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Upgrading Quadro FX- It's been a while!

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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December 18, 2010 11:02:39 PM

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: ~a month
BUDGET RANGE: up to $300

USAGE: Gaming (mid to high settings preferred), streaming video, day-to-day PC

CURRENT GPU AND POWER SUPPLY: Nvidia Quadro FX 3500, Dell 750w Power Supply

OTHER RELEVANT SYSTEM SPECS: Dell Precision 690 w/ Win 7 x64. 4 GB ram, 2x Xeon X5160 3.0 Ghz dual core.
This page will provide more technical specifications.

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: No preference.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: No preference.
PARTS PREFERENCES:None.

OVERCLOCKING: No
SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Maybe

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1920 x 1200 (dual)

COMMENTS:

Hey all. I'm using a bit of Christmas money to step back out into the world of computer upgrading and am looking to increase my gaming power on my home PC. I've read quite a few articles on newer cards, including the Tom's "Best Ofs", and continually find myself completely lost, so I figure I'll take a more direct approach.

For reference, the last time I chose a GPU upgrade, it was because the Voodoo2 had just come out. This is my first real foray into anything from this decade.

I'd like to replace the Quadro FX 3500 in my PC with:
a) something more suited to modern games,
b) something that will last me for more than a couple months and,
c) something under $200, preferrably, though I'm willing to go as high as $300.
I wasn't aware of how far behind the times my capabilities were until my girlfriend ordered herself a new XPS 17 and installed all my games on it...I didn't know that the lag in Sims 3 & slow loading in Minecraft wasn't normal! Not to mention World of Warcraft (I read the Cataclysm post on the Tom's blog) which has gone from "decent" to "nearly unplayable" with the recent expansion.

My greatest concern is compatibility. I've thrown questions out about gaming mods for my PC before and have had my system mocked (the most common suggestions are new PCs), which leads me to believe I may be without a real base to stand on. However, I don't understand why and worry that any card I purchase on a lark will be incompatible with my system.

My requests:

1) What range of cards are compatible with my system? Should I be so worried or can I go merrily researching any old PCI 16x card I find?

2) Is there a particular recommendation for this PC from anyone when it comes to gaming? I'm not interested in purchasing a whole new system right now and figure any parts I do upgrade this with can go towards my next PC, which I hope to build from scratch to my needs in a year or two.

I don't quite understand SLI / CrossFire though I see them mentioned a lot, so if your suggestion includes that I'd love a brief explanation. Yet another feature in which compatibility is a concern for me.

Thanks in advance for any help! I'm looking forward to playing Starcraft II soon! :) 

More about : upgrading quadro

December 19, 2010 7:25:05 AM

sli/xfire means 2 same brand and specified gpus linked together in a cpu to gain more performance than single gpu,however a gtx 470 will be a good choice for you
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December 19, 2010 12:51:07 PM

A GTX 470 is indeed a great card, but the GTX460 is very nearly as good, and a great value for just under $200. It's up to you and what you want to spend really.

GTX460 -Great 1920x1200 performance in most games, can be found for just under $200.
GTX470 -Exceptional 1920x1200 performance in most games, most prices start at about $250 and go up.
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December 19, 2010 12:52:35 PM

Thanks, mrjericho1991! I'll start looking into the GTX 470 some...I think I can get it locally and test it out with a return policy on it! :) 

JITPublisher - Thank you for keeping the budget in mind, too :)  I don't mind paying the extra $50 if it means a card that will last me a while longer.

Does anyone else have any suggestions? My initial research shows that the 470 has some purist competition from ATI loyalists, which I don't want to wade into. I'm always open to thoughts though.
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December 19, 2010 1:28:50 PM

mrjericho1991 said:
sli/xfire means 2 same brand and specified gpus linked together in a cpu to gain more performance than single gpu,however a gtx 470 will be a good choice for you

They don't have to be the same brand and only Nvidia cards should be the same GPU (but even that doesn't always follow) as ATi cards are slightly different as they use the same GPU but in different cards.
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December 22, 2010 2:25:57 PM

Thanks everyone for your recommendations!

I went ahead and bought a PNY GTX 460 locally to test out...had to give up one of my two optical drives just so I could power the card! :) 

After playing with it for a few hours and testing out a few of the games I had on hand (World of Warcraft, Sims 3, Fallout: NV) I found that it's surprisingly not a huge improvement...I can turn the game graphics up to higher levels but I don't notice enough of a difference to make it worth the $200 price tag. I guess I expected a vast leap in 3D cards to magically turn my games into cinematic quality, professionally rendered masterpieces. :lol: 

I'm gonna test it out a bit more with some newer games (Starcraft II, plue whatever else I can beg & borrow) before making a final decision, but right now it seems like I'm not a high-demand enough gamer to require any extra power. I guess it's a learning experience! :)  I'll hold out until I start my build...the cards'll be cheaper then anyway.

Thanks again for all the help!
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