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New video card to increase this rig's lifetime?

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August 8, 2006 2:08:05 AM

LONG POST WARNING (Essential sections are marked by a :!: )

Story (you can skip that part) : I'm switching university, moving to a new place and my rent doubled so my comp upgrade funds just vanished...


:!:
Question : Would a vid card upgrade help me tolerate this gear for at least a year until I can get a new rig/major upgrade?

:!:
Current Gear :
AMD A64 3700+ (San Diego, socket 939, not OCed using stock cooler)
MSI K8N Diamond Plus
4 gb of DDR 400 RAM (Corsair TWINX2048-3200C2 4x1024 2-3-3-6)
2 SATA1 HDD (300 gb each)
2 XFX 6600GT (128mb version) in SLI
Currently using on-board Audigy SE sound but X-fi is on the way (got a deal for 50 CDN)
VX922 19" LCD Monitor (also have a L90D+)
G-15 keyboard and Microsoft IntelliMouse
Logitech Z-680 speakers
Ultra X-connect 500W PSU tweaked for a 24 pin connector and 8 pin 12-v connector.
Everything is cooled by 3 120mm fans (12V, 1A, 140CFM, around 56dB)


Idle temp (from MSI's software): 24C
Load Temp : 30-35C
Ambient temp (inside case) : 28C
Room temp at the time of the test : around 29C

:!:
I know this is a perfectly tolerable system right now but I'm starting to see a difference with some of the most recent games and I was wondering if a simple upgrade on the vid card would be enough to compensate until I get a bigger budget (right now I could afford like 200-250 CDN)

BTW, I decided to try my friend's XFX 7300 LS and my 3dMark-06 score went from 2457┬áto 634 LOL so I guess that won't be enough :p 

I also have a secondary computer I mostly use as a server and sometimes for CAD softwares :
Intel 3.4 ghz (Prescott first generation, socket 478, no OC, Custom watercooling system)
1 gb of RAM (Corsair TWINX1024-3200C2PRO 2x512 2-3-3-6)
Intel D875PBZ
ATI Radeon 9800XT (AGP 8x, 256 mb)
900 gb of HDD (mixed between SATA and PATA, don't ask...)
Sound Blaster Live! 5.1
Viewsonic P90F (19" CRT monitor)
Antec Truepower 400W PSU (watercooling system is powered by a seperate PSU in a seperate case)
4 of the fans I described above on the radiator and 2 inside the case (undervolted at 8V, around 100 CFM each)

Idle temp : 25C (used to be 90C before the watercooling system :p )
Load temp : 26-30C
Ambient temp : 27C
Room temp at the time of the test : around 25C

:!:
Overclocking is an option but I'm not too sure, losing my gaming comp without any money to replace/fix it sounds a tad too dangerous. A 15% boost on a 3700+ wouldn't affect the overrall perfomances much anyway.


Thanks for taking the time to read all this (if you actually did!),

Kerdal

EDIT: Changed the cpu type from Venice to San Diego (Venice was my original plan but couldn't get one when I bought this computer)
August 8, 2006 2:15:29 AM

Your problem IS your dual 6600's.....find something else and that should be good. Other than that, your system is quite nice.
August 8, 2006 1:15:43 PM

Yeah, get a new video card. The rest of your rig seems pretty good.
Related resources
August 8, 2006 2:16:01 PM

Well thank you for all the replies.

I did a bit of research and it looks like I should go with an EVGA GeForce 7600 GT KO, that seems to be one of the best card in my price range (no sense paying more right now considering I'll get a new rig in about a year or so). What do you think?

Kerdal
August 8, 2006 2:17:11 PM

What's your price range?
August 8, 2006 2:21:36 PM

It was in the original post : 200-250 CDN
August 8, 2006 2:22:43 PM

Yeah, a 7600GT KO will be good, or an X1800GTO if you can find one in that price range.
August 8, 2006 3:27:27 PM

Get a new GPU but not any currently as DX10's are just about to start comming out. Intels DX10 GPU's will release the end of this month to next month. Nvidia's DX10 GPU G80 is set for a September to October release. ATI's R600 base DX10 GPU's are set for 80nm in November and the 65nm in December. I hope this helps and the rest of your system is a monster.

The best game next year should be crysis and it needs DX10 and may need a dual core CPU. Most 1 person shooters are GPU limited so the GPU is the more important and with a limited bugdet the GPU is the only thing I would change.

To see a good increase over you current SLI you may have to go with a high cost 7900. 1 DX10 GPU should give you good performance even over you SLI system as its a second generation upgrade.

