Your PC's Specifications / Hardware

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Your PC's Specifications / Hardware

Postby Administrator » Sat Nov 12, 2016 4:57 am

I was private messaging with Mazarus a bit this week, and the topic of hardware came up. Out of curiosity, what sort of hardware do you guys have in the PCs you intend to use to play Outer Colony?

The more detailed the specification you can provide, the better, but I'd specifically be interested in:

- Your CPU Model
- Quantity of RAM
- Your GPU (Video Card) Model
- Storage Drive (especially interested in RPM / SSD speed)
- Your Motherboard (if you know it)
- Your Sound Card (if one is present)
-Any other information you'd like to provide (if you've got an awesome case, a heavy duty PSU, 7 optical drives, a bunch of extraneous lights, liquid cooling, or other general excellence)

I will commence!

I'll start off with the machine I use to develop and play Outer Colony, my primary desktop:

CPU: Intel i7-6700 (Skylake / Quad core)
RAM: 32GB DDR4 (2133mhz)
Mainboard: GIGABYTE GA-B150M-DS3H
Disk Drive: SAMSUNG 950 PRO M.2 2280 256GB (PCI-E SSD) - OC's java builds are extremely I/O intensive, so I desperately need this.
GPU: NVidia GTX-960
Sound: Onboard
PSU: Cooler Master Silent Pro Gold - 800W

The build for this rig was originally done back in 2012, and I've had to cobble it back together repeatedly after various hardware breakdowns, with the latest overhaul being from this past summer.

I'll aim to post pictures soon, plus post for my laptop (which has done plenty of development work for OC) and my server (which I use for SVN and other miscellaneous development tasks).

What sort of machines are you guys rocking?
Anachronic
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Re: Your PC's Specifications / Hardware

Postby Anachronic » Tue Nov 15, 2016 4:33 am

Ahhh my stupid old computer!

CPU: Intel Core i7 (Bloomfield I think...) 950 3.07Ghz
Ram: 6 GB Kingston HyperX
GPU: MSI Twin Frozr II GTI:X560 Ti
Harddrive: WD Black Caviar 1TB 1001FALS 32MB Cache (7200 RPM I think)
Mobo: ASUS Sabertooth x58 (onboard sound)
PSU: Corsair AX760

It's been mostly reliable. Upgraded to this CPU/MOBO maybe... six years ago? Now the thing crashes and won't boot about once a week. First time I thought System Restore fixed it but nope, it let me boot back up but then crashed happened again in a few days. Then I thought Windows 10 System Reset fixed it, but nope same thing. Then I thought taking a ram stick out, but nope. Then I though swapping my ram around, trying different combos of 2/4/6 gb (I have 3x 2gb sticks) but nope, each time making the hardware change would let me boot back up and get some use out of my comp but then it would crash again hours, sometimes days later. Most recent crash wouldn't boot with swapping the ram sticks, so I unplugged everything from my PSU, tested it (it's fine I think) then plugged it all back in and it works again BUT FOR HOW LONG?!? AARGGGHHHH
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Re: Your PC's Specifications / Hardware

Postby Administrator » Tue Nov 15, 2016 11:35 pm

Anachronic wrote:CPU: Intel Core i7 (Bloomfield I think...) 950 3.07Ghz
Ram: 6 GB Kingston HyperX
GPU: MSI Twin Frozr II GTI:X560 Ti
Harddrive: WD Black Caviar 1TB 1001FALS 32MB Cache (7200 RPM I think)
Mobo: ASUS Sabertooth x58 (onboard sound)
PSU: Corsair AX760

Huge thanks for posting your specs, man! This kind of information is a gigantic help to me, especially since your build is about 6 years old. It's awesome when you can get a lot of mileage out of a computer, and if it weren't for a catastrophic failure this summer, my machine would be approaching its 5th birthday, too. I want to make sure that Outer Colony can run on these sorts of systems, because a lot of gamers are getting more and more usage out of older systems now.

Really high end systems and lowrt end ones are of particular interest. Top end systems are interesting for the sorts of extreme world that I can enable for these sorts of users, and lower end specs are really useful for figuring out minimum system requirements. That you built this about 6 years ago and have this good a system is really reassuring to me, as you should fall firmly into that category of being above minimum planned requirements. A quad core CPU (with hyperthreading factored in) and 6GB of RAM should run OC quite well! I'll actually be extremely excited to see how your system handles the game, but you're well within the tentative parameters of hardware that I'm aiming to support.

I have to draw the line somewhere, though, and given OC's computational demands, I can only go so far. I know it'll run on systems with 4GB of memory, and I *think* it will run small worlds on systems with 3GB. Any lower than this, and it just becomes an impossibility, even with all the memory compression and space optimization that Outer Colony employs.

