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Savalric

Hardware

16 posts in this topic

This is a rather simple question: I eventually plan to develop games once I get good enough at programming. If I were to, say, want to code for an extremely large MMO (like WoW or Runescape), what type of hardware would I need? What I'm planning on doing is building a new rig and I want to know what I need as far as the programming goes. This is what I planned on getting, but I want to know if it's overkill.

 

i7-3770k Unlocked

Either dual 7970s or 680's.

32gb of RAM (2400 for gaming purposes)

and an ASRock Z77 Extreme4.

 

Will this only affect me gaming-wise, or will it affect coding as well? I eventually plan on buying servers as well as developing on a console level (50gb blu-ray games will be huge lol), but that is years away, and I'm trying to build something that will last me through college as far as programming goes. (As far as gaming goes, my goal is quad sli with two 690's.)

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All you NEED to develop a game is a minimum-spec or mid-spec machine to verify it on. Basically any off-the-shelf machine from the last 4 years or so.

What you have there is way overkill for game development. It is a gaming rig, not a programming rig.
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If I were to, say, want to code for an extremely large MMO (like WoW or Runescape), what type of hardware would I need?

Several data-centres spread around the globe.... but you're not going to be developing a WoW-scale game as a beginner, so you can skip that bit for now wink.png

 

As above, if your PC can play games, then you can make games on it (and pretty much any PC can play games).

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Depending on the scale of your project, it's nice to have a few cores and a bit of RAM to compile your code, but it only becomes necessary when your lines of code starts to exceed the blades of grass in you backyard. Other than that, your IDE is just a fancy text editor. Of course, you need to have good computers to test your server client and it's fun to watch your FPS shoot up really high, but in reality most people that will be playing your game are going to have decent laptops and cheap desktops with only 2 or 4 cores and a few gigs of RAM, and integrated graphics, so you need to keep an old computer around to test your game in "the real world".

 

As for the system you've set out for yourself, you really don't need so much RAM, I can recommend the AMD FX series of CPUs as being nice and cheap without loss in performance over the Intel stuff. Don't trick your self into believing that you need this, but of course, it's always fun to blow a little money and get your hands dirty in a computer project. (If you do go ahead and build your machine, get Upgrading and Repairing PCs by Scott Mueler, it's the industry standard for anything that isn't a Mac)

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Alright, thanks guys. I had saw that there are computing and workstation GPUs, so I figured those were code intensive, which led me to believe a powerful GPU may be needed. Now that I know my system is overkill, I can safely settle for not getting the i7-3970x. For animation, would the same rules apply?

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Btw, I was considering AMD's FX series with 8 cores, but I saw that for around the same price (bought the 3770k for 200 brand new) it still performed slightly better. About a week ago, I was convinced I needed two otperon 100 core cpu's with 256GB of ECC RAM (Yeah, it was a server mobo), so I'm still learning. lol

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For animation, would the same rules apply?

 

Well, for simple 2D photoshop or Toon Boom Animate work, no, you can get by with about anything.

For rendering 3D models at high quality, you need some juice.

My buddy has the FX 6 core, 8GB of ram, and a GeForce graphics card and it still took him about an hour to render a single frame for a CAD project he is doing.

 

A 100 core CPU currently only exists in the lab at MIT.

A GPU on the other hand can have many cores. Maybe there was confusion there.

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Nah, it was a 100 core cpu, but according to what I've read, it's only available commercially. I seen a site that was selling a used one for $500, but I've since not been able to find the site to prove my claim. I'll look for it if you want to see it.

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A beefy workstation can be handy during development -- e.g. if an artist is working on a million polygon mesh in 3DS Max, then they'll want a good GPU and lots of RAM, etc... I personally recommend getting an SSD in your development PC, because it makes loading large amounts of data (or many different applications) very fast.

 

However, it's also handy to have a crappy old PC around the place (even if it's not your main one) for testing your game. For compatability testing, it's also good to have PCs with Intel, nVidia and ATI graphics cards, etc, etc...

Sometimes if your main PC is too powerful, then you won't realise that your game is a resource hog, and when you run it on an "average" PC, you'll be getting 15 frames-per-second rather than 60 wink.png

 

For really intensive jobs, like rendering/baking out data from 3D programs that takes hours, you'd usually use a "farm" of PCs, rather than a single PC with 100 CPUs. At my last job, all the artists would leave their PC's on overnight while running a program that connected them to a "render farm" network. A main server would go through a queue of jobs that needed to be rendered, and would pass out small chunks of work to all the different computers that made up the farm, and then merge their results together. This gave us the equivalent of a giant super-computer without having to actually buy one, plus we could add more power just by connecting more regular PC's to the network.

