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3 options for better system performance

Last response: in Systems
June 16, 2008 8:09:28 PM

Over the summer I constructed the following system:

- Unoverclocked Q6600
- Gigabyte DS3R
- 250Gb Seagate 7200.8
- 2gb Geil Black Dragon PC8500
- Sapphire ATi X1950 Pro 512Mb

I'm now starting to look for better system performance for the latest games. I would like advice on the following 3 options:

1. Add extra 2Gb of RAM = £50

2. Swap current HDD for 300Gb WD velociraptor = £200

3. Swap current graphics card for new ATi / NVidia card and also upgrade the PSU = £GPU + £80 (PSU)
Suggest either Enermax Modu82+ 525W or 625W or Corsair HX620 or TX750. I think that most of those PSUs are overkill but I would like it to last the into the next build and give the flexibility of crossfire or SLI in the build.

All of these would be accompanied by an upgrade to Vista 64bit.

What do you recommend? The aim is a faster system and better detailing in games.

June 16, 2008 8:16:43 PM

Option 3.
June 16, 2008 8:20:19 PM

Thanks jaguarskx,

What do you feel about option 1? It is the least expensive, will I see any noticably benefit?

With option 3, will I be limitted by the CPU?
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June 16, 2008 8:22:21 PM

Another vote for #3
June 16, 2008 8:25:21 PM

Thanks Maziar
June 16, 2008 8:28:07 PM

1 & 3
June 16, 2008 8:30:50 PM

+1 for #1 and 3, will help out.
June 16, 2008 8:32:07 PM

Thanks Maximiza and shadowthor.

There seems very limitted uptake for the WD?

Would I see any difference from an extra 2Gb of RAM?
June 16, 2008 8:35:23 PM

jpdykes said:
Thanks Maximiza and shadowthor.

There seems very limitted uptake for the WD?

Would I see any difference from an extra 2Gb of RAM?

The HDD is irrelevant to gaming performance. For games, your card is a huge weakspot, thus upgrading it would lead to better performance.
Easy, eh?
June 16, 2008 8:36:46 PM

option 3.
June 16, 2008 8:41:39 PM

Thanks very much godless and monst0r.

I suspected this was going to be the responce, I was just interested in whether people had any other pearls of wisdom to drop.

I'm currently running a rubbish winpower 425W PSU so that is going to have to go to run a new graphics card.
June 16, 2008 8:59:00 PM

option 3, and get an ati 4870 or 4850
June 16, 2008 8:59:53 PM

Thanks 50bmg
a c 84 B Homebuilt system
June 16, 2008 9:03:29 PM

Option 1. Add memory.
It is cheap.
Insufficient memory acts like a very slow cpu.

Next upgrade the vga card; it is usually the limiting factor in games.

Velociraptor is wonderful, it just doesn't help games much.

Do all three, in that order.
June 16, 2008 9:12:55 PM

First Graphics card Option#3

And get a Modular PSU
June 16, 2008 9:24:41 PM

Options 1 & 3.

If you're moving to Vista 64bit, 4GB of RAM will be something you'll want to have. And a newer ATI HD4850 or HD4870 will boost your games noticeably over the X1950. The HD4850 should be introduced at the $200 pricepoint.
June 16, 2008 9:45:10 PM

Thanks again,

I think probably the way to go is VGA first. Then RAM. Unfortuantely I did manage to pick rather expensive memory.

I was thinking:
Corsair HX620 (£79.90) or TX750 (£79.40)
Enermax Modu 625 (£105.40)

We are probably still on wait and see with graphics cards. The 4870 today was $200 when it slipped onto

June 16, 2008 9:59:10 PM

The 4850 was the one that slipped onto, but it was $200. I haven't seen any benchmarks / reviews from anybody yet though.
June 16, 2008 10:33:44 PM

Do we have any idea's of prices for the higher powered cards, UK or otherwise? Also do we know about how loud these cards are going to be. I saw the NVidia review today which suggested they were very noisy.

Any comments on PSU's?
June 16, 2008 10:37:06 PM

If you go Vista64, then the +2GB of RAM is pretty much a requirement or Windows will start swapping on the first big game you start. On my clean Vista install, I had about 1GB of RAM gone on an empty desktop. As for games, I know Crysis takes about 1GB of RAM when I play, so if I only had 2GB, my PC would be swapping even if only Crysis was running ... This upgrade will not give you a performance boost in itself, but will prevent a potential big performance loss.

