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Would adding a 2nd vid card be a good idea?

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October 2, 2009 4:56:45 AM

System specs:

450 W power supply (think that will probably kill it right there).
Asus P5Q Pro MB
2GB Ram
Core 2 Duo E8400 @ 3 GHz
Radeon HD 3800 512 MB

Here's the issue I've been having. With certain games, the VPU crashes (It then recovers, but on the bad games, it will crash again almost immediately, and then I usually have to reboot). Some games it does it very soon after launch, most games it doesn't do it at all. I just upgraded the drivers on the vid card and it seems to be getting worse instead of better, and I have bday money coming so I'm thinking of replacing it.

However, my MB does support crossfire, so I was wondering if instead of just chucking the 3800, if I could crossfire the new one with it, would it still probably stop the problem, or no?

It's very frustrating as most games work fine, Sins of a Solar Empire at most max settings runs fine and the VPU may crash once after 4 hours or so, then it's fine. If I play WoW in full screen mode, it's one of the bad games, but in window mode, it's fine.

I've looked at tech support at ATI, they say most likely it's the MB, looked at tech support at ASUS, and IIRC they said it was the vid card (typical.... :fou:  )

Aside from this one issue, my system is rock solid, actually freezes/crashes every 3 months unless I'm doing something stupid :D  . I'm guessing the 450w power supply will kill any ideas of running 2 vid cards, right? Do you think replacing the vid card is a good idea, is it the MB that's doing it, or what? Any advice appreciated :) .

Anyway here's a partial list of what games will and won't run, dunno if it will do you guys any good:

Runs fine/never seems to crash the VPU:
The Sims 3
Hearts of Iron 3
The Battle for Middle Earth (1 & 2)
Street Fighter 4 (Haven't played it too much, but no crashes in about 1-1/2 hours so far).
Romance of the Three Kingdoms 11 (In window mode)
Spore

Occasionally crashes the VPU (Playable, sometimes need to reboot)
WoW in Window Mode (usually only in PvP situations with LOTS of stuff going on)
Oblivion
Sins of a Solar Empire (barely counts, hardly ever does it, but it has crashed the VPU before so)

Fuhgettaboutit (Always crashes the VPU almost on launch or in 5 minutes of play).
WoW in full screen mode
RotTK 11 in full screen mode
Elemental: War of Magic beta 1 (I know it's in beta, but I'm afraid whatever is causing the VPU to crash may persist even when the game is finished, and I hate to report the bug when it may be only my system that's doing it).
Rise of Legends (Of all things, good thing it's not that great a game, but now that I can't play it, I WANNA play it :lol:  The grass is always greener :)  ).
I think there may be a couple others that fall in this category, but whatever they were they weren't worth getting excited about so I just deleted them, know theres been at least a couple like that.
a c 169 U Graphics card
a b ) Power supply
October 2, 2009 6:43:35 AM

Another vote for getting a 5850
October 2, 2009 6:59:18 AM

What's the make and model of your power supply? If it's a Corsair 450 watt model, then you should have no problems upgrading the video card. However, if it's a no-name brand 450 watter, than it might be part of your current problem.

I'll second the other two guys; forget getting another 3850. 4870s are dirt cheap, and will be a good upgrade over what you currently have. You could also consider overclocking your CPU a bit, and some more RAM couldn't hurt, either.
Related resources
a b U Graphics card
October 2, 2009 7:05:20 AM

Yep, that's an old and inefficient card, even an HD4770 makes more sense overall, and if you're having trouble with a single card now, Xfire isn't going to be a solution if you don't know why it's happening, you're more likely to make it worse.

Just look at a complete replacement, see what card fits your budget and look for the best features for your games. Xbit did a recent MMO review of a bunch of last generations cards, it should help you figure out which is best for you.
a b U Graphics card
October 2, 2009 7:14:00 AM

I agree fully with Ape and most newer cards will run all of these games just fine. WoW doesn't need that much power other then in large raids were there is both a ton of enemies and allies on screen and even then you can get away with a 4770 just fine depending on your res.
a c 169 U Graphics card
a b ) Power supply
October 2, 2009 8:23:31 AM

TheGreatGrapeApe said:
Yep, that's an old and inefficient card, even an HD4770 makes more sense overall, and if you're having trouble with a single card now, Xfire isn't going to be a solution if you don't know why it's happening, you're more likely to make it worse.

Just look at a complete replacement, see what card fits your budget and look for the best features for your games. Xbit did a recent MMO review of a bunch of last generations cards, it should help you figure out which is best for you.


To add to what greatape said,here is the link
Contemporary Mainstream Graphics Cards in Popular MMORPG:
http://xbitlabs.com/articles/video/display/mainstream-c...
October 2, 2009 8:37:42 AM

get the 5850 and dont look back

Best solution

a b U Graphics card
October 2, 2009 9:08:47 AM
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5850 requires new power supply for sure, 4770 wouldn't.

