Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in
Your question
Solved

Spending money to upgrade RAM, Video, or both?

Last response: in Systems
Share
August 4, 2009 12:03:11 PM

Hello,

I am looking for some advice on upgrading one or more system components. I am running the following system and am pretty happy with the overall performance, and am sitting at a 5.8 Windows Experience Index (5.8 on HDD performance, 5.9 everything else), but I find myself with some cash to spend. I do a lot of video editing and encoding and get pretty good results, but am always looking to go faster, better. So I am thinking about possibly upgrading any one of 3 possible components: the PSU, RAM, and/or GPU.

I run an overclock in modified Cool n Quiet mode, using PhenomMSRTweaker, so that at full throttle, I have 17.5 multiplier putting the CPU at 3500ghz, and manage nice cool temps, under load 49, idle 31.

The PSU is an Antec Earthwatts 650, and though I don't think I have had any problems with it, I wonder sometimes, and know there are better (and modular!!!) PSUs out there that would put me more at ease pushing the system as I have a tendency to do. My RAM is DDR2 800, and for some reason this board volts it at 1.95, though it is supposed to be at 1.8 (no memory errors though). How much a boost would I notice from 1066 over my current speed (stock timings). Finally, though I have 2 HD3870's in Crossfire, with 512MB DDR5 memory each, I wonder if a single 48xx wouldn't outperform mine (FWIW, on this mobo, crossfire runs in PCI-8, not 16, though I have read that it is a difference which is difficult to notice). I could possibly upgrade all three, the PSU, the RAM and Video card, and look forward to finding out what the consensus is.

CPU: Phenom II x4 940 BE
Mobo: GA-MA790X-UD4P
Memory: 2x2GB OCZVU8002G=4GB
GPUs: GeCube HD3870 & Sapphire HD3870 in Crossfire
HDDs: WD5000AAKS 500GB, three of them, in IDE mode, backup to external USB WD My Passport 320GB
PSU: Antec EA650
Case: Antec 900
CPU Cooler: Xigmatek HDT-S1283 with fan from Dark Knight
GPU Cooler: Stock on both + 92mm PWM fan (ripped from Phenom's stock HSF)
Monitors: HF229H + VA1916W
OS: Vista x64 SP2 Home Premium


PSU I was thinking about:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... (Corsair only 620W but modular)
or
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... (Seasonic 700W modular with 4 12V rails)
or
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... (OCZ Modstream 700W for only $79.99!!)


RAM I was considering -- though I wonder if I need to consider that I might have to fit new chips in slots 3 & 4 if they're too high to sit in 1&2, i.e. no space under Xigmatek cooler
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... (GSkill, +highly rated by customers)
or
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... (Kingston)
or
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... (Kingston)

Video cards, I hadn't gone that far. Something 48xx, but hate to lay out more than $200+ if I don't have to and still get performance boost. I don't know much about the video cards, and though I've stuck to ATI lately, I'm open to NVidia if there's a good reason. Having an AMD board, though, I like having a single install point for chipset & video drivers...

Thank you to anyone who might have a suggestion or comment on my plan. I appreciate it and enjoy learning from you guys.

--Will

More about : spending money upgrade ram video

a b B Homebuilt system
August 4, 2009 12:55:14 PM

Do you game? If you don't, then 1 3870 is overkill. All of your vid editing/encoding will be pushing the CPU, and nothing on the GPU. So you're PSU is great too. If you work with large files or multiple files open at the same time, upping the amount of ram may provide the best performance boost. Not sure if I'd worry too much with 1066. And if your motherboard auto overvolts it, could start upping the speed and may close the gap to 1066. If you do get more ram, then try to get the same stuff you have in there now.

If you do game, the GPU would be a start. What resolution is your monitor?
m
0
l

Best solution

a b B Homebuilt system
August 4, 2009 1:11:22 PM

First off, your Antec power supply is a good, solid choice, and if you don't plan on seriously beefing up your system (especially in the graphics department) I'd leave it alone until you start having issues with it. As for going modular, there's very little tangible gain, and a small drawback. You do get simplified cable management, but if you have all kinds of peripherals as in your case, you'd be using up most of the modular attachments anyway. I think it was an article here on Tom's that I also read recently, that the extra terminations needed to make a PSU modular reduces overall efficiency slightly. Unless you really care about your computer's internal aesthetics, you may as well save a little money on a non-modular PSU.

