Hawk's Slighty Above Average PC Questions

Discussion in 'Technology' started by hawk4x4, May 14, 2017.

  1. My n00b thread never made the transition from the old forum, so I'll use this as a substitute.

    I think my goal for my rebuild of my tower is going to be to keep it under $500. I can keep most of the hardware I already have. I've got a good PSU, an SSD, and a brand new GPU. I've got a wireless N card for WiFi, but at the moment I'm hardwired to my router.

    Parts I will be looking to replace to be up-to-date:
    - CPU
    - Mobo
    - RAM
    - CPU cooler, if necessary

    I'm leaning towards AMD, because this would put me in 1600 range and give me 6 cores and a decent enough stock cooler that I could always upgrade later if I was tight on money during the build. If I go Intel, I'm in i5 territory and I don't feel like the pricing is worth it. Obviously, the market is going to start moving quickly, so this is subject to change.

    I do have a question though. I currently have an Auzentech Forte X-Fi soundcard. They went out of business and there were never updated drivers for Windows 10, so I'm using community-created drivers from Creative's forums. The drivers work, but not without sporadic but uncommon issues, like once in a long while there will be some distortion for a few seconds before correcting itself. Am I just better off using the onboard sound on whatever mobo I end up buying? I originally bought the card because it was an affordable X-Fi chipset, the card had an headphone pre-amp for music and I had read that sometimes the card can take load off your CPU. I don't know if the workload part is true or not and I doubt its significant. I also never use the pre-amp port. The X-Fi chip is not specifically utilized in any games since the last decade. I don't know if it is worth migrating to the new build. The only reason I can think of to keep it is having a dedicated soundcard has to be better than not having one, right?

    Also I'd love to here some thoughts on hardware options with a $500 budget. If anyone wants to play along for fun.
  2. Might be time to retire it especially if the manufacturer isn't supporting the drivers for it anymore.
    • agree agree x 1
  3. #3 cmdrmonkey, May 14, 2017
    Last edited: May 14, 2017
    Onboard audio on enthusiast desktop motherboards has gotten so good that almost no one buys or uses discrete sound cards these days. Chances are, any new motherboard you buy will have onboard audio that's better than the X-Fi.

    I have an X-Fi Titanium. The onboard audio on my ASUS Sabertooth motherboard sounds significantly better than the X-Fi card. The only reason I still use the X-Fi card is so that I can easily switch between my headphones (connected to onboard, used all the time) and speakers (connected to X-Fi, rarely used) using software and without having to physically disconnect anything.
    • agree agree x 1
  4. lol @ taxation is theft

    Linus just did a $1000 PC build last week. The 3 things you're looking for come out to about $500. I have a childhood preference for AMD, but wouldn't know what to get.

  5. #6 bfun, May 15, 2017
    Last edited: May 15, 2017
    $500 is a good number.

    On the high end

    6700k $280 Z170 Mobo $100, 16GB DDR4 $100, Cooler $30 = $510
    7700k $300 Z270 Mobo $140, 8 GB DDR4 $50, Cooler $50 = $550

    If you want to squeeze into the high-end I really like the 6700k option. The 7700k simply cost too much unless you get half the memory. Even then I prefer the 6700k. It's a great chip. The 7700k has a few issues. Intel just announced that people shouldn't OC it because of temperature spikes. It runs really hot. Both options will still creep over $500 unless you wait for deals and 6700k are becoming less common. Keep in mind that we don't know if Intels next CPU will use the same socket. If not your following upgrade will need a new Mobo as well. Intel is probably announcing or releasing their next big thing this August and we might see price drops on the low end. We might even see an i9.

