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How can I improve my PC to get better game performance?

Last response: in Video Games
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September 20, 2011 5:35:59 PM

Hello, I'm just starting to think about getting into gaming and I was wondering what I can do to get my PC running games better. I've been playing with the Just Cause 2 demo and to get a decent framerate I need to turn off most of the settings and turn the others down to low or medium. Here are my system specs

Windows 7 64bit
Intel Core 2 duo e8400 3Ghz
4GB DDR2 800 ram
XFX 9600gso 768MB video card
Motherboard is a Gigabyte ga-ep45-ud3p
Power supply is 380 watts.

I know the video card isn't very good and I've been thinking of doubling my ram anyway, which I can do for about $55. Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. If I could get a good video card for around $150 that would be great. I was looking at this one called Gigabyte (GV-N550OC-1GI) nVIDIA GeForce GTX 550 Ti Chipset (970MHz) 1GB (4200MHz) GDDR5 Dual DVI/Mini-HDMI PCI-Express 2.1 which I can get for around $110 after rebate. I live in Canada btw. Thanks. If I left out any important system specs let me know.

Edit,I have learned my power supply wouldn't handle the GTX 550, guess I'd be looking for suggestions on a good video card that uses less power but still lets me play with high settings.
September 20, 2011 8:08:18 PM

You should be able to get some more life out of your CPU.
But first upgrade your PSU
Then upgrade your GPU
Then Upgrade your MEM (add 2+ more gigs)

*Your PSU will need to be upgraded for newer video cards
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September 20, 2011 8:22:44 PM

I'm looking at doubling my RAM to 8GB, and I guess if I want that GTX 550 I should upgrade my PSU to about 650 watts or do I need more? I see an okay deal for an Antec Earthwatts 650. Looks like the Gigabyte GTX 550 takes 287 watts under stress. So if I'm doing fine now with 380 and then remove current GPU (not sure of its wattage) and add the 287 that should come to under 650 I think. Not sure how much power the extra 4GB ram would suck up. I'm familiar with most PC components but not really with video cards or power consumption.

Thanks for the response.
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September 20, 2011 9:00:10 PM

if you get a decent heatsink that cpu should be good for 3.8ghz to 4.2ghz overclocking

a good make 650w psu should be fine for a gtx 550

the ram draws a low amount of power-- and though 4gb is probably enough --ram is so cheap now an extra few gb wont hurt
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September 20, 2011 9:04:47 PM

I can get the extra ram of the same model I currently have for $55. I find that my PC idles with at least 2GB ram in use so that's why I felt like I needed more. Maybe I just need to optimize my processes and services, etc. I'll try that and see what happens. I tried overclocking to around 3.16GHz once and it seemed fine but I felt safer sticking to 3. So the GTX 550 is a good card for modern games?
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September 20, 2011 9:11:13 PM

the gtx is a reasonable card for the price-- its down to what resolution and settings you want to play at and as always your budget

when i had the e8400 with a good heatsink i ran it at 4.2ghz but 3.6 or 3.8ghz should be pretty easy to do and will make a fair difference
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September 20, 2011 10:06:52 PM

Yes, your CPU is your bottleneck. You are better off building a new PC using some of the pieces you already have from your old one if you have the money.
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September 20, 2011 10:10:38 PM

I kind of hesitate to do that right now, originally I was just looking to get a slightly better video card for under $150, now I've also gotten into upgrading the RAM and PSU as well. Other than my weak video card I've been really satisfied with my PC.
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September 20, 2011 10:21:22 PM

I'm not very familiar with GPU's that would work with yoru CPU. If you could save up some cash you can get a new Mobo+CPU combo from Newegg and then worry about upgrading the GPU.

