System Builder Marathon, August 2012: $500 Gaming PC

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doggysoft

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ojas try to copy/paste my comment correct ... choose a pentium/celeron bench it and I'll bench my 955 so we'll have answers :)

RedJaron "My main complaint against AMD the past few years is the constant socket changes that make CPU compatibility confusing."
Well mate... there are plenty of MBs that where AM2/AM2+ and support AM3 (like K9A2 Platinum - AM2+ board with full support of all AM2/2+/3 CPUs that's all Phenom II, Athlon II, Phenom, Athlon, Sempron from 1 to 6 cores). So think again... since AM2 Intel have released about 4 sockets (LGA 1150, 1155, 1156, 2011) right? :)

tourist "a pll 965 with 2 7770's sounds appealing" Oh yes it does, the CPU can handle the performance of 2x HD6870 without problem so this build is possible with any Phenom II black edition (956 is basically OCed 955 wich is the chepest BE) and some clock (even with box cooler 3.6 is achievable with no overvolt). Someone could consider this for the next 500$ build ...
 
[citation][nom]doggysoft[/nom]ojas try to copy/paste my comment correct ... choose a pentium/celeron bench it and I'll bench my 955 so we'll have answers RedJaron "My main complaint against AMD the past few years is the constant socket changes that make CPU compatibility confusing."Well mate... there are plenty of MBs that where AM2/AM2+ and support AM3 (like K9A2 Platinum - AM2+ board with full support of all AM2/2+/3 CPUs that's all Phenom II, Athlon II, Phenom, Athlon, Sempron from 1 to 6 cores). So think again... since AM2 Intel have released about 4 sockets (LGA 1150, 1155, 1156, 2011) right? tourist "a pll 965 with 2 7770's sounds appealing" Oh yes it does, the CPU can handle the performance of 2x HD6870 without problem so this build is possible with any Phenom II black edition (956 is basically OCed 955 wich is the chepest BE) and some clock (even with box cooler 3.6 is achievable with no overvolt). Someone could consider this for the next 500$ build ...[/citation]

With a BIOS update, some boards that support AM2+ CPUs and AM3 CPUs and even have both DDR2 and DDR3 memory DIMM slots might be able to support AM3+ CPUs too. I don't think that it gets much more socket-inter-compatible than that would be. Intel's closest modern comparison would be the LGA 775 socket that supported many of the older P4s all the way through the 45nm Core 2 Quads and Extremes with some boards. Also, I think that you forgot about the LGA 1366 socket, although I'm not sure that I'd count LGA 1366 and LGA 2011 in this given that they are for a different market than LGA 1156, LGA 1155, and LGA 1150.

My only worries with 7770 CF in a $500 build are that at least with current pricing, it would be difficult to fit two 7770s in (not impossible, but difficult) and they would then probably only be 7770 1GB cards and that can be limiting in some games even at 1080p if used in settings that are representative to the performance that two 7770s offer. Keep in mind that 7770s scale very well in CF and have considerable overclocking headroom. 1GB could be limiting in some games with some settings that the 7770s would otherwise be capable of running without a problem.
 

fancypantsmd

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Can anyone tell this hopeless newbie (me) what he means by the "12 V power adapter" included with the GeForce GTX 560? Does it have its own power supply? I wouldn't have thought a sub-500W supply would be adequate for this (or the previous) system.
 
[citation][nom]fancypantsmd[/nom]Can anyone tell this hopeless newbie (me) what he means by the "12 V power adapter" included with the GeForce GTX 560? Does it have its own power supply? I wouldn't have thought a sub-500W supply would be adequate for this (or the previous) system.[/citation]

It probably refers to a six pin to eight pin PCIe connector adapter, not a power supply.
 

doggysoft

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Thanks blazorthon I was sure that I missed a socket (1366) :D
About the CF on 7770 ... 1GB memory wouldn't be insefficient for 1080p but may be for anything higher.
I'm using 2x512 right now and there's no problem (but I play at 1680x1050) so for ultra high res you deffenetly need atleast 1x2GB main + 1x1GB second GPU = 3GB total (this is great in CF you can combine GPUs with different memory capacity) and you can do this while keeping some money for cpu cooler. You haven't tought about that posibility didn't you? :)
 
[citation][nom]doggysoft[/nom]Thanks blazorthon I was sure that I missed a socket (1366) About the CF on 7770 ... 1GB memory wouldn't be insefficient for 1080p but may be for anything higher.I'm using 2x512 right now and there's no problem (but I play at 1680x1050) so for ultra high res you deffenetly need atleast 1x2GB main + 1x1GB second GPU = 3GB total (this is great in CF you can combine GPUs with different memory capacity) and you can do this while keeping some money for cpu cooler. You haven't tought about that posibility didn't you?[/citation]

Some games are limited by 1GB at 1080p, such as Metro 2033 and Skyrim, when some settings are put high enough. Also, CF doesn't combine memory capacities like that. The greatest common factor in memory capacity is how much all GPUs get to use in a CF configuration. A 2GB card and a 1GB card would both only be treated as 1GB cards and memory isn't shared, so it would be like a single GPU setup with only 1GB, just a lot faster and maybe with a few more occasional driver issues and some more CPU overhead.

