Sign-in / Sign-up
Your question

What would be a logical graphics card upgrade?

Tags:
  • Homebuilt
  • Graphics Cards
  • Systems
Last response: in Systems
October 20, 2008 12:21:00 PM

Hi guys

I've pretty much decided on which 24" widescreen monitor to get now, but before I go for it and get it on the interest free credit I'm wondering whether it would be worth getting any other upgrades for my machine while I'm at it.

As it stands my rig is about 18 months old (how time flies) and consists of the following main components:-

Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 cpu
Asus P5N32-E motherboard
2Gb PC7200 RAM (OCZ stuff, I have Win XP so I believe more RAM is pointless?)
Gainward GeForce 8800 GTS 640Mb graphics

Now I have just been wondering whether I would benefit much from a graphics card upgrade or not, since I'm increasing the monitor from a 19" 4:3 TFT to a 24" jobbie and I like my games to play smoothly with everything set to high!

I'm going to have to upgrade the graphics eventually anyway, so on a side note, I've noticed some of the newer cards require a PCI-E 2.0 interface, I guess my mobo doesn't have this, but will such a card still work in a PCI-E slot? Sorry but I don't know the difference.

Thanks for your help.

Graham

More about : logical graphics card upgrade

a b B Homebuilt system
a b U Graphics card
October 20, 2008 12:36:13 PM

You won't notice it unless you plan to play at 1920*1080. The question is what games do you play currently and at what resolution?

PCIe 2.0 is not really needed yet as PCIe 1.1 still has enough bandwidth. And yes PCIe 2.0 cards are backward compatible.

Also have you tried OCing that card?

My recommendation is to get the LCD first then see how your 8800GTS dose and then look in to an upgrade.
a b B Homebuilt system
a b U Graphics card
October 20, 2008 1:28:41 PM

The standard resolution for a 24" monitor is 1920 x 1200. Why would he game at a resolution other than the native resolution? LCD's look like crap unless they're running at their native resolution. 1920 x 1200 will put the hurt to your 8800GTS 640.

What power supply do you have? That will be a huge deciding factor on what GPU your system can handle.
Related resources
October 20, 2008 1:43:39 PM

Shadow703793 said:
You won't notice it unless you plan to play at 1920*1080. The question is what games do you play currently and at what resolution?

PCIe 2.0 is not really needed yet as PCIe 1.1 still has enough bandwidth. And yes PCIe 2.0 cards are backward compatible.

Also have you tried OCing that card?

My recommendation is to get the LCD first then see how your 8800GTS dose and then look in to an upgrade.


^+1

Assuming you're not already doing so, OC your CPU and GPU and see where that leaves you after you get the LCD. If your not OCing at all you should see some decent performence gains. shortstuff_mt is right though, your PSU could limit your upgrade options should you not see a big enough gain from OCing alone. The good news is you can upgrade your machine on the cheap. You can find the Q6600 under $180. I just picked up some CL4@1.8v DDR2-800 2x2gb for $70. If I was buying now, I would probably get my first ATi card in a long time too, 4850.
a b B Homebuilt system
a c 143 U Graphics card
October 20, 2008 3:05:37 PM

You could add a second 8800GTS 640MB. Or you could sell the existing card and get a HD 4870X2. Either way, you need a PSU with 650W or better.

I'm guessing you're in the UK, based on the Gainward. A second 8800GTS would cost about 210 to 270 pounds (www.ebuyer.com prices), while a HD 4870 X2 is about 330 pounds. At these prices I'd go with the HD 4870 X2.

You could also buy a new X48 motherboard and two HD 4850 cards. It would beat the 8800GTS SLI solution. However, you'd end up paying more and getting less speed than with your current MB and the HD 4870 X2.
October 20, 2008 4:46:59 PM

Hi guys, thanks for your comments! :) 

To answer some of your questions:-

No I have not overclocked my rig at all. I know I have a good board for doing it, but I still need to read up on how to go about it.

As shortstuff _mt says, I wouldn't want to use a flatscreen at anything other than its native resolution.

