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MDFlier

Major HW upgrade. Getting nervous...

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           Well, it's that time again. I just bought a new motherboard, CPU, and RAM in the chase for 'better than acceptable' FSX performance. Is it just me or does everyone else upgrade their HW every couple of years whether or not they really need to just because of FSX? Dammit, I am going to see FSX run smooth as silk at some point before I die. I've been through them all. 386s, 486s, Pentiums, Core 2 Duos, and several others that I can't remember. In the end, I'm always happy that there were major improvements, but always left wanting a better FSX experience. Despite the fact that I have been in the computer business for over 30 years, I have never bought the current generation CPU. Historically, new CPUs initially hit the streets at somewhere between $400 and $600. They typically dropped to the $175 to $225 range shortly before the next $400-$600 generation came out. That is always when I upgraded. One generation behind. I couldn't stand the thought of losing $200-$400 bucks just because I couldn't wait 9 months. I generally use a system for 3-4 years before upgrading again. In my opinion, my current system is about 80% there. It runs FSX pretty smoothy (18-31 FPS) until I get in the NY metro area and a few other dense scenery areas, where I will see the occasional drop to the 8-12 FPS range. On most flights, the FPS never go below 24. Compared to FSX from the Sublogic days, I'm cookin' with gas. Unfortunately, two weeks or so ago I ran across an online add saying that Micro Center had CPUs on sale. Uh oh. I tried to rationalize that my system wasn't all that old, but I searched my bank records and found out that she was. I built it back in January of 2013. It's almost 4 years old. That's 28 in dog and computer years! Okay, I'll look at what's on sale. You see where this is going, right? A couple of weeks of research and study, and bam! I just got home with the booty. i'm in the middle of making a system image right now. Got nothing to do but come on AVSIM and share it with others like myself. People that upgrade systems just to make FSX better. We're a sick lot, I tell you. This is the first year that I can remember where the difference between the last generation CPU and the latest and greatest generation was less than $200 when upgrading CPU, memory, and MB together.

The "old" system: 

  • i5-3570K 3.4Ghz overclocked to 4.3Ghz
  • 8GB DDR3 PC1333 memory
  • ASRock Z77 Extreme 4 motheboard
  • EVGA 750 Ti SC 2GB video
  • 256GB Samsung Evo 850 SSD (boot/Win 10)
  • 2 - 1TB hard drives (one for backup, one for programs)

        Tonight, I'll be adding:

  • Gigabyte Z370 Gaming 7 motherboard
  • 16GB of DDR4-2666 Kingston Fury HyperX memory
  • i5-8600K

For only $100 more I could have had the i7-8700K, but all of the benchmarking videos I saw showed negligible differences in most games. I think I'll be happy.  

I'll be reusing the GTX 750 TI, the SSD, and both hard drives. I HOPE that the Windows 10 activation transfer works. Funny thing. I never added a "Microsoft account" to Windows 10 because the last thing I need is another account in a big multinational corporation to worry about. Well, it is required if I want my OS to transfer to the new HW. I tried to sign up. Turns out I've have a MS account since 2011. Go figure.  

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You are in kindred company here.  I have been building systems since the early 90's -- mostly spurred by a need for better FS performance.

You mention porting over Win10.  I burned Win10-64 to a DVD some time ago.  I plan to use it when I build my new system -- surely that plan will work, right?  I too am always worried about Big Brother, telling me I can or cannot transfer this or that.  In some ways, the good ol days pre-internet were better.

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Fun read...

I'm right behind you, with very similar current hardware.

I use P3D. Not bragging. Just saying...

I'm overall satisfied with everything, except the occasional long frame and ridiculous load times.

My big changes will be doubling my memory to 32Gb, changing my FS drive from HDD to SSD and going from the same processor as you have to a new i7 Core 8700K paired with a Asus Z370 MB. I'm keeping my current video card. I don't think that would make too much difference and can always update down the road.

There's the added benefit of a fresh OS install. I hosed up my USB CH controllers a long time ago. They work, but are seen as unrecognised devices in the device manager...annoying. Also, I get to reinstall and reorganise everything.

