Episode 55: It ain't easy being Purple, plus a PC Primer for Destiny 2

Mercules breaks down how to prepare for changes to the Voidwalker, plus how to get ready to be a Sentinel before Destiny 2 drops. Meanwhile, Kyt lays out what you need to know before you build a PC for Destiny 2.


An FAQ for PC Building Newbies

Selected from the episode, here are some common questions and misunderstandings around building computers explained for your reference.

CPU question: Faster speed is always better, but so is more cores. Which one to prioritize, for gaming?

A core is a single processing unit, so multi core processors have multiple processing units. So a dual core 3.0GHz processor has 2 processing units each with a clock speed of 3.0GHz. A 6 core 3.0GHz processor has 6 processing units each with a clock speed of 3.0GHz.

Fewer cores with faster speed is cheaper, and if all you’re doing is playing Destiny 2 with no other apps or programs running, you can probably get away with this. It’s more of a budget option. More cores, with median speed will do better if you plan to stream, record, or just want to have a browser up in the background or on a second monitor, and more cores with more speed will perform best overall of course.

My recommendation to go for more cores, in general - most of us are big multitaskers, and modern games like Destiny 2 are built to benefit from multicore processors. The Intel i5 is really common and relatively affordable, so it’s a good bet for a budget build if you can’t find an AMD CPU (which is absolutely cheaper). At higher levels, I like the i7 a lot - I have one in my laptop, and I can multitask like crazy with no slowdown.

CPU Cooler - Do I need one?

This is an easy one: many CPU’s come with a cooler built in. If this is the case for yours (as in the Min and Rec Spec example builds I am providing), you don’t need a separate CPU Cooler. Unless! Unless you are planning to overclock the CPU to get improved performance out of it. In some cases, it may be cheaper to do this and buy a $20 CPU cooler than to buy a more powerful CPU - you’ll have to decide for yourself.

Of course, if you’re buying a CPU without a built-in cooler, like the i7 in the High Spec build, you’ll need to also buy a separate cooler.

Speaking of Coolers, what is a Thermal Compound?

So, basically, Thermal compound is a very high heat conductive paste that is used between two objects (a heatsink and a CPU/GPU in our case) to get better heat conduction. It fills in all those microscopic imperfections on the heatsink and CPU/GPU that can trap air in them and cause a loss in the heatsink's performance. It reduces resistance between your CPU and the heatsink to help ensure your machine never overheats.

What’s a “Form Factor” for a Motherboard?

The form factor of a motherboard determines the specifications for its general shape and size. It also specifies what type of case and power supply will be supported, the placement of mounting holes, and the physical layout and organization of the board. It’s sort of important to not buy a case that won’t fit your motherboard.

RAM: DDR3 versus DDR4 versus DDR5 - does it matter?

Basically, yes, but it’s not world-ending. DDR4 is fundamentally able to transfer more data, as it picks up in bandwidth where DDR3 leaves off, so favor DDR4 if you can afford a motherboard that supports it. It’s also 100% NOT backward compatible with a DDR3 compatible motherboard, so don’t try to mix and match. This is where PCPartpicker’s compatibility checker and filter come in super useful.

As for DDR5, it’s something you’ll see primarily as built-in RAM on GPU’s - it’s super fast and on a GPU is specially configured for graphics, which is why a quality GPU is actually important.

RAM: I’ve read a lot of comments about CAS Latency and Speed - what are they, and how do I tell if I’m getting faster RAM for my money?

If you don’t want to do even simple math, just look for the highest speed with the lowest latency that you can find. Both are important parts of the RAM speed equation, but in general Speed is going to be a better indicator of performance, and price generally goes up with Speed.

To give you the basics, though, Speed is measured in Hertz, or Cycles per second, that the RAM completes - more is better. CAS Latency is the number of cycles it takes for a request to receive a response, and typically goes up as Speed increases - but not proportionally, which is why more Speed is usually better.

SPEED ÷ CAS LATENCY = "TRUE LATENCY" (HIGHER IS BETTER)

A quick and dirty method of comparing two RAM offerings at different speeds is to divide Speed by CAS Latency) together - the higher number will offer less “True” latency and be the superior choice.

So what about Hard Drives?

SSD - Solid State Drives are state of the art, nearly as fast as RAM, and an excellent place to install anything you want to run super fast (your OS and Destiny 2 come to mind). It’s also relatively expensive to get a SSD of any size, so be prepared for that.

Standard Hard Drives are slower, cheaper, and often sold with far more storage as a result.

If you can swing a 250-500 GB SSD, I would. My Windows laptop has one, and reboots in under a minute. My relatively comparable laptop at work, provided by my employer, has a standard hard drive and takes nearly 10 minutes to completely reboot.

If you’re more concerned with being able to store a lot of stuff, or with saving money, going with a 1-2 TB standard drive is the better route.

Ideally, of course, you can get both.

Video Cards, Video Cards (AKA GPU’s)...

So there are a million friggin video cards on the market, but the main two manufacturers are NVidia, which makes GeForce, and AMD, which makes several lines. The differences and capabilities between any two cards are highly varied, and impossible to generalize.

My recommendation is to figure out the level of performance you’re looking for, and then shop for the best deal at the time at that level. I’ll give you some baselines, and you can do your own comparison shopping (and get second and third opinions) from the internet - that’s the best way to find a good video card, honestly. If you want to check two similar cards head to head, I suggest the site http://gpuboss.com/ which does just that for you, and is pretty accurate for the most part.

If you already know a bit about video cards, I’m not going to get into chipsets, core speed and all that, because it’s probably complicated enough to have its own podcast comparing different cards, and because it’s not going to help people just looking to get a first build done.

One thing you’ll notice in the build lists I’m going to publish on our site (and discuss here) is that for min spec builds I recommend the NVidia GeForce GTX1050 over the cards Bungie suggests. You’ll also notice it’s a lot cheaper. What you can’t see is that it offers the same or better performance than either the Radeon 7850 or the GTX 660 in literally every category. Hot tip here.

Miscellaneous

A case is a case, just make sure you get the right form factor for your motherboard or you’re going to have problems (the main one being that you’ll need to buy another case).

When buying a Power Supply, make sure to check the wattage of your build to ensure you’re covering it with a little extra. This is another reason I love PCPartpicker - it checks this for you and doesn’t show you power supplies without enough juice for your build.

OS - Windows 10 64 bit Pro is my pick at this point. You can make PC games run on other operating systems if you really want to, but if you’re willing to go to that much work, you probably already know enough that you stopped listening to this episode an hour ago. Windows 10 Home is fine if you want to save a bit of cash, but Pro includes a bunch of advanced features, including Bitlocker disk encryption, Device Guard to prevent unwanted applications from running, and remote desktop so you can get to your locally saved data from anywhere, and the price difference is negligible.

If you buy a sound card (you don’t strictly NEED one) I would favor a fairly cheap one as I have no ear for anything, but you typically get what you pay for here.

Finally, a network adapter is a network adapter. I’m assuming you’re wiring your machine if you’re playing Destiny on a desktop (because wtf, why would you not?), but whatever.

Regarding Monitors, I included suggestions because if you’re building a new gaming PC I assume you don’t have a decent gaming monitor. BenQ is generally well regarded to my knowledge and makes high quality devices at a fair price. There are a lot of monitors on the market though, so you can take your chances if you like. The main thing to watch for is keeping your input lag at a minimum. All of the monitors I suggest have 1-2ms input lag, which is the delay between when you click a button and when that thing happens on screen. Less delay is less delay, and even small delays can put you at an unknowing disadvantage. The price difference to avoid a longer delay is small, so don’t cheap out here!