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  1. #1
    Network Hub Ash_firelord's Avatar
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    My noobish upgrade decisions: am I wrong?

    Hello RPS forum! It's been a while - but like any good friend, here I am, back and smiling as soon as I need your help!

    So here's the setup: my summer holidays are coming, and I figure it would be a nice time to clean up and do some minor PC upgrades. My rig:

    Operating System
    MS Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit SP1

    CPU
    Intel Core i5 2500K @ 3.30GHz
    Sandy Bridge 32nm Technology

    Cooler
    Artic Freezer Pro Rev 2

    PSU
    Corsair GS800

    RAM
    8,00 GB DDR3 @ 665MHz (9-9-9-24)

    Motherboard
    Gigabyte Technology Co., Ltd. Z68X-UD4-B3 (Socket 1155)

    Graphics
    SAMSUNG (1920x1080@60Hz)
    NVIDIA GeForce GTX 570 (EVGA SC)

    Hard Drives
    977GB Seagate ST31000528AS ATA Device (SATA)

    Optical Drives
    TSSTcorp CDDVDW SH-S223C ATA Device

    Audio
    Realtek High Definition Audio

    Tower
    NOX Coolbay HX
    The obvious upgrade is an SSD, of course - I'm looking at the Samsung 830; the 128GB seems a no-brainer, and I'm tempted to strech my budget for the 256GB version.

    Secondly, I'm not entirely satisfied with the way the onboard audio card interacts with my dolby surround sistem, so I'm considering getting one of the cheapest ASUS XONAR audio cards. I feel pleasently geeky about having a dedicated audio card on my rig! :D

    Any toughts? I dind't mention budget because I haven't really figured one out; under 400€ would be nice, but I'm flexible.

    Bonus question:


    A windows reinstall is eminent. Any instalation/configuration tweaks sugested for maximum gaming performance? Recomended performance-boosting apps? Low-impact security tools?

    Thanks, I'm looking forward to upgrade my gaming setup knowledge with your help!
    Last edited by Ash_firelord; 10-08-2012 at 08:17 AM. Reason: More specific specs
    Is "Luis_Magalh„es" on the RPS comment threads.
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  2. #2
    Network Hub Hunchback's Avatar
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    Your rig is pretty decent already. Get the SSD you want, use it just for the OS. Apparently the system perf boost is amazing, but it won't change a thing in gaming.

    Then get ASUS Xonar DGX and you should be set.

    As for windows - i wouldn't suggest using "boosters" and shit like that, it's more likely to break than make.
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  3. #3
    Network Hub Ash_firelord's Avatar
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    Hey Hunchback! Thanks for your advice!

    So the SSD doesn't impact gaming at all? I was led to understand that, as more and more games load assets on the fly, using one would prevent annoying stutters in open worlds / wide levels. Did I get it wrong?

    Is the XONAR DGX very different from the XONAR DG PCI? I ask because my GTX570 is pretty bulky and is right below the PCI-Express port, and I'm woried that sticking a card there would lead to excessive heating of both parts. That said, the XONAR DGX seems thin enough!

    Thanks again!
    Is "Luis_Magalh„es" on the RPS comment threads.
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    Make fun of me for all the games I own and haven't finished: http://backloggery.com/ash_firelord
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  4. #4
    Network Hub Ash_firelord's Avatar
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    About "boosters":

    I believe I was not clear when I talked about the windows reinstaliation; my fault. I'm not looking for those programs that claim to "free up your ram" or otherwise magically boost performance.

    What I'd like to know is if it's worthwhile messing with windows settings and services, for example; if it's worthwhile using the "soft overclock" software that comes bundled with my EVGA GTX and Gigabyte MB; and what kind of security - Firewall / AV / etc - setup I can achieve without compromising gaming performance.

