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Hot Topic (More than 10 Replies) Best chess-friendly PC for the non-obsessive! (Read 1235 times)
Michael Ayton
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Re: Best chess-friendly PC for the non-obsessive!
Reply #17 - 02/28/21 at 19:29:33
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Thanks MartinC. Yes, that was my conclusion too, in line with Pantu's original suggestion. As you say, if I omit Nvidia now I can always go there later -- for the moment, fascinated by these things though I am, I can't help feeling it makes much more sense for one of my own dubious chess abilities to spend just a fraction of the GPU cost on a book on rook endgames or something like that and think of improving my actual chess knowledge!!
  
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MartinC
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Re: Best chess-friendly PC for the non-obsessive!
Reply #16 - 02/28/21 at 09:21:34
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I would guess that a 1650 isn't really worth it for LC0 no. It doesn't have the specific bits that make neural nets run much faster on some more recent NV cards.

My 1600 runs it OK, but a CPU probably would too. There's currently a massive stock crisis for GPU's, so it isn't a great time to try and get one anyway. Easy enough to add one later on.

I would perhaps try LC0 to see some of its ideas anyway. That should survive it running slowly, the tactics might not.
  
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Michael Ayton
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Re: Best chess-friendly PC for the non-obsessive!
Reply #15 - 02/27/21 at 15:11:02
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Thanks Cathexis. Yes, I'm in Durham, England. I'm firmly a PC not a Mac person and indeed after a tower. (The complex editing work I do can be tricky on a laptop and a smaller screen.) At the moment the option that's winning with me is the i5 version (sacrificing Nvidia) of the Dell I mentioned, but obviously that could change.
  
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cathexis
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Re: Best chess-friendly PC for the non-obsessive!
Reply #14 - 02/27/21 at 14:53:39
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I would echo aoc's suggestion of a tower pc. Here are my reasons:

1. Despite the ubiquity of laptops, tower pcs offer much more storage and are far easier to upgrade (a nice way to lengthen lifetime) yourself (saving coin).

2. What you tote around everywhere with you (laptops, etc.), you can also much more easily lose, damage, or have stolen.

3. I have used HP Pavilion models with no major problems, but mostly I favor "plain vanilla" - style pcs as a better bang for the buck and generally come with much less bloatware. In the states, I strongly prefer Microcenter's Powerspec brand as an example of a well-made, decently-priced plain vanilla pc. Your sig sez you're from "durham" and I'm guessing not Durham, NC. So I can't speak for examples specific to your location. That is, I would much prefer to pick up in store as shipping a pc sounds like asking for trouble. I am running the basic 64bit version of Stockfish 13 in my 2016 quad-core and though it may be slower, it works without any burps. Fat Fritz on the other hand, won't run as it says my Nvidia graphics card is too old basically. I am not bothered enough to consider upgrading it.

4. Finally, if you are even pondering the remote possibility of Apple products I would highly suggest you first google, "right to repair" (say on You-Tube) for the naked greed and insanity that is Apple. It actually is likely heading for a Congressional bill of consumer rights, it is that bad. I won't be drawn into a flame war about it. Just google as I said and judge for yourself.

Hope this helps,

Cathexis




  
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MaxJudd
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Re: Best chess-friendly PC for the non-obsessive!
Reply #13 - 02/27/21 at 06:02:57
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Maybe the least expensive if you have Thunderbolt 3 on your existing laptop or desktop is an external GPU.  This will set you back $300 to $500 on the enclosure and then $300 plus for a mid to high end GPU depending on what you buy.  Similar to the sentiment below, if you find  either the case or GPU used from a gamer in the process of upgrading you can save quite a bit.  Perhaps you could get the case and card for under $500 if you got lucky.
  
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Michael Ayton
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Re: Best chess-friendly PC for the non-obsessive!
Reply #12 - 02/26/21 at 17:58:50
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@ Max Judd
Quote:
Gaming specialists PC makers sometimes provide better pricing for new machines with GPUs built in. 

Point taken. And from Dell I saw a model going (for GBP 749) with Nvidia GeForce® GTX 1650 SUPER™ 4GB GDDR6: from what Pantu says above and the CB link in Reply #2 I tentatively conclude it's probably not worth my while 'going there', but I'm willing to be persuaded otherwise if appropriate ...

