Alright, I'm having a bit of a dilemma. I'm on a budget and realize that I'm going to have to upgrade eventually, but I'm trying to put it off for a while if possible. It's mainly used for gaming as well as some Photoshop work.
Current specs are as follows:
nVidia GeForce 8800GTS (640mb)
Q6600 running at stock (2.4)
4x1GB Corsair DDR2 800
Win 7 Home Premium, 64bit
2x23" monitors @ 1680x1050
I'm considering a new graphics card, but am wondering what I should get, or if it's even worth it. I have no brand loyalties, and would like to spend under $150. The thing is that I don't want to invest the money in it if the performance gains aren't going to squeze that much more life out of it. I have no opposition to Overclocking although I have no experience in doing it.
The biggest issue is that the p35 is only PCIe 1.0 and all the new cards are at least 2.0. I realize they're backwards compatible, but am worried about a bottleneck at the PCI-e slot.
Also, as a side note is that this PC will probably become a home theatre PC once I finally get a new one, so if that needs to be factored in I just thought I'd add that.
Any point in spending the money, or should I just put it in the full system upgrade pot? Reccomendations?
The PCIE port isn't an issue so don't worry about that. Overclocking your processor and adding a competent card for your resolution will make that a viable gaming system for a while to come. I'd recommend putting the processor up to 3.3ghz or so(even the stock cooler should be ok with that) and getting something like a GTX 460 768mb which should be very good for your resolution http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
For reference that card is approximately 3 times faster than your current card at stock speeds and can also overclock a large amount(usually 30%+)
I proabably should have added that I have an Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro for a cooler, so a minor overclock won't be any problem. In fact all of the components have good overclock room with the exception of the video card (which of course I'm thinking of replacing)
Another question. In this case If I'm going to overclock, It would be best not to buy a factory overclocked card, correct?
Well thing is, most factory overclocked cards (like the one jyjjy posted) are slightly overclocked (Core Clock: 715MHz (std 675) in this case, so only 40Mhz overclock) with room for quite more or at least some, and will have a custom cooling solution.
Key here is the custom cooling solution, as it will allow you to push your card further than a reference one in most cases.
As for which one is the best custom-cooled card, I have no idea for GTX 460 768MB cards, but I am sure jyjjy's suggestion should be a pretty good one
Factory overclocked cards shouldn't be avoided per say there's just no reason to pay extra for one as overclocking a video card is quite simple and you'll get significantly better results on your own. If you are going to pay extra for anything it should be for the best cooling like ochho said. The card I linked has a good cooler but if you are willing to pay extra for the best then grab one of these two; http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
The GTX 460 can often get up to 900mhz on the core. I recommend MSI Afterburner for overclocking a video card(works fine with non-MSI cards.)
On the cpu considering you have a good fan/heatsink you should be able to get it to 3.6-3.8ghz, perhaps even higher if you are willing to push it.