Going from DDR2 800 to DDR2 1066 could possibly be worth it, just try to find new modules that have the lowest possible stock CAS latency. I think you'll find that it will be hard to find 1066 modules that have better latencies than 800's, but this is expected as the 1066s have more bandwidth to begin with.

As for video cards, your two 3870s are probably doing an ok job, but not really all that efficient. I've always been a fan of buying the best single graphics card solution I can buy with my budget. A 48xx is a pretty good choice, if you can swing it, something with dual gpus on a single card might be right up your alley with all the video editing you do.

Also on that note, I'd consider re-arranging your storage layout. upgrade your C: drive to a Caviar Black, or Seagate 7200.12. Take those 3 seagates you already have and put them in RAID 5. I did a similar setup for a friend who is really in to video editing and he said the extra performance he got out of his drives really helped out when working with raw footage, and processing in Adobe software.
Share
Related resources
August 4, 2009 2:11:30 PM

skora said:
Do you game? If you don't, then 1 3870 is overkill. All of your vid editing/encoding will be pushing the CPU, and nothing on the GPU. So you're PSU is great too. If you work with large files or multiple files open at the same time, upping the amount of ram may provide the best performance boost. Not sure if I'd worry too much with 1066. And if your motherboard auto overvolts it, could start upping the speed and may close the gap to 1066. If you do get more ram, then try to get the same stuff you have in there now.

If you do game, the GPU would be a start. What resolution is your monitor?



I do game a bit, nothing too hardcore like WoW, but when I do find one I like, I like to have good fps & resolution. My 22" is 1680x1050, and the 19" is at 1440x900, and I'm pretty happy with both, though they are definitely budget monitors, but good enough for the kind of work & play I do.

Re: the RAM, I wasn't thinking of adding more, just of replacing what I've got, which were the "Vista Upgrade Kit", pretty low end, I think, but totally satisfactory, with another 4 GB of 1066.

Thanks for the help, and it's good to know the PSU is solid. Phew! I should probably invest in a really good surge suppressor, I am realizing, because out here in the desert (Palm Springs, CA) in the summer, with all the AC's going round the clock, I do lose power & it comes back sometimes with a surge.
m
0
l
August 4, 2009 2:14:17 PM

wathman said:
First off, your Antec power supply is a good, solid choice, and if you don't plan on seriously beefing up your system (especially in the graphics department) I'd leave it alone until you start having issues with it. As for going modular, there's very little tangible gain, and a small drawback. You do get simplified cable management, but if you have all kinds of peripherals as in your case, you'd be using up most of the modular attachments anyway. I think it was an article here on Tom's that I also read recently, that the extra terminations needed to make a PSU modular reduces overall efficiency slightly. Unless you really care about your computer's internal aesthetics, you may as well save a little money on a non-modular PSU.

Going from DDR2 800 to DDR2 1066 could possibly be worth it, just try to find new modules that have the lowest possible stock CAS latency. I think you'll find that it will be hard to find 1066 modules that have better latencies than 800's, but this is expected as the 1066s have more bandwidth to begin with.

As for video cards, your two 3870s are probably doing an ok job, but not really all that efficient. I've always been a fan of buying the best single graphics card solution I can buy with my budget. A 48xx is a pretty good choice, if you can swing it, something with dual gpus on a single card might be right up your alley with all the video editing you do.

Also on that note, I'd consider re-arranging your storage layout. upgrade your C: drive to a Caviar Black, or Seagate 7200.12. Take those 3 seagates you already have and put them in RAID 5. I did a similar setup for a friend who is really in to video editing and he said the extra performance he got out of his drives really helped out when working with raw footage, and processing in Adobe software.


Hey, I hadn't thought of my storage -- that's a good idea, will definitely look into it. I imagine that similarly to what I do now, I would want to be reading from one drive (the new one, holding the system, and another partition for storage) while writing to another (the RAID). I'll check into it, thanks much!
m
0
l
a b B Homebuilt system
August 4, 2009 2:39:42 PM

The 3870 is enough for wow. I'd wait till there is a game that you do want to play that your current GPU setup doesn't perform to your standards. If its a game sooner than later, you'll be fine.

The storage setup will probably do more good than any other upgrade.
m
0
l
!