Would you upgrade anything right now, given this setup?

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Would you upgrade anything right now, given this setup?

Postposted on Tue Jul 15, 2014 7:52 am

Here's my build: http://pcpartpicker.com/user/automaticus/saved/RbQV3C

I built it in the spring of 2013.

I only play at 1080p so perhaps that's why my GPU has served me well. I play Watch Dogs with everything possible maxed and things are smooth. In general I've had little trouble with game performance with this build and I guess it will stay that way for a little while longer. Since I haven't really changed anything with this box in almost a year and a half, I'm simply curious as to whether you'd upgrade any of this now and why or why not.

The just released TR system guide prompted me to think about this now. Any thoughts?
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Re: Would you upgrade anything right now, given this setup?

Postposted on Tue Jul 15, 2014 8:01 am

automaticus wrote:In general I've had little trouble with game performance with this build and I guess it will stay that way for a little while longer.

I think you already answered your own question! :wink:

With very few exceptions, hardware always gets cheaper over time for a given performance level. So if you wait until you actually *need* the performance bump, you will save some money.

OTOH, if you've got spare cash and want to tinker with a new build just for the fun of it, then by all means, go right ahead!
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Re: Would you upgrade anything right now, given this setup?

Postposted on Tue Jul 15, 2014 10:48 am

I don't see anything that would get you a substantial enough upgrade to warrant the cost.

Your video card is basically a Radeon R9 280X, so you wouldn't even get any benefit from upgrading that.
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Re: Would you upgrade anything right now, given this setup?

Postposted on Tue Jul 15, 2014 10:56 am

You have exactly the same base system I do - same mobo, CPU, cooler, same amount of memory, similar SSD...big difference is I have a GTX 760, so I think your system would be faster than mine in games. I can't see anything in your list that you'd want to upgrade gaming at 1080p. There's nothing there to upgrade unless you want a 1440p monitor (which I kind of do for work, but then my video card might be a little stressed out).
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Re: Would you upgrade anything right now, given this setup?

Postposted on Tue Jul 15, 2014 11:01 am

Your system looks really nice, especially for gaming at 1080p. Don't upgrade unless you've got money to burn.
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Re: Would you upgrade anything right now, given this setup?

Postposted on Tue Jul 15, 2014 11:19 am

Thanks for your comments! That about sums up my thinking as well. I was just curious and wanted a second opinion :)

One thing I've been pondering... considering my Astro A50 headphones have their own DSP and I get the sound from the optical out on the mobo and into its DSP, would I benefit at all from a dedicated soundcard? The headphones are excellent, and yet I've often felt like the sound coming from games didn't have enough separation, lacking precision.

Also, is the difference really noticeable when playing at 1440p vs. 1080p?

Thanks!
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Re: Would you upgrade anything right now, given this setup?

Postposted on Tue Jul 15, 2014 12:19 pm

The answer depends entirely on whether the DAC in the headphone box is nicer than the DAC capabilities of whatever sound card you buy.

If you intend to keep using optical output, it won't make a difference, since your headphone box would still be doing the conversion.

Your impressions of sound quality could be an issue with the headphones, and not your existing audio solutions. Have you ever tried using the analog input into the headphone box, to compare between the two DACs? If you hear a difference and find that you have better spatial impressions from using an analog input, it may just be that the headphone box has a crappy DAC.

Do you feel the same way about the sound when using speakers?
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Re: Would you upgrade anything right now, given this setup?

Postposted on Tue Jul 15, 2014 1:22 pm

Wait until Big Maxwell or Pirate Islands.
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Re: Would you upgrade anything right now, given this setup?

Postposted on Tue Jul 15, 2014 1:32 pm

You have practically the same build as me for gaming - I use an i7-3770 (stock) and one of two R9 280X cards to game on (about the same as a 7970)

1440p is a lot more demanding, but as long as you don't just indiscretionately jam every slider to the right you can still get fluidity at close to maximum settings with that rig.
The extra resolution is lovely, but many games just don't have good enough art assets to warrant the extra resolution. If you're interested in a 1440p screen you could always replace the 7970 with a 290X or 780Ti if you weren't satisfied with the performance - it sounds like you have an itch to spend money and a 1440p screen is about the only upgrade that makes sense given the high spec of your existing build.
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Re: Would you upgrade anything right now, given this setup?

