Wherein Kichae (Slowly) Builds a PC

So, Kichae has a job that pays the bills, and Kichae has a tax rebate that’s burning a hole in his pocket. So what is Kichae doing?

Read the topic title.

So far I’ve managed to snag acceptable deals on a mobo (Gigabyte GA-Z87X-UD3H), 128 GB SSD (A-Data XPG SX900), case (Corsair Graphite Series 230T Grey), and CPU heatsink (Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO). I’m holding off on a GPU for a little while, so that leaves me with CPU, RAM, and PSU left to decide upon, and I’m taking recommendations.

I think I’ve mostly settled on an i5-4670K for the CPU, but I’m open to being persuaded differently.

I’m still hmming and hrmming over the PSU, but I was taking a close look at the Antec Earthwatts EA-650 Platinum. It’s a little bit more than I wanted to spend (ok, it’s actually a lot more than I wanted to spend, but the reality of PSU prices and my preferring PSU prices seem differ by an order of magnitude), but the platinum 80+ platinum efficiency rating has my attention piqued, and 650W leaves me lots of room to expand.

As for RAM… Well, I’m just generally shocked by current DDR3 prices, and there seems to be much disagreement over whether we’re going to see a drop anytime soon. If anyone knows anything on that front that I don’t, I’m all ears.

So, most y’all are far more computer literate than I, so I’m most interested in advice and suggestions. Keep in mind that, while this will, ultimately, be used for gaming, it’s current primary function is to run scientific code, and operate as a mid-to-high powered workstation for my consulting contracts. All of my work involves numerical simulations, data crunching, monte carlo sims, statistical BS, and what have you. So, while pushing polygons around is a nice perk, I’m more concerned with getting through permutation tests that scale as N! at the moment.

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I usually love this game! But my recommendation is to put your money in the bank and save it to build a PC later.

This is probably the worst time to build a PC. The RAM prices are double to triple what they were at the middle of last year because of the fire at the Hynix factory back in September which accounted for 10% of worldwide memory chip manufacturing. And AMD card prices are skyrocketing because of coin miners.

I’m aware of the RAM price issue, but the unfortunate fact of the matter is that I actually need to build this now for work. I have some leeway in terms of timing, but it basically needs to be running by the start of June. My work’s fairly CPU intensive, and doesn’t require a dedicated GPU or higher end RAM, so I can mitigate some of those issues, but I need 8GB of RAM by the start of June, regardless of the prices.

Look at G.Skill Ram - They are very good for the price / Performance / Quality if you need ram that just works. :smile:

[quote=“Kichae, post:1, topic:353”]

Have you looked at AMD processors? I know there is frequently a visceral reaction when people mention AMD instead of Intel for a proc. But if you look at the actual data, AMD chips are better performers vs price any day over intel.

And most Intel chips don’t go over 4 cores, even the i7s.

The i5-4670k is 210 USD from what I can see. It has a passmark score of 7,805. The AMD FX-8320 is 152 USD and has a passmark score of 8,102. Less money, more performance. On the other hand, you can spend a bit more money and get a crapload more performance with the AMD FX-9370 for 220 USD (if you buy from newegg by monday w/ promo code). It has a passmark score of 9,742. Also, both those AMD procs are genuine 8 core. The i5-4670k is 4 hyperthreaded.

Also, that is a nice heatsink choice. Make sure you join the masses and Arctic Silver that thing. I was skeptical at first. I had mx paste, then I reseated my heatsink with Arctic Silver a few months ago and my temps dropped 4-5 degrees C

I would go with a great PSU as an investment because you can carry those from system to system when you upgrade in the future. My corsair 750 watt has served me well over several years and system upgrades. Although, if I could go back, I would have gotten 1200 watts so I could crossfire highend cards. Ofc, there is definitely no need for that if you only foresee going single cards in the future.

edit if you really want to game with this in the future, it might be worthwhile to invest in a bigger SSD. Games are getting huge. Titanfall was 48GB for PC. Star Citizen is going to be massive. I think the trend is going to continue.

