New rig advice

It’s time for a new rig (actually long overdue - my trusty 2500k / GTX 750 has served me well but now it is dying). So far I have a wish list sorted and a budget - I am going for Intel 12th gen. But there are two things i haven’t decided:

  1. DDR4 or DDR5? It’s tempting to go for DDR5 for forward compatibility but it’s twice the price and so far delivers no significant performance increase. Do I bet on seeing an improvement by the next time I upgrade?

  2. RTX 3060 12GB or RTX 3060 Ti 8GB? Obviously a 3070 or above would be preferable but I have a budget to stick to. I am primarily going to use it for MS Flightsim, X-plane, and Elite Dangerous. So better performance or more VRAM?

I welcome any comments you guys have.

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I myself just bit the bullet on a 3060Ti last night! It’s, without a doubt, a much smarter investment compared to it’s 3060 counterpart, as much as a 30% performance difference! Also, the increase in RAM size is an effort to compensate for the 3060’s slower performance, and therefore shouldn’t be considered a benefit over the much faster 3060Ti…

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Here are my thoughts that I considered when I was working on my build. I stuck with DDR4 for the same reasons you cited. Many of the Youtubers I follow, said that DDR5 is basically overrated and advised that DDR4-3600 is a good choice for mobo compatibility and performance. At the time I did my build DDR5 was not widely supported either.

Regarding the RTX 3060, I understand that the 3060Ti is the better performer than the 3060. Many of the people I follow, stated that the 12GB does not offer any real benefits and Nvidia was banking on folk thinking that more mem offered an advantage. Not the case, apparently. Full disclosure: I have a 3050 because I got impatient and jumped the gun when I should have waited. Had I stuck to the plan, I would have gotten the 3060Ti because the 3070 is just outside my budget.

Hope that helps, and good luck with your build>

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It is if you actually need that performance. If not, you pay a premium for something you don’t use. Additionally, if you do GPGPU stuff on that card, 8GB of vRAM will bite you in the butt pretty quick.

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Fair enough, looking up performance comparisons for myself came up pretty consistently that, by comparison, the 3060Ti was by far and above the 3060, and therefore a better FPS per dollar investment. As I understand, the 3060 and 3060Ti share the same 30X0 name, but are completely different cards. I made my choice based on VR performance, and so the 30% difference in performance made up for the $100 price difference. I can see where more VRAM may actually make a difference for things outside of gaming, but should otherwise be ignored as a purchasing factor, as it mostly exists to compensate as a VRAM buffer.

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Are game textures getting smaller lately? Possibly improved DLSS? If that neural network don’t fit into your vRAM besides all that other stuff, you won’t be using it. That statement of yours i quoted needs a big fat “it depends” stapled to its forehead.

It depends a bit on how long you are planning to use that card. If you actually run resolutions/framerates where the higher performance of the Ti makes sense, then get that. Otherwise, get the 3060 as it’s a more future proof card when running lower resolutions (uses less power too).

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To be fair, I’ve yet to receive the card, as I purchased it just last night, so I can’t say anything until I’ve properly tested it against my current 1660Ti. What sold me on the 3060Ti, was the sheer performance difference between the 3060 and 3060Ti, as I myself was looking for both 144 FPS 1080/1440 gaming, and more specifically VR gaming performance. The 3060 has a completely different GPU than the Ti, with much slower memory bandwidth, which is why most reviews conclude to believe that the 12GB bump is simply to compensate for the VRAM buffer, as the smaller bandwidth prohibits performance, specifically concerning the standard 8 GB’s on most current gen cards by comparison. But again, I can’t say anything until I can run some benchmarks of my own.

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Here’s a good video example regarding memory bandwidth, explaining directly the difference between both VRAM speeds vs size, specifically the 3060:

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The 3060ti is much closer to a binned 3070 than to a 3060, and for gaming/simming that really helps I’d go for it instead of the 3060 as well. I’d say a 12400 or 12700 (if you can fork for it) with a 3060ti looks like a killer combo for a new rig.

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Thanks for all your comments guys, they were very helpful.

I thought about it for a couple of days and I figured the difference in cost for DDR5 was about the same as that for the Ti. So I figured I can go DDR4 and 3060Ti or DDR5 and 3060. DDR5 offers no advantage now but assuming it takes over from DDR4 then it will be cheaper and simpler to add more RAM in 5 or 6 years time with DDR5. But the performance delta at 1440p with the 3060Ti is around 30% for just a 10% increase in system price. So the question became one of performance now or ease of upgrade in the future.

Then I thought ‘F**k it, you only live once’ and ordered both the DDR5 and the 3060Ti! I’ll just have to work my arse off for the next month so my wife is in a good mood when she sees the bill :grin:. Annoyingly, prices had increased in the couple of days since I first posted and the video card I wanted had sold out so I had to fork out a bit more than expected. All-in-all it’s been a bad day for my wallet.