Postposted on Tue Jul 15, 2014 8:54 pm

automaticus wrote:Here's my build: http://pcpartpicker.com/user/automaticus/saved/RbQV3C I'm simply curious as to whether you'd upgrade any of this now and why or why not.
I definitely wouldn't have wasted $300 on fake-surround "7.1" headphones, but that ship has already sailed. :(

While I might be tempted to upgrade to a higher-resolution monitor (2560x1440 is the current sweet spot), I believe that DisplayPort 1.2a Adaptive-Sync, a single-tile 3840x2160 IPS/PLS LCD panel, 60+ Hz and a lower price are all things that make it worth waiting another six months for a monitor upgrade.
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Re: Would you upgrade anything right now, given this setup?

Postposted on Wed Jul 16, 2014 9:51 am

deruberhanyok wrote:The answer depends entirely on whether the DAC in the headphone box is nicer than the DAC capabilities of whatever sound card you buy.

If you intend to keep using optical output, it won't make a difference, since your headphone box would still be doing the conversion.

Your impressions of sound quality could be an issue with the headphones, and not your existing audio solutions. Have you ever tried using the analog input into the headphone box, to compare between the two DACs? If you hear a difference and find that you have better spatial impressions from using an analog input, it may just be that the headphone box has a crappy DAC.

Do you feel the same way about the sound when using speakers?

I never bought speakers for the PC because I love gaming with headphones and I use this box exclusively for gaming. My Macbook Air is my general purpose main machine.

I never did try the analog input into the Astro DAC ("MixAmp" in their lingo). Might be worth a shot, but...

I just read this. My takeaway from that is that the source of my audio absolutely MUST support DDL--Dolby Digital Live. I found no reference to this in the specs of my mobo, the Asus P8Z77-V LK.

So if I read that Astro post correctly, all this time I've been feeding my Astro DAC and, with that, my headset, stereo sound, which the DAC was trying to "upscale" to 5.1 or even 7.1 sound. That would explain why I never thought it sounded too great on my PC, while the thing sounded amazing whenever I used it with my Xbox 360. Never tried with the Xbone so far, but I'd expect similarly awesome sound there.

Seems to me I'm in the market for a soundcard in order to get the most out of this headset and/or any future headphones/speakers I may buy if I want surround sound of any kind, i.e. anything more than stereo!

Prestige Worldwide wrote:Wait until Big Maxwell or Pirate Islands.

What?

Chrispy_ wrote:You have practically the same build as me for gaming - I use an i7-3770 (stock) and one of two R9 280X cards to game on (about the same as a 7970)

1440p is a lot more demanding, but as long as you don't just indiscretionately jam every slider to the right you can still get fluidity at close to maximum settings with that rig.
The extra resolution is lovely, but many games just don't have good enough art assets to warrant the extra resolution. If you're interested in a 1440p screen you could always replace the 7970 with a 290X or 780Ti if you weren't satisfied with the performance - it sounds like you have an itch to spend money and a 1440p screen is about the only upgrade that makes sense given the high spec of your existing build.

Affordable high res gaming certainly is on the horizon, but I guess I'm in no rush. I'll stick to 1080p for now. Thanks for your input, though!

JustAnEngineer wrote:
automaticus wrote:Here's my build: http://pcpartpicker.com/user/automaticus/saved/RbQV3C I'm simply curious as to whether you'd upgrade any of this now and why or why not.
I definitely wouldn't have wasted $300 on fake-surround "7.1" headphones, but that ship has already sailed. :(

While I might be tempted to upgrade to a higher-resolution monitor (2560x1440 is the current sweet spot), I believe that DisplayPort 1.2a Adaptive-Sync, a single-tile 3840x2160 IPS/PLS LCD panel, 60+ Hz and a lower price are all things that make it worth waiting another six months for a monitor upgrade.

Not fake AFAIK. They're real 5.1 plus 2 virtual channels... so I guess it's semi-fake? It's simulated 7.1 but "real" 5.1 but really, for me specifically it's nothing more than stereo right now for reasons stated at the beginning of this post...

