Let's make a gaming PC
  • There's some strong reckons floating around that DDR4 prices will rise again very soon, so if you are planning on building a PC in the near future you would be wise to get your RAM soon. There was a long time last year where prices were basically double what they should be, and only recently have they dropped back to being reasonable. There's actually some great deals around atm. DDR5 is still a few years off also.

    https://www.extremetech.com/computing/294307-if-you-plan-to-upgrade-ram-on-a-ddr4-system-its-time-to-pull-the-trigger
  • Dark Soldier
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    I got 16gb very good DDR4 Corsair Vengeance 2666 for 70 quid off Amazon so as you say prices are sound right now.

    I had a few games dipping to like 55fps at max 4k and the ram has tipped them to a solid 60fps, well happy
  • For those looking to get some now, 3200MHz is the sweet spot, and if you can get 3600 for a little bit more then go for it. Check here. And Corsair is selling some on their site.

    For certain games and applications RAM speed can make a decent amount of difference. And for Ryzen systems in particular it really helps, for the latest 3000 gen of Ryzen 3600 is the max you want, faster than that and a latency penalty happens for reasons.

    Just OC'd my old 3000 kit to 3200, seems stable atm but not had good luck in the past. It might be that new BIOS revisions have helped it out on my mobo.

    Also another general reminder to folks that you need to set the frequency of your shiny new RAM in the motherboard BIOS, otherwise it will probably just run it at a lowly 2133MHz.
  • My flat is so hot right now it's making my PC flip out. Have had to take the sides off to give it some air.
    "Plus he wore shorts like a total cunt" - Bob
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    Similarly, I got one of these to help my laptop survive in Taiwan. I don't have any measurements to verify, but it does seem to be making a difference.

    Plus, thanks to the wonder of exchange rates, it only cost me about £22.

    sunglasses.gif
    From your Taiwan correspondent.
  • My flat is so hot right now it's making my PC flip out. Have had to take the sides off to give it some air.

    Shouldn't be doing that, is that while gaming? Use HWiNFO to check out the sensors and see if something is actually overheating.
  • It was playing Witcher 3. New flat and new setup. Don't think it liked it under the desk. And the flat (in a converted old church loft) is the hottest place I've ever lived in. I don't know what the neighbours do downstairs but the floor is actually warm. I'll do a check just in case.
    "Plus he wore shorts like a total cunt" - Bob
  • I've got a PC Swirl.
    "Plus he wore shorts like a total cunt" - Bob
  • Seems OK after running that thing. No warnings.
    "Plus he wore shorts like a total cunt" - Bob
  • Yeah, even in a pretty hot room it should still continue to work, but maybe just drop GPU or CPU clockspeeds. Things like replacing thermal paste or getting a better heatsink can help, but if it does work fine with the side panels off then that indicates poor airflow. Cleaning dust filters or adding fans in the right places might help, but it could just be the case design.. Many cases have very inadequate front panel designs that block a lot of the air getting in, you need at least an inch of space in front of a fan to allow it to actually move air reasonably efficiently, and things like overly restrictive venting or mesh or dust filters really screw things up too. Also I always recommend customising fan curves for optimal performance/noise, BIOS settings are preferred, though mobo software can be useful to dial it in.
  • Seems OK after running that thing. No warnings.

    What you can do is run the sensors mode in HWiNFO, then maybe right click on things like CPU/GPU/VRM temps to open a little graph that will update over a period of time. Then when you notice an issue while playing alt-tab to see if anything correlates. You should be able to graph the GPU/CPU clockspeeds too, to see if or when things are throttling.

    VRM temps in particular can be something to watch out for, as many motherboards in recent years have used barely adequate heatsinks for the components on the board. Those components can typically handle really hot temps, like over 100c, but too far and the mobo will either shutdown or start throttling CPU performance. VRM overheating symptoms will often seem quite mysterious unless you know what the issue is.
  • Cheers, I'll have a good look tomorrow. It probably needs a good clean, amongst other things.
    "Plus he wore shorts like a total cunt" - Bob
  • Cleaned the PC up today. After a couple of years of thinking my gfx card was the loud thing I've just realised it's the PSU. On heavy load it drowns everything else out and there doesn't appear to be a fix.
    "Plus he wore shorts like a total cunt" - Bob
  • Is it one that has a passive mode? As in the fan doesn't spin at low temperatures when the PC is idle? For my last two case configs I've taken to placing a quiet 140mm fan onto the PSU grille, so that air is blown through to cool it and prevent the fan from spinning up. Actually for this 600Q case which has an upside down inverted layout, I've managed to hold the fan up against the PSU with zip ties.

