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THE SCRAPYARD GAMING PC CHALLENGE – RESULTS

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8 weeks ago, I challenged my friend Dave to build the fastest gaming PC possible, for £450. A decent gaming rig usually costs over £1000, so this would be a good test of our hardware and overclocking knowledge. Unable to turn down a challenge, he accepted, and we agreed a prize of £50 Steam credit – and the kudos of building the fastest PC.

If you haven’t already read part 1, you can read it here.

BUILD SPECIFICATIONS

Dave Nick
CPU Intel i7 4970K Intel i5 6500
GPU Asus Strix GTX 980 TI Gigabyte R9 290 Windforce OC
RAM Corsair Vengeance Pro 16GB DDR3 2400MHz Kingston Hyper X Predator DDR4 16GB
Motherboard Gigabyte GA-Z97-D3H Gigabyte Z170 Gaming K3
Disk Samsung EVO 850 SSD 250GB SanDisk SSD PLUS 120GB
Power supply Corsair CXM 600W Corsair GS600
Cooling Corsair Hydro Series H60 Cooler master 103
Case Corsair Carbide Series 200R Bitfenix Nova

BENCHMARK RESULTS

Dave Nick
Firestrike 1.1 Overall 15866 11069
Unigine Valley Score 4524 2835
UserBenchmark Multi core 703 561
UserBenchmark SSD Random 4k (MB/s) 66.1 34.6
UserBenchmark RAM Multi core (GB/s) 29.5 31.7
Cinebench CPU 915 Nick “lost” his scores
Cinebench GPU 143.11 N/A

img_20160512_113656

THE GRAPHS

benchmark-firestrike

Firestrike is a GPU-intensive 3D demo by 3D Mark, designed to strain even the most powerful GPUs. Not only did my 980 TI outperform the R9 by around 30%, Nvidia’s PhysX rendered every particle beautifully and gave everyone watching an impressive visual display.

benchmark-unigine

Unigine Valley is another well-known GPU-intensive 3D demo, and no surprises, the 980 TI beat the R9 again, this time 37% faster.

benchmark-core

GPU performance aside, how did the other components compare? Userbenchmark showed that the i7 was 20% faster than the i5. The Skylake i5 really gave they aging i7 a run for it’s money.

benchmark-ssd

The SSD scores were a bit of surprise. The technical specs of the SSDs were very similar, and in standard read/write operations, performed as expected – and were in fact quite closely matched. However, the more expensive Samsung EVO 850 was almost twice as fast at random reads across the drive.

benchmark-ram

Finally, we compared RAM throughput. Each of our CPUs and motherboards were overclocked (Mine more-so than Daves setup), and while we expected the DDR4 RAM to outperform the DDR3 RAM, we hadn’t expected the results to be so close. The DDR4 RAM was 0.9GB/s faster than the DDR3 equivalent.

COSTS

Dave Cost
CPU Intel i7 4970K £204
GPU Asus Strix GTX 980 TI £587
RAM Corsair Vengeance Pro 16GB DDR3 2400MHz £52
Motherboard Gigabyte GA-Z97-D3H £43
Disk Samsung EVO 850 SSD 250GB £60
Power supply Corsair CXM 600W £50
Cooling Corsair Hydro Series H60 £59
Case Corsair Carbide Series 200R £52
Total cost £1107
Nick Cost
CPU Intel i5 6500K £139
GPU Gigabyte R9 290 Windforce OC £150
RAM Kingston Hyper X Predator DDR4 16GB £66*
Motherboard Gigabyte Z170 Gaming K3 £75
Disk SanDisk SSD PLUS 120GB £32
Power supply Corsair GS600 £22
Cooling Cooler master 103 £19
Case Bitfenix Nova £26
Total cost £533

* The supplier mistakenly dispatched 16GB, rather than 8GB, so Nick’s RAM actually cost £33 for 16GB.

