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Mid Range Gaming, multi-tasking Rig. Advice, discussion on future proofing, value of ram and processor vs GPU

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July 5, 2013 9:04:01 AM

Hello all, I'd like you to convince me I should or should not spend more monies on a GPU. I don't have any set budget for my new rig, but would like to spend as little money as possible, over the longest period of time, to keep myself with a usable machine. IE, the best philosophy to allocate money over the next 15 years to keep myself capable of playing the newest games, not necessarily on the best settings. My current machine is woefully incapable of playing SC2 arcade games, which is what is prompting me to upgrade. But I also may be interested in buying a new shooter, like bf3. In general I will just be using the machine to game, internet browse and listen to music, preferably with the capability to do all at once. Here is the build I am looking at now:

CPU: Intel Core i5-4670K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($199.99 @ Microcenter)
Motherboard: MSI Z87-G41 PC Mate ATX LGA1150 Motherboard ($69.99 @ Microcenter) (MOBO combo deal)
Memory: Crucial Ballistix Sport 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($62.13 @ TigerDirect)
Storage: Sandisk 128GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($89.99 @ Microcenter)
Video Card: Galaxy GeForce GTX 660 2GB Video Card ($174.99 @ Newegg)
Wireless Network Adapter: Rosewill RNX-N250PCe 802.11b/g/n PCI-Express x1 Wi-Fi Adapter ($17.99 @ Newegg)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 8 (OEM) (64-bit) ($88.98 @ Outlet PC)
Monitor: AOC e2351F 60Hz 23.0" Monitor ($117.47 @ TigerDirect)

(500w PSU and optical drive being harvested from my media pc)

Looking at some Tom's reviews and forums stuff, for this price build many would spend another $100 on GPU and possibly reduce the CPU or RAM. This intuitively seems gratuitous to me, spending more money on a GPU than a CPU. I get that I can eak out more FPS with a better GPU than CPU, but three years down the line will I be better served have an i5+ ok video card or with an i3+great video card. I don't really need to play anything on 1080P, frankly I'm not sure how you could see that detail on a 23" screen. I don't go above 720 on a TV unless it is over 40". Not trying to insult videophiles out there, I just want to know if everyday Joes should really invest in a good GPU. When I worked consumer electronics about a decade ago I would tell people to buy a $100 video card, then wait a couple years and buy a new $100 video card because the $100 video now (2003-04) could play everything on the market, and the $100 video card in 2 years was going to be light-years ahead of a 2 year old $300 video card. Tech changes though and I haven't paid much attention over the years. Would my statement be true today?

Thanks for your consideration
July 5, 2013 9:08:27 AM

You should DEFINITELY spend more for your GPU. Im expecting around a 670 for your build
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July 5, 2013 9:14:28 AM

if you're making a long-term investment, you should spend as much as necessary on your GPU upto the point where you hit diminishing returns. which in the current market is around $300 - 400 for a 7950, or gtx 670/770. you can use it for maybe 3-6 years depending on how the market goes, and upgrade from there.

"and the $100 video card in 2 years was going to be light-years ahead of a 2 year old $300 video card." this is no longer true. I invested $500 in a 7970 about a year and a half ago. it is still one of the top GPUs, and only the gtx 770, 780, and Nvidia Titan are faster, and of the three, only the GTX 770 cost less at a "cheap" $400 for marginally better performance. Tech is slowing down because manufacturing processes are hitting diminishing returns from simply shrinking the die size. I think now's a good time to invest in top-end tech. if you look at the CPU side, the i5 2500k I got 1 years ago is maybe 10% slower than the Intel offering today (which cost more than I spent on my i5). and if you take overclocking into consideration, performance hasn't changed at all in 2 years
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July 5, 2013 9:39:29 AM

Like others said, I would get at least a GTX 760 ($250) or a GTX 670 ($300) for some good longevity. If you're not getting this till later on in the year, I would wait to see what the next generation of Radeon cards have in store.

Your CPU and RAM are good where they are. There certainly are better deals on RAM now and then though (cheaper and faster).
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July 5, 2013 10:06:25 AM

xomm said:
Like others said, I would get at least a GTX 760 ($250) or a GTX 670 ($300) for some good longevity. If you're not getting this till later on in the year, I would wait to see what the next generation of Radeon cards have in store.

Your CPU and RAM are good where they are. There certainly are better deals on RAM now and then though (cheaper and faster).


GTX 760, that's interesting, and may be an agreeable price point. Haven't seen this pop up in any of Tom's comparisons. Doesn't even show up on Microcenter's website. Looking it up now, that may be perfect.

Any brand considerations when it comes to buying the card?
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July 5, 2013 10:22:58 AM

Nick Biggerstaff said:


GTX 760, that's interesting, and may be an agreeable price point. Haven't seen this pop up in any of Tom's comparisons. Doesn't even show up on Microcenter's website. Looking it up now, that may be perfect.

Any brand considerations when it comes to buying the card?


Tom's Hardware's review of the GTX 760:
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/geforce-gtx-760-rev...

It's a fairly new card, and Micro Center seems to be slow on stocking new GPUs in recent years. They're on Newegg, though: http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=E...

Brand doesn't matter as much nowadays unless you're especially picky. Nonetheless, I tend to stick with MSI, ASUS, EVGA, and Gigabyte, simply because they're bigger than the others. The cooler tends to matter more than anything. Just read reviews, and don't get reference coolers.
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