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At a fork in the road - Video upgrade or CPU/ram upgrade?

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November 6, 2006 12:24:05 AM

I've hit a nasty snag on the road. By the graces of the computer gods my bro's pc mobo has been failing constantly lately, so i'm giving him my setup and im free to do some shopping :p  (Who doesn't love shopping!)

My current setup is the following:

opt 170 @ 2.5ghz
2gb ocz plat rev2
7950gx2 extreme
20" LG Wide screen lcd

What im hurting right now is when I try to enjoy a game at full graphics, I lag; I usually need to turn off shadows or FSAA/AS.

At current prices if I upgrade cpu/ram or videocard/psu they come out to the same amount of cash.

If I upgrade my cpu it would be a badaxe v304, e6600 (water cooled and oc'd) and 2gb of some new Micron d9 ram. If I upgrade the videocard it would be another 7950GX2 in SLI with a heftier PSU (don't think my 600w ocz powersteam can handle it).

What would give me more bang for the buck? Im leaning towards the E6600 since the OC and the bandwidth upgrade would do me some justice, but then again so can the extra 20% boost of FPS from the 7950gx2.
November 6, 2006 1:05:36 AM

Here is a list of good cards for the price. $160 for 2 cards = pwnage.
November 6, 2006 1:17:46 AM

Quote:
Here is a list of good cards for the price. $160 for 2 cards = pwnage.


I'm sorry, but did you even bother to read a single word I posted?
Related resources
November 6, 2006 3:04:06 AM

im not sure he did, and id also like to see two cards for $160 perform better than one $500! to help answer your question, yeah if you dont want to wait for the dx10 cards and since at 20 inchs your monitor runs at what, like 1600x1000? i the extra 7850gt2 would give you better frames then if you just got a c2d and OCed it.
a c 90 B Homebuilt system
a c 203 à CPUs
November 6, 2006 3:14:47 AM

Quote:
game at full graphics
What games?
November 6, 2006 3:40:13 AM

Quote:
game at full graphics
What games?

Can't see how thats relevent, whatever game it is, it's not running as well as desired therefore he/she wants it to run faster/smoother.

Now I'm Guessing a 20" widescreen wouldn't have a whole lot more pixels than a standard 19", so I don't think Quad SLI is a viable solution as Q-SLI as aimed more towards 24"+. I'm going to go with a CPU upgrade for arguments sake, I'm not sure how well opty's rack up against other current processors but a high end Athlon X2 or Conroe/Allendale could be what your after. Plus when it's time for next upgrade you'll most likely only write off your 7950GX2 for a DX10 card, rather than a ridding of a whole system with two 7950GX2's.
a c 90 B Homebuilt system
a c 203 à CPUs
November 6, 2006 4:01:15 AM

Quote:
Can't see how thats relevent
Thats OK, some of us know better.
Some games are GPU bound and some are CPU bound. There are even games that run slower on SLI systems than single GPU systems.
Occasionally..even driver versions on the GPUs have some bearing on how well certain games run.
His 20" widescreen has ~35% more pixels than the usual 19" (12x10) monitor.
It wouldn't be very funny to see OP upgrade his CPU/RAM and find out his game didnt run any faster or smoother because they're GPU bound.
November 6, 2006 4:38:32 AM

Well i realise you asked for video/psu or cpu/ram but your sig says you have 2 gigs of ram. If thats true i would upgrade video and cpu since you have enough ram.
November 6, 2006 5:45:27 AM

Games in question are usually the new stuff, ie WoW, Ghost Recon:AW, Company of Heroes, Marvel Ultimate Alliance, Sid Meiere's Railroads! - All excellent games, but they lag when I add shadows, high AS, or high FSAA. Resolution I run them at is 1680x1050.

I have though of both scenarios, how certain games use more GPU power then CPU, and vice versa. Nv8800GTX is out for the taking, the thing is apparently it doesn't perform immensely over the 7950gx2, DX10 won't be out till 6plus months from now, and I'm not sure if the reason being (the 8800 doesn't perform as well)is because of a CPU threshold or a GPU threshold, a Direct X issue, or a driver issue, they're all at limbo right now.

