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Best platform for 4k resolution system

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Hello,

I have a 4k monitor on the way, primarily purchased for use with my 2013 MacBook Pro for photography work, but I'm considering replacing my gaming system to something that will also be able to run at 4k.

I realize that this will require a multi-GPU solution, most likely 2 or 3. All benchmarks I have seen place the AMD R9 290 series ahead of the nVidia 780 series for multi-gpu gaming at 4k. Prices are coming down after the mining inflation spike, and I can get a good deal locally on the 290 or 290X with a better-than-stock cooler ($499 and $599 Canadian). I still need to decide which one, and how many. But that's not my main point of hesitation.

I'm still trying to figure out what platform to go with, and it seems to me like none are a real winner between Haswell on Z87, IVB-E on X79 or AMD 9590 on 990FX.

-Of all the platforms, Haswell on Z87 is the most modern; more built-in USB3 ports, more built-in SATA3 ports and other goodies of the sort. Some are even coming out with M.2 storage capabiliy, which could be nice to have. CPUs are limited to quad-core, but the 4770k is a pretty darn good chip and I'm sure it would be OK. What concerns me is the support for only 16 PCIe lanes from the CPU. Three high-end video cards will most likely be choked on 16 lanes. There are boards with PCIe multiplex switches, but to me that seems like a band-aid solution since it doesn't alleviate the bottleneck.

-The obvious solution would be to go to IVB-E (4930k) on X79, but I can't help but think that I'm spending a whole lot on a rather old platform. I built a SB-E rig on X79 over 2 years ago (I no longer have that system); it seems the motherboards on the market are the exact same models now as they were 2 years ago, and at similar prices to boot. The minimal amount of USB3 and SATA3 ports is also an annoyance. It just doesn't seem right to be putting together a really powerful rig on an outdated platform.

-And then there's the black sheep that is the bonkers AMD FX-9590. Performance seems similar to the 4770k, and it's a bit cheaper to boot. TDP is sky-high, but I could live with that. 990FX is a bit of an oddball though. It seems to support PCIe 3.0, but I don't think that has always been the case. There also seems to be more PCIe lanes for GPUs that Z87, but it seems like implementations are very board-specific. And even though it has been around for a while, it has a good amount of USB3 and SATA3 ports.

It seems to me like there is no winning solution here... I'm considering waiting out for Haswell-E, but then I'm not entirely convinced with DDR4, which may not bring much performance increase over DDR3, but will certainly imply extra cost. I'm not going to cheap out on this build, but I don't want to pay extra for no performance gain either.Right now, there is not real timeline for Haswell-E either.


What would you guys do?
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post #2 of 8
It is a very interesting question!

As much as I want to support AMD, I would not opt for their CPUs - not in 9590 level. It is a fast CPU out of the box, but does come with shortfalls that hold it back vs. a clocked 4770K or pretty much any i7 of the last 3 gens.

AMD GPUs do seem like a pretty solid offer tho, and I have no beef with their current gen of drivers and overall driver support
- seems to be doing fine.

I do agree that a Z87/4770K with the "mandatory" OC (mild or not) should be ok for the next couple of years at least, till the dust around DDR4 and new gens of hardware settle a bit.

So - in my mind - the real question revolves around your choice of GPUs too, or more likely, the number of GPUs.

I am nowhere near 4K atm, but I would prefer going for a "faster" 290X or 780Ti duo, and not tri-290 or 780, avoiding CF/SLI with more than 2 cards altogether.
This, eliminates the need for "special" Z87 boards that push the price in X79 board levels, and also opens the possibility for a cute mATX combo - something like the Z87 Gene and a 350D case.
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post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 
That's a good point. However, I think a dual 290X setup is a bit borderline for good 4k right now. I'm sure that 12 months down the road, a third will be needed. That makes me a bit worried about getting a board/platform that maxes out at two cards.

I'm not interested in MicroATX. I'm probably going to watercool the rig, so I'll need space.

I'm leaning towards the "wait for Haswell-E and X99" approach, perhaps more details of X99 will be released soon.
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post #4 of 8
I'd go with the Z87/4770k combo, IIRC I recently saw a review where it beat the X79 chipset in gaming if that's your concern, despite of having less pcie and memory bandwidth
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post #5 of 8
If I was seriously considering gaming at 4K, I would just wait a couple of months and go Haswell-E, no question about it.

DDR4
6 or 8 core Haswell-E
A couple of 780 Tis to start, adding a 3rd later if not purchased with the first two.