As for performance boost, the graphic card is the way to go and the 620HX is a great PSU, I got the 520HX and I just love it!
June 16, 2008 10:47:20 PM

Thanks Zenthar. Really informative post. Can you explain what you mean by swapping?

Looks like I am going to need both more RAM and a new GPU setup. With the GPU being the main priority. Which also means patience!!
June 16, 2008 10:55:29 PM

patience is definitely a virtue when it comes to pc others have mentioned, I would recommend upgrading the video card. For me, 2gb of ram is fine, but then again I use ya, you will need more ram for vista, whether it be 32bit or 64bit...BTW, just FYI, the SP1 for vista 32bit now seems 3.8 out of 4gigs of ram...
a c 84 B Homebuilt system
June 16, 2008 11:18:18 PM

An 32-bit application program, like a game can be written to use 2gb of virtual address space. In special cases, this can be increased to 3gb. About 1gb is used to map the OS. How much is actually used is variable, and changes over time. If a program or the OS needs something that is not in memory, it needs to load it, and it will exchange the data with something already in memory that has been least recently used.. That data is swapped out to a hard drive. While this is happening, the cpu must wait until it becomes available. If this hard fault process happens frequently enough, the cpu will be delayed for an important amount of time. If it takes 30 milliseconds to swap, or exchange data, and that happens 10 times per second, then your processing power will be reduced by 30%. Not a good thing.

4gb is a good thing. It is better to get 4gb of ddr2-800 memory than 2gb of anything faster. Sell the fast memory if you must to pay for 4gb.

You can't size the psu until you select the vga card. At the high end, you need to spend more on the psu. Look for a quality psu with good amps on the 12v rails.
Seasonic, Corsair, and PC Power&Cooling are good brands.
June 16, 2008 11:20:18 PM

A new PSU/ graphics card will give you the most performance benifits, a Q6600 should not be a bottleneck, it's always an option to overclock aswell.
June 16, 2008 11:30:27 PM

Thanks again. Helpful responces.

I've worked through the whole PSU debate already in some other threads. I've balanced that the Corsair and Enermax ones are quiet, reliable, give enough power and current for new cards, will support the new intel architecture, etc etc. I'm fairly happy with that.

I had a look for the geil black dragon stuff in the states to see if it was avaliable cheaper there. It doesn't seem to exist on obvious sites like newegg. There are other geil modules but I'm weary about matching different types.

Patience does seem to be a virtue when it comes to these new graphics cards, they are taking their time releasing them!
June 17, 2008 9:47:26 AM

Thanks for the note brendano257.

I've currently been a little weary of overclocking. I need this processor to last for a couple of years, so would rather it wasn't streched and running hot all the time, and I have no experiance in overclocking. I would also need to buy an aftermarket heat sink. Not impossible but I haven't found good evidence that I really need to do it yet.

Thanks for all the responces - if anyone has anything else then I'll keep checking the thread.
June 17, 2008 10:24:06 AM

The PSU/Video card option 3 would give you the most impact on your gaming.
June 17, 2008 10:44:53 AM

Thanks shata.

Let's suppose that I put in a faster graphics card. Say a 4870, will I have problems with the CPU?
June 17, 2008 11:29:02 AM

Nah i don't think so, honestly IMHO Q6600 is way fast enough and honestly the 2gb ram is plenty also...Maybe 4gb if your running vista would be nice but really a flagship video card would do your system some good.

I dont really know much about ATi cards anymore sense amd and ati merged (i kinda hate ati now lol) so just look up some benchmarks and see which ati or nvidia card gives you the fps you want in that specific game.
June 17, 2008 11:33:57 AM

Although that 4870 specs are pretty impressive... Im honestly not sure if Q6600 would hold that card back lol good question.
June 17, 2008 12:01:27 PM

Thanks again shata.

I rather like the GX2 here:

Probably not a great idea to buy just before new cards are released. In the UK they are £340ish. US works out about £200. The question is will the new 4870's beat a GX2 at this price?
June 17, 2008 9:34:13 PM

Yeah you can wait and see if you can get your hands on a new release if not you'll still benefit most likely cause prices will drop for the cards now.