If N has anything to do with the number of lights in the sky, or is generally high enough that running these tests take long enough to run that you can tell they’re running, it might actually be worth going with an i7.

If not, I was actually somewhat surprised to find out that the FX-9370 Saturday mentioned appears to have given up AMD’s biggest single advantage over Intel in that it apparently does not have a built in GPU, while the i5 does. Also, while the AMD offers slightly better performance on paper, that advantage could be entirely nixed if your permutation tests aren’t properly optimized for multithreading. If you’re using relatively recent software they should be, but… yeah. More cores is not always going to make any difference at all.

Don’t know enough about RAM or PSUs to provide useful suggestions except to say “don’t be cheap”. If you end up bottlenecking your system on some of the cheapest parts to overdo you’ll be kicking yourself.

Heatsink, cooling paste, etc. is incredibly important if you’re planning to overclock your CPU (why even bother? Pushing it that hard is more likely to cost you money than save it in the long run) or you live in a hot place without A/C (which iirc is not the case). If not, getting a quieter one than stock is kind of nice and I can’t say that a paste with a fancy name wont save you a few decibels while running those tests of yours.

A bigger SSD is definitively worth investing in at the same time you buy a graphics card and decide to play some bloated game on a regular basis. Until then grab a TB of slower storage (or transfer it over from an old computer) and just be aware of which programs go on what drive. Putting your OS and KSP on the SSD will definitively save you a significant amount of time, anything else? Less so.

I’d highly recommend at least 400gb which you can get for ~$200 I think. I had a 128gb SSD and it’s amazing how easy it is to fill up 128gb these days :\

On the GPU side, which I know you said you’re currently waiting, AMD tends to perform better on compute which your scientific calculations may be dependent on however we still haven’t seen NVIDIA’s high end Maxwell GPU yet. Originally it was supposed to come out this summer but I haven’t read anything that suggests whether or not this is still the case. If you have a deadline of June unless NVIDIA hurries up your best bet is probably an AMD GPU if you want the best performance. Unfortunately, as has been mentioned, miners are driving up the prices :.

Lastly with our engine we see much better CPU floating point performance with Intel than AMD (Phenom). I have no idea how the newer AMD CPU’s stack up.

Hmmm, I had a PC for running infinity battlescape. Until my gfx card died. Now I don’t think I will ever be able to play Infinity when its ready. This makes me feel sad, but I will not spend that money just for one game. In the meantime… during the development, live changed and I don’t find the time for playing computer games.

As for RAM, I’d recommend 8GB with the fastest possible speed your motherboard can handle. From what I read, chances are your not going to multitask some heavy-duty apps on an i5, so 8GB is really all you could ever need. You could get by on 4, but 8 would make you more future-proof. Although, if you want to wait an extra year, I hear that a new standard for RAM is in the works. So if you really strapped for cash, DDR3 prices should drop on the new release.

if you still can, i would also recomend going for a AMD CPU if you need bang for your buck.
one thing to keep in mind though is that the AMD FX CPUs are constructed in a way that 2cores share 1 FloatingPointUnit > so if your computations are mostly with FloatingPointNumbers instead of Integers go for Intel.(if multithreaded)
also if your computations are only running on 1 core(ie not multithreaded) go for more GHz.(AMD)

EDIT: just reread Keiths post, apearently the engine is floating point heavy, so you might want an Intel cpu.

acording to the totaly made up timeline in my head, the prizes for RAM should get lower this year.
and GPU wise ATI usualy outperforms Nvidia in the same Prizecategory but not guaranteed. so i would leave that for last, see how much i can spend on gpu, search for an ati and an nvidia card i could buy and google a review.

i actually dont agree with the SSD, the only thing it does is make stuff load faster into RAM.
its nice that windows loads up faster and that the loading screen of the game goes away faster, but thats it. you wont get better performance while playing a game because of an SSD(actually in poorly optimized games you get performance increases, so if you play a lot of alpha and beta builds of games it can be usefull).
my point is, SSD is secondary when u are on a budget, better put the 100€extra into the GPU to get the eyecandy. :wink:

SSD is nice, and it does load apps much faster than a HDD, but yes, actual performance speed is determined by RAM, CPU, and GPU. I would recommend getting an HDD along with the SSD, for extra storage space.

