Help me build my PC 2017 Catch All

This may not belong here, but I'm going to try anyway because I'm not feeling the need for a whole new thread just for one question.

My aging desktop is starting to struggle a bit with some of the newest games. I replaced the graphics card a couple of years back, but I'm still only fielding 4GB of RAM. Could that be the problem? (Battletech said I didn't have enough memory, but it runs okay (if slow) after a long load-time - I wasn't sure if it was criticizing my VRAM or my system RAM.)

I figure I can grab 2x8GB or 1x16GB(DDR3) to throw into the system for around $Cdn 80.

1) Is this going to help? Cursory searches around the internet suggest that gaming systems should have at least 8GB these days.
2) I have 4 slots on my motherboard. Currently running 2x2GB. Should I be adding the new RAM, or replacing the old? If the latter, does it matter the configuration of the chips?
3) Does it matter whether I run 2x8GB or 1x16GB?
4) Finally, it's been a while since I assembled or played with this Frankensteinian monster of a system. I think I should be able to just shut it down, add/replace the memory chips, and start it back up again. Is that right?

Thanks!

Without more details on your CPU and motherboard these are hard questions to answer. Generally most computers from the past 10 years or so use dual channel memory which means that two matched sticks perform better than a single stick of the same size as the sum of the two matched sticks. Basically 2x8Gb is usually faster than 1x16Gb. If you are going to buy 16 gigs then that extra 4Gb you already have won't make a huge difference either way as long as it is a matched kit and installed in the proper slots (usually alternating slots). You can try installing the new kit and seeing if you have any issues and if you do try removing the old kit. My desktop at home is running 12Gb with one 4Gb kit and one 8Gb kit with no issues, but I think all the sticks are the same brand and timings and I am not doing anything fancy like overclocking.

1. 8Gb minimum I would say.
2. See above.
3. See above.
4. Pretty much. I like to always unplug the power cable and let it sit for a minute or two before cracking open the case.

8 GB is a solid minimum these days.. I would go with 2x4GB chips to maximize performance and place them in the slots that are currently occupied.

After you replace the memory you might get a Bios screen that informs you memory has changed and force you to go into Bios to confirm and save settings, other than that its a simply as above..power down..open case, replace memory, close case, power up.

I don't think anyone quite directly answered the underlying question: yes, 4 gigs is too little for many current games. That is going to be a problem, no matter what kind of machine you've otherwise got. However, fixing that alone may not be adequate; if the machine is old enough, it may just be time for a new motherboard/CPU/RAM combo, possibly with a video card as well. If you can tell us what you've got now, that would let us give you much better advice.

Otherwise, we have to be very general. 8 gigs is likely to be enough to run anything out now, although 16 gigs can give you some benefit in some titles. You should normally buy matched pairs of RAM, and then you need to mount them in matched slots, so that they work together. You can keep using the RAM you have now in addition (so you'd have 12 gigs), but it's very important to get the slot pairings correct. If you mix the RAM together so that different stick types are on the same electrical pair, you get bad results. RAM sticks have a couple of dozen internal timings that they communicate to the motherboard for how to drive them, and when pairs are mismatched, the motherboard chooses the slowest presented timing for every possible option. Different sticks are frequently strong and weak in different areas, so mixing them means you end up weak in every area at once. This can play absolute hell with your RAM performance. And if the *sizes* are mismatched, then the smaller size is used for both chips. The excess in the larger chip just isn't available.

After you've mounted the new RAM sticks correctly, it's pretty common to have to clock them up. Most current memory supports XMP mode, which is a form of safe overclocking, but very few motherboards will drive RAM in XMP mode by default. In other words, you might put a set of DDR3-1600 RAM in there, but the motherboard will default to DDR3-1200 or something like that for maximum chance of successfully booting the board. You usually have to manually go into the BIOS and choose a faster setting; ASUS boards will usually list the possible settings in a dropdown box, so it's usually just a matter of changing one thing, saving, and rebooting. (It may be harder on other boards, but I haven't worked with anything but ASUS in a long time.)

edit to add: I think maybe XMP mode might be per-motherboard, so you might only be able to use RAM timings that your old chips supported, if you left those in. If that's how your board works, then if the new RAM is clocked much higher, you may not want to use the old stuff any more.

Again, we've having to be very, very general here. The more specific you can be about what hardware you have, the more specific we can be about what you'll need to do.

Thanks, all. I can’t tell you much about the components I have without a little more poking around - hardware in the Windows System settings gives me the right motherboard brand (Gigabyte), but shows nothing useful under model (Generic, I think?). I know I don’t have the box anymore. It took me cracking the case to look at the markings on the motherboard for me to figure out I needed DDR3 RAM. Hey, do they write model numbers on the board?