@ AOC
I think the criteria for deciding re new/used can sometimes be very subtle and personal and I know I've sometimes wasted a lot of time (a factor in itself ...) arguing the toss with myself! Sometimes something second-hand/refurb can seem so cheap that you can think, nothing much to lose. That might be one way of looking at the Amazon machines I saw, but here I prefer the mirror-image view: if it looks too good to be true, it probably is!
  
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MaxJudd
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Re: Best chess-friendly PC for the non-obsessive!
Reply #11 - 02/26/21 at 16:06:00
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It sounds like you got a great deal from Dell. Gaming specialists PC makers sometimes provide better pricing for new machines with GPUs built in.  They sell both webdirect and via mass retailers like Amazon, Walmart and Best Buy in the US.  Some of these are IBuyPower and CyberPowerPc.  If you are pretty tech savvy, you might get slightly cheaper by doing your own build with parts bought separately . . . youtube gives you lots of ideas for this.  Unfortunately, GPUs seem to be in short supply at the moment allegedly because of Bitcoin mining demand.

One source of GPU benchmarks is PassMark.  AMD Radeon midrange GPUs sometimes offer better value as measured by PassMark vs Nvidia.  I had heard that Lc0 works best with Nvidia GPUs so I didn't look into Radeon/AMD but maybe things have changed.
  
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Re: Best chess-friendly PC for the non-obsessive!
Reply #10 - 02/26/21 at 15:26:34
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I went from a i7-3770K 8GB RAM (with Stockfish 12) to a AMD Ryzen 7 3700X 32GB RAM (with Stockfish 13)

Not a fair comparision (7 cores to 15 cores) , but the Ryzen gets there faster and deeper.

I started the line e4 e6 d4 d5 ed ed Nf3 Bd6 Bd3 Ne7 c4 c6 O-O O-O c5 Bc7 Bg5 f6 Bh4 Nf5 Qc2 in the Intel first and then opened up the Ryzen and plugged in the line and started 9.5 minutes in on the Ryzen

Intel Depth 44 (+0.17) Ryzen Depth 55 (=0.00)

I bought with RTX 3080 10GB 2 H-Drives

13 minutes in Intel Depth 45 Ryzen Depth 59

I bought intending to use Fat Fritz but was disenchanted with the results of that engine.

Spent about $1950 USD know your build call Dell during a sale and ask if that is the best price for the specs you want. I would say the Ryzen serves me nicely! Hopes this helps.

20 minutes in for Intel Depth 47 Ryzen Depth 61
  
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an ordinary chessplayer
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Re: Best chess-friendly PC for the non-obsessive!
Reply #9 - 02/26/21 at 14:56:46
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Michael Ayton wrote on 02/25/21 at 17:26:49:
I guess another option I have is refurbs -- I see there are currently some 'renewed' Dell PCs on Amazon for prices like GBP 230!

Refurb is like the choice between buying a new or used car. Buying new and keeping it until it dies is a fairly economical way to go. Buying used is a reasonable option if you don't have enough cash to buy new. It carries more risk but people do it all the time. It's my view buying used is better than buying new provided you know enough about computers (or cars) to be able to know the difference between a deal and a piece of rubbish. And of course know how to fix the inevitable issue with the used equipment. I like to either (a) wait until I can pay cash for new, because it's a very safe and conservative way to do it, and I have perfect choice over which one to get; or (b) opportunistically buy used from a friend, because then I have perfect information about any issues.

An anecdote from the 1970s. There was a regular police auction for lost/abandoned bicycles. Typically they would go for $10, sometimes less, but on one occasion there were two men (possibly tipped off somehow?) who got into a bidding war. I don't remember the final bid, but I remember buying a not terribly expensive new bike in the late 1970s for $250, and I remember the winning bid was more than my new bike... It was an Italian custom frame (once upon a time I knew the name, but details are lost in the mists of time) and was worth $500 or more at that time. People clapped after the final bid. One thing about a performance bicycle is the frame should fit the rider perfectly. It's unlikely to have fit both men equally well, so at least one of them must have had other options for the bicycle.
  
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MaxJudd
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Re: Best chess-friendly PC for the non-obsessive!
Reply #8 - 02/26/21 at 13:51:12
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Pantu wrote on 02/25/21 at 16:41:02:
I thought I wrote that stockfish doesn't need the GPU, but perhaps it wasn't clear.

My understanding is that stockfish works as a traditional engine but uses a small neural network (that is OK on CPU only) to boost the strength.

lc0 is a pure network engine which uses much larger networks for more strength, and you need the GPU to work these large networks.

