Upgrade Path from 7950GT with critical power requirements.

Hey guys! Big fan, first time poster.

I'm looking for some advice. I have an older 939 socket system that I use for media playback/backup/hardcore gaming (I know, stay with me). Its sporting 8 WD Green drives and I plan to add 4 more in the coming months with
thoughts of 4 more later. No internal optical. Needless to say, power requirements are critical. I have a 750w PSU which I don't plan on replacing until its warranted by the hard drive count.

Right now I use an EVGA 7950 gt 512mb. Its attached to a 46" lcd (DVI) so I prefer to keep things running @1920x1080 and have no problem doing so in Left 4 Dead and the like. In addition I use a 23" Cinema Display @1680x1050 as a secondary monitor (DVI). I'm a huge retro gamer but still play some of the new titles. Needless to say texture detail is less important to me than running at my screens' max res.

What I'm looking for is a replacement to the 7950 that equals or outperforms it but has the same, less, or slightly more power.

However, there are other factors. The motherboard is pci-e 1.0 and I'm not sure what that means in terms of what cards are available to me. I've heard 2.0/2.1 cards are backward compatible with 1.0 but no ones confirmed that for me yet.

Full specs for the rig are below. I would really appreciate any advice. I'm not AMD/ATI or Nvidia biased. My research so far points me to the ATI HD3850 as a viable replacement. Any thoughts? Performance/Watt is critical. Price/Performance is not important at all. I'm just looking for something to extend this rig's life and help with framerates in Starcraft 2 and Civ5 when I get around to them. Ideally, my power usage shouldn't raise at all. Thanks in advance for the help!


System Specs:
Case: AzzA Solano 1000 Black
PSU: Thermaltake 750w
Mobo: Gigabyte GA-K8N Ultra-SLI
CPU: AMD Athlon 64 4800+ x2 (939 Socket)
Ram: 4x1GB Crucial DDR400
Video Card: 16x Nvidia 7950GT 512MB
Addon Cards: Highpoint 4300 x4 Serial ATA Controller
HDDs: 4x WD Green AV-GP 2TB
2x WD Green AV-GP 1TB
WD Scorpio Green 320GB
WD Scorpio Blue 500GB
USB: Kingston 8GB Flash Drive (Being used for ReadyBoost)
18 answers Last reply
More about upgrade path 7950gt critical power requirements
  1. 16 drives? Why not replace some of the smaller ones with bigger ones?

    Your problem is with startup. When the drives first start to spin they will take around 15-20W each. 16 x 20 (for a safety margin.) = 320W just for the drives. Not sure if the motor takes it from the 5V or 12V rail. Another 89W for the CPU, and thats a total of 419W. You still have plenty of room for a GPU.

    2.0 is backwards compatible with 1.0, but I've heard rumors of issues with 2.1. 2.1 is ok with 2.0, but not 1.0. Either buy a 2.1 from a place with a good return policy, or just buy a 2.0 card. You'll have to worry about your CPU limiting you. 9800GT, 5670, 5750, or GTS250. 5670 has the lowest power draw of those, GTS250 the highest. The 5750 is also the fastest of those cards.
  2. the 7950 has a max power usage of 82w. from nvidia you could go for the gt240 (70w max). from ati you could go for the HD5750 (86w max) or the HD5670 (61w max). the gt240 performs similarly to the 5670 but the 5670 beats it in most games. the 5750 performs the best out of the 3. there is a go! green version of the 5750 which uses less power, its also passively cooled. its the best watt/performance card out atm.

  3. Trade the two smaller ones for a WD green/blue/black 1tb?
    The 4800+ the 2.5GHz one? You could try and overclock it to 2.8/3.0GHz while managing stable cooling.
    Anyways, the 5750/5770 are perfect solutions as their fast, low power requirements, and uses dx11 if you're using Vista or Windows 7.
  4. Thanks so much for the advice guys! I think I'm liking the 5770 (Probably Go! Green) idea the most. Price isn't too bad and its damn identical to the 7950's power draw. I'm very worried about it being PCIE2.1 tho. Lets hope Newegg treats me well. The real question thus becomes, what kind of a performance increase could I expect from upgrading to the 5770 and whether that makes any financial sense in comparison.

    To answer the drive questions: The 320GB and 500GB are OS drives, I run Windows 7 64Bit on the 320GB and clone it to the 500GB periodically as a backup. They're both laptop drives that are in a 3.5 internal enclosure. One is sata, the other ide.

    The reason I'm adding so much headroom for the PSU is that its 3 years old and I guess I'm worried about degrading capacity. Also I'm going to end up adding a couple more sata controllers in the future. Maybe I'll get a hefty project and will cannibalize a couple of 500gb ides I have laying around from old Tivos.

