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New AMD Build by End of the Year

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
Hello everyone, after hours of extensive researching, I haven't heard that much great things about the AMD FX Series. I was thinking about just jumping to an Intel i5 2500K or i7 2600K, but I think I can do AMD, if someone can tell me what is good and bad about the new chips. I will be playing graphics intensive games, so I do not want my CPU to bottleneck my GPU. I am thinking of getting a GPU first, then going for the mobo/processor shortly after, but if I wait till Christmas savings for mobo/processor, new, better gear will probably be out.

My current specs:
AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition 3.4GHz
MSI 870A-G54 Motherboard
Corsair Vengence 8GB DDR3-1600 RAM
EVGA GeForce GTS 450
500W OCZ Modular Power Supply
4 Hard drives

I'm looking to get 60 FPS across all games on High/Ultra settings. I do not care very much for Anti-Aliasing or V-Sync, I don't even really know what V-Sync does. So considering that I may be able to get a less expensive GPU, but as mentioned below, I am considering getting a third monitor for some surround gaming.
I am going to keep the RAM, and may not need a power supply depending on what GPU I get. I have a nice case, but may upgrade for the hell of it. I play games like Battlefield 3, Diablo III, Starcraft II, Counter-Strike Source, Counter-Strike Global Offensive, The Witcher 1 and 2, etc. AND I will be streaming some of these games on Twitch.tv

Currently, I get around 80-110 FPS on Starcraft II on Medium/High, but while streaming, it dips mostly to around 30, which I haven't checked if it is the settings on my broadcaster, or if my rig is just having a hard time streaming.

What would be a good CPU, GPU, and motherboard combination for me to get?
I am looking to spend $500-$700.
Also, I currently have 2 Acer 23" 1080p monitors, and am considering getting a third for Surround/Eyefinity, so considering I do that, what would be my best GPU route? I have been closely looking at Radeon 6970 and GTX 560 Ti, but I know there's something else I could do.

Thank you all for the help.

If anyone knows any good surround sound, 5.1 or 7.1 systems, feel free to throw out suggestions for that too! That's my last option and will come at a much later date, but certainly would be fun to hook up my games, music and guitar to a surround setup!
post #2 of 17
Hi there,

What I would like to say first of all, is that with a budget of $500-700 you will not be able to play <60fps in Eyefinity triple-1080p resolution. Simply not doable. Also it really depends on the type of games you play. Personally I have a 2600K @ 4.2GHz (24/7 OC) and a GTX 680 @ 1230MHz Core Clock. I get around 75-85 fps in BF3 (Ultra settings at 1920*1200). This type of hardware however costs significantly more than your budget but I can fully recommend it. Also, you said to maybe hold on with getting the CPU and mobo; if I were you I would just wait until you are willing (and able) to buy all the parts at the same time. AMD FX CPUs are fine for gaming, just not quite as powerful as the SB or SB-E (and soon the IB) CPUs. Also note: if you buy a 5xx series Nvidia Card you cannot run 3D surround off of one card, you need at least 2. 6xx series however have that capability (like my GTX 680). Maybe you could look around and upload a possible shopping cart of what you need (and possibly don't). I hope this helps, if you have any questions feel free to PM me or reply here. thumb.gif
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Purple Haze
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post #3 of 17
You're not going to find a significant upgrade from 965 on the AMD side. Especially since you have an AM3 board (Bulldozers need an AM3+ boards).
If you strictly want AMD, your best bet would be to get an 8120. They're not bad chips, but it's not something I would recommend - an overclocked 2500k beats in 90% of situations, and the power draw of 8120 is significantly higher than the sandy chips, which will result in higher power costs over its lifetime.

Like you said, you should upgrade the GPU first, and I would recommend upgrading it way before you do anything about CPU/Mobo. If you replace GTS 450 with something like GTX 580 or 6970, you'll experience a significant upgrade - much more than anything else. Your 965 is still a terrific chip, and I wouldn't jump from it before upgrading the card.

