2022 Wine and PCI passthrough - PC Building help

Skip down to the third paragraph if you wana skip the background story:
Way back in 2012 - 2013 I tried to make a PCI passthrough PC, so I could run Linux and put Windows in a VM and game there if needed. Unfortunately my Nvidia GPU and MOBO combo did not like each other. I desperately went to IRC to see if anyone could help me get it to work. I found someone who went by ‘W’ and they sshed into my system. They tried their damnedest to get the IOMMU groups to work right. I suspect this person may have even been Wendel as this was pre his PCI passthrough videos, and possibly before level1techs.

After 9 years I am ready to try again in making a linux gaming pc that can run windows in a vm for the games that don’t work well in linux. Unfortunately I am greatly out of the loop in terms of passthrough since 2013. I know VFIO is now a thing, and there is also looking glass. I am not really sure what I need to build a new pc, so I am looking for help.

I am planning to run Arch or Debian distro on my new linux pc to game on. For any games that do not work well, I want to run them in a windows VM using passthrough. I play a lot of PC games, and I don’t care if I loose some frames with the VM. Being able to run all my games from my steam library is most important.

I am looking for help picking out CPU, Mobo, GPU combo to allow me to do the above paragraph.

What I am looking for:
CPU – 16cores minimum (Ryzen?, threadripper? igpu?)
MOBO – whatever works great for what I am doing, and reasonably priced
GPU – 3070 TI / 3070 I currently have 2 window PCs with these cards, if either of these cards are problematic for the build I will happily upgrade them to an equivalent AMD, or more powerful Nvidia card.
Storage – Is NVME worth it? Better to stick to SSD? PC I am upgrading has 5TB that I will move the new PC, so I don’t really need more unless NVME is a worthwhile consideration
RAM – is getting 32gb+ worth it? I plan to run this PC for at least 5+ years before upgrading again

Budget 1 - 5k, I’d prefer to keep the build in the 2k range if possible. I don’t need to include the GPU price in the budget if my 3070s work.

–I am not looking for you to price out my PC. The budget is only there to guide what I am looking for.

Your best bet today is an X570 system with a 5950X. Here is a basic PC Part Picker, $2500 for a 16 core system with equivalent GPU (on the Linux side):

Ryzen 5950X, 64 GB RAM, 6750 XT

As for your questions:

CPU - 5950X should be plenty for all forms of passthrough gaming.
GPU - Radeons are best for host GPUs, and the 6750 XT is the best 4k bang-for-buck right now
Storage - Yes, you want an NVMe boot drive. It does make a difference, although not as big of a leap as HDD → SSD.
RAM - 64 GB is CHEAP for your use case, less than $200.

Of course, you might wish to wait until Q1 2023 (~7-8 months away). By that time, AM5 will be out, Intel Gen 13 will be out, and the sharpest corners on both platforms are identified and mitigated / resolved. OTOH, that is a long way to not scratch that gaming itch, so your call. :slight_smile:

Here’s what I learned running games in a Windows VM with looking-glass:

  1. Reserve at least 4 cores for the Windows VM. Anything less and you get all kinds of stutters etc. With less, everything works but as soon as you start gaming, you start noticing the problems, like micro-freezes, network connection loss, etc.

  2. Get a cheap network card and pass that through as well. NOT WIFI. Can’t passthrough wifi card apparently, needs to be wired. Virtualized network is finnicy. Works well enough in your VM but games require a better connection.

  3. Windows loves its ram. Running with an 8 GB VM now and wishing I could give it more every second.

  4. If you have the money, get a decent graphics card (something better than what’s on the CPU) for the host. I’m using the integral vega GPU in my 5600G. It works. I do wish it was better though.

  5. Looking Glass = should receive the software of the decade award imo.

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I have been waiting 9 years to try again, and every year I say just one more year for the tech to mature. My computer is old, but works so in terms of need it is low. I just happened to have some cash to upgrade, and with prices falling I was wondering if now was finally time to try.

Do you think AM5 will be worth it? Usually there is an early adopter tax for getting the latest instead of staying with the current gen. Or are you saying to wait, get the ryzen 9 after AM5 comes out as the prices will drop? That said, this year should be great year for gamers 7000s and 4000s coming out on top of an over supply of current gen. We are going to get some great deals!

Yes, it is an eternal question, isn’t it? It depends on your upgrade options in my opinion.

  • If you are not going to bother upgrading the core platform (CPU+RAM+Mobo) for five years or more, might as well get the system I outlined above. It will serve you extremely well for the next five years. You could even skimp like $400 on a slightly cheaper motherboard ($200 X570S), half the RAM and a 1 TB NVMe.
  • If you plan on walking with the upgrade flock, the LGA 1700 platform (Intel Gen 12 & 13) will serve you poorly. As it stands, it will most probably become EOL after Gen 13, meaning if you bought a 13900k, that’s it. AM5 however, will most probably stick around for at least five years. This means you can theoretically keep all your hardware except for CPU and GPU, and upgrade those two when Zen 6 or Zen 7 rolls around (AM5 starts on Zen 4). That is one heck of an upgrade path, for very little extra money (~$250 for a great motherboard instead of $150) down front.
  • If you plan on upgrading every other year to the latest CPU gen, and don’t care much about the cost of a new motherboard every other year, then either Intel or AMD is a good bet. This is more in case you do not trust AMD to keep AM5 alive for the next five years or so, or that AMD will be leapfrogged by Intel and be back to the hot garbage CPU company in five years.

Yes, due to the upgrade path. At the same time, Intel will most probably bring more interesting features on their platforms, in an attempt to seriously compete. So it is not as cut and dry as you might think. For passthrough though, only good part about Zen 4 is that all Zen 4 will come with iGPUs, meaning you could potentially partition your 16 core into a 2c/8c/6c dual Win/Linux with a hardened host and concurrently dual boot one Windows and Linux system.

That, too is an option, but usually not worth it; you will be paying more money over time for that CPU and you will need to upgrade sooner.

Let’s say you go for a $300 CPU brand new today, vs a $250 CPU 12 months later. The CPU has a life cycle of 5 years for you, that means you pay $60 per year now, or $62.5 per year later. This is of course assuming a CPU released in 2020 is good until 2025 - if you buy it for $300 in 2020 or $250 in 2021 you are losing money in the later case. You would need that CPU to lose 20% or more value over a year to win on that discount.

I agree 7000 will bring deals though!

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