The lifespan of your system is important and the DX10 GPU's should give you 2 years but any DX9 GPU will be limited to around 1 year.
August 8, 2006 3:30:02 PM

Dude, he's got a budget. And also, Just because there will be a DX10 card doesn't mean there will be support for it or even that Microsoft will have it realeased anytime soon. Waiting for a DX10 card is not a viable solution to his problem.
August 8, 2006 3:32:14 PM

go for a 7600 GT KO.It will a splendid addition to your current setup.
After the DirectX 10 cards come out you can upgrade your system
August 8, 2006 3:34:58 PM

Quote:
Dude, he's got a budget. And also, Just because there will be a DX10 card doesn't mean there will be support for it or even that Microsoft will have it realeased anytime soon. Waiting for a DX10 card is not a viable solution to his problem.

DX10 GPU's will run the current DX9 API so yes theirs support. What Microsoft does or doesnt do has no effect on the DX10 GPU's outperforming DX9 GPU's in DX9 code. The new DX10 are to outperform in DX9 code all DX9 GPU's. Waiting is a viable solution if he's looking for a longer lifespan as he stated. What Im suggesting is a middle level DX10 GPU and should be as fast as the 7900.
a b U Graphics card
August 8, 2006 3:45:45 PM

Nah, I disagree, he should buy the GF7600GT now, and when a compelling reason comes along (Mid-range DX10?) then sell and buy new.

Mid range DX10 cards won't be until well into next spring IMO, so that's a good long wait.
August 8, 2006 3:49:13 PM

Quote:
Nah, I disagree, he should buy the GF7600GT now, and when a compelling reason comes along (Mid-range DX10?) then sell and buy new.

Mid range DX10 cards won't be until well into next spring IMO, so that's a good long wait.


I disagree that a single 7600GT will give any performance boost over the 2X 6600 SLI. It would take a 7800 atleast to show a boost in performance. The release date I gave aren't IMO but well researched with more than a few web sites for links.
http://news.softpedia.com/news/Nvidia-ATI-Launch-G80-an...
or
http://www.megagames.com/news/html/hardware/r600soon-g8...
a b U Graphics card
August 8, 2006 4:53:43 PM

Quote:


I disagree that a single 7600GT will give any performance boost over the 2X 6600 SLI.


Only if they were 256MB versions would it even be close, in this case the GF6600GT is hampered by it's memory size (no 16x12 + AA). 2x6600GT in SLi < 1 GF6800GT in most cases, and the GF7600GT > GF6800GT in most cases. The GF7 series is far more efficient with tougher code too, especially the likes of HDR.

Quote:
The release date I gave aren't IMO but well researched with more than a few web sites for links.


That's for the flagship models, which will be out long before the mid range.

Mid range are expected in Q1 '07 at the earliest.
August 8, 2006 5:40:16 PM

Quote:


I disagree that a single 7600GT will give any performance boost over the 2X 6600 SLI.


Only if they were 256MB versions would it even be close, in this case the GF6600GT is hampered by it's memory size (no 16x12 + AA). 2x6600GT in SLi < 1 GF6800GT in most cases, and the GF7600GT > GF6800GT in most cases. The GF7 series is far more efficient with tougher code too, especially the likes of HDR.

Quote:
The release date I gave aren't IMO but well researched with more than a few web sites for links.


That's for the flagship models, which will be out long before the mid range.

Mid range are expected in Q1 '07 at the earliest.
True its about a doubling of the performance but have 2 of the last genaration close to equals that performance out. In most cases the amounts are small and wouldn't be worth the extra cost.

In the case of ATI the 80nm is its mid level GPU's and the fast will come late december. The G80, being he's purchased all Nvidia before, is out in 1 or 2 months and is well worth the wait. The G80 is a complete product family lunch between those two months. The ATI's may be the start of '07 if AMD doesn't use their 90nm fabs to rush their lunch.
August 8, 2006 5:56:25 PM

Ok, here's what I'll do :

My current setup is good enough for the moment, I can wait.

I'll keep an eye on the 7600GT KO and the 78XX/79XX. If I see a good deal (limited time price drop, promotions, etc.)m I'll grab one. Otherwise I'll wait and see how the DX10 cards turn out. To be honest, I'm a bit hesitant when it comes to new generations because drivers are rarely "optimal" and some problems are only discovered after the parts are actually released.

Thanks for the info,
Kerdal
August 8, 2006 6:01:21 PM

Quote:
Ok, here's what I'll do :

My current setup is good enough for the moment, I can wait.

I'll keep an eye on the 7600GT KO and the 78XX/79XX. If I see a good deal (limited time price drop, promotions, etc.)m I'll grab one. Otherwise I'll wait and see how the DX10 cards turn out. To be honest, I'm a bit hesitant when it comes to new generations because drivers are rarely "optimal" and some problems are only discovered after the parts are actually released.

