Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Quizzical Build me a pc part 2

OoklarOoklar Member Posts: 5

Quizzical,

 From previous posts your pc build input is impressive. Could I impose on your pc build guru prowess to input on some build ideas for me as well.

Basic info  for build  is Intel I7 sandybridge cpu. Mobo looking at ASUS Maximus 4. Memory not sure here, brand/mb needed.   Ive never been an OCer but possible OC in the future potential. High end GPU (Nvidia) potentially upgradable to SLI. Able to drive a 24 in lcd monitor (preferablly samsung). Case, Ive been looking at the coolermaster nvidia cases. Hard drives Ive been reading a little on this, and am a bit confused as how the SSD drives as main drive - hard disk for data is worked. Power supply, enough for the potential SLI expansion. Win7 64 bit. Other periphal input gladly welcomed. Mouse, soundcard etc. Keyboard... well Im pretty attached too  my ancient circa 1984 Ibm type m =O.

Usage Gaming/online gaming.

Budget well 2-3k  or so.

Newegg veteran as well.

Thanks in advance if you can give any advice is greatly appreciated.

Comments

  • HokieHokie Member UncommonPosts: 1,063

    Originally posted by Ooklar

    Quizzical,

     From previous posts your pc build input is impressive. Could I impose on your pc build guru prowess to input on some build ideas for me as well.

    Basic info  for build  is Intel I7 sandybridge cpu. Mobo looking at ASUS Maximus 4. Memory not sure here, brand/mb needed.   Ive never been an OCer but possible OC in the future potential. High end GPU (Nvidia) potentially upgradable to SLI. Able to drive a 24 in lcd monitor (preferablly samsung). Case, Ive been looking at the coolermaster nvidia cases. Hard drives Ive been reading a little on this, and am a bit confused as how the SSD drives as main drive - hard disk for data is worked. Power supply, enough for the potential SLI expansion. Win7 64 bit. Other periphal input gladly welcomed. Mouse, soundcard etc. Keyboard... well Im pretty attached too  my ancient circa 1984 Ibm type m =O.

    Usage Gaming/online gaming.

    Budget well 2-3k  or so.

    Thanks in advance if you can give any advice is greatly appreciated.

    Quizz is the shit.

    And a 2k-3k budget just opens up a large world of possibilities.

     

    And I know how it is to be attached to a periphal. I wont give up my old Logitech G15 no matter what, just for the simple fact I love the dial/wheel volume control. I cant stand with a passion, the push and hold button style of volume control on the new Logitech keyboards. There are few other things the "older" G15 does better, but serious its that dial that keeps me using it.

    "I understand that if I hear any more words come pouring out of your **** mouth, Ill have to eat every fucking chicken in this room."

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Member LegendaryPosts: 23,215

    A prototypical $1500 without peripherals gaming build looks something like this:

    Core i5 2500 or 2500K processor

    Aftermarket CPU heatsink/fan; maybe $20 if you're not overclocking, or more if you are

    Asus P8P67 or Gigabyte GA-P67A-UD3P or equivalent (still P67 chipset) motherboard

    Radeon HD 6970 or GeForce GTX 570 video card

    100-120 GB SSD (actual usable capacity; likely marketed as 115-128 GB), probably based on a SandForce or Marvell controller, but maybe Samsung or Intel if they happened to be cheap that day

    1-2 TB hard drive that is cheap but slow

    Fairly nice (and relatively large) mid-tower case with lots of fans, e.g. Antec Nine Hundred or Cooler Master HAF 922

    CD/DVD burner

    8 GB of system memory, in a kit with two modules of 4 GB each, rated at 1.5 V, and 1333 MHz

    80 PLUS Gold certified gold power supply of high quality, likely based on Seasonic's or Super Flower's high end platforms (Seasonic X-series, Corsair AX series, Kingwin Lazer Gold, NZXT Hale90, Super Flower Golden Green)

    Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

    -----

    Personally, I do not take a "higher frame rates at all costs" view.  Rather, I want a nice all-around computer that is also good at gaming.  I value reliability more than what you'll see in most gaming builds.  I'm also not terribly averse to turning video settings down somewhat, and will often turn off shadows and various other lighting settings.  Actually, I'd turn off shadows and depth of field even if my frame rate were completely unaffected, as I think they make games look worse, not better.

