190: Hardware Selection Guide

I’ve been planning to build a new PC for many months now.   Unfortunately, final decision still hasn’t been  made due to rumors that this and that newer and better hardware are coming in a few months — I know we never can catch up with the latest technology.

Anyway, the following guide from Jetline Systems that I came across is a good quick reference.   For example, I originally put Nvidia GTX 690 on my purchase list for the new PC since I am planning to expand my system into a 3-monitor setup.   The guide reminds me again that Nvidia GTX 690 and other dual GPU cards might significantly impact FSX performance.   Even though the info isn’t detailed and comprehensive, I am now putting the card on hold and searching for more information.

PC Performance Guide

If you are planning an upgrade for your computer like me, worth taking a look of this guide to get some references of what hardware we should focus on for a better FSX system.  We could also gain some hardware information that the company selects to build their PCs for FSX customers.

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23 thoughts on “190: Hardware Selection Guide

  1. Just as way of feedback here, took delivery of an EVGA GTX780 3GB superclocked this week, this card replaced my Gigabyte GTX 680 2GB, as I suspected it does not really make that much of a difference in FSX or PP3D but I guess the extra 1GB vram helps at my Dell U3011 30″ LCD’s native resolution of 2560 x 1600, for sure I see less of the old scenery tile updating if I quickly pan around. in fact I’ve not seen it yet with this new card … I dont just play FSX and P3D though and the 780 really makes a difference in other high end games.

    I only plug in my one Monitor and VR Insight GPS5 to above card and dont intend to go triple screen, so quite happy now.

    For sure if you are going three LCD’s then I’d consider the Titan for its 6GB (there will be no 6GB regular GTX780’s) and subsequent large resolutions, its a lot of money for a single GPU card though, but undoubtedly the fastest single GPU card around just now and if I could have stretched to it I would have. FSX does not like dual GPU cards and I’ve tried it with GTX570’s in SLI in the past that was a bit problematic, but yes the Titan can do three monitors on its own (as can GTX 680’s and 780’s) and that 6GB vram would come into play then, even in SLI your GPU ram does not double up, so in my GTX 570 SLI trial I still only had 1.3 GB usable in FSX or other games.

    Running an I7-E 3960X overclocked to 4.6 GHz water cooled, 16GB ram, Asus Rampage Extreme IV that is one stunning motherboard, the new GTX780SC, and a mix of SSD’s and WD Velociraptors, very happy with it and dont see any more hardware purchases this year.

    Have fun choosing and building your rig Tom.

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    1. Thanks for sending the information over, Colin. I’ve never used EVGA brand before. How is it compared to ASUS — my favorite choice?

      Yes, I like cards with more VRAM too. Titan is my target but you are absolutely right that GTX780 is far more cost-effective for a single monitor system. Still considering to drop my current 30-inch for three 27-inches or just keep the current one. Three 30-inch mons are a bit too much for me, price is more than double.

      Still hoping that Rampage V is coming soon. Although as another friend, Hans, says, there’s always something newer coming. But I’ve been waiting for it for a long time.

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      1. Hi Tom, most of the cards are the same until you get into standard overclocked ones then they tend to have individual coolers, the EVGA one I’ve bought has a very effective twin fan cooler that is still fairly silent but definitely keeps the card cool when i was benchmarking it, the nice thing about EVGA is that the warranty is usually a bit better than others also they have some sort of step up program (or used to?) where you could upgrade cheaper, not 100% sure about that as I’ve not owned another EVGA card for some years now, when I bought my 680 last year it was on day one and I wanted an EVGA but they sold out in an hour so settled on the Gigabyte one, the Asus ones sold out too, very happy with my EVGA GTX 780 now though.

        As regards monitors, have always been a single monitor guy so plumped for the well regarded Dell U3011, it retains the larger pixel height 16:10 ratio that I prefer for flight sims, the trend now seems to be for 16:9 more because thats the way TV’s have went for widescreen movies I think, but its all down to personal preference for this, one thing I’ve read though is that 4K monitors will be the next big thing, Asus have a PQ321 Ultra HD 4K 31.5-inch already at 3840 x 2160 and 16:9 ratio, very very expensive and will surely put the Titan through its paces :)

        Cheers.

        Colin

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      2. Hi Colin,
        True. I just a bit worry about the reliability and software features coming with it. I once bought a Gigabit card due to ASUS was sold out.
        The card was ok but the software features came with it were far less than ASUS. After that, I am quite cautious about switching to other brands.

        Regarding 4K, it’s a must to go but IMO that should be next year or the year after thing. Lack of software and higher price are barriers. The situation should be better after a year or two.

        Have a nice weekend

        Tom

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  2. Really interesting article. This is one of the best darn FSX websites I have come across in YEARS, you have so much great article it’s going to take me weeks to read through them all. Thanks for all of your effort, I’ll be subscribing to this blog.

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  3. Hi Tom,
    I question why you are persuaded to put so much of your hard earned money into new hardware when the problem may soon be solved by our freinds at LM improving the code in P3D.

