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MOBO/CPU/Video suggestions on the cheap

Discussion in 'Sim Racing Hardware' started by bmwisme, Apr 18, 2011.

  1. Looking to upgrade the components on an older build to handle some of the latest games - Shift 2 in particular. Any suggestions on MOBO, CPU, and Graphics card - keeping in mind I must keep the costs way down (between jobs!). Best BANG-FOR-THE-BUCK!

    AMD 929 socket MOBO
    AMD Athlon X2 3800+
    Radeon HD 4650 PCIx 2, 1GB GDDR2

    ***Would like to keep case (Cooler Master), power supply (500W Enermax), etc.
    *** Must support 2 DVI flat panels (for real work!)

    Anyone! Love Shift 2 on PS3 but hear experience much better on PC. Have Logitech DFGT wheel.
  2. Jim Cole

    Jim Cole

    According to the specs on the game, your rig should run NFS Shift 2. I have no idea what the graphics will look like running with that setup, but it should run. If you are looking for the best visual and fps that the game will run, then obviously you will be spending a bit of cash.

    However if you are looking to upgrade your system, and want one that will do the job for most current titles, there are a couple of things I would change. First off, more ram. Windows XP, Vista and 7 32 bit are capable of handling 4 gigs of ram and will use a lot of it when running. This is the single biggest thing you can do to see improvement at low cost to you.

    You can get fairly inexpensive motherboards and processors online if you look for combo deals. I would look at a minimum of an Athlon II running at 2.8gig or faster and for video card the 5870 is nice, but is still fairly expensive all things considered. You might look to see what a 4770 costs to keep price down, and the XX70 cards are usually the best from ATI.

    As for being able to use dual monitors, the more desktop real estate you have, the more powerful your graphics card is going to need to be. If however you get a motherboard that has dual PCIe slots, you could consider using your old card for the second monitor and the new card for the main monitor. This config would give you enough horse power to be able to handle the dual monitors and not have an issue during game play.
  3. Thanks Jim for your input. While I have been building/tinkering/supporting computers and networks for quite a few years, I am not a big "gamer", hence this question on gaming hardware suggestions. I am very comfortable building computer and servers for work!

    Your suggestion of two graphics cards makes very good sense - from a performance standpoint.

    Like I had mentioned, I would like to keep as much from my current build as possible to keep costs down. At the very least, I know that I need a new MOBO and CPU. If my Radeon HD 4650 won't do the gaming job, I will use for the second "work" monitor.

    The price of your Radeon 5870 suggestion is a little high but I am not disputing if you are recommending on need for what I am trying to do (racing sims). I am not finding a 4770 in my search (Newegg).

    In my research, it seems that the Intel i5 is out performing a similar AMD. I don't know though if enough to warrent the price.


    Can I get a decent MOBO/CPU for $200?

    1) What is a good bang-for-the-buck MOBO/CPU?
    2) How much do I need to spend on a graphics card to handle the current racing sims (within reason!)?
  4. Jim Cole

    Jim Cole

  5. Jim Cole

    Jim Cole

    For less than $350 you can get motherboard, CPU and ATI HD 5570 graphics card. The CPU that comes with that motherboard is very nice in that it is a black edition CPU which can be overclocked relatively easily.
  6. OK, with suggestions and a little research this is what I am thinking... enough to run the current racing sims?

    AMD Phenom II X4 965 Blk. Ed. Deneb 3.4GHz
    Sapphire Vapor-X Radeon HD 5770 PCIx 2.1 x16 1GB
    G.Skill Ripjaws Series 2x4GB (8GB total) DDR3 1333
    ....all after rebates $425
  7. Jim Cole

    Jim Cole

    Not a bad price for it and yes that should do the trick for you. One word of advice though, make sure you are running a 64bit operating system as 32bit systems won't be able to use anything over 4gig and that includes the video memory in the count. Your current idea there would add up to 10 gig if you keep your old card for the other monitor.
  8. Thanks again Jim... this thread has 58 views but you have been the only one with suggestions - thought that the computer sim community would be better help for a gaming newbe.
    Anyway, you got me on the right track. I have run the Race 07 and Race On demos with my current setup and surprisingly they run pretty well if I stay away from AA. Force feedback feels so much better than on the consoles.
    I now just need to get off the fence and order some parts to take better advantage of what these sims have to offer.