CONCLUSION

£533 vs £1107. No contest. Dave’s GTX 980 TI was more expensive than the rest of the components combined! Remove the GPUs from the equation, £383 vs £520 – a 30% difference, and the i5 setup narrowly wins on a performance/£ basis (by about a 5% margin). My final build doesn’t “look” budget, and these results certainly aren’t budget either. The cheap case, cooler master, and budget PSU were all solid choices, and the benchmarks show the i5 is still a very capable processor. Dave’s PC, sans GPU, is a slightly higher-spec budget PC. The large 200R case, modular PSU and over-the-top watercooler were bought specifically with future upgradability in mind (after he splurged on the GPU, and blown his chances of winning – so he didn’t feel so bad).

292645_gen_bSo, I Won

THE SCRAPYARD GAMING PC CHALLENGE

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4 weeks ago, I challenged my friend Dave to build the fastest gaming PC possible, for £450. A decent gaming rig usually costs over £1000, so this would be a good test of our hardware and overclocking knowledge. Unable to turn down a challenge, I accepted, and we agreed a prize of £50 Steam credit – and the kudos of building the fastest PC.

THE RULES

  • £450 only applies to the PC case and contents (peripherals are excluded).
  • Hardware must be purchased. Use of existing spare hardware is prohibited.
  • Postage is not included. (I don’t remember agreeing to this, but Nick insists I did)
  • Benchmarking will occur on May 4th 2016, and will consist –
  • Each benchmarking tool will be run 3 times, and the best score used.
  • Failure to achieve a score, due to crashing, will result in disqualification.

GETTING STARTED

For the first week or so, every conversation I had with Dave was about hardware. We spent all of our free time researching CPUs, RAM, motherboards, cases, PSUs, trying to determine the cheapest combination to deliver the biggest bang for buck. I can remember one evening Dave was bidding wildly on an eBay auction, thinking, “I was probably the other guy bidding against him!”. In the following days, I read numerous articles about overclocking, and how to squeeze the most performance out of the new Skylake I5 6500 processors as I had heard that you could overclock the none K version to astonishing results and I went for the new motherboards that supported this new chip set and DDR4. Dave went for slightly older hardware. Eventually he settled on an i7 4th gen, socket 1150 motherboard, and DDR3 RAM.

First to arrive was the ex-display Gigabyte Z170 Gaming K3, My new Intel i5 6500 came from Japan via playasia and Amazon messed up and sent me 16GB of Ram by mistake I had only ordered 8 🙂

During build
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FINAL BUILD SPECIFICATIONS

Dave Nick
CPU Intel i7 4970K Intel i5 6500
GPU Asus Strix GTX 980 TI Gigabyte R9 290 Windforce OC
RAM Corsair Vengeance Pro 16GB DDR3 2400MHz Kingston Hyper X Predator DDR4 16GB
Motherboard Gigabyte GA-Z97-D3H Gigabyte Z170 Gaming K3
Disk Samsung EVO 850 SSD 250GB SanDisk SSD PLUS 120GB
Power supply Corsair CXM 600W Corsair GS600
Cooling Corsair Hydro Series H60 Cooler master 103
Case Corsair Carbide Series 200R Bitfenix Nova

 

BENCHMARK RESULTS

Dave Nick
Firestrike 1.1 Overall 15866 11069
Unigine Valley Score 4524 2835
UserBenchmark Multi core 703 561
UserBenchmark SSD Random 4k (MB/s) 66.1 34.6
UserBenchmark RAM Multi core (GB/s) 29.5 31.7
Cinebench CPU 915 Nick “lost” his scores
Cinebench GPU 143.11 N/A

 

WHO WON? Read Part 2

 

CONSOLES TO GET 4K?

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With the increasing push of 4K TVs and more native 4K content sources appearing week by week, the PS4 and Xbox One are starting to look more and more uncomfortable as they via for top spot as the number one box in your living room.

Netflix were the ones that started the rumour at last year’s Consumer Electronics Show iwhen, according to The Huffington Post, Netflix’s Chief Product Officer Neil Hunt suggested during a press conference about Netflix’s support for High Dynamic Range technology that Sony had ‘promised’ a PS4 hardware revision that would give the console 4K video capabilities.

Then during his Xbox Spring Showcase event keynote last week, Microsoft’s head of Xbox Phil Spencer talked about future of “hardware innovation” for the console, similar to the ways PCs evolve.

In a speech to reporters, he said that the Xbox One could see a future in which it is upgraded, rather than replaced by new consoles.