Good luck.

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I went from a i7 2600K to a i7 6700K, both at 4.5 GHz. Didn't notice a huge performance increase. I did notice that when I upgraded my GPU from a GTX 950 to a 1080 Ti FSX was a lot smoother. Not necessarily more FPS, but it didn't have a whole lot of stutters.

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 Looks like a descent build until you can add a different graphics card. The 750 Ti was already the weakest link on the old system.  

  • Upvote 1

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Agree with Dave_YVR.  Your better off to upgrade that GPU as a priority above anything else. 1080TI would be the best but at the very least a 1070. Then you will have a great system. 

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Facing same upgrade jitters though I'm going with 7th gen 7700k and Nvidia 1070 which I already have on current i5 2500k (4.6gz).  Asrock 270 mobo for me. My primary sim though is XP 11. Getting rid of FSX and getting Prepar3d v 4.1 Next step will be a 4K 40" monitor or 4K TV. 

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5 hours ago, Dave_YVR said:

 Looks like a descent build until you can add a different graphics card. The 750 Ti was already the weakest link on the old system.  

I don't really think that it is. According to all of the benchmarking and HW monitoring tools that I have been using, it's not negatively impacting FSX's performance at all. I can hardly get FSX to utilize it more than 40%. The data transfer between the CPU and the card is not maxed out. I'm seeing about 80% utilization on the memory bus when I am flying over dense scenery like Orbx SCA or NCA and about 50% in sparse scenery areas. I've overclocked the 750 Ti a few times and while I can squeeze out an extra couple of frames, there were no other noticeable improvements. I'll be upgrading it sometime in the near future. I've been eyeing up the 1070 Ti boards. I'm about 90% sure that's what I'll end up with in a couple of months.  

The i-53570K on the other hand. I've been pounding the word not allowed out of that. I'm amazed that it hasn't melted yet. It's run for nearly 4 years solid at 4.3Ghz with just a Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus fan on it. I won the silicone lottery with that one for sure. If it wasn't for FSX, I'd be perfectly happy with it's performance. 

System image hung last night after I went to bed. I just got that done and and I made a backup of my personal data files as well, so I THINK that I'm ready to start taking things apart. Maybe I should have cup of coffee #2 first?

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I went from a i7 2600k @4.9Ghz to an i7 7820x @4.8Ghz, Win 7 to Win 10 & FSXSE to P3Dv4(still have FSXSE installed for those AC not available in v4).

Everything running smooth as silk.

Good luck with yours!  Always exciting.

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And the answer is... YES!

It was an adventure. I still have one unanswered question about the MOBO, but I think we have a winner.

Problem #1 - Cats. Don't try to work on things with them around.

Problem #2 - I'm blind as a bat. I need Lasik and glasses. I'm only 53 for cryin' out loud.

Problem #3 - One of my case fans has a connector that won't fit into any of the fan connectors. I want to put a speed controlled fan there anyway, as I will OC at some point. Drive it like you stole it.

Problem #4 - It took me at least an hour and a half trying to get a successful boot up. Symptom was a no video constant reboot. So many hex codes flashing on the on board diag display so fast that I couldn't read a one of them. Looked like "88" to me.  Manual says dual channel ram - put one in DIMM1 and one in DIMM3. Well, I put one in DIMM1, skipped a socket, put one in DIMM3. Back to the bad eyes again. Gigabyte put DIMM1 and DIMM3 right next to each other. I had invalid config DIMM1 and DIMM2, Fixed that. Still won't boot. I was about to haul everything back to MC for some testing and possible replacement when I took one last shot and moved both DIMMs from Channel A to Channel B (DIMM2 and DiMM4 if you're following along). Success! (But the MB is no longer in the case...) Left lingering that I have a bad DIMM or a problem with the slots for Channel A on the MB. Will research this further. MB reports all 16GB present, so I pressed on. 

I re-installed everything in the case and fired it up. Did a quick check of the settings. Not used to the Gigabyte menus. First board of theirs I've had. Made minor changes. Set the boot order, crossed fingers and let her hit the SSD for the first time. Win 10 login screen in 2 seconds. Looked just like it did when I turned it off. I logged right in. No fuss. Win 10 didn't seem phased by the new HW. I was expecting several reboots to get new drivers and devices installed. 