Full specs for those who are interested:

  • i7 12700k
  • Asus Prime Z690-P WIFI motherboard
  • Corsair Vengeance 32GB (2X16GB) DDR5 PC5-44800C36 5600MHz Dual Channel Kit
  • Asus GeForce RTX 3060Ti TUF V2 LHR Gaming OC 8GB GDDR6
  • Seasonic G12-GC-850 850W 80+ Gold Power supply
  • WD Black SN850 1TB SSD M.2 2280 NVME PCI)-E Gen4 Solid State Drive
  • be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4 CPU Cooler

I’ll post a pic once it’s assembled.

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Nice specs! :+1:

Don’t forget a spa day for your wife. I always pitch one in whenever I do big purchases. Some might say bribe, I say “thanks for supporting my addiction.” :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

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Here she is at last:

I’m quite pleased with how it turned out. The Be Quiet cooler is much prettier than the Noctua D15 I had on my old 2500k.

Incidentally, I went with the 3060 Ti for the extra performance in the end. I bought everything on next day shipping but after a week with no dispatch email I started to wonder what was going on. I phoned customer services and they told me that the Ti was out of stock with no expected delivery date. I was a bit terse with the poor guy because I had made a point of only choosing in-stock items. As a concession he bumped me up to a 3070 for no extra charge. :+1:

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My setup is quite similar except my case is solid metal and no lights. Otherwise the configuration is the same with the PSU on the bottom and 3 big fans in front.
Well, I also have a door to cover them and the DVD drive that can be open or shut, so you don’t see the fans. My CPU cooler is much smaller, although I do have a 3070 as well.

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I’ve had the 3060 Ti for a couple of weeks(ish), and a quick and dirty observation on performance, as compared with the 1660 Ti is as follows: Performance in 1080 / 1440 is surprisingly close, with the 3060 Ti allowing for more headroom with better anti-aliasing, and the option to use super resolutions (upscaling) without any performance loss! Where the performance really makes an even more significant difference, however, is VR! I can finally use higher pixel density values (more than 1.0!), and the option to turn off ASW (if the software allows it) is a really big deal! Image quality in VR (Rift S), is now finally good enough to feel comfortable, especially when looking at cockpit displays! DCS is still power hungry, and doesn’t quite benefit as dramatically as other software titles, but the improvement is still quantifiable, and the difference in image quality makes a huge difference! My official review; Worth every penny, even if just for VR!

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I haven’t really tested out the gaming performance yet - this is officially a replacement for my dying work laptop so getting the work related stuff sorted first is politic. However, I can say a couple of things:

  • The NVME SSD performance is just amazing! Windows installed in under 10 minutes, and 8 minutes of that was copying the install files over from the bootable USB stick I made. Startup is almost an eyeblink - by the time the monitor has powered on it’s at the login screen.
  • The case is noisier than I thought it would be. The fans make a low bass thrum which I find quite noticeable compared to my old system (which had silent wings case fans and a Noctua NH-d15). I think this was exacerbated by too aggressive fan speed curves. I found the Q-fan option in the bios and once that had profiled the fans this problem resolved, at least at low temperatures. We’ll see how it performs for gaming in a few days.
  • I was worried all the RGB lighting would be annoying (I’ve never bothered with it before) but it’s actually quite soothing to look at and makes a great break for tired eyes when working long hours.
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good looking rig there :+1:

btw selling my rig. oc you cant have similar performance in laptop size but somehow I am happy with my decision to go laptop …

… only the idea of desktop rig fitted into mid size carrying case brings me some sleepless nights :smile: there really isnt any company doing it commercially ? …

… something something

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OK, I want to post a final update for anyone who is interested. I apologise if this is a bit ranty but I feel like I’m getting some therapy from posting this. It’s mostly me venting some frustration, so feel free to not read if that doesn’t appeal to you. Anyway, here goes:

The performance of the system is undeniably awesome compared to my old 2500k. I invested in Cyberpunk 2077 and even with all settings maxed at 1080p there’s no perceptible jitter or lag and framerates are a solid 55 - 75 fps. Work tasks are also more productive as I literally don’t have to wait for anything to load - by the time I finish double-clicking on a word or excel file it has opened up. I still subconsciously expect a little pause and makes me smile every time it catches me off guard.

However it hasn’t all been plain sailing. Activating Windows has been a nightmare. I need Windows Pro for work and about 2 years ago purchased a retail digital license for Win 10 Pro. In theory I should have been able to transfer it to the new PC but no matter how many times I followed the instructions on the Microsoft support website it refused to work. I have submitted 7 (or 8?) support tickets to Microsoft over the past few weeks but they only actually contacted me back twice. On the first occasion the support guy rolled my Windows install back to Home because apparently “This digital licence is for UPGRADE to Pro so it needs to attach to a Home install” even though the support website specifically states the opposite. He hung up on me while Windows was reinstalling with a promise to call me back which he never did. Nor did anyone else.

The second time someone actually called me back they transferred me to “2nd tier technical support.” Unfortunately, they are apparently located in the US and it was about 2am their time so my call was promptly dropped after a short message telling me to call back in office hours. A further 5 unanswered support tickets later I’m ashamed to say that they wore me down and I bought another licence. Part of me wanted to keep trying, to be belligerent in the face of unnecessary, probably intentional, bloody awful customer service, but after 2 weeks of not being able to remote in to work it was starting to impact on my earnings.

