System Builder Marathon Q4 2014: Mainstream Enthusiast PC

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RedJaron

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Perhaps you didn't notice, but this has a set budget. Where are you going to pull $100 to move from an i5 to i7? Smaller SSD? Smaller GPU? Anything you do to fit the i7 in the same money Don spent here would lead to even more complaints.

Where are you getting your idea that the average gamer is also compiling code, transcoding videos, and pulling hefty 3D renders? Most gamers just want to play games. A few also stream their play or do the odd bit of number crunching, but those are the outliers. People who do that know their needs and budget appropriately. Suggesting a Xeon E3 over the i5 would've made a lot more sense.



Ten frames lost on RAM alone? Well if that isn't the biggest exaggeration of all time. Few games or even applications are so sensitive to RAM speed that you'd get such a huge penalty using well-tuned 1600 RAM opposed to well-tuned 2400 RAM. By the time you can shift the bottleneck to RAM in GRID ( or just about any other game, ) you're typically running at 100+ fps anyway, so what would it matter?



Normally I advocate as large a SSD as reasonable. But this is just silly. Being as I have GW2, yes I can say I'd never want to play another MMO without a SSD. Zone loads are much faster. Loading single-player maps in StarCraft II is also notably better. But I can also think of many games that load and play just fine off mech drives.

I've experimented with the entire Mass Effect trilogy between my SSD and mech drive. When the game loads in five seconds off the spindle, opposed to two seconds on the SSD, is that really a big deal? ( and you don't get the SSD's speed bonus in ME2 w/o hacking the load animation videos anyway. ) With ME3, a lot of the loading has been optimized fairly well so it's even harder to tell the difference. When my SSD started getting crowded, I dumped ME onto my spindle drive with no problem. Gauging a SSD's benefit in multi-player can be even harder since even if your map loads fast, you still have to wait for everyone else to load.

Put the games that really benefit from loading speed on the SSD and the rest onto the spindle. It's not a huge deal. Saying you need half a terabyte of SSD storage in order to even consider a rig "enthusiast-grade" is just elitist BS.
 


I have a 256GB SSD in my notebook and it's not enough (and the 512GB HDD as secondary instead of the ODD). I do like fast loading times not only for games, but sound applications and video editing applications. The SSDs always fall short and you have to start moving stuff around if you want to have the benefits of it.

That's why I say this is no longer qualifies to meet an "enthusiast" tag. Hell, I'd say even RAID 0 is better than small SSD + storage HDD. That was before when the SSDs were stupid expensive for low capacity. Where in the point where you can have 512GB or 2x256GB in SSD without sacrificing the Video Card or the CPU. And among them, HDD RAID 0 is the best trade off between capacity and speed. 1TB (2x512GB) in RAID 0 is dirt cheap to have and 2TB is not far either.

Also, the thing about "reliability"... I've seen more SSDs fail in this short span of time than HDDs fail among my friends. I still have my 256GB drives working fine inside the secondary PC, but all of my friends that had 64GB and 128GB SSDs had to change them for new ones. Anecdotal as it is, HDDs appear to be more reliable so far to me.

Cheers!
 

RedJaron

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I don't think anyone is gainsaying the desire to have a massive SSD ( or lots of high-throughput storage in general. ) It's more the money involved in order to achieve it. I don't like the idea of attaching a fiscal amount to a hobby or experience tag. A tech or computer enthusiast to me is more about their knowledge, experience, and passion, not their disposable income. To say that someone can't be an enthusiast because of their hardware is the same as saying someone can't be a gearhead without owning a GT-R or better. Now most people passionate about computers will probably have it a high enough priority that they'll budget enough to have a nice machine, but not all can do it. In fact, those people might be considered more "enthusiast" than others because due to fiscal limitations they often tweak every last ounce of performance from their hardware.

I know RAID 0 has become much simpler to implement than it used to, but I still don't like it. It introduces extra single points of failure that I just don't want to risk ( I'm sure we all have anecdotal evidence to contradict each other. ) I don't think SSD reliability is a big concern anymore. I don't think anyone wants to say they're just as reliable as a spindle drive yet, but they're not the anxiety time bomb they used to be either. Again, I'm sure we all have anecdotal evidence to contradict each other on this one too.

I suppose I see disk space allocation one of the costs of ownership of having an SSD, just like premium gas in a high-performance car. My 128GB M4 has enough room for Office, Adobe CS4, my Canon photography apps, GW2, and a dozen other smaller games and programs. The rest go on my WD Black. Now I was able to score a great deal on an M550 today so I'll be upgrading it to 256GB next week. I might transfer a few games over, but I don't have many other programs that would notably benefit from the SSD that aren't already on there. I understand others may have more applications than myself, but you also have to admit the vast majority of people don't have 350GB+ of active games either. I'd have to say 128GB is enough for most people, and 256GB should be enough for most performance sensitive apps tech savvy users want. Of course there will be a few outliers, but we shouldn't redefine our criteria for 2% of the users out there.

If a user truly does have a massive library of applications that all should be on the SSD, I'd have to ask how often each of those are used. The time savings in a SSD are compounded each time the app is run. If you only launch it once a month or less, does it deserve to be on the SSD? In your case, out of the 361GB of games, how often do you even play each of them? Of the 195, do you even play through 30 a month? 20? 10? I'm not trying to pick a fight, say you're wrong, tell you to change your habits, or anything like that.

If it was me, I'd take the 25% I play most, plus another 25% that I might have the whim to play in the next month or two, and load those on the SSD. The rest would either be put on the spindle or just deleted ( with install files archived somewhere. ) For the small chance you want awesome speed for something that isn't currently on the SSD, transferring the game folder from the spindle to the SSD only takes a minute and Steam can rescan the install folder to update where to launch the game.