My next stop is to seek out the boxes or an old email invoice for the pieces. I *can* tell you the bits are about six years old, and they were mid-tier choices then, except for the Video Card which I installed about three years ago. That one’s an ATI Sapphire something, but more specific I cannot be at the moment.

I’ll poke around and see what I can figure out. Thanks again!

I believe the model number will be imprinted on the board somewhere.

Grab HWInfo from https://www.hwinfo.com/download/, and it should be able to identify your board.

Built my PC last year thanks to a lot of the great people here!

This is my first summer with it, and realised I'd forgotten to check the temperatures of my CPU - a 8700k i7 (not currently overclocked.)

In my house, downstairs it is reading as 24 degrees celsius. Upstairs, in the room with the computer, feels like it's a little bit more muggy, so I'd maybe put it as about 2-3 degrees higher as a guess (I don't have anything that can check the room itself!) It's currently 23 degrees outside and ~70% humidity.

My CPU is idling at about 39-42 degrees celsius. Is this any cause for concern? I can't really tell from what I've read, some people suggest 10-15 degrees above ambient temperature is perfectly fine, although there's plenty who suggest your CPU should be idling at less than this.

I have a Be Quiet! Dark Rock 4 cooler.

I'm quite curious about my CPU, as I know a lot of people say it tends to run hot. The one time I did notice it get close to bad heats was when I was playing Anthem with high settings, but from what I read that is a very CPU intensive game.

Any thoughts would be great, as I'm wondering if I should reapply thermal paste.

40c idling seems fine to me. If you are concerned, keep an eye on it in games or other intense programs and if it gets above 90c then you might want to look at a better cooling solution or re-applying paste.

Those idle temps seem fine to me, especially one being air cooled. It's the temps under load you should be more concerned with. If you are getting close to 90 Celsius you might want to check how well everything is seated/make sure you have enough thermal paste, and maybe clean out any dust from the system.

If you you are maxing out at like 70 Celsius or below with the CPU at full load you are doing great!

Thanks! The only time I've ever seen a game get over 80 (just as spikes) was when I played Anthem when it came out, and from the sounds of things that heated up everyone's CPU! I've gave a Mordhau and Rocket League a run today and they average was around 55-65, so that's all OK, I do still get the odd spike (when Rocket League first starts the package temp goes up past 70), but I wonder if this is because I have MCE on (I put this on through XMP for my memory, I believe, I'm considering turning it off.

What originally made me look into all this was the fact that I've started experiencing some stuttering in Rocket League, pretty much every game now has at least one incident of FPS dropping by 5-10 frames. I've updated Windows to the latest version ( ), updated my Nvidia drivers and I believe Rocket League has had a small update, so it's more likely one of them the culprits.

Past 70 is no big deal, I wouldn’t worry about it or change anything. Upper 80s is where you want to start looking at stuff.

The CPU will throttle itself at 90C to keep itself from being damaged, so as long as you never hit 90C, even for a second, you're maintaining full performance. I'll tolerate temps slightly over 80 (maybe 82ish), but I don't like them that high. I really like to see 70-75C under load. Lower is better, of course, but 75C is adequate, and 70C is comfortable.

Should expectations for laptop temperatures be similar?

My gaming laptop temps (ASUS w/ GTX 1060ti) are almost always in the high 80s when playing anything graphically intensive and are in the 40s when idling.

Gaming laptops will always be hot as heck.

Middcore wrote:

Laptops will always be hot as heck.

FTFY. My Razer Blade Stealth can get hot enough to be uncomfortable to touch the bottom sometimes and it just has a Intel GPU.

I'm looking to build a real lightweight PC on the cheap for my living room. All it needs to do is a) basic web browsing and b) streaming video at 1080p. Any suggestions either for actual builds or for a good online resource?

Math wrote:

I'm looking to build a real lightweight PC on the cheap for my living room. All it needs to do is a) basic web browsing and b) streaming video at 1080p. Any suggestions either for actual builds or for a good online resource?

Maybe something using one of the ASRock DeskMini barebones systems?

I'd do something like an Intel NUC.

*Legion* wrote:

I'd do something like an Intel NUC.

While doing some googling I came across those. Looks like this "build" is pretty near what I had in mind:

120GB SSD: $22

4GB RAM: $25

No-OS Celeron NUC : $158

Anyone have experience with a NUC?

Intel Nucs are great. Have used them at work for various functions for years now.

I wouldn't go less than 8gb these days.

I’ve been using an i3 NUC as a Plex server for 5 years, it’s been great. I had to clean dust out of the CPU fan recently, and had some firmware issues in the early days with USB 3.0 support. Otherwise fine.

Have also used these at work and they’ve been very reliable.

The celeron version is probably ok for your needs, but you might want to get a later model, the NUC5 is a few generations old now.

