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  • Building a NEW PC.....

    Well as most of you are aware, My machine took a Dino sized crap a week ago yesterday.... In response to this catastrophe, I am building a new PC. Over the last week or so, I have fielded several questions about parts, speed, which of what is better or worse that which of what of something else, and other "how to build a gaming pc" questions. So, since I have a little time on my hands, I thought I would kick up a thread that shows the process I went through in choosing components.....

    To begin with, I made a list of bare essential components (may add others after build) that I need for the system, the list looked something like this: Computer Case, Power Supply, Motherboard, CPU, RAM, Hard Disk Drive, DVD, Keyboard/Mouse, and Monitor(s).

    Now, all of these components must fit and work together, and that can get tricky, so once my list was compiled (and not complete by any means), I needed to find a focal point at which to start putting the pieces together. Certainly, or arguably, the core of any computer system is its processor. So I started by researching CPU's. What I found was, as I am sure most of you are aware, there are 2 manufacturer of computer processors.... AMD and Intel.... So which is better? That depends on what you think better is.... To some people getting the absolute fastest possible processor regardless of cost is "better", but I believe that most people think of "better" as a compromise between cost and performance. I wanted an 8 core processor, so I compared the intel Core I-7 3770K to the AMD 8-Core 8150.

    Here is a link for the Intel: http://www.amazon.com/Intel-i7-3770K...ntel+processor

    Here is a link for the AMD: http://www.amazon.com/AMD-FX-8150-8-...=AMD+processor

    The cost of the intel was $315, while the AMD is much cheaper at $159.... So being budget concious, I decided to go with the AMD.

    The next step would be to find a motherboard that I could put the processor in. This is where things can get ugly cuz there are 2 butt-loads of motherboard manufacturers out there, with dozens of CPU configurations, I-3, i-5, i-7, AMD, AMD FX, AMD Python..... So when I did my motherboard research, I made sure to include my CPU in the search, for example, I searched "Motherboard AMD 8150". When I did, the number of motherboards to choose from were greatly reduced to only those that supported my CPU.

    Motherboard selection: This could be a thread in and of itself as there are lots of options in motherboards... That being said, what I looked for was fast connections to my hard drives, ram capacity, external connections and front side bus. I cannot tell you what you want in connections for your machine but what I wanted lead me to the following motherboard:

    http://www.amazon.com/ASUS-M5A99X-Ev...rds=m5+x99+evo

    Now that I have my motherboard and CPU chosen, everything else gets easier, cuz I can look at the motherboard manual to make sure the other components are not only going to fit, but they are optimal for the machine. In my case, I physically purchased the motherboard before I bought anything else, so I had the manual. If you are going to order a motherboard, make sure you download the motherboard manual from the manufacturer while its being shipped so you can make intelligent component decisions.....

    Ram: Ram is pretty straight forward, but there are some quirks and pitfalls that you might want to avoid. there is a good article on howto.com: http://www.ehow.com/how_5092670_choose-pc-memory.html that walks you through the process of selecting ram. One of the things you should keep in mind is that it is always always always good practice to use like memory in all of your ram slots.... that is dont use 4 gig sticks in 2 slots and 8 gig sticks in the other 2. They work, but the chances of getting ram that runs at different speeds is increased when you don't use the same ones... Dont get me wrong, you can use 4 gig and 8 gig sticks as long as you verify that they are running at the same mhz. Speaking of which, I would recommend ram speed of not greater than 1600 mhz. Why you ask? There have been reported instability issues in Microsoft OS's at Ram speeds greater than 1600 Mhz. The instability issues are fairly minor, but they exist non-the less, so after verifying in my motherboard manual that they would work, I decided to go with 16 gig of 1600mhz DDR3 ram.

    How much ram do you need? Well, that depends on what you plan on doing with your system. If you are just running FSX 4 gig is acceptable, 8 gig is better, 16 is overkill. However, if you are also doing other things with your system, 16 gig might not be overkill, it may move into the better category and 32 gig might be overkill. As a general rule, buy as much ram as you can afford, in my opinion 1600 mhz DDR3 or DDR5 (ddr5 is faster).

    Hard Disk Drive: This is a key component and also historically the biggest bottleneck in your system. When choosing a hard disk drive, it is crucial that you choose a hard drive that will connect to your motherboard at the optimal speed. Typically, these are your connection choices in Hard Disks: IDE (BAD) also known as PATA, EIDE (Still bad), SATA 3.0 (getting there), and Sata 6.0 (Now we are talking). The motherboard I choose supports up to 6 6.0 SATA connections and 2 3.0 SATA connections internally as well as 3 external 6.0 SATA ports, so I looked for a 6.0 SATA drive. Additionally, I needed to make a decision between buying a traditional HDD hard drive or one of the new Solid State Drive (SDD). The difference between the two is size and speed. Solid State Drives are WAY WAY faster than traditional HDD drives. However, they are also more expensive and smaller in capacity. I would not be able to afford all the solid state space that I need, so while looking at hard drives, I found a Hybrid SDD+HDD drive from seagate that connects via SATA 6.0 and has a larger capacity than standard solid state drives (750 gig). The drive that I choose was made for laptops, in that it is 2.5 inch, so I will also be buying a reduction cage to mount it in my desktop. Here is the drive I choose:

