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For Science!

Balanced System vs "Bottlenecked" System Upgrade Cycle

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Posted · Original PosterOP

It seems to be a common fear among the community that their rig is "bottlenecked". Of course this is kind of a duff point since there is always a bottleneck somewhere, and if not, then the system as a whole is a bottleneck. Anyhow I was doing a thought experiment whether balanced systems are actually better in the long term or not when it comes to upgrading these systems. Of course it is hard to predict the future of a platform and so we can only play this game in hindsight and thought it would be interesting to hear your thoughts on whether upgrading balanced systems or "bottlenecked" systems result in better performance and or expense over long term.

 

I wonder if you were to upgrade every 3 years or so, and you had to replace both CPU (possibly also the board) and GPU to the mid range of that generation whether that was more or less costly than having both a very imbalanced system initially and then replaced the weakest component 3 years in. Which one would result in better performance if the same amount of money was used. For the sake of the thought experiment, please diffentiate between keeping the old components and re-selling them.

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Posted · Original PosterOP
9 minutes ago, TheGlenlivet said:

The first one.

Have a "very imbalanced" system makes some games basically unplayable.

Better to play at moderate settings than be able to say "check out my Titan!!" to your buds.

I guess you're on point about the first rig needing to somewhat balanced for this to make sense. 

 

But i guess in subsequent upgrade cycles you always upgrade the non-bottlenecked component (which is a bit of a duff statement since if there is no bottleneck you have to upgrade everything).

 

I guess mid tier cpus stay relevant for longer than mid tier gpus...

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18 minutes ago, For Science! said:

It seems to be a common fear among the community that their rig is "bottlenecked". Of course this is kind of a duff point since there is always a bottleneck somewhere, and if not, then the system as a whole is a bottleneck. Anyhow I was doing a thought experiment whether balanced systems are actually better in the long term or not when it comes to upgrading these systems. Of course it is hard to predict the future of a platform and so we can only play this game in hindsight and thought it would be interesting to hear your thoughts on whether upgrading balanced systems or "bottlenecked" systems result in better performance and or expense over long term.

 

I wonder if you were to upgrade every 3 years or so, and you had to replace both CPU (possibly also the board) and GPU to the mid range of that generation whether that was more or less costly than having both a very imbalanced system initially and then replaced the weakest component 3 years in. Which one would result in better performance if the same amount of money was used. For the sake of the thought experiment, please diffentiate between keeping the old components and re-selling them.

The problem I find is what is a balanced system? Is it one where the CPU and GPU are both near 100%? Because one where the GPU is 100% but not the CPU means the system is GPU bottlenecked, otherwise it's CPU bottlenecked. And a balanced system doesn't describe what someone is actually looking for: performance. You could pair a Pentium or an Athlon with a GeForce GT 1030 and it might be balanced, but it certainly won't achieve world record speeds.

 

In the end the question you shouldn't be asking is "is my system balanced or bottlenecked," it's "does the system meet my basic requirements for my use cases?"

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1 minute ago, For Science! said:

I guess mid tier cpus stay relevant for longer than mid tier gpus...

This is true, but more important, the $ per frame goes WAY OUT THE WINDOW on the higher end stuff.

Unless you NEED to have the biggest baddest CPU for your ego, or have a legit workflow to use a high end CPU/GPU, the mid range stuff and lower res monitor is a better combo that is also easier to update over time.

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I try not to use the word bottleneck when I recommend part combos. I say things like "appropriate combo" and "mid range" or "high end" because that's what matters. Surprisingly, an RX 570 and a Ryzen 5 2600 is an appropriate combo, and so is an RX 5700 XT and a Ryzen 5 2600. Is there a "bottleneck?" Yeah I guess in the first case the GPU is somewhat weak for the CPU but it's not really a terrible way to go about it. Is a 9700K good with a 2080 ti? Yes, they're both high end hardware so you can expect good results when pairing them.

 

Now the converse is a bit different, when a CPU bottleneck is introduced. A 9900K with a 1650 will produce an alright experience, if you have moderate performance expectations. But a Ryzen 3 1200 with a titan V? Expect some crap performance relative to what you spent. Even still, slightly underspending on the CPU and getting a baller GPU won't ruin your rig. Balancing GPU and CPU capabilities is important but not as fine or precise as many think

 


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Posted · Original PosterOP

For example if a couple years ago you could choose between(going by some googled msrps)

 

Ryzen 1200 + 1080Ti (roughly 810 dollars)

 

Intel 7600K + 1080 (also roughly 810 dollars)

 

Ryzen 1600 + 1080 (also eoughly 810 dollars)

 

Then i guess people would have said to definitely not the 1200 build, and intel for gaming, or ryzen is streaming/productiviry and light gaming

 

If you kept those rigs, you could slot in a 3700x or 3900x (assuming b350 or above) into the 1200 rig and decent performance. (3700x + 1080 ti)

 

Whereas with the other builds there isnt a good upgrade within that kind of budget...

 

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3 minutes ago, For Science! said:

For example if a couple years ago you could choose between(going by some googled msrps)...

If I'm starting completely from scratch, then I would choose a "balanced" system to avoid needing to upgrade soon. Then I'll just upgrade what's causing the bottleneck down the road in most of my use cases.

 

In the past three builds I've done, I've basically upgraded one then the other.

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