TR recommends the Xonar DX and DSX. Checking a trusted online retailer here, I find they sell a whole bunch of other Asus cards: http://www.brack.ch/it-hardware/pc-komp ... erpriceasc

Is it safe to say I can disregard anything above the DX? I haven't read a goddamn thing about soundcards for almost ten years as they seem to have become rather irrelevant lately. I should probably pay more attention to the on-board sound circuitry next time I buy a motherboard. OR invest in a solid soundcard and not care about it at all...
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Re: Would you upgrade anything right now, given this setup?

Postposted on Wed Jul 16, 2014 10:45 am

If your going to go 1440p I would do a ultra widescreen 34" LG UM95 21:9 3440-1440 monitor. But I would think a additional 7970/280x would be needed along with more PSU juice to power the second card. You could take you chances with the small PSU but I don't think it has the ca hones for two tahiti based cards.

Since my SLI'ed 4gb 770s perform around the same as crossfired 7970s you could send the monitor to me for testing :lol:
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Re: Would you upgrade anything right now, given this setup?

Postposted on Wed Jul 16, 2014 11:04 am

vargis14 wrote:You could take you chances with the small PSU but I don't think it has the ca hones for two tahiti based cards.

In TR's own testing the max power draw from the wall was 546 under load. This also is considering TR tested with an i7 of 130W TDP compared to OP's 77W i5. The SeaSonic would be fine with that setup but longevity would decrease if kept at high loads.
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Re: Would you upgrade anything right now, given this setup?

Postposted on Wed Jul 16, 2014 11:20 am

deruberhanyok wrote:The answer depends entirely on whether the DAC in the headphone box is nicer than the DAC capabilities of whatever sound card you buy.

This isn't entirely true. A good sound card can do some DSP (Digital Signal Processing) work and output that as a digital signal to the optical jack. That basically means you can output a better signal to a separate device to do the DAC work (Digital to Analog Conversion). You can also let your sound card do the DSP, DAC, and the amp work by plugging into the audio-out jack, but then you might miss out on potentially better DACs and amps.

(Side note, I'm not trying to imply that you don't know what DSP and DAC stand for. I just wanted to be clear about the separate steps in getting sound from a game to your headphones.)

automaticus wrote:Not fake AFAIK. They're real 5.1 plus 2 virtual channels... so I guess it's semi-fake? It's simulated 7.1 but "real" 5.1 but really, for me specifically it's nothing more than stereo right now for reasons stated at the beginning of this post...

I think JAE was pointing out that you only have two ears, so any headphones purporting more than stereo sound are "fake." Surround sound speaker systems work because there is some distance. When you eliminate that distance, you're better off turning on the headphone settings and letting your computer calculate the delays required for positional audio.
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Re: Would you upgrade anything right now, given this setup?

Postposted on Wed Jul 16, 2014 11:36 am

I did some digging. Seems the card to buy is the Xonar DX.

There are tons of other Xonar cards out there, but the one I keep coming back to is the DX. It's cheap, should make a big difference and is readily available.

If this makes as dramatic a difference as I expect it will, the discovery of needing a sound card alone will have made this discussion worth it :)
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Re: Would you upgrade anything right now, given this setup?

Postposted on Wed Jul 16, 2014 12:40 pm

Heh, JAE's beef is with anything other than stereo headphones, and I kind of agree with him:

Your brain percieves sound as interference at your eardrums (only two points). It can work out where the sound is coming from left-to-right by the time difference of sound arriving at one ear before the other. The purpose of your outer ear is to alter/muffle the soundwaves coming from above, below, in front or behind in differnt ways and your brain learns to recognise the distortion as directions.

With headphones or earphones the sound is all coming from one point - directly next to your ear, bypassing the outer ear's natural ability to pinpoint sound direction up/down/forwards/back. All headphones with surround sound fake this using DSP. Five individual speakers per ear is a variation on fake, because it's still the DSP in the headset that's working the magic. Even more importantly, most games will provide this DSP in software and pipe it out to stereo headphones already.

You can get stereo headphones to provide EXACTLY the same DSP as a "5.1" or "7.1" set and the surround sound effect will be near-identical. They won't sound exactly identical because a pair of $300 stereo headphones will have divided the budget between just two drivers rather than 10 or 14 drivers used in a surround set. Two better quality and, importantly, larger drivers means that even a fairly cheap pair of stereo headphones like the Grado SR60 or (dare I say it) $40 Koss PortaPro headphones will sound better.