    It would be easy to make a computer that gives you higher frame rates on the same budget than what I've listed above by dropping the SSD, getting a cheaper power supply, dropping to 4 GB of system memory, going a little higher end on the motherboard, and adding a second video card in CrossFire or SLI.  Or skip the second video card, get a little slower card on the first one, a little smaller case, and make it a $1000 gaming computer.

    What I've listed above is basically the upgrades that I'd definitely get on your budget.  If you want to spend $1500 and call that good enough, that's easy enough to do.  On a larger budget, there are a lot of possible upgrades, but opinions will vary wildly as to which upgrades make more sense than which others.  If it's a computer for you, then your opinion is the one that matters.  So here are the main options that you might consider:

    1)  A huge monitor.  You can get a 30" monitor with a 2560x1600 resolution for around $1000.  It's not just the diagonal length.  More pixels lets you see more of what's going on in the game at once.  In 2D, overhead view games, this can be a huge advantage.

    2)  Multiple monitors in Eyefinity or Nvidia Surround.  Three 1920x1080 monitors will cost maybe $700 in total.  You can get three or five monitors and spread the game window across all of them.  This gets you more pixels, more cheaply than option #1.  Having monitor bezels in the game window looks bad, though.  Do note that an odd number of monitors is used, because an even number means you'll have bezels split your character in half, which is horrible.  1920x1080 monitors seem to be the best value for this.

    For Nvidia Surround, the only option is three monitors in landscape mode, for a total resolution of 5760x1080.  This absolutely requires SLI, as Nvidia cards only let you have two monitors in a single card.

    AMD Eyefinity lets you do this resolution as well as five monitors, or portrait mode.   This gives you a total resolution of 3240x1920 with three monitors, or 5400x1920 or 9600x1080 with five monitors.  You can also do Eyefinity off of a single AMD card.  Eyefinity allows some other monitor arrangements, but they aren't suitable for gaming.  Some AMD cards can accept as many as six monitors from a single card, so you could also have additional monitors that aren't part of the big gaming setup.

    3)  Stereoscopic 3D.  The monitor plus 3D kit comes to maybe $500.  This requires a 120 Hz monitor, and is mutually exclusive with option #1.  Stereoscopic 3D with glasses means you need to keep a steady 120 frames per second, so multiple monitors is a bad idea.  Both AMD and Nvidia officially support this, but Nvidia's stereoscopic 3D approach is more mature.

    Personally, I think stereoscopic 3D with glasses is a stupid idea, and has been since the 1950s.  There are good reasons why Virtual Boy was a commercial disaster.  But if you really want to try it, it's an option.

    4)  Two video cards in SLI or CrossFire.  Assume an extra $400 here, though you can cut that added expense roughly in half by getting slower video cards.  This isn't entirely mandatory for options 1-3, but highly recommended if you do want any of those options.  More pixels to display, or higher frame rates needed, means more work for the video cards.  Note that supporting SLI or CrossFire means you need a higher end motherboard, such as an Asus P8P67 Pro, a Gigabyte GA-P67A-UD4, or equivalent.

    Some people would rush to make this part of the base build.  But for a single monitor, is 140 frames per second really so much better than 70 frames per second?  Especially if you're processor-bound at 100 frames per second, and your monitor can't display more than 60 per second.

    5)  A full tower case, with more space inside, more fans, and more airflow.  This is recommended for SLI or CrossFire builds, but not terribly useful for a single video card.  Depending on what case you get, this could add perhaps $50.

