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Author Topic: Fresh Hardware for the Bird  (Read 3010 times)
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Phoenix
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« on: 2013-06-22, 08:41 »

After a lot of planning, I've finally upgraded my hardware, something I thought I wouldn't do after my last upgrade.  So, here's what I had and what I went to:

Old specs:
AMD Opteron 175 2.2 GHz dual core (Overclocked to 2.64 GHz)
Asus A8N-SLI Premium motherboard
2GB Corsair XMS DDR1 DRAM 400MHz
GeForce GTX 260 video card

New specs:
Intel i7 3770K 3.5GHz Quad core (Overclocked to 4 GHz).  Actually reports as 8 physical cores.
AsRock Z77 Extreme motherboard
16GB Corsair Dominator Platinum 2400MHz
GeForce GTX 670 video card

I've been pleased with the performance of AMD processors up until recently.  I made the switch back to an Intel chip primarily because of the performance threshold of the AMD chips not being up to par.  AMD's flagship 8 core CPU is slower than an equivalently priced Intel Quad core in every calculation test I've seen, and since the Intel chip actually processes as 8 cores the AMD has no real advantage there.  In fact, the Intel chips seem to have AMD beat all around.  AMD still has great budget chips if you're looking for mid-range performance on a dime, but I wanted something that would be able to run Star Citizen when it releases, as well as handle other newer games.  I also managed to catch the chip on sale for $230 as opposed to $330.  That pretty much sold me on it.

The RAM I caught on sale as well.  It's expensive, but there is a definite performance difference in 2400 vs 1600.  Something I discovered while researching memory performance is that tweaking the latencies is pretty much irrelevant when the MHz start increasing.  CAS latency of 12 on a 2400 chip is still a lot faster than 9 on a 1600, and dropping the latency on the 2400 really has no apparent benefit.

The motherboard choice was partly based on research and partly based on price point.  It's a good performer, it has PCI slots - which I need for my synthesizer card - and it has a good reputation for reliability.  The PCB is a bit wobbly, something Kyle noted at [H]ardOCP, so mounting a large and heavy heatsink on the board requires some care.  Still, it's been stable so far and nothing's broken.  Normally I prefer Asus boards but this one had what I needed feature-wise.

So how is performance?  If my hard drive wasn't an issue I'd have a 7.8 Windows Experience score (7.9 being the max possible).  I don't use the fastest drives in the world.  I prefer reliability in that respect.  Crashes and data loss are unacceptable to me, so performance takes a back seat there.  I was able to load up Rage and tweak settings and get a constant 60FPS with Vsync, no texture popping, and ultra-high detail.  Complex selection routines of high-frame count models in Max that used to take several seconds and slowed down keyframe view changes to a crawl are near instantaneous now.  That will help working on player models tremendously.  I hate selection window lag as it invites error, and one vertex out of place can make an animation a complete waste.

Regarding the overclock, I love having an unlocked processor.  The Opteron I had to OC by tweaking the base clock frequency then using multipliers on the memory to throttle the memory back to 400 MHz.  It's nice being able to just bump the multiplier.  I'm using a Thermalright Macho Rev2 cooler, which is pretty large, but very quiet.  It idles at 36C, and under load running a torture test is 66C.  Overclocked it hits 77C.  That's with all 8 cores max loaded and memory max loaded.  No instability so far with stock voltage.  From what I understand these chips don't start to balk until you hit close to 90C and up, and at 105C they'll shut down.  I'm not solid on that information, but either way I think a stable 4 GHz is more than adequate from a 3.5 GHz chip on stock voltage - especially as quiet as it is.  I'm not trying to break any speed records here.

What did surprise me was that I did not have to perform a clean install of Windows.  I had to remove old drivers, but the transition took a lot less time than expected.  All my software still works properly.  This XP install has to be the longest running OS install I've performed.

So there you have it.  Phoenix has new hardware, and felt like ranting about it for no particular reason.
   Doom - Thumbs Up!
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J3E125
 

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« Reply #1 on: 2013-06-22, 19:00 »

My ol' Pavillion comes at a close second:

While my machine is a bit vintage, I haven't had a fatal crash in 2 wee
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Phoenix
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« Reply #2 on: 2013-06-24, 19:45 »

Hey, if it runs Quake at max settings, that's great.  But... will it run GEN at max settings?  Slipgate - Wink
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Tabun
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« Reply #3 on: 2013-06-25, 00:00 »

did he just crash before getting to type the "k" there? :]
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Tabun ?Morituri Nolumus Mori?
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« Reply #4 on: 2013-06-25, 04:49 »

I'm sad to say that in attempting to accomplish a simple task of posting in a forum, one of my cores spontaneously combusted via nuclear fission. I forgot to replace my faulty uranium CPU, which happened to be encased in mysteriously solid hydrogen, which also happened to be isolated by pure lithium-6. I'm also glad to say I was casually wearing my 15 ton lead armor. Apparently my previous DOS age computer can handle a kiloton blast.

Phoenix: Gen IS basically Quake 3, what are you hinting at? Oh...

