Description

This was a little project for my son (12) and I to work on. It's been 20 years since my last build (started back in the x386/x486 days, last build was first gen AMD Athlon circa late 90s).

My budget had a ceiling of $1400AUD and it took weeks of research and tweaking the list to get the components just right and within budget. The parts list came out about $1300 on PartPicker but living in a regional area meant the shipping costs for individual items from different stores would put cost at or above my limit. I ended up buying all parts from Mwave who had a) the case I wanted (this was the limiting factor) and b) the best price + shipping at the time.

My son will be playing the usual games a feller of his age is into and I'll be using it for X-Plane flight simulator . I'll be dual booting Windows 10 and some flavour of Linux.

Here's my rationale for the build.

  • The case - I wanted a small unobtrusive case to sit on the work desk. I was initially attracted to the smaller form factor builds but was concerned about heat. Then I saw a few builds using this case and was sold on its modularity and potential airflow. I would have preferred the lighter colour version but couldn't justify a 50% premium. At one point I had the V21 in the parts list until I measured it, it's much bigger than it looks in photos. Shifting to a mini-ITX case saved me about $30-40 on my preferred range of ATX cases.

  • CPU - basically wanted best bang for budget and the inclusion of the stock cooler for AMD CPUs makes a big difference. I'll be using the PC to run X-Plane which allegedly has poorer performance on previous gen Ryzen and Radeon products. Without the X-Plane factor, I would have been happy to go with a 2600X and save over $100AUD but thought I'd go for the improved single core performance. Youtube tells me adding the X to the 3600 isn't worth it and has the benchmarks to prove it.

  • Mobo - not much choice here so went with the second least expensive. MSI was cheaper but had a lesser audio codec so I forked out the extra $10. The next mobo in stock was over $300AUD. Still, I feel it's value for money as wifi is included and it appears to compete with similar cost ATX boards in terms of quality. I would have gone for a board in the $160-170AUD range had I stuck with ATX. So the cost I saved on the ITX case mentioned above is lost with the mobo.

  • GPU - this took a lot of research and ultimately I went with the cheapest Nvidia 1660 ti available. Nothing fancy. If I had more budget I would have gone with Radeon 5700. The Nvidia cards are known for good performance in X-Plane and the 1660ti is probably the best budget card out there (again, according to youtube). I purchased just a month or so after the big release of the new Radeons and Super cards. If I had the patience to wait a bit longer maybe the cost of these cards would've shaken down a bit more.

  • Storage - here I wanted an M.2 form factor, more for build neatness than speed. The Intel 660p seemed a nice compromise. The Crucial P1 is cheaper but some reviews were a bit off. I went with 1TB with the intent to partition it to 2x250GB (for the dual boot)+ 500GB shared storage. Cheap and easy to add storage later as required.

  • Memory - took a while looking around for Ryzen compatibility and trying to work out which speed to choose. Everyone says faster is better for Ryzen but... how fast? I'd heard the sweet spot was about 3200 but then saw a great benchmark of different RAM speeds and really, there isn't THAT much of a difference from 2666 up. I was about to buy the Corsair 3200 version but it wasn't listed as Ryzen compatible on Corsair's website so happily ordered the 3000 which was, just for peace of mind.

  • PSU - Again, danced around with a variety of wattages. Research and testing on multiple calculators showed my build wasn't going to be that power hungry (<300w). 500w would've been great but I wanted a semi modular unit to cut down junk in the trunk and couldn't find one. I erred on the side of cost and went with the 450 knowing it is about 50% over my estimated watts.

Post-build notes

  • MWave have fantastic service - delivered in less than 48 hours

  • Bingo - experienced the need to update motherboard BIOS (the 'Ryzen 3000 ready' sticker doesn't mean it's been updated). Should've asked when purchasing. After a couple of local 'professionals' found it too hard, I sent it back to MWave who updated it for free and sent it back. Again, super quick turnaround and very good service updates.

  • Boots to windows in about 6 secs. Everything is clean and crisp. Quiet during everyday use and only a slight hum of air moving around at load.

  • Temps were fine for everyday work but the video card really peaked at 85+. I remedied this by adding one small 80mm Noctua Redux exhaust fan on the side of the graphics card which had an immediate effect of dropping GPU temps at load by about 10 deg and CPU temps by about 5 deg. Note to do this I also needed to purchase a fan splitter cable as the mobo only has one header for the CPU fan and one for a case fan.

  • The GTX 1660 Ti has more than enough grunt for my needs but I recommend forking out a bit extra for a dual fan version with a larger heatsink as I supsect it was throttling. Trying to save twenty bucks on the card, cost me about $35 on the new fan and splitter cable (yes, could've gone cheaper but.. you know)

  • If you're interested, I'm getting great frame rates on X-Plane 11 with medium to high settings at 4K. Between 30 and 70 fps depending on scenery. The GPU is definitely the bottleneck. It will max out where the CPU seems to be just tootling along. While the 6 GB VRAM is fine, 8GB would be better. I'm dialing back textures a little to keep them all in VRAM.

  • I've added a photo showing the additional fan. You may also notice the new 1TB SSD (Samsung QVO 860) on the right hand side. Super easy to fit and plenty of room in the case. Great for fast storage.

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Comments

  • 4 months ago
  • 1 point

I have to run xp11 on an rx 580, it hurts on medium settings

  • 4 months ago
  • 1 point

Ouch! I'm still pretty happy with the result from the 1660 Ti, despite it's limitations. Will probably be the first part upgraded.

  • 4 months ago
  • 1 point

So I could do it good on 1080p with a 1660 ti I’m guessing! The problem is, I am all-AMD. I hate Nvidia. So, could you recommend an AMD gpu for XP11?

  • 4 days ago
  • 1 point

Sorry Pine Cone, I didn't get back here. You've probably already found something. If you haven't already, I recommend Michael Brown from Xforce PC's videos on hardware for x-plane

https://www.youtube.com/user/col2mab

I'm having good results at 4K with the 1660ti on linux. I use ortho photo scenery and have settings all set to max -1. I've since swapped out the 16GB 3000 ram for 32GB 3200 and that had about a 20% improvement. I would rarely get below 30fps even with cloud, rain, buildings and livetraffic. Most situations I'm at 40-60+ fps. Suits me fine! Good luck

  • 4 days ago
  • 1 point

Thank you for the detailed response, I will probably consider getting a 1660 super because of the price and the fact that I’m only playing on 1080p.