Thanks for the info,
Kerdal

Sounds good and I would suggest a 7800GS if you cant wait. Just try to find a good price which isn't hard for the GS.
a b U Graphics card
August 8, 2006 8:50:38 PM

Quote:
In the case of ATI the 80nm is its mid level GPU's and the fast will come late december.


80nm is also the R600, which wil come before then, but the other 80nm is already on it's way with the X1300XT and the X1650 and X1700 and X1900GT refreshes.

Quote:
The G80, being he's purchased all Nvidia before, is out in 1 or 2 months and is well worth the wait.


Like I said, I doubt we'll see midrange before then, look at nV's last launch GF7600 didn't come out until the GF7900 came out. So the only thing close to mid range will be whatever cippled SKUs nV decides for the G80, and it's unlikely any will sell under $299 initially, so I wouldn't consider that truely mid-range, but it'll be a deal for people looking to get their feet wet.

Quote:
The G80 is a complete product family lunch between those two months.


I'll believe that when I see it. It's doubtful they'll not stagger their products like they have in the past. The only exceptions for either company in recent history has been ATi's, with the R9500 being needed to compete against the GF4ti, and the Delay of the X1800 briniging it alongside the X1600,X1300 series. nVidia has been true to form with a god 3+ months between launch of new GPUs and the intro of their mid-range brothers.

Quote:
The ATI's may be the start of '07 if AMD doesn't use their 90nm fabs to rush their lunch.


Nothing of the DX10 cards will be 90nm, just 80 then 65, so AMD doing anything at this point is WAY late.
a b U Graphics card
August 8, 2006 8:53:02 PM

Quote:

I'll keep an eye on the 7600GT KO and the 78XX/79XX.


Well as for pricing NCIX has the GF7600GT KO for 182.40 right now.
August 9, 2006 5:29:27 AM

Yeah, I also noticed these :

PNY 7900GT : 305.06
http://www.ncix.com/products/index.php?sku=18028&vpn=VC...

PNY 7600 GS : 179.42
http://www.ncix.com/products/index.php?sku=18603&vpn=VC...

PNY 7600 GT : 178.62
http://www.ncix.com/products/index.php?sku=18029&vpn=VC...

EVGA 7600GT CO : 191.30
http://www.ncix.com/products/index.php?sku=17948&vpn=25...

EVGA 7600 GS : 161.00
http://www.ncix.com/products/index.php?sku=18561&vpn=51...

BFG 7600 GS : 161.06
http://www.ncix.com/products/index.php?sku=18204&vpn=BF...

XFX 7600 GS : 153.21
http://www.ncix.com/products/index.php?sku=18055&vpn=PV...

BTW, I'm not a fanboy for any company (as you probably noted with my 2 opposite builds) I simply use what would work the best. I don't mind using ATI video cards but they don't seem to have any in my price range (with enough performance to compete with my twin 6600GT) and my motherboard has SLI so I probably should get a relativly cheap SLI card (just in case I have another unexpected event and my budget vanishes again, I'd still have the option to add another relativly cheap card).
August 9, 2006 12:34:55 PM

Aren't the x800 series from the same generation than the 6600GT? I doubt that would really be an improvement.
August 9, 2006 1:19:55 PM

First, that link is for the AGP version, I'm using PCI-e.

Second, I have a SLI setup, I doubt the x850XL is enough but thanks anyway for the suggestion
August 9, 2006 1:59:05 PM

is your msi board agp or pci-express?
August 9, 2006 3:28:01 PM

get a 7900gt, the 7600gt will only give you a minimal performance boost since it is on par with x850//6800ultra.
August 17, 2006 6:12:25 PM

I found a Sapphire x1900gt for 240CDN shortly after posting so I bought it.

So far I only had the time to run 3dmark06 (I installed the card during my lunchtime and started the benchmark by remote controlling my computer from work) but the result is good 3718! Much better than my old 2457 :) 

I'll test it in real gaming conditions to see the difference but only after work... 3 more hours :( 
August 17, 2006 6:42:09 PM

Its scary my system is really similar to yours lol, and I just had the EXACT same dilemna - so I hope this is of use.

First, I bought an X1900XT.

Then, I overclocked (with a slight voltage increase) my San Diego 3700+ to FX-55 speeds (thats 2.7ghz, baby).

Simple.

You will probably need to buy a better cooler and mount it with Arctic Silver 5 to keep the temperatures reasonable.

That system should last you nicely til you need a dual core, DX10-GPU, Vista-controlled rig in 6-12 months time.

EDIT: I see you have the X1900GT, now you just need to overclock the shit out of your CPU! :twisted: (at your own risk)
August 17, 2006 7:39:25 PM

Interesting.

I was considering a bit of OCing but I decided against (because I don't have the budget to replace parts in case they blow up).

What motherboard do you have? Because I heard my Diamond Plus might be the bottleneck (and my 4 gb of RAM).
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