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billhuntsman

Advice for new FS computer?

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Hi,I was lucky enough to catch my wife in a good mood and she authorized a new computer for FS. I fly FS9 now but would like to try FSX. I fly mostly DC-3's low and slow so FSX may work for me.I have no expertise when it comes to hardware, so I've come here for help. I discussed the situation with a local computer store. The specs from their quote are listed below.Frontier black mid-tower, Quad Core AMD64bit 2.6GHZ processor, 4GB RAM DDR3,1 TB hard drive, 300GB 10K Raptor HD,DVDRW, 19 in 1 card reader, Nvidia 9800GTPCI-E video card, sound, 10/100/1000ethernet, MS keyboard, optical mouse, andspeakers, 550W power supply Windows XPPro, 3 year parts and 1 year labor warranty.Acer 22" LCD displayNorman AV/ASSandboxieThis will run about $2150 + tax.Some other info: They discussed the i7 but said that it was ridiculously expensive, however if you felt it would make enough of a difference to be worth the expense I would probably change. I have no room for multiple monitors so I went with one 22". They recommended putting the operating system and FS on the faster Raptor drive. The terrabyte drive is for video-editing that my wife might do. They recommended Norman antivirus over either McAfee or Norton as being less bloated. The speakers that come with this system are crummy, but I have a current set of better speakers that I will use. Although I have read some discussions of overclocking, I am not comfortable enough to try it.I would really appreciate some advice from people who know both hardware and FS. Thanks.Bill

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The general consencus around here seems to be that FSX prefers Intel and Nvidia (as opposed to AMD and ATI). FSX performance tends to be better and more consistent. On this basis I would recommend you go for the i7 920 CPU with an X58 motherboard and 6GB's of DDR3 RAM. You will also need a graphics card (not on your list?) - for a 22inch monitor an Nvidia GTX250 will be fine. The Nvidia GTX260 Core216 can also be had for a decent price. By the way a 64bit OS would be the way to go here.The 300GB 10K Velociraptor HDD is an excellent, albeit expensive, choice for a dedicated FSX drive but it is NOT recommended that you also install your OS on this same drive. Perhaps in your case it may be better to purchase the 1TB drive and 2x500GB drives (one for the OS and all your applications etc) and the other for FSX (and perhaps FS9).For Antivirus go with NOD32 without a doubt (just the antivirus, not the whole security suite).

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That price seems quite high for that kind of system. Granted I have not built a system within 2 years. Do wait and see what the experts around here suggest.

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That price seems quite high for that kind of system. Granted I have not built a system within 2 years. Do wait and see what the experts around here suggest.
That's what I was thinking too.Just out of interest, have you tried to price up the individual parts just to see how much you can get them for? I'm sure they will come in well under the price for the total system. Even if you can't build it yourself, there are so many people offering PC build services out there, I'm sure you can find one who could do it, pay them and still have some dosh left over.Good luck!

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If you buy that computer know you are paying $1000 for a warranty and a name, because the PC is worth $1000 less than you've been quoted, including the monitor.

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The general consencus around here seems to be that FSX prefers Intel and Nvidia (as opposed to AMD and ATI). FSX performance tends to be better and more consistent. On this basis I would recommend you go for the i7 920 CPU with an X58 motherboard and 6GB's of DDR3 RAM. You will also need a graphics card (not on your list?) - for a 22inch monitor an Nvidia GTX250 will be fine. The Nvidia GTX260 Core216 can also be had for a decent price. By the way a 64bit OS would be the way to go here.The 300GB 10K Velociraptor HDD is an excellent, albeit expensive, choice for a dedicated FSX drive but it is NOT recommended that you also install your OS on this same drive. Perhaps in your case it may be better to purchase the 1TB drive and 2x500GB drives (one for the OS and all your applications etc) and the other for FSX (and perhaps FS9).For Antivirus go with NOD32 without a doubt (just the antivirus, not the whole security suite).
Thanks. This is very helpful to me.
That's what I was thinking too.Just out of interest, have you tried to price up the individual parts just to see how much you can get them for? I'm sure they will come in well under the price for the total system. Even if you can't build it yourself, there are so many people offering PC build services out there, I'm sure you can find one who could do it, pay them and still have some dosh left over.Good luck!
Thanks. I'll see what I can come up with.

