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The Nameless Guide To PC Gaming Audio (with binaural headphone surround sound) - Page 143

post #2131 of 3095

1. Motherboard  Vs. discrete soundcard? If the Mobo has Optical out and supports Dolby Home Theatre/Dolby headphone, or any virtualised surround then yes you'll be able to output the 2ch PCM signal to your external DAC. They all do it. Dolby Home Theatre is the improved version (more customisable) of DH as you'll know and is featured with the Xonar Phoebus Sound Card. Of course check this, but if anything can output analog it'll do the same via SPDIF with the same DSP's, EQ control etc.

 

2. Soundcard PCI Vs. PCI-E? Always PCI-E, as PCI (the longer slot) is being phased out.

 

3. FiiO D3 Vs. amping the analog outs from sound card? Best left to others - D3 is meant to be very good but your mobo may be just as good. Double amping I'm told req's a clean, low gain and low distortion amp.

 

4. Which CPU platform should I go with, and what's a decent motherboard for it? Go Intel. It's the cookie cutter/no brainer goto choice. That is if you're gaming on it - otherwise stick to your spec. 

 

Seriously...I have the 3570K (more expensive) and easily overclocked it to 4.2 ghz. Using my Asus P8Z77's included AI Suite software it was a doddle to overclock (though I went into the BIOS to do it in the end).  The cheapest Gigabyte or Asus Mobo's will be perfectly fine. Maybe go for the replacement Intel CPU i5-4670K - same price. As for future upgrading.. well I'm happy my Asus will have a decent shelf life. . You only need max 8gB of ram for everything bar photo editing and other stuff.. games atm only use 4gb so 8gb is ideally where you want to be. All your component choices are good. EDIT - lol/.## you just had to be into photo-editing.

 

Hopefully others can weigh in on this. Point 4 is beyond argument for gaming - sorry all you AMD fans.


Edited by SaLX - 12/7/13 at 3:50am
post #2132 of 3095
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mad Lust Envy View Post

If I were you, I'd wait for the Steam consoles. They'll be computers too....I think.

Steam is the future.... for my wallet.

 

Steam Machines sound pretty cool. 

 

What really sounds cool is the SteamOS.  A free operating system for PCs that's designed strictly for gaming?  No need for Windows?  Shut up and take my money Valve.  

 

I hope it will bring some of what you and both love about consoles (the simplicity and hassle free experience) to PC.


Edited by chicolom - 12/7/13 at 3:57am
post #2133 of 3095
Quote:

Originally Posted by SaLX View Post

If the Mobo has Optical out and supports Dolby Home Theatre/Dolby headphone, or any virtualised surround then yes you'll be able to output the 2ch PCM signal to your external DAC. They all do it.
That's great to hear!

 

 

 

Dolby Home Theatre is the improved version (more customisable) of DH as you'll know and is featured with the Xonar Phoebus Sound Card. Of course check this, but if anything can output analog it'll do the same via SPDIF with the same DSP's, EQ control etc.

 

Good to know about the "if it can output it analog it can do via spdif".  I thought only a few random cards could do that.  Of course the Phoebus is way overkill and  waste of amp-money as I really only need the DSP.

 

Regarding Dolby Home Theater, do you know if the Xonar DGX comes with DHT Version 4 or is it some older version of the Dolby Suite?

 


 

Always PCI-E, as PCI (the longer slot) is being phased out.

Whoah, didn't know that.  The more you know  *music*

 

 

 

Best left to others - D3 is meant to be very good but your mobo may be just as good. Double amping I'm told req's a clean, low gain and low distortion amp.

 

Sorry, does "others" mean YES to the D3 or NO to the D3 and Yes to the double-amping the soundcard? (I don't see any line outs any either onboard or budget soundcards)

 

 

Go Intel. It's the cookie cutter/no brainer goto choice. That is if you're gaming on it - otherwise stick to your spec. 

 

Seriously...I have the 3570K (more expensive) and easily overclocked it to 4.2 ghz. Using my Asus P8Z77's included AI Suite software it was a doddle to overclock (though I went into the BIOS to do it in the end).  The cheapest Gigabyte or Asus Mobo's will be perfectly fine. Maybe go for the replacement Intel CPU i5-4670K - same price. As for future upgrading.. well I'm happy my Asus will have a decent shelf life. . You only need max 8gB of ram for everything bar photo editing and other stuff.. games atm only use 4gb so 8gb is ideally where you want to be. All your component choices are good. EDIT - lol/.## you just had to be into photo-editing.

 

Hopefully others can weigh in on this. Point 4 is beyond argument for gaming - sorry all you AMD fans.