    I really don't see a reason to replace a 1TB with a 2TB in the future because I'd rather have both and take advantage of the extra 1T :) This is sort of an ongoing build so I only see myself needing to replace an individual drive on failure or if the case can't hold no more. I really wish I knew about MountainMods when I bougtht this AzzO half a year ago; it was a replacement for an older coolermaster. I don't use raid, its too restrictive. And UnRaid is too limiting. This machine is basically a backup fileserver/workstation with backups and backups of backups. Sounds silly I know, but it means I don't need to have spare drives around and can buy 2TBs whenever desired/needed. More likely in the future I'll probably replace the OS drives with a SSD and take advantage of the speed for format conversions.

    The CPU shows up as a 2.4GHz. How stable is stable when OCing this chip? I care about stability and integrity more than performance but wouldn't mind squeezing something safe out of it. Is 3.0GHZ actually safe? I have a very beefy CPU Cooler with a 120mm fan. 3 80mm intakes, and a 230mm side intake. A Volcano for exhaust, and a top 140mm exhaust.

    In my crazy mind I'm also considering getting a FX-60 x2 for $150 off craigslist to try to squeeze a little more out of this mobo.

    Thanks again guys!
  5. SSD make great paging drives if your os is to often bloated or have high read write cycles.
  6. I always wanted to buy 12tb worth of HDD space for some reason, although I'm not close to filling out the 3 HDD's I have now, which are a 160gb/500gb/500gb.

    If you're running a cpu cooler already, then overclock it to 3.0GHz. The stock cooler could manage 3.0GHz itself with safe temps, but with a cooler there won't be any noticable problems.
    With Windows 7, a dual core cpu @3.0GHz, and a 5770 you should run games on high settings at a large resolution with little slow down issues.
  7. as far as i know, theres only a 5750 go! green version. as you can see here, the maximum power consumption is pretty low compared to a normal 5750, even lower then a 5670. in terms of performance increase, the 5750 is 8 tiers above the 7950gt according to tomshardware heirarchy chart.

    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/graphics-card-geforce-radeon,2761-7.html

  8. I'm not sure how well a PCIe 2.1 card will work in your old S939 PCIe 1.0 board. I've heard rumors that it doesn't work well. You don't buy a 2TB drive to replace a 1TB drive, you buy a 2TB drive and sell your 500GB drives. Why pop a bunch of 500GB drives in increasing heat, noise, and power draw when you can buy a 2TB one and sell the 500s? You also then won't have to buy the PCI SATA cards, saving more money.

    A 3yr ThermalTake PSU should probably be replaced. I don't think they were that good back then.
  9. it should be noted that the go green version of the 5750 does have high temperatures at load since its passively cooled (no fan). i think your case has nice airflow though and should keep it cool. to be fair i think the 7950gt has similar temperatures to this.

  10. dalta centauri said:
    I always wanted to buy 12tb worth of HDD space for some reason, although I'm not close to filling out the 3 HDD's I have now, which are a 160gb/500gb/500gb.

    If you're running a cpu cooler already, then overclock it to 3.0GHz. The stock cooler could manage 3.0GHz itself with safe temps, but with a cooler there won't be any noticable problems.
    With Windows 7, a dual core cpu @3.0GHz, and a 5770 you should run games on high settings at a large resolution with little slow down issues.


    I got a 320gb drive with 200gb of just videos that I have gotten from youtube. Got to move 40gb more that I have since added. 2TB would only be backup for what I have saved. 6 drives with one is only for paging and the rest are already 50%+ full. 4 sata and 2 ide, yes I am still using ide drives to but at least I retried my ancient 50 pin scsi drive. :whistle:
  11. The 500GB 7200RPM Scorpio Blue drive that I have is a laptop drive thats being used for OS duty, its small enough that I will probably never replace it except with maybe a SSD. I'd only use the other IDE 500GBs I have if I had a project that needed the space. Going into the future I'm only buying 2TB WD Greens, especially since the WD20EARS are usually $99 and WD20EVDS $135 on Newegg.

    4745454b said:
    I'm not sure how well a PCIe 2.1 card will work in your old S939 PCIe 1.0 board. I've heard rumors that it doesn't work well. You don't buy a 2TB drive to replace a 1TB drive, you buy a 2TB drive and sell your 500GB drives. Why pop a bunch of 500GB drives in increasing heat, noise, and power draw when you can buy a 2TB one and sell the 500s? You also then won't have to buy the PCI SATA cards, saving more money.