    Middle tier

    1600X $250, B350 Mobo $100, 16GB DDR4 $120, Cooler $30 = $500
    1600 $220, B350 Mobo $100, 16GB DDR4 $120 = $440
    1500x $190, B350 Mobo $100, 16GB DDR4 $120 = $410

    I don't think i5s are a good investment right now. 4 core 4 threads chips are going to get old fast. The 1600X puts you right at the edge of your budget but I like it because it's actually the fastest Ryzen chip. 2 cores can hit 4.0Ghz and 1 can even hit 4.1. If all cores are going it's 3.7. If you want the 1600 you'll need to OC it to 3.8 to be competitive. It's not too difficult and it's the limit of that stock cooler. Once you OC a Ryzen chip you lose all boost features. So if you were to OC a 1600X to 3.8 and a 1600 to 3.8 they would be identical. That's why people say to get the 1600 and OC it but if you don't plan to OC, the 1600X or even the 1500X are better choices. The 1500X is basically the same performance as the old i7 Haswell which is still a good chip. You may have noticed that the memory for the Ryzen chips cost more and that's because you'll want really fast memory with Ryzen. Probably 3200. AMD is already planning to release the next Ryzen chip in 2018 and they say they will keep the AM4 socket for 4 years so there is room to grow with an investment.

    Onboard sound should match your X-fi card but the real issue is shielding. Some motherboards have it but most don't and you won't know if it's an issue until you're done building. A USB DAC/AMP would be the best upgrade if you want to invest in that. Also, that SSD drive you got is probably going to get a lot faster with any new motherboard.

    BTW. It looks like there are 4 Microcenter stores in NY. Assuming you're still there it might be worth a look. They have $50 off Mobo and CPU combos plus price match to Amazon and Newegg.
  6. I'm in Florida now, near Jacksonville. Nearest Microcenter is a seven hour drive.

    Should I wait until August and see what Intel has planned?
  7. If you don't plan to upgrade for another 10 years it couldn't hurt. The big decision is deciding between maximum single core speed and more cores. Core 2 Duo and Sandy Bridge are still two of the most popular enthusiast CPUs of all time and that's mostly because of the jump in core count. At the time they were must own CPUs and I don't think there has been another CPU that has really excited people in the same way until now with Ryzen. The problem with Ryzen is that its single core performance is about 10% slower than the newest Inte chip. Is that important? It's hard to say. I OCed my Ivy Bridge from 3.8 to 4.5GHz which is a huge 18% increase but the only difference I could detect was in one program where it literally shaved 2 seconds off some image conversions. That's something I do maybe once a month. I also use Skylake machines at work and I can't say they feel faster in any way over my old Ivy Bridge. Additionally, I now have a 6 core 12 thread CPU at home and I literally can't tell if it's any faster than my 4 core with lower IPC. Real world performance is never as impressive as benchmarks. If you wait until August the decision might get easier but then again AMD will have something new 6 moths after that. Hopefully by then we'll have a good CPU war going on.
  8. #9 khaid, May 15, 2017
    Last edited: May 15, 2017
    bfun is correct. you don't really need to stress out with your cpu choice. whatever you get is really comparable to its competitor so choosing between the two won't really give you noticeable increase in your real world usage.

    if you're mainly just gaming, other things that you won't really notice changes in with your upgrade.. your current soundcard vs. onboard audio, 8GB vs 16GB ram (i'm still using 8GB ram, but would suggest you get 16GB since you don't upgrade often).

    you'll see a large increase in read/write speeds with your ssd since you'll be using current gen ssd controllers finally. also, i'm assuming your mobo doesn't have usb 3.0 so if you're using external storage, you'll see huge boosts in those too.

    also, keep in mind, ide connectors don't exist anymore so if you're using something in your current one, might be time to think about ordering an sata version of it when you upgrade.
  9. I'd rather have more cores even if that means losing some single thread performance. Multi-core optimization in software is only going to improve over time. It won't be just a gaming PC, it will be a do everything PC because my Macbook is getting old and I have no intention to replace it. The only reason I switched to Mac was because I wasn't gaming as much, and Windows 8 had a terrible user interface but Windows 7 lacked some modern features that OS X offered. That's not the case anymore, there is nothing OS X has to offer at this point. I may try to sell the Macbook while it still has some value.

