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Graphics card newbie, need to buy asap, please help

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November 2, 2009 1:13:58 AM

Hi all,

Found this forum today. Thought I'd ask because I'm basically clueless lol

It's a few more questions than just a graphics card so here goes.

What I want to do is upgrade my PC to use programs like Photoshop and After Effects (I'm new to AE though). I already can use these but man they slow down my comp because I'm only using the built in/on graphics card.

Having said the above, this is what my machine has:

1) Intel(R) Core(TM) 2 Quad CPU Q8200 @ 2.33GHz
2) 3.5GB DDR2 RAM
3) Vista Ultimate 64-bit
4) 420w PSU

I'm on a budget here (in the UK) so my budget is around £200-£250 which is roughly $330-$410 or so if that helps. Anyway, this is what I have been thinking about getting based on some research:

1) ATI Radeon HD4870 1GB GDDR5
2) Either a Corsair TX 650W PSU or OCZ StealthXStream 600w which is £20 cheaper but I'm reading mixed reviews
3) Probably something like Corsair XMS2 4GB (2x2GB) DDR2 PC2-6400C5 so I can have 6GB of RAM not the strange 3.5 I currently have

Btw, I don't plan on gaming just using software like Photoshop and After Effects CS3 (not necessarily at the same time). I'm not a "heavy" user of either program but I do use Photoshop more often as I do web design.

The above would take me to about £250-£270 so a little over budget but I've heard not to scrimp on the PSU.

Any tips, advice, or overall yay or nay on any of the above would be appreciated. I don't have a graphics card other than whatever came as standard so I'm hoping with these upgrades that my comp will run much faster, smoother, and hopefully quiet! :) 

Thanks for any help

Scott
November 2, 2009 1:41:56 AM

erics_dad said:
Hi all,

Found this forum today. Thought I'd ask because I'm basically clueless lol

It's a few more questions than just a graphics card so here goes.

What I want to do is upgrade my PC to use programs like Photoshop and After Effects (I'm new to AE though). I already can use these but man they slow down my comp because I'm only using the built in/on graphics card.

Having said the above, this is what my machine has:

1) Intel(R) Core(TM) 2 Quad CPU Q8200 @ 2.33GHz
2) 3.5GB DDR2 RAM
3) Vista Ultimate 64-bit
4) 420w PSU

I'm on a budget here (in the UK) so my budget is around £200-£250 which is roughly $330-$410 or so if that helps. Anyway, this is what I have been thinking about getting based on some research:

1) ATI Radeon HD4870 1GB GDDR5
2) Either a Corsair TX 650W PSU or OCZ StealthXStream 600w which is £20 cheaper but I'm reading mixed reviews
3) Probably something like Corsair XMS2 4GB (2x2GB) DDR2 PC2-6400C5 so I can have 6GB of RAM not the strange 3.5 I currently have

Btw, I don't plan on gaming just using software like Photoshop and After Effects CS3 (not necessarily at the same time). I'm not a "heavy" user of either program but I do use Photoshop more often as I do web design.

The above would take me to about £250-£270 so a little over budget but I've heard not to scrimp on the PSU.

Any tips, advice, or overall yay or nay on any of the above would be appreciated. I don't have a graphics card other than whatever came as standard so I'm hoping with these upgrades that my comp will run much faster, smoother, and hopefully quiet! :) 

Thanks for any help

Scott


Hi Scott, the parts you have listed will give major improvments to your configuration.. In general any gaming gpu will run photoshop just fine I could see you even going with something less expensive than the HD4870 but right now the HD5750s and 5770s are looking like the best upgrade path for you. in general to run photoshop and after effects you need a good powerful CPU which you already have a quad core!! :)  the 650w corsair should be enough power as long as you dont overclock your pc.. as for the ram I wouldnt run different speeds, if your old memory isnt same speed and timings i would just use the new memory and upgrade to another 4gbs of the same stuff later on down the road.
a b U Graphics card
November 2, 2009 2:03:11 AM

