Question Need help building a "gaming" computer with a VERY specific use.

testtube5

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Aug 1, 2013
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Okay so as the title suggests, this is not your average "build me a gaming PC for x $$ please"...

I'm willing to spend up to 1500$ if need be but I doubt the cost will come anywhere close to this.

I don't need any peripherals though I do need a case. This is going to be rather difficult to explain to bear with me...

I play a 20 year old game (almost exactly 20 years we're celebrating the anniversary right now) called EverQuest. However, I don't just play 1 character, I do what is called "multiboxing", which, for those of you who haven't heard of that term it simply means I play multiple accounts at one time (using a broadcasting program called ISBoxer).

Basically, I want to build a PC that will yield me the best "characters to USD ratio" if that makes sense. So, a 500$ computer that can run 10 characters is better than a 1500$ computer that can run 12, for example. (And by "character", think "program")

Some basic info of what resources are required to run a lot of characters:

The overwhelming majority of what determines how many characters can be played at once is the amount of CPU cores. I can set each character to be run by a single core. Also, CPUs with cores in multiples of 6 are a plus (or so it would seem) considering there are 6 characters to a group / if I add characters they are usually (but not necessarily) in increments of 6.

The game pretty much requires any video card. By that I mean as long as it isn't integrated graphics, everything is all good, a used 760 vs a 2080 ti will do absolutely nothing to increase character count or performance.

Of course, a lot of RAM. I don't care at all about RAM speed, it won't help at all, but each character requires up to 1.2GB of memory (I'm overestimating this, in most locations it's more around 500-800mb).

Just need 1 single 128gb 960 Evo, no other storage.

Don't need an optical drive.

To give you guys an idea of what I currently have: https://pcpartpicker.com/list/YdYPNQ

^And I can run 24 characters on this comfortably (This PC was made as an all-purpose machine though so the build I'm looking for will look nothing like this), I'm not sure if 24 is the max but I wouldn't be surprised if I could bump it up to 30. RAM would stop me from going any further.

I know this is difficult to describe and very unique so if I think of any better ways to describe this I'll edit the post, and if anyone has any questions feel free to ask away.
 

punkncat

Commendable
Apr 3, 2018
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Considering that your "example" machine is no slouch I am not exactly sure where to go considering a suggested build.

If it's core count and memory, would probably point you in the direction of Threadripper. Loads of cores and room for a lot of RAM. Thing is I am not sure that qualifies on the 'value" aspect.
Turning back more toward value would probably consider a first gen Ryzen 7.
 

testtube5

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Aug 1, 2013
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Yeah it's easy for me to say that what I want is something like 1950x and 64gb RAM but this isn't what I'm asking for help with unfortunately. If it was like that then I would already know exactly what to get.

I want to know what the "sweet spot" is, because I can connect computers together with ISBoxer and play as if they were 1 computer.

I know what the build should look like but if I would get more total cores out of 2 computers each for less than half the price of 1 computer, then that's what I would want to buy.

I just don't know where the "sweet spot" is for performance to USD ratio for this unique scenario.
 

logainofhades

Titan
Moderator
I think this would be a good start, to get you going. I went overboard, on the cooling, to provide cooling capability, should you want to upgrade to a Ryzen 3000, should they ad a 16 core Ryzen 9, as some rumors have suggested. Ram speed does matter, with Ryzen.

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

CPU: AMD - Ryzen 7 1700 3 GHz 8-Core Processor ($158.89 @ OutletPC)
CPU Cooler: be quiet! - Dark Rock Pro 4 50.5 CFM CPU Cooler ($84.99 @ SuperBiiz)
Motherboard: ASRock - X470 Master SLI/AC ATX AM4 Motherboard ($153.98 @ Newegg)
Memory: Crucial - Ballistix Sport LT 64 GB (4 x 16 GB) DDR4-3000 Memory ($367.00 @ Amazon)
Storage: Samsung - 970 Evo Plus 250 GB M.2-2280 Solid State Drive ($86.00 @ Amazon)
Video Card: Zotac - GeForce GTX 1660 6 GB GAMING Video Card ($219.99 @ Amazon)
Case: Fractal Design - Meshify C White TG ATX Mid Tower Case ($89.99 @ Amazon)
Power Supply: Antec - High Current Gamer Gold 750 W 80+ Gold Certified Fully-Modular ATX Power Supply ($99.99 @ Amazon)
Total: $1260.83
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
Generated by PCPartPicker 2019-04-03 14:07 EDT-0400
 

testtube5

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No, actually I think AMD is the way to go here for sheer amount of cores and much lower price.

I used to hate AMD but they make some really nice and reliable CPUs nowadays.
 

g-unit1111

Titan
Moderator
Yeah it's easy for me to say that what I want is something like 1950x and 64gb RAM but this isn't what I'm asking for help with unfortunately. If it was like that then I would already know exactly what to get.

I want to know what the "sweet spot" is, because I can connect computers together with ISBoxer and play as if they were 1 computer.
Considering where the 1st gen TR4 CPUs are compared to where they were, you could buy something like a 12 core 1920X and still come in under budget. This is a little bit over budget but maybe something like this:

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

CPU: AMD - Threadripper 1920X 3.5 GHz 12-Core Processor ($386.66 @ Amazon)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master - Wraith Ripper 76.4 CFM CPU Cooler ($119.99 @ Newegg)
Motherboard: ASRock - X399 Taichi ATX TR4 Motherboard ($304.98 @ Newegg)
Memory: G.Skill - Trident Z RGB 32 GB (4 x 8 GB) DDR4-3200 Memory ($254.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Samsung - 970 Evo Plus 500 GB M.2-2280 Solid State Drive ($127.99 @ Amazon)
Storage: Western Digital - Caviar Blue 1 TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($46.99 @ Amazon)
Video Card: Zotac - GeForce GTX 1060 6GB 6 GB Video Card ($213.98 @ Newegg)
Case: Corsair - Carbide Series 275R (Black) ATX Mid Tower Case ($62.10 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: EVGA - SuperNOVA G3 650 W 80+ Gold Certified Fully-Modular ATX Power Supply ($99.00 @ Amazon)
Total: $1616.68
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
Generated by PCPartPicker 2019-04-03 14:19 EDT-0400
 

CBaca

Distinguished
Oct 21, 2009
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Using core count in multiples of 6 and video card doesn't really matter as long as it is not integrated graphics, I came up with two builds:

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

CPU: AMD - Ryzen 5 2600X 3.6 GHz 6-Core Processor ($199.99 @ Amazon)
Motherboard: MSI - B450 TOMAHAWK ATX AM4 Motherboard ($114.99 @ Newegg)
Memory: G.Skill - Ripjaws V Series 32 GB (2 x 16 GB) DDR4-3200 Memory ($200.98 @ Newegg)
Storage: Samsung - 860 Evo 250 GB M.2-2280 Solid State Drive ($67.99 @ Amazon)
Video Card: Sapphire - Radeon RX 550 - 512 4 GB PULSE Video Card ($92.99 @ Newegg)
Case: NZXT - H500 (Black) ATX Mid Tower Case ($75.99 @ Amazon)
Power Supply: Corsair - RMx (2018) 550 W 80+ Gold Certified Fully-Modular ATX Power Supply ($85.99 @ Amazon)
Total: $838.92
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
Generated by PCPartPicker 2019-04-03 15:05 EDT-0400


Or

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

CPU: AMD - Threadripper 1920X 3.5 GHz 12-Core Processor ($386.66 @ Amazon)
CPU Cooler: Corsair - H115i PRO 55.4 CFM Liquid CPU Cooler ($129.99 @ Amazon)
Motherboard: Gigabyte - X399 AORUS PRO ATX TR4 Motherboard ($279.99 @ Amazon)
Memory: G.Skill - Ripjaws V Series 32 GB (2 x 16 GB) DDR4-3200 Memory ($200.98 @ Newegg)
Storage: Samsung - 860 Evo 250 GB M.2-2280 Solid State Drive ($67.99 @ Amazon)
Video Card: Sapphire - Radeon RX 550 - 512 4 GB PULSE Video Card ($92.99 @ Newegg)
Case: NZXT - H500 (Black) ATX Mid Tower Case ($75.99 @ Amazon)
Power Supply: Corsair - RMx (2018) 550 W 80+ Gold Certified Fully-Modular ATX Power Supply ($85.99 @ Amazon)
Total: $1320.58
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
Generated by PCPartPicker 2019-04-03 15:07 EDT-0400
 
It's an interesting scenario. My first thought would be that a 12-core, 24-thread threadripper might be a good choice given their reduced prices lately, but the motherboards are still fairly expensive, and after you figure in the cost of a cooler, you are looking at around $700+ for just the CPU, cooler and motherboard alone. I'm also not sure if you would want a quad-channel kit of memory for such a setup, or whether or not it would be worth paying more for faster memory when running many instances of a game like that. Or if you would even get much benefit out of having all those extra cores if you are already running 24 instances of the game on a 6-core, 12-thread processor.