And sorry about my slightly aggressive response earlier. I've been having a crappy day.
 


I do agree with what you're saying to a certain degree, since I've been moving stuff (in my notebook) to prioritize the SSD usage for things I actually use often. Now, I don't have the entire (most of) Steam Library in my notebook, only on my PC (which has RAID 0) and only have the important titles in it that I play often: TF2, Payday 2, GW2, TERA, SC2 and others that I'm forgetting. All of them are close to 100GB. The SSD is at full capacity currently and it sucks to move stuff around.

In any case, I'm not talking about general "enthusiast" tag here, only for the article at hand. For their given budget, I can't consider it an "enthusiast" build if they don't acknowledge the *new* trade off of space and speed. SSDs are cheaper now and sacrificing storage space for speed is not as expensive as before, so it now makes a little more sense to go for bigger SSD than small SSD + big HDD.

And in your can analogy, that is true, but the scales are a tad off. The jump is not like going from a BRZ to an M4; this is at most 2K difference (not small by any means, but not 80K difference either).

Cheers!
 

RedJaron

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I'll buy the BRZ over GT-R comparison ( that just happened to be the first model that came to my mind that screamed "high performance car" but that wasn't completely unreasonable like Ferrari, Lambo, or McLaren. ) Let's bump up the price scale just a touch to a 370Z. Now a $30K car is something that most people can work to afford in their life. It's a little pricier than a basic daily driver, but it's do-able. But are they getting what they need for that money? Zipping around on 330hp is a lot of fun, but are two seats enough for you? Maybe you've got a family and need something roomier, like a mini-van. Maybe you need cargo room so you opt for a truck or SUV. Maybe you've got a long commute and you want a TDI to keep fuel costs down. Every feature is fighting with every other feature for a piece of a limited budget and chances are you're not going to get them all together.

We've got a firm budget of $1000, so let's talk parts. I'm pretty sure if anything less than a K i5 is used, there'd be a mutiny. So that's minimum $370 for CPU ( $240, ) mboard ( $100, ) and cooler ( $30. ) Next, what level of GPU would you consider a minimum in this kind of build? 760? 770? 970? It looks like this build has been hovering around the $300 - $350 range, so let's call it $330. RAM is going to run at least $60, though probably closer to $70. Let's assume you find a sweet deal on a PSU for $50. That leaves you $180 - $190 for storage, which is what you'll pay for the 500GB SSD. So to even fit a worthwhile 1TB spindle drive, you've got to shave money somewhere. That means you either stick to the stock CPU cooler or start taking money away from the GPU.

So yes, it can be done close to $1000, but you'll make sacrifices somewhere. Like the different car needs, some people need lots of storage for photos, music, movies, and other media. Some people want the quietest PC possible. Some have high electric rates and need maximum efficiency. Chances are slim you'll get them all in a limited budget. If you have to pinch pennies, it's likely you're getting the middle- to lower-end parts and not the performance leaders we like to see. I think Tom usually has the budget for a 500GB SSD, but I don't think they're cheap enough for Don just yet. That doesn't mean we're not progressing toward that.

Look at last year's Q4 SBM. In fact, look at all the 2013 SBMs. The only machines that used a 250GB SSD were Tom's premium builds ( and his $1000 machine in Q1 had no spindle drive. ) Everything else was 128GB or smaller, if one was even used. A quick browse through the comments shows that not many people complained about the limited capacity back then. So in a year we've gone from bouncing between 64GB and 128GB drives to an almost mandatory 250GB drive in Don's machines. That's pretty clear progress to me. Perhaps your expectations are just a little ahead of the curve.
 


http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822236625

2x1TB WD Blacks for RAID 0 is USD$100-ish. That's a 2TB storage for a 100 bucks.

I made this choice back when 128GB SSDs were still expensive and It's been working great. That's what I chose back then and no regrets.

But yeah, you're right that given the budget and depending on your needs you should make the call. I won't argue that.

Cheers!
 

RedJaron

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Yeah, I'm seeing $75 per drive as well. If you're seeing some special deal, please let me know. I'd love to scoop up a couple of those at $50 each.

If your RAID has been working well for you, awesome stuff. Blacks tend to last longer for me than others, and I think that's because as the performance model, the quality has to be better. That's definitely the right type of drive to RAID together.
 
Well, it seems I can't add or they changed the offer... I think I just can't sum anymore, haha.

In any case, I didn't get the "black" series. At the time, WD still didn't do that change in their line (Rainbow HDDs, lol). I have regular 7200RPM HDDs. I got them around 2011. I think the "green" line was the only color at the time.

But I'm sure there are some models under USD$75, I just didn't look hard enough. I've been buying Toshiba HDDs for some builds and so far they've been good (great GB/$/RPM). No faulty ones so far and I haven't read or heard anything bad about them either.

Cheers!
 

PC newb 09

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my zotac 970 has no coil whine, and idles at 32deg cel and 68 deg cel at load. using msi afterburner i turn fan speed to 65 and it runs extremely well. i love zotac! my case wont allow a huge gpu so it was this or the gigabyte sff card. thought the sff card was too small and had some bad reviews so i went with zotac. great build quality and no problems so far.
 

Kaneth

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Did the overclock work? Was is possible to overclock the CPU with a 500 Watt PSU? I thought you would need more to overclock.
 

cmi86

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Your closure is that he landed on a junk motherboard with widely known issues. This board only has 3 stars on newegg with several people stating issues with OC. Why this board was selected, Idk there are several other viable current Z97 options in this price range that would have yielded far better results.
 
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