    I have noticed that PSU fans can be a real problem when quietness is desirable, they typically have noisy bearings, and can't be replaced without opening the thing up which is risky, and they're also usually 135mm.. This is why for all of the last bunch of parts listings I've posted here I include a PSU with a 0% fan mode, a Cooler Master one that has the feature is what I typically add for budget builds. My PSU has an "eco mode" switch that toggles the feature, but at some point under heavy load the fan will switch on, and it's a noisy bugger which is why I took to my little mod which is rather effective.

    If it runs all the time then that is a pain that is not easily solved, best bet would be to upgrade it. You could also use compressed air or a blower to blast any dust out of it which might help.
  • It's just under load. It's idle unless I'm playing something intensive or VR, but when it's on it's really on and really loud. It's either nothing or full spin. Power curve like a cliff.
    "Plus he wore shorts like a total cunt" - Bob
  • Not exactly the right thread but I think close enough, I've just received revised spec for laptop for college this year. First glance seems a bit OTT but I'm interested to see if anyone can guide me where to find something suitable:

    8GB of RAM (16GB recommended)
    64-bit x86 processor (i3 minimum with support for Intel® VT-x, Intel® EM64T (Intel® 64), and Execute Disable (XD) Bit functionality);
    100+ GB of hard disk;
    Wifi card;
    A high speed broadband connection;
    Microsoft® Windows® 7/8/10 (32- or 64-bit)
    [quote=Skerret]Unless someone very obviously insults your loved ones with intent, take nothing here seriously.[/quote]
  • I'll have a look for you tomorrow. Is that Intel gubbins from a copy/paste?

    Edit: oh yeah it's the spec thing nvm.
  • Hodge360 wrote:
    Not exactly the right thread but I think close enough, I've just received revised spec for laptop for college this year. First glance seems a bit OTT but I'm interested to see if anyone can guide me where to find something suitable: 8GB of RAM (16GB recommended) 64-bit x86 processor (i3 minimum with support for Intel® VT-x, Intel® EM64T (Intel® 64), and Execute Disable (XD) Bit functionality); 100+ GB of hard disk; Wifi card; A high speed broadband connection; Microsoft® Windows® 7/8/10 (32- or 64-bit)

    What will this be used for, and what is your rough budget?
  • I've to run android studio for learning java and as little as possible! :D
    [quote=Skerret]Unless someone very obviously insults your loved ones with intent, take nothing here seriously.[/quote]
  • Been having a little look, it's a bit tricky as I'm not super familiar with the needs for programming and such, but it seems like plenty of CPU power and enough RAM are key. So at least 4 cores (4 cores, 8 threads preferred), 16GB RAM, and an SSD should be the starting point I think. There's a lot of factors you could consider, like keyboard and screen quality, ports, build quality etc etc. So check reviews of specific models.

    Amazon, Scan, Ebuyer and probably a few others I can't remember should be fine to buy from, you just need a good returns/warranty in case of issues.

    £300-400 seems like the very lowest for a new laptop that might be at all worth considering. But to get 16GB of RAM stock it looks like you would need to spend more. You can upgrade RAM later on, but check reviews and stuff to see how easy it is to open the laptop up to do so, as many these days have either soldered RAM that you can't upgrade, or are practically glued together to make it very difficult to get it. Ideally they should just have a little hatch with a couple of screws to gain access to the RAM.

    A really good option might be to look for a second hand model, and upgrade it to meet spec. Used Thinkpads can be excellent for example, can save you a ton of money. Let me know if that's something you fancy, and I can look around.

    The 4 core 8 thread i7 8550u processor looks like a good bet, and this seems nice though not super cheap - https://www.amazon.co.uk/Acer-Swift-SF514-52T-Notebook-Multi-touch/dp/B07BQK8V9Q/ref=sr_1_14?crid=VZ17TLMT2RBU&keywords=i7+laptop&qid=1565373982&s=gateway&sprefix=i7+la%2Caps%2C150&sr=8-14
    This is cheaper - https://www.amazon.co.uk/HP-14-CK0599SA-4AZ93EA-Portable-GRAPHICS/dp/B07F3FQQ4L/ref=sr_1_14?keywords=i7+8550u&qid=1565374174&s=gateway&sr=8-14
    I really don't know about things like keyboard quality and such with these.

