We use a gaming grade desktop PC in the shop. During the day we use productivity tools. On the weekend we like to play games. The flexibility of the PC makes this possible.
The old Asus M5A99FX PRO R2.0 ha developed several faults due to a bad design. We installed the MSI 970A-G43 which is a mainstream socket AM3+ ATX gaming motherboard so that we could recover the CPU and memory.
The MSI 970A-G43 lacks many fan headers so its advisable to spend $10 on a 4 channel fan control box. Using green energy efficient fans which run slower are also less noisy.
Originally we were testing memory with the Athlon II 250 which may have been unsuitable. Eventually we determined the Athlon CPU was defective.
The more powerful Phenom II 965 seems to be much better suited to this motherboard. The MSI 970A-G43 was bought as a factory refurbished motherboard.
With new memory sticks were finally were able to achieve 12288MB at DDR3-1600. We successfully have G.Skill and Micron memory working side by side. Both are JEDEC compliant and work fine.
The goal with the build was to assemble a machine that was modern in design. AMD is more easy to work with which favors the DIY market. Longer term is the goal to reduce the idle load to as low as possible. The EPA Energy Star 5 specifications have some provisions for graphics cards and both AMD and NVIDIA have designed successive generations of more energy efficient designs. We took inspiration from the PA238QR which is EPA Energy Star gold rated.
The Corsair Carbide 300R chassis was chosen for the new machine. This 300R rotates the disk cage to allow for 4 disks while making more room for video cards. Air flow is also much better which makes this chassis suitable for 2-way or even 3-way video card systems. We installed more ball bearing fans to improve the air flow. The 300R also moves the PSU to the bottom which makes for a cooler placement. Drawing air from the bottom provides a convenient source of cool air. There is a filter to help protect the PSU fan from being fouled with dust.
The MSI 970A-G43 is designed for a single graphics card. The Carbide 300R can accommodate even the longest dual GPU cards.
This machine is substantially more powerful than 9th generation consoles (Xbox One and PS4). The GTX 660 Ti is marketed for 1920×1080 panels which is the same resolutions the consoles use. The new 4K UHD panels are expensive and games like Crysis 3 achieve about 5.7 fps at 3840×2160 with a GTX 660 Ti. Even quad-SLI GTX Titans cannot hold 60fps. 4K is very early in the cycle.
The EVGA GTX 660 Ti is overclocked aggressively which makes it about 5-10% faster in benchmarks. This is enough to compete with the rival HD 7950 which occupies the same price band. The goal when selecting this card was to be able to beat the Xbox One and PS4 consoles for graphics performance. Looking at benchmarks, the card is about 95% as fast as the reference GTX 680 which makes the EVGA card a real value.
The move to BD is now important. Bare drives for desktops are now under $60 and the 128GB BDXL is the same as the Xbox One and PS4 drives. Many games ship on 3-5 DVD9 disks which is costly to manufacture. The BD drive is much faster then DVD drives and game installs are more than 50% faster. Backups are a bonus with the increased capacity.
In 2013, Crysis 3 was the first game to want DirectX 11 graphics and now Battlefield 4 has also jumped on board. The biggest move is with 64-bit games to better manage memory. The GTX 660 Ti was carefully selected for games using our Asus PA238QR panel. The Kepler seems to be well suited to PC gaming as even the most demanding games are very playable even with maximum graphics. We noticed the GTX 660 Ti often uses only 70-80W of power to play even more demanding games, which does wonder to the power bill.
While consoles remain static, PC games tend to become more demanding over time. Equipped with an SLI board, however, we are less concerned as we have more options than the old rig could provide.
We continue to use the PCI Express Wi-Fi card. It has proved itself to be a worthly enhancement for any gaming rig.
The MSI 970A-G43 has a lot of capacitors. This immediately reminds us of of Teapo and their flaky capacitors. MSI obviously is alert to the problem and we suspect that the use of capacitors instead of regulators reduced the cost of the parts while not affecting durability..
THE CURRENT SETUP
|CHASSIS||Corsair Carbide 300R|
|CPU||AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition 3.4 GHz|
|RAM||12288MB DDR3-1600 dual channel|
|GPU||EVGA GTX 660 Ti FTW Signature 2|
|MON||Asus PA238QR (1920×1080 60Hz)|
|HD||Seagate Barracuda 7200.14 ST2000DM001|
|OS||Windows 10 x64 Professional|