If you can't wait, look up what GPU's can be used with your CPU and Mobo, list them, and I'll tell you what I think.
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September 20, 2011 10:51:47 PM

personally i would hold of the extra ram and use the money you save from that to get a gtx560 ti rather than a gtx550--4gb of ram should hack it

upgrade the psu and see how it runs the games you want to play--thats quite a low resolution so thats in your favour

your heatsink is half decent so if need be you can overclock the cpu if your frame rates are too low
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September 20, 2011 11:41:16 PM

Interesting. I'll try to optimize windows and see how much RAM I can free up. The game is only getting like 2GB cause Windows is taking up the other 2 just doing nothing.
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September 21, 2011 12:05:50 AM

You won't need a new PSU if you get an HD 6850 and you can overclock your E8400 a little (say 3.2ghz) easily. Leave the memory as it is, you don't need 8gb for any existing game. I do recommend getting a bigger monitor: 1440x900 or 1600x900. This will give you a great gaming experience, in fact you'll be able to play most games on the highest settings and enjoy a nice widescreen image at the same time.
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September 21, 2011 12:11:17 AM

I've been researching this GTX 560 ti, there is a 900mhz version and then super overclocked 950mhz version. The Canadian sites I'm looking at don't seem to have the super overclocked in stock. 900mhz version is about $40 cheaper after rebate in comparison to the 950mhz.

I'm not planning to get a new monitor right now, I just want to keep as much of my current system as I can but play games on close to the highest settings.
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September 21, 2011 1:41:54 AM

You can get the stock GTX 560 ti and use a utility to Overclock it yourself rather easily.
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September 21, 2011 1:46:13 AM

Right now I'm looking at the regular Gigabyte ti 900mhz (non-superoverclocked) because I can't seem to find the 950mhz version anywhere, NCIX.ca has it for $230 for today only, plus batman game plus $30 rebate. $7 shipping. I might just go for this and then find a 650w psu locally. Should I be looking at a brand other than Gitabyte? My friend says he has the 560 ti by MSI. I've been pleased with my Gigabyte motherboard.

Actually NCIX has the 950mhz one as well but it's $278.
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September 21, 2011 1:51:46 AM

Gigabyte is a reputable brand, and so is MSI. It's really all your choice.
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September 21, 2011 3:17:04 AM

Sorry if I'm being annoying, I really appreciate all the advice. I'm now looking at this video card: EVGA GeForce GTX 560 Ti Superclocked Fermi 900MHZ 1024MB GDDR5. Any thoughts vs the Gigabyte one? It seems it'll cost me $30 more after rebates but the EVGA brands had better ratings on newegg than Gigabyte did. Thinking about ordering from NCIX because they have cheaper shipping than newegg by about $5.

http://www.ncix.com/products/?sku=58348&vpn=01G-P3-1563...
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September 21, 2011 3:27:20 AM

EVGA is a better brand than Gigabyte and you can't beat its overclocking. It would be a nice card indeed. Just make sure your Mobo is compatible and you'll need at least a 550w PSU.
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September 21, 2011 3:31:00 AM

I know my mobo can handle 16x 2.0 pci express, is there anything else I need to check? I was sort of planning to get a 650w Antec earthwatts psu for it, can get that locally for $60.
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September 21, 2011 3:48:41 AM

If you aren't planning on upgrading your CPU and the card fits on the mobo you have then you are good to go! And a 650w Antec earthwatts psu is perfect. Have fun with your new rig!

Hope I helped!
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September 21, 2011 3:50:11 AM

Then I'll probably go with this. You all helped, thanks a lot!

Okay I bought that EVGA 560 ti overclocked 900mhz at NCIX for $250 (Canadian) with free Batman game and $20 rebate. Will try to find the 650w antec tomorrow and think about whether I need to get the extra 4GB of ram. Thanks again everyone, you really helped me.
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September 22, 2011 10:20:40 PM

I've been rethinking this video card while I've been waiting for it to ship, can anyone give me feedback on whether the 560 ti is overkill for my current CPU, which is a Core 2 Duo e8400 3ghz? I wondered if 550 ti would be better since it's about $100 cheaper. I don't plan to upgrade my CPU any time soon. Thanks.
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September 22, 2011 11:18:39 PM

To be completely honest, your GPU would be bottlenecked UNLESS you Overclock your current CPU. If you overclock your current CPU to 3.6-4 ghz then you will see a bit boost.
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September 22, 2011 11:54:03 PM

Right....so like I said, Overclock your CPU to 3.6-4.0 ghz and you will be fine with the GTX 560 ti.
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September 22, 2011 11:57:37 PM

Thanks guys. Maybe I'll experiment with overclocking my cpu, I know I got it to 3.16 ghz the one time I tried without any trouble.
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!