Minimum Specs/recommend specs
HM2 Performance Tips
HM1 Performance Tips
HM3 should see improved performance over HM2 out of the box.
1) HM3 is not built on Postgresql, which did cause some issues and had recommended tuning.
2) The structure of the database and HM3 should perform better than HM2.
We get asked a lot about what hardware we recommend. We don't give recommendations, because hardware is very fluid. Instead of recommending a model, or even a brand, I will share the thought process I used last month in upgrading my desktop. I wanted a system that had room for upgrades, but mostly would be built to last for 8+ years without absolutely needing an upgrade.
2 Principles to keep in mind:
1) Computers don't become obsolete fast. Sure, new technology will come out. So the "Top of the line" won't be the top forever. But that old top of the line will still be very solid and perform well.
2) Drives, RAM and video cards are easily changed out. It's good to keep that in mind, as you may add or change them over the life of your motherboard and CPU.
So the first step is to decide what you will be using the computer to do. If you want to do gaming as well, then you will need to have a better graphics card than if you just want to play poker and stream movies.
Next, decide how much you want to spend. You don't necessarily want to lowball your computer, since you will be using it to make money. You want it to last. But there are a lot of areas that you can save money.
Now that you have decided on these two starting points, you have to decide which platform you want to build - Intel or AMD.
Intel historically has outperformed AMD. Over the years though, the gap has narrowed a lot, and in many cases, you can get 80% of Intel's performance for 50% of the cost with AMD. Another benefit with AMD is that currently, they have committed to having their CPU's be backward and forward compatible with motherboards through 2022. This means you will not have to research as much to make sure that the CPU and motherboard are the same generation and chipset. All of AMD's new Ryzen CPUs will work with any of the current/future AMD motherboards. AMD 7 CPUs will require a BIOS update on 400 level boards, unless the box has a sticker saying it is compatible with the Ryzen 7. For an Intel, you want to make sure it is overclockable (and that the motherboard is as well) if you wish to overclock. Here is a good discussion on AMD vs Intel. You want at least 4 cores, but preferably more. You need to balance frequency and threads for performance. We recommend i7+, since i5 had a lot of issues with Note Caddy.
*** now that the B550 motherboards are about to come out, AMD has announced what chipsets will support what past CPUs. Here is a video. See the picture summary at the bottom of this post.
**** Update as of May 21, 2020, AMD has re-backtracked and now the 450 motherboards will be compatible with the 4th Gen CPUs. Do your research, as this has been a crazy situation, and one that the hardware industry is very upset about.
A lot of CPUs come with a cooling fan. They are not always great, and will usually not work well if you are overclocking much. If you wish to upgrade the stock one, you will need to decide if you want to go with an AIO (all in one water cooling radiator) or an air cooler. Air coolers usually outperform water coolers, and are a lot easier upkeep. Make sure that it fits your socket type, will fit in your case, and will clear the RAM height. If you go aftermarket, you will probably want your own thermal paste. Arctic Fox is good. So is Thermal Grizzly. It will last you forever, so buy the smallest you can. Just put pea sized amount in the middle of the CPU and put the fan on.
Most sites will let you filter for the motherboards that fit your CPU. Now, decide what features you want to have.
Every motherboard should have at least 1 PCI-E 16x slot for a graphics card. Every board should support 64GB+ of RAM. You might not need that, but over the life of your computer, you may find that programs demand more and more (as I found with Chrome and Firefox). You may get into hobbies that need more RAM. You don't want to be cuffed by the RAM. You will need to make sure there are enough SATA inputs. Newer motherboards, like the AMD x570 models will allow for future upgrade room with NVME drives. You want a board with very solid VRM (voltage regulator module) This will help keep your settings in line and not let you brick your board overclocking. If you want onboard LAN or WIFI, you can get a board with these features. Most will have sound output, which for most, that will suffice with cheap speakers, unless you want to turn it into an entertainment center. Every company will have a different BIOS setup. Some are more user friendly, and some have more opportunities to manually tune settings. Find one that fits your budget and has the features you want. Watch and read reviews about the boards in your price range to see what others are saying.
Our minimum recommended is 8GB RAM. If you have less than that, you will need to close other programs while playing, and maybe limited to how many tables will smoothly run. Make sure that you open Task Manager - Startup and close anything that you do not need running at startup. 16GB will be needed to make sure everything runs smoothly. If you have a lot of browser windows open, you will want 32. RAM needs to match. Most motherboards have a dual channel RAM. So you will have 4 slots - A1 B1 A2 B2. They should be color coded (A = black, B = gray for example). You should buy two sticks and they should fit in A1 and A2. A1 will be the furthest from the CPU. They have to be the same speed and it is best if they are the same model. Your motherboard will have a list of compatible RAM. For best performance, make sure that that exact model is compatible. You want to find the best latency rates for your board, cpu and budget.
If you do not game, you don't need a high end card. Make sure that it has the outputs to match your monitors. Almost everything that is multi-monitor will be 4k ready. You want to have display port and HDMI capabilities and if you have it, thunderbolt/usb-c. Make sure you have the room for the number of slots it will take up. Here again, you will have an AMD/Intel choice. Research the ones in your price range. You also want to choose between water cooling and air cooling, and for air, a blower and an open shroud. This will determine how cool your system is.