By comparison, something like a Ryzen 2600, or maybe a 1600, with the same number of cores and threads as your 8700K (only with somewhat less performance per core) might potentially offer suitable performance at a much lower price. Or perhaps one of the 8-core, 16-thread Ryzens, which might not follow along with your groups of 6 cores suggestion, but if you are running four instances of the game on each core now, doing the same on an 8-core processor might potentially allow you to get up around 32 instances in total, assuming the reduced per-core performance compared to your 8700K doesn't inflict too much of a performance penalty. Or you could maintain the same number of total characters while only running three per core. An 8-core Ryzen 1700 costs about the same as a 6-core Ryzen 2600, and while at stock clocks it's not quite as fast per core, with a heavily-threaded workload like that it might offer better performance overall.

I'm not sure if this would be the "sweet spot", as it's difficult to say how hardware would perform under a scenario like that, but it would likely offer a lot of multithreaded performance for the money, at the very least. I went with more of a focus on going with less expensive components unless something significantly better was available for slightly more, and some of these prices include mail-in rebates....

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

CPU: AMD - Ryzen 7 1700 3 GHz 8-Core Processor ($159.85 @ OutletPC)
Motherboard: Gigabyte - GA-AX370-Gaming 3 ATX AM4 Motherboard ($71.64 @ Amazon)
Memory: G.Skill - Ripjaws V 32 GB (2 x 16 GB) DDR4-3000 Memory ($165.98 @ Newegg)
Storage: Crucial - BX500 240 GB 2.5" Solid State Drive ($29.89 @ OutletPC)
Video Card: Gigabyte - Radeon RX 560 - 896 4 GB Video Card ($96.98 @ Newegg)
Case: Corsair - SPEC-05 ATX Mid Tower Case ($38.97 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: SeaSonic - 520 W 80+ Bronze Certified Fully-Modular ATX Power Supply ($34.99 @ Newegg)
Total: $598.30
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
Generated by PCPartPicker 2019-04-03 22:10 EDT-0400


The 1700 comes bundled with the Wraith Spire cooler, though overclocking on that might be limited, so you could optionally add a ~$30 120mm tower cooler for better and quieter cooling performance.

That X370 board was on sale for a similar price as a B350/B450 board, though those would allow for overclocking as well. I went with one with four memory slots in case more RAM was found to be needed.

I went with 32GB of DDR4-3000 for the RAM, since Ryzen performs best with higher clocked memory, and going with slower and/or cheaper stuff might only save around $10-$20.

That Crucial SSD offers 240GB of storage for just $30, and there are some other similar-performing SSDs around that price range as well. There are also some 120GB drives for about $10 less if you thought you could get away with that little storage, but it might be worth paying a little extra for that additional headroom. I'm not so sure that the performance of a 960 Evo would be worth paying significantly more for, but maybe when loading up multiple instances of the game at once it could help?

And the RX 560 only costs slightly more than an RX 550, so it wouldn't make much sense to go with the slower card. It might also be worth moving up to an RX 570 to get significantly more graphics performance for just a little more, though again, I don't know what the performance demands of running dozens of copies of an older game at once would be like.

The case was selected for being inexpensive after rebate, but there are plenty of other cheap case options as well.

And I went with a decent, but not overkill-capacity PSU. It's a somewhat older model with only a bronze efficiency rating though.
 

testtube5

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Aug 1, 2013
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Yep, it's win 10 compatible.

Also, keep the builds coming as I figure I'm going to take some parts from each build and end up deciding on my own (after consulting some other EverQuest Multiboxers such as myself that also build rigs, to ask their opinions as well)

When suggesting these builds please keep in mind:

  • CPU Core count + Hyperthreading > all.
  • Clock-speed second
  • RAM 64GB (The only exception to this is what I posted above (If 2 rigs, each for half the price of 1 rig, could run twice the amount of toons, 32GB should be good.))
^And as for the RAM, someone earlier said that RAM speed matters for AMD, and I wasn't aware of this before but could someone tell me why this is?

I mean, is it possible that RAM speed matters for modern gaming, but has absolutely nothing to do with the performance I would get in this 20 year old MMORPG?