THG cpu comparison chart shows some games/programs gain almost 20-40% of FPS/Score, others, others programs/games marginalize by 1-2% when comparing a 2.4-2.6ghz a64 dualcore with 2mb L2 and the E6600. I will be overclocking the only concern there is that some benchmarks(again) show 1% gain in performance by a 600-800mhz overclock.

Enforcer- Again please read what I posted. I can't upgrade CPU + VID, because upgrading the CPU would make my system an LGA775 socket(which I don't have)not to mention my opty is running @ 2.5ghz and has 2mb L2 making it one of the top suckers AMD has to offer. I can't upgrade VID alone because my 600W wouldn't handle 2x7950GX2's and a Watercooled + OC'd system setup. I can only go one way.
November 6, 2006 6:26:02 AM

Then go with the video option you have enough ram and if you cant upgrade the cpu then its the only choice i see making any sense. Upgrading the cpu isnt really going to do alot for you.
November 6, 2006 7:08:53 AM

Quote:
Can't see how thats relevent
Thats OK, some of us know better.


Haha, Ouch :p  bit harsh unprovoked but none the less you made some good points. In argument, it's not like your only going to be playing one GPU dependent game the whole time so your better off getting the best all round solution spread over a number of games (which i think would be the alternative to a second card) And also, for the sake of upgrade ability (i know the OP didn't list this as a concern but for arguments sake) a CPU motherboard ram upgrade now would leave options open for easier upgrades in the future e.g. Quad core/DX10, just purchasing another card now would mean at your next upgrade you would by getting rid of your opty, mobo, ram, and two graphics cards, all of which would have depreciated greatly by the time 7950GX2's expire as exceptional cards. Keeping only one card now and upgrading to the E6600 mentioned would mean next upgrade would most likely only be a GFX card, and selling your current parts now would still get you a bit of money back while they're still worth something :wink:
November 6, 2006 7:53:12 AM

hmm interesting, ive never thought of it like that before... i understand your arguement about dx10 and the 7850's but by the time quad cores are 1. fully utilized in gaming and 2. are affordable enough for the average gamer, the C2D's would have depreciated in value so much that they would be fetching like $20 bucks used. still interesting points.
November 6, 2006 7:58:49 AM

yeah i meant to use quad core and DX10's as examples of future upgrades in general but i suppose i didn't express it that way, apologies.
a c 90 B Homebuilt system
a c 203 à CPUs
November 6, 2006 1:20:43 PM

You have a top end multi-GPU video card and a CPU that probably performs in the ~vicinity of a C2D E6400. Thats not a weak system.

I'd suggest you run a 3dMark06 benchmark (free version) and compare your results to other similar systems to make sure you're not having any unusual hardware problems. http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmark06/

I don't know much about the games you listed but I don't believe that upgrading to an OC'd C2D E6600 would fix all the performance issues in those games you listed. I'd try and research those games individually and figure out if you're having a CPU, GPU or online lag limitations. Also be on the lookout for game tweak guides. Sometimes there are issues with using both high end graphics options, like "Glow", and AA/AF in games like WOW.

If you're interested in top overclocking the Bad Axe 2 (D975XBX2) is due out shortly. The original Bad Axe is not a top overclocking motherboard. Abit AW9D, ASUS P5W DH and DFI Infinity/LANParty are the recommended 975X overclocking motherboards. Core2Duo Overclocking Guide
The best 965 motherboards can go to higher OC's than the 975s with high end cooling and the right RAM.
November 7, 2006 12:16:36 AM

Quote:
You have a top end multi-GPU video card and a CPU that probably performs in the ~vicinity of a C2D E6400. Thats not a weak system.

I'd suggest you run a 3dMark06 benchmark (free version) and compare your results to other similar systems to make sure you're not having any unusual hardware problems. http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmark06/

I don't know much about the games you listed but I don't believe that upgrading to an OC'd C2D E6600 would fix all the performance issues in those games you listed. I'd try and research those games individually and figure out if you're having a CPU, GPU or online lag limitations. Also be on the lookout for game tweak guides. Sometimes there are issues with using both high end graphics options, like "Glow", and AA/AF in games like WOW.

