I'm in the process of putting together a simple little i5 system and after looking at some charts my heart sank a bit.
I'm currently running an Intel E5200 system.. very basic/budget rig which has served me well for a good while. However, I inherited a i5-750 along with an Intel DH55HC mobo with 4GB (2x2GB) of Ballastix RAM.. so I'm building it today.
Now my issue is this.. I have a PNY 9800GT 1GB version which seems to do pretty decently.
After looking at some of the GPU charts I'm just wondering if I *NEED* to upgrade it?
I got the card for a fantastic price about a year ago ($68) and dont really want to spend the cash unless it's truly necessary.
My main graphic intensive apps are WoW and SecondLife.
I would like to be able to dual box either 1 WoW and 1 SL client or 2 SL clients.
Currently I can do it, but I get a lot of stutter.. my thought is that the stutter was due to my current rig being underpowered (E5200@3.02Ghz).
If I do need to upgrade the card what is a good route to go in the $100 range?
I would like to be under $130.. closer to $100 if possible. And I have a strong preference for Nvidia.
If you are running 2 games on the system, you want a very fast drive, fast CPU and tons of RAM, video card I'd upgrade last. Why even bother doing 2 at a time, play one game and enjoy it at good quality rather than a bunch of crappy experiences.
To be honest you would be very lucky to find another card with equal or better performance at retail and the closest card now that is still on the market is the 5670. I would stick with your card until games are to demanding for your comfort or left wanting something new regardless. Personally I own two such cards and they are worth hanging onto as Nvidia has basically screwed up in the low end with cards that cost more yet can only compete with a 9600gt which hasn't been produced in quantity in months. To see any gain at all you would need a 5770 or better and I personally wouldn't bother with a GTS450 as it often trades places with the gts250 and the gtx260 in games.
In short save your cash till you can get something better than a gts450.
On the last page, after their recommendations of specific gaming cards at different budet levels, they hava hiearchy chart that organizes cards in groups based on performance. They suggest not upgrading unless you are moving up at least 3 steps. The 9800GT to GTS 450 would be two steps. So if a little improvement is particularly valuable to you, it still might be worth it to you to do it.
Alterntively, you might wait a bit save a little more money, and try to find a good deal on a little better card. A GTX 460 1 GB would be excellent. Normally around $200 they recently could be had for about $160 after rebate. Or you might go for the slower GTS 460 768MB which was available for about $130. I do not see any that low at the moment - at least not at newegg - which is why you might want to wait a bit.
For information about good brands and other info about upgrading, you might want to visit upgradingvideocards.com
Also I trust you are building your system with a stout and reliable PSU that will be able to handle whatever card you select.
In any case, it seems to me that you can easily build your new system first with the 9800GT and see how well it works. You should get some boost in performance from the faster CPU and memory. Then you can decide if it is worth it to you to spend more - and will be better able to judge the incremental return from that investment.