I was recently given a 2900XT 512mb by a coworker who no longer had a need for it, and while it's a wonderful card, I'm trying to gear my system up for Mass Effect 2. In anticipation, I bought the first Mass Effect, and the results haven't been all too impressive, somewhere around an average of 25 fps with frequent skipping.
I've seen some great deals on the HD 4850 on Newegg (Such as this one: link), and I'm considering purchasing it, however I'm wondering if my system is too slow for a card like this, and if it will just end up bottlenecking somewhere, ending in a completely wasted wad of cash. My current system configuration consists of a dual core Opteron 1218 (2.6GHz) and 4GB of DDR2 667 RAM running on Vista.
What do you think? Will a 4850 give me a noticeable speed increase, or would I be better off sticking to the 2900 until my next major system overhaul in a couple of years?
Thanks in advance.
Edit: I forgot to mention I game on a 1920x1200 24" monitor, and ideally, I would like to play at native resolution.
For $100 I think it is a good upgrade for your system. I would go for it, however, I wouldn't invest much more into your system and start saving for an overhaul. You should see a significant performance increase.
Honestly for that resolution you should really consider spending a bit more for at least an HD5770. Current games will be playable at that resolution with the HD4850 but in most you'll need to turn down the settings substantially. The HD5770 also has the advantage of DX11, 3 monitor support and it is a 40nm processor which is very cool/power efficient.
Your processor is a bit weak but still passable. Overclocking it would be a good idea. It's also possible your motherboard can handle much better processors. If you tell us the brand/model we can tell you.
I can't remember the precise model number right now, but I do know that it's an HP workstation, and the CPU socket type is an AM2 with a 1000MHz bus. The 5770 is a very nice card, but the price is a bit too steep for my limited budget right now.
I had a 2900XT and a socket 939 FX-60 (Dual Core 2.6GHz) and 2 GB of DDR(1) ram and bought a 4850 back when they first came out (so it was $200, I think) and thought the performance increase was well worth it. Your system is better and for only $100, I think that is a great plan and awesome deal. Enjoy it.