The bad part about upgrading to one of the newer video cards is that your power supply may not be enough anymore. Depending on that PSU's certification, 500w rating will probably be a little too low.
    
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post #4 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by j0zef View Post

You're not going to find a significant upgrade from 965 on the AMD side. Especially since you have an AM3 board (Bulldozers need an AM3+ boards).
If you strictly want AMD, your best bet would be to get an 8120. They're not bad chips, but it's not something I would recommend - an overclocked 2500k beats in 90% of situations, and the power draw of 8120 is significantly higher than the sandy chips, which will result in higher power costs over its lifetime.
Like you said, you should upgrade the GPU first, and I would recommend upgrading it way before you do anything about CPU/Mobo. If you replace GTS 450 with something like GTX 580 or 6970, you'll experience a significant upgrade - much more than anything else. Your 965 is still a terrific chip, and I wouldn't jump from it before upgrading the card.
The bad part about upgrading to one of the newer video cards is that your power supply may not be enough anymore. Depending on that PSU's certification, 500w rating will probably be a little too low.

^this. but i would go with a 7850/70. it should be a good leap over the 450. i was also going to recommend to oc your chip more but that mobo is suspect. i think that is one of those with weak mosfets - sorry to say.
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post #5 of 17
Thread Starter 
Alright, well cancel surround/eyefinity then, no big deal if I can't do it under the budget.
As for GPU, I have actually considered the GTX 680, or the 560 Ti, something along those lines, but what kind of PSU upgrade would I need? And of course if the CPU would bottleneck it, i wouldn't do it.

I would OC my 965 but idle I get around 45*C and under load I get mid to high 50s, streaming its at 62 or 63, and i really dont know why it is so high.
Sometimes, just simply opening tabs in IE9, the CPU usage is at 25, while my processor is at 57*C ish, which is ridiculous for just IE. also, I think there's a RAM error somewhere as a few times I watched a movie, all of my RAM suddenly gets used and I cant even control the PC without a huge lag spike occurring, with 60MB free of ram. Just started doing this too. Rarely though.

Aside from that, depending on the next job I get really determines my overall budget. Im not one who overkills a build, my current was, okay what can I do with what I already have and $600. Now it's, what can i do for great performance increase for around the same price.
Hell, i haven't had Intel since a 1.6GHz single core some days ago..

I do my own builds, etc. But i still dont know what a lot of the things are, like ram voltage, i dont know much about cooling, one of these days I'll work on cable management, etc. I know the basic stuff to building, but you all know more than i do, so i figured id come and ask, rather than spending more than i need to.
post #6 of 17
Your FPS dips while streaming StarCraft because of the strain placed on your CPU.
Let me break it down for you: you have 4 cores running @ 3.4 ghz (AMD ghz is worth a little less than current-gen intel ghz, by the way).

SC2 is VERY demanding when it comes to per-core performance, but can only use 2 cores. Particularly in late-game scenarios, you'll see FPS dips even when not streaming.

Streaming is also very CPU demanding, and the more cores the better. So when you're streaming SC2, basically 2 cores are all tied up playing the game, leaving you only 2 cores for encoding the stream. If those 2 cores encoding the stream can't handle the demand, it has to borrow from the SC2 cores. This gives you FPS slowdown in addition to potential late-game many units slowdowns present even without streaming. Other games might run into the same problem, but tend to be less CPU demanding than SC2, so it's not noticed as often.

There are basically 2 ways to go about fixing this. One: Overclock. Equals more CPU power. Two, get a better processor (and overclock).

Interestingly, streaming & playing SC2 is one of the few scenarios where an overclocked Phenom II x6 performs about as well as an i5-2500k overclocked. The i5-2500k has better per-core performance by a good margin, but still only 4 cores. So you still have 2 cores dedicated to SC2 (with better theoretical performance in things like 3v3 and 4v4 late game), and 2 cores for encoding the stream - the stream will still need to borrow from the 2 cores running SC2 occasionally. Whereas on an Phenom II x6, you have 2 cores running SC2 at a lower theoretical max efficiency, but with 4 full cores processing the stream, your computer shouldn't need to impact SC2 performance as much.