 

Ok.  I had a feeling that intel would be the logical choice.  More details from others is welcome of course, but FWIR your not wrong about that.

And yeah, the extra ram is for photo/video work.  I know it's overkill for gaming  :)


Edited by chicolom - 12/7/13 at 4:18am
post #2134 of 3095
Quote:
Originally Posted by chicolom View Post
 
Anyways, I have a couple PC audio questions:
 

Does anyone know if these types of boards are even CAPABLE of outputting their encoded DSP of choice (like Dolby Headphone) over their optical outputs -> e.g. the same way the the Xonar devices can? 

 

Yes they can... at least with hacked Realtek drivers.  For a few months now I've been running an Asus Sabertooth 990FX (rev1) with Dolby Home Theater v4 via onboard optical out to Audioengine D1 or Fiio E17 as my DAC/Amp combo to my K702.65, HD598, &  ATH-AD700.  I'm not 100% sure about the motherboards that actually come with properly licensed DH/DTS onboard, but if I can do it with hacked drivers, then I'm pretty sure you can do it if it comes with it.  

 

While it's not rocket science, if you don't want to deal with the intricacies of finding and installing those hacked drivers every time you want to upgrade your audio drivers, then just get a cheap soundcard like the Xonar DGX or something else with PCIe or the Xonar U3.  Do NOT get a PCI soundcard, that is obsolete tech.  You should be able to migrate a PCIe soundcard to your next motherboard upgrade down the line.  You can't do that with a PCI soundcard since a lot of the current motherboards are starting to leave out the PCI slot altogether.  And if you go with a PCIe soundcard w/Dolby, you won't have to compromise the other features of the motherboard just because you want the onboard sound optical output.

 

I guess the Fiio D3 is probably your cheapest bet for an optical DAC since you've got all those other nice amps.  I was starting from zero, no external DAC or amp so that's why I started with an E17, then a D1 later since I wanted an analog volume knob and something that's desktop powered so when the Li-ion battery dies in a couple years, I'm not SOL.  

 

I already ordered parts while the deals were hot.  I can still change things around though.  I'm not going to open any part boxes until I've read a bit more.

 
Can the PC gurus inspect my newbie build ?    ->   http://pcpartpicker.com/user/Chicolom/saved/347t   <-
Those are all the actual prices I paid (after 1 or 2 mail in rebates).  I scored some good deals I think.
 
You did score some pretty good deals there.  Before I answer some other questions you asked, I need some more info from you first.
 
- What is the primary use for the computer?  Order of importance please.  Game>Video Editing/photoshop>movies>work?
- How comfortable are you constantly tweaking the computer for maximum overclock?
- Do you want a quiet OR well ventilated (for max overclock) computer?  
 

I have a couple more questions but I'll save them for later as this post is already way too long and annoying.  I'm just a dirty console gaming peasant and I need to be schooled by local members of PC Gaming Master Race.

 

:D

post #2135 of 3095

Doh, looks like I got ninja'd by SaLX while I was typing up my extensive wall of text.  One more tidbit for you to chew on.

 

Although my current rig is an AMD (o/c'ed Phenom II x6 1090T, Sabertooth 990FX, 16GB 1866 RAM, etc), I agree with him that if you want maximum overclockability and/or gaming performance now, Intel is the way to go.  That being said, it will cost a LOT more if you want an overclockable Ivy Bridge CPU and motherboard.  A i5-3570k CPU which is the cheapest unlocked Ivy Bridge is about $225 USD at newegg.  That is 1/3 of your current COMPLETE build.  And that's just the CPU.  

 

The other thing with Intel is that they love playing the new socket game every couple years.  e.g. if you get an i5-3570k and a Z87 Z77 motherboard now (I keep mixing up Haswell & Ivy Bridge numbers), do NOT expect to be able to buy another faster CPU to plop into the motherboard in 1-2 years like you can with an AMD combo.  Although I have read that AMD is finally going away from the old socket AM3+ with their next major architecture change.

 

Another recommendation I have is to get a 120GB SSD for a boot drive if you don't already have one you can reuse in this new box.  It will make a night and day difference that is well worth the ~$100 USD cost.  I'd suggest a Plextor M5S 128GB or Crucial M500 120GB or something else Marvell controller based.  


Edited by AvroArrow - 12/7/13 at 1:54pm
post #2136 of 3095

Good call on the colored text.

 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by AvroArrow View Post
 


You should be able to migrate a PCIe soundcard to your next motherboard upgrade down the line.  You can't do that with a PCI soundcard since a lot of the current motherboards are starting to leave out the PCI slot altogether.  And if you go with a PCIe soundcard w/Dolby, you won't have to compromise the other features of the motherboard just because you want the onboard sound optical output.

