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Old 07-28-2013, 21:29   #1
CranialCrusader
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Rome Total War 2 & weak link

I am looking for the "weakest link" in my system after pre-ordering Rome Total War 2.

I spoke to a coworker who loves the "Total War" series and he mentioned that it would likely tax the system I built last summer. I meet the minimum specs for the game, but I fall short on the CPU (recommended is quad core i5).

It's based on a Mini-ITX board with LGA 1155 socket. I went with a "budget" processor and video card.

The main specifications are:

- Intel Core i3-2120 Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz
- Radeon HD 6670 1GB 128-bit DDR3
- 8 GB of system RAM
- 128 GB SSD hard drive


Is there one component of the system that I should upgrade that would benefit the most? Or should I just leave well enough alone?


Thanks!
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Old 07-28-2013, 23:36   #2
Tarant
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What size/resolution is your monitor?
How much room do you have left on your ssd? Its going to be a big game, 35 GB needed.
What PSU do you have?

Depending, you wont be able to play with all the eye candy turned on/maxed but you should still be able to play at a good fps.
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Old 07-29-2013, 07:05   #3
CranialCrusader
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I use a TV over HDMI to play, the resolution is 720p (1280 x 720). I know it is kind of low, but it works well enough until I can justify getting a 1080p TV.

The PSU is a "Bronze" rated 450 W. It has one 12V rail, which is currently unused. Because the case is so small I'm not running much hardware at all (I only have one slot for video card, nothing else!).

Here is a link to the case:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16811163210

Thanks again,
CranialCrusader
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Old 07-29-2013, 08:23   #4
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That game has two types of play. The "in your face" battle portion which will be more GPU intensive, and the campaign/strategy which will be more CPU intensive keeping track of all the units and movement.

You're OK with RAM at 8gigs, that will be enough.

The 6670 with 1024megs will work, but you'll probably have to stick with medium graphic settings at most, about what you'd see playing in on a console unit. You may have to lower resolution to something less than 1920x1080 in the game to get decent FPS in the battle portion. You'll probably have to turn off AA or use a low value like 2X. It will work but you may have to tweak the levels for lighting, shadows, texturing, etc for a good framerate.

The dual core i3 CPU is a weak link. Limiting unit size in the game would help by cutting down on the amount of data it has to manipulate and track.

At 35gigs it is going to take a third of the space on a 128gig SSD for game files. You might not have enough room, and if you do you'll end up with a full disk. That's not good, especially with an SSD as it limits the amount of wear leveling it can do resulting in a shorter lifespan. You might want to add another drive and install the game on that.

I'd say your weakest links are the 128 SSD, and the dual core i3 CPU. The i3 does offer hyper threading and will run 4 threads, usually enough to get by with most games, but the slowdown for that CPU is the L3 cache of only 3MB. That's pretty small for gaming needs.

Just as RAM minimizes interaction with the hard drive the CPU cache minimizes interaction with the RAM. Since CPU cache is many times faster than RAM a larger CPU cache really helps with performance especially when hyper threading.

An i5 offers an increase to 6mb cache. But IIRC only the i5 661 is capable of hyper threading. So an i3 and an i5 will both run 4 threads but the 6MB cache on the i5, running a single thread on each core, gives it the much improved performance over the i3. If you move up to an i7 then you get 8MB of cache, turbo boost and hyper threading for a total of 8 threads on the four cores. 8 threads is plenty for any game out there as they really don't utilize multi-core/multi-threading very well, and will tend to really load just a few threads with almost no load on the others. So the i7 will provide more "future proofing" than the i5.

Turbo boost is not always beneficial, as Intel is very conservative in their power allowances. They always assume worst case for ambient temp, and the CPU cooler. If only one core is loaded then turbo will kick in for a speed boost. But if two or more cores are loaded it will drop back to stock speed, in an attempt to keep TDP below the CPU rating. If you have a "K" series CPU you can set the multiplier in the BIOS to the turbo speed with no ill effects (a small overclock), you won't have to increase Vcore or change any other settings. leave all voltages on "auto". Then you'll have "turbo" speed all the time across all cores. This will result in a heat and wattage increase that could be pretty significant when bench marking, stability testing or burning in, but in a game it's actually going to be running at about the TDP rating since it's not really loading all the cores to the max.

Example: An i7 2700K 95watt CPU overclocked from 3.3gHz to 5.0gHz. A massive overclock that requires not only a Vcore increase but other voltage adjustments as well.