    6)  A bigger solid state drive.  On an infinite budget (or even a $10000 budget), skipping a hard drive and buying solid state drives of whatever total capacity you need would be an easy choice.  But people don't have infinite budgets.  Depending on how much capacity you need, skipping a hard drive and only using a solid state drive might be a viable option.  Personally, I have a 120 GB SSD and no hard drive, but I don't need as much storage space as a lot of people.

    7)  A Core i7 processor.  This adds about $100 to the price tag.

    The main advantage of a Core i7 2600 or 2600K over the Core i5 2500 or 2500K is hyperthreading.  This can improve performance by up to 30% in programs that scale well to eight cores.  But not games, as games virtually never scale well to more than four cores, and even if a very well threaded game engine did scale flawlessly to eight cores, it would probably be either video card-bound or capped by vertical sync before you maxed out four cores.

    A Core i7 2600 also has a stock clock speed of 100 MHz higher than a Core i5 2500.  That advantage disappears if you get the Core i5 2500K and overclock it, as it should overclock just as far as a Core i7 2600K, since they're different bins of the same die.

    A Core i7 2600 or 2600K has 8 MB of L3 cache, rather than 6 MB.  You might realistically expect this to improve processor performance by 1% or 2% on average.  Some programs will see larger improvements, while others will see exactly no benefit at all to the extra cache.

    8)  A higher end motherboard.  Add maybe $30 to the base build to get a motherboard that supports SLI or CrossFire.  Add maybe $150 to the base build to get an Asus Maximus IV Extreme or Gigabyte GA-P67A-UD7 that has an extra NF200 chip to give two video cards both PCI Express 2.0 x16 bandwidth, rather than x8 bandwidth for each card.  There are a few intermediate boards, as well.

    9)  More memory, or faster memory.  Getting 1600 MHz DDR3 memory rather than 1333 MHz memory adds maybe $20 to the price tag.  In relatively memory-intensive programs that push all four processor cores, you might gain a few percentage points in performance from the higher memory clock speed.  In most programs, you'll be lucky to gain 1% in performance.  You can also get memory rated faster than 1600 MHz, but for Sandy Bridge, that's ridiculous unless you're doing something very weird.

    You can also get 16 GB of memory, by getting four 4 GB memory modules rather than two.  This adds $80 if it's 1333 MHz memory, or $100 if it's 1600 MHz memory.  I'd advise against this for most people, for two reasons.  One is that you're unlikely to see any benefit at all to more than 8 GB of system memory.  Indeed, even getting 8 GB rather than 4 GB won't offer that much benefit.  The other is that if you someday discover that 8 GB isn't enough and you want to upgrade to 16 GB, it will probably be cheaper to do so then than it is today.  It's really easy to add memory.

    10)  A Blu-Ray player ($70), or Blu-Ray burner (add $100).  Blu-Ray hasn't caught on yet for anything other than watching Blu-Ray movies, and I don't think it will soon.  If it does catch on, then prices will be much cheaper then, like how CD/DVD burners are $20 today.  If you get a Blu-Ray player, it likely can't burn CDs and DVDs, so you may still need a separate CD/DVD burner.  So this is basically a question of:  do you want to watch Blu-Ray movies on your computer, or have some need to burn Blu-Ray disks?

    11)  An uninterruptible power supply.   This is basically a battery backup to your computer, and would likely cost around $150.

    Today I was playing Champions Online when I heard a boom outside and the lights went out.  I lost my Internet connection briefly, but the computer kept running, because I have an uninterruptible power supply.  After several seconds, power came back, and the game kicked me back to the login window.  So I logged back in and continued the game where I had been.  A minor nuisance, but not too eventful.

    And uneventful is good as far as power delivery goes.  What's notable are the many things didn't happen.  My computer didn't shut down.  Windows didn't complain that the computer was shut down improperly.  I didn't lose unsaved data in a browser or spreadsheet that I had been working on.  I didn't have to reboot the computer.  I didn't even have to reload the game.  And most importantly, my computer's power supply didn't know anything was amiss, so no hardware in my system was damaged or even accumulated significant wear and tear.