I would have thought about that if it was true, but sadly, it is not. Sharing memory between GPUs on two different cards is a difficutl thing to do. Heck, sharing memory between two GPUs on the same card is no easy task, although it is much more reasonable. In order to combine their memory, two GPUs would need to be able to talk with all memory chips at full speed. That would mean that the 7770s need a full-duplex connection with at least equal bandwidth per lane as the memory bandwidth of each GPU.

That's a lot of bandwidth to have between two cards and it isn't easy to do. Keep in mind that a PCIe 3.0 x16 connection is only 16GB/s (actually, slightly less than 16GB/s theoretical and the cards generaly only get most of that in practice, but you get the point) and it takes up a lot of space. Each card would need at least five such connections between themselves in addition to their PCIe connection to the CPU and/or chipset.

That's even assuming that PCIe is a practical interface to base the connections on. Maybe it isn't. Something like what DDR3 memory controllers use for their connection to the memory could be used instead of PCIe, but it wouldn't help much, if at all. That's only one hurtle that would need to be crossed. There are more.
 
[citation][nom]tourist[/nom]I think it can be done blaze, i have seen 77701gb for 100 ea no rebate, comp usa has the be 955 for $75.00 + $100 for ASRock 970 EXTREME4 that leaves $125 dollars for case. p/s, ram,HD and optical.30 dollar case r21836 dollar earth watts 38060 for w/d blue 750gb25 for 2x2gb 133375 " " be955100 " m/b2000 for 2 hd777015 optical driveTotal $541 and that is with no rebates. A smart buyer could cut $41 dollars from this build without sacrificing gaming performance. This is one kick butt build i think anyone in this price range would envy. What do you think ?[/citation]

I'd want a higher wattage PSU and the SBMs must use Newegg. Even without the 7770s, a system with a Phenom II x4 at around 4GHz should have a high-quality 250-300w PSU and 7770s have 76w TDPs (minimum), so a 450w or a 500w are probably better. I wouldn't go below 430w. Maybe undervolting the 7770s could make a 380w workable, but I'm not sure. A cheaper motherboard could easily be considered since many good AMD boards can be found as low as $60 and that with a somewhat more expensive 430w PSU could make it, but again, I'm not liking 1GB of VRAM per card.

I suppose VRAM-light settings could be used in games that would otherwise be psuhed by 1GB of VRAM. I wasn't saying that I don't think that this is a workable idea, just that it might be difficult. I saw that Newegg has a Phenom II x4 830 for $85 and it might be the best CPU option from Newegg at this time (loses 2MB of L3 cache compared to the Phenom II and that's generally not a huge loss, although I do wonder if it can hit 4GHz reasonably well).
 

CaedenV

Splendid
[citation][nom]gondor[/nom]Personally, I don't care much about being green to the environment as far as the power consumption of my computer is concerned but I do care about less heat and noise in my room. So yeah, even somebody who only has his own interests in mind would find such an article useful I run my CPU undervolted as far as I was able to get it and I bought a graphics card with a relatively quiet cooling solution (and HD5770 was not a power hog to begin with when I bought it). When I go for the upgrade I'll definitely keep power efficiency in mind.[/citation]
While I sort of agree with you, keep in mind that an extremely high end system can be virtually silent with a $30 CPU cooler and a $45 GPU cooler. Also, if you OC via the turbo boost (my mobo allows for a voltage increase allong with the GHz increase with turbo), then you can have a very low idle power, but still be able to pull out the big guns when you need them for a larger project.

My own system runs 90% of the time at 1.6GHz, with no HDDs spinning (SSD for system drive), and using the onboard GPU. But when I need the power it kicks over to the GTX570, and boosts the CPU up to the 4-4.2GHz range. Because of the manual fan setup and aftermarket sinks in my system I never hear the system at idle or load, and even when under load it is rare to see the CPU get above 50c or the GPU above 65c. The move from my old C2Duo to my newer i7 setup is so much better that it actually made an impact on my monthly electric bill (most big items run on gas, so changing the parts in a 24/7 box does make a little difference). It was not a huge difference, but it did knock my usage down by 5-10% while obviously bringing vastly better performance, especially when I need it most.

