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A new graphic card?

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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July 4, 2010 3:53:46 AM

Hey guys!

I decided I need a system upgrade and figured a new graphic card might be the best way to go, but I would like your recommendation as to what I can still use in the system I have. My current platform is:


AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+ Processor Socket 939

MSI K8N Diamond Plus nForce4 SLI

Sapphire Radeon X1900 GT PCI Express 256MB DDR3 Video Card

Corsair TWINX2048-3200C2PT 2GB (2X1GB) Kit DDR400 XMS3200

Thermaltake W0049RUC Silent PurePower 680W Power Supply


My budget for a new graphics is 200-300$. I was reading the June list on best bang for the buck and I guess it really favors the Radeon HD 5850 or the Radeon HD 5830, but I don't know if it could/would run on my MSI motherboard. I realize I probably would have some bottlenecks in that configuration, but even if I could get 70-80% power out of a new card I think the upgrade would be worth it. I also want to buy another Corsair ram module to get to 4GB, I might get that with the graphics as well.

Please leave me with your words of wisdom and I thank you in advance!

Regards, Dan

More about : graphic card

a c 259 U Graphics card
July 4, 2010 4:10:32 AM

Any of the new 5xxx series cards will run; you have a pci-e slot, and your psu is fine. Do not worry about pci- 1.0 and 2.0 issues. Cards are forward and backwards compatible. Any difference in performance is negligible for any single card configurations.

I do not know how cpu bound your games are. Here is an experiment you might try:

1) Run your games, but reduce the resolution and eye candy to a minimum. This will simulate what will happen if you upgrade to a stronger graphics card. If your FPS improves, it indicates that your cpu is capable of driving a stronger graphics card to higher levels of FPS.

2) Keeping your graphics resolution and settings the same, reduce your cpu power. Do this by removing the overclock, or by using windows power management to set a maximum cpu% of perhaps 70%. If your FPS drops significantly, it indicates that your current cpu is a limiting factor, and that a faster cpu would help.
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July 4, 2010 6:03:47 AM

Ok thanks a lot for your advice. The compatibility issue was my biggest fear. When I run games in say 1920x1080 I get much fewer FPS than if I lower the resolution, so I take it from your explanation that my CPU still kicks a little hehe. Thanks again for the fast reply. I think I'll go with the bigger card then.
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a c 189 U Graphics card
July 4, 2010 12:34:03 PM

What is your current cpu speed?
If you can push it let's say above 3.0GHz then you'll good.
HD5770 is a good choice and a BIG improvement from your X1900... :) 
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July 5, 2010 2:39:12 AM

The cores are running at 2.01GHz as standard with the Athlon 64 3800+. I know I have a motherboard build for OC'ing, but I'm not ready to invest further in better cooling systems, so I'm gonna try with the new graphics and see what I get.

Thanks!
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a c 376 U Graphics card
July 5, 2010 2:58:48 AM

With that processor you shouldn't be considering cards anywhere near the budget you are talking about.
A card in the $100 area like the HD5750/HD4850/GTS 250 is the most I would consider and even then it is going to limit you on the more cpu intensive games.
This would be a good choice if you live in the US;
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
It's a very nice version of that card at a very nice price.
Alternately if you are already considering spending $300 possibly you could up that a bit to $400-450 and basically rebuild the system. For around $400 you should be able to get an Athlon II x4, a motherboard for it, 4 gigs of DDR3 ram and an HD5770. You can use your old case/psu/hard drives/ect.
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a c 376 U Graphics card
July 5, 2010 3:05:12 AM

plasmadk said:
When I run games in say 1920x1080 I get much fewer FPS than if I lower the resolution, so I take it from your explanation that my CPU still kicks a little hehe.

This is because your current video card is nowhere near capable of 1920x1080. It doesn't say much about your processor but rather simply that your video card is even more ill suited to such a high resolution than your cpu is to current games.
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July 5, 2010 4:36:41 PM

I see your point jyjjy, but I would rather get the better graphics and wait 2-3 months and then spend the extra money on a new cpu, motherboard, and ram if I conclude the old system is too slow to sufficiently drive the new graphics.

The 1920x1080 res is actually not too bad all things considered. What I meant to say was that the real fps killer is advanced shadowing, light-effects, and running very rich textures. That is why I figured a new graphic card would be the best investment right now, and then wait rebuilding my system completely.
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a b U Graphics card
July 5, 2010 5:12:52 PM

The ATI 5850 would be great for resolutions of 1920x1080. Otherwise an ATI 5770 is good for 1680x1050 or lower.

I think the biggest sticking point in your case is indeed your CPU. Even with an overclock on that older processor, a newer video card is not likely to perform to it's utmost potential. Especially if you get something like the ATI 5850.
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a c 358 U Graphics card
July 5, 2010 7:03:58 PM

The HD 5770 should suffice. It is not powerful enough to be limited by your CPU like the HD 5850. Buying the 5850 is a waste of money if you are only going get around 75% of it's performance. Unless you plan on upgrading your entire PC.
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a c 259 U Graphics card
July 5, 2010 7:17:56 PM

Any of the cards mentioned will be a good improvement.
I would favor getting the stronger card for a couple of reasons:
1) A stronger card will always get better fps; how much better will depend on the game and cpu.
2) The minimum fps is important for smooth gameplay, and that is more determined by the graphics card than the cpu.
3) A cpu upgrade is planned for the future. You do not want to have to upgrade the vga card also at that time.
4) Most games at 1920 x 1080 can use cards like the 5850 or 5870 to good advantage with a suitable cpu. Stronger is better at that resolution.
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a b U Graphics card
July 5, 2010 7:36:16 PM

geofelt said:
Any of the cards mentioned will be a good improvement.
I would favor getting the stronger card for a couple of reasons:
1) A stronger card will always get better fps; how much better will depend on the game and cpu.
2) The minimum fps is important for smooth gameplay, and that is more determined by the graphics card than the cpu.
3) A cpu upgrade is planned for the future. You do not want to have to upgrade the vga card also at that time.
4) Most games at 1920 x 1080 can use cards like the 5850 or 5870 to good advantage with a suitable cpu. Stronger is better at that resolution.


I'd agree. plasmadk, if your monitor is capable of up to 1920x1080, and you're already planning to upgrade the rest of your system (motherboard, CPU, RAM) then I'd do the ATI 5850. It'll perform better now, and later. And last you longer before you have to upgrade again. Once you upgrade your CPU/RAM/Mobo, that 5850 will make you pretty happy.
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July 5, 2010 7:43:15 PM

Thank you all for the good and friendly advice. 5850 it is then :) 
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a b U Graphics card
July 5, 2010 7:49:51 PM

plasmadk said:
Thank you all for the good and friendly advice. 5850 it is then :) 


No problem. Just keep in mind that the ATI 5850 is not going to perform at full until the rest of your system is upgraded.
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