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The general consencus around here seems to be that FSX prefers Intel and Nvidia (as opposed to AMD and ATI). FSX performance tends to be better and more consistent. On this basis I would recommend you go for the i7 920 CPU with an X58 motherboard and 6GB's of DDR3 RAM. You will also need a graphics card (not on your list?) - for a 22inch monitor an Nvidia GTX250 will be fine. The Nvidia GTX260 Core216 can also be had for a decent price. By the way a 64bit OS would be the way to go here.The 300GB 10K Velociraptor HDD is an excellent, albeit expensive, choice for a dedicated FSX drive but it is NOT recommended that you also install your OS on this same drive. Perhaps in your case it may be better to purchase the 1TB drive and 2x500GB drives (one for the OS and all your applications etc) and the other for FSX (and perhaps FS9).For Antivirus go with NOD32 without a doubt (just the antivirus, not the whole security suite).
I assume that a 64bit OS means either Vista or the next version of Windows. I'm trying to stay away from Vista. Does it make a difference in FSX performance to make the Vista hassles worth it. I might consider the upcoming Windows, but I'd rather stay away from Vista which is why I had chosen XP.Any recommendations for a sound card. I assume that it doesn't need to be a great card for FS sound. Thanks for your help.Bill

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To what "Vista hassles" are you referring? I must inform you that whatever horrible things you've heard about Vista have long ago been fixed. I run Vista 64 on 3 machines personally and have ZERO issues. If you'd rather buy sooner than later, don't rule out Vista. Besides, an upgrade to Win 7 is cheap, insignificant compared to the cost of a new PC.

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I assume that a 64bit OS means either Vista or the next version of Windows. I'm trying to stay away from Vista. Does it make a difference in FSX performance to make the Vista hassles worth it. I might consider the upcoming Windows, but I'd rather stay away from Vista which is why I had chosen XP.Any recommendations for a sound card. I assume that it doesn't need to be a great card for FS sound. Thanks for your help.
If I were you I would wait until October 22nd and buy Windows7 64bit and the new machine at the same time. Thing is that from an installation point of view you cannot simply upgrade from xp to w7, a complete re-format and re-install from scratch is required. If you MUST buy an OS before October 22nd then perhaps look for a deal where you get Vista for the normal price but it includes an upgrade certificate to the corresponding version of Windows7. This way you only pay once and there is no need for a complete re-install, but please make sure you buy the right version of Vista upfront (must be 64bit if you want to upgrade to Windows7 64bit etc). FSX performance in VistaSP3 and XPSP3 is, on average, pretty much indistinguishable. Chances are pretty good that with Windows7 nothing much will change with respect to FSX - but things clearly will improve in other areas so Windows 7 certainly looks like a very worthwhile upgrade from the venerable XP.Sound card: I would just get the cheapest Creative X-Fi or perhaps something from ASUS. These are by no means cheap n' nasty sound cards so pairing them up with low quality speakers is going to defeat the point a bit. In my opinion a quality 2.1 speaker set is a much better investment than a mediocre 5.1 or 7.1 set where cabling and the positioning of rear and centre speakers is usually a mission.