    And no khaid, I don't have USB 3 on my PC haha. And I'm out of PCI-e slots so I can't do an add on card without removing something, and I wouldn't even want to anyways. A decent add-on card that give full USB 3 speeds is $40-50. That is half the cost of a new mobo.

    Whatever I end up buying, I'll get 16 or 32GB of RAM because I don't want to have to replace it later, but I'm completely open to getting a cheap CPU on a socket that still has a future. Then I have the option to update the CPU in a year or two when I have a better budget.
  10. The age of my PC is partly due to I bought a Macbook Air in 2013, which would have been money spent on PC hardware. My issue was I had Windows 8 which I hated, I wasn't gaming as much and I wanted something portable because I was moving. So I switched to OS X to avoid Windows 8. In fact, my PC sat in the closet for about a year and half after I moved because I didn't have space for a desk, and I was always on my Macbook anyways.

    I did the day 1 upgrade to Windows 8. I regretted it immediately, and it ruined my PC experience for me. In hindsight though, I'm so glad I did because I didn't know at the time that it changed my Windows 7 Home OEM license into a Windows 8 Pro Retail license, which is now Windows 10 Pro Retail. That is going to save me $100+ when I do this upgrade eventually because I can transfer my OS.

    The plan this time is to do small updates to the hardware every 2-3 years, depending on the market.
  11. Unfortunately, it's the worst time to be buying DDR4. Prices have almost doubled since June. Also, keep in mind that Ryzen quad channel memory is limited to 2400MHz where as dual channel is 2933 or 3200 depending on the maker. Samsung B die chips are the best but more expensive.

  12. 32GB RAM was the best PC decision I ever made. Also, if you're ready to buy, there is no point in waiting for the next piece of tech. That cycle never ends...
  13. How was it the best? My last PC only had 8GB most of its life. Last year I added another 8 and it didn't make a difference in anything.
    • mr.yuk mr.yuk x 1
  14. Ehh kind of warm. It's eBay. People have bought from that site before without issue but B&H Photo and Amazon have it for $309. $20 more +tax for Amazon. I guess it depends on the return policy. That seller has a restocking fee of 15% plus shipping. That's probably about $65 if you have to ship it back.
  15. I wasn't concerned about memory speed, should I be? I'm open to overclocking, but I'm not an enthusiast, plus I was under the impression that at mid range hardware, the memory speed didn't have much impact. I'll probably get an i5 or R5, plus with my RX 480, the memory speed shouldn't ever be the bottleneck. My understanding is that memory speed doesn't really matter until you are looking at a high end CPU paired with a 1080 or 1080Ti, which need faster memory speed to feed them.
  16. Actually, you are correct. The performance in most apps between slow and fast memory is around 5%. Also if there is no CPU bottleneck while gaming the memory doesn't matter as much either. But if there is a CPU bottleneck this graph shows what you may get. This might also be the case for CPU intensive games but I'm not sure. The difference is still only about 15%.

  17. #19 hawk4x4, Jun 1, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2017
    Something I never quite got a grasp on was how to determine what power supply unit to choose. The general answer always seems to be go with a higher wattage for flexibility, but I'm going to be on a much tighter budget this time around, so I'm trying to save cost where I can. With my current RX 480 card migrating to whatever system I build, online PSU calculators tell me I need a 350-450W, depending on whether I choose Intel or AMD. So do I just buy a 500W unit and call it a day, or is there some reason to go with a higher wattage? Some sites I've looked at say things like "If you system needs 400W then get a 800W PSU because reasons we don't explain." That just seems odd and like overkill to me. The difference between a 500W and a 800W PSU can be as much as $40-$50, which is money better spent on a higher tier CPU or more system memory.

    I was going to reuse my current 700W unit, but it is 8 years old, not modular and I'm not sure I want to deal with the hassle of pulling the messy wad of wires out of my case, though that would be a huge cost saver.
  18. I would give a modest bump to 600W, then narrow down by durability and price. Your current PSU has been chugging for 8 years, so it's probably a good brand. I used to pay more for modular but end up using all the connectors anyway. Take the extra 10 minutes for clean cable management and save some money.