If you're interested in top overclocking the Bad Axe 2 (D975XBX2) is due out shortly. The original Bad Axe is not a top overclocking motherboard. Abit AW9D, ASUS P5W DH and DFI Infinity/LANParty are the recommended 975X overclocking motherboards. Core2Duo Overclocking Guide
The best 965 motherboards can go to higher OC's than the 975s with high end cooling and the right RAM.


TY for heads up on D975XBX2, def waiting for that release. Aparently 8800GTX is one bad mother shut your mouth, but it caps out with CPU usage, so the best idea as it has been stated is upgrade cpu/mobo and wait for a dx10 video card, the 3.6-3.8ghz the E6600 will run on should be enough to satisfy next gen video cards. In regards to 3dm06, it is heavy cpu intensive, and I get the score I have expected out of it, but the score in there varies very high depending on processor speed, max my CPU runs is 2750 - atm I'm running it at 2500 ( to have DDR500 mem bus) and the score diffrence is very large. Also it is def not about lag or internet capabilities - I sit on a 2MB (megabytes) cable line with 400KB (kilobytes) upload on a non saturated line.
November 7, 2006 12:53:44 AM

Unless you have a special internet line networks run in bites not bytes. Rather they rate thier speed in bites to make it seem faster then it is when people are looking at packages. Your speed in bytes is 256KBytes by 50KBytes assuming thats your line speed you rated. If the new cards are what you are looking into getting then yeah defanitly upgrade the cpu when the motherboard you want comes out. I cant wait to see the new ATI dx10 card but since i just upgraded i doubt ill be doing it again until at least march.
a c 90 B Homebuilt system
a c 203 à CPUs
November 7, 2006 5:02:59 AM

Quote:
Also it is def not about lag or internet capabilities - I sit on a 2MB (megabytes) cable line with 400KB (kilobytes) upload on a non saturated line.
Lag & latency issues online is less about the size of your internet pipe (unless you are running the server) than it is about how well optimized the server is and it's 'Net connection. A mediocre online server (busy, poor pings or congested 'Net pipe) can contribute to your perceived lag. Its usually best to test performance in your games offline.

With your OC'd Opty and SLI 7950GX2 your system is already in the top 10% bracket of hardware.

Upgrading to an OC'd C2D system should improve your overall system performance without doubt. But you have to be prepared that it might not solve your gaming performance complaints if you are GPU bound which can happens at higher resolutions like 1680x1250, 16x12 and 19x12 even with a SLI system.COD2/SLI Core 2 Performance with GeForce/SLI
November 7, 2006 6:02:26 AM

Quote:
Also it is def not about lag or internet capabilities - I sit on a 2MB (megabytes) cable line with 400KB (kilobytes) upload on a non saturated line.
Lag & latency issues online is less about the size of your internet pipe (unless you are running the server) than it is about how well optimized the server is and it's 'Net connection. A mediocre online server (busy, poor pings or congested 'Net pipe) can contribute to your perceived lag. Its usually best to test performance in your games offline.

With your OC'd Opty and SLI 7950GX2 your system is already in the top 10% bracket of hardware.

Upgrading to an OC'd C2D system should improve your overall system performance without doubt. But you have to be prepared that it might not solve your gaming performance complaints if you are GPU bound which can happens at higher resolutions like 1680x1250, 16x12 and 19x12 even with a SLI system.COD2/SLI Core 2 Performance with GeForce/SLI

Thats not good :cry:  but I think it was mentioned that some games utilize GPU over CPU and vice versa, The problem I feel that the graphs might have is whats under the CPU? What ram? what timings? what about general mobo config? AMDs carry DDR and Intels carry DDR2, unless those tested were AM2s? If im gonna upgrade I want to do whats right and what will give me a real boost, should I just wait for 8900GTS/X?
a c 90 B Homebuilt system
a c 203 à CPUs
November 7, 2006 6:31:27 AM