If you do end up getting the i5, it looks like the fastest speed your selected motherboard is 1600 Hz. Anything higher means overclocking, and can go up to 3000 Hz. A 650 should be more than enough for that. However the difference shouldn’t be that noticeable, so 1600 Hz should be fine. :wink:

I agree on combining the SSD with a 1 TB HDD (no matter the SSD size, actually). I’ve just built myself a new PC and went for 250GB SSD but am still lacking an internal HDD for all those big games. Of course, if you have a spare external HDD lying around that is either USB3.0 or eSATA capable, that is more than enough for gaming from them (this is what I’ve been doing). Your motherboard has both.

On the graphics side you might want to consider going just for a cheap mainstream card for now, as most games run excellently on any modern GPU currently (thanks to the weak “next”-generation Xbone and PS4, that is probably not going to be changing soon). You could then upgrade graphics in a year or two when you’ve got the money if you so wish / desire for newer games. I’ve a GTX 760 and I haven’t managed to find a game where I can’t max the settings yet.

If your primary purpose for the PC is not gaming as you say, then it might help if you post some more specifics on the programs you mostly use for work so that we can be of better assistance. Do your programs multithread? Do they require high IO speeds (SSD vs HDD vs RAM)? How large is the data they use? Etc.

Please don’t buy AMD for single-thread performance because “yay gigahertz”. GHz is not the same as computations/second… Look, I could explain how 22nm architecture gives Intel a significant pipelining advantage over AMD, but I’ll just link this instead.

If you scroll down to 1,737 you’ll see the single most powerful AMD CPU in terms of single-threaded performance. It’s beaten on both (single-threaded) performance and cost by a 2nd-gen 3.4GHz i3.

I do agree with your stance on SSDs for personal use; they’re convenient, nothing more. For professional use, however, the convenience of saving a few minutes a day can be worth a lot of money to whoever’s paying you, so it’d be just plain rude for Kichae to keep his OS on a HDD :stuck_out_tongue:

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[quote=“Runiat, post:7, topic:353”]
FX-9370 Saturday mentioned appears to have given up AMD’s biggest single advantage over Intel in that it apparently does not have a built in GPU[/quote]

This is true. afaik AMD does not have integrated graphics on it’s higher performing processors, probably for the same reason the Nikon d4s doesn’t have a built-in flash.

[quote=“Runiat, post:7, topic:353”]
while the AMD offers slightly better performance on paper, that advantage could be entirely nixed if your permutation tests aren’t properly optimized for multithreading. If you’re using relatively recent software they should be, but… yeah. More cores is not always going to make any difference at all.[/quote]

[quote=“Runiat, post:14, topic:353”]
Please don’t buy AMD for single-thread performance because “yay gigahertz”. GHz is not the same as computations/second[/quote]

If a program forces a single core or less than the total number of cores available, than the determining factor as Venatos pointed out is generally the clockspeed if the architecture is similar or identical. That’s why you see the i5-4670k there outperforming most of the xeons. But yeah, you have to compare apples to apples and AMD arch is very different from Intel arch and AMD doesn’t have good single thread performance. For reference: the clockspeed of the i5-4670k is 3.4GHz / 3.8 Turbo. The clockspeed of the FX-8320 is 3.5GHz / 4.0 Turbo. The clockspeed of the AMD FX-9370 is 4.4GHz / 4.7 Turbo. If your calculations are going to use all the cores available, and you plan on buying a dedicated graphics card then the AMD procs are a better option for you. If you either are not going to use all the cores, or you will not be buying a dedicated graphics card, then you’ll need to go with the Intel. But don’t get the “K” version of that chip if you don’t plan on overclocking.

I also want to correct something in my previous post. I thought that the i5-4670k has hyperthreading for virtual cores but I actually realized that it doesn’t even have that. So you’re working with 4 cores regardless.