 

It's starting to sound like a PCI-E card like the Xonar DGX would be the simpliest and cheapest route (I've tentatively added it to my Christmas list :p).  It seems like it's mainly the medium to higher end motherboards with the onboard dolby support, and I don't think I need/want to pay the premiums on those boards just to get that onboard Dolby.   Plus it'd be nice to be able to yank the external sound card and reuse it if you go through a motherboard/socket change.

 

 

I guess the Fiio D3 is probably your cheapest bet for an optical DAC since you've got all those other nice amps.  I was starting from zero, no external DAC or amp so that's why I started with an E17, then a D1 later since I wanted an analog volume knob and something that's desktop powered so when the Li-ion battery dies in a couple years, I'm not SOL.  

 

Yeah, my reasoning.  D3s are supposedly quiet decent, probably above the threshold of "this DAC sounds 99% the same as that DAC"I can potentially see taking a signal from a soundcards "green" jack as a bottleneck, and I suspect the D3 will do a better job at feeding the amp.

 

 

You did score some pretty good deals there.  Before I answer some other questions you asked, I need some more info from you first.
 
- What is the primary use for the computer?  Order of importance please.  Game>Video Editing/photoshop>movies>work?
 
I do a lot of photo work, some audio work, and less often some video work.   However, I would rather trade a slightly longer render time for higher FPS in game, as the latter directly affects me while I would be blissfully ignorant of the former taking place.
 
- How comfortable are you constantly tweaking the computer for maximum overclock?
 
I can handle tinkering with it.  I'm not sure how often "constantly" means, but I'm comfortable going into the BIOS and what not and tweaking settings (if I can find a guide/info on how to do it).
 
- Do you want a quiet OR well ventilated (for max overclock) computer?  
 
Are you perhaps talking about air Vs. liquid cooling?  Um, I guess I'm looking for a balance between a conservative (not too extreme) overclock and fairly quiet operation.  However, I'm not sure I'd want to spend a premium for extra silence.  I use headphones a lot (suprise!) so a little noise probably won't interfere too much while I'm listening to music/gaming.  But let me know what your referring to regardless?
 
And thanks for all the advice!
post #2137 of 3095
Quote:

Originally Posted by AvroArrow View Post

 

 

I agree with him that if you want maximum overclockability and/or gaming performance now, Intel is the way to go.  That being said, it will cost a LOT more if you want an overclockable Ivy Bridge CPU and motherboard.  A i5-3570k CPU which is the cheapest unlocked Ivy Bridge is about $225 USD at newegg.  That is 1/3 of your current COMPLETE build.  And that's just the CPU.  

 

Noted (painfully).  Keep in mind that I DO have a Micro Center near by, so I can get a discount on both the CPU and the motherboard through a bundle.  Here's their current prices: http://www.microcenter.com/site/brands/intel-processor-bundles.aspx

 

They were even cheaper on Black Friday weekend.  I have until the 15th (~1 week) to return my AMD CPU + board if I want to go that route.  I just need to decide on which chip and board to get.  Of course, I can always just return for a straight refund and wait and get the other platform later as well.  Maybe there will be deeper deals closer to Christmas...

 

 

 

The other thing with Intel is that they love playing the new socket game every couple years.  e.g. if you get an i5-3570k and a Z87 motherboard now, do NOT expect to be able to buy another faster CPU to plop into the motherboard in 1-2 years like you can with an AMD combo.  Although I have read that AMD is finally going away from the old socket AM3+ with their next major architecture change.

 

Yeah, FWIR, the 3570Ks socket (1155) is a dead end.  Haswell is on the new socket (1150). But even with haswell, intel changes sockets fairly often to the point that it may not be worth worrying about trying to upgrade  Better perhaps to just get an affordable board now and then another a new one later on without trying to stay upgradeable between them.

 

I've read the AMD is tired of being beaten by intel in the high end CPU market and is going to instead focus efforts on things APUs for smaller devices.  If that's true, there might not be much of a future for AMD desktop sockets as well.

 

 

Another recommendation I have is to get a 120GB SSD for a boot drive if you don't already have one you can reuse in this new box.  It will make a night and day difference that is well worth the ~$100 USD cost.  I'd suggest a Plextor M5S 128GB or Crucial M500 120GB or something else Marvell controller based.  

 

Noted.  What sort of things do SSDs help with?  I know boot/load times, but I'm not sure what else.  It doesn't affect your FPS or anything does it?