    Even apart from losing power entirely, sometimes voltage from the wall can fluctuate.  A good UPS can catch that and fix it.  Basically, if you live in an area with a power supply that isn't terribly stable, you should get a good UPS to prevent unstable electricity from the wall from damaging your power supply, or worse, a damaged power supply frying other components in your system.  If you've got a perfectly stable electricity supply where you live, and can't remember the last time that you so much as had lights dim a bit, let alone go out entirely, then a UPS is considerably less beneficial.

    12)  A Killer 2100 gaming network card.  This costs $80.

    The basic problem with the integrated gigabit ethernet in most motherboards is that it's optimized for throughput.  Now, if you're downloading a 100 MB file off of the Internet, you don't care when any particular packet gets there.  You care when the file is done.  In most situations, optimizing for throughput makes sense.  The drawback is that it often takes a few milliseconds to get network traffic into or out of your system.

    In games, it makes less sense.  Games aren't very dependent on throughput, except if you're still on dialup or when you're downloading the game.  Online games are very sensitive to ping times, though.  The Bigfoot Killer 2100 is optimized for latency, so as soon as network traffic used by a game shows up, it processes it and sends it immediately.  This can get rid of the delay of a few milliseconds caused by most gigabit ethernet adapters.  Offloading network traffic from the processor means less work for the processor, which might get you an extra frame per second if you were processor bound.  What it can't do anything about, however, is the 100 ms or whatever that it takes for a signal to go from your modem to the game's servers.

    Occasionally if a game has really awful network coding, a Killer 2100 can take a lot more off of your ping time than that, or fix hitching in the frame rates if it's caused by awful network code.  This is a game-specific thing that most games don't suffer from, however.

    The other thing that a Killer 2100 can do is to prioritize network traffic for games.  If you're playing a game and some other program wants to use your Internet connection, too, then that can lag your game.  The Killer 2100 can catch the other program and throttle it back, so that it has far less impact on game performance.  The real fix, of course, is to not download other things in the background while you're playing online games.  The Killer 2100 can also help if Windows decides it's patch day and it needs to download a patch while you're playing a game.  Or perhaps more commonly, if Adobe Reader or Sun Java decides it's patch day.

    Basically, don't expect miracles from a Killer 2100.  But saving a few milliseconds on your ping time is a reasonable expectation, and with an off chance of stumbling into a situation where it will save you a lot more than that.

    13)  Liquid cooling.  One could argue for a cheap liquid cooling system in the basic build if you're going to heavily overclock the processor.  Add a few hundred dollars more and you can get a higher end liquid cooling system, and liquid cool the video card(s), too.

    If you're an overclocking enthusiast who likes to tinker with things, and doesn't mind risking screwing up on assembly, leaking water, and frying your system, then go ahead.  High end liquid cooling systems don't make sense for most people.

    14)  A discrete sound card.  If you're an over the top audiophile with a $300 speaker set, then maybe you want a discrete sound card.  For most people, the integrated sound on the motherboard is plenty good enough.  For most people, I'd recommend trying the integrated sound on the motherboard, and only getting a discrete sound card in the unlikely event that the integrated sound is insufficient.

    -----

    Now, you don't have enough room in your budget to fit everything up there.  But you can say, this one sounds cool, that sounds like a waste of money, pick your priorities, and say what you want.

    You sound like you prefer Nvidia video cards to AMD.  If it's a strong preference and you won't even consider AMD, that's fine.  While AMD has handily won this generation from a business perspective, getting equivalent performance from Nvidia cards means on average that you maybe pay an extra $10 up front and have to deal with an extra 20% power consumption from the video cards.  The $10 figure is only "on average", and occasionally the Nvidia option is actually cheaper.  The extra power consumption is also manageable in a desktop with one or two GPUs, and Nvidia has put some very good coolers on their high end reference cards.  I'd strongly advise against Quad SLI at this time, though.

