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Better CPU or GFX Card?

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December 12, 2009 9:46:23 PM

Hey guys. I have a budget of 300 dollars. I love gaming. I want to upgrade, but I do not know whether my money will be better spent on a better cpu or gfx card. My system has an AMD2+ board so it is kind of limiting in terms of cpu's. It also has 1.5G of RAM.

I currently use a 8400GS and a Athlon LE-1640 (2.7). What do you think?

More about : cpu gfx card

a b B Homebuilt system
a b 4 Gaming
a b à CPUs
December 12, 2009 10:13:14 PM

Definetly the video card first, that 8400gs is about 2 tiers under what would be considered even a bottom end gaming card. Check your PSU to make sure it can meet the requirements of the new GPU you select. You don't need/cannot make use of a $300 card though.
Something along the lines of a GTS 250 would be a huge world of difference for only about $140. Put the rest towards another gig of memory, or eventually a better processor.
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December 12, 2009 10:26:00 PM

Oh so gfx card then. My PSU is "peak load 500W". Would that factor in my selection?
a b B Homebuilt system
a b 4 Gaming
a b à CPUs
December 12, 2009 11:11:39 PM

Ugh, 95W thermal envelope and it looks like they haven't updated the CPU support in a while. Anyway, Looking at the CPU support list looks like you can go with a Phenom II X4 910e at 2.6Ghz. Going over to newegg though shows they don't have it, but they do have the 905e for $189

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

Your board also supports the 705e which they have for $119

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

It certainly would be a big improvement over the CPU you currently have. If you go with the X4, you would only have enough money left over for a Radeon 4850, which is getting harder to find. If you go with the X3 though you can get a more capable Radeon 5770. Either way it would be a big improvement :D 
a b B Homebuilt system
a b à CPUs
December 12, 2009 11:13:37 PM

For 325, you can get this.

Phenom II X4 Deneb@3Ghz
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

XFX HD4890
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

That's stretching it though, because you still could/should get at least another 1/2gig of ram in there. As far as PSU goes, I'd get a better look at your PSU's brand and amperage ratings. The peak wattage doesn't mean a whole lot, because you don't want to be there.
a b B Homebuilt system
a b à CPUs
December 12, 2009 11:18:49 PM

I lied to you. I forgot about the 65w limit. Revising...
December 12, 2009 11:24:41 PM

jack_attack said:
I lied to you. I forgot about the 65w limit. Revising...


I think its a 95W limit.
a b B Homebuilt system
a b à CPUs
December 12, 2009 11:29:11 PM

Yes, you're right. It's been a long day. I should have said, it can't do 125W. :) 
December 13, 2009 12:37:07 PM

How do I know if I need to upgrade PSU? Is there a way to tell how much power the components need in total?
a c 104 B Homebuilt system
a c 283 4 Gaming
a c 866 à CPUs
December 13, 2009 3:31:05 PM

bounty_killa said:
I notice everyone is recommending "directx10" cards. But I see here:

http://www.msi.com/index.php?func=prodmbspec&maincat_no...

that my mobo supports DX9. So does this mean they are not compatible? Or does this just mean I would not be able to take advantage of DX10 features?

It is the video chipset on the board that can only handle DX9. You will only be able to have the benefits of DX10 if you run Vista or 7. XP only supports DX9 but all new cards are backwards capable for that.
December 13, 2009 10:23:13 PM

Okay so I'm going to look out for those cards. Oh and about the RAM, its really 8GB that it supports. So I can just take out the 512 stick and put a 4GB stick in its place right?

But from what I understand, all memory are not made equal. So what exactly am I looking for in memory? (DDR2)
December 14, 2009 3:40:15 AM

I suggest you should save up a bit more. u'll get a lot better parts (value/$ wise) maybe a new mobo that can support stronger cpu :)  like the x4 940 (damm only 150 now)
December 14, 2009 4:40:48 AM

well your current system can,t be used for playing games even at lowest settings...
I recommend you to go for the following system...
AMD AthlonII x4 630($120)
Asus M4A78-HTPC($100)
RAM-It can be your previous ones if they are ddr2,add 1.5 gb more
GFX-RADEON hd 4770($110)
a b B Homebuilt system
a b à CPUs
December 14, 2009 4:22:07 PM

sayantan said:
well your current system can,t be used for playing games even at lowest settings...
I recommend you to go for the following system...
AMD AthlonII x4 630($120)
Asus M4A78-HTPC($100)
RAM-It can be your previous ones if they are ddr2,add 1.5 gb more
GFX-RADEON hd 4770($110)



Really? Even though he can drop a Phenom II X4 into that board, you're pricing out an HTPC board, a 47xx card, and an Athlon II? That system is most definitely upgradeable, and you're telling him to spend money on a HTPC board and a low-middle range GPU. I wouldn't do any of that.
December 15, 2009 11:18:17 AM

jack_attack said:
Really? Even though he can drop a Phenom II X4 into that board, you're pricing out an HTPC board, a 47xx card, and an Athlon II? That system is most definitely upgradeable, and you're telling him to spend money on a HTPC board and a low-middle range GPU. I wouldn't do any of that.