    What do you think?
    Is "Luis_Magalh„es" on the RPS comment threads.
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    Make fun of me for all the games I own and haven't finished: http://backloggery.com/ash_firelord
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  5. #5
    Network Hub Hunchback's Avatar
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    About SSD - If you mean to install your games on it, then by all means it should boost loading times at the least, and probably general performance as well. I just didn't consider that options, since the prices are still damn high on SSD and space is low. Then again if you get a 200gb or so one, and only play 2-3 games you should be fine.

    About the soundcard - I think both cards have the same specs, but i am not sure and by no means an expert. Check the detailed specs on the asus site. I suggested the DGX because it's PCI-E and that's the future. Since you wouldn't really need to upgrade your sound card in the near and far future, going for the PCI-E version seems the better choice of investement to me. In short, MBs will come with PCI-E only slots sooner than you'll need to upgrade your sound.

    As for software - I am not sure about all those soft-oc, i did use them at some point then dropped them after a system reinstall. To be honest i don't notice any difference. Windows 7 already manages CPU clocks. It doesn't manage fans though so you might want to install some software that does that. I don't use anything like that at the moment, but i am not really a reference in top-tuned system. As for security and AV, i am using Microsoft Security Essentials, since i am running a genuine Windows nowadays. It's lightweight enough and seems to be doing as well as any other AV as far as prevention goes. It seems slightly less effective at disinfection though, i once caught a virus by forcing the execution of an infected .exe and the AV failed to remove it. Spent a day or two reading the net and using 150 tools and reg editing and shit to get rid of it.
    Note: I DID get my Battle.Net account hacked by a key tracker and MSE didn't ever notice it, keep that in mind.
    Other than that, the basic windows 7 firewall is good enough for me. It's also free, like MSE.
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  6. #6
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    You could fit quite a few games on a 200GB SSD.

    But I really don't think you'd notice anything past faster loading times.

  7. #7
    Network Hub Ash_firelord's Avatar
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    Great! Thanks for the help so far, it certainly clears up some points that I read during my research.

    I've read somewhere (please correct me if I'm wrong) that leaving 10% SSD space unpartitioned will increase lifetime and decrese the rate of performance loss. That would make the usable splece on a 128GB something like 115.

    My current windows install drive is at roughly 50GB. Perhaps I could cut off some fluff but as it stands, that would leave me with 65GB for games.

    Considering some of my always-instaled-because-I-play-them-often games are pretty huge (World of Warcraft, Diablo 3, etc), the remaining space on a 128GB is feeling pretty limited. :/

    New question: viable to get a 128GB for now, and then add another one later on? Or would that cause performance issues?

    Thanks for all the responses so far!
    Is "Luis_Magalh„es" on the RPS comment threads.
    My games-related blog: http://gamingmarmite.blogspot.com/
    Make fun of me for all the games I own and haven't finished: http://backloggery.com/ash_firelord
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  8. #8
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Sakkura's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ash_firelord View Post
    New question: viable to get a 128GB for now, and then add another one later on? Or would that cause performance issues?
    Nothing wrong with that, as long as your case has room, and your PSU and motherboard have available connectors. Your motherboard seems to have an extra SATA controller, raising the number of SATA3 ports from the standard 2 (with Intel Z68 Express) to 4, so it looks like you're good. Just check your manual for what should be connected where.

  9. #9
    Network Hub Hunchback's Avatar
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    Didn't know SSDs had "life span" really. Do they get damaged?
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  10. #10
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Sakkura's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hunchback View Post
    Didn't know SSDs had "life span" really. Do they get damaged?
    They can only sustain a limited amount of write cycles. They get worn out eventually. But as long as you don't do silly things like defragment it, it's still going to last several years before it becomes a problem.

    HDDs would get worn out over time too, but it would take far more write cycles. They're more susceptible to wearing out mechanically (something that doesn't affect SSDs).

    This kind of wearing would also just manifest as gradual performance degradation, not just a sudden *poof* dead drive. With current-generation firmware, I don't think it's something to worry about.

