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 Post subject: Build Advice Again - Parental Computers
PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2014 10:45 am 
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Joined: Sat May 16, 2009 5:12 am
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Location: Pennsylvania
I posted the other day about the computer I'm building, and I've been getting great advice, which I do appreciate. Now it seems to be computer season -- I've convinced my folks to let me replace their old machines. I'd be most grateful for a bit of help.

My father's computer will probably be almost the same as mine. He doesn't use it for games, but he does use it for something worse: MS Flight Simulator. As I understand it, you need to put a ton of power in the CPU to have a chance of running FSX, so there's not much room for economizing. Please let me know if there's anything more I ought to do to reduce the price or the noise. Also, will the two stock fans in the case I have be sufficient, or should I add more?

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-4670 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($204.99 @ Amazon)
CPU Cooler: Scythe SCMG-4000 79.0 CFM CPU Cooler ($61.15 @ Amazon)
Motherboard: Asus H87M-PRO Micro ATX LGA1150 Motherboard ($107.55 @ Newegg)
Memory: G.Skill Ares Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($69.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Western Digital BLACK SERIES 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($74.99 @ Amazon)
Video Card: MSI GeForce GTX 750 Ti 2GB TWIN FROZR Video Card ($159.99 @ Newegg)
Case: Fractal Design Define Mini MicroATX Mini Tower Case ($84.99 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: SeaSonic X Series 400W 80+ Platinum Certified Fully-Modular ATX Power Supply ($119.99 @ Amazon)
Optical Drive: Samsung SH-224DB/BEBE DVD/CD Writer ($14.99 @ Newegg)
Total: $898.63
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2014-05-07 14:39 EDT-0400)

And then there's the big question: what sort of computer should I put together for my mother? She doesn't play any games, other than things like Solitaire and Mah Jongg (she occasionally makes noises of interest in other games, but it always falls short of actually trying one). She uses a computer for web surfing and word processing. I'd love to be able to make something absolutely dead silent for her, or very close to it. Also preferably something small and unobtrusive. I was thinking of trying for a fanless computer, but I've never attempted anything of the sort. Where should I start? I've looked at the guides on this site, but they seem to be three or four years old.


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 Post subject: Re: Build Advice Again - Parental Computers
PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2014 12:13 pm 
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Location: Switzerland
There are small fanless barebones you can buy such as the DS437T (new model, but there are older ones in case that one isn't available yet or too expensive). Less waste all around than building yourself though you might be able to save some money by building of you can source a cheap enough case/PSU combo (such as an old Morex case on eBay).
It doesn't make sense to get a more powerful PC for your mother's usage or to fit it with more than 1 2G RAM stick but it makes sense to fit it with a low-capacity SSD even if that would cost a few bucks more.
If your mother doesn't particularly want a big display, she might be better off with a laptop or even one of those tablets which are sold with decent stand/keyboards.

I suspect your specs for the bigger PC are overkill considering the software vendor's is probably not aiming at excluding >98% of PCs from running their product but that's something you'd have to discuss with people who actually use the software, not with general opinionators.


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 Post subject: Re: Build Advice Again - Parental Computers
PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2014 12:21 pm 
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Location: Monterey Bay, CA
If your mom can handle Google Docs, then why not get a Chromebox for her? Asus has one now, HP will in June. Comes with Celeron or i3 ($180- 400).

Can't really comment on FSX as I don't know of any benchmarks, offhand. That said, it's a ~8 year old game, so I can't imagine it would stress a new CPU.. Don't know what the affect of high-rez add-on packs will do to the fps.

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1080p Gaming build: i5-4670K, Mugen 4, MSI Z87-G45, MSI GTX 760 2GB Gaming, 8GB 1866 RAM, Samsung Evo 250GB, WD Red 2TB, Samsung DVD burner, Fractal Define R4, Antec True Quiet 140 (2 front + rear) case fans, Seasonic X-560. 35-40W idle, 45-55W video streaming, 170-200W WoW, 200-230W Rift, 318W stress test (Prime95 + Furmark)


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 Post subject: Re: Build Advice Again - Parental Computers
PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2014 1:56 pm 
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Location: Scandinavia
It depends on how you define 'silence', 'smallness' and 'unobstrusiveness'. I have seen a number of people in this forum asking for quiet builds end up with noisy high-power graphics card (I don't think any graphics cards with TDP of 100W or more can ever be absolutely silenced) and a number of HDDs generating airborne engine sound. Everyone seems to have different acoustic acuteness, which in fact may vary with time and can be further developed after his/her possessing a relatively quiet build.

Several options in different form-factors with small footprint cross my mind.