0.5 GB of your ram is being 'eaten' by your onboard gpu, which means when you get a discrete, you will get it back, meaning with an additional 4 GB you would have a total of 8 GB. Before adding ram, however, you should check your mobo and make sure you have 2 slots open. That being said, I would get the Corsair TX 650 (Corsair is a more reliable brand than OCZ, plus the corsair has a single 12 V rail, which makes power balancing very easy-actually you don't have to worry at all with a single 12 V), and either a 4870 or one of the newer 5000 series. Since you don't game, though, you will likely have more performance per euro with a 4870, as most of the new features (dx 11, namely) only affects gaming (though in truth it doesn't affect anything right now, as there aren't any dx 11 games yet, but now I'm rambling).
Related resources
November 2, 2009 2:03:39 AM

Hi x-nitrous-x,

Firstly, thank you for taking the time to read and reply :)  I really appreciate it.

OK, here are some truly "newbie" questions but, I thought I'd ask:

1) When you say "the 650w corsair should be enough power as long as you dont overclock your pc". I know I can Google what "clocking" means and I've read it a lot in forums, but what does that mean exactly and how do you avoid overclocking?

2) Regarding RAM running at different speeds. Once again, I had no clue about that but it makes perfect sense. Right now I've got 4 slots and 3 x 1GB cards and 1 x 512MB. I assume what you're recommending is to maybe buy 4 (2 x 2GB) of RAM and use those instead of my current 3.5GB right?

Would you suggest then that I don't use a sort of 2GB + 1GB and mirror that with another 2GB + 1GB so I have 6GB altogether or is it better to stick to the 4GB (of new RAM) and like you said buy another 4 (if I want/need to) later on? Just wanted to clarify.

3) I just did a quick search of some UK vendors and I can see the HD4870 being slightly cheaper than say the HD5770. However, are you recommending spending the extra £15 or so and get the 5770?

Thanks again for your help. I'm learning a lot as I go :) 

Cheers

Scott
November 2, 2009 2:08:43 AM

Hi Pepperman,

Thanks for the reply. I was considering either the corsair or ocz and I think you've just convinced me toward the corsair :) 

Good point about the RAM. As I just replied to x-nitrous-x I have 4 slots but 3 are taken by 1GB cards and one is 512MB (I know, the wrong way to do it eh?).

So, I think what I'll do is buy 2 x 2GB ddr2 RAM (or should I go for ddr3 and stick with 4GB and upgrade over time?).

Since I have 4 slots, would it be a bad thing to have 2GB + 1GB + 2GB + 1GB for 6GB total or should I completely avoid mixing GBs?

Thanks for your input as well

Cheers
a b U Graphics card
November 2, 2009 2:21:05 AM

You could do a 2GB + 1GB + 2GB + 1GB, but x-nitrous-x is right, you want to make sure the speeds match, or it will default to the lowest speed ram. It will run, though, and it will even run in dual channel if you put them in the correct slots (refer to your mobo's manual for info on this).
You can't use DDR3 ram, however, as you have a DDR2 board. You could upgrade the board, but it wouldn't be worth the at most 5% performance increase.
Right now the 5770 doesn't perform as well as the 4870. The only reason people recommend it is for the lower power consumption, dx 11, and the possibility that it will overcome its crippled memory interface with new drivers (this won't happen, however, and the only thing the 5770 will beat the 4870 in is dx 11, which you don't need for your uses). If you want the lower power consumption, and if you're worried about your electric bill, you may be, or you think you might want to start gaming in a year or two when dx 11 becomes mainstream (at which point you will likely want a new gpu if you really want to game) you should get the 5770; if you want the most performance for your euro, in that price range, you should get the 4870.

a c 376 U Graphics card
November 2, 2009 3:23:31 AM

You aren't gaming so leave your PSU alone and get an HD4670. The previous suggestions will be much more expensive and the difference for your purposes will be extremely marginal.
a b U Graphics card
November 2, 2009 3:55:50 AM

Overclocking is something you have to strive to do, very hard to accidentally achieve. It is the act of changing the way your computer runs to speed it up, by raising the clocks over stock values on the various pieces of hardware, where the term "overclocking" comes from. You do this through dedicated programs, and by fiddling with the bios on your motherboard, or videocard. If you don't know how to do this, and don't really understand what I just explained, it is highly unlikely that you would accidentally do it, let alone do it on purpose. :D 
November 2, 2009 9:27:22 AM

jyjjy said:
You aren't gaming so leave your PSU alone and get an HD4670. The previous suggestions will be much more expensive and the difference for your purposes will be extremely marginal.