    If you already have a keyboard that you like, then keep it.  Keyboards today aren't much better than keyboards from 20 years ago.  If it's really old, you may need to make sure it has either a USB or PS/2 connector, which were introduced in 1996 and 1987, respectively, or else you may be unable to plug it in.

    You make it sound like you already have a monitor.  Is that true, or are you saying, you want to get a 24" Samsung monitor?

    You sound like you need a new mouse.  A wired USB laser mouse will probably work very well.  How many buttons, where they should go, how heavy the mouse should be, and how it should be shaped, are matters of opinion.  Some of the more expensive mice come with dumb gimmicks to try to justify a higher price tag.  (Works on glass!  On mirrored surfaces!  Has removal weights!)  The only thing that I'd really warn against is that wireless is intrinsically less reliable than wired.

    Personally, I like this mouse:

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16826623004

    It works flawlessly, and it's cheap.  Cheap might not just be in the price sense, though; I've worn quite a bit of the paint off of it from use, and the plastic will flex in some spots if you push on it.

    The other usual peripherals are speakers and a surge protector.  If you already have parts of those that you like, then you can keep them, unless you want to get an uninterruptible power supply instead of a surge protector.

    If you want to keep the old computer active, in addition to getting a new computer, then you'll need new peripherals even for the parts you want to keep.  You could need a new router, or may want a KVM switch in order to have multiple computers share a keyboard, mouse, or monitor that you can switch at the press of a button.  Most people don't do that, though, but have the new computer replace the old.  Personally, I still have my old computer, but have a KVM switch set up so that I can press a button and switch between one monitor for each computer or both monitors attached to my new computer.  I use the latter most of the time, but switch to one monitor for each computer when I need to boot up the old one for something or other.

  • OoklarOoklar Member Posts: 5

    Thanks Quizz really appreciate the input.

    Question about the hard drive. SSD used for main use ie games etc then throw a large cap hard disk in there for general storage correct?

    As for my keyboard the ole type m has a ps2 connector np there.

    Mouse  Ive been using logitechs mx 1k  wireless for uh 5 years ish this thing has been solid as a rock. Though I did have to take it apart to clean all the cat hair out of it  =P just like new now.

    Monitor  atm using samsung 204t thing is great but Id like a little more real-estate. I do admit the 3 monitor panorama is tempting though that would mean getting a bigger desk.

    CPU I5 or I7 seems to be pretty close to call honestly Ive never been fond of the overclocking theory. Seems to me ocing = more heat and stress on the components for minor gains.

    Vid card ya just gave me another thing to go back and research. Im not sold on the nvidia cards but I was under the impression they had overtaken amd cards in preformance.

    What KVM switch do you use I really like that option . The new computer will not be using anything from my old one its about 6+ years old now so its time for a full build on a new box.

    Going to go onto Newegg and revise my shopping cart save will post what Im thinking here when Im done would appreciate your critique of it when ya have the time.

    Thanks again for all that info.

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Member LegendaryPosts: 23,215

    If you get both an SSD and a hard drive, then you physically plug both into SATA ports before you turn on the computer.  When you go to install Windows, it will ask where you want to install it, and you pick the SSD.  That will format the SSD for you; you may have to format the hard drive separately later.

    Anyway, once that is done, you'll have an SSD as your C: drive and a hard drive as your D: drive, or maybe with different letters than that.  Whenever you go to install something or save something, it asks you where you want to put it.  If you put it anywhere on the C: drive, that puts it on the SSD, and anywhere on the D: drive puts it on the hard drive.  Thus, you can readily control what goes on the SSD and what goes on the hard drive.