Surround sound in headphones is all about the DSP, and the best DSP is the variety that comes directly from the game engine which generates the sounds positionally in the 3D game world. If you're going to use good quality analogue headphones, what you need from a sound card is a good quality DAC and nothing more.
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Re: Would you upgrade anything right now, given this setup?

Postposted on Wed Jul 16, 2014 5:17 pm

Take a look at the Creative Labs Sound Blaster Z 70SB150200000 (OEM) or 70SB150000000 (Retail) or 30SB150200000 (OEM) or even the fully-accessorized Sound Blaster ZXR 70SB151000000.
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Re: Would you upgrade anything right now, given this setup?

Postposted on Wed Jul 16, 2014 8:22 pm

Wouldn't upgrade a thing. Everything you want to do should be just fine on that system.
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Re: Would you upgrade anything right now, given this setup?

Postposted on Wed Jul 16, 2014 9:39 pm

Your base system is almost identical to mine. The only differences are that I went for two Samsung 830 512 GB SSD's, 32 GB ram, a Cooler Master Gemin II CPU cooler, 860 watt Seasonic PSU, and GTX 680 GPU. The only upgrade I have done is added in a GTX 780 Ti and run my monitor off it. I kept the GTX 680 and run Boinc projects off it and the 780 Ti when I'm not gaming.

The only thing I wish I had done differently are going with a 3770K, more cores/threads would be nice for Boinc projects, and added in a smaller SSD for my OS drive. :roll:

How are you liking the 600T case? I still love mine, easy to build in and it has a unique look and nice mix of white with black highlights. :D
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Re: Would you upgrade anything right now, given this setup?

Postposted on Thu Jul 17, 2014 4:19 am

Chrispy_ wrote:Heh, JAE's beef is with anything other than stereo headphones, and I kind of agree with him:

Your brain percieves sound as interference at your eardrums (only two points). It can work out where the sound is coming from left-to-right by the time difference of sound arriving at one ear before the other. The purpose of your outer ear is to alter/muffle the soundwaves coming from above, below, in front or behind in differnt ways and your brain learns to recognise the distortion as directions.

With headphones or earphones the sound is all coming from one point - directly next to your ear, bypassing the outer ear's natural ability to pinpoint sound direction up/down/forwards/back. All headphones with surround sound fake this using DSP. Five individual speakers per ear is a variation on fake, because it's still the DSP in the headset that's working the magic. Even more importantly, most games will provide this DSP in software and pipe it out to stereo headphones already.

You can get stereo headphones to provide EXACTLY the same DSP as a "5.1" or "7.1" set and the surround sound effect will be near-identical. They won't sound exactly identical because a pair of $300 stereo headphones will have divided the budget between just two drivers rather than 10 or 14 drivers used in a surround set. Two better quality and, importantly, larger drivers means that even a fairly cheap pair of stereo headphones like the Grado SR60 or (dare I say it) $40 Koss PortaPro headphones will sound better.

Surround sound in headphones is all about the DSP, and the best DSP is the variety that comes directly from the game engine which generates the sounds positionally in the 3D game world. If you're going to use good quality analogue headphones, what you need from a sound card is a good quality DAC and nothing more.

TL;DR: all surround sound headphones are faking the surround effect. DSP is paramount for the effect. DAC is the single most important aspect for the source of all sound.
Is that about right? I'm with you and JAE on that. Still wouldn't trade my Astro A50 set for anything. I'm really REALLY curious to test the sound from it with the Xonar DX I ordered late last night. Should be in the box in a few days. Will let you guys know the difference :)

JustAnEngineer wrote:Take a look at the Creative Labs Sound Blaster Z 70SB150200000 (OEM) or 70SB150000000 (Retail) or 30SB150200000 (OEM) or even the fully-accessorized Sound Blaster ZXR 70SB151000000.

I must admit... that card looks awesome! The product page also looks great. Far better presentation than Asus. Asus makes solid gear, but their web presence is a disgrace. Anyway... I didn't screw around too long researching sound cards yesterday and just went with the Xonar DX, which seems like a no-brainer considering the plentiful mentions around the web. Seemed like nothing short of a safe bet. Now I wonder how the Soundblaster compares to it?