It's been mostly reliable. Upgraded to this CPU/MOBO maybe... six years ago? Now the thing crashes and won't boot about once a week. First time I thought System Restore fixed it but nope, it let me boot back up but then crashed happened again in a few days. Then I thought Windows 10 System Reset fixed it, but nope same thing. Then I thought taking a ram stick out, but nope. Then I though swapping my ram around, trying different combos of 2/4/6 gb (I have 3x 2gb sticks) but nope, each time making the hardware change would let me boot back up and get some use out of my comp but then it would crash again hours, sometimes days later. Most recent crash wouldn't boot with swapping the ram sticks, so I unplugged everything from my PSU, tested it (it's fine I think) then plugged it all back in and it works again BUT FOR HOW LONG?!? AARGGGHHHH


This is absolutely brutal, and I was having an almost identical experience this past summer. I'd get these intermittent crashes, almost at random. I'd be writing code for a few hours, then all of a sudden:
Image

I kept experimenting and experimenting, unplugging components, trying different RAM configurations, running memtest, and I absolutely could not figure out the precise problem. Memtest didn't identify any problems, using different DIMMs / RAM configurations didn't solve any problems, underclocking things didn't fix the problem, clearing dust didn't solve it, I was monitoring temperatures and they all appeared good, trying a different video card didn't solve it, trying a different hard drive didn't solve it, and after a couple days, I had to throw in the towel. After borrowing / swapping another mainboard and CPU, I was pretty sure that the problem wasn't being caused by the PSU or a peripheral, and that the problem was somewhere in here:
Image
Something in the mainboard / CPU / RAM realm was borked, and I spent way more time than the system was worth trying to fix it. After 5 years, I could really benefit from newer hardware in terms of faster compile / build tiems, so I wound up replacing most of my system.

I know it's an extremely hard pill to swallow, but debugging an intermittent CPU / motherboard / RAM issue is so, so hard. If it's remotely possible, after the number of hours I'm sure you've spent at it, I'd recommend just replacing all of those core components. If you go with a budget build on Newegg, you can stay under $300 ($250 if you're really crafty) and come away with a big time upgrade! If that's an option, it can spare you further headaches, and I suspect you'll be happy with the improved performance.

If you'd want to talk recommendations for your new build, just let me know! I'd be happy to share my thoughts and recommend replacement parts for an officially sanctioned, Outer Colony-ready build!

Although I should note, I probably derive undue satisfaction from putting together new rigs, so I might be encouraging this option prematurely. Do you like speccing out and assembling new machine? I think that if I had a million dollars, I'd be doing this every single year, just because I love the process so much!
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Re: Your PC's Specifications / Hardware

Postby Anachronic » Wed Nov 16, 2016 9:41 pm

Ah the ol' blue screen of death. I didn't get that... just straight to power failure every time which made me think it was the PSU but seems not to be. A new comp is definitely an option I'm considering, but I've been working a bit with a VR startup so definitely want a rig that meets the minimum specs for the Vive when I do. I'll definitely hit you up for advice if I build something new! It seems stable again now... but who knows for how long. If I was going to replace my motherboard on a budget, what would you recommend?
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Re: Your PC's Specifications / Hardware

Postby Administrator » Thu Nov 17, 2016 11:16 pm

Anachronic wrote:Ah the ol' blue screen of death. I didn't get that... just straight to power failure every time which made me think it was the PSU but seems not to be.

There's a part of me that almost prefers skipping the BSOD. If your machine just shuts off, you know it's a hardware issue, and you don't have to have that doubt of thinking, "Could it have been the driver update from last week?"

A new comp is definitely an option I'm considering, but I've been working a bit with a VR startup so definitely want a rig that meets the minimum specs for the Vive when I do. I'll definitely hit you up for advice if I build something new!


Oh yeah! I would absolutely love to have a "discuss the upcoming build" thread at some point. That's one of the most fun things in the world to me!

It seems stable again now... but who knows for how long. If I was going to replace my motherboard on a budget, what would you recommend?

As far as brands go, I've had generally positive experiences sticking with the more prominent ones. I've had good builds on Gigabyte, Asus, and MSI.

I had terrible problems with an ASRock board, and I had an alright experience with Biostar.

The biggest differences I've noticed between the good and bad (read: extremely cheap) motherboards fall into 3 categories:
1. Longevity - My cheap motherboards seem to croak after a few years with more regularity than the better ones.
2. Stability - My cheap motherboards don't play as well with hardware in general, especially high end stuff. I basically couldn't get my ASRock board to work with my Radeon-7950. The ASRock was actually one of their high end models, so it doesn't exactly fall into the cheap category, but does fall into the off-brand category, as far as I'm concerned.
3. Websites / Drivers - The non-recognizable manufacturers tend to have these really primitive websites littered with broken English. Some of them are obviously wholesale translated from Chinese, and it's a bear finding and downloading drivers from them.

