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Upgrading an AMD system, looking for feedback

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December 16, 2010 4:11:12 PM

I built this system around a year ago and while I enjoy it immensely, I find myself wanting to turn up my graphic settings even more.

Currently I am using:

GIGABYTE GA-MA790X-UD4P AM3/AM2+/AM2 AMD 790X ATX AMD Motherboard
G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F2-6400CL5D-4GBPQ
XFX HD-487A-ZHFC Radeon HD 4870 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16
700w APEVIA PSU
AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition Deneb 3.4GHz Socket AM3 125W Quad-Core Processor HDZ965FBGMBOX

Obviously my mobo and ram are a bid outdated with DDR3 all the rage now, so I am looking to upgrade those two first and the GPU after. I believe my CPU has plenty of power to last me a bit longer. My question is this: what would be your choice for a new motherboard to accompany my current setup? Also, what brand/size of ram should I purchase? Should I buy another of hd4870 and crossfire them or look to upgrade my GPU as well?

Thanks everyone.
a b B Homebuilt system
a b À AMD
December 16, 2010 4:18:47 PM

I'd do the graphics card first in that setup tbh,
nothing wrong with your mobo, maybe a bit dated but nothing bad at the moment

graphics, ati 58xx/nvidia 460 series then
psu, corsair/antec then
ram, gskill are good just find some faster sticks maybe that your rig supports

Moto


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December 16, 2010 4:19:28 PM

@mal
Heh, yeah. It's a tricky spot to be in for sure. Computer hardware is always tough to purchase for me, so I try to do as much homework as I can before I do! Thanks, I definitely need to get some DDR3 ram going. Anyone have a suggestion for a DDR3 mobo w/ crossfire and sata 6 that is compatible with my current GPU and CPU? :D 

@moto
Interesting point, I must admit my knowledge on how ram supports gaming is very limited. Thanks for your suggestion. I've had my eye on some 58xx cards
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December 16, 2010 4:25:13 PM

Sweet board! Thanks!
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December 16, 2010 5:40:04 PM

What's the big difference between the 880g and the 890gx chipsets? Both boards seem fine
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a b B Homebuilt system
December 16, 2010 5:49:13 PM

There's really no gaming benefit to moving to DDR3 from DDR2, and there's basically no difference between motherboards for gaming either (until you start talking about CF/SLI setups).

Important questions:
* what is your budget?
* what resolution do you game at?

Generally, the biggest increase in fps is found through upgrading the graphics solution, but it can depend on other factors.
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December 16, 2010 5:51:39 PM

I play natively @ 1920x1080
Budget is generally not an issue, but I don't really want to spend $200+ on, say, a motherboard.
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Best solution

a b B Homebuilt system
December 16, 2010 6:02:33 PM

treefinger said:
I play natively @ 1920x1080
Budget is generally not an issue, but I don't really want to spend $200+ on, say, a motherboard.


Don't say "budget isn't an issue" around here. :)  You're liable to get someone suggesting an i7-980X and SLI 580 setup.

A 4870 is currently at little weak at 1920x1080. The Phenom II X4 965 is a perfectly fine gaming processor, and as mentioned, there's little to no (1-2% at worst) difference in gaming between DDR2 & DDR3.

Newegg is out of stock of 4870s at the moment, if you wanted to buy another one and CF, you'll need to find somewhere that has them in stock.

What I would do is take a look at Tom's Best Graphics Cards for the Money (November) or wait for the December version to come out, as it will have recommendations that include the GTX 570, and hopefully the new AMD 69nn series as well. So take a look at one of those articles and see what fits your budget.

I think the best value right now might be the AMD 6950 for about $300, or else a GTX 460 1 GB for about $180. If the price of the 6850 comes down, it has performance equivalent to the GTX 460.
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December 16, 2010 6:06:05 PM

Thanks for the help guys.

@coldsleep - Very helpful information my friend. You saved me a bunch of money ;) 
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December 16, 2010 6:15:18 PM

Best answer selected by treefinger.
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a b B Homebuilt system
December 16, 2010 6:16:24 PM

No problem...looking at the chart I linked in more depth, I wouldn't recommend upgrading to the GTX 460 or the AMD 6850. They're good upgrades from other cards, but the jump from a 4870 would probably be underwhelming. Note that the chart suggest not upgrading unless you go up 3 levels.

There are recommendations on the previous pages, for the most part right now, nVidia and AMD cards are fairly equivalent, just go with the better value, unless you intend to CrossFire down the road (unlikely, based on your current dilemma, I think).

In other words, you're looking at tracking down a 4870 & going CrossFire (assuming your mobo supports it, I didn't check), or dropping at least $300 on a new graphics card...probably the new AMD 6950.
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