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If I were you I would wait until October 22nd and buy Windows7 64bit and the new machine at the same time. Thing is that from an installation point of view you cannot simply upgrade from xp to w7, a complete re-format and re-install from scratch is required. If you MUST buy an OS before October 22nd then perhaps look for a deal where you get Vista for the normal price but it includes an upgrade certificate to the corresponding version of Windows7. This way you only pay once and there is no need for a complete re-install, but please make sure you buy the right version of Vista upfront (must be 64bit if you want to upgrade to Windows7 64bit etc). FSX performance in VistaSP3 and XPSP3 is, on average, pretty much indistinguishable. Chances are pretty good that with Windows7 nothing much will change with respect to FSX - but things clearly will improve in other areas so Windows 7 certainly looks like a very worthwhile upgrade from the venerable XP.Sound card: I would just get the cheapest Creative X-Fi or perhaps something from ASUS. These are by no means cheap n' nasty sound cards so pairing them up with low quality speakers is going to defeat the point a bit. In my opinion a quality 2.1 speaker set is a much better investment than a mediocre 5.1 or 7.1 set where cabling and the positioning of rear and centre speakers is usually a mission.
Thanks, again. I will take your suggestions regarding the i7 and other components. I'll investigate what the shops around here will charge and I'm also considering buying the components and hiring someone to put them together. In either case, it's not that big a deal to wait until after windows 7 comes out. I certainly want to take advantage of the processor, so if it is a 64 bit OS that I need, I'll go that route.If you're not tired of giving advice, do you have any advice on how much cooling this is going to need? I'm sure I won't be overclocking anything due to my lack of knowledge, but I've seen lots of entries in the past about fried components. Are the i7 and other suggested components going to require extra cooling fans? Suggestions?

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Guest firehawk44
Thanks, again. I will take your suggestions regarding the i7 and other components. I'll investigate what the shops around here will charge and I'm also considering buying the components and hiring someone to put them together. In either case, it's not that big a deal to wait until after windows 7 comes out. I certainly want to take advantage of the processor, so if it is a 64 bit OS that I need, I'll go that route.If you're not tired of giving advice, do you have any advice on how much cooling this is going to need? I'm sure I won't be overclocking anything due to my lack of knowledge, but I've seen lots of entries in the past about fried components. Are the i7 and other suggested components going to require extra cooling fans? Suggestions?
I Googled "basic i7 computer systems" and came up with a lot of hits and here's just one link that provides decent i7 systems twice as cheap as the one you mentioned at the beginning of your post: http://www.cpusolutions.com/. For instance, there's one Gamer i7 system costing just $1699.99 (next to the first one costing $899). Dell sells similar "basic" i7 systems that would run almost 100% better than the systems made 2-3 years ago. If money is an issue (where isn't it), you can easily upgrade components later on. In any case I could NOT go with that system described in your first thread. Just a suggestion.Best regards,Jim Young

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A couple things:Small shops are not the place to go to get a good value. Good service however, absolutely. Given the nature of that type of business however (read: low volume) they have to build a lot of margin into what they offer in order to hope to make a profit. I'm not disparaging this business model nor anyone that chooses to make their living working for one of these businesses, as I myself have worked for my fair share of small shops. Your best bet is to either bite the bullet and build it yourself (it's not as hard as you think, trust me) or to buy a pre-built name-brand PC that still offers expandability and overclockability. If you choose the former, you will be rewarded with the satisfaction of knowing you built and tuned your very own high-end PC and will have saved quite a bit of money in doing so. If you choose the latter, I would recommend you take a look at the Asus CG line of desktop PCs sold at Best Buy. The CG 5290 features a Core i7 920 factory overclocked to 3.2GHz, 9GB DDR3 1333, a 1TB HD, 1KW PSU, a GTX 260 graphics card, and an Asus motherboard with full functionality including access to overclocking features. $1199 is the sticker on this bad boy. Almost a full thousand dollars cheaper than the over-priced PC you originally spec'd and a whole heck of a lot faster. Disclaimer: I do not work for Best Buy, and generally do not recommend anyone shop there. Unfortunately in this case Best Buy and Asus seem to have an exclusive deal as I've yet to see the CG line for sale anywhere else.