  11. #11
    Lesser Hivemind Node Shooop's Avatar
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    A SSD is always a good choice if you can afford it, but keep your old fashioned HDD. You can use it for storage and programs that don't take advantage of the SSD's speed. And whatever you do NEVER defrag it.

    A dedicated sound card is essential if you listen to music, onboard has come a long way but it's still lagging behind. But I've had nothing but trouble with anything ASUS, including a XONAR I used to have so keep your warranty close at hand.

    Seems like a solid build to me. What are you hoping to run?

  12. #12
    Network Hub Ash_firelord's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shooop View Post
    A SSD is always a good choice if you can afford it, but keep your old fashioned HDD. You can use it for storage and programs that don't take advantage of the SSD's speed. And whatever you do NEVER defrag it.
    Doesn't Windows 7 automatically defrag stuff without even asking?

    A dedicated sound card is essential if you listen to music, onboard has come a long way but it's still lagging behind. But I've had nothing but trouble with anything ASUS, including a XONAR I used to have so keep your warranty close at hand.
    I think that's just audio cards being finicky in general. I've had trouble with Creative and Auzentech, I might as well try my luck with Asus. At least it's a relatively inexpensive product.

    Seems like a solid build to me. What are you hoping to run?
    Mostly anything. I have a preference for open-world games and RPGs in general.

    But really, I like to enjoy a wide variety of games and to have the pleasure of going to the graphic settings and cranking them all as far up as they'll go. I play on an HDTV at 1920x1080, and all thigns considered, it's not an extereme resolution, thus so far my rig has been able to max out most games.

    I do feel that performance is slightly less than what I would expect from my rig - ocasional stutters and framerate issues - hence me asking about optimization tips and strategies. Also, I figure the HDD is somewhat of a bottleneck.

    I'm not looking for a huge jump in performance here, just the cherry on top of the cake. :)
    Is "Luis_Magalh„es" on the RPS comment threads.
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    Make fun of me for all the games I own and haven't finished: http://backloggery.com/ash_firelord
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  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Sakkura View Post
    They can only sustain a limited amount of write cycles. They get worn out eventually. But as long as you don't do silly things like defragment it, it's still going to last several years before it becomes a problem.

    HDDs would get worn out over time too, but it would take far more write cycles. They're more susceptible to wearing out mechanically (something that doesn't affect SSDs).

    This is largely a thing of the past now. When SSDs were still 'new', they didn't come with a command called TRIM - Which recognises and deletes unnecessary copies of files that are left over after the new files have been written to the drive. TRIM has boosted the life of SSDs to that of a standard HDD now. With normal usage you can expect to get 5-7 years out of one before you should think about replacing it.

  14. #14
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Sakkura's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alex Bakke View Post
    This is largely a thing of the past now. When SSDs were still 'new', they didn't come with a command called TRIM - Which recognises and deletes unnecessary copies of files that are left over after the new files have been written to the drive. TRIM has boosted the life of SSDs to that of a standard HDD now. With normal usage you can expect to get 5-7 years out of one before you should think about replacing it.
    That's why I said it's not really a concern with current-generation firmware. It's still not on par with HDDs in this regard though.

  15. #15
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    Windows 7 also detects that a drive is an SSD and deactivates defragmentation.

    Bear in mind that games these days are designed for consoles, which tend to run off optical disks! SSDs rarely prove worthwhile for speeding up games, bar minor speedups with loading screens. PC exclusives get larger benefits, but even then your primary reason for buying an SSD should not be games, to put it simply. An SSD does marvels to the overall snappiness of the OS, but it's not going to improve frame rates.

    This isn't to say you shouldn't get one. I couldn't think of making a new computer without putting an SSD in it nowadays.