    Be sure to check if any model has the easy capability to upgrade RAM though, as that can be a project-stopper.
  • Cool, thanks for the info.

    The different "i" processors have been throwing me a bit! Do you reckon i7 is the way to go then? I was thinking i5 may be sufficient but it all gets a bit confusing when comparing them.
    I had looked at comparing with Ryzen chips but that's another rabbit hole of integrated graphics vs GPUs.

    SSD do seem preferred these days.

    Going by Android Studio spec alone, 8GB seems sufficient although I'm not adverse to upgrading RAM. Done it with a previous laptop but I'm disappointed to read it's being made harder by some companies.

    A quick look at Chromebooks or Linux didn't show much options. It seems the OS doesn't affect price as much these days.

    Upgrading a 2nd hand model could be considered but where would you start? I had a look on ebay for i5/i7 with 8GB of RAM but the results were mainly quite old versions of the processors so I wouldn't be too sure about them. How much upgrading can you get away with on a laptop? RAM and HDD are the obvious choices but is it possible or cost-effective to go any further?
    [quote=Skerret]Unless someone very obviously insults your loved ones with intent, take nothing here seriously.[/quote]
  • Yeah so that's why I've taken to just specifying core/thread counts rather than "go for an i7". i3/5/7/9 doesn't mean anything really, it's just a marketing idea to seperate CPUs into performance tiers. Typicially on the desktop i3 was dual core, i5 was quad core without hyperthreading, and i7 was quad core with hyperthreading to make for 8 threads. That generally wasn't the case for laptop processors though where it's all over the place. For example my X230 has an i7 3520m, which is just a dual core with hyperthreading for 4 threads total, so the same as the i5 version but with higher clockspeeds.

    Another thing that really fucking complicates is the Y/U/HQ suffixes; around 2013 Intel moved away from the the 'M' mobile CPUs which were fairly comparable to the desktop equivalents to the 'U' versions which had a much lower base clock to conserve power (lower TDP). For me this meant that most of the laptops that came out later than the X230 I ended up going with had actually slower processors due to the super low power design, it's only in the last couple of years where I could expect to see a decent performance upgrade by getting a new laptop in a similar size class.

    I thought that the 8550U would be a good bet, and it is a solid enough CPU right now, but if you look here - https://www.techspot.com/review/1500-intel-8th-gen-core-quad-core-ultrabooks/page3.html you'll see that in scenarios where all cores are hit that it loses out significantly to older HQ CPUs, this is down to the much lower base clock. Though if you check some other pages you'll see it often does much better, the single core boost and speed will beat out older generations. So yeah it's a bit weird.

    So the way to check a laptop CPU will be to copy/paste the model into a search, check the Intel Ark page to see the core/thread count, year of release, and nanometer (14nm is current for Intel), and TDP (power usage) to get an idea of what it actually is and how it should perform. And reviews such as the one above will help too.

    AMD will be good option soon I hope, but I would wait until the 7nm chips make their way to the laptops, then they will be seriously competitive.

    For your purposes I think getting as fast a CPU as possible will help, 4 threads minimum I would say, but 8 will just be that much nicer, not just for compiling but for general usage too. An SSD is totally essential now for a nice fast computer, for you an NVME M.2 drive might be really nice, but for a low budget SATA will be plenty good enough. 8GB RAM is a good starting point, ability to upgrade is super important though, just in case.

    For an example of what's possible with used laptops I'll talk about what I did with my Thinkpad X230: I bought the IPS screen model from ebay for around £170 a few years ago, it came with a HDD and 4GB of RAM. I went and bought a new 256GB SSD, used 120GB MSATA SSD (it had another slot inside that had some kind of wireless mobile data modem in it that I didn't need), used 8GB of SODIMM DDR3 RAM, a new genuine Lenovo big battery, and a new replacement keyboard (which I didn't strictly need, there was just a loose key on the left arrow I think, slightly annoying). It also had Windows 10 Pro with the licence linked to the machine, so when I reinstalled on an SSD it auto-activated, nice.