Mechanical Disks. Modern disks will be a 5400 or a 7200RPM. This is how fast the disk spins. 5400 is usually found in budget builds, particularly laptops. You will not want a 5400. They can struggle to run simple programs. Check the speed and reliability of different disks if this is what you want. If you game or have a lot of video stored, you will need a large capacity, otherwise, you will not need that much. You can choose between 2.5" and 3.5". 2.5 is the laptop size, but they fit in desktops.
Solid State Disk. SSD's have come down in price so much since HM2's release. This is, at minimum, where you should install Windows and have your database, preferably all programs. You will want to keep media and documents (your archived hand history files) on a mechanical disk. Also, you can put programs that you do not use a lot on the mechanical drive. Intel and Samsung make very solid SSD's. Intel tends to perform better. If your motherboard supports it, you can also get an M.2 SSD. This will fit right into your motherboard, and not require separate power and SATA cables and will be faster.
Non-Volatile Memory Express NVMe is another M.2 type of drive, so it will require an M.2 slot that is NVMe compatible. These are faster than SSD's, and as with the M.2 SSD, do not require other cables. You can get a 1TB Intel 660 for under $130, which is about half the price good SSD's were going for when we released HM2! There's a debate whether you need to put a heatsink over it. The controller wants to run cool, but the NANDs do not. They also usually come with a lable on the top that works as a heatsink. Watch your temperatures, and if you are going over 50c much, then put a heatsink on it. Check the size M.2 that your motherboard will support. There are 3 lengths.
Size Windows will need about 30GB of space. Windows likes 10% free space at all times. We recommend 20% for Note Caddy. You do not want to fill up your drive, as this can corrupt your database and will cause performance problems. So keep it emptier. HM3 uses about 6GB per 1 million hands. So use these factors to determine how large of a drive you need. We recommend backing up on another drive - internal or external - once per month. It's good to have a backup outside of your system, in case of power crashes.
Power Supply You want an 80-rated power supply. Most companies that make power supplies or CPU fans will have a power supply calculator. Newegg has one, and here is an independent one. 80-rated means that it is tested and guaranteed to output 80% of the watts. So a 600-watt 80-rated is guaranteed to produce 480 watts. 550 should be enough. They come modular, semi-modular, and non-modular. The more modular, the more cables you can remove, which frees up space in your case. You can also get different color cables. You can get extension sleeves if you want to further customize the case theme. Make sure you have a 24-pin power, 8-pin CPU and a 6+2 pin for the video card. Most of your fans will plug into your motherboard. Make sure if they are Molex, that the power supply has Molex connectors.
Case Find one that fits your motherboard form factor. Don't get too small of a case. You do not need a DVD drive any more, so you do not need a bay for it any more. Ideally, you want a closed off "basement" for your power supply. You want room behind to hide cables. Most have a slot on the back to fit 2 SSD drives. There should be space for a couple drives as well. You should have at least 4 fan slots. You want air flow. There should be space in the front for air to enter. You should have 2 fans in the front pulling air in, 1 in the back pushing air out, and one on top pushing air out. If you have an AIO radiator, there should be some fans that will pull in or out as well. 4 is probably the most you will need. If you have an open air shroud graphics card, 2 fans pulling in, and a CPU fan that pulls air back or up, those 4 case fans will keep your motherboard, CPU, GPU and NVMe drives a lot cooler.
Windows You can install Windows from a thumb drive. It should be 16GB at least. You can download it from microsoft, creating a boot drive, then plug it into a USB drive to install. Most of the time, your 7 or 8 key will work, and 10 key should as well. But they have limited how many times you can reinstall it, depending on the source of the disk. So check into their rules on your key for upgrading.
You want to match the inputs on the monitor to the outputs on the graphics card. Many newer monitors might have a display port only. Make sure if it does, that you have a display port on your graphics card. If you buy 2 lmonitors, make sure your graphics card has the outputs to match.
It is best to buy matching monitors, particularly in the resolution and refresh rates.
Many Windows programs do not have native 4k support, and will not have 4k fonts, so it will be blurry. You might need to drop the resolution. Here is a Windows Support document on it.
The size of the monitor will depend a lot on the space you have available. Make sure your graphics card can match the max resolution.
Hard Disk Sentinel This is a free resource to monitor your hard drive health, usage, and temperature.
Revo Uninstaller This is a free software to more completely remove pieces of software from your system.
Tree Size Free This is a free software to see what is using space on your hard drive.
HWInfo This is a free software to monitor your entire system temperature
CPUID This is a variety of prorams to benchmark and monitor your system
Social Media Resources
Tom's Hardware - This is a great source for reviews and provides a heirarchy of hardware to see what models are comparable in performance
Gamer's Nexus - These guys get a lot more technical than the rest of this list. They review a lot of hardware and are a really good source of information for buying and overclocking
Bitwit - These next youtube creators review a lot of hardware and all have guides on how to build a computer. They also have a fun series where they build computers as cheaply as they can, using as little resources as possible.
Linus Tech Tips
PC Parts Picker This is very comprehensive. Be careful of the sources though, as they pull from any site, and some are very small and not very well known.
Micro Center This is a great store, great prices, very knowledgeable salespeople, and carries most products. They have the best DIY selection I've ever seen. Their builder is limited to their stock, and they do not have many stores and do not ship.
Newegg is another great source to purchase.
With laptops, it's the same process. You will want to look into the speeds of RAM and hard drives as much as you can. The cheaper the computer, the more they're skimping in areas.
Make sure that you clean out your case at least 2-3x a year. This is better than a compressed air can and is safe.
AMD CPU/Motherboard pairing: