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Thread: Decisions, decisions, and GPU dilemmas

  1. #1
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    Default Decisions, decisions, and GPU dilemmas

    Greetings aviators. Long time lurker, first time poster. Let me begin by saying thank you to all the regular members of this board. The amount of information Iíve obtained by being a wall flower here is staggering and itís greatly appreciated. My apologies in advance for another "will this work" thread.

    To my question, I think Iíve finally talked my lovely wife into letting me get a new rig. Being an aviation nut, I want a system that can run FSX with all the sliders maxed (and FS9 too for that matter), in addition to being able to handle something like Wings of Prey or Flaming Cliffs 2. Not being a ďdo it yourself from the ground upĒ kind of guy Iím buying off the shelf. With budget a major consideration Iíve decided on an Alienware Aurora with the following specs.

    Intel i7 930 Quad Core Processor (Overclocked to 3.36GHz, 8MB Cache)
    3GB Triple Channel 1333MHz DDR3
    Dual 1GB GDDR5 ATI Radeon HD 5670 CrossfireX Enabled
    500GB - SATA-II, 3Gb/s, 7,200RPM, 16MB Cache HDD
    Windows7 Home Premium, 64bit

    My dilemma lies with the GPU setup. While ďDual Radeon 5670s, crossfire enabledĒ sounds cool and looks good on paper Iím disturbed by the fact that Iíve read that this can be a bottleneck for FSX (and FS9) for that matter. Is this accurate, and if so would the answer be disabling crossfire and running FSX off of one 5670? That being said, what sort of performance could I expect from FSX (and FS9) running one of these cards on this system?

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
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    There's nothing wrong with running Crossfired cards in itself, FSX won't give you any trouble. The real issue is that the 5670 is a very midrange card, and it's much, much better to have a single high-end card than two midrange cards. That applies to any game, not just FSX. The card to get at the moment seems to be the NVIDIA 1GB GTX 460, but an ATI 5850 is also a good choice. The only other thing would be to get 6GB of RAM rather than 3. See what upgrade options you have with the system, it looks pretty good.

    Mike
    Intel Core i5 3570K - NZXT Havik 140 - ASUS P8Z77-V PRO - 16GB DDR3 2133 G.Skill Ares CL9 - Sapphire AMD 7970 3GB @ 1100/1500MHz - SanDisk Extreme 240GB - Samsung F1 750GB - Samsung F3 2TB - SilverStone FT02 - SilverStone Strider Plus 750W - Dell U2312HM - Windows 7 Professional 64-bit - CH Combatstick 568

  3. #3
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    Thanks Mike. I'm now leaning toward a single 5870 and increasing to 6GB of RAM. This would be the only other option I could afford (though I could switch out the 5870 for a GTX 460). Would these two changes give me good performance with FSX? (this rig will primarily be used for flight simming, FS9, FSX, FC2 and BoB: Storm of War if it ever was to come out)

    Again, thank you for your advice.

  4. #4

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    The issue I see (along with Mike's recommendation) is the overclock of the CPU. You should consider a 4Ghz+ overclock if you plan on moving the sliders to the right. If cost is a consideration you could go AMD and have money left for a 6 port, large memory, EYEfinity 5870 card. I'm over 4Ghz on a 4 core system and can't run all the sliders to the right.
    John
    Last edited by jdoon5261; 08-10-2010 at 10:26 AM. Reason: Just can't seem to speel sometimes.
    Windows7, Asus M4A79XTD, AMD [email protected](17x236), 8Gb CorsairXMS DDR3 1600, HIS HD6970, LG 55" passive 3D 1080p(main view) TV, 20" 1680x1050 (gauges) monitor, 16" 768x1366 (radio) monitor
    The best a man can do is strive to be the person he believes God means him to be.

  5. #5
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    Thanks John. Man, I wish I had room for all those monitors!

    Let me back up and punt here for a second. Am I correct in understanding that FSX and FS9 will not fully utilize more than 2 or 3GB of ram? If that is the case, the option I have available at this point would be to go with the single 5870, 3GB of ram (back off 3GB of overkill), and upgrade the hard drive to one with a 32MB cache.

    With those changes in mind, would it be safe for me to assume that I could do whatever I want with FS9 and FSX would be "serviceable"? (I cannot believe I still can't afford a computer that will run a four year old sim with all the sliders to the right , oh well.)