Point being that you do not need to purchase specifically low power equipment, or sacrifice performance in the name of silence, heat generation, or power savings. It does cost a little more for aftermarket coolers (but still less than $100), and larger coolers do require a larger box (but still a mid-tower which is not that big), but these are rather small issues when a box is expected to last a few years.
 

PCgamer81

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[citation][nom]blazorthon[/nom]Some games are limited by 1GB at 1080p, such as Metro 2033 and Skyrim, when some settings are put high enough. Also, CF doesn't combine memory capacities like that. The greatest common factor in memory capacity is how much all GPUs get to use in a CF configuration. A 2GB card and a 1GB card would both only be treated as 1GB cards and memory isn't shared, so it would be like a single GPU setup with only 1GB, just a lot faster and maybe with a few more occasional driver issues and some more CPU overhead.I would have thought about that if it was true, but sadly, it is not. Sharing memory between GPUs on two different cards is a difficutl thing to do. Heck, sharing memory between two GPUs on the same card is no easy task, although it is much more reasonable. In order to combine their memory, two GPUs would need to be able to talk with all memory chips at full speed. That would mean that the 7770s need a full-duplex connection with at least equal bandwidth per lane as the memory bandwidth of each GPU.That's a lot of bandwidth to have between two cards and it isn't easy to do. Keep in mind that a PCIe 3.0 x16 connection is only 16GB/s (actually, slightly less than 16GB/s theoretical and the cards generaly only get most of that in practice, but you get the point) and it takes up a lot of space. Each card would need at least five such connections between themselves in addition to their PCIe connection to the CPU and/or chipset.That's even assuming that PCIe is a practical interface to base the connections on. Maybe it isn't. Something like what DDR3 memory controllers use for their connection to the memory could be used instead of PCIe, but it wouldn't help much, if at all. That's only one hurtle that would need to be crossed. There are more.[/citation]You are right on with that comment.

But I wasn't aware there was a way to get 4GB of DDR5 out of a 6990 - if there is, I would like to know please.

You make it sound as though it might be possible, albeit difficult.

Thanks.
 
[citation][nom]PCgamer81[/nom]You are right on with that comment.But I wasn't aware there was a way to get 4GB of DDR5 out of a 6990 - if there is, I would like to know please. You make it sound as though it might be possible, albeit difficult.Thanks.[/citation]

No, sorry, but it's not possible to get 4GB of VRAM capacity out of a Radeon 6990 2x2GB, at least not that I'm aware. I meant that new cards could be built to do it. I think that the best way to share memory would be to double the number of ports that the memory has and give each set to one of the GPUs. It would probably then need different memory chips designed specifically for this and that would probably be expensive, so a compromise could be made in connecting both GPUs with an extremely high-bandwidth connection which, although still practical, is probably more difficult, especially with GPUs that have a lot of bandwidth.

Along with our old argument about how dual-GPU cards don't actually double the memory bandwidth, this would actually mean that each GPU has double the bandwidth, but they have to share the single (albeit somewhat distributed), larger connection.

So, if AMD wanted to, they could make a new dual-GPU card that shares the GDDR5 memory between both GPUs, but there are no tricks to do it with current video cards, at least no tricks that I'm aware of. It would be quite the trick to give each GPU a connection to the other GPU's memory with similar bandwidth to its own memory without simply buying a card that was built to do this.
 

PCgamer81

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Hmm, maybe it would be easier for the manufacturer to just double the memory in each chip rather than go to the extra trouble, at least with the current technology.

In any case, it does suck that you're not essentially getting what you pay for in crossfire.
 


True, but allowing GPUs to access all of the memory on a dual-GPU system would mean that half of the memory on the card isn't effectively wasted. I have to wonder if doubling the chip count for two GPUs is really cheaper than making chips with double the ports or making GPUs that can communicate at high enough speeds to share memory.
 

PCgamer81

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It would be more efficient, I wonder if it is feasible given the current technology.

If they could at least do it on dual cards, that's a start. It would help make up for the usually lower clocks.
 