(i) Intel NUC motherboard + Fanless chassis.
(ii) Fanless i3/i5 Laptop (e.g., HP Spectre 13 x2, which is, to the best of my knowledge, the only fanless Haswell i3/i5 laptop) or less-performing (yet sufficient for office work) Bay Trail laptops, most of which are fanless.
(iii) A desktop with smallest footprint akin to "Family" build in my signature.

Djehuty wrote:
She uses a computer for web surfing and word processing. I'd love to be able to make something absolutely dead silent for her, or very close to it. Also preferably something small and unobtrusive.

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 Post subject: Re: Build Advice Again - Parental Computers
PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2014 4:26 pm 
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Joined: Sat May 16, 2009 5:12 am
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Location: Pennsylvania
One would think FSX wouldn't overburden a modern CPU, but from what I've read, it does. It seems the developers thought CPU clock speed would continue to increase, and we'd have 10 GHz+ machines in a few years, so they made it almost completely CPU dependent. The recommended specs ask for 3.6 GHz, in fact, which is kinda hard to find these days. :roll: So I can't skimp on the CPU in Dad's computer.

Mom, on the other hand, has decided she'd rather stick with her old machine for now. She resists change. :) So never mind, but thank you for the advice nonetheless. I'll eventually have to build one for her, I'm sure, so this gives me a good starting point.

Thanks again! :)


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 Post subject: Re: Build Advice Again - Parental Computers
PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2014 5:30 pm 
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FSX is highly CPU dependent, but how beefy a system you actually need seems to depend much on screen resolution, graphics settings and whether a lot of addons/mods are used or not.

That i5-4670 is probably overkill, but it could also be not fast enough if your father is a die-hard FSX.. player? user? :)

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 Post subject: Re: Build Advice Again - Parental Computers
PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2014 9:34 pm 
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Location: Switzerland
Djehuty wrote:
The recommended specs ask for 3.6 GHz, in fact, which is kinda hard to find these days. :roll: So I can't skimp on the CPU in Dad's computer.

These specs are nonsense. Ghz doesn't mean much. A mainstream modern CPU with half the GHz would be much faster at most tasks than one of these old P4s.
If the software is so old that the specs ask for 3.6Ghz, it might not even make use of more than 1 or 2 CPU cores. Ask about that before buying an i5 because in that case an i3 would be just as fast (unless you were pick the K model i5 and overclock that).
Again: ask people who know the software well about before buying anything.


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 Post subject: Re: Build Advice Again - Parental Computers
PostPosted: Thu May 08, 2014 5:02 am 
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Location: Ottawa
HFat wrote:
These specs are nonsense. Ghz doesn't mean much. A mainstream modern CPU with half the GHz would be much faster at most tasks than one of these old P4s..

To expand on what HFat said, if a P4 10 Ghz existed and scaled linearly it would only be equivalent to a ~2.7 GHz single haswell core. A Celeron G1820 would match it for single threaded tasks. However, it would not have scaled linearly and the G1820 would end up much faster.

Another way of putting it, you would only need 1 ~900 MHz haswell core to match the 3.6 GHz P4 the game was developed for. Just barely above idle speed.


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 Post subject: Re: Build Advice Again - Parental Computers
PostPosted: Thu May 08, 2014 5:56 am 
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HFat wrote:
Again: ask people who know the software well about before buying anything.

+1: apparently there are people with Core i7 and GTX 680 who struggle to run above 15fps (FullHD), while others with less performing hw (notebooks!) well ahead of that mark. So, *ask* for comprehensive answers.

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 Post subject: Re: Build Advice Again - Parental Computers
PostPosted: Thu May 08, 2014 7:05 am 
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Spent a few minutes researching..The forums at flightsim.com are helpful for FSX. In a nutshell, FSX was designed b4 multiple cores took over the market, so fast is better than more cores. They did some tweaking on the code b4 MS killed further development, but it runs on 1 core and only uses the other cores to load textures, etc. So, the fastest i3 is good enough for your Dad's PC. Unless he multitasks and like to rip movies or some other high cpu use app in the background while playing FSX. As others have mentioned, Intel has improved single threaded execution speeds with every new CPU. A Haswell i3 is about 3x faster per core than a P4 660.

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 Post subject: Re: Build Advice Again - Parental Computers
PostPosted: Thu May 08, 2014 11:29 am 
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Joined: Sat May 16, 2009 5:12 am
Posts: 26
Location: Pennsylvania
Thanks... I had done some checking on the flight sim forums, which is how I reached the current build. Some folks there were going for the i7 line, but unless everything I've read about them is wrong, that really is a waste of money. Hyperthreading would be pointless for this game. I wanted to check here in part to see if I'm doing a good job keeping it quiet, and in part because I tend to return to places I've received good advice before trying a new forum. :)

I could probably get by with the i3, but this isn't much more expensive, and it will make him happy. Keeping one's father happy for five years for only about $100 seems like a good deal. :)

Thanks again, I really appreciate the help!


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