    For desktops, the main problem with hard drives is that you have to wait for the drive to physically spin to the right spot before it can do anything.  That can easily take as much as 15 ms.  For a single large file, if you only have to wait for it to move to the right spot, and then it can read or write continuously for the rest of the file, it's not a big deal.  If you want to load hundreds of small files at once, and have to wait 10 ms before each file for the hard drive to spin to the right spot, then you have to sit there and wait.  A solid state drive reduces the penalty between files from something on the order of 10 ms to something on the order of 0.1 ms.  Multiply that by hundreds of files and it still doesn't add up to much.

    The basic idea is that you put files that will typically be read one at a time on the hard drive.  This includes videos, music, and pictures, among other things.  Meanwhile, if loading a program means the program has to load hundreds of small files, you put that on the SSD and it will load much faster.  This is especially the case with web browsers.  A lot of games will have zillions of small textures and sounds and so forth that have to be loaded when you enter a zone, and loading them off of an SSD saves quite a bit of time.

    The only advantage of a hard drive is that it's much cheaper in $/GB.  If not for that, you'd just get a big SSD and skip the hard drive entirely.  But if you have 1 TB of data that doesn't benefit from the speed of an SSD, you don't really lose any performance by getting a big hard drive and putting the data on the hard drive, but you do save a lot of money.  If you don't have a lot of data, then you don't need a hard drive at all.

    If you have too many programs to fit them all on your SSD, then you have to prioritize.  You can move some that you don't use much to the hard drive, or perhaps uninstall them entirely.  If you want to have 50 large commercial games installed and have easy access to every single one of them every day, they're not going to fit on the SSD.  If you tend to play one particular game for weeks or months at a time and then move on to the next, it's easy to put the one particular game that you're playing on the SSD, and when you switch to a different game, put the new one on the SSD, too, and move the old one off if you need to make room.

    Some games take a lot more space than others, but you're probably looking at at least 107 GB of usable capacity, and off hand, I'm not aware of any particular games that take more than 30 GB.  A lot of games will only take a few GB.  That means you probably have room for several games on the SSD at once.  Just not several dozen, unless most of them are pretty small games.

    Other advantages of solid state drives are that they're completely silent, barely use any power, and are nearly indestructable.  These are really only advantages if you can get by with just an SSD and no hard drive.  For example, an SSD and no hard drive means you're free of the humming noise that hard drives make, but if you get both an SSD and a hard drive, it's just as noisy as if you didn't have the SSD.  The power consumption and durability are important in a laptop, but don't matter much in a desktop.  On durability, if you drop your laptop while it is running, an SSD inside won't be damaged, but a hard drive might.  Desktop cases tend not to be dropped while the desktop is in use.

    -----

    The Core i5 2500K and Core i7 2600K are different bins of the same die.  A bunch of processor dies come out of the same production machinery at Intel's fabs.  Intel takes some of them and sets the default clock speed to 3.4 GHz and sells them as Core i7 2600K.  They take others and disable hyperthreading and a bit of cache, set the default clock speed to 3.3 GHz, and sell them as Core i5 2500K.  Yet other dies get sold as Core i7 2630QM, 2720QM, 2820QM, or 2920XM laptop processors.  Some dies get thrown in the garbage because some defect made one of the cores or memory controllers or whatever simply not work.  This can be a case where a given wafer gets broken into 150 or whatever theoretically identical dies, and some dies from that same wafer go into each of the different bins.

    Now, they don't pick the dies completely at random.  If hyperthreading doesn't work, it has to be a Core i5 2500K, as that's the only bin that disables hyperthreading.  If some of the cache doesn't work, it has to go into one of the bins that disables some cache.  The Core i7 2720QM, 2820QM, and 2920XM are probably the most restrictive bins, as while those bins don't have to run that fast, they do have to hit particular performance levels with fairly low power consumption.