Absolutely agree. I'd say that it is feasible with current technology, but I'm not sure if it would be cheap enough at first. It could be introduced into very high end cards such as a 7990 3x3GB to lessen the increased cost's impact and as it improves, brought down into lower end dual-GPU cards such as a 7950X2 or 7870X2 (both have been rumored and at the least, the 7870X2 is not unlikely to come out considering the several 6800X2 cards).
 

pauldh

Illustrious
[citation][nom]tourist[/nom]There ya go a little more tweaking and a $500 dollar amd build comes to life, it will be hard finding a $60 dollar crossfire board without rebates. I hope Paul is taking mental notes for next months build.[/citation]
Of course I'll listen. We value contsructive feedback and open discussion such as this.

However I am seeing some overambitious expectations. Let me explain.


The only Phenom II X4 830 I see is a refurb. The only new Phenom II is a boxed X4 965 BE, the 955 BE oem seems gone. Someone suggested 965BE + HD7850. That would currently chew up the budget before purchasing a mobo, at all. Same with CrossFire HD 7770. The cheapest right now is $125 each. How can we use 50% of our budget for graphics, get a supporting Mobo, and a Ph II CPU? You saw last round, $210 in graphics left $50 for the processor, despite a $60 mobo.

Anway, if we assume Phenom II is available at purchase time, it is a big risk that they may vanish altogether weeks later when the story goes live. Realisitc thoughts are a quad-core sub-$100 CPU+ cooler + $170 HD 6870. If prices change favorably, we may be able to push further. For now we need to wait a month or so, and then start eyeing up pricing/availablity.
 
[citation][nom]pauldh[/nom]Of course I'll listen. We value contsructive feedback and open discussion such as this.However I am seeing some overambitious expectations. Let me explain.The only Phenom II X4 830 I see is a refurb. The only new Phenom II is a boxed X4 965 BE, the 955 BE oem seems gone. Someone suggested 965BE + HD7850. That would currently chew up the budget before purchasing a mobo, at all. Same with CrossFire HD 7770. The cheapest right now is $125 each. How can we use 50% of our budget for graphics, get a supporting Mobo, and a Ph II CPU? You saw last round, $210 in graphics left $50 for the processor, despite a $60 mobo. Anway, if we assume Phenom II is available at purchase time, it is a big risk that they may vanish altogether weeks later when the story goes live. Realisitc thoughts are a quad-core sub-$100 CPU+ cooler + $170 HD 6870. If prices change favorably, we may be able to push further. For now we need to wait a month or so, and then start eyeing up pricing/availablity.[/citation]

I have to be honest, i'm not worried about a refurb CPU. Now if it was a hard drive, motherboard, or memory, then I might see some red flags, but CPUs, not really.

hard drive (500GB WD Caviar Blue)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822136769

motherboard (ASRock 970 Extreme3) comes with 2x4GB Team Xtreme DDR3-1600 memory kit
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157280

CPU (Phenom II x4 830)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819113186

case (APEX PC-389-C Black Steel ATX mid-tower)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811154095

PSU (Antec 450w)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817371045

Total is under $295 so far. It could fit a Radeon 7850 and a cheap CPU cooler and only be about $20-30 over budget. Throw in a $15 optical disk drive and your at under $520-540 or so, so a little more over budget than desired, but it's at least less than 10% over.

Radeon 7850 (HIS)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814161405

The Radeon brings the total to $503.94 and a good $20 cooler should suffice as should an ~$15 optical disk drive. MIRs might be able to bring it down to about $500, granted those aren't accounted for in the SBMs.

EDIT: I realize that prices and availability may change before the next SBM and that current pricing might be different from what we had when the parts for this SBM were bought. I'm just saying that at least with current prices, a decent machine with a good 7850 and a Phenom II x4 CPU can be had for a little over $500. Heck, with bundles and deals (as well as being open to stores other than Newegg), it might be able to be worked to about $450, granted that it wouldn't be applicable for the SBMs for those reasons.
 

doggysoft

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Hmm I saw something very interesting CF 2x7750 1GB give decent performance and you don't need high end PUS cuz this GPU uses only PCI-E power with no need of extra power cables directly from the PSU this can allow other decent components to be added...
 
[citation][nom]doggysoft[/nom]Hmm I saw something very interesting CF 2x7750 1GB give decent performance and you don't need high end PUS cuz this GPU uses only PCI-E power with no need of extra power cables directly from the PSU this can allow other decent components to be added...[/citation]

Not needing PCIe power connectors doesn't mean that the two 7750s don't still have a more than 110w TDP altogether. You don't need a high-end PSU, but it needs to be a good one nonetheless.
 

doggysoft

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Yup, PCI-E delivers max 75W so 2x75=150W + CPU, MB and others - we still need PSU of about 380W or more but I think this build will cost less than 500$ witch is our target :)
 

pauldh

Illustrious


blazorthorn (tourist & others) - Yeah, Please understand that configuration would not work in an SBM, for numerous reasons.

