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I hope this ins't an inappropriate post or the inappropriate place to post this... From looking around the forum, I chose this as the best place to get the answers I was looking for... If this needs to moved, please tell me and I will see that it is done.


I am (and have been) looking for advice on a build config for my first home built PC, targeted largely at running a heavily modded Skyrim that can perform in a manner that STEP is centered around. I have looked on other boards for this info and after continued searching in addition to the replies I've received at those boards, I was lucky enough to come across STEP, and I sincerely hope that the experience of this community in particular will be the best yet for me.


Before I get into what I have arrived at so far for my config options, let me get this out of the way first as I feel presenting this info first will be of help to anyone reading this:


My goal for this is two-fold:



1) build a rig I can play a well modded skyrim on with ultra settings and reasonably set MSAA, AA, AF, etc settings enabled where I can have good performing fps with texture, flora, lighting, weather, and other similar types of mods enabled.



2) I want to use this system as a launching point for future upgrades so that I have some wiggle room as software accomplishments begin to render my current hardware "obsolete." In other words, I want to be able to upgrade this rig with as few part swaps as possible when upgrading becomes necessary (instead of having to buy a new rig like many who own pre-fab big name manufacturer rigs have to because they don't have upgradability with their rigs).


-I'll be using Win 7 Home Prem, I WON'T be using triple monitor, 3D, or a 120Hz refresh display for this initial build (and may not ever to be honest). I will likely keep resolutions at 1920x1080 on my SONY Bravia 32" (24Hz, 1080p) for my monitor (unless this is a bad idea).


-I DO want the ability to OC with this initial build, though I will definitely be waiting a while til I know more about it and am comfortable with it.


-Liquid cooling is a bit much for me as I'm still a novice with these things, so I'm opting for air cooling for now, while leaving the option open for down the road, much like OCing



Finally, I would like to keep this at around 1k for cost, but I do have some wiggle room up to 1.5k if need be, but I'd REALLY like to keep costs down as much as I can. At this point and time, I think I have something that will realistically clock in around 1.25k for cost.


Here is what I've been able to narrow down thus far with input from other boards: 




I haven't listed a GPU b/c I', still unsure of the video card, but have sort of narrowed it down b/t the Nvidia 670 GTX 4Gb or the Radeon 7970 3Gb, non-reference cards.


As far as the GPU goes, I have read in several places (including the STEP hardware guide) that VRAM does in fact make a difference in the case of a heavily modded Skyrim. I have been flamed (big surprise I know) on one board by those who claim 2Gb is the absolute highest VRAM anyone will ever need (barring the displays I listed above that I will not be using for this build) for gaming period. I've also  read in many other places of users who do in fact exceed 2Gb of VRAM for their modded Skyrim installs (with numbers in the range of 2.2 to 2.8Gb, and in one case, 3.2GB, and that user wanted to push to envelope even further - for references' sake, this was with a 670 GTX 4Gb card for those numbers). I seem to have read the same on the STEP hardware guide, which I have linked at other boards for my most credible resource on the VRAM question (I hope this wasn't faulted on my part, I just figure an entire team devoted to a well modded Skyrim experience would know what they're talking about, and unless I hear different here, I'll just go with that in confidence).


To be clear, I'm not looking to break my own bank account with this build. I was a PC gamer about 10 years ago, and fiscal realities being what they were, had to opt for console gaming after that. Now that I have an opportunity to get back into PC gaming (and Skyrim and the modding community have been the biggest impetus behind me taking my tax return to finally build my own rig) I want to do this right, with the best info that I can gather. So if I have to exceed 1k, but still keep the build under 1.5k to achieve this goal, then I am willing to gather the parts needed to accomplish the goals I have for this build. I just want to know, more than anything else, which components will get that objective accomplished without being flamed or being subjected to anything else that doesn't work towards that goal. And this is the absolute best place I can think to ask for that advice.


My thanks to all of you well ahead of time :)

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There is a lot of good advice in these forums, but a quick way to get an idea of what to get is to look at all of the system specs on the wiki. Many users have specs on the wiki, so we can create a link to look at these systems in aggregate I think.