You can find the systems details in the article.
http://firingsquad.com/hardware/intel_core_2_sli_performance/page2.asp
Same RAM: 2GB Corsair TWIN2X2048-6400C3
Same video card(s) & driver: GeForce 7900 GTX with ForceWare 91.33
Motherboards: ASUS P5N32-SLI Deluxe & ASUS M2N32-SLI Deluxe
CPUs:
AMD Athlon 64 FX-62 (2.8 GHz)
AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000+ (2.6GHz)
AMD Athlon 64 X2 4600+ (2.4GHz)
Intel Core 2 Extreme Edition X6800
Intel Core 2 Duo E6700
Intel Core 2 Duo E6400

The full article showed non-SLI bench's and SLI benchs for comparison. Some benchmarks would show CPU scaling as you'd expect from more powerful CPUs. Other bench's (such as COD2 above) did not scale more than likely being GPU bound at 16x12.
Even those that did scale up with more powerful CPUs did not show an increase as large as the CPU performance addition. In other words a 25% increase is CPU did not give a 25% increase in FPS.

My current advice is to keep looking for game specific benchmarks that give you guidance how the potential upgrade will benefit you. I'd hate to see you spend that money just to get a 5-10% improvement - especially if that improvement didnt fix the lag type playability issues for you.
Until you have a good idea of whether that upgrade makes sense for you $$ vs performance wise, I'd just back off a little on the graphics options (less AA/AF for example) and enjoy the better game performance that will bring.
Keep an eye out for your game specific benchmarks with the new video cards and motherboards coming out in the near future.
November 7, 2006 7:01:38 AM

bites not bytes? Huh? Did etsi just generate a new tcpip standard? They usually inform me....


(goes in corner to sulk)
November 7, 2006 7:07:41 AM

I think you'll find that you service is 2.0 Mb, not 2.0 MB.... Which would be a whopping huge 16 Mb connection. Check the fine print in your contract.

And ditto for the uplink.
November 7, 2006 7:28:11 AM

Quote:
bites not bytes? Huh? Did etsi just generate a new tcpip standard? They usually inform me....


(goes in corner to sulk)


Its just how networks work. 100megabites (8 kbites per KByte)

a 100mb connection is actualy closer to 12.5MB

Basicly take your rated internet speed devide the numbers by 8 to get your max rated speed in bytes. Then add to be safe about a 10% over head off of that for internet to get to your actual speed.

Lets take my DSL for example 3mb by 768kb OG will indicate network overhead.

3mb (3072kb) / 8 = 384 x .1 = 38.4 OH (384 - 38.4 = 345)

So with a 3 meg download i should expect around a 345KB speed which i normaly get more then.

768kb / 8 = 96 x .1 = 9.6KB OH (96KB - 9.6KB = 86.4KB)

My 768k Upload would give me a expected 86.4KB which is almost exact to what i normaly get.

Over head will depend on your network, net traffic and a few other things im not going to list but im sure someone else will.

So my lines expected speed would be 345KB by 86.4KB now looking at those numbers you can see why they show the service in bites and not bytes. it just looks slow so they use the larger numbers that actualy are the same exact speed but look better on TV.

BTW FIOS should be here soon cant wait to get that 30mb by 5mb connection D:
November 7, 2006 8:42:51 AM

Your current setup looks great, you shouldn't be having any problems at those resolutions. A conroe or an 8800GTX should help but I'm not sure how much. I definitely wouldn't go with Quad-SLI, it shouldn't improve performance much at that resolution.

How long has it been since a fresh XP install? Have you checked your computer for worms/spyware/adware? Have you changed your hardware significantly (i.e. new mobo) since you installed XP? Didn't see anyone else ask these questions... wasn't sure from your first post how long you have had your system. Good luck! :wink:

Also can you tell us how many frames per second you are getting? I'm assuming you've checked your GPU/CPU temps and they are reasonable.
a c 90 B Homebuilt system
a c 203 à CPUs
November 8, 2006 8:45:13 PM

Quote:
Company of Heroes
An early Company of Heroes benchmark 8800xxx cards and 7950GX2 from review @ www.FiringSquad.com
November 8, 2006 10:18:01 PM

Ordered a 8800GTS - overclocked it seems to do better then the 8800GTX. Im going to hold on off upgrades untill new 600 boards are out and prices are cooled down (i'm hearing over 350$ for em')
!