD to use as a boot disk right-the-heck now anyway, because there's not much reason not to.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2015
  20. Blagg Zear

    Blagg Zear Moderator Staff Member

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    Wait, you want to build up a new rig but you want to reuse the gtx 560?

    I would say your GPU is one of the big Bottleneck in your current system.

    Personally i would replace the GPU first (Get the GTX970!), then i would replace CPU+Mobo next (Get the i7-4790K + Z97 Mobo) and third Phase I would do the extra stuff like SSD, better RAMs etc.

    Note:
    If you can wait, definitely wait for the upcoming LGA1151 Socket. CPUs for that Socket would be slightly better than the current LGA1150, but it's basically the smaller nm-factor for better energy-efficiency. Performance-wise it would stay very similar to current systems. If you can wait two or three months then go for the new Socket for Longevitiy.

    Btw OC CPUs is imho something like a Bandaid Solution, which costs you on the one hand a lot more energy-consumption and on the other cpu lifetime. Nowaday Games and also upcoming ones will rely much more on the GPU. The performance gain of cpu clock speed boosts is bad. 5yrs ago it was ok. You can see this Effect on Benchmarks on CPUs running only with Onboard graphics, even with double clock speeds games won't run effectively better. The Limiter is the GPU and especially VRAM when playing in high resolution and max Detail settings.
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2015

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