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A couple things:Small shops are not the place to go to get a good value. Good service however, absolutely. Given the nature of that type of business however (read: low volume) they have to build a lot of margin into what they offer in order to hope to make a profit. I'm not disparaging this business model nor anyone that chooses to make their living working for one of these businesses, as I myself have worked for my fair share of small shops. Your best bet is to either bite the bullet and build it yourself (it's not as hard as you think, trust me) or to buy a pre-built name-brand PC that still offers expandability and overclockability. If you choose the former, you will be rewarded with the satisfaction of knowing you built and tuned your very own high-end PC and will have saved quite a bit of money in doing so. If you choose the latter, I would recommend you take a look at the Asus CG line of desktop PCs sold at Best Buy. The CG 5290 features a Core i7 920 factory overclocked to 3.2GHz, 9GB DDR3 1333, a 1TB HD, 1KW PSU, a GTX 260 graphics card, and an Asus motherboard with full functionality including access to overclocking features. $1199 is the sticker on this bad boy. Almost a full thousand dollars cheaper than the over-priced PC you originally spec'd and a whole heck of a lot faster. Disclaimer: I do not work for Best Buy, and generally do not recommend anyone shop there. Unfortunately in this case Best Buy and Asus seem to have an exclusive deal as I've yet to see the CG line for sale anywhere else.
Many thanks to both you and Jim. Although I can see the advantages of building the computer, time and practically zero knowledge make me reluctant to go that route. Your points about small shops are well taken. It never occurred to me that I would want to check out Best Buy, but the system you described looks very attractive to me. One thing I would want to do is get a fast (e.g. Raptor) drive for FS to have it on a different drive from the OS. I know that I can ask at Best Buy, but in case you know the answer -- would the Best Buy computer have room for installing the Raptor drive internally, or would it have to be connected through a USB? Would that hurt the performance?Bill

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How about buying the parts yourself and having someone locally build it for you. I'm looking at going that route: There's a builder here who will review my list of components and make suggestions, build the computer and burn it in for 24 hours. $100 is the fee.

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A couple things:Small shops are not the place to go to get a good value. Good service however, absolutely. Given the nature of that type of business however (read: low volume) they have to build a lot of margin into what they offer in order to hope to make a profit. I'm not disparaging this business model nor anyone that chooses to make their living working for one of these businesses, as I myself have worked for my fair share of small shops. Your best bet is to either bite the bullet and build it yourself (it's not as hard as you think, trust me) or to buy a pre-built name-brand PC that still offers expandability and overclockability. If you choose the former, you will be rewarded with the satisfaction of knowing you built and tuned your very own high-end PC and will have saved quite a bit of money in doing so. If you choose the latter, I would recommend you take a look at the Asus CG line of desktop PCs sold at Best Buy. The CG 5290 features a Core i7 920 factory overclocked to 3.2GHz, 9GB DDR3 1333, a 1TB HD, 1KW PSU, a GTX 260 graphics card, and an Asus motherboard with full functionality including access to overclocking features. $1199 is the sticker on this bad boy. Almost a full thousand dollars cheaper than the over-priced PC you originally spec'd and a whole heck of a lot faster. Disclaimer: I do not work for Best Buy, and generally do not recommend anyone shop there. Unfortunately in this case Best Buy and Asus seem to have an exclusive deal as I've yet to see the CG line for sale anywhere else.
I just checked out our local Best Buy. They do have the CG 5290 for $1199. Most of the specs are just as you described. However, they know nothing about factory overclocking. They said that lots of people buy them to overclock, but it voids the warranty and that theirs comes in at 2.6 GHz. They also said that the power supply is only 500 W. This is obviously a better computer and better price than I was originally thinking of, but I was curious about where you got the information about 3.2 GHz and 1000W supply.

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I got the information straight from a CG-5290 I tuned for a customer. The included software had a preset for 3.2GHz operation and the PSU was most certainly 1KW. It's possible they've changed the specs, though.Overclocking voiding the warranty is a myth. Unless you make physical modifications to the motherboard (to overvolt) or the CPU (lapping the IHS) it's virtually impossible for a manufacturer to know if you've overclocked.

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