LoneWolf15 wrote:Wouldn't upgrade a thing. Everything you want to do should be just fine on that system.

That's reassuring. Thanks!

Khali wrote:Your base system is almost identical to mine. The only differences are that I went for two Samsung 830 512 GB SSD's, 32 GB ram, a Cooler Master Gemin II CPU cooler, 860 watt Seasonic PSU, and GTX 680 GPU. The only upgrade I have done is added in a GTX 780 Ti and run my monitor off it. I kept the GTX 680 and run Boinc projects off it and the 780 Ti when I'm not gaming.

The only thing I wish I had done differently are going with a 3770K, more cores/threads would be nice for Boinc projects, and added in a smaller SSD for my OS drive. :roll:

How are you liking the 600T case? I still love mine, easy to build in and it has a unique look and nice mix of white with black highlights. :D

Aside from gaming, I also have Plex Media Center running on my box. It does the heavy lifting, transcoding video and audio, burning in subtitles while watching, managing my media library... while the media library is sitting on a Synology NAS. It's been a rock solid setup for a while now. I just wish I had a NAS powerful enough so I could leave all the media library related things running off of it, without needing my PC on to use it all. The current one is a Synology DS213+. I've been eyeing the DS214Play for a while, but since this current setup is working so well, I haven't felt the pressure to change anything about it.

The case is really excellent to work in. I got the white version, which sorta looks like I have a storm trooper cowering under my desk :D
I haven't opened the thing since I put the box together, so I'm no position to give any sort of detailed feedback on the performance of the case... but as far as the case's main job goes, being an... um, case!, it's been great.
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Re: Would you upgrade anything right now, given this setup?

Postposted on Thu Jul 17, 2014 6:47 am

I have a SoundBlaster Z that works great at everything I throw at it, even the Cable boxes optical output goes into the card and pumps beautiful sound out my speakers with a couple MS delay that is not noticeable at all.
I have read many reviews and I would stick to the plain SB z or the OEM SB Z...the ZXR adds a bit of noise from what I have read
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Re: Would you upgrade anything right now, given this setup?

Postposted on Thu Jul 17, 2014 8:57 pm

Heck, the X-Fi Titanium PCIe is still good after all this time. Still happy with mine.
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Re: Would you upgrade anything right now, given this setup?

Postposted on Tue Jul 22, 2014 9:30 am

Like others here have stated, your base system is pretty good...

...But have you thought about getting rid of the Razerkeyboard and moving up a tier? Corsair K70. You'll be happy you bought one. I hope you're not using the Razer mouse, the R.A.T. mice are really good. Now start looking at things that people tend to overlook like a back-up solution.
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Re: Would you upgrade anything right now, given this setup?

Postposted on Tue Jul 22, 2014 9:44 am

Philldoe wrote:Like others here have stated, your base system is pretty good...

...But have you thought about getting rid of the Razerkeyboard and moving up a tier? Corsair K70. You'll be happy you bought one. I hope you're not using the Razer mouse, the R.A.T. mice are really good. Now start looking at things that people tend to overlook like a back-up solution.

Hmmm, not sure what you mean by "moving up a tier" in this context. The Razer Blackwidow is a pretty fine keyboard IMHO and I currently don't see a good reason to change it. Also, considering I can't get the Corsair K70 for under 160 USD here, that would be a rather pricy just-for-the-heck-of-it-upgrade proposition.
And while I own a R.A.T. 7 mouse, I started getting problems with it stopping to respond, then coming back a few seconds later. Later, it sometimes wouldn't respond at all, forcing me to reboot and try all kinds of other things. Because of this I now use the Razer Deathadder 2013. Though I had to RMA the first one because the left mouse button kept double-clicking on single clicks (which drove me insane), the replacement I got has been working perfectly. Razer's software can be a PITA but it's getting better and they release updates relatively often. Guess I haven't been too lucky with mice...

I would look into backups--but I have nothing to back up. All my games come from Steam and all I do on this rig is play games, so I have no photos, videos or any other sort of data that would need backing up.

My Xonar DX is on the way and will be installed soon. I'm excited to try it out with the Astro A50 set and Watch Dogs :)
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