Graphics card for AMD Athlon X2 6400+

Currently I'm debating on upgrading my old 8600GT card. My rig, however, is other than fresh. It's AMD Athlon X2 6400+, 4GB RAM, Asus M2N-SLI mobo, WIndows XP. Money is tight now and upgrading CPU and/or motherboard is not an option. Only want to upgrade my video card. I tried looking up some reviews already but all video cards are being tested with the top of the line gear, and mine isn't. Want to play COD4/5, Far Cry 2, Crysis, Diablo 3, Starcarft 2 (whenever they come out, lol) I know, it will not be as great as on i7 system, however would like to squeeze everyting I can out of my good ol' rig. So, I've been thinking, what should I get:

1. 260 GTX 216
2. 4870
3. Wait/save more and get GTX 285 or 4890
4. 260 GTX SLI ??

Power supply is adequate for any build. Main questions to figure out is if my CPU going to hold up ok, meaning if I'm getting the bang for my buck. It probably should be fine with 260/4870, but I think it doesn't have enough juice for 285 or 260 SLI. So, what would be better, faster and value/performance tight in my case? If I aim low end, what's better 4870 or GTX260 for my rig? If I pay extra for 285 or 260 SLI, is the difference gonna be worth it?

All comments are welcome. Looking for some experience folks' opinions.

P.S. Yeah, my CPU sucks, but I'm going to have to live with it. Due to money constraints, CPU/Mobo upgrade is out of question.
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  1. Yes, OK, it's not a i7, but it's far from deaths door!
    You say the PSU is 'adequate' could you be a little more detailed? Not all units are equal.
    What resoloution are you using? It would be a waste of hard earned cash to put a pair of GTX260s' in there if you play at 1280x1024.
  2. I have a 24" monitor and hope on being able to play comfortably at 1920x1080 (1080P is native screen resolution).

    The reason I used word "adequate" is because I will upgrade to what's needed once the video card is decided upon. Therefore, I've made an assumption it's irrelevant in this case.
  3. at lower resolutions, your FPS is capped by your cpu. at higher resolutions, your current card might cap your FPS. you can check this by changing resolution and looking at fps difference.

    If your gpu caps your fps at higher speeds, you will notice some improvements when you upgrade your videocard.

    Id say, get a HD4850-HD4870. Dont try getting a card that is "futureproof" ie more then you need unless you upgrade your cpu within a year. B/c videocards drop in value so fast, really no use in trying that
  4. you could pick up a pair of 9800GTX cards pretty cheap and SLI them.

    btw, my 6000+ is still doing it for me :)
  5. I have an X2 6400+ at the stock 3.2 Ghz. Its paired with an 8800 GTX on a 22 inch monitor. At 1680x1050 I can average about 40 FPS in Fallout 3 and 50 FPS in a heavily modded Oblivion (both with 4X AA and 8X AF - all other quality options maxed). Not too bad. Still fine for decent gaming.

    Last fall I tried a GTX 260 (192) (factory OC'd to 666 Mhz). I got just a few FPS more and slightly smoother gameplay (and got rid of it - wasn't worth the money for so little improvement). That leads me to believe that a GTX 260 (216) or HD 4870 1GB is the most you should go - even with a 24 inch monitor. They're very reasonable right now and I don't think you would see much - if any - benefit from a stronger card.
  6. Yeah, GTX 260+ or an HD4870 1 gig sound about right for that resolution without your CPU being too much of a limiting factor.
  7. Yeahp GTX 260 or 1gb 4870...

    As Jeffredo mentioned a 3.2ghz X2 with a 260GTX does pretty well under fallout 3 although i believe the 260 vs 8800 means you can enable higher levels of aa/af whilst still keeping smooth if i had the time to install and fully mod oblivion....

    I love my AMD 6000+ @ 3.2ghz and my 260GTX...
  8. You're CPU isn't too bad, though it would do better if it was overclocked. A 260 sp 216 would be a good choice. I can't imagine another one in SLI would do you much good without a really good CPU overclock. You may want to go with the 4870 1GB board though if you'd rather get a crossfire system in the future. After all, SLI ads a few more bucks to an i7 build or if you want to go AMD there aren't any AM3 SLI boards (no the Asus 980a board doesn't count because it uses DDR2 Ram). Crossifre is also more flexible as you can crossfire a 4870 with another 4870 or even a 4890 latter, but it's always a bit more, interesting, when mixing cards like that :D.
  9. The 8800 gtx was just about all my 6000 x2 could justify (minimal increase in performance with a new gtx 280) . Although as stated above, you may be able to use a higher aa/af settings with a 4870 class card.
  10. 1gb 4870
  11. I want to thank everybody for their input. I have decided to go with:

    EVGA 896-P3-1255-AR GeForce GTX 260 Core 216 896MB
    CORSAIR CMPSU-550VX 550W +12V@41A
  12. You're going to see a massive improvement over the 8600 GT. Congrats!
  13. Thats the same card I have. You will love it.
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