Well now that I set up this ancient machine running DOS, I'll go play some Elder Scrolls Redguard.
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« Reply #5 on: 2013-06-25, 07:04 »

Sounds like a nice build, Pho! I just had my bf help me set up a new machine myself. It looks like you and I have fairly similar specs. Of course, I'm running one of those inferior AMD chips. Slipgate - Tongue

Downloading RAGE right now. Seemed like a good first test in the absence of something like Far Cry 3.
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Phoenix
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« Reply #6 on: 2013-06-25, 18:52 »

I enjoyed Rage.  It was buggy on release, but once you tweak it it's pretty fun.  It does still have a few minor issues.  If you need some tweak help let me know as I've researched a lot of config settings and know what to tweak to prevent texture popping, screen tearing, and stuttering.  I do know how to get around the Vsync not staying set issue if you prefer to use Vsync as well.  Doom - Thumbs Up!

J3E125:  Solid hydrogen?  You do know you're supposed to use a 2 to 3 blend of deuterium to hydrogen to prevent that from happening.  Doom - Exclamation
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J3E125
 

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« Reply #7 on: 2013-06-25, 20:42 »


J3E125:  Solid hydrogen?  You do know you're supposed to use a 2 to 3 blend of deuterium to hydrogen to prevent that from happening.  Doom - Exclamation

I'd rather have my computer go fission than fusion. It turns out it contained uranium-235; I guess that weird looking technician who installed it tried to kill me. Odd fellow, always talked about hyper blasters and railguns.

Off topic aside, I really need an upgrade.
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« Reply #8 on: 2013-06-25, 23:16 »

I enjoyed Rage.  It was buggy on release, but once you tweak it it's pretty fun.  It does still have a few minor issues.  If you need some tweak help let me know as I've researched a lot of config settings and know what to tweak to prevent texture popping, screen tearing, and stuttering.  I do know how to get around the Vsync not staying set issue if you prefer to use Vsync as well.  Doom - Thumbs Up!

Go on...
The texture pop-in is really the only problem I've noticed. The screen tearing is something I've learned to live with in most games since switching to an LCD monitor.
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« Reply #9 on: 2013-06-26, 03:58 »

Must have cut off my post...
I was going to say that the FOV appears to be awfully narrow, and mouse smoothing seems to be enabled by default.
I'll need to look around in the configs some myself! Slipgate - Smile
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Phoenix
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« Reply #10 on: 2013-06-28, 20:54 »

Sorry for the late reply.  The config should be in [your STEAM Install path]\steamapps\common\rage\base.  Look for RageConfig.cfg.  If it doesn't exist, create it.

Here's some of the more important settings:

Code:

com_skipIntroVideo "1"  // skips splash screens on start

com_showFPS "1" // should be obvious - requires below setting
con_noPrint "0"  // needed to show FPS.  Will also dump some diagnostic text occasionally.

seta g_fov "90"  // set to whatever you want

seta m_smooth "0"  // disables mouse smoothing.  Setting higher averages more frames.

com_allowconsole "1"  // enables console.  This might prevent achievements so be warned!

g_AimAssist_Disable_All "1"  // disables aim assist completely.

// Important Image settings

// DO NOT SET TOO HIGH OR GAME WILL STUTTER!!
vt_maxPPF "64"  // set to 8 x #CPU cores.  Quad core = 32, dual core = 16, etc. 

// If you have a lot of ram, say 16GB+ on a 64 bit OS, and a fast graphics card (GTX 670, etc), use the following settings:

vt_pageimagesizeuniquediffuseonly2 "8192"
vt_pageimagesizeuniquediffuseonly "8192"
vt_pageimagesizeunique "8192"
vt_pageimagesizevmtr "8192"

// If your ram is less, or your video card slower, cut above to 4096.

There's a lot of other settings that can be tweaked, but those will affect performance the most.  vt_maxPPF is the most important for texture popping and stuttering.  This controls the texture image streaming.  Setting too low causes lots of popping.  Setting too high will cause stuttering and freezing.  The vt_pageimagesize* settings control the image page size.  This drastically affects texture resolution and clarity.  The higher the more crisp and detailed.  Set to 8192, Rage's wasteland looks sporking gorgeous.  The downside is that you need fast and beefy hardware to handle that.

Now for vsync.  Vsync in Rage is kind of broken.  It works, but only if you do not set your desktop refresh rate above 60Hz.  If your desktop refresh is set above that the game forces Vsync to OFF no matter what you do.  I hate 60Hz outside of a game as it looks like a strobe light on a white screen, so I found this out the hard way.  Just switch your desktop resolution to what you want to play Rage at, set it to 60Hz, launch Rage, and vsync should work.  If it doesn't, go into your Nvidia control panel (or ATI controls, whatever they call theirs) and create a profile for Rage, then set vsync to "application controlled" and it should work.

You can also check out this tool.  It's handy for creating a default graphics config.  I started with one and tweaked from there:

http://online-source.net/tools/cfg-makers/rage-cfg-maker/




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« Reply #11 on: 2013-07-01, 02:24 »

Thanks, Phoenix. I'll give some of those configs a shot.
One thing that I also found to help with the pop-in was to manually create a cache file for the game in my AppData folder.
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ReBoOt
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« Reply #12 on: 2013-07-11, 17:18 »

All core i7 gets really hot (which surprised me at first but the chip is built to manage high temps, throttle speed is at 105c as Pho said)

http://www.techpowerup.com/realtemp/
quite handy prog for checking temps on i7's
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death_stalker
 

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« Reply #13 on: 2013-10-19, 10:37 »

ugh... my old 8 year old system is still kicking... I should upgrade but that's another story.
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