Problem #5 - Windows 10 digital key linked to microsoft account for product key transfer to new HW say phooey on mike. Long story short. Many tries at selecting my computer on MS account and hitting "activate". None work. Finally read small print and see OEM win 7 upgraded to Win 10 for free no qualify for move to new HW, linked to MS account or not. Try running one more time anyway using Win 7 key. Get activation servers not available message. Chat with MS support man in India say activation servers down. He has to manually install generic key. After checking to make sure his IP truly was a MS IP, I say sure. He login. 2 minutes later, Win 10 activated. Thank you MS. Maybe calling when servers down = good? 

I used the Gatwic Affinity mask calculator to get 62 for a hexacore with no hyperthreading. Updated fsx.cfg. FInally! I get to try FSX. I setup a duplicate of United 326 out of Orlando to Washington Dulles. Keep in mind, I have not updated any drivers. Whatever Win 10 did in the 5 seconds it took to boot up is what I got. 

This combo IS what it takes to run FSX! I did the first half of the flight. Loaded up at KMCO Gate 40 with full GSX services. taxied, took off, climbed to FL370 (ironic, as the new MB is a Z370. hehe), and cruised for a good bit. It was buttery smooth. I have FSX locked at 31 FPS, and it stayed there. There were minor flashes of 27.9 or 28, but mostly when there really wasn't much going on, so i think that FSX was just taking it easy for a few frames. I checked the 750 TI and I am clearly exceeding it's capabilities now. Transfer rate is pegged at 100% as is GPU usage%. I didn't think the i5-3860K would bring this much additional horsepower, but I am extremely pleased that it did. The test flight ended in a spectacular crash - of FSX. Black screen, still had sound. Caplooey. 

I just got done installing all of the proper chipset, audio, and LAN drivers. I'm gong to try another test flight. 

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Yeah the video card has to be balanced with the rest of the system

id try a GTX 1060 6GB card as an upgrade - as long as you're only at 1080P

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Breaking news. Well, okay. Just a regular update. I always try to follow my gut instinct. From the minute I first fired this up, I had suspicions about this MB. Its rare that I have to wrestle with a MB, CPU, and memory combination for so long to get it to run. The fact that I got it to run, and run seemingly fine was no comfort. Don't get me wrong, she runs like a bat out of H-E-double hockey sticks. I just know computers so well that I can just feel when they aren't right. Woke up early this morning and sat down with a cup of Joe pondering my gut feeling. I poked around with a few utilities, and several confirmed that I had 16GB of memory running single channel in Channel B. That's not right. I should be able to get 1 stick in each channel to run in dual channel mode. I couldn't take it any more. Off come the side panels. I took all of the memory out and put one stick in the DIMM1 socket. It worked fine. Shut down and moved same stick to DIMM3. Still works fine. Moved stick to DIMM2. Nada. Caput. Moved stick to DIMM4. Still toes up. By 7:30 I knew I was going back to Micro Center. I checked their web site, and they only had 1 of these motherboards left in stock. Nooooooooooo!!! I added it to my cart and reserved it. A few minutes later I get a confirmation email. Sweet! As soon as someone gets there, they'll pull it and stick my name on it.  When 10 AM rolled around, I called Micro Center and spoke with their "tech support" person. After describing my issue, she said, "bring it back". So... I take everything apart, pack up the MB and head off to Micro Center. Gotta hand it to them, they were very easy to deal with. The customer service desk called the internet pickup desk, and they brought the one I had reserved earlier over to the return counter. I do consider myself lucky. MC is usually has close to the best prices on the internet for just about everything, and they're only 15 minutes away. They've always been very good for returns for everyone I know. Today was my first try and I was pleased. 

Upon returning home, I installed the new MB, and stuck 1 memory stick in the DIMM4 socket. She fired right up. I tried that stick in all 4 DIMM sockets and they all work fine. I put both sticks back where I had originally installed them on the first MB, and wallah! 16GB of dual channel 1 stick in Channel A, and one in Channel B.

