Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in
Your question

Which component of my pc should I upgrade?

Last response: in Video Games
Share
October 14, 2008 1:07:24 AM

Hello, I am new to tomshardware and to pc gaming. I recently purchased a Dell XPS 420 Desktop PC because I was told that it would be able to handle games like "Crysis" very well. Even so, I upgraded my video card from the 256MB ATI card that came with the pc to a 512MB nVidia GeForce 8800 GT video card. Here are my system specs:

Operating System: Windows Vista Ultimate 32-bit
CPU: Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 - 2.4 Ghz processor
Video card: BFG nVidia GeForce 8800 GT
Memory: 3GB @ 667Mhz
Monitor: Gateway 22" 1920x1200 HD monitor

I would really like to play my games like "Crysis", "F.E.A.R.", "Bioshock", etc. in max resolution with textures at the highest settings. The problem is that when I try to play "Crysis" my frames per second slow down to about 10-15 fps making the action look very choppy. I was wondering is I should increase my memory to 4GB @ 800Mhz or purchase one of the Intel Extreme processors? Or maybe try overclocking my video card? Or maybe all three?

What do you guys think?

Thanks.

More about : component upgrade

October 14, 2008 3:25:21 AM

Does the XPS support overclocking?
If so, my recommendations are:
New cpu cooler. Then overclock.

You may find your memory is faster if you pair it with an equal number of DIMMS. I'm guessing 3MB is not paired and hence not running in dual channel mode.

It might help if you ran your mem faster than 667MHz, although only benchmarking will let you know if you've gained any speed.

The 8800GT is a great card, but your biggest gains would come by upgrading to a 4870X2.

It's worth noting that it will probably be a year or so before PC's that can run Crysis at max settings are 'affordable'. There isn't really a PC out there that will run Crysis at max settings at a decent resolution.
October 14, 2008 4:09:17 AM

Thanks for the advice!
Unfortunately, only the Dell XPS 630 and 730 models allow any overclocking of the cpu (I didn't know this when I purchased the XPS 420 or else I would have paid a little extra and purchased a 630 model... like I said I am new to pc's so I'll just call it my rookie mistake). If I need a faster cpu, then I will just have to buy another one and replace the one that I have now. However I can overclock the 8800 GT graphics card or purchase a new one.

I just ordered 4GB of Corsair Dominator memory @ 800Mhz (which is the fastest [restriction mobo] and highest amount of memory [restriction 32-bit Vista]I can put on my pc). I will see if it helps any with any of my games. I also downloaded CCleaner tin order to remove a lot of the useless files clogging up my pc and also started defragging my hard drives.

If all of this is still not enough, I will look into purchasing a more powerful video card (the 8800 GT was the most powerful video card that I could order with the XPS 420). jay_l_a mentioned the 4870X2... is that a nVidia card or and ATI card? I have been warned by friends of mine (who are a lot more computer-savvy than me) to stay away from ATI cards because they are a lower quality and their drivers aren't as good as the nVidia drivers... I don't know, I'm saying what I've heard.

Anyway, thanks again for your help!
Related resources
a c 358 U Graphics card
October 14, 2008 5:32:41 AM

The RAM will not improve performance much. Since you are using a 32-bit OS you will not see all 4GB of RAM. It only about 3.2GB - 3.3GB will be reported. You will need to use a 64-bit OS to be able to access all 4GB of RAM (up to 8GB I think).

Crysis has pretty high requirements if you want to max out graphics. The below review of high end GPUs shows that @ 1920 x 1200 resolution the max FPS is less than 30 (Note: GTX 260 and 280 SLI'ed are not included):





As can be seen, the best single card solution is either the Radeon HD 4870 X2 or nVidia GeForce 9800 GX2.


Review Article:

http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/video/display/radeon-hd4870-crossfire_10.html#sect0



There is nothing "low quality" about ATI cards, however it is well known that their drivers' performance are a bit lacking. They do release updated drivers but not a frequently as nVidia.
October 14, 2008 9:21:42 AM

608797,3,359441 said:
I have been warned by friends of mine (who are a lot more computer-savvy than me) to stay away from ATI cards because they are a lower quality and their drivers aren't as good as the nVidia drivers... I don't know, I'm saying what I've heard.
said:


Your friends appear to be nVidia fans!
There is nothing wrong with ATI cards, they are very competitively priced and have stunning performance, a 4870 would definitely offer greater performance than your 8800GT, and an 4870X2 moreso. Before upgrading your graphics card, check your PSU will cope with the extra strain!
October 14, 2008 9:23:19 AM

OK, Tom's forums won't let me edit or quick edit my message. *sigh* Apologies for the bbcode mistake!
October 14, 2008 11:48:34 AM

The 4870X2 would be the best single card solution IMO, but if the motherboard doesn't support PCI-E 2.0 then the performance of the card will likely be bottlenecked. If that's the case a single 4870 might be the better value. The PSU also needs to be capable of supporting these cards, which means 2 graphics card power connectors and enough wattage/amps to handle them.

Looking at Dell's page the XPS 420 comes with either 375W (too low) or 425W (very borderline, too low really), I don't think either will have the two 6 pin connectors that the 4870's need but you'll have to look at that.

This is usually the problem with prebuilt PC's, everything will be the minimum required to run what you've chosen with little room for upgrading a single part without having to upgrade others as well.

And yeah, running Crysis at max settings is going to take a beast of a machine. I wouldn't base performance on Crysis, it's an extreme example.
October 14, 2008 5:48:37 PM

there is something fishy about that graph, I find it hard to believe that a 9800 gx2 would outperform a 4870x2 so consistently myself....
October 15, 2008 11:09:27 PM

It's Crysis. Nvidia cards all do comparatively better against their "equal" ATI counterparts.
October 17, 2008 4:41:55 PM

jaguarskx said:
The RAM will not improve performance much. Since you are using a 32-bit OS you will not see all 4GB of RAM. It only about 3.2GB - 3.3GB will be reported. You will need to use a 64-bit OS to be able to access all 4GB of RAM (up to 8GB I think).


I am running Windows XP SP2 with 4GB of OCZ Platinum Plus Rev 2 memory at 4-2-2-2. I checked device manager and it is showing 3.5GB out of the 4GB that is reported at POST. I've read various online reports of 3GB to 3.2GB. I don't know why others with 4GB aren't seeing 3.5GB, unless they have video chipsets or video cards that share the system RAM. :-) I'm happy with 3.5GB for now until I go x64 in 2009/2010.

-- MaSoP
!