    Phil

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    1. Hi Phil,

      Thanks for your advice. Regarding hardware, no matter if we are using FSX or P3D, the better the PC, the better the performance. That’s for sure. My system is more than 3 years old. Due to my planning for a 3 monitor system, that’s why I am looking for a new PC, even though my current one is still reasonably good.

      Frankly speaking, I don’t know much about P3D and I haven’t even try it — maybe I should one day. I did some researches over the internet. It seems that for the moment it is not a lot better than FSX. It has its cons, too. Plus, I still need to invest in some hardware, say a SSD. Moreover, installing a completely new system from scratch and finetuning it to what I am having now would cost enoromous time. I doubt it if I could affort it these days while I am focusing on my another project.

      It seems that you are running P3D and perhaps you could share with us how you migrate from FSX to P3D.

      Tom

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      1. Hi Tom,
        P£D in it’s present state is already far smoother without any tweaks than FSX is/was fully tweaked. That’s now on V1.4, there’s a lot of anticipation as to what is comming our way in V2. Talk of DX11 together with other graphics tweaks all go to make P3D what we hoped FSX was going to be.I purchased a GTX660ti for FSX and barely saw an improvement over my former GTS250. I then spent less than a quater of that price on P£D and wow, I’ll never go back!
        Phil

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      2. Thanks for the note, Phil. Sounds exciting. I will spend some time reading the site again.
        BTW, are you using the Pro or the Academic version? What incompatibilities and cons you found so far?
        Tom

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      3. Hi Tom, I’m using the academic version and I fly mainly VFR Photoscenery.
        I’ve not come across any problems other than with Flight 1 software.
        If you intend running FSx & P3D side by side then you would need the fix-it tool. However, I don’t think you’ll look at FSX again.
        Just my view!
        Phil

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  4. You might look into Matroxs’ TH2G and stay with the single GPU. That way you get the benefits of all the options that come with TH2G.

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    1. Thanks Bill. I am currently using a 2560 x 1600 (30-inch) monitor. My target is to replace it with three 27-inch (2560 x 1440) monitors from Dell. Their price-performance seems to be quite good. It’s only a third of the price of a 30-inch one.
      Regarding TH2G, As far as I know that it doesn’t support up to such resolution. Correct me if I am wrong.
      Tom

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  5. That’s one of the only place that used FSX as a benchmark to compare PC items.
    One other thing that is also not mentioned that also affect performance is how those component are tied together, the Mother Board. It plays a big roll for video and how those items talk to each other. ASUS P8Z77 seams to be used a lot in flightsim PC’S.

    Also, external component hooked up to the mother like the Saitek FIP (USB Small Monitors) for example are handled not by the video card but rather the CPU and motherboard, this as it is often mentioned why one as no problem while someone else as issue.

    The old Sandy Bridge like the 2600K or 2700k were great at OC (OverClock) but the new Ivy Bridge like the 3770K is better at handling the on board video. For those not familiar with CPU from Intel the K at the end means the chip is unlock and can be OC to higher speeds. Do not forget that with high speed CPU cooling also becomes important, so water coolers might be needed.

    In summary:
    1 CPU CPU CPU (Overclock at higher speed)
    2 MotherBoard (That deals better with video and communication between items)
    3 FSX on his own Drive (Better Performance)
    4 Good Video card (specially with multiple monitor)
    5 Ram (Lowest CL# and higher Clock Speed for better performance)

    Great idea Tom to include this in your blog !!! I am sure it will help a lot of people.
    Mario

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    1. Thanks Mario. I found P8Z77 is a popular board for FSX. Perhaps it uses the latest chipset and newer generation of CPU.
      That’s why I would like to go for Ivy Bridge instead of Sandy Bridge.
      However, Rampage that has quad channels seems to excel P8Z77. I really don’t know.
      Thanks for the summary.
      Tom

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  6. Hi,
    Do you not think that you may be throwing a lot of your good money at un-nessecary hardware when all along, it most likely the FSX code that needs improving and that’s just what they’re spending their time doing over at LM P3D – Phil

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  7. Actually FSX run with good performance with one gpu card only, so all its about your budget. If you have big budget, i think a nvidia gtx titan (1500$) is the best with 3 monitors setup. Always in kind of one gpu card you have radeon hd5970 3go and 6go (300$ – 600$).
    I have GTX680 and 690 and i have better fps with 680.

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      1. Yes i have GTX 680 and 690. FSX tested on CPU i7 2700K, 16GB RAM, SSD ADATA SX900 256GB and i have better fps with my GTX 680 and i dont know why. For 3 monitors GTX Titan is well to perform on high resolution.

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      2. Thanks for the note, Boa. 690 is inferior than 680 — I heard about a lot, and that’s why I have to serious think about it. Perhaps Titan the best so far. Tom

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      3. Hi Tom,
        I just upgraded this year, I have 2 GTX 680’s, and they work well.. I have the I3930K, and the Rampage IV extreme… it’s a beast I tell ya.. great frame rates too in fsx

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