I have a first generation i3 NUC, still going strong. Just sits there in my TV cabinet in the main family room, 24/7. 8GB RAM and a 240GB SSD (upgraded from the original 60GB SSD I put in there at the time), running Ubuntu. It's a Plex, RetroArch, PiHole, VPN Server and more, in one tiny box. Also doubles as my secured inward remote connection (remote desktop, or SSH) if I'm eslewhere and want to do something on my network at home.

Redherring wrote:

I’ve been using an i3 NUC as a Plex server for 5 years, it’s been great.

I'm using an i5 NUC for the same purpose + PiHole DNS server.

At work, we have Pelican cases full of NUC stacks. We've used them for digital signage devices, for encoding video streams, lots of things. Nice versatile low-ish power devices.

I also have another i5 at home that I intend to use in a RetroPie setup, something more powerful than a Raspberry Pi.

Thanks to all who replied to my earlier thread. My circumstances have changed and I find myself with a different opportunity. My MacBook has crapped out, and my budget for a new computer is $1000. I am now considering a 15” windows computer. I’d like to get the GTX 1060 card but I need to get a computer that isn’t a “gaming” computer, as I want to use it for work as well.

I found this Lenovo, which seems to have a subpar GPU but otherwise seems great. What do you think or suggestions?

IdeaPad L340 15” - Black
Part Number: 81LK000FUS
Processor
9th Generation Intel® Core™ i7-9750H Processor (2.60HZ, up to 4.50GHz with Turbo Boost, 6 Cores, 12MB Cache)
Operating System
Windows 10 Home 64
Lenovo recommends Windows 10 Pro.
Display Type
FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS, anti-glare, 250 nits
Memory
8 GB DDR4 2400MHz
Hard Drive
512GB Solid State Drive, M.2 PCIe-NVMe
Warranty
1 Year Depot or Carry-in
Graphics
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 3GB
Camera
720p HD
Keyboard
Backlit Keyboard - US English
Wireless
802.11 AC (2 x 2) & Bluetooth® 4.2
Web Price:$1,019.99
After eCoupon:
$669.99
Savings:$350.00

Thanks to everyone for the testimonials about NUCs. Looks like on eBay I can nab a 6th-gen Celeron NUC with RAM, SSD, and Win10 included for $140. I think it'll be hard to beat that pricepoint.

Greatajax wrote:

What do you think or suggestions?

I mean, it depends on how much "gaming" you want out of it.

Some alternatives I see shopping around:

A Dell G5587 for $720, with a GTX 1060 6GB. It's styled reasonably enough to use as a work laptop, I think.

For $900, here's another Dell, the Dell G3, which has a GTX 1660 ti Max-Q, which has about a 10-20% performance gain over the laptop 1060 GPU.

Now, this one would be one of my go-tos in the sub-$1000 gaming laptop range, but the style of the laptop is not as subdued as the Dells. This is the Acer Predator Helios 300, which has a GTX 1060 6GB and a 144hz refresh rate display. There's also a 2019 model that updates the GPU to a 1660 ti Max-Q, but the price on that one inches over the $1000 mark.

My brother recently got the ASUS ROG Zephyrus G, which has a 1660ti Max-Q and a 120hz refresh rate display. This machine was going for just under $1000 during Memorial Day, but has snuck back up to $1200. But nothing too over the top about the design on this one, just a logo on the back and a brushed metal body style. He actually wanted something that had fairly work-acceptable styling too, which is why this one was my recommendation for him.

You can definitely find plenty of laptops with 1050s and 1050tis in them at price points similar to the Lenovo you posted, but on a 1080p screen, I think gaming quality of life goes up considerably with GPUs in that 1060 or 1660 tier.

Legion,

Those are great options, and I’d love any of those. They would totally work for the office.

I wasn’t clear with my issue. The problem is that work will buy the computer for me, and while they will be fine with a graphics card and me using it to play games on my own time, what’s not cool, at least to me, is submitting the invoice for a “Gaming” computer in the title. I don’t feel like I can ask my office to buy me a gaming computer as if that’s the primary use I intend it for, which it isn’t or I’d have written Alienware or MSI a check already. I’m trying to thread a bit of a needle here.

My 7 year old desktop gaming/all purpose computer I feel is starting to give out.

I built my last 3 computers myself, but being in my early 40s and with 2 teenage daughters and hectic life, I don't really have the time/energy to research and build and have decided maybe a nice pre-built PC would be the best option. Not lazy, just realistic (and as we all know computer builds can turn into a long weekend of frustration...)

Any opinions out there on brands, etc? I have looked at Dell, at DogHouse Systems (Scott Johnson's podcast seem to support those), looked at brick and mortar stores (Frys and the like) and on Amazon.
Thinking in the upper middle price point (I remember building for like $800, but obviously that was prior to the crazy video card prices now).

Thank you for any advice.
Ceri