One last point to stress is that if the predictions of new 4K-capable consoles this year come true, the upgrade will almost certainly only affect video streaming; 4K gaming at the moment requires a high-end PC and would probably be to costly to bake into a console for a reasonable price. Sony or Microsoft have not confirmed or denied anything specific yet but I would expect to see a potential update that would allow at the very least 4k streaming with an upgraded chipset and HDMI ports

 

Oculus Rift vs HTC Vive vs Playstation VR

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With three major virtual reality head mounted displays on offer I take a look at which one is the best all round in my opinion

vr_headset_shootout_0

I tried and tested the first Oculus dev kit and although I found it fun it didn’t seem ready for prime time. I skipped DK2 and eagerly awaited the final release of the Rift consumer version and after a few delays it seems that 2016 is finally the year of VR. By the end of the year, not one, not two, but three consumer headsets should be strapped firmly to heads around the world – taking their lucky owners out-of-this-world! The timing is uncanny, and obviously some people are going to be buying one, so we have ourselves a fight.

The contenders for virtual supremacy are the trailblazing Oculus Rift, the space-detecting HTC Vive, and the PS4-compatible PlayStation VR. The technical differences mean they all have their ups and downs but which is the one for you. I will cover of the main aspects below

Specs: 

Oculus-VR-Logo-Bar-592x

Oculus Rift_front-650-80

The display toates a 2160 x 1200 resolution, or 1080 x 1200 over two OLED displays for each eye. That works out to 233 million pixels per second with a refresh rate of 90Hz. Additionally, it has 360-degree positional head tracking and a 100-degree field of view

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HTC-Vive_White

The HTC Vive features similar 2160 x 1200 resolution, or 1080 x 1200 over two OLED displays for each eye. It has a 90Hz refresh rate, over 70 sensors (e.g. an accelerometer, a gyroscope, etc.) for fluid and seamless movements, and will operate in a 15ft x 15ft tracking space if you have the supporting wireless cameras.

 

playstationvr_2-555x250

Playstation_VR_Renamed_01

the PlayStation VR will feature a 5.7in OLED display touting a resolution of 960×1080 per eye and 100 degree FOV. It has a 120Hz refresh rate with 18ms response,

Winner (Draw)

Oculus-VR-Logo-Bar-592xdownload

Gaming

Oculus Rift has a number of games being natively developed for it. So far, there are over 200 games, including titles like EVE: Valkyrie, Airmech VR, and more. Many developers are working to bring their games to the Rift and they have Facebook backing them.

The HTC Vive is being developed in conjunction with SteamVR, which is a big name to have in your back pocket. There are already over 171 games that claim to have VR support in the Steam store, and the list will only get bigger as we get closer to launch. SteamVR will give HTC Vive the platform it needs to succeed.

Playstation VR is going to launch in October this year with the support of 50 games. Sony claims that there are many more than this in development and will be able to rival some of the numbers mentioned above. Being the first to market in the console space and a handy install base of 35 million could give Sony the edge…

Winner (HTC Vive)

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Price 

Oculus Rift is coming very soon. The first wave of orders will be shipping out on the 28th March, but anyone who hasn’t already pre-ordered one will now have to wait until July at the very earliest before they can get their hands on their very own headset. It’s not cheap, either, as it will cost you a whopping £499 (without shipping costs)

HTC Vive: Price. HTC has announced that its Vive VR headset will be priced at a whopping £689

Sony has always stated that PlayStation VR would be priced as “a new gaming platform” so it should come as no surprise to hear its virtual-reality headset will cost £350 on launch. To be clear you will also need to purchase the(£40) PlayStation Camera and the  (£27) apiece Move controllers. bringing the total up to around £420

Winner (Sony Playstation)

playstationvr_2-555x250

Overall conclusions

When it comes to virtual reality this really is the first wave. Buying now is going to get you bugy software and at a premium price point. The cost of a PC that is capable of running a Oculus Rift or a HTC Vive (note GTX 970 required) is around £600. The Playstation on the other hand can be had for around £270 coupled with the VR headset and mandatory peripherals you are still looking at £720 which is the lowest price point to get onto the VR bandwagon come September/October. I will personally be waiting until there is a killer app/title available.