Edited by Hodgman
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AFAIK: workstation GPUs / ... are generally intended more for things like scientific computing and media production (IOW: think along the lines of doing the 3D rendering for a 3D rendered TV show).

general development works on "pretty generic" hardware, and developing on a computer with much lower stats than those listed will also work as well.
if anything, developing on "generic" hardware will help keep the game more in line with what "normal people" can actually run.


for example, a person could easily set themselves up with:
2.8GHz CPU (or maybe 2.1GHz - 2.4GHz);
4GB or 8GB RAM;
GeForce GT 430 (IOW: several year old entry-level card), or maybe just use onboard graphics.

then one may be reasonably confident it will work "reasonably well" on "typical" computers.
granted, even if it will not necessarily get great performance on newer games, but the goal in this case is not exactly to have a high-end gaming rig.

of course, if it is also being used as ones' main computer, there is nothing particularly wrong with having something a little better, but it isn't really needed, and higher stats may actually be counter productive.

otherwise, one might end up making a game where it takes years before most people have good enough hardware to actually play it...
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Thanks for all your input. Knowing this, I might just settle on dual 7970s for gaming purposes and call it a day. At any rate, I'll still have this dual core AMD chip with a GT 520 card for coding/testing purposes.

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Forget about your GPU(s). To restate what has been already said above, you need enough RAM and a fast hard disk (preferably SSD) so that you can compile/build and switch between IDE and game without having to wait for swap, and 4+ CPU cores to have your game, your IDE and your build tools smoothly running in parallel. For GPU, a mid-spec GPU is enough, since it already covers most high-end features (except that it is a little slower) and keeps you attentive to your target audience's hardware. If you're going to work on media such as 3D graphics, movies and so on, you'd profit from beefy GPU; although since you'll be programming, that's a moot point.

Edited by demonkoryu
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Forget any ideas of writing an MMO smile.png

I add my agreement to the recommendations for an SSD - imo it's the best thing you can do to speed up compile times (or the computer in general).

I find NVIDIA's Optimus technology useful - with NVIDIA and an Intel CPU, you can switch between the graphics card and Intel GPU, even on a per-application level. Whilst intended for improving battery life on laptops, it's useful for developing, meaning you can test on two different makes of GPUs (and ones at rather different levels of performance) without having to reboot/swap cards/keep an old machine around.

I find lots of RAM useful for running VMs to test things work under a clean build, or try different Linux distributions. Even there, my max usage is about 7GB (out of 16GB).

Some compilers support multiple cores.

At its most basic, you don't need much at all. I also do programming on my Atom-based netbooks. Full release builds are a bit slow, but otherwise it's fine.
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I have this current rig:

- i5 2500k 3.7GHz (quad core)

- HD6950 2GB GPU

- 12GB 1333MHz RAM

- 120GB SSD

- 500GB x 2 + 2TB hard drives

 

And frankly, it is 99% overkill when it comes to programming. I barely use 5% of its potential outside of games and scientific applications. Really, a $50 graphics card, a core duo CPU and a few gigs of RAM (I would vote for 6 or maybe 8, memory is dirt cheap at the moment) and you'll all set. Get an SSD too, it helps a lot. Add stuff as your budget dictates, but 32GB of RAM? Dual top-of-the-line graphics cards? Come on. Maybe a handful of individual people on the planet have this kind of hardware.

 

In fact, if you are going to be making games, I'd think hardcore gamer hardware (like what you suggest) is in fact detrimental as you are more likely to immensely overestimate your target audience's computational resources. If you go down this route, make sure you have some crappy hardware to test your game's performance on. You know, as a "real world" benchmark smile.png

Edited by Bacterius
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I have this current rig:
- i5 2500k 3.7GHz (quad core)
- HD6950 2GB GPU
- 12GB 1333MHz RAM
- 120GB SSD
- 500GB x 2 + 2TB hard drives
 
And frankly, it is 99% overkill when it comes to programming. I barely use 5% of its potential outside of games and scientific applications. Really, a $50 graphics card, a core duo CPU and a few gigs of RAM (I would vote for 6 or maybe 8, memory is dirt cheap at the moment) and you'll all set. Get an SSD too, it helps a lot. Add stuff as your budget dictates, but 32GB of RAM? Dual top-of-the-line graphics cards? Come on. Maybe a handful of individual people on the planet have this kind of hardware.
 
In fact, if you are going to be making games, I'd think hardcore gamer hardware (like what you suggest) is in fact detrimental as you are more likely to immensely overestimate your target audience's computational resources. If you go down this route, make sure you have some crappy hardware to test your game's performance on. You know, as a "real world" benchmark smile.png

mine:
Athlon II X4 2.8GHz;
GeForce GTX 460;
16GB DDR3;
4TB HDD (2x1TB + 2TB), + 2TB external.
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However, it's also handy to have a crappy old PC around the place (even if it's not your main one) for testing your game. For compatability testing, it's also good to have PCs with Intel, nVidia and ATI graphics cards, etc, etc...

This is one of many reasons why I love virtual machines.  I specced out a fairly beefy laptop when I had to replace my last system (laptop because I was in school at the time and needed mobility) because I wanted the space and resources to be able to run virtual systems in tandem with my host.

 

While not a solution for changing the graphics hardware variable, I now have a few ready-to-go tiers of processing power to test installers and game demos on when I want to see how my software measures up.  It's also a cheap networking test :)

 

To that end: if you're doing graphics work (especially high-res or high-poly), and to be able to accommodate parallel virtual systems if you like that idea, I'd still push for a high-memory, powerful-graphics, large-storage, competently powerful-processing system.  The fact that those same properties do well in a gaming system doesn't hurt my feelings, but YMMV with productivity if your dedicated workstation also happens to be your main gaming rig :)

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