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What should I upgrade next?

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May 2, 2010 7:02:28 AM

Hey all, I just finished a new build, but I feel like it's lacking somehow (besides the amount of RAM). Here are the specs currently:

Intel Xeon W3520
Intel X58 Chipset
2 GB DDR3 PC10666 ECC Registered Ram
2x500 GB Seagate drives in Raid 0
1xWestern Digital Caviar Black
XFX 9800GT
Quadro FX 580
Intel 1000BaseSX Fiber NIC
JBL 2300 Speakers powered by a Sumiko Pro-Ject USB box
HP LP2465 x2

This computer is primarily used for video encoding, photo editing, web site creation, software editing/writing, running multiple virtual machines, and 3D animation. I know the ram needs a boost, but is there anything else I should improve. Considering this is a very recent build, I'm looking to spend less than $200 if possible. Some minor gamimg will be done on this computer, always at 1900x1200, and the highest settings I can run the games it (Left for Dead, Mass Effect, Mass Effect 2, Mirrors Edge, Fallout 3, TES Oblivion), not really taxing games per say, not for this hardware.

More about : upgrade

a b B Homebuilt system
May 2, 2010 7:29:58 AM

Well, your 9800GT should be fine. Add another 9800GT in SLI if you can/want to boost your gaming performance.
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May 2, 2010 8:06:45 AM

Lmeow said:
Well, your 9800GT should be fine. Add another 9800GT in SLI if you can/want to boost your gaming performance.


That would mean I'd have to remove the FX580 I use for Maya, CS4 and CAD though. Would a 9800GT be able to handle the rendering as smoothly?
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a b B Homebuilt system
May 2, 2010 8:31:05 AM

Well, I'm not very familiar with Quadro cards, although I know that they are optimised for graphic rendering applications, and would be better for rendering, so no, just stick with the FX580. Only thing I can think of is the RAM but you're going to fix that. Otherwise go for a bootup SSD or something, lol. Not much you can improve on, unless you sell your 9800GT and buy something more powerful - i.e. anything more powerful than an HD 4770/HD5750 or GeForce 9800GTX+/GTS 250.

Apparently though, you can softmod a GTS 250 into a Quadro FX4800 which will give your rendering a boost should you choose to buy one, I'm not fully sure what a 9800GT would be in terms of Quadro - FX3700 IIRC, although I'm not sure how exactly. This guide might help:
http://www.techarp.com/showarticle.aspx?artno=539
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May 2, 2010 10:26:14 PM

Quote:
Well you seriously need ram. Your running a cpu with a triple channel memory controller with only a single memory channel, that's gotta really hurt your performance.


Well it's really 2x1GB, so it's running dual channel, but yes, I really should upgrade the RAM at somepoint, just haven't gotten around to it. That and the fact that ECC Ram to upgrade to 4GB costs about the same as a second 9800GT.
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May 3, 2010 2:03:59 AM

No other suggestions?

Basing on what I've gotten so far, should I upgrade to a second 9800GT or more RAM?
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May 3, 2010 2:18:02 AM

Is the precision of what you are doing THAT critical that you need ECC memory in the first place? The only situation I know of that really need ECC memory are servers running 24x7 and people doing high precision computation like engineering where a miscalculation can lead to serious danger to human life or the financial health of the company (ex: missing 1-2 inches of cabling in a aircraft can lead to multi-million loss for the company).

If you don't really need the ECC, just get regular RAM, 6-12GB would give you a muc better experience.
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May 3, 2010 3:06:18 AM

True, but I like ECC for the fact that yes, everything is precise, and nothing ever crashes, this is also besides the fact that I believe the motherboard/CPU requires ECC in the first place. This computer is tasked with video encoding large files, so it bascially does run 24/7 for the most part.

I had a Core 2 Duo before doing the same thing, and it would BSOD constantly because it would a) run out of memory address space or b)generate errors in the memory stream.
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May 3, 2010 5:24:46 PM

Quote:
Dual channel? Who said anything about dual channel. It's supposed to be running in triple channel.


I guess it should be, but is it really that much of a hindrance?
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May 3, 2010 11:35:18 PM

Quote:
Do you really think they would switch to a triple channel memory controller if it didn't improve performance?


I don't think they would, but from what I've read, it dosen't seem like it will increase performance a whole lot, and it alse means I'd have to find another matched DIMM which is a pain...
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May 4, 2010 1:12:43 AM

Quote:
Do you really think they would switch to a triple channel memory controller if it didn't improve performance?
Truthfully ... yes :p 

From what I've seen, most of the gain attributed to triple-channel memory is in fact due to the move to on-die memory controller. That is why i3-i5 CPU can compete with i7; the difference between dual and triple channel memory isn't THAT important. To develop a bit on the matter, I believe triple channel memory is just like RAID0, it improves bandwidth, but contrary to RAID0, also increases latency. In the end, whether or not you see performance gain depends on your usage.
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May 4, 2010 2:12:13 PM

my thoughts: upgrade to 6gb triple channel ram whether its ecc or not is up to you, i think 9800 is an ok card...
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May 5, 2010 3:31:09 AM

Ok, I posted in the graphics forum, and the main suggestion was the Radeon 5770. Sounds fine, but ATI always driver issues and I can't afford that....or have they gotten better....

I added another 4GB or ram, 1 dimm to match the first two and the other 3 are matched.
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May 5, 2010 1:38:02 PM

i havent experienced it or had it proved but ive HEARD that the drivers crash and lock up n stuff like that sometimes
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May 5, 2010 2:54:11 PM

  • Humans make mistakes
  • AMD employs humans
  • NVidia employs humans

    Need I say more?

    The only differences between the 2 is therefore the quality of the products themselves, the frequency at which they release driver fixes and how long they keep product support.
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    May 5, 2010 7:17:21 PM

    Quote:
    ATI has no driver issues. Not sure what fanboy told you that. If ATI had driver issues do you seriously think they would rule the graphics market?

    Don't you think sites like Tom's hardware, anandtech, overclockers, etc would mention driver issues when they test every single card that comes out?

    Show me a ATI card review where the reviewer says they had driver issues.....

    imo, a 9800GT to a 5770 isn't going to be much of a upgrade, especially for $160. For a system like that I would not recommend upgading to anything lesser than a GTX275. I would recommend a GTX470 or 5850.


    Back in the bad old days, when ATI owned ATI, the 9600XT I had always had driver problems for whatever reason. I have a NIB x1600 Pro that I never used cause DX10 was out by then, and from there it was just NVidia...until now.

    I would love to upgrade to a 5850 lol, the only problem is lack of funds because a) this build is about 1 mo old (the 9800GT is leftover from previous, the $180 FX580 is new) and b) Grad school is expensive.

    Would you hold off on upgrading then?
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