I think I will pick one up later down the line.  Right now though, that money goes towards the CPU/motherboard (need that first! :p).

post #2138 of 3095
Quote:
Originally Posted by chicolom View Post


It's starting to sound like a PCI-E card like the Xonar DGX would be the simpliest and cheapest route (I've tentatively added it to my Christmas list :p).  It seems like it's mainly the medium to higher end motherboards with the onboard dolby support, and I don't think I need/want to pay the premiums on those boards just to get that onboard Dolby.   Plus it'd be nice to be able to yank the external sound card and reuse it if you go through a motherboard/socket change.

 

Yeah, a PCIe soundcard w/Dolby is the most "modular" approach.

 

 

I do a lot of photo work, some audio work, and less often some video work.   However, I would rather trade a slightly longer render time for higher FPS in game, as the latter directly affects me while I would be blissfully ignorant of the former taking place.

 
Unless you spent $400+ on your video card, your FPS will always be limited by the video card, not CPU so the AMD FX-8320 will be fine.  An i5 3570k would give you a few more FPS, but we're talking maybe 5% more since your bottleneck is the 7870.  I assume you're gaming at 1920x1080?  And not something like 2560x1440?  
 
 
I think I could handle.  I'm not sure how often "constantly" means, but I'm comfortable going into the BIOS and what not and tweaking settings (if I can find a guide/info on how to do it).
 
During the initial phase of tweaking for a stable overclock, you will probably encounter some hard locks which may require pulling the PSU plug a few times, reset BIOS back to stock settings and re-entering them all AGAIN after a CMOS reset to get it to boot.  If you don't have the patience for that during the beginning then I would recommend against an overclockable setup.
 
- Do you want a quiet OR well ventilated (for max overclock) computer?  
Are you perhaps talking about air Vs. liquid cooling?  Um, I guess I'm looking for a balance between a conservative (not too extreme) overclock and fairly quiet operation.  However, I'm not sure I'd want to spend a premium for extra silence.  I use headphones a lot (suprise!) so a little noise probably won't interfere too much while I'm listening to music/gaming.  But let me know what your referring to regardless?
 
And thanks for all the advice!
 
No, never go liquid cooling unless you go hard core custom ($$$).  Those sub $100 All-In-One liquid units are waaaay more trouble than they're worth (water leaks) and ironically much noisier (fan and pump motor noise) than a well designed and spec'ed air cooling setup.  I frequent www.silentpcreview.com and have based my last 3 PC re-builds/partial upgrades from their various reviews and recommendations and have been very happy.  I need quiet because my PC is in my bedroom and when I need to leave the PC on to do..."stuff" overnight I need it to be quiet enough that I can still sleep.  If your PC is NOT in your sleeping area, then it's far less of a concern.  The Fractal Arc Midi R2 isn't bad, but I would have got a Fractal R4 for the quieter build.  Granted, even on sale, it's almost double the cost of the Arc Midi, and if quiet isn't your top priority, there's a lot more flexibility in parts selection.
post #2139 of 3095

Absolutely +++1 on a SSD.. such a huge difference it makes - get a 60GB main (boot) SSD drive and an ultra cheap storage HDD drive. SSD's just make the whole computing experience more liquid.  +1 on all of Avro's other points too.

 

A DGX - yes it'd be good and the easiest, but it doesn't sport the best of DAC's really, but nobody ever complains about it either. If your Mobo supports Dolby Theatre v4 however then highly probably it'll have at least as good a DAC as the Xonar if not better. DHT v4 hasn't been widely released at all but I'd jump on it if I wasn't a SBZ fan. You can always add an external cheap/expensive DAC with optical later on down the line and still use the proprietary software for the DSP/EQ etc for time being (I'm going to be buying an Audio-GD 11.32 soon). Or just connect your HP into it and be done. You've got plenty options. (Avro lol.. sorry about the inb4 mate! btw - you ultra sure about needing hacked drivers???)

 

For photo editing - these days CPU's will make short work of any single RAW file you lob at it. Only in video processing really would CPU speed make a difference: So yes.. get an Intel CPU i5-4670K (or 3570k) and compatible mobo if you're into gaming. As has been pointed out - the cheapest motherboard plus a DGX would net you the best gains/price point. Ultra expensive mobo's with 'lot's of bit's' are an absurd waste of space just to get the best onboard sound chip.

 

Overclocking: The Asus AI suite in Windows automatically tuned my Asus board up to 4.2 Ghz in a couple of clicks - amazing SW. I only did it in BIOS cos I thought myself a tech failure to cheat like this, yet there it is: zero net improvement doing it the hard way. Cools the same, clocks the same, underclocks the same on idle and is thermally as efficient. It's that good - sorry tech-heads. Do it. Your aftermarket cooler will happily cope.