1) We can not use refurbished or open box components. So the PHII X4 830 would be out.
2) We can not use combo deals - so no free memory kit. Rather expensive mobo (relative to budget) would then need replacing with cheaper model.
3) The Apex case has no cooling fans, at all. I'm yet to see a $20 case with a fan. If we are going to OC Phenom II X4, Add the cost of one or two case fans minimum, or I'd prefer to factor $30 for a case that comes with a 120mm cooler. Have you ever used that Apex enclosure? Curious to hear if some readers could vouch for the quality.
4) We need an optical drive - add $15-20 depending on the particular day of ordering.
5) We can't rely on Mail-in-rebates. So HD 7770, as of now, would run $250 per pair or higher.

As you can see, following the rules that system is way out of range to the tune of at least 15-20% over by quick estimate. Even subsituting the cheapets HD 7850 would be far too expensive for a $500 SBM Phenom II build. Some readers freak out if we don't completely stay within budget, others (inluding the team) would say 5% is fine, if justifiable. There is no pleasing everyone. The goal is $500 firm following the rules. No need to spend it all, but we must have a very good reason to go slightly over.

We follow this set of rules, avoiding combos, rebates, and open box/refurbished items that will likely not be available weeks later when the stories go live. That way the price remains reasonably accurate, baring major changes like last years HDD spike. Most readers realize prices change, but if I use every possible "cheat" (like you mention above) to build a $500 machine, that ends up unavailable or costing $600 to mimic when our series goes live, there will be a small reader revolt, led mostly by fanboys who didn't like the color we selected.

And just to repeat again. We are looking to use components expected to still be available when the series goes live.
 
[citation][nom]pauldh[/nom]blazorthorn (tourist & others) - Yeah, Please understand that configuration would not work in an SBM, for numerous reasons.1) We can not use refurbished or open box components. So the PHII X4 830 would be out.2) We can not use combo deals - so no free memory kit. Rather expensive mobo (relative to budget) would then need replacing with cheaper model.3) The Apex case has no cooling fans, at all. I'm yet to see a $20 case with a fan. If we are going to OC Phenom II X4, Add the cost of one or two case fans minimum, or I'd prefer to factor $30 for a case that comes with a 120mm cooler. Have you ever used that Apex enclosure? Curious to hear if some readers could vouch for the quality.4) We need an optical drive - add $15-20 depending on the particular day of ordering.5) We can't rely on Mail-in-rebates. So HD 7770, as of now, would run $250 per pair or higher. As you can see, following the rules that system is way out of range to the tune of at least 15-20% over by quick estimate. Even subsituting the cheapets HD 7850 would be far too expensive for a $500 SBM Phenom II build. Some readers freak out if we don't completely stay within budget, others (inluding the team) would say 5% is fine, if justifiable. There is no pleasing everyone. The goal is $500 firm following the rules. No need to spend it all, but we must have a very good reason to go slightly over. We follow this set of rules, avoiding combos, rebates, and open box/refurbished items that will likely not be available weeks later when the stories go live. That way the price remains reasonably accurate, baring major changes like last years HDD spike. Most readers realize prices change, but if I use every possible "cheat" (like you mention above) to build a $500 machine, that ends up unavailable or costing $600 to mimic when our series goes live, there will be a small reader revolt, led mostly by fanboys who didn't like the color we selected.And just to repeat again. We are looking to use components expected to still be available when the series goes live.[/citation]

Every available cheat? I could have gotten that build well under $500 if I used everything. So many of those items have a 15% off promo code when I put that list together and the fact is that there's pretty much no time where almost all items in a build can't have discounts like that or MIRs that are just as good. I didn't know that refurb parts are against the rules, my bad, but the point remains. Such a build is feasible. Ditching that motherboard for a cheaper one and a 4GB memory kit is possible to get rid of the combo (I thought that since it was a free gift rather than a combo, I might get away with it, oh well). As for the refurb CPU, well, unless newegg brings the 955 back at its previous price point of just under $500, there's nothing that I can do for it, but still, an ~$500 machine can be built with a decent quad core CPU and a a Radeon 7850.

Heck, simply substituting the 7850 for the GTX 560 and the motherboard for a cheaper one and a separate 4GB memory kit solves this with the 965 that is on newegg.

I've never used the Apex, I went with it out of its price and it having a decent rating (not the best way to choose, but w/e).
 
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