    Can I ask two quick questions:

    1) In rFactor demo there was a startup parameter to take advantage of both of my CPU cores - anything similar for the Race sims?
    2) What are the best "current" racing sim/s? I am going back to Grand Prix Legends and Sports Car GT the last I was gaming on a computer (dating myself!).
  9. Jim Cole

    Jim Cole

    I am not up to speed on any of the new sims out there and I am no expert on Race either. I can't even say for certain that the game doesn't use more than a single core as I have never looked to see what my performance monitor says when I am racing. I have heard that the "fix" for rFactor to use multiple cores may actually slow the game down a little due to system overhead from trying to send a single threaded application across multiple threads.

    If you find a great sim out there that isn't that expensive to buy and doesn't cost anything to play, let me know :)
  10. We're watching, but Jim's giving you good advice. The system you outlined above should perform fine with the current sims. I just updated my #3 machine (now #2) 'on the cheap' with a PhenomII-840 and ATI 5670 (less than what you've outlined), and it is not really noticeably slower than my i7-950/5850 #1 rig in running the sims.

    If there is an explicit setting for Race to use multiple cores, I don't know of it, but it may very well do it on its own. (I'll need to bring up the CPU monitor on screen 2 next time I run the game to see if there's any activity on any of the other cores).

    The 'best' current sims are, of course, relative, and I don't want to get anything started but the four that seem to get the most play are (in no particular order): rFactor, RACE series, netKar Pro, and iRacing. They all have pros and cons. GT Legends and GTR2 also have some following but are, of course, a little older. Don't have much experience with CodeMasters or NFS titles.

    There are hints and teases of rFactor2 and GTR3. I imagine they will run fine on today's hardware, assuming they are actually released this year.
  11. Thanks guys... I noticed one core loaded more than the other when running Race 07/On. I noticed the same with rFactor but that evened out with the "+fullproc" switch. My current system is pretty light on resources so I was monitoring to see how much I could push.
    My new hardware estimate is rising as I now question if my PSU has enough for the newer stuff (500w). It looks like I can get by with a little less expensive components but I don't want to have regrets in a few months.
  12. Jim Cole

    Jim Cole

    At 500W you are sitting a little close to the edge on the available power. Even though todays hardware is designed to use less power, that doesn't hold true when you are pushing the system with high end gaming or other intensive programs. I would never build a system with a single GPU with less than 600W. I know this may be overkill, but why take a chance on running out of power? The more drives and other items you install into the computer, the more power requirements there are going to be. Each drive uses power and each stick of ram, each video card, each sound card and even each network adapter.
  13. Yes, I know I am on the edge as far as power goes.

    Running Race 07 (1920x1080 32-bit) on my current hardware pushes my Radeon HD 4650 between 85-100%, and my Athlon X2 +3800 between 70-90%. For now, I have decided to get just the graphics card until I have the cash for the rest. I ordered a Sapphire Vapor-X Radeon HD 5770 ($99 after rebate!) - should help out for the short term.

    Having fun with Race.. the force feedback is great.

    Thanks Jim for pointing me in the right direction. Like I have said, I have been building/configuring servers and workstations for the past 5 years but didn't know where to start for the current racing sims. I think the Radeon 5770 series you suggested will do just fine.
  14. Jim Cole

    Jim Cole

    Glad I was able to help out :)
  15. Jim Cole

    Jim Cole

    Thought I would mention that I have just tested the game with my performance monitor up and running. I see in game on my 3core AMD processor that the game uses 2 cores equally so I would think that the game does support multi core processors with no issues, and from what you have said it seems to scale depending on the number of cores available. Yours ran with 1 out of 2, mine ran with 2 out of 3, wonder what it would do with a 6 core CPU :)
  16. i,ll let you know in a week or so,lol
  17. After a little more testing, the Race sims are using both cores on my processor. Sometimes one a little more than the other but I think that is normal.

    For testing, on my second flat panel, I run with the Performance tab open in the Catalyst Control Center to monitor the GPU stats and the Windows 7 task manager for the CPU load.

    I do wonder though what type of performance hit I am taking while running the sims with both flat panels active (1920x1080 on both) - game running full screen on one, the other for monitoring.
  18. Jim Cole

    Jim Cole

    If you are running both monitors off the same graphics card, you are taking a little bit of a hit as the system has to stay on top of keeping those pixels refreshed as well as the ones on your gaming monitor. I have my system setup with 2 graphics cards not in xfire or sli. This way I can run apps or what have you on the second monitor and it takes very little away from the main game.
  19. Running Race with 2 monitors I have 2 of 4 cores running at around 60-70%. If I am running MotecAdd on the #2 monitor, a third core runs about 20%. Other core and all 4 hyperthread virtual cores humming along at about 5%.
  20. Jim Cole

    Jim Cole

    Lot's of head room then for extra stuff Eric, no issues :)