 

Your graphics card...... this guide is always pretty much bang on the money: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gaming-graphics-card-review,3107.html


Edited by SaLX - 12/7/13 at 5:45am
post #2140 of 3095
Quote:

Originally Posted by AvroArrow View Post

 

 
During the initial phase of tweaking for a stable overclock, you will probably encounter some hard locks which may require pulling the PSU plug a few times, reset BIOS back to stock settings and re-entering them all AGAIN after a CMOS reset to get it to boot.  If you don't have the patience for that during the beginning then I would recommend against an overclockable setup.
 
I'm OK with doing those things. 
 

 

The Fractal Arc Midi R2 isn't bad, but I would have got a Fractal R4 for the quieter build.  Granted, even on sale, it's almost double the cost of the Arc Midi, and if quiet isn't your top priority, there's a lot more flexibility in parts selection.
I did a little back and forth between them, but I'm honest I really prefered the looks on the Midi R2.  It looks really sleek and elegant, while the R4 looks a little too much like a file cabinet!  They seem to both be well regarded cases either way though, and getting the R2 for $50 was a bonus. 


Edited by chicolom - 12/7/13 at 6:04am
post #2141 of 3095
Quote:

Originally Posted by AvroArrow View Post

 

Unless you spent $400+ on your video card, your FPS will always be limited by the video card, not CPU so the AMD FX-8320 will be fine.  An i5 3570k would give you a few more FPS, but we're talking maybe 5% more since your bottleneck is the 7870.  I assume you're gaming at 1920x1080?  And not something like 2560x1440? 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SaLX View Post

DHT v4 hasn't been widely released at all but I'd jump on it if I wasn't a SBZ fan.

 

Does the Xonar DGX have DHT v4? If not, are there any "affordable" cards that do, apart from that ridiculous "Phoebus" card?

 

 

So yes.. get an Intel CPU i5-4670K (or 3570k) and compatible mobo if you're into gaming. As has been pointed out - the cheapest motherboard plus a DGX would net you the best gains/price point. Ultra expensive mobo's with 'lot's of bit's' are an absurd waste of space just to get the best onboard sound chip.

 

Do you agree with Avro's sentiments quoted above about the GPU bottlenecking too much for the intel to even be worthwhile? 

 

Your graphics card...... this guide is always pretty much bang on the money: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gaming-graphics-card-review,3107.html

 

Great guide.  I'll give it a read.

 

GPUs were selling out fast and I had to snag one before they were all gone, so I went with one I knew to be good performance/dollar and which was also on sale.  I might still swap it, but it seems solid for now.  Also, I don't know if you guys are aware of what's going on with this litecoin mining nonsense, but those filthy miners are snatching up GPUs as soon as they go in stock.  It's annoying.

post #2142 of 3095

The Xonar DGX, in fact all the internal Xonars all just do vanilla Dolby Headphone. The new Xonar U7 does DHTv4 : http://rog.asus.com/229922013/news/xonar-u7-usb-sound-with-headphone-amp/ Shame Asus couldn't re-invigorate their entire line of Xonars with this SW as it looks good.

 

I'd give the nod to Avro on the tech here tbh... thing is though, I'd buy what I just recommended - kind of like getting a powerful amp instead of something that'll 'just do the job'. Intel is where it's at in gaming CPU's - all GFX card reviews are done on Intel platforms, unless they're trying to be a bit different. I'm sure Avro is perhaps actually correct on this.... but why not give yourself a bit of latitude in case you get a better GFX card down the line. The one you've chosen is solid though.

 

That case is very very nice - remember that Avro frequents www.silentpcreview.com - think of it's denizens as monkish cult member types - robes, skulls and candles :smile:  Anyways -good choices all down the line Chicolom (Intel).
 

post #2143 of 3095
DHTv4 is basically just bundling all Dolby Headphone modes into one slider, allowing you to choose how much processing and reverb you want. From what I have experienced, DH2 is still the best tradeoff, and DH1 is the best fidelity-wise. My best guess is that the slider on its lowest setting is equivalent to DH1.
post #2144 of 3095
Delete this post... I was browsing and fat fingered a submit
Edited by lttlfld - 12/7/13 at 11:10am
post #2145 of 3095

I would think if you're building a rig right now you'd aim for a pretty decent frame rate in Battlefield 4 as a general bar in performance: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/battlefield-4-graphics-card-performance,3634-7.html. This is based off the older i5 2550K, but it's pretty much the same. Your graphics card does well here and I'd like to think your CPU should do well too.

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