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Upgrade or new build?

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October 15, 2010 11:14:13 PM

Hello, everyone. First time poster here.

I've got a long question with (hopefully) short answers.

My current rig is about 2 years old (ordered 12/2/2008) and while there's nothing wrong with it, it's running into performance issues in my top two games (WoW and Civ5) -- largely because I'm running across three screens for a total resolution of 5040x1050. This current rig was fine in WoW until patch 4.0.1 hit this week, and I've seen a significant drop in framerate ever since (with the same quality settings). I had to dumb Civ5 down to a single screen because of the performance issues, and I'd like to be able to play it across all three screens. I'd also like to be able to run the occasional FPS at full native resolution. Finally, I'd like to be able to upgrade my monitors to 1920x1080 at some point next years, so I need to future-proof the Wintendo against that. Finally, I'd like a blu-ray player so I can start ripping my blu-ray disks onto my unRaid server.

Right now, I have:

Mobo: GIGABYTE GA-MA790X-DS4 AM2+/AM2 AMD 790X ATX Ultra Durable II AMD Motherboard

CPU: AMD Phenom 9850 BLACK EDITION 2.5GHz Socket AM2+ 125W Quad-Core Processor HD985ZXAGHBOX

RAM: 4GB DDR2 made up of:
  • OCZ Platinum 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model OCZ2N10662GK
  • Kingston HyperX NVIDIA SLI-Ready 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory

    GPU: 2x SAPPHIRE 100245L Radeon HD 4850 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card in CrossFire

    I've also got a WD Caviar Blue 7200RPM 500GB HDD, an 850W P/S, and a Samsung 22x DVD burner.

    My cheap option is to replace the 4850s with a single SAPPHIRE 100280SR Radeon HD 5970 (Hemlock) 2GB and pick up an active displayport to DVI-D adapter, total cost about $700. Problem is I'm not sure I'll get much better framerate out of the deal and I know some people have had problems with the active displayport to DVI adapters.

    My (much more) expensive answer is to build a whole new machine, based on the Tom's Hardware $2000 Hand-Picked Build, with the following upgrades:

    GPU: 2x EVGA 015-P3-1485-AR GeForce GTX 480 (Fermi) SuperClocked+ 1536MB

    HDD: A second 1TB HDD for RAID 0

    DVD: LITE-ON BD-ROM

    Total price of the upgraded package: $2,632.89

    That's a lot, no doubt about it, but I can manage it if that's what it takes.

    So, to rephrase my question: Do you think I'll see any significant improvement in performance going to the 5970, or should I go with the whole new system? Is it worth the extra $800 to upgrade the TH Hand-Picked Build, or will the dual GTX 460s be enough to drive triple-screen 1920x1080 at high graphics settings in WoW, Civ5, and other games coming out over the next 2-3 years?

    Thanks much in advance!

    Thorkull

    Edit: Forgot to add that I'm running Win7 64-bit Home Premium, and have a couple of extra licenses, so OS shouldn't be a problem.
  • More about : upgrade build

    a c 136 B Homebuilt system
    October 15, 2010 11:48:01 PM

    Heres what I would do :

    A midlife upgrade of your PC .
    The processor is one of the under performing Phenom 1's . Swap it out for a quad core Athlon or Phenom . You will see a big performance increase even with the Athlon and they are cheap

    To upgrade the graphics add a second 4850 in crossfire .
    Total cost will be less than $250
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    October 15, 2010 11:56:00 PM

    Outlander_04 said:
    Heres what I would do :

    A midlife upgrade of your PC .
    The processor is one of the under performing Phenom 1's . Swap it out for a quad core Athlon or Phenom . You will see a big performance increase even with the Athlon and they are cheap

    To upgrade the graphics add a second 4850 in crossfire .
    Total cost will be less than $250



    I know it's a wall-o-text effect, but I've already got 2x 4850 in crossfire, which is why I'm looking at a new vid card (at minimum).
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    a c 136 B Homebuilt system
    October 16, 2010 4:37:47 AM

    thorkull said:
    I know it's a wall-o-text effect, but I've already got 2x 4850 in crossfire, which is why I'm looking at a new vid card (at minimum).



    I missed that . Sorry.

    Id still try the processor upgrade . Its bound to be holding the graphics cards back , but nothing you do to your system is going to get you through the next 3 years .

    If you do build the new system then why not try it with a single gtx 480 first? If it cant handle the load then add the second one
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    October 18, 2010 2:16:12 PM

    Outlander_04 said:
    I missed that . Sorry.

    Id still try the processor upgrade . Its bound to be holding the graphics cards back , but nothing you do to your system is going to get you through the next 3 years .


    That's kinda why I'm considering a whole new system. If I upgrade the current one, I may get a year out of it, but I'm not sure it'll drive 5040x1050 at acceptable framerates with the upgraded models in Cataclysm. For 1280x1050 or even 1920x1080 it'd be fine, I'm sure, but I'm pushing about 5 million pixels -- call it 2.5x what the 1920x1080 requires.

    Outlander_04 said:
    If you do build the new system then why not try it with a single gtx 480 first? If it cant handle the load then add the second one


    I really liked this idea until I remembered that the 480 only supports two monitors at the same time -- to support three active monitors on an Nvidia, you pretty much have to go SLI with at least two cards.

    I've got my new machine build down to about $1700 mostly by dropping to a Core i7-930. That and the dual-460s will give me some upgrade room so I can drop in a i7-970 or -980 in the future, and/or upgrade the video cards to 480s (or better, depending on what's out at the time).

    Thanks for your feedback, Outlander -- it gave me a lot more options to mull over!
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    October 18, 2010 2:17:01 PM

    Best answer selected by thorkull.
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