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Forgive my ignorance here, but creating a link to look at these systems "in aggregate" (I *think* I know what you mean kind of) sounds fantastic, but in any case I think I get the overall gist of what you mean, and any link you can provide to give me a look at these systems would be greatly, greatly appreciated :)

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Forgive my ignorance here' date=' but creating a link to look at these systems "in aggregate" (I *think* I know what you mean kind of) sounds fantastic, but in any case I think I get the overall gist of what you mean, and any link you can provide to give me a look at these systems would be greatly, greatly appreciated :)[/quote']

Here is a query I took waaay too long to put together :P

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Personally, I think what you have so far is pretty good. Of course, I have made some adjustments, and I will explain why I have done so below.


Here is what I've changed your build to:



Addition of the Samsung 840 Series 128GB SSD: I have added an SSD because, frankly, I believe all mid-range to high-end computers should have one. While it may only impact loading and boot-up times in regards to gaming, it is one of the most noticeable upgrades one could possibly make. The difference between a HDD and an SSD can blow your mind away. Also, this Samsung SSD is a good quality SSD, and is fairly affordable.


Addition of the XFX Double D 7970: Between a 4GB 670, and a 3GB 7970, I have chosen the 7970. I have done so because AMD's cards are looking better and better with each new driver update. You should have no troubles reaching a fully-modded, high-settings Skyrim while maintaining good frame rates with this card.


Change of the PSU to the Thermaltake Smart M 750W PSU: While the PSU you chose was in no way a bad choice, I think that most people would agree that a modular power supply is definitely better than a non-modular power supply. They are just much easier to work with.


I hope you find my changes/additions valuable. I am open to any and all criticism about my choices. If you have any other requirements or personal preferences that you would like incorporated into this, feel free to post them. I would be more than happy to help you further.


(If you are interested in my build, it consists of a 3770k, 16GBs of RAM, a 2GB 680 (there were no 4GB 680s in stock, and I was too impatient to wait), a 128GB SSD, a 1TB HDD, all connected to a Sabertooth Z77 motherboard. I can easily achieve 60 FPS at 1920x1080 on a full STEP installation, with maximum settings. The build I posted above should be able to match my performance, or even exceed it.)

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I think my jaw hit the floor just now...


I actually can't believe you took the time to get that query together for a total stranger, and it's hands down the coolest thing I think anyone's ever done for me on any boards, for any thing, period :)


I can't thank you enough z929669 for the effort you put into that. WAY better than being flamed lol!  Again, thanks so much, I simply cannot state that enough, really (and to anyone/everyone else who had anything to do with, my gratitude as well naturally.)


Tarek1337, thanks for your recommendations, I will absolutely take them under advisement.



Thanks again so much, this is some really excellent info and the fact that there is so much to work off of now and it was presented in so little time just blows me away.


This was definitely the right place to stop by for advice :)

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A quick following up regarding GPU bus if I can...



What kind of appreciable difference (if any) would a GPU bus of 256 for an Nvidia vs. 384 for a Radeon make when running an install on the order of extreme STEP. I notice from the hardware aggregate that most users have nvidia GPUs, so I am assuming not much, if any, but I also know what can happen when one assumes (old Benny Hill fans anyone?).



I've kind of been flip flopping over the GPU like a politician in election mode honestly, and hopefully this isn't a nit-picky focus concerning the bus.


Thanks again

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Mean No. GPUs: 1.2083333333333 

I know :P ... but too cool to pass up crunching one of the only three real numbers that we have in SystemSpecs


How did you make the lashy eyes?

It's some alt-code, wasn't too hard to find and copy/paste from Reddit.
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The size of the bus only matters when memory bandwidth matters. A bigger bus, or a higher effective memory frequency can aid in increasing memory bandwidth. To find out the memory bandwidth, I did a simple calculation, which is posted below.


interface width x effective memory frequency ÷ 8 bits per byte = memory bandwidth.


XFX 7970: 384-bit x 5.7GHz ÷ 8 bits per byte = 273.6GB/s


EVGA 670: 256-bit x 6.008GHz ÷ 8 bits per byte = 192.256GB/s


As you can see, the 7970's memory bandwidth is significantly higher than the 670s. The faster the graphics card can access the memory, the more large textures and anti-aliasing options you can use. Of course, you won't see as big of a performance increase with a 7970 as this calculation would like you to believe, but you may see a small increase.


Hopefully this answers your questions about bus width. I'm glad to help.


(I give up on the formatting.)

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Thanks Tarek1337,



I'm about 5-6weeks out from placing the order for everything, so this gives me time to change my mind a billion times between now and then, but the input is still useful, and it's hands down the best reply I've recieved regarding bus info of anywhere I've posted to date :)


This place is so awesome, thanks again...

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