    http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_no...ords=sdd%2Bhdd

    Hawg's recommendations for Solid State Drives... If you are running solid state and traditional HDD, I would recommend that your OS (windows 7, windows XP, ect...) be loaded on the solid state drive as well as anything that you use regularly, like FSX. if you are simply storing data (ie download directory), a traditional HDD drive is fine. Solid state drives are Very fast because they have no moving parts... by loading your OS on a solid state, it will boot up almost instantly, and likewise, when you fire up FSX (if it is loaded on solid state) it will fire up 20 times faster than if you have FSX stored on a traditional HDD.

    DVD Burner: When looking for a dvd burner/cd player, I wanted one that had the fastest possible connection to the motherboard. Since my motherboard has 6 6.0 SATA ports, I looked for a 6.0 SATA DVD. This is the CD Rom I choose: http://www.amazon.com/Lite--LightScr...urner+internal
    I could have gotten a little cheaper DVD drive, but this one came with lightscribe so I can make images directly on the DVD without having to print something and stick it to the dvd....
    Also worth noting, if you want big capacity for your dvd, choose a Dual Layer DVD. Dual Layer means that it burns on both sides, so single layer dvds burn 4.5 gig, Dual Layer burns up to 9 gig....

    Video Card: This is where the rubber meets the road when it comes to gaming systems. There are only a few manufacturers of good video cards. Nvidia and ATI are the top two, and I would recommend either. Video cards can get very expensive, so I wanted the best card I could get for the buck. What I started looking for was the amount of video ram and I wanted no less than 2 gig (pretty typical of today's cards). I also wanted the fastest connection to the motherboard. There are DDR3 and DDR5 cards out there and it is vital that you check to see what your motherboard supports before making that decision. My motherboard supports DDR3, so I am limited to it, but that being said, DDR3 is very fast. So, 2 gig, DDR3 is what I was looking for, and I found quite a few options. While searching through amazon, I found the following card on sale at a seriously reduced price:

    http://www.amazon.com/Force3D-radeon...words=force+3d.

    This card is awesome. it has everything I wanted plus HD and it was on sale for less than $70 bucks. You can easily expect to spend upwards of $300 for a good video card, as I was, but when I seen this one on sale, I jumped on it. Also with the card I choose, and the motherboard I choose, I could purchase a second video card and run 4 monitors....

    See part 2 ----
    Last edited by HawgDawg4life; December 5th, 2012, 12:23 AM.
    HawgDawg4Life.....

    HawgDawg4life@msflights.net
    See my videos Here

  • #2
    Part 2 ---

    Then I bought a case: what? why did I wait so long? because I wanted to make sure that everything I wanted inside my system would fit, that there would be enough drive bays and easy access. These days any new case will do fine as long as you are not trying to install a full sized motherboard into a mini style case.... Other than that, any case will do.

    Power Supply: The size of the power supply that you purchase is important. there are a variety of wattage choices out there; 400 watt, 500 watt, 550, 600, 650, 700, it goes on and on up to 1200 watt. So which one is best? well, I did a power calculation from my motherboard manufactures website: http://support.asus.com/PowerSupply.aspx?SLanguage=en and when I entered all the information about my system, the recommended power supply was 450 watts. So, wanting some expand-ability, I decided to go with a 650 watt Power supply, which I bought from a local computer shop. I could have went bigger, but I was thinking of my electric bill!

    Keyboard/Mouse: This is where the theory of relativity really makes sense to me: what ever your preferences are for a keyboard and mouse, go for it.

    Monitor: I haven't bought my monitor yet, but that's because I have one that I can use until I make that decision. In my case, My video card supports output to one VGA monitor and one DVI output, so I am thinking that I want a DVI monitor as my primary monitor cuz the DVI is better than traditional VGA. That being said, all you need to concern yourself with regarding monitors is that they will plug into your video card. There are VGA, DVI, and HDMI monitors out there and some of them have multiple connection types. This doesn't take that much research....

    Now, all I have to do is put all of this shit together and I will be flying as soon as tomorrow.

    Certainly, if you have any questions, let me know.....
    HawgDawg4Life.....

    HawgDawg4life@msflights.net
    See my videos Here

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    • #3
      Sorry Hawg, but you could have used a video card using GDDR5. Desktop DDR5 does not exist yet, and we just now have DDR4 on the horizon. GDDR5 is graphics specific, and is designed purely around the card itself. That memory should only be used by the GPU itself, and never go across the PCIe bus. It does not matter what type of memory your motherboard supports. What matters most when selecting a video card (as far as compatibility) is slot type, and power. Most cards today use PCI-Express x16. The x16 slot is electrically compatible with 8x, 4x, & 1x cards, but the largest physically. You will sometimes see motherboards with PCIe x16 slots that only run at 8x speeds, so that is one thing to watch out for. In addition the card may require additional power, and you need to make sure your power supply can supply it. Usually this will be in the form of 1 or 2 additional 4, 6, or even 8 pin power connectors.