    Most of the dies that get sold as a Core i5 2500K probably could just as well have been sold as a Core i7 2600K.  Most of the dies in either bin can be overclocked to 4.5 GHz.  Nearly all of them could be overclocked to 4 GHz safely.  Intel doesn't sell any with that high of a stock clock speed because they'd have to list a much higher TDP such as 150 W.  That the Core i7 2600K has a default clock speed of 3.4 GHz while the Core i5 2500K has a default clock speed of 3.3 GHz is pretty arbitrary--and easily changed by the end user.  It really isn't a meaningful advantage for the 2600K.

    Now, I'm not saying that you should overclock the processor.  You can easily reduce power consumption by lowering the clock speed and voltage.  Indeed, that's exactly what Intel does to get the laptop bins of the same processor dies.  Incidentally, at stock settings, a Core i5 2500K will clock a single core as high as 4.1 GHz if the core is maxed out, the other cores are idle, and heat and power consumption are at safe levels.  A Core i7 2600K will push a core as high as 4.2 GHz.  Put a better cooler on the processor and get a better motherboard to safely deliver more power and it's pretty safe to set all of the cores to 4.2 GHz and leave them there.

    Of course, I don't think you should actually do that unless you hit some program where you actually need the extra performance.  If you're limited by your video card in games anyway, then overclocking the processor only means more power consumption, more heat, and more stress on components.

    -----

    A GeForce GTX 580 is the fastest single GPU card on the market.  Meanwhile, a Radeon HD 6950 typically offers about 3/4 of the performance for about half of the price tag and less than 2/3 of the power consumption.  In light of that, is the GeForce GTX 580 really such a good deal?

    Nvidia does have the fastest single GPU card on the market.  If you allow multiple GPU cards, AMD has the fastest in the Radeon HD 6990.  This is largely because with two GPUs on a die, the limit is how much heat you can safely dissipate, not how fast the GPUs could have run if you could keep them cool.  AMD beats Nvidia in performance per watt by around 20%, so AMD can get about 20% more performance in any power envelope.  Now, in a desktop, the difference between 100 W and 120 W isn't terribly important.  The difference between 375 W and 450 W in a single card sure is important if it means that the 450 W card overheats and fries.

    AMD also beats Nvidia handily in performance per mm^2 of die size.  Thus, if you want a card with a given level of performance, it's cheaper for AMD to build that card for you than it is for Nvidia to build that card.  This mainly means that AMD makes a lot more money on each card they sell, which isn't really your concern unless you own stock in either company.

    But it also means that AMD has more room to undercut Nvidia on prices, and stronger incentives to do so.  If cutting prices by $10 means you sell 20% more cards, with the extra sales taken away from the other company, then that's a lot more tempting if you were previously making $100 per card (and hence get 8% more profit as a result of the price cut) than if you were only making $20 per card (and hence get 40% less profit as a result of the price cut).  That usually, but not always, leads to AMD cards at a given performance level being a little cheaper than Nvidia cards.

    There are also differences in features between AMD and Nvidia cards.  I mentioned Eyefinity and stereoscopic 3D above.  Nvidia offers CUDA, and if you don't already know what that is, then you don't need it, and if you ever do need something equivalent to it in the future, CUDA will probably be obsolete by then.

    Nvidia also offers GPU PhysX, that is, running physics computations on a video card rather than a processor.  Doing this properly requires a second card dedicated to PhysX computations--and hence not used in SLI to increase frame rates.  It gives you some fancy graphical effects that, after several years of Nvidia pushing PhysX, are only used in three meaningful games (Mirror's Edge, Batman: Arkham Asylum, and Mafia II).  If you're a huge fan of one of those three games, then maybe GPU PhysX is important to you; if not, then it doesn't matter a bit.  Any of those games can run well on AMD cards, too, simply by turning down the physics effects and running them on the processor.