Oh... one last thing. Did I mention not working around cats? I shoulda taken my own advice. Right as I was finishing the installation of the replacement MB, my two girls, who were sitting on the window sill right behind my monitor decided to start roughhousing each other. Have ya guessed what happened yet? They tipped my monitor forward in the commotion. The top left corner of the monitor bezel landed square on the top corner of the computer, which was sitting on the desk in front of the monitor.  When I first turned the computer on, the thrill of seeing it boot up with memory in both channels was destroyed by the view of the pretty, but out of place, rainbow stripe going down the screen. Yup. Gotta go back to MC in the morning to pick up a replacement display. 

THEN I can go flying. 

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And the saga continues. Have I ever mentioned thank God Micro Center is close? Well.. . This morning, I arrived at MC shortly after they opened and picked up my ASUS 27" monitor. I stopped by a friend's house on the way home and had a couple of frosty ones. Good thing I did, as it kept me sane through what was soon to follow. When I got home, I unboxed and setup my new monitor. As soon as I fired it up, I saw it. A bloody stuck green pixel right smack in the middle of the bottom half of the screen. Grrr... I reboxed it and headed back to MC. As my luck would have it, they sold the last 2 ASUS monitors that were identical to the one I had purchased. I had to go find a suitable alternative. I settled on a Samsung 27" and paid the extra $21. Just got home and fired up the new monitor on the new computer. For the record, this Samsung looks much better than the original AOC that I had, and a little better than the ASUS. I'mkinda glad I had to go to the Sammy. This one is nice and crisp. 

Another note is that after I replaced the defective Gigabyte MB with a new one, I had to reactivate Windows 10 and Office again. Good thing they have the telephone activation line. They seem to understand hardware changes, and didn't give me a hard time at all. Reactivation took about 7 minutes from dialing the phone to done. 

NOW I can try a flight. 

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In flight update. I've got two words. Mag nificent. :biggrin:

I'm posting this from the Steam overlay browser. I'm flying the same fight plan as my prior test flight. Don't know why I didn't set it to daytime hours for a frame rate test, but I'm assuming that FSX does the same amount of work as it does during daylight flights. Maybe the lighting makes it do more work? Either way, so far I've taken off and gotten to FL370 without so much as a single stutter. The AI aircraft taxi and fly smooth. The GSX animation was very smooth. The default B737 looks much crisper, and there is more detail in the cockpit. Flight control is smooth as silk. Even the ground handling is better. So far, I'm giving this rig an A+. For the first time ever, a new build has made me happy with how it runs FSX. :cool:

It's not a good thing, but somehow I managed to overclock it from 3.6Ghz to 4.1Ghz without intending to do so. I think there is a glitch in the Intel Extreme Tuning Utility. I did "benchmark" at 4.1, but I am certain that I hit the "discard" button and not the save button. I would have locked the features that automatically boost voltages when the clock increases before intentionally overclocking because sometimes they go too high with them. I can usually get decent OCs without jacking the voltages. I ran my 3.4Ghz i5-3570K at 4.3 and 4.4Ghz full time for over 3 years on spec voltages. At any rate. The CPU temp is a cool 96 degrees (F) at 4.1Ghz. I'm thinking I can get 4.4 or maybe 4.5Ghz out of this chip easily.

This Samsung S27E330H 27" TN Gaming LED Monitor is a beautiful display. I'm very happy with it. I now know how bad my old AOC monitor was. And I used to be happy with it too. 

Edit: Just landed at Washington Dulles Int'l (KIAD) via 1L approach and docked in Gate D8. Pax deplaned, and baggage hold emptied. No glitches whatsoever. It is sooooo nice to be able to make a sweeping turn to intercept the glideslope when hand flying. I feel like my control inputs are getting processed immediately, where in the past it felt like I was always trying to "fix" my flight path to put the airplane where I wanted it to be a second ago. Now, it feels like I am actually flying it to where I want it to go. This upgrade was a complete success. This i5-8600K running at 4.1Ghz never exceeded 95 degrees throughout the entire flight.  

 

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