So these still work differently, and in theory can still suggest different moves and plans as best.

If Micheal (or others!) truly want lc0 or similar engines, the GPU is needed, but if running stockfish is enough then it is not worthwhile and basically any off-the-shelf PC is good enough.  Only he can decide if the extra cost is
worth it. Of course if he wants to play high end video games or mine bitcoin then the extra GPU power could be useful.

This reminds me that back in 2005-2010 or somewhere they had a computer vs man (Topalov, Ponomariov?) tournament using some randomly bought normal laptops with a standard engine...which won easily. A basic desktop + stockfish from today will beat everyone easily.


I bought a new desktop computer 6 months ago with a decent GPU (not by any means the best).  This allows me to run both LC0 and SF13.  They do have different evals and sometimes suggest different moves in a few situations (e.g., at the end of the Ruy Lopez Riga mainline SF13 has White ~+2 and LC0 has about +0.8.  In retrospect SF13 is good enough for me (but at least I have a good GPU for my Skytrak golf simulator  Smiley).
  
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Michael Ayton
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Re: Best chess-friendly PC for the non-obsessive!
Reply #7 - 02/25/21 at 22:34:21
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Thanks again Pantu, including for the SSD point -- noted! I think my best option is as you suggest and to give all things Leela a miss for the moment -- after all I can always get a card later on if I change my mind. And as AOC says, who knows where things will be x years down the line anyway ...
  
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Pantu
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Re: Best chess-friendly PC for the non-obsessive!
Reply #6 - 02/25/21 at 19:06:42
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Lc0 can run without an expensive card, but will be much slower/weaker than without. I'd also note that it is not just any Nvidia card, but some specific ones that give it more power.

If you are not that desperate for the expensive GPU then I would suggest just buying whatever PC looks good from a brand and retailer you trust (with warranty!) and spend any extra leftover money on a good monitor.

Only other thing I would note is that you should be sure that the computer comes with an SSD disk drive.
  
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Michael Ayton
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Re: Best chess-friendly PC for the non-obsessive!
Reply #5 - 02/25/21 at 17:26:49
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Many thanks, AOC, Pantu! It's good to know the basic advice is that any sensible choice will give me good engine performance, from SF anyway. I'm not minded to spend hundreds of extra quids on a GPU, but there do seem to be some inexpensive (Dell?) deals out there that come with Nvidia. Q: should we go so far as to say that without GPU it's not even worth running Lc0, or is that an exaggeration?

I uploaded SF13 into Nibbler (or was it BanksiaGui? -- I forget) over lunch and was surprised to see it invited me to install a net (with just one mouseclick), so I guess it does come with one!

I guess another option I have is refurbs -- I see there are currently some 'renewed' Dell PCs on Amazon for prices like GBP 230!

  
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Pantu
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Re: Best chess-friendly PC for the non-obsessive!
Reply #4 - 02/25/21 at 16:41:02
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I thought I wrote that stockfish doesn't need the GPU, but perhaps it wasn't clear.

My understanding is that stockfish works as a traditional engine but uses a small neural network (that is OK on CPU only) to boost the strength.

lc0 is a pure network engine which uses much larger networks for more strength, and you need the GPU to work these large networks.

So these still work differently, and in theory can still suggest different moves and plans as best.

If Micheal (or others!) truly want lc0 or similar engines, the GPU is needed, but if running stockfish is enough then it is not worthwhile and basically any off-the-shelf PC is good enough.  Only he can decide if the extra cost is
worth it. Of course if he wants to play high end video games or mine bitcoin then the extra GPU power could be useful.

This reminds me that back in 2005-2010 or somewhere they had a computer vs man (Topalov, Ponomariov?) tournament using some randomly bought normal laptops with a standard engine...which won easily. A basic desktop + stockfish from today will beat everyone easily.
  
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an ordinary chessplayer
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Re: Best chess-friendly PC for the non-obsessive!
Reply #3 - 02/25/21 at 16:16:22
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Pantu, are you sure you still need the GPU today? I thought the point of the latest developments in Stockfish was equivalent performance but using the CPU and not the GPU. Or perhaps it is merely comparable performance, I didn't investigate closely.

But it all changes fast. It's hard to imagine Michael Ayton's next PC will be suitable for the strongest engine of 11 years in the future.
  
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