The kind of games I play include, Medieval 2 Total War, Company of Heroes, and any decent FPS (like Bioshock or HL2).

I have a 700W OCZ Gaming PSU.

I have considered SLI but my second PCI-E slot has a digital TV tuner card in it at the moment (which needs PCI-E) and I've always been an advocate of having a single good card really.

So there you go.

By what you're saying ATi have got to the forefront again at the moment then? I'm not a badge snob, I've had ATi and nVidia cards and have never been disappointed with either. I guess I'll have to trawl through the arguments (ahem, I mean discussions) on here again then to see what's what. :) 

The Quad core sounds like a good idea though.

thanks

Graham
a b B Homebuilt system
a b U Graphics card
October 20, 2008 6:20:22 PM

^Agreed. The PSU is enough to power that card btw.
a b B Homebuilt system
a c 143 U Graphics card
October 20, 2008 7:17:14 PM

That PSU is enough even for HD 4870X2, no worries there :) 

Take a look at the Crysis chart in that Anandtech review shortstuff linked:
http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=3415&p=4

GTX 260 gets 29.7 fps. Your current card has 92 stream processors (GTX 260 has 192) so I'd expect it to produce around 14 fps.
HD 4870 1GB gets 33.3 fps. You can beat that with GTX 280 or HD 4870X2, but not by much and they cost more.

Yeah, I think the HD 4870 1GB is your best option.
October 20, 2008 7:31:13 PM

Thanks guys.

Just out of interest do you think my Core 2 Duo E6600 would bottleneck the 4870 1Gb card?

Looking at www.aria.co.uk, they seem to have sold out of all the 4870 1Gb cards, they only have the 4870 X2 2Gb versions which I guess are the top of the range (and hence expensive) options.
a b B Homebuilt system
a c 143 U Graphics card
October 20, 2008 7:41:40 PM
October 20, 2008 7:43:50 PM

Nah, not many games (read: any) are multithreaded enough to take advantage of 4 cores. Your e6600 is still a fine processor and won't bottleneck it at all.

Plus, in creasing the resolution does little to increase the CPU load. If you're CPU can handle it at 1280 x 1024, there's a good chance it can handle it at 1920 x 1200.

Again, I would recommend the 4870 1GB. It's the best bang for your buck at the highest resolutions.
a b B Homebuilt system
a c 143 U Graphics card
October 20, 2008 7:49:49 PM

GreyKnight said:
Thanks guys.

Just out of interest do you think my Core 2 Duo E6600 would bottleneck the 4870 1Gb card?



Company of Heroes, 1920x1200, 72 fps with stock E6600, 81 fps with stock Q6600, 91 fps with overclocked Q9650. All numbers with HD 4870 X2, not HD 4870, but you get the idea. A better CPU would bring you improvements in that game at that resolution, but they won't be big. On an LCD with refresh rate of 60Hz there won't be any difference at all between these CPUs while playing that game - all would deliver 60 fps. With a HD 4870 1GB instead of HD 4870 X2 your numbers will be lower, but still nice. No worries about bottlenecking, at least in CoD.

Of course, if you play games that are CPU-bound, like Flight Simulator X, the E6600 will be a major bottleneck. Fortunately those kind of games are rare.
http://www.legionhardware.com/document.php?id=770&p=2
October 20, 2008 8:04:12 PM

All very helpful guys thanks, you're all convincing me to spend silly money :D 

Okay, I'm pretty much decided on the 4870 1Gb card along with a Hyundai 24" PVA panel screen. This will set me back about £520 in total, but I think it's worth it for the enjoyment I get from my PC.

One last question. I'll be selling my 19" Digimate TFT (probably for sweet FA) but what might I be likely to get for my 8800GTS 640Mb card on e-bay?
a c 90 B Homebuilt system
a c 511 U Graphics card
October 20, 2008 8:33:03 PM

I would agree with shadow703793 that you should get the monitor first, and see how you do.
I don't think you will get that much for a used monitor; I would keep it and use it as a secondary monitor. It is most useful to keep e-mail active, a TV program, or a performance monitor on the second screen. You can also keep the task monitor active so you can see how much cpu utilization your E6600 has. At a higher resolution, the cpu will become relatively less important. If your utilization is less than 65% on both cores, you probably don't need either a quad or a faster cpu.