  6. #6

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    You're going to be using Windows7 Home Premium, 64bit, which means that FSX (fully updated w/SP1 & SP2 or Acceleration/Gold) will use 4GB or RAM if needed. You want 6GB of RAM, preferably the 1600MHz sticks they offer. The 5870 will be more than enough for FSX. 32MB cache on the hard drive is an excellent idea.


    Quote Originally Posted by phlux View Post
    ... (I cannot believe I still can't afford a computer that will run a four year old sim with all the sliders to the right , oh well.)
    Nobody can because they haven't built a PC system yet that runs at 6GHz and available to the consumer market. Your proposed system will run FSX about as well as any high end system available today, as long as you overclock it to around 4.0GHz. Current i5/i7 chips from Intel safely clock around 4.0GHz or a little more generally speaking. Being that it is an Alienware system, is factory overclocked, and water cooled, you will have room for more FSX performance should you wish to push the overclock into the 4.0GHz range.

    Or you could save some money (about $500USD) and build it yourself.
    Last edited by Paxx; 08-10-2010 at 11:23 AM.

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    Am I correct in understanding that FSX and FS9 will not fully utilize more than 2 or 3GB of ram?
    FSX can use more than 2GB of memory, especially when you get into the more detailed and advanced add-ons. Then you have to have some allowance for the OS and any background tasks that need to run. This makes 3GB pretty tight for FSX which is why jumping to 6GB for a triple channel system like the Core i7 9xx series is recommended.

    I cannot believe I still can't afford a computer that will run a four year old sim with all the sliders to the right , oh well.
    The problem is that the sim engine that runs FSX was developed in the world of single core processors, and the hardware world jumped to multiple cores almost over night. And then the ACES team was laid off before they could produce FS11 with an updated design adapted to the current hardware.

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    Thank you guys for explaining that to me, and for clearing up my confusion on the RAM issue. Paxx, I actually thought about pushing the overclock once I get the system and get comfortable with it. I'm pretty ignorant on OCing in general, but it's good to know the possibility is there.

  9. #9
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    It looks like your already paying for a (mild) "factory" overclock, up to 3.36GHz. If you're going to overclock higher anyway there isn't much point paying extra for a slight overclock out of the box. See if you can get it a bit cheaper by going for a chip at stock speed.

    Mike
    Intel Core i5 3570K - NZXT Havik 140 - ASUS P8Z77-V PRO - 16GB DDR3 2133 G.Skill Ares CL9 - Sapphire AMD 7970 3GB @ 1100/1500MHz - SanDisk Extreme 240GB - Samsung F1 750GB - Samsung F3 2TB - SilverStone FT02 - SilverStone Strider Plus 750W - Dell U2312HM - Windows 7 Professional 64-bit - CH Combatstick 568

  10. #10
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    Thanks Mike, but me messing with the OCing is way down the road, I know absolutley nothing about it. I need to get all I can on the first go and tinker with it later as time permits me to learn.

    I want to sincerely thank all of you for your thoughts and opinions, and I know there are a few things suggested that I didn’t (or should I say “couldn’t”) take given the route I chose to travel “off the shelf”. With the other tasks this rig will need to do besides play games this is the setup I’ve chosen to go with.

    With all that out of the way here is the final verdict. My budget is busted, my bride is giving me “the look”, but I’m excited.

    Intel i7 930 Quad Core Processor (Overclocked to 3.36GHz, 8MB Cache)
    6GB Triple Channel 1600MHz DDR3
    Single 1GB GDDR5 ATI Radeon HD 5870
    1TB - SATA-II, 3Gb/s, 7,200RPM, 32MB Cache HDD
    Windows7 Home Premium, 64bit

    Let me give you a frame of reference where I’m at currently. I’ve been running FS9 on a five year old P4 3.2G machine with a Radeon 256MB card, and 2GB of ram. With the sliders infinitely adjusted for performance I get 25FPS in low density areas and it can go all the way down to 7FPS in weather. Let’s just say I’m pleased with 15FPS on my current setup.

    Please tell me that I’ll be happy with the performance with this rig in flight sim terms. It’ll probably be a month or two or three before I finally close the deal, but I can survive. Now all I need to do is get my wife to write the check!
    Last edited by phlux; 08-11-2010 at 11:21 AM.

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