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Looking for best upgrade choice

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September 30, 2010 4:51:25 PM

Hello all, just registered.

A couple years ago I bought a new PC from Tiger Direct because my Gaming Laptop "let the smoke out". Over the last couple of years I've basically replaced everything except the case. Never having a lot of money to spare I bought things that read as solid components within my price ranges.

MSI P45 MB
6 GB DDR2 RAM (The MB does not support DDR3 :(  )
Intel P4 3.3 GHz Quad Core
NVidia GeForce GTX 260
600-700 Watt Power Supply (would need to crack the case to verify)

My Primary Display is 3840x1024 (3 1280x1024 Monitors on a TripleHead2Go)
Things I run on this screen
- Main OS Interface
- Utility applications
- Battlefield Bad Company 2
- Final Fantasy XIV (FFXIV)
- Sins of a Solar Empire
- Any other games that support the res, and have a playable interface at that res.

My secondary display is a 32 inch 720p HD TV at 1786x994 (This is only on when I need it)
Things I run on this screen
- Borderlands (PoV is skewed on the wide screen)
- Videos

My rig is currently running games nicely at high qualities, but heavy particle effects seem to bog me down occasionally (like Smoke in BF BC2).

In FFXIV things can get laggy with higher video settings (any time I have more than x2 AA), and my video card fan certainly spins into high gear frequently, so I am starting to consider that my card may be the current upgrade target.

That said I wanted to consult some people more experienced at evaluating this type of system to make sure that's where the true bottleneck lies, and not somewhere like the Mainboard.

I'm looking for an upgrade that's going to make the most difference per dollar spent.

Any advice would be appreciated.

Thank you

More about : upgrade choice

September 30, 2010 4:54:15 PM

I wanted to add that switching FFXIV to a Windowed mode at lower resolutions (1600x1024) dramatically improves the settings I can use with it.
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a b B Homebuilt system
September 30, 2010 9:35:26 PM

Get a couple of SSDs. You'll notice your system performance jump at least 200%.
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September 30, 2010 9:45:20 PM

That p4 is definitely getting old.
Same for the case.
One ssd is enough to get a boost.
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September 30, 2010 11:26:59 PM

Oh! - I totally spaced my HDD config

OS Drive is a 80GB 7200 RPM Seagate SATA
My main data drive is 2 WD 250GB 7200rpm set up in a Spanned RAID

But yeah a SSD or 2 would be the shiz

Would you recommend SSD for the OS drive as well as the Data, or just go for the Data drive? I keep everything not specific to OS operations on the data drive (including my user folder).

I would love love loooooove to upgrade the Mainboard and CPU, but I just can't afford that but those SSD's are kinda spendy as well. I think your right in that disk IO is probably a huge chokepoint.

I could probably get away with a smaller SSD drive if I only put my most frequently played games there, and keep transitioning things out as I move to different games.
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September 30, 2010 11:27:47 PM

Also

How much performance boost could I expect to get out of a case upgrade LOL
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a b B Homebuilt system
October 1, 2010 3:05:25 PM

I have SSDs only for boot right now. I install my games on a raid setup or my Raptor drive. Currently I own a 80GB Intel X-25M G2. It's awesome. I also have a 60GB Muskin Callisto in my laptop. That is awesome too. I heard a lot of mixed reviews about OCZ SSDs. If I were to recommend one, I'd have to say the Intel one. They are releasing new ones shortly, so you can wait on those. They're suppose to come in faster speeds with more storage space. But if you can't wait, then get the G2 version. Kingston's SSDs are the same as Intel's. But which ever one you get, I would get one that is at least 60GB. Windows Vista and 7 take up a lot of space.

My laptop is a core i3 350M with 4GB ram. It had a 320 5200RPM HDD before. It was slow and sluggish. After I put in the Callisto, I now boot up in 15 seconds. Programs open in 1-2 seconds. It was only $120 after rebate, but it was well worth it. With a full install of Windows 7 and Office 2010 and some other small apps. I still have 18GB left of free space. I don't store stuff on the laptop or play games so that's plenty of space left for me.

After I told the president of my company about SSDs. He had me switch out all of our HDD to SSDs (Intel X-25 80GB).
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October 1, 2010 5:51:03 PM

Ocz vertex 2 series are currently fisting intel's ssd :) 

Get an ssd and at least a dual core ...
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October 8, 2010 10:39:14 AM

Cool thanks for the added info about SSDs. As far as the comments about my CPU - it's a Quad core - should I be looking at getting a multi physical CPU MB? (Not an option for the moment, but maybe in a couple years). I don't remember the exact model, and the box is somewhere in the garage.

I'm thinking about also upgrading the video card - just for any small boost I might get out of it in my gaming. I'm not sure how much the HDD issue is affecting my gaming since when I do lag there don't seem to be any HDD spikes. Best Buy has a 14 day no questions asked return policy.

15 second boot ups are certainly a plus though. :D 

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