In general, I find the very bottom of the bottom in terms of cheapness are not worth the trouble they'll probably bring. You're better off spending the extra $20 and getting something with a recognizable manufacturer and good reviews.
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Re: Your PC's Specifications / Hardware

Postby Anachronic » Fri Nov 18, 2016 5:17 am

Venting... Comp went on the fritz again today. Crashed, then would only power up for a second before turning off... what they call motherboard POSTing I think? Anyway, tried a bunch of things like RAM swaps, reconnecting PSU cords, and even reinstalling the cpu and heatsink with new thermal paste (I think I put way too much on... is that bad?) but nothing worked. After spending some time looking at new parts and dreaming about upgrading, I read a Tom's Hardware article on all the things to try if this is happening. I noticed that my power and reset case button cords were routed under my video card right against the mobo, so I took out the video card and moved the cords on top. Now suddenly my comp boots up again! I can't imagine this is actually a real solution to the problem since it was working fine for five years like that and the crash/won't boot problem has recurred a few days after all my other "solutions" seemed to work. We'll see. I'll keep you POSTed eh
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Re: Your PC's Specifications / Hardware

Postby Administrator » Fri Nov 18, 2016 9:57 pm

I'm intrigued by this problem, and I'm looking forward to getting to the bottom of it.

Is there any chance it could be overheating? When a PC shuts itself off, then basically refuses to turn back on for a while, then agrees to turn back on a while later, it's often heat related. The CPU gets really hot, shuts itself off to prevent damage, and won't turn on again while it's in the high temperature state. After you let it sit for a while, it cools off, and will start up again as normal.

I'd be really shocked if the routing of a power / reset cable had anything to do with the problem.

and even reinstalling the cpu and heatsink with new thermal paste (I think I put way too much on... is that bad?) but nothing worked.

It definitely can be. You usually want to go with about a pea-sized volume of thermal paste, applied to the center of the CPU. When you mount the heat sink, it'll spread the thermal paste evenly over the unit.

Too much thermal paste will actually prevent heat from being wicked away to the heatsink, which is what needs to happen.

Have you tried monitoring your CPU temperatures? Either a thermal probe / hardware monitor or a software solution, like CPU-Z, should give you sufficiently accurate numbers. How hot is your processor running under load?

We'll see. I'll keep you POSTed eh

Hahahahaha, you are a joker!
Anachronic
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Re: Your PC's Specifications / Hardware

Postby Anachronic » Mon Nov 21, 2016 1:59 am

I did check the CPU temps when I first started and thought they looked ok. I just checked again though and they're kinda high so I'll definitely reinstall that sink with new paste... haha oops. Maybe my last changes solved it though. Computer's been stable for a few days despite the high temps so I've got my fingers crossed... I was getting weird boot behavior before that made me dismiss overheating, because after it crashed I could often boot back to the windows login screen or bios and Windows recovery without having to wait for it to cool down. Might have been too quick to dismiss that option though.
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Re: Your PC's Specifications / Hardware

Postby Administrator » Mon Nov 21, 2016 10:00 pm

Anachronic wrote:Maybe my last changes solved it though.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you, man. One thing I always try to keep in mind is that different CPUs / GPUs have different recommended operating ranges for temperatures, and I've found that I sometimes can't exactly trust those manufacturer specifications. This is to say that some units will get cranky by merely being at the higher end of the specified range, while others don't seem to care at all.

I'm testing dedicated server functionality pretty hard this week to get ready for an internal release with a bunch of huge multiplayer optimizations and feature improvements. Most testing with dedicated server hosting is being done on the official Voyager Games server! It's a machine I built about 6 years ago. I was still living in Williamsport, working under CzarQwerty, and prototyping of old TFR hadn't even begun, to give an idea of just how far back in the past that was.

This machine has been an extremely reliable utility device for me over the years, and I use it to host my SVN repository and some other development-related systems. It's rather old, and it was a pretty low-end build even in its day (~$400), so I'm more or less using this as an example of testing with (roughly) minimum system requirements. You can tell just by looking at it that there's nothing particularly beefy in there:
Image
As you can see, I get an F- grade for cable management.

If you're curious about the lowest end machine that I'm testing on at present, specs are as follows:

CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 840
Motherboard: BioStar A780L3L - To BioStar's credit, this was a cheap motherboard that has held up like an absolute champ.
GPU: XFX GT-240
HDD: 500GB, fairly standard WD model, 7200RPM
RAM: 8GB of DDR3 1333
PSU: 500W Cooler Master Model
Anachronic
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Re: Your PC's Specifications / Hardware

Postby Anachronic » Wed Nov 23, 2016 12:57 am

Administrator wrote:I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you, man.

Thanks again eh! That's great that you have an older system to test on. Valuable asset! I wish I had a 486 to give my son to play with.

My computer worked for a few days but died again after I replaced the thermal paste. Had time today to test the motherboard with the PSU connected to just the mobo and the CPU. I'm pretty convinced that something is wrong with the mobo, because the reset problem is now persisting with just that one PSU connection...

Either way if it's the CPU or mobo I'm now looking at new parts, and thinking about AMD as the budget option. Do you have any thoughts on the AM3+ vs. FM2+ sockets? As I understand I'll get a little bit more speed for the money from AM3+, but with FM2+ you have the integrated video. I like the idea of having the video as a backup in case my old video card quits. Considering it's an older video card, I'm wondering if the FM2+ video would be worse or better than the Geforce 560? Having trouble finding that info online. Any idea?

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