    A 3yr ThermalTake PSU should probably be replaced. I don't think they were that good back then.
  12. You really think I should replace the PSU? Whats a good app to see how its performing?

    4745454b said:

    A 3yr ThermalTake PSU should probably be replaced. I don't think they were that good back then.
  13. My mistake, I meant the 5750 go! green. But now you guys got me thinking about the actual 5770. Powercooler and XFX both have single slot versions that are roughly the same price as the 5750 go! green.

    Maybe I'll be buying a new PSU in preparation for this since 4745454b got me all nervous about my 3 year old 750w Thermaltake. I might go all balls out crazy and get a 1000w or higher.

    infernox_01 said:
    as far as i know, theres only a 5750 go! green version. as you can see here, the maximum power consumption is pretty low compared to a normal 5750, even lower then a 5670. in terms of performance increase, the 5750 is 8 tiers above the 7950gt according to tomshardware heirarchy chart.

    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/graphics-card-geforce-radeon,2761-7.html

    http://tpucdn.com/reviews/Powercolor/HD_5750_Go_Green/images/power_maximum.gif
  14. The Antec SG-650, Truepower 750W, and Earthwatts 750W PSUs all have cables and connectors for a dozen hard drives. The 80+ gold Seasonic X-650 and X-750 can also run at least this many.
    If you're generally pleased with the performance of your 7950GT, then you can save money by getting a HD5570. If you do want to improve your settings, or play more demanding games, then a HD5670 or HD5750 would probably make you happy, and not cost a lot more.
  15. a 5570 does have better performance then a 7950gt (4 tiers higher) and only uses 42w max. i would still recommend the 5750 though. if your getting a new power supply then maybe you should look at the gtx460 aswell.
  16. Actully all you need to do is while is bios look at the voltage that it is reporting on the 12v rail and while in os load up speed fan or pcwizzard or any other program that monitors temps and voltages. If it is below 11.5v then you need to ditch it especially if it swings up and down by more than .2v during normal use. Also keeping the psu cool improves it's life span and can help performance wise but that is only the case for a rare few that are lucky enough. Antec and a few others make high quality units that in the end pay for them selves. The 2.5inch 5400rpm or slower drives are good for storage but performance wise they are weak and not suited for heavy workloads. Adding a SSD at the very least for paging will improve performance in games and other apps due to higher random 4k read writes since the swap file does not write or read sequentially. Data file writes such as videos, pictures, and other files are written sequentially. Having the page file on the same drive as the OS is not the best idea even in normal raid setups as it reduces performance and increases wear on the drives. Win XP SP3 on up can differ this page file onto another drive. Using another mechanical drive for swap won't improve performance much unless you move to a SSD. Why move it is simple it will improve boot time by a little bit while games will run much smoother than before. I can enjoy GTA IV with hardly any lag and the same with other games. Lag free gaming is hard to come by.
  17. So using Speed Fan 4.41 I get the following readings:
    VCOREA: 1.34V
    VCOREB: 2.61V
    +3.3V 3.33/3.34V
    +5V: 5.13V
    +12V: 11.55V (Doesn't seem to fluctuate at all)
    -12V: -7.01V
    -5V: -4.04V
    +5VSB: 5.73V
    VBAT: 3.02V

    What do you think?

    nforce4max said:
    Actully all you need to do is while is bios look at the voltage that it is reporting on the 12v rail and while in os load up speed fan or pcwizzard or any other program that monitors temps and voltages. If it is below 11.5v then you need to ditch it especially if it swings up and down by more than .2v during normal use. Also keeping the psu cool improves it's life span and can help performance wise but that is only the case for a rare few that are lucky enough. Antec and a few others make high quality units that in the end pay for them selves. The 2.5inch 5400rpm or slower drives are good for storage but performance wise they are weak and not suited for heavy workloads. Adding a SSD at the very least for paging will improve performance in games and other apps due to higher random 4k read writes since the swap file does not write or read sequentially. Data file writes such as videos, pictures, and other files are written sequentially. Having the page file on the same drive as the OS is not the best idea even in normal raid setups as it reduces performance and increases wear on the drives. Win XP SP3 on up can differ this page file onto another drive. Using another mechanical drive for swap won't improve performance much unless you move to a SSD. Why move it is simple it will improve boot time by a little bit while games will run much smoother than before. I can enjoy GTA IV with hardly any lag and the same with other games. Lag free gaming is hard to come by.
  18. 11.55v is to close to low so I suggest like every one else it is time to upgrade that psu as well. If it were any less then to be honest you have little to no choice as it could be more than just inconvenience as it could fail.
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