I like the 5850, but in this case the 4770 or at least a 5750, would seem to be a better fit.
October 2, 2009 9:16:06 AM

yea but whats the cost of a psu 4 you yanks ? nexted to nothing i say future proof yourself a little
a b U Graphics card
October 2, 2009 9:19:28 AM

The HD4770 gets him well into the future and saves him about $100, plus the cost of the PSU you want him to get.

Combine those together and he can get a new card next year that goes further towards futue-proofing than buying an HD5850.
I'd say wait for the HD57x series, but I think he needs a card relatively soon.

Anywhoo that's my reco.
a c 236 U Graphics card
a c 126 ) Power supply
October 2, 2009 5:23:21 PM

In general, why do video cards fail when under load?

1) They are defective. That is a possibility in this case, but proper functioning in some games suggests that the card is ok.
2) Driver issues. Since the drivers have been updated, and these are not the newest of games, then that is probably not the issue.
3) Heat. As the card has to work harder, it draws more power and generates heat. Try opening up the case and direct a house fan at the innards. If the problem lessens, then you have identified a heat issue. Check to see that the fan is spinning at it's maximum rate under load.
4) Power. As a card works harder, it draws more power, putting stress on the PSU. If the PSU is of suspect quality, or underpowered, then strange things can happen. Cheap PSU's can also deteriorate over time. Can you try a different psu in your system to check out this possibility. If you run your games at a lower resolution and with minimal eye candy, does the failure rate improve? Such changes will lower the stress on the video card.

If you decide to change out the card, look for a meaningful jump in capability, or you will be disappointed. The 4770 is about as high as you should go with a 450w psu. It is built on a 40nm process, so it will be easier on your psu. You can't add another 3850 without upgrading the PSU.

Your E8400@3.0 will run almost anything well, there is no need to add other issues by overclocking. Just look at the task manager while playing any game to see how busy the cpu is now.

I would consider upgrading to 4gb of ram. Ram is cheap. Here's why:
http://www.corsair.com/_appnotes/AN804_Gaming_Performan...
a c 91 U Graphics card
a b ) Power supply
October 2, 2009 5:24:06 PM

The 4770 would be a big upgrade for most of your games with the exceptions being Oblivion and WoW........ the 4770 doesn't have enough frame buffer ( 128 ) for games like this........ what resolution do you play at ? If at lower resolutions or on a CRT monitor you might be ok. You should toss in a couple of sticks of memory ( 2-2gig sticks ) ( DDR2 800 ? ) this will help you also. Toss the old stuff don't mix it. These 2 upgrades would be about 150-160 dollars... cheap from where I sit.

The video card drivers........ some of the newer ones don't play nice with older cards. Try reverting back to what you had.

EDIT: Back to the card.... I put a 4830 in a slower machine than yours and it played quite well. If money is an option the 4770 would be a good choice and it will work with your power supply vs a GTX260 or 4870 so to speak. You will probably have some troubles with Oblivion.
October 2, 2009 8:57:48 PM

First of all, thanks for all the help :) . I wasn't quite clear enough I guess, I was definately thinking of getting a 4770, newegg has 'em for about $100 which is perfect. So I'll be ditching the old card then. I've checked on the heating issue by running gpu-z (which checks the temp of the card), and it seems to be running at a good temp after crashes, so I don't *think* it's heat. Hopefully the 4770 will resolve it *crosses fingers*.

Wish I could upgrade to a 5770, but that and a new PSU is outta my budget unfortunately. Maybe next bday :) .
a c 91 U Graphics card
a b ) Power supply
October 2, 2009 10:03:54 PM

Your old card just can't handle what you're throwing at it anymore. That's all. You'll notice a substantial "upgrade" after you install this card. Think about the extra memory.
a c 212 U Graphics card
a c 124 ) Power supply
October 2, 2009 10:05:27 PM

Nanite said:
I've looked at tech support at ATI, they say most likely it's the MB, looked at tech support at ASUS, and IIRC they said it was the vid card (typical.... :fou:  )


On e reason why I like to buy GFX card and MoBo from same manufacturer. Though Asus seems to be slow outta the gate with their 58xx series. Then again, not like you can find them in stock anywhere by anyone else.
October 10, 2009 8:05:02 AM

Well, got the card today (4770), and the games I was having problems with are all working now. I wish I could use the extra memory, but I'm still running xp32 bit. Waiting for windows 7, when I get that I'm gonna get the extra sticks of ram.
a c 169 U Graphics card
a b ) Power supply
October 10, 2009 12:41:35 PM

Glad to hear the problems are fixed :) 
!