I second that! :) 

to answer the question about the recommendation of the hd5000 series. . . I just did that because it is the newest technology and it will have native direct X 11 hardware support.. would still get that power supply though! then you would have a backup psu..
November 2, 2009 10:08:36 AM

Hi guys,

Thanks once again for helping this tech idiot out! lol

I ended up getting this (because I hadn't read jyjjy's reply at the time):

1) Corsair 4GB (2x2GB) DDR2 800MHz/PC2-6400 XMS2 Memory Kit CL5 1.8v
2) XFX HD 4870 750M 1GB DDR5 DUAL DVI TV Out PCI-E Graphics Card
3) Corsair 650W TX Series PSU - 120mm Fan, 80+% Efficiency, Single +12V Rail

So, even though it may be a bit overkill if I'm not gaming, from what I could tell about programs like After Effects where you're rendering particles etc. I figured the more power I could get the better.

When I have photoshop open, even if no other program other than Excel or whatever, I noticed that sometimes my computer would take forever when I switched between the two. I can only assume it's because I've been running off the stock graphics card on my mother board. I design websites so I definitely needed an upgrade. Starting to learn After Effects would make that even more important.

However, I understand that gaming is quite different to running these programs. Um, I think lol

So, do you guys think all the fans in the GPU and PSU will be loud?

Anyway, thanks JofaMang for explaining overclocking. Is this something I should research and figure out how to do or just leave my system alone since I'm not gaming?

Either way, I really really appreciate the feedback here. Its helped me tremendously and I only really went overbudget by about £30 or £50 or so.

Many thanks!

Scott
November 2, 2009 10:46:04 AM

yeh it was probably the stock graphics but more over the ram speed and the psu had large impacts on your sluggishness

the gpu fan will be loud if you turn it up to 100%.. I have a 4870x2 2gb and its very loud on anything over 40%

you should probably leave the overclocking alone as it takes away from other things that one could be doing on a pc instead of trying to kill them like me and many others on this forum ;)  hahah stock speeds will serve you well..
November 2, 2009 1:21:10 PM

Thanks again x-nitrous-x :) 

Btw, do you think it's worth upgrading to another 4GB of RAM when I can afford it? I mean, will the extra RAM (so a total of 8GB) be even better when it comes to using Photoshop and After Effects?

My question pertains more to After Effects because I'll be creating short "films" where I'm rendering graphics that fly by, explode, doing all sorts of cool effects, and so on.

Or, does that all come down to the graphics card(s) and 4GB of RAM is enough? Just not sure if it's a graphics card situation or the RAM. Probably both!

Thanks again to all who gave advice. Learned a lot in the past 24 hours lol
November 2, 2009 4:10:13 PM

Photoshop benefits from more memory, multiple processors or cores, and a fast hard drives. Doesn't take much of a GPU at all, as it's not a 3D application. Typically in Photoshop and After Effects any card over 512 mb will give more than enough headroom.
Aftereffects is really going to benefit from the videocard more than photoshop. That 4870 will do everything you need it to.
The only way you will be able to take advantage of more than 4gb's of memory is change to a 64bit operating system.. so if you dont already have a 64 bit copy of windows vista or windows 7 and dont want to buy it yet see how 4gb's treats you first, im sure it will be just fine.
If you are wanting more performance after the upgrades you just did maybe you should look into doing a raid 0 array.
November 2, 2009 4:49:00 PM

Thanks once again x-nitrous-x. Man, I've got lots to learn! lol

Well, I believe I mentioned I have Vista Ultimate 64-bit so I believe my comp could handle more RAM, ie as much as 8GB if I'm not mistaken.

