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Upgrade Question (Based around getting a new graphics card)

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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June 22, 2009 4:18:12 PM

Hey all -- first post here.

My current setup is this:

Mobo: Asus P5W DH Deluxe
CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo e6600
RAM: 2GB Corsair XMS2 DDR2 800
GPU: eVGA 7950 GX2
HDD1: WD Raptor 120GB SATA
HDD2: WD? 320 GB SATA
OS: Windows XP 32 bit
PSU: OCZ 480w something or other (can't remember model number)

As you can probably tell, my comp was built in the summer of 2006 with what was pretty hot stuff back then. That being said, I literally haven't touched it since. Haven't had to reformat, didn't feel the need to OC anything, and have been generally happy with the performance.

Lately, I have noticed the computer slowing down. I certainly need to reformat, and I figured if I am going to do it, I might as well upgrade to Vista (gag) and get DX10 capability. That also means a new video card.

My thinking was this: I'll keep my current mobo and CPU and overclock the CPU (heard the e6600 is a good overclocker and I have a Zalman 9500 on it, so that should handle the heat). I also plan to add at least 2 more gigs (probably 4 for a total of 6 GB) RAM. I do understand that I would have to do Vista 64 bit to realize all of that RAM. As for the video card, I think the XFX Radeon HD4890 looks like a great card, and since my mobo is crossfire capable, I can always buy another one later down the road if/when I need it.

Questions:

1) Do you think I would be bottlenecked too much with the current CPU overclocked to ~3.0GHZ? Also, would the 800FSB on the RAM bottleneck the performance too much to make this worth it?

2) Is 6GB RAM overkill? I am always multi-tasking and playing games. I currently play mostly CS, but want to get some newer games like CoD: WaW, Crysis, etc. Would 4GB suffice?

3) Is there any hindrance to running 4 1GB sticks or 2x1GB sticks and 2x2GB sticks? I know some mobos don't like it when all 4 RAM slots are occupied.

4) My PSU is rated at 480w. I know that is a little shy of what the video card recommends, but I haven't had any problems thus far and I think the OCZ PSUs are pretty tough. Would this work or am I wrong?

5) Does this sound like this plan would work alright, or am I missing stuff? Any suggestions (including parts)/changes would be greatly appreciated.
June 23, 2009 6:30:37 AM

Well, you should base your GPU upgrade choice on what your display is. IIRC, the 4890 is overkill for a 1680 x 1050 LCD/monitor.

You should be fine with 4GB. Look for an article on the main site of Tom's which tries out various memory setups and benchmarks them.

The only other suggestion I have is that the more sticks you use, the more heat you generate. So stick to 2 x 2gb please.

Hope this helps!
a b U Graphics card
June 23, 2009 8:15:41 AM

^+1...
1) For that resolution, your CPU @ around 3.0GHz should do fine...And there will be no performance gains going with anything faster than a 800MHz RAM as intel CPUs cannot use the additional speed...

2) & 3) Yes like the above member said 6GB is not required...better off getting 2x2GB stick because when all the slots are populated, there might be a decrease in memory bandwidth and maybe would increase the CAS...

4) You can get the 4870 1GB for that resolution as 4890 would be an overkill and might put more load on that PSU of yours...And that PSU of your can handle that card...

5) Yes, your plan would work out good...
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a b U Graphics card
June 23, 2009 2:00:09 PM

I like the advice here.
4870 1GB
2x2gig of good 800mhz DDR2, look for tight timings over anything else.
Crank that e6600 up to 3ghz. It'll run great.
Your build has a lot of gaming life left yet. :) 
June 23, 2009 3:10:32 PM

First off -- thanks for the help all. Glad to hear my rig will have a good amount of life left if I upgrade a few components.

I am currently running a Viewsonic (can't remember the model number, but as with my other parts it was one of their spiffy ones from back in '06) 21" widescreen monitor at 1680 x 1050.

Sounds like I'll heed to your advice and go with the 4870 1GB. I guess if and when games start to become powerfull for that card I can either buy another one and go with a CrossFire configuration or build a new system completely (that latter will probably be the more likely option as my other parts will be pretty old by then).

Also, glad to hear that 4GB or RAM is enough. I can't believe how cheap it is now. I'll just pick up a 2 x 2GB set and replace my current 2 x 1GB.

A few more quesitons:

1) Any specific recommendations on HD 4870s that you guys like? While browsing over at the egg, I saw this one and like the slightly faster core clock and memory clock. What do you all think?

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


2) How about RAM? I was thinking this set offers pretty tight timings, has good reviews, and is pretty cheap:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
a b U Graphics card
June 23, 2009 3:16:31 PM

There is no point in getting more RAM until you upgrade to a 64bit OS (windows vsita or windows 7, frankly the RC of windows 7 is pretty good, certainly good enough to tide most people over till it actually coems out). With a 1gig card you are only going to be able to use 2.5 or so gigs.
a c 165 U Graphics card
June 23, 2009 5:56:25 PM

^ +1 on that, mate, I like that type of cooler anyway and the IceQ is supposed to be both quiet and cool.
If you upgrade the OS, get 64 bit, there's really no reason not to these days.

The C2D will overclock nicely, I played with mine breifly and pushed it to 3.2 without any problems.
!