However, intel is still the performance master because streaming takes advantage of the i7's hyperthreading - and they have the i7-3930k, which has 6 cores with hyperthreading at better per-core performance than the Phenom x6. At the cost of an arm and a leg, though (out of your budget). AMD FX series does many things well - most of which aren't gaming. Should make streaming a breeze, but not be worth it overall.

So the answer is basically overclock your current processor more (also, I've heard some Phenom II x4s are 'unlockable' to get 6 full cores. Don't know much more, because I'm no AMD expert, but you can look into that). If that doesn't solve the problem, AND your motherboard is reported to be a good overclocker (I dunno much about AMD, ask around), and you have an after-market heatsink, consider replacing your current processor with a 6-core Phenom II x6 1100T and overclocking the crap out of it.

Edit: According to the posters above, your mobo is suspect, so you'd have to get a whole new mobo.

If streaming is not just a hobby, but you're looking to make it a full-time gig (NOT recommended), then you should consider a very expensive high-end Intel system.

For SC2, your current GPU is more than enough power. For other games not so much - depending on the resolution & image quality you play at and the games you want to run, you're looking at a very high cost. To run just most stuff at maximum and the very demanding games at pretty good but less than maximum quality on a standard 1920x1080 or 1920x1200 screen, I'd recommend looking at a 7850 or 7870, overclocked but not overvolted, as budget allows.

Recommendations: your budget is small, this is a problem. Staying within budget, you have to choose what you want. Great performance in GPU-based games, no improvement in SC2 or SC2 streaming? Buy a 7850 or 7870 and overclock but don't' overvolt it. Then if you still want to spend more, get a good AMD overclocking mobo and an after-market heatsink & ask about overclocking & unlocking extra cores on your current processor (might not be possible). You don't care about playing GPU-based games on low quality graphics but want to SC2 stream like your life depended on it? Buy an intel ivy bridge i7-quadcore, an overclocking mobo, and an after-market heatsink when the new intel processors come out. That will leave you no extra money for a new video card though.

Also, if you're not planning on buying soon, many recommendations may change in a few months.

P.S. You could absolutely get a third monitor for surround gaming. Then buy a 7870 (+active display port adapter) or an Nvidia 680. You DEFINITELY won't get 60fps on ultra graphics settings (and some games like SC2 can only use one screen), but it would still be pretty awesome & should be playable at the very upper ends of your budget. Look up the recent 680 reviews for an estimate of what kind of performance you could get on just one card. You might still end up playing most games on a single screen (definitely will when streaming - no one wants to watch a thin bar or graphics), but other games you'd probably stick with the eyefinity/Surround.

P.P.S Your PSU should handle any one-graphics card solution. The newer cards like the 680 are markedly more efficient than older cards, so their increased performance doesn't take more power.
Edited by MisterFred - 3/28/12 at 9:26am
    
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post #7 of 17
Thread Starter 
Mother of god that is a lot of information. First off, I don't know the benefits of overvolting, and I don't know how to determine when an overclock is "stable." Also what do you all mean by my motherboard is suspect?
Streaming is not a full time deal, I do it for the hell of it and sometimes friends enjoy watching, but if I hit Masters or something then sure, I'll stream all day.

It seems like I should stay away from the FX Series and either get a 1090 or 1100T, but I don't know if those would be worth it over the 965 B.E. If not, then if I were to upgrade processor/mobo, which is my last upgrade, it would be to a 2500K or 2600K.

Yes I am looking to get near maxed out, I don't care much for AA or V-Sync, but as for Textures, Lighting, Shadows, etc. I'd like to have those at High/Ultra, on a single 1920x1080 monitor.

As for surround gaming, I won't go to it yet, that is kind of a lastlastlast thing for me, since I'd have to drop $150 on another monitor alone, and I was considering, if I do, it'd be a 3D monitor, I tried Nvidia 3D, the first model and it was pretty good, so I wonder if 3D Vision 2 is worth it.

I will look more into the 7850/70.