I have also struggled with a lot of instability. The first problem was my backup / data drive dropping out of windows randomly. It would be fine one minute then inaccessible the next. In the end I sorted this out by swapping it to another nvme slot on the motherboard. I’m still not sure if the problem was a dodgy contact / install or dodgy slot but it now sits in the third slot on the motherboard, which is directly underneath the video card. So far it hasn’t seemed to get hot when the system is under load but I’m keeping an eye on it.

The second problem was with random crashes. Blue screens of death would occur at almost any time whether I’m doing something or even just clicking on the start button. The system cycles the power so quickly that most of the time I couldn’t catch what the error was. And there was literally nothing in event viewer to tell me what had caused the crash. The only errors in event viewer were the post startup entries stating that the previous shut down was not expected and the backup service couldn’t save to the backup drive because the system had shut down. I also had a lot of crashes to desktop when trying to use the GPU - even really old games that barely tax it will crash to the desktop randomly (even openTTD!) Annoyingly, it didn’t seem to correlate with GPU or CPU load. I could run a bunch of Time Spy / CP2077 benchmarks with no problem only to have the system crash when I tried to open a word document.

I eventually tracked this down to a problem with the RAM - windows memory diagnostic didn’t find anything wrong but when I ran a proper suite of tests using Memtest86 a possible vulnerability showed up. I backed off the frequency of the RAM a bit, from 5600MHz to 5333MHz, and the tests all passed and I’ve had no crashes since. My fingers and toes are firmly crossed that this is the last issue because if I have to waste any more time diagnosing problems with this system my wife is likely to just throw it out the window (literally) and consign me to my laptop forevermore.

The last thing I would comment on is the thermal performance. The 12700k is an absolute beast of a CPU! If I run PowerMax for more than a minute or so it will hit 200 watts and 5.2GHz on half of the p-cores. The Black Rock Pro cooler can in theory handle 250 watts, but in practice it can only just about cope with 200. Under full load using PowerMax the hottest core will hit 90 degrees C which is uncomfortably close to thermal throttling territory for me. I haven’t directly compared it with my old Noctua D15 but I have a feeling that the Noctua would have been able to handle the heat load a little better. On the other hand, it wasn’t nearly as pretty to look at :slight_smile:. I may also try installing a third party CPU mounting bracket to see of that will help, but as the difference between the hottest and coolest p-cores is pretty small it may not make that much of a difference.

Anyway, that’s all from me. I won’t be posting to this thread any more unless someone has a specific question. I will say that the current generation of tech seems a lot more fragile / fussy than I’m used to. The last one I built was a 2500k with a GTX 770 (which was quite a few years ago now). I’ve never had to diagnose random instability right after a build before. When I was pushing the overclocks, yes, but not out of the box using factory settings. I’m particularly annoyed with Corsair who seem to have sold me a pair of 5600MHz dimms that can only handle 5333MHz. Oh well, live and learn :slight_smile:

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I’ll just say that I also have a 12700k with a regular air cooler and NONE of my games come close to getting the thermals high.
Those stress tools are good at stressing but not good at simulating real-world stresses if you take my meaning.

As for your RAM, as soon as you go over those conservative JEDEC speeds to the advertised speeds you are dealing with motherboard compatibility, binning variation, BIOS settings/updates, whether the Moon is the 7th house and Jupiter aligns with Mars, and just where the tea leaves are in the bowl.
I doubt you will notice any difference in a game with 5333 vs 5600 without a benchmark that could still be in the margin of error.

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Yes, I probably should have mentioned that gaming performance is much better - barely into the 70’s.

That’s also true - I can’t tell the difference. Time Spy shows about 100 points difference and that is repeatable, but I’m more annoyed with the time I wasted tracking down the issue than any imperceptible performance hit.

I’m looking at it as a learning opportunity :grin:

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I recognize the Windows activation troubles. The different licenses are a mess and many resellers are not actually selling the specific license they claim.

I agree that pc building has gotten more finicky, and I can’t help but be that guy and point out what I think the root causes are.

First for the SSD and the M2 slot:
On a modern high-end pc, there are fast and very fast PCI lanes available, but many more different ways to use them than total number of lanes available.
The solution that has transpired is to put all different kinds of connectors on motherboards (PCI-E, M.2, SATA, USB 2.0/3.2g1/3.2g2/3.2g2x2) that share a limited pool of PCI lanes on the actual CPU and/or chipset. Meaning some combinations of connectors in use are not possible: for example, if you use the second M.2 slot, you cannot use these 3 SATA slots. There can be many rules like this on a big high-end motherboard.

In practice, this means whenever you want to start using a connector on your motherboard, you have to read your motherboard manual to check if it does not conflict with your use of the other connectors.

For the RAM, as @JediMaster has said, the RAM sticks from Corsair are probably good to the promised speeds, but you have to also check the motherboard and maybe even CPU specs to what they promise. Anything in excess of the lowest common denominator is a gamble. I’m sorry. Had the same when I had to downclock my 4000MHz DDR4. My CPU promised 3200MHz but 3600MHz has been fine too for two years now. Haven’t tried increasing it on my new CPU.

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