I've been seeing stuff lately about doing something with BIOS (maybe that's for overclocking?) and something about mobo but, I figure I'll Google that stuff instead of just asking for more info on it. :) 

I should get my parts tomorrow so I'm excited about that and to see how my computer improves, especially using After Effects. Because I build blogs, I usually have 50+ browser windows open at any one time, sometimes Excel and some other "lightweight" programs like Notepad. But, even though I have a quad core and a 64-bit OS, it still makes Photoshop lag.

So, we'll see how it goes. I'll Google "raid 0 array" and see if I can learn more about it. I'm frightened of messing anything up haha

Cheers once again dude!
November 2, 2009 5:01:33 PM

Cool, ok sorry I see where you listed you had a 64bit vista.. yeh update us here when you get the parts in and let us know what you think.. :) 

November 4, 2009 10:23:56 AM

Thanks for the resources obsidian86!

So, the Titan Fenrir, is that something you all use? I mean, is this to replace the fan/cooler I have that came stock with my computer? Makes sense and once again, a product I never knew existed lol

Btw, I did buy my PSU from ebuyer :)  Actually, got all my stuff from there as they seemed to be the best price.

Well, I got everything set up now which was a bit nerve racking as I wasn't 100% sure I set everything up correctly. All seems fine now....so far! lol

I noticed that my screen res is better/higher and overall I'd say I notice a difference. However, couple questions I'd like to ask:

1) It still takes my computer about 2-3 minutes to start up. Is that because I have 10,000 files/folder on my laptop lol or is it because I need more RAM? I'm running 4GB of RAM now and got rid of my 3.5 sticks

2) I'm currently in the process of teaching myself After Effects. And, I notice when I watch the tutorial videos (standard types of videos I think) that they don't play.

I'll explain. Last night I was watching videos no problem. I tend to leave my computer on overnight. So, this morning when I went to watch another video, it only shows 1-5 second of the video then stops. It's not just one site, it's almost any site that has videos (the tutorial video site, vimeo, youtube, etc.).

Seems like I have to restart my comp just to have them all play fine again. I've tried Ctrl+F5 to refresh the sites from the browser but it seems like it's something to do with my computer/setup. Is there some sort of caching going on or lack of caching??

Anyone know what problem(s) I'm talking about? Before, I upgraded my system yesterday, I never had this video watching problem.

Thanks again

Scott
November 4, 2009 10:26:23 AM

Sorry, didn't mean to say "laptop", rather "desktop"
November 4, 2009 5:40:45 PM

Honestly if your getting those kinds of problems I would have to recommend a fresh install of windows
you may just have some malware or some kind of virus.. it would be very hard to tell.. maybe you need to run a hard drive diagnostic..
if you dont want to reinstall windows you could try apps like tuneup utilities and some defragmentation programs registry cleaners etc.
always scan for malware and viruses when you see things like this happen.. try this little program http://www.malwarebytes.org it finds lots of nasty bugs
November 4, 2009 8:57:18 PM

Thanks guys,

Not sure about reinstalling Vista, would that not wipe out all my current programs/files/folders? I've literally got thousands of them on my desktop (I'm a web designer). I guess I could do a backup of my HD and reinstall.

Running Malwarebytes now, so far so good.

How's Windows 7? Was Vista really a mistake? lol
November 4, 2009 9:17:37 PM

Windows 7 is pretty darn nice!! and FASSST! I tried the betas in virtual machines and partitions and different hard drives on different systems.
Im sticking to Windows Vista Ultimate 64 w/ sp2 for my primary.. I try not to upgrade until they have at least matured to Service Pack 1 for my gaming rig. But Windows 7 seems more stable than any other new operating system that microsoft has ever released.. Fewer kinks to work out.. Although I havent had a bad experience with Vista 64 either..
!