^I would REALLY like to know this. So if someone could answer me this, please do.


Keep in mind that character count > performance as well, and while these sound like the same thing, they are but not exactly. What I'm saying is, a constant 30 FPS is absolutely fine with me. If I can save even 50$ while maintaining character count, but am going from 45 FPS to 30 FPS, I'd go with that any day of the week.

EDIT: (Also, once my in-game friends whom are also rig builders get back to me I'll post their ideas here as well, a lot of them also have a lot better understanding of what certain bottlenecks are, how to reduce RAM usage, increase characters per core, and much more, so I'll be able to explain in this in greater depth to make it easier to suggest "sweet spot" parts)
 
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One instance of EverQuest will run on a potato and only use one thread, minimal RAM per instance (as in, not even a GB), and not much in the way of video capability. I remember running this game on a Athlon XP 1700 with 512MB of RAM and a GeForce 2 GTS. With this in mind I went for MAXIMUM CORES, and ignored everything else you said.


PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

CPU: AMD - Threadripper 1950X 3.4 GHz 16-Core Processor ($593.90 @ OutletPC)
CPU Cooler: Noctua - NH-U12S TR4-SP3 54.97 CFM CPU Cooler ($69.90 @ Amazon)
Motherboard: ASRock - X399 Phantom Gaming 6 ATX TR4 Motherboard ($244.88 @ OutletPC)
Memory: Corsair - Vengeance LPX 32 GB (2 x 16 GB) DDR4-2666 Memory ($164.99 @ Amazon)
Storage: Crucial - MX500 500 GB M.2-2280 Solid State Drive ($69.95 @ Adorama)
Video Card: XFX - Radeon RX 580 8 GB GTS XXX ED Video Card ($187.99 @ Amazon)
Case: Cooler Master - MasterBox Lite 5 ATX Mid Tower Case ($59.74 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: EVGA - SuperNOVA G3 750 W 80+ Gold Certified Fully-Modular ATX Power Supply ($99.99 @ Amazon)
Total: $1491.34
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
Generated by PCPartPicker 2019-04-05 08:23 EDT-0400


If this setup doesn't run at least 28 clients I'll be utterly shocked. Honestly, I could run more than one instance on my single core Athlon XP machine back in the day. So it would not surprise me if you could run well more than 28 clients. Your limiting factor would be video performance, but fitting more GPU into the build on this budget would be... problematic. The RX 580 is only 918% faster than the GeForce card I was using at the time... and I could run 2-3 instances... so the RX 580 might limit you to 25-ish instances.

So, if we go with the more pedestrian Threadripper 1920X and 12 cores it frees up budget for a video card, buuuuuuuuuut drops the number of instances you can run... instead of comfortably running 28 clients you are only running 20-ish if we are running single client per thread with overhead cores for system use... but like I said, you might be able to run 2-3 clients per thread.... because potato. So, video card wise, I hesitate to suggest something with less than 8GB of video memory. So... NVidia's midrange offerings are off the table, for my recommendation at least. So in the price range it is between the GTX 1070 and Vega 56... and the Vega 56 wins that battle all day long, mainly for bandwidth. Vega can move things in and out of memory faster than the 1070 can, which is more important for this application because the game can be run easily with potato levels of GPU power. Leaving us with this configuration:


PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

CPU: AMD - Threadripper 1920X 3.5 GHz 12-Core Processor ($378.62 @ Amazon)
CPU Cooler: Noctua - NH-U12S TR4-SP3 54.97 CFM CPU Cooler ($69.90 @ Amazon)
Motherboard: ASRock - X399 Phantom Gaming 6 ATX TR4 Motherboard ($244.88 @ OutletPC)
Memory: Corsair - Vengeance LPX 32 GB (2 x 16 GB) DDR4-2666 Memory ($164.99 @ Amazon)
Storage: Crucial - MX500 500 GB M.2-2280 Solid State Drive ($69.95 @ Adorama)
Video Card: Gigabyte - Radeon RX VEGA 56 8 GB Video Card ($303.98 @ Newegg)
Case: Cooler Master - MasterBox Lite 5 ATX Mid Tower Case ($59.74 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: EVGA - SuperNOVA G3 750 W 80+ Gold Certified Fully-Modular ATX Power Supply ($99.99 @ Amazon)
Total: $1392.05
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
Generated by PCPartPicker 2019-04-05 08:46 EDT-0400
 

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