    AMD offers MLAA, that is, morphological anti-aliasing.  This is a post-processing effect that mimics anti-aliasing.  It looks nice in some games, but tends to blur text, which can look really bad.  AMD is working on fixing the latter, as they want to create tools to let game designers say, this is the UI, don't apply MLAA here.  Regardless, you can turn MLAA on or off as you prefer, and you can use it either instead of or in addition to anti-aliasing.  MLAA is compatible with any game, even if the game doesn't support anti-aliasing.

    AMD offers PowerTune in their Radeon HD 6900 series cards (but not older or lower end cards).  This monitors power consumption by the GPU, and if it gets too high, it will adjust clock speeds on the fly to whatever they'd need to be in order to keep power consumption from going above a certain limit, e.g., 250 W.  This keeps the GPU from overheating, and is more effective than the traditional approach of cutting clock speeds way down after the GPU overheats, because it prevents overheating before it happens.

    PowerTune can also adjust clock speeds more smoothly, as rather than saying, you're running at 880 MHz now and overheating, so we have to cut the clock speed to 200 MHz to avoid frying (which messes up your game), it can say, it's using a little too much power at 880 MHz, but if we cut it to 850 MHz, we'll be right at the power cap, so let's cut the clock speed to 850 MHz.  And then if the load decreases a few seconds later, it detects that and puts the clock speed back up to the normal 880 MHz.

    The big advantage of PowerTune is that if you run a program that pushes your video card much harder than most other programs, PowerTune doesn't have to have any clue what the program is.  It just sees that it's pushing the GPU hard and cuts the clock speed to compensate, long before any damage could be caused.  Nvidia has to rely on recognizing the program in drivers and saying, for this particular program, we have to cut the clock speeds down.  If a new program comes out and you run it before Nvidia is aware that it can overheat cards, then maybe your video card overheats or even dies.  StarCraft II caused problems like this for some Nvidia cards until Nvidia discovered it and updated their drivers.

    Now, it's also possible to keep cards safe by massively overengineering the power circuitry, heatsink, and fan.  E.g., if you think a card should never draw more than 200 W and you design a card that would be safe at 300 W, then you're safe even if you do hit a program that pulls 250 W.  That adds to the cost of building the cards, though.

    -----

    This is the KVM switch that I use:

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817107407

    The way it works is that you plug the keyboard, mouse, and/or monitor into the central green and gray block.  You then plug the cords coming out of there into each of two computers.  The KVM switch will pass the signals through to one computer or the other.  If you press the Scroll Lock key twice consecutively on the keyboard that is plugged into the KVM switch, then it will switch which computer it passes the signals through to.  (This, incidentally, is the only time I've ever needed the scroll lock key.)

    Personally, I only use it to switch a monitor back and forth.  I have two monitors, one of which is plugged into my newer computer only.  The other monitor is plugged into my KVM switch, and through that, connected to both computers.  Most of the time, I have the second monitor connected to my newer computer.  When I want to use the older computer, I press scroll lock twice, and then have one monitor connected to each.  If I want to switch back, I press scroll lock twice again and it switches back.  Pressing scroll lock twice is vastly easier than crawling around underneath my desk to disconnect a monitor from one computer and plug it into the other, which is why I got the KVM switch in the first place.

    I have a dedicated keyboard and mouse for each computer, and the keyboard that is plugged into the KVM switch is a third keyboard that I got for free because it's old and someone was trying to get rid of it rather than throwing it in the garbage.  The only key in it that I actually need to work is scroll lock, and that's not one that normally gets a lot of wear and tear.  :)  I think the KVM switch draws what little power it needs through the PS/2 port.  It has two lights on it to indicate which computer it is connecting to.

    That particular KVM switch uses PS/2 ports for the keyboard and mouse, and VGA (also known as D-Sub) for the monitor.  You can get other KVM switches that use USB instead of PS/2 and/or DVI instead of VGA or whatever.  It looks like KVM switches for DVI monitors are actually rather expensive, though, so it could be cheaper to use VGA cables and then adapters.

Sign In or Register to comment.