AM2+ mobo do support phenom II but thre are certain limitaions...eg the max power rating of phenom processors are 95W but phenomII x4(AM2+) processors have a power rating of 125W,so majority of AM2+ motherboards are designed to supports 95w processors only...hence a phenomII x4 might create problem with such motherboards

check this out:http://products.amd.com/en-us/desktopcpuresult.aspx?f1=...

Only the latest AM2+ mobos support 125w processors..
and I am pretty sure that his current mobo was bought when PHII weren't released....so the chances of supporting a 125 W processor is also very slim...



a b B Homebuilt system
a b à CPUs
December 15, 2009 3:46:20 PM

Right, but apparently, certain PHII's are rated lower. I'm not sure where he'd go about finding one, but they're out there.
December 15, 2009 10:19:45 PM

Well I don't think I have enough money for a cpu upgrade too, because although 300 dollars seems like a lot for a video card I also have to pay to ship it to where I live (Caribbean) and I have to pay a significant tax. So I will probably cost me twice than what newegg is asking for.

What if I was to just get a dual-core Athlon cpu? I mean in the future of course...are quad-cores so necessary to gaming at the moment?
a b B Homebuilt system
a b à CPUs
December 15, 2009 11:24:50 PM

Personally, I don't think quads are necessary, at the moment. I play every game, with the exception of crysis, on max detail with very playable framerates with a Core2, usually around 2.9ghz. That's not to say you shouldn't get a quad, because games are getting released now that can use more than 2 cores. It's really difficult to pick GPU or CPU, because the one that doesn't get upgraded will really hold you back. I'd definitely try to squeak at least a dual core CPU in there as well as a GPU, if at all possible, but I can't really build you a setup, because I don't know how the shipping and taxes work in the Caribbean.
December 15, 2009 11:36:50 PM

Ok well basically it comes down to x1.5. So if I was to order a gtx 260 costing us$200 I would have to pay us$300.(approx)

But since I most likely wouldn't be able to upgrade my gpu AND cpu, I should still see an increase in performance right if I go the gpu route?
a b B Homebuilt system
a b à CPUs
December 15, 2009 11:39:16 PM

Yes, you'll see a difference. How much, I really can't say for sure. I know that you won't unlock all of that cards performance, that's for sure.
December 16, 2009 4:58:31 AM

with your current cpu you might not be able to realize 60% of gtx260 performance.....So better go for the following configuration

Athlon X2 7750 BE @ 2.7 GHz($120 or less)
MSI Radeon HD 4850($120) or ASUS Radeon HD 4770($105 or less)


this will be a more balanced configuration and you will get more frames on average....

besides the Black edition processors also have an unlocked multiplier ,so you can overclock it by just increasing the multiplier ...The Athlon X2 7750 BE can be easily overclocked to 3.2GHz using stock coolers....Also you can overclock the 4770 to great extent..
a b B Homebuilt system
a b à CPUs
December 16, 2009 5:07:51 AM

That's a good choice of parts there sayan. If you can get the money together for that, you'll have a big improvement over what you had.
December 17, 2009 8:17:54 PM

Hi,dont know if my question is in the right place,sorry if its not,i was wondering,i have 2 4870 running in crossfire and i have got to be honest i thought that they would perform better than they do,sometimes i get better performance running just the one card. My question is i have a AMD X4 9950 2.6ghz Black Edition processor,could this be bottle necking and reducing the performance of the cards.I was thinking of getting a single 5870,but if the processor is not up to it then there is no point.I am running windows 7 with 8Gig of ram. Any help would be much appriciated.
a b B Homebuilt system
a b à CPUs
December 17, 2009 8:20:00 PM

You should post this in a new topic, you'll get quite a few more replies.
December 17, 2009 9:28:16 PM

Ok, will do,thanks for the replie Jack.
December 19, 2009 6:01:54 PM

Ok guys hear what's going on. Upon investigation I realized that I CANNOT buy video cards locally. They are just too expensive.

However, I can get the 3850 for an extremely reasonable price from a friend of mine. Or I can wait until all the way next year to get something better.

Buying this card frees up money for a better cpu and more ram. Should I buy it?
December 21, 2009 7:02:25 PM

Ok I got a 3850 installed it and everything. I installed the drivers that came on the DVD but it still asking for some "Microsoft UAA Bus Driver for HD Audio." And apparently it's not on the CD that came with the card. I tried installing a download that I googled but I still get the driver error when I restart.

Also when I tried to update my driver to the latest version the system restarts with really low grade graphics settings. So I'm guessing something is wrong.
a b B Homebuilt system
a b à CPUs
December 21, 2009 7:09:01 PM

The restart with trash graphics is normal. When you update the driver, it basically forgets all the settings you had, like resolution and the like, so you need to tell the driver your settings. As far as the UAA bus driver, that's for the built in audio that comes with the 3850. If you're not using that, shouldn't be necessary.
December 21, 2009 7:12:36 PM

No no you know when you update a driver but it doesn't quite update correctly or there were errors or whatever? That kind of trashy looking, you can't change settings better than what there is. I recall a message about something about an adapter not being turned on/driver not supported by ati catalyst.

How do I turn off the alert to install driver everytime I restart though?
!