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Gaming Upgrade: complete overhaul or just video card?

Last response: in Systems
April 24, 2008 9:30:35 PM

OK Guys it's time I upgraded something in my system because my framerates are becoming unbearable. I'll start by stating all my current specs:

CPU: Core 2 Duo E6600
RAM: 2GB Wintec AMPO DDR2 667@800Mhz
Mobo: ECS P965T-A
GPU: Evga GeForce 7600GT
HD: 320GB WD 7K 16M SATA2 WD3200KS

When I built this it was specifically for video editing. I spent a whopping $80 on the 7600GT at a Fry's chrismas deal lol. First came the 3D game demos. Then BF2 addiction. Now I play lots of shooters and RPGs. Do I need to upgrade more than the graphics card to play the games I wanna play and make them look good at 1280x1024? Here's a list of the games that give me some trouble and ones I will get in the future:

F.E.A.R. (original and all the sequels)
Ghost Recon 1/2 (Also most of the other Tom Clancy games)
Crysis (not a must)
Battlefield 2142 (+sequels when they come out)
Lost Planet

I have a little over $200 to spend. I'm thinking I'll need at least a new PSU and my mobo might not be PCIE 2.0 compliant so I may need one of those. Is this upgrade even tangible at this point? I can make some money this summer so waiting is an option.

I found this on Newegg.

It's a nice lookin 9600GT for $130 after rebate. Should I go for it?

April 24, 2008 9:44:58 PM

You don't need a new PSU, in my opinion. That is a high quality PSU and you don't need to get a pci2.0 gpu. I'm not going to help you find a specific gpu, but if you steer away from the notoriously power hungy gpus, you'll be fine. Just for reference, I have measured the max draw at the outlet (which includes inefficiencies) for my OC'ed C2D/8800gts setup at around 250 watts. A 400 watt PS would not be recommended for a high end setup like what you can easily end up with (with just a gpu upgrade), IF it were a no-name brand PSU, but that is a nice one.
Double check with others (hopefully more posters will chime in with some expert GPU opinions), but the newer 9600 gpu from nvidia uses less power than the 8800 series, if I recall correctly. That may be a great choice, but I'm sure there are people here who can suggest a really low power, high performance GPU - and you really don't need the best of the best, just something a little newer and less handicapped. Don't get an 8600, unless things have changed, for instance.
April 24, 2008 9:58:29 PM

Go for the 9600! At that resolution, that card will handle anything you throw at it. Don't get hung up on PCIE 2.0. The card is backwards compatible with PCIE1.0. Besides before any games come out to utilize the bandwith on the PCIE 2.0, you'll need a new system anyways. I agree with mattc, your PSU will be fine. Hope this was helpful.
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April 24, 2008 10:52:48 PM

The 9600gt is a good budget gaming card. It's good for everything out of your list except Crysis at high detail level on typical resolutions. If you want Crysis at high, trade up to a 8800gt.

No need for a new PSU. The 400w you have now, if with typical 12v ratings, may cut it close, but should do fine.

You need more than 2gb of ram. It's dirt cheap those days anyway, so get it.
April 24, 2008 11:21:57 PM

A Slight bump in ram won't hurt, but generally 4 sticks OC less well than 2 sticks. As a result, his current DDR2-667 may not OC to 800 if he adds sticks.
April 24, 2008 11:35:03 PM

zenmaster said:
A Slight bump in ram won't hurt, but generally 4 sticks OC less well than 2 sticks. As a result, his current DDR2-667 may not OC to 800 if he adds sticks.

That depends on motherboard chipset performance. On an x38 board, there will be no difference whatsoever. Something like 650i can create problems.
April 25, 2008 5:11:31 PM

Hi Dagger,
You bottle neck is your GPU!!!

Get a BFG 8800 GT OC2 GPU. Lifetime warranty and its a US company. If anyone even cares anymore!

If you want more FPS, buy a 9800 GTX OC, they are only 399.99 After you get this and if you still want more speed upgrade your ram to DDR2-800 4-4-4-12, I like Kingston Hyperx, but make sure your motherboard can handle it... as it runs at 2.20 volts.

GL & Get vTec