Running Prime95 blend test the TDP wattage max will be up around 125~130 watts. Running Intels Linpack the wattage will jump to 180~185watts. But running FarCry 3 it only uses 95watts, the same as the TDP rating for that CPU. FarCry will only be loading 3~4 threads at 100% so the total wattage is not that high, but the threads are running at 5.0gHz rather than 3.3 so the bottleneck then is in the GPU capability.

Since the game hasn't been released yet there is no real world experience available on hardware needs, we only have the developers recommendations for minimum and recommended hardware. So everything I've said above is just guess work based on experience until the game is out and some actual results are documented.

As always the balance between performance and cost is an individual choice. If you're happy with lower graphics settings and slower gameplay you can do that much cheaper than if you want to play everything with ultra graphics and high frame rates. At this point I would upgrade the CPU, and your drive capacity and leave it at that until you get the game and see how it plays.
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Old 07-29-2013, 08:36   #5
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Since you're going to run it at a resolution of 1280x720 the 6670 will probably do pretty well. That card only draws 50~58 watts at max so the 450W PSU is plenty, even if you bump the CPU wattage up to 95W by upgrading to an i7.
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Old 07-29-2013, 10:27   #6
GIockGuy24
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It looks like your computer is plenty powerful enough. This is from the game's website.

Quote:
Here we have the minimum and recommended specifications for Total War: ROME II. Please make sure your PC meets the requirements before purchase and if you have any questions, be sure to head on over to the official forums.

Minimum:
OS: XP/ Vista / Windows 7 / Windows 8
Processor:2 GHz Intel Dual Core processor / 2.6 GHz Intel Single Core processor
Memory: 2GB RAM
Graphics:512 MB DirectX 9.0c compatible card (shader model 3, vertex texture fetch support).
DirectX®:9.0c
Hard Drive: 35 GB HD space
Screen Resolution: 1024x768


Recommended:
OS: Windows 7 / Windows 8
Processor:2nd Generation Intel Core i5 processor (or greater)
Memory: 4GB RAM
Graphics:1024 MB DirectX 11 compatible graphics card.
DirectX®:11
Hard Drive:35 GB HD space
Screen Resolution: 1920x1080
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Old 07-29-2013, 18:58   #7
CranialCrusader
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I'm not concerned about the hard drive space, I use this machine for gaming only. I can uninstall a couple games that I don't play and free up 35 GB easily.



I wasn't expecting my CPU to be the weak link in my system, I thought it would be the graphics card.

What I find stunning is that the processor I bought a year ago hasn't dropped in price at all, despite the release of the Haswell architecture. One of the ideas for the system was to pick up a "cheap" upgrade in a year (read now) for both processor and video card. Guess that plan was an abject failure, I guess that will happen when you hadn't built a system in 10 years!

Anyway, what do you folks think of this CPU?

Core i5-3470 Ivy Bridge 3.2GHz (3.6GHz Turbo Boost) LGA 1155 77W Quad-Core HD Graphics 2500 BX80637i53470

It's $200 on newegg, unfortunately I don't think I can justify an i7.

Anyone interested in picking up an i3 (used) for ~half the price on newegg? (not sure what is fair for something like this these days).

Thanks,
CranialCrusader
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Old 07-30-2013, 09:07   #8
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CPU prices haven't really dropped much in the last few years. The Sandy Bridge (2XXX) series still costs almost as much as they did when they came out, and that line is over two years old now. The Ivy Bridge series (3XXX) being newer hasn't seen much of a price reduction if at all.

It probably has to do with the socket change for Haswell. The 1155 socket is now a dead end and Intel won't be producing any more CPU's for the 1155. The Haswell (4XXX) series requires the new 1150 socket so upgrading to Haswell involves a new motherboard and performance increase is only around 5% at most over the Ivy Bridge. I'm guessing there are so many 1155 boards out there that sales are still good for the 2XXX and 3XXX CPU's, with CPU upgrades more popular than buying a new motherboard/CPU for the Haswell just to get a small performance increase.

The i5 3470 is a good choice for the money. The 3570 is little faster but ~$20 more. If you're not in a hurry watch Newegg for sales, they had 3470's on sale not long ago. I just checked the e-Blast specials and they have a 3570 special price but only in a combo deal with motherboard. If you want I can let you know if they have a deal on it since I check the specials every day.
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Old 08-02-2013, 04:25   #9
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Newegg has just put the the i3 3470 on sale for $179.99 with free shipping till 8/7/13. It's the retail box version so it comes with the heatsink and fan.

http://promotions.newegg.com/NEemail...ner-_-AllDeals
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