For the 8800GTS-640 on e-bay, search for it, and then in advanced search look at completed auctions. The green prices are what the item actually sold for, and is a good gauge to what you might fetch.

You are right in looking at a big jump in vga, or you won't see much of a difference.
I consider the 4870, 9800GX2 and GTX260 to be comparable cards. There are variations of each that can make them stronger, like 1m on the 4870, the 216 option on the GTX260, or factory overclocking. For installation simplicity, stay with Nvidia. Just pop the new card in, and update the driver if necessary. With changing to ATI, you must do a driver removal and cleanup process first.

As an upgrade, Ram is cheap, and I would certainly go to 4gb. Heres why:
http://www.corsairmemory.com/_appnotes/AN804_Gaming_Per...

---good luck---
a b B Homebuilt system
a c 143 U Graphics card
October 20, 2008 8:57:28 PM

Here's another article on RAM:
http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/2008/07/08/is-more-memory-better/5

The main difference is that this one also shows how 8GB of RAM don't do much in games compared to 4GB. (I can see how Corsair marketing guys didn't want to talk too much about that part... :)  )

4GB compared to 2GB: absolutely, totally worth buying 4GB.

October 20, 2008 10:32:46 PM

Yeah okay, I do agree that I will probably get the monitor first and the card later, if for no other reason than spreading the expense... By the time I've evaluated the monitor with my GTS 8800 I guess there will be other cards around and yet more choices LOL.

The article on RAM is interesting, I will study it. I had always been lead to believe that more than 2Gb of RAM was pointless in Windows XP. I still don't own Vista and wonder whether maybe I should now? I could always dual boot I suppose. What version of Vista makes the most sense for the gamer? I've come across Vista in my job now and again and I must say that every time I've found myself being irritated beyond belief at the interface and the damned alerts and "are you sure?" type messages, but if I knew that there were solid benefits to the experience of the games I play then I could probably put up with it...

On the other hand I've been thinking that maybe just holding off for Windows 7 may be the best option this late in the day...?
a c 90 B Homebuilt system
a c 511 U Graphics card
October 20, 2008 11:19:02 PM

A 32 bit OS will see only about 3.4gb in a 4gb system. Still, that is much better than 2gb. It's worth doing, even without going to a 64 bit OS. For games, there is very little difference between xp and vista, and between 32 bit and 64 bit. For a new system, I would suggest vista home premium-64 bit. Otherwise, stay with XP and upgrade to 4gb. For an interesting view on the advantages of vista, google "mojave experiment"
a b B Homebuilt system
a b U Graphics card
October 21, 2008 1:12:36 AM

Quote:


I don't think you will get that much for a used monitor; I would keep it and use it as a secondary monitor. It is most useful to keep e-mail active, a TV program, or a performance monitor on the second screen.

+1 for keeping LCD.
a b B Homebuilt system
a c 143 U Graphics card
October 21, 2008 1:42:43 AM

LOL, be careful, once you start using two monitors you'll never want to go back to just one. I'm already thinking about adding my third :) 
October 22, 2008 6:13:33 PM

Okay guys, well to bring the thread to a conclusion I thought I'd let you know that I've committed myself now to a number of purchases :p 

I decided in the end that since I had the cash on me I may as well just buy everything now since I'll need it eventually anyway and there are one or two games due out soon that I'll be buying which I think will benefit from a better graphics card.

So I purchased...

Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 1Gb GDDR5

28" Hanns-G HG281DP widescreen monitor (had good reviews and will be fine for my needs)

4Gb OCZ Reaper PC6400 DDR2 RAM (heat pipe conduit)


This should all arrive on Friday, so I'll let you know what I think!

Thanks for your help guys.

Graham