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WOW...graphics card upgrade

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December 12, 2008 12:11:24 PM

I have an Athlon dual core 5000 brisbane, a gigabyte motherboard, an antec 500 earthwatts ps and a pny 8600 GT graphics card. The only game I play is WOW and with the new expansion (WOTLK) my frame rates have dropped from 50-60 fps to about 20 fps. I have all settings on high except instead of 8x sampling i have it at 1x sampling. I would like to upgrade my video card (even though it is only 3 months old) so that I can play WOW maxed out on all settings. I have a 22" gateway lcd monitor and it is set to 1600X1050 (wide) settings. Can anyone suggest a card that will able to do this without breaking the bank? Also....will I need to upgrade my ps.....I have a very basic system (250 gb harddrive and dvd/cd rw drive, plus other components listed above). And I went with a nvidia card last time....should I go with an ATI card because I have an AMD processor or does it matter anyways?. Thanks in advance for all your help....you guys at Tom's Forums ROCK!
December 12, 2008 12:24:11 PM

Well, I have an 8800GTS 320 and I have no issues at all with FPS (120-130 outside and 50-70 in raids/pvp). My card is hardly overpowering when compared to yours so it may be time to look at the rest of your configuration.

How much RAM are you running with?
Do you have a ton of addons for WoW?
Have you updated to the 180.48 drivers? This has been a big one for a ton of nVidia users and WotLK.

Give us all your system specs and we will lend you our knowledge.
December 12, 2008 12:37:00 PM

KK....System Specs :

CASE : Antec Sonata w/500 Earthwatts ps
MOTHERBOARD : GIGABYTE GA-MA74GM-S2 AM2+/AM2 AMD 740G Micro ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail
CPU : AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000+ Brisbane 2.6GHz Socket AM2 65W Dual-Core Processor Model ADO5000DOBOX - Retail with stock cooler
HARDDRIVE : Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 ST3250410AS 250GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM
RAM : G.SKILL 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F2-6400CL5D-2GBNQ -
OS : Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition SP3 English for System Builders 1 Pack CD - OEM
VIDEOCARD : PNY VCG86512GXPB-OC GeForce 8600 GT 512MB 128-bit GDDR3 PCI Express x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card

I did update the drivers from Nvidia....not sure if it is the 180.48 ones though (how can I find this out). As far as addons I use about 5 or six of them (Auctioneer, Questhelper, TomTom, Quartz, and maybe one more. Hope this helps...thx again : )
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December 12, 2008 1:27:50 PM

1) Your PSU is more than sufficient for reasonable graphics. 500W powers a ton of hardware, and the manufacturer is good.

2) The only reason to choose a brand over performance is if you intend to (or prefer to leave the option open for) CrossFire or SLI (using multiple graphics cards).

3) If you have around $100 to spare, I'd look into the following options:

Here are some cards that are reasonable in their price range and would offer a giant step up from a 8600: NVidia cards are on the left

Prices are rough.
$60 8800GS/9600gso/8800gt-256 or 3850 - these are getting hard to find.
$80 9600GT or HD 3870
$100 8800GT-512 9800GT 9800gtx or HD4830
$120 9800gtx+ or HD 4850
$200 GTX 260 or HD 4870

You might try a
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


Or you could just read the "Best Cards for the money" article that Tom's publishes monthly.

I managed to find a 9600gso for $35, but that ship has sailed.
December 12, 2008 1:35:58 PM

I would personally go for at least a 9800gtx or ATI equivalent. The WoTLK expansion has pushed up the need for a better card than the previous expansion with the inclusion of extra graphical enhancements (especially when it comes to shadows).
December 12, 2008 1:38:11 PM

+1 for the "Best Card for your money Dec 2008" article. These monthly releases are a great way to compare value on cards in different price ranges.

To check your driver versions:

Start
Run
dxdiag

Go to the Display tab and on the top right it will list your driver version. It will say something like "6.14.0010.4785" and this would indicate you have driver versions 104.78 (taking this from my terrible work laptop).
December 12, 2008 1:41:38 PM

id say a 9800gt should do the job WoW is hardly hardware taxing
a b U Graphics card
December 12, 2008 1:51:29 PM

I don't play WoW, does the new expansion improves the graphics so much as to drop the FTS that much? Before investing in a new GPU, I would check RAM usage just to make sure 20$ worth of RAM won't solve 80% of the problem ...
a c 236 U Graphics card
a b Ý World of Warcraft
December 12, 2008 1:53:25 PM

Goood suggestions from epstein4pre.

I would also suggest upgrading to 4gb of ram. Heres why:
http://www.corsairmemory.com/_appnotes/AN804_Gaming_Per...
2 sticks of ram is easier for the motherboard to manage, so I suggest a matched 4gb(2x2gb) kit. Corsair sells one for $25 a/r:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Market your 2x1gb ram on e-bay.

Since you already have a nvidia vga card, I would stick with that . You can then keep the same driver and not have to go through the driver removal and cleaning process to switch to ati.
a c 175 U Graphics card
a b Ý World of Warcraft
December 12, 2008 2:01:28 PM

Xenthar has a point, but a 4670 is six tiers higher on Cleeve's chart, so it would probably be a good idea anyway.
December 12, 2008 2:32:14 PM

Zenthar said:
I don't play WoW, does the new expansion improves the graphics so much as to drop the FTS that much? Before investing in a new GPU, I would check RAM usage just to make sure 20$ worth of RAM won't solve 80% of the problem ...

The latest expansion definitely cranked up the eye candy. It's not like you need a Crysis-ready rig to run it, but it is a notch up from the old WoW that would run on integrated graphics. With 2 GB of RAM, I do think the OP is on the right track... more video muscle!
a b U Graphics card
December 12, 2008 2:38:45 PM

If a 80$ card is 6 tier over what the OP has, I don't think the upgrade is a luxury ;) 
December 13, 2008 5:14:28 AM

Great ideas folks.....thank you for the help.....am going to upgrade to the 4 GB of RAM and am undecided about the video card. If you had to choose between:http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... or http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... which would u choose?
Also, there is one review with the MSI board from a guy who said that his motherboard (and in turn, MY motherboard) would not post with this video card (page 2 of all reviews). He wa running em in SLI where I will only be running one card. Should I be concerned with the MSI board at all? And lastly, will these boards max out WOW on a 22" monitor with the RAM upgrade to 4GB or should I consider a higher end graphics card? Thank again guys...you are the best and I appreciate all the help = ).
December 13, 2008 5:57:34 AM

The sinlge 9800 can max out wow. The 9600 can do the same. Just get whichever you like better and be happy. You won't be needing SLi for wow - therefore that guy's situation likely doesn't apply to you. All in all, you'll likely still be disappointed with your FPS even after an GPU upgrade, as blizzards servers are slow when it comes to the times where it counts.

December 13, 2008 6:06:12 AM

4830 or 8800/9800GT (really no difference, just depends whichevers cheaper) or for a little more, a 4850.
!