Need to replace my graphics card, looking for advice

Hi all -- so I've gotten myself into a rather annoying system. I try to stretch out my PCs for at least 4 years if I can, and my current system is about 3.5 years old. It has an SViking case, Antec true 550 power supply, DFI LanParty NForce 4 series 1 motherboard, 2gb of RAM, Athlon 3700+ (2.2ghz) processor, 74gb raptor hdd installed. Air cooled. I got the system from Monarch just before they went into their death spiral. About two years ago, I burned out the original video card and replaced it with an nvidia 8800 GTS. Just yesterday, I got the dreaded vertical red lines -> crash -> hard reset -> red lines in bios -> crash upon starting windows->hard reset -> no red lines -> try to play Warhammer Online to stress the gpu -> red lines crash -> hard reset cycle. I swapped out my card for my gf's for testing purposes, and her card worked fine for me. So I carefully cleaned off my card and put it back into my system. Since then I haven't experienced any crashes but my performance is just awful. Even Warhammer Online is close to unplayable on bare minimum settings. I could maybe do some solo PVE, but even that has severe performance issues.

Anyway, so now I'm faced with a choice -- do I get a new card now and put it into the old system or just get a new system now? I haven't been paying a lick of attention to hardware in the last 3.5 years or so. If I decide to get a new card, I have the problem of whether I buy an adequate, cheap card and replace it in 6 months or buy a card that I'd like to put into the new system 6 months down the road. If I do the second option, I run the risk of overpaying now for a card that will be a bit behind the curve of my next system. I also have to worry about compatibility issues. On the one hand, now is a good time to buy due to sales and such. On the other hand, I'll probably get more bang for my buck in 6 months. Of course, if I buy a cheap card now I know I'm "wasting" the money.

Any advice on this problem would be much appreciated, as would any ideas as to how I might be able to save my current card from its apparent doom.
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  1. A system that old? I'd say build/buy a new rig. If money is of no concern, go with a new Intel Core I7 processor/motherboard/DDR3 RAM system. If you're looking to keep the prices down a bit, I'd suggest an Intel Core2Quad processor (Q9 or Q8 series) with a socket 775 1333MHz FSB motherboard and 4 Gig of DDR2 RAM.

    -Wolf sends
  2. I also suggest you change the whole system, base parts can be obtained cheaply now depending on what your budget is. If you decide to just change the Video Card, the CPU will hold it back and by the time you upgrade the system itself, the price will probably have dropped significantly. Just as an example, I paid ~300$CAD for a 8800GTS (G92) 8 months ago and now you can get some for ~220$CAD (dropped to 200$ for a while, but then our $CAD dropped as well :P).
  3. +1 wolf.

    ill recommend
    49.99 (4-4-4-12 800mhz that can OC really well) Gskill Pi black
    750W psu for 60$ after MIR CoolerMaster RealPower
    NICE asus MOBO. cheap and OC well too. 115$

    E8400 3.0ghz 6m L2cache 1333fsb for 165$

    a good old q6600 that proven he is good ;) 180$

    Q9550 2.83mhz 12m L2cache 1333fsb 320$


    An afterMarket cooler
    not too big, 46$ zalman cooler 92mm fan.
    Tuniq120. nice cooling but Bigger


    GPU :

    depend on your gaming habit and budget

    4850, 4870, 4870, 4870X2
    9800gtx+. GTX260, GTX280

    can have one from 150$ to 500 and even more

    ill let you choose your case ... nice air flow if you plan on OC


    Screen ? Mouse ? Keeboard ? i think you all have it already !

    You can have a really nice CPU for way under 1000$ or a Gaming right for just a lil more than that !
  4. I really appreciate all the replies an advice so far!

    I've been thinking about it some more and think that getting out some of my reasoning here might be helpful.

    Basically, I see it like this -- if my plan is to keep the computer for 4 years and spend ~1600 on it, then getting a new box 6 months early is basically a cost of $200.

    As you all mentioned, getting a good card now and putting into a new system 6 months down the road also has a cost in that the same card will cost significantly less in 6 months. In order to do the calculation, I'd have to ballpark estimate how much of a cost savings I'd be giving up by buying the card now. This is especially important given that a good card will give me basically no benefit during the 6 month period over a mediocre card due to the cpu bottleneck.

    Then, there is the cost of getting a mediocre card now and either reselling it or giving it away after I replace my current PC in ~6 months. In order to determine this cost, I'd need to figure out what the MINIMUM graphics card would be given my abovementioned specs to avoid the card becoming the bottleneck. The main application for me to consider right now is Warhammer Online, fwiw.

    So the question is really which option minimizes the cost:

    200 vs X vs Y -- I need to figure out what X and Y are.

    So if any of you could help me answer those questions, that would be great -- what is your sense for how much cost depreciation a midrange card will go through over the next 6 months, and what is the cheapest card that I could buy now that would keep the performance bottleneck at my cpu rather than downgrading my overall performance?
  5. Well, here's what I would probably try and do:

    You current graphics card, be it the 320 or 640 is already bottlenecked by your system (I have the 640 and it's pretty much the max for my system below).

    If you absolutely need a new graphics card, get an EVGA card; probably something on-par or slightly less than your current 8800GTS (9600GSO/8600GTS). This should give you similar performance as your current 8800GTS gives you.

    NO MORE THAN 90 DAYS LATER (half way to your new build), use EVGA's Step Up program to recoup the money spent today on a graphics card and get a better one (within budget); like the GTX 260 or whatever EVGA and NVidia have come out with by then.

    -Wolf sends
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