      Speaking of power supplies, I recommend looking at efficiency ratings. Many power supplies are now being "Certified" as 80%, 85%, and even 95% efficient. This means that more power from the wall goes into powering your PC, and less is lost in the conversion from AC to DC as heat. So the more efficient your power supply the less power you will actually use. Unfortunately, you do pay for this efficiency.
      - Michael
      Check out my cockpit build!

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      • #4
        do you know how the AMD processor you got compares performance wise to the twice as expensive INTEL you were looking at? If the AMD is 90% as powerful I would say it's well worth it.

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        • #5
          I currently have a 1st gen i7 in my system that I bought for one specific reason, I was doing a bunch of video encoding when I bought it. Both of them have their strengths and weaknesses. The Intel's at the time were better at functions like video encoding. Before I got my i7 though I had used AMD's since my previous Intel chip, the Pentium 133. One thing that is FSX related is do they overclock well? FSX is looking for higher clock speeds, so the faster the better. When it's new PC time for me I always start watching Tom's Hardware Guide. They compare so many aspects of each product, and present you the data so you can make your own decision which is right for you. I like the Charts section in particular. http://www.tomshardware.com/charts/
          - Michael
          Check out my cockpit build!

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          • #6
            I really thank all of you for your inputs on this subject. I have a used Dell case here ready for re-population as a FSX gaming machine. I really appreciate the insights and hope to see more of the community contribute to this subject.
            Greetings from Dale
            Sound 4-U! - A Tulsa based sound company that provides sound reinforcement and mobile recording services.

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            • #7
              Agree with you Waterman, and everything you said is correct! My older motherboard only supports DDR2 memory but my GPU is DDR5.

              Build looks great, awesome tutorial. Only thing I think might hold you back is the GPU for some graphics intensive games, but FSX is more CPU dependant than GPU so you will be quite well off.
              Facebook: www.facebook.com/msflights
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              • #8
                Originally posted by ak416 View Post
                Agree with you Waterman, and everything you said is correct! My older motherboard only supports DDR2 memory but my GPU is DDR5.

                Build looks great, awesome tutorial. Only thing I think might hold you back is the GPU for some graphics intensive games, but FSX is more CPU dependant than GPU so you will be quite well off.
                That reminds me, if you see a motherboard that supports both DDR2 and DDR3 be aware that it is one or the other. Usually this means you only have 2 slots available for each type of RAM. Just another thing to watch out for when looking for a motherboard.
                - Michael
                Check out my cockpit build!

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                • #9
                  I only understood maybe 15% of those words but maybe in the future (far future since I have so much to learn) this might be something I would want to do. So I gotta ask if you don't mind, how long it took you to put all those parts together and how much money you spent total?
                  If it ain't Boeing I ain't going.

                  http://www.msflights.net/pilots/phpv...es/MSF0024.png

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                  • #10
                    wheeled check out the msFlights.net store, I just added a pretty decent build. Check out the category on the right "Computer Build-Value"

                    If you know what your doing you could assemble all the parts in about an hour +the time it takes to install windows.

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                    • #11
                      Oh, awesome! Thanks.
                      If it ain't Boeing I ain't going.

                      http://www.msflights.net/pilots/phpv...es/MSF0024.png

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                      • #12
                        I'll be using this in January.
                        Thanks.

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                        • #13
                          Sorry, I havent responded. I have been busy.... So yeah, I know I could have gotten a better Video card, but I got this one for 69 bucks. it was on sale, but non the less, I bought it, knowing full well that it was lesser than the card I originally planned. I weighed the possibility of not having my machine when I had it to the graphics performance I could afford at the time. I did however, have the forethought to purchase a motherboard that allows me to replace the video card that I have with the newer ddr5 cards. So I am not totally screwed on the video.....

                          I agree with kalo, the performance benchmark vs the cost difference. cost 50% less, does 90% as well? Worth it.
                          HawgDawg4Life.....

                          HawgDawg4life@msflights.net
                          See my videos Here

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                          • #14
                            Thanks Hawg for posting that - I found the power supply calculator especially helpful. With all the below, I should be running 1000w p/s! I have a 650! I wonder what will happen to my overclocking if I upgrade.

                            AMD Phenom II X4 965 3.4Ghz
                            MSI 790FX-GD70 Mainboard
                            8.00GB DDR3
                            Two GTX 470's and 1 GT 240
                            1 64GB SSD
                            1 SATA 1.5TB
                            Microsoft Kinect
                            Microsoft Sidewinder force feedback2
                            two 21.5 widescreen lcds and 1 46 inch Toshiba lcd

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                            • #15
                              Agreed, 1000 pwr suppy minimum.
                              HawgDawg4Life.....

                              HawgDawg4life@msflights.net
                              See my videos Here

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