EDIT:

Actually, don't think you would need the 3rd Ti, as far as I am aware there aren't any 60Hz 4K displays on the market yet. I believe all the displays are capped at 30 Hz when operating at 4K.
    
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post #6 of 8
Perhaps a little perspective will help.

The AM3+ platform with a quad-module Piledriver, Overclocked to ~5ghz, will have the same performance characteristics in gaming with multiple GPUs as a Nahalem based X58 system with the i7-970 overclocked to ~4ghz. (they have almost the exact same SP and MP performance characteristics when compared OCed vs OCed).

With that as your reference, would you rather have the enthusiast socket 1366 platform from ~4 years ago, or the modern consumer 1150 socket platform of recent? The answer to that question, will also be the answer to whether or not you want the AM3+ based system. The old Nahalem based system, and the now-legacy status AM3+ platform, are both viable platforms, but they are both legacy/novelty at this point. The single threaded performance of OCed PD/Nahalem is about the same, but that is about 35% lower than OCed Haswell. With single threaded performance still being a contributing factor to minimum FPS, especially in compute intensive games and even more so when coupled to SO MUCH GPU strength, I think the obvious answer is to go with Haswell for a 4K build.

At 4.5ghz, an i7-4770K will still have better MP performance than either the old Nahalem 6 core or Piledriver 8 core. The raw per-core performance of Haswell is so high that it can do more with less cores. Not surprising when we look at the architecture. Many of the "new" features in Bull-Driver era AMD CPUs were being implemented by Intel back in the mid to late 2000's on their CORE architecture. This is why the instruction/cycle/core performance of Bull-Driver era CPUs is comparable to CORE architecture era from Intel, but since it overclocks about 25% higher than CPUs from that era, it competes with Nahalem, an architecture which, besides lacking a few modern instruction/math capabilities, is actually more robust in terms of instruction core design.

AMD keeps the technical details about their CPUs much closer to the chest than Intel. This can make it difficult to compare core vs core. Upon careful analization, we see why a haswell core is surpassing an entire PileDriver Module. Internally it is far more parallel. A single haswell "core" has about as much execution resource as the entire AMD module combined, but it is strapped to lower latency, higher bandwidth caching and more advanced branch prediction capabilities.
Edited by mdocod - 4/8/14 at 9:47am
     
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post #7 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdocod View Post

Perhaps a little perspective will help.

The AM3+ platform with a quad-module Piledriver, Overclocked to ~5ghz, will have the same performance characteristics in gaming with multiple GPUs as a Nahalem based X58 system with the i7-970 overclocked to ~4ghz. (they have almost the exact same SP and MP performance characteristics when compared OCed vs OCed).

With that as your reference, would you rather have the enthusiast socket 1366 platform from ~4 years ago, or the modern consumer 1150 socket platform of recent? The answer to that question, will also be the answer to whether or not you want the AM3+ based system. The old Nahalem based system, and the now-legacy status AM3+ platform, are both viable platforms, but they are both legacy/novelty at this point. The single threaded performance of OCed PD/Nahalem is about the same, but that is about 35% lower than OCed Haswell. With single threaded performance still being a contributing factor to minimum FPS, especially in compute intensive games and even more so when coupled to SO MUCH GPU strength, I think the obvious answer is to go with Haswell for a 4K build.

At 4.5ghz, an i7-4770K will still have better MP performance than either the old Nahalem 6 core or Piledriver 8 core. The raw per-core performance of Haswell is so high that it can do more with less cores. Not surprising when we look at the architecture. Many of the "new" features in Bull-Driver era AMD CPUs were being implemented by Intel back in the mid to late 2000's on their CORE architecture. This is why the instruction/cycle/core performance of Bull-Driver Erra CPUs is comparable to CORE architecture erra from Intel, but since it overclocks about 25% higher than CPUs from that era, it competes with Nahalem, an architecture which, besides lacking a few modern instruction/math capabilities, is actually more robust in terms of instruction core design.

agreed. makes perfect sense as this current AMD architecture, regardless of release date, was designed from it's inception to compete with first gen i7's (nahalem) and that's exactly what it does.
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post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 
I agree about AMD. It doesn't really make sense to go that way, most of the reasons having been mentioned here.

The choice between Haswell and IVB-E is not so obvious however, especially since Z87 boards that can support 3 GPUs cost as much as X79 boards.

There are a number of monitors that can support 4k at 60 Hz. The Dell UP2414Q can be purchased for under $1000, and the Samsung U28D590D is a bargain at $599 (NCIXUS.com) and well-suited for gaming.
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