Recently my graphics card, a 8800 GTS 320MB, crashed. I brought it to the shop a few weeks ago as it was still in warranty, and i now have a ticket for the original value of the card to spend there (around 320€ ). So, while i was pretty happy with my old card i think i could use some more power considering the prices the cards are at now. The question is: which card should i buy? I don't really want to spend too much money just to see my CPU become a bottleneck.
My system's speccs are as follows:
CPU: Core 2 Duo E6600 @ 2.4 Ghz, 4MB L2 (never overclocked, nor planning to)
Memory: 4 GB @ 800 mhz, dual-channel
Mobo: Asus P5B (intel's 965 chipset, no support for LSI/crossfire)
PSU: 550 W
As some extra info, i'll say i usually play at 1280x960 at 85 Hz on an old 19" CRT display. And while i spend most of the time on World of Warcraft, i love to try some other stuff like Crysis from time to time.
I was personally thinking on going for something as powerful as a 9800 GT at least. My doubts are if it would be worth going for something more powerful such as a 4870 for example. Oh, and take in mind that even having a 320€ pool, i can keep some for future use (so no need to spend it all now!).
I'll be waiting for your opinions. Thanks in advance!
It`s going to come down to prices in your country, they vary so much here in Europe. What is good value in one country can be expensive elsewhere.
Best match for your current rig 9800GTX/GTS250 or HD4850 their performance is similar with the `newer` GTX250 a little ahead of the hd 4850.
You have a solid system (a clone of mine in fact) and it will run a HD4870/ GTX260 on a 24" monitor easily so as a suggestion; what about the 4870/GTX260 and put the rest towards a nice 22" flatscreen?
Just one last point, what PSU do you have? you`ll need 36A on the 12v rails to power either the HD4870 or the GTX260.
About overclocking the CPU... Well, i usually keep my computers for many years (i'm still using an Athlon 1200mhz to do some uni work), so i'm a bit afraid of reducing the "life expectancy" of my CPU. Am i wrong on that?
About the PSU, it's a 550 W one from Seventeam. It gave me perfect voltages with the 8800 GTS i had under full load, and if i'm not mistaken that one required 30A. So i hope it'll be able to handle a bit more as well.
And about my monitor... it's quite an old CRT, but it can handle 1600x1200 at 75 Hz, and the image quality is quite good. So i'm not planning to upgrade on the near future. Tbh, I'll probably be spending any money left on a printer, as i've been wanting to get a new one for a while.
How much overclocking reduces life expectancy is a big unknown. It depends on how well your cooling is, how aggressively you overclock, and how lucky you get (some CPUs just never seem to die).
My guesstimation is that as long as you have good cooling, don't increase stock voltage, and turn the overclock off when you retire this as your main gaming machine, you can overclock 300-600 mhz without shortening the CPU lifespan by any appreciable amount.
Overclocking isn't an exact science though, so don't try it unless you're prepared for something going awry and/or you really need the extra performance. If you do try it, research research research. Better to have too much knowledge than not enough.
Good monitor (better than I thought it was).
At your current resoloution of 1280x960 I`d go for the HD4850/9800GTX/GTS250 depending on price, any of those should cost less than half your budget and still be a useful upgrade from the 8800GTS you had. In fact they should even run some less demanding games at the 1600x1200 resoloution smoothly.