    I forget how much all this cost in total but I don't think it was much over £300, and considering that I got a spare battery which I could keep with me, and a spare keyboard module, I think that was a pretty damn good deal at the time. For my purposes at uni doing music production and taking notes and such it was totally perfect, even today I would still 100% take it over any Macbook (what most others were using), even if they were the same overall price. It's just more practical and nice to use.

    The extended battery that sticks out the back of the machine acts as a nice handle to keep a grip on it, I can even hold it upside down in one hand like that! It made it easy to use while standing and walking around holding it in one hand while in the studios. The keyboard is nice to use, much better than most laptops, and the trackpoint nub is something I never want to go back from. The nub means you can keep your hands in position over the home row and switch between mousing and typing seamlessly, and for adjusting the little knobs in the music software I use it's a million times nicer than trying to use just the trackpad. The SD card slot is very handy (newer Macbook 'Pro' laptops have done away with this for some reason, top lols), I bought a 128GB card that was awesome for transferring projects and files back and forth between the Imacs there and my machine.

    It's still a great machine, but I would recommend something with a little more oomph for your purposes. It's tricky though, the Thinkpads that came after mine started to use the bloody U processors, so are actually slower... And I don't think they increased the core counts until the last couple of X series gens, by which point the daft bastards have done away with the easy swappable batteries, just a fixed internal. So they fucked it basically. A T series from a few years ago might be a good bet... I'll have a look.
  • Oof that's a wall, sorry.

    Jesus, Intel really have been taking the piss for years now. Looking at the T470 for example, every processor was a bloody dual core U model, utter shite. I really hope AMD will be able to push hard into the laptop market, it remains to be seen though.
  • Ok spotted this - https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Lenovo-ThinkPad-T460p-i7-6820HQ-16GB-Mem-512GB-SSD-Win10Pro-Nvidia-GeForce-940MX/183908804077?hash=item2ad1d1a5ed:g:UF8AAOSwi~JdMJYH

    That spec is pretty high-end, really good. The GPU won't be very powerful, but for your usage it doesn't matter. That will absolutely smoke new laptops at that price point. Probably as good as machines worth £1000. Replacement keyboards and battery can be had, £80 for a new big battery from Lenovo, but you can probably get a legit one cheaper somewhere, and you can get knockoffs for much less. There's a small chunk of plastic missing from one part of the screen in that thing, you can see in one of the pics, you can just tape over it or fill it with glue or whatever.

    The seller relisted it, I had a look and it previously went for £450, which for that spec is really decent. If you can nab it for that much or less then it's a solid deal I think. Bidding ends 6:30 Tuesday, not a bad time, probably a lot of people will be having dinner then or something. I've had great luck with ebay with those auctions that end during weird times in the day.

    One thing to be aware of with old laptops, and machines in general, is that the thermal paste between the CPU and heatsink can be pretty bad, which can cause issues. When I got my X230 one of the first things I did was take it apart, give it a good clean and replace the thermal paste with some nice stuff.

    That's another thing I love about thinkpads actually, is how easy it is to disassemble them. The X230 had like 2-3 different sizes of phillips screws, and only a couple of dozen before the whole thing was totally taken apart. Really nice. Compared to trying to take apart a Macbook which is a special kind of hell.

    The T460P apparently has some plasitic clips to around the base to get it open, a bit of a pain but not so bad if you use a plastic tool of some sort, I recommend old credit cards :)
  • Thanks again.
    Unfortunately I'm away on holidays next week and not in a position to be purchasing just yet. I've another six weeks or so til term starts so maybe I'll get you to have a search when I'm ready to buy if you don't mind?
    [quote=Skerret]Unless someone very obviously insults your loved ones with intent, take nothing here seriously.[/quote]
  • Aye no problem. The longer you wait the more prices should drop generally anyway :)
  • Hoping someone can help out here.
    My son is looking to buy his first pc, for gaming primarily.
    Looking to spend around 500 quid on the main gubbins.
    Any recommendations would be gratefully received.
  • Does that include a monitor? Would suggest looking at 2nd hand, get a lot more for your money.
  • Yeah, I'm no expert but at that price range 2nd hand may be best. If you want new, you may be able to swing a Ryzen 5 and an RX 570 at that price point, which will still be pretty good. However, I can't give a full build as this isn't my area of specialty.
  • The 570 is a fantastic budget GPU, though.

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