[quote=“Runiat, post:7, topic:353”]
Heatsink, cooling paste, etc. is incredibly important if you’re planning to overclock your CPU (why even bother? Pushing it that hard is more likely to cost you money than save it in the long run)[/quote]

Well he wants to get the i5-4670k. The “k” means that the processor is unlocked for overclocking. So I am assuming that is what his intentions are. Both the AMD procs that I mentioned are also unlocked for overclocking. Kichae, if you don’t plan on overclocking, then save yourself ~20 bucks and get the i5-4670 without the “k”, if you do still plan on going Intel.

As a few people mentioned already, if you plan on using it for gaming, or storing any amount of music or video, you will either need to add a hard drive to your system or get a bigger SSD. My advice would be to hold out on the SSD right now. You can always get one later. If starting your computer quickly is important to you, I would get a hybrid drive as a compromise (a mini SSD is built into the HD). They are almost as cheap as normal hard drives, and they still give you the benefit of a quick OS load time.

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The unlocked cores leaves me the option to overclock in the future, but the plan is to run on the standard clock speed at least until I buy a GPU, which likely won’t be until the end of the summer, if not November. My backlog of games will run just fine on integrated graphics until then.

I hadn’t heard that Intel outperforms AMD on floats; I chose Intel based off of the advice of my old sysadmin. He never really told me why I should go with Intel, but now I know. All of my calculations are floats, most of them double precision. A few of them quad. I was looking at some of the AMD 8-core chips, because many of my calculations are embarrassingly parallel in nature, but floating point accuracy is actually of paramount importance. I guess I now know why I was steered away from AMD.

As for storage, the SSD will, shortly after I’m up and running, but augmented with a pair of 3TB drives. The SSD is just for the OS, my programming environments, and some choice applications.

Keep it coming guys, this is really helpful. I’m taking notes!

I’m not a huge expert on computers so my advice is more based on the end-goal of turning it into a gaming machine. I would be more inclined to go with Intel rather than AMD simply because I have heard more issues of compatibility and errors for the latter when it comes to gaming.

Admittedly, they’re both widely used, but to me Intel is tried and tested and probably will not lead you astray. All this floating point stuff sounds spot-on too.


I counter this with: You get what you pay for.


I have 1.5 TB’s HDD. After nearly 3 years, only 123 GB used, and I’m in a somewhat messy state. :stuck_out_tongue:

By the way, if you’re talking about integrated GPUs, AMD does have them (but not in a retarded way). They’re called APUs. You buy discrete CPUs for discrete GPUs. Makes sense.

AMD’s CPU approach is somewhat comparable to hyper-threading; however, AMD’s pseudo cores have their own L1 data caches, ALUs, AGUs and so forth. Their upcoming “Steamroller” generation will feature dedicated instruction decoders for each pseudo-core, so they’ll be quite near to fully-fledged CPU cores. I find this approach quite intelligent, and I honestly don’t think the architectural paradigm commonplace today will ever advance much further than AMD is establishing. Intel isn’t fundamentally any better than AMD; they’re just taking the easy, most attractive route (best for short-term outcome) and I think they’ll be hurting in the future.


From my own research, I’ve come to find hyper-threading atrocious, and it’s no surprise Intel is leaving it behind for their newest processors. :smile:

That is the most ugly emoticon I’ve ever seen.

That sounds good.

I’ve heard plenty of terms from fellow techs about AMD vs Intel. “AMD is a poor man’s Intel”. Well it’s a stereotype that really isn’t helpful. He probably didn’t tell you exactly why because someone probably told him without telling him why. AMD actually used to be better than Intel across the board. Of course that time was short lived.

Intel sounds like the right processor for you, especially without a dedicated graphics card.

And for the record, passmark scores are averages of the integer and floating point test among others.

edit By the way, if you’re doing floating point calculations, you should be doing them on a graphics card, not a processor. Your gain by doing them on a graphics card could be orders of magnitude faster.

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