  16. #16
    Network Hub Ash_firelord's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FriendlyFire View Post

    Bear in mind that games these days are designed for consoles, which tend to run off optical disks! SSDs rarely prove worthwhile for speeding up games, bar minor speedups with loading screens. PC exclusives get larger benefits, but even then your primary reason for buying an SSD should not be games, to put it simply. An SSD does marvels to the overall snappiness of the OS, but it's not going to improve frame rates.
    Thanks for pointing that out. :) While people have focused on the SSD part of my question - understandably so, since it's the biggest investment - I was also looking for more general performance tips.

    I understand that an SSD will not improve framerate - although I have been led to believe that it might reduce stutter from caching and loading on-the-fly.

    I mentioned framerate because I was hoping for someone to give me some tips as to how to make the most out of my rig, performance-wise.

    Thanks for the input so far people, it's been educational. :)
    Is "Luis_Magalh„es" on the RPS comment threads.
    My games-related blog: http://gamingmarmite.blogspot.com/
    Make fun of me for all the games I own and haven't finished: http://backloggery.com/ash_firelord
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  17. #17
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Sakkura's Avatar
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    Well if you want more performance, an obvious solution would be to overclock. What CPU cooler do you have, and what particular make and model is your GTX 570?

    You could also add another GTX 570 for a major improvement, but of course that's not going to be cheap. And it requires a PSU that can handle the extra card.

  18. #18
    Network Hub Ash_firelord's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sakkura View Post
    Well if you want more performance, an obvious solution would be to overclock. What CPU cooler do you have, and what particular make and model is your GTX 570?

    You could also add another GTX 570 for a major improvement, but of course that's not going to be cheap. And it requires a PSU that can handle the extra card.
    My GTX 570 is an EVGA SC; the PSU is a corsair GS800.
    Cooler is an Artic Freezer Pro Rev 2.

    When I first got my card, I dabbled with the steps described on the EVGA forum's OC guides, but I didn't notice much of a diference. I then concluded that OC'ing was something that was nice to get benchmark scores to show off online, but would have little impact on my gaming. Was my conclusion premature?

    Thanks for bringing this to my attention, what would you recomend I check next?
    Is "Luis_Magalh„es" on the RPS comment threads.
    My games-related blog: http://gamingmarmite.blogspot.com/
    Make fun of me for all the games I own and haven't finished: http://backloggery.com/ash_firelord
    Feel free to add me on twitter if you want to know my semi-regular opinions on game stuff: @luis_maga

  19. #19
    Network Hub Ash_firelord's Avatar
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    P.S.: my box is a NOX Coolbay HX. Ventilation is fine, but I think I would struggle to fit another high-profile GTX570.

    At any rate, I'm planning to get a GPU upgrade after the new next-gen consoles come out, I figure that will have me set for most of the generation. My GT8800 certainly lasted most of this one.
    Is "Luis_Magalh„es" on the RPS comment threads.
    My games-related blog: http://gamingmarmite.blogspot.com/
    Make fun of me for all the games I own and haven't finished: http://backloggery.com/ash_firelord
    Feel free to add me on twitter if you want to know my semi-regular opinions on game stuff: @luis_maga

  20. #20
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Sakkura's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ash_firelord View Post
    My GTX 570 is an EVGA SC; the PSU is a corsair GS800.
    Cooler is an Artic Freezer Pro Rev 2.

    When I first got my card, I dabbled with the steps described on the EVGA forum's OC guides, but I didn't notice much of a diference. I then concluded that OC'ing was something that was nice to get benchmark scores to show off online, but would have little impact on my gaming. Was my conclusion premature?

    Thanks for bringing this to my attention, what would you recomend I check next?
    Well, you can overclock your CPU as well as your graphics card. Depending on what's the worst bottleneck in each game, it'll impact the framerate more or less. Something like Skyrim or WoW probably wouldn't notice if you overclocked your graphics card, but overclocking your CPU could help quite a bit. The majority of games will be the other way around.

    Since your graphics card is already overclocked from the factory, there may not be a lot more room to scale. You might want to check what temperatures you get when you put it under load. I use HWMonitor for it, there are lots of other options though.

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