My biggest concern is my new GPU bottlenecked because of the CPU.
post #8 of 17
Overclocking benefits = faster CPU.
Stable overclock = no matter what sets of CPU instructions you throw at the computer, it doesn't cause Blue Screens Of Death.
Overvolting = increasing the electricity supplied to a CPU or GPU in order to get a high overclock to work.
Suspect Motherboard = circuitry with insufficient complexity/heatsinks to guarantee it will run flawlessly while overvolting a CPU (most CPU overclocks involve overvolting, many GPU overclocks do not)

Looking at what you want to do, I'd suggest ignoring a CPU upgrade and just buying a 7850. Probably this one:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102986
That video card will do high/ultra in every possible game on a single normal monitor (example, review benchmarks say it should pull just about 60 fps in BF3 on ultra settings, turning off AA). If you want to learn something new, improve its performance without paying anything extra, and generally have more fun, you can learn how to overclock a graphics card with a program like MSI Afterburner, which is exceedingly safe as long as you don't modify the voltage it uses. If you don't want to do any of that because you're lazy and scared, you can get some of that benefit by paying $10 more for the same card as linked above but with a mild overclock done at the factory:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102984

As for the rest of your upgrade budget, there's not much you can do with it, really. I'd suggest you save the money for eventually buying an Intel i7 or i5 quad-core and non-overclocking motherboard, or the same with overclocking capabilities ($300-400). But not until the next line of intel processors comes out, and probably not until you really feel you want to upgrade your current decent-quality processor. You're just going to have to accept fps slowdowns in SC2 (and possibly stuff like BF3 multiplayer) when streaming. You might be able to alleviate that somewhat by outputting lower FPS or stream quality (360p vs 480p requires less CPU power, for instance), but I'm not a stream expert.

Don't worry about a processor 'bottlenecking' a GPU. That's based on whatever game you're running. In SC2, for instance, even very cheap video cards will be 'bottlenecked' by CPU slowdowns. On the other hand, for some very graphics-intensive games, a cheap $60 processor can allow you to fully utilize the best video cards on the market. Your processor is enough to run most games great - and some few like mega-multiplayer BF3 or SC2 might have some slow downs.
    
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post #9 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thank you for the information. I don't worry too much about the streaming quality, it comes in great at 1280x720 and I'm anywhere between 30-35 FPS, sometimes it dips to 19-25 which is a bit of a pain in the ass, but it doesn't last long. I currently have MSI Afterburner actually, but since I don't know much about overclocking, I've only touched the fan speed in it.
I am considering going straight to a 7850/70 or maybe even a better card, and then doing processor/mobo at a later date. I have a few options up in the air.

I am very interested in going Intel, since Intel to me means longevity, meaning a 2 year old processor can still be better than a new AMD processor. AMD is budget, and that's what I had at the time.
Also, I am considering this CPU cooler - http://www.frostytech.com/articleview.cfm?articleID=2620 - pretty obvious as to why it can be a great one especially for OCing.

Quick question: I did mention that IE9 takes 25% of my CPU in Task Manager sometimes, and once I kill a few instances of it, my processor tempurature can go down from say, 57*C to 43*C, depending on how many tabs I had open. Why does this occur?
post #10 of 17
That's a powerful CPU cooler, but I'm not sure if it fits your motherboard. Frankly, with what the other posters said about your motherboard, I wouldn't overclock with your current processor. Intel is coming out with new processors at the end of April. At that point you'd be looking at buying an i5-3570K (~225) a z77 motherboard (~$130) and an after-market cooler (~$30-50, probably Coolermaster 212+ or HR-02 Macho). That would put you at pretty much one of the best mainstream processors available, but would cost roughly $400, more or less.

So pretty much I'd say go for a 7850 now, then upgrade to that new intel processor when it is financially easy for you. I wouldn't recommend the 7870 personally. The extra $100 just doesn't get you very much over the 7850.

Edit: No idea why IE9 is taking a lot of resources. Doesn't sound like a problem though. 57 celsius isn't too bad.
    
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