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GPU Upgrade?

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Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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January 28, 2011 6:51:37 PM

Hello, I recently put together a budget gaming system for my son.

Specs:
AthlonII X3 440 3.0Gz (no OC)
4GB DD2800 G.Skill gaming RAM
Seagate 500GB 7200 HD
GPU Gigabyte GTS450 (slight factory OC)
19in Dell Monitor 1280X1024

He mainly plays Star Wars TFU2, it runs fairly smooth with only the occasional pause if there is a lot going on. For the heck of it I've been thinking about upgrading the video board to the following:

EVGA 01G-P3-1380-KR GeForce GTX 460 (Fermi) SSC+ 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card
Core Clock: 850 MHz (v.s 720 MHz reference)
Shader Clock: 1700 Mhz (v.s 1440 MHz reference)


However, my concerns are such:

1. Could upgrading to the above card cause a bottleneck with the CPU that it would negate any benefit

2. This EVGA board comes with quite a high factory OC, the room the pc is in can get a bit warm, especially in the summer months, I might be concerned with heat issues. Does anyong have any experience this particular EVGA board?

I did notice a Newegg budget build recently that used a GTX 460 with an AthlonII X3 445, although it was a Sparkle card, I believe.

Thanks in advance for comments

More about : gpu upgrade

a c 376 U Graphics card
January 28, 2011 7:22:59 PM

If possible giving the processor a bit of an OC wouldn't hurt but it should be largely capable for current games. At that resolution the GTS 450 should already be very good. To make a better card like the GTX 460 worthwhile you would want to pair it with a higher resolution monitor more so than a new processor.
http://www.logicbuy.com/subcategorydeals/13/Computers/3...
Or spend the money better games for your son as that one is widely considered pretty poor :p 
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a c 153 U Graphics card
January 28, 2011 7:29:32 PM

As jyjjy said, that card should be fine for what you are doing. Maybe you could try turning down some graphical settings that are causing it to hiccup? Sometimes v-sync or high aa/af can cause that, and they are not always necessary to have turned on. I'm not familiar with the graphical settings in TFU2, but it is worth looking into. Couple this with the fact that that game is only roughly nine to ten hours long in story time at most, and I don't find a need to spend that much money on one game.
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January 28, 2011 7:32:22 PM

Thanks for the feedback

I've been thinking about a small OC for the CPU as I just purchased an aftermarket HSF for it. I agree regarding the game, but he is still young and a huge SW fan. It not saying much, but SW TFU2 is better than the original for the pc. The original port was horrid. :( 
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January 28, 2011 7:37:39 PM

Thanks again, I do have the AA maxed, but if I recall the game hiccuped on its default settings. I've read it is poorly coded at best.
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a c 153 U Graphics card
January 28, 2011 7:41:02 PM

As are most ports unfortunately. :( 
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a c 376 U Graphics card
January 28, 2011 7:41:33 PM

There are other options for Star Wars games. The Battlefront or KOTOR series are much better or even the Lego games.
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a c 302 U Graphics card
January 28, 2011 7:42:15 PM

1) At 1280 x 1024 you should have no problems with a GTS450. If you upgrade to a GTX460, I would not expect to see much change. That said, it will not cause any performance drop, and you might see a better minimum frame rate. Unless your games are cpu limited, it is the graphics card that is all important.

2) As to cooling, I think the direct exhaust coolers will be a bit more effective. They keep the heat from recirculating in the case. Here is an example of what I mean:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

If you want to do a bit of experimenting, try these two tests:

a) Run your games, but lower your resolution and eye candy.
If your FPS increases, it indicates that your cpu is strong enough to drive a better graphics card.

b) Limit your cpu, either by reducing the OC, or, in windows power management, limit the maximum cpu% to something like 70%.
If your FPS drops significantly, it is an indicator that your cpu is the limiting factor, and a cpu upgrade is in order.

It is possible that both tests are positive, indicating that you have a well balanced system, and both cpu and gpu need to be upgraded to get better gaming FPS.

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January 28, 2011 7:59:43 PM

jyjjy said:
There are other options for Star Wars games. The Battlefront or KOTOR series are much better or even the Lego games.


Very true jyjjy and he has actually played all of those. :) 
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January 28, 2011 8:02:08 PM

geofelt said:
1) At 1280 x 1024 you should have no problems with a GTS450. If you upgrade to a GTX460, I would not expect to see much change. That said, it will not cause any performance drop, and you might see a better minimum frame rate. Unless your games are cpu limited, it is the graphics card that is all important.

2) As to cooling, I think the direct exhaust coolers will be a bit more effective. They keep the heat from recirculating in the case. Here is an example of what I mean:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

If you want to do a bit of experimenting, try these two tests:

a) Run your games, but lower your resolution and eye candy.
If your FPS increases, it indicates that your cpu is strong enough to drive a better graphics card.

b) Limit your cpu, either by reducing the OC, or, in windows power management, limit the maximum cpu% to something like 70%.
If your FPS drops significantly, it is an indicator that your cpu is the limiting factor, and a cpu upgrade is in order.

It is possible that both tests are positive, indicating that you have a well balanced system, and both cpu and gpu need to be upgraded to get better gaming FPS.


Thanks for the tips geofelt, I may try this in the future, but with SW TFU2, the FPS are locked at 30. :( 
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a c 376 U Graphics card
January 28, 2011 8:39:10 PM

I think there's a hack around that will increase the cap to 60 fps.
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a c 123 U Graphics card
January 28, 2011 8:45:12 PM

I haven't looked but wonder if that game/games take advantage of 4 or more cores ? As things are I'd adjust my settings from the nvidia control panel and from the games control panel until it ran right.
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a c 302 U Graphics card
January 28, 2011 9:50:07 PM

Ed4609 said:
Thanks for the tips geofelt, I may try this in the future, but with SW TFU2, the FPS are locked at 30. :( 



Let me presume that your games are now running at 30FPS, at least on the average.
If so, then the only advantage of a faster graphics card might be the reduction of occasional drops below 30FPS. That is a good thing, since inconsistency seems to bother us more than low performance.

There may be other factors involved.

4gb of ram is normally all that any single game can use. If there are other things going on at the same time, then competition for ram can cause momentary stutters.
Assuming a 64 bit OS, there is no performancedownside to getting 8gb, and possibly some help. Considering the current low price of ram, you might consider that upgrade.

Or, have you considered a SSD? Everything will feel considerably snappier. Some internal game functions, like autosaves and level loading will happen faster also.
Next month, gen3 SSD's should arrive, and I expect to see drives selling for $150 per gb.
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a c 376 U Graphics card
January 29, 2011 7:03:41 AM

geofelt said:
4gb of ram is normally all that any single game can use. If there are other things going on at the same time, then competition for ram can cause momentary stutters.
Assuming a 64 bit OS, there is no performancedownside to getting 8gb, and possibly some help. Considering the current low price of ram, you might consider that upgrade.

32-bit applications(all games I'm aware of) have a limit of 2gb or ram I believe so more ram will only help if he is gaming with other stuff running that use more than 2gb. In that case just shutting that stuff off makes a lot more sense than spending money on more ram. It is free and anything using that much ram would almost have to be using a good amount of cpu which is bad no matter how much ram you have.
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January 31, 2011 4:25:59 PM

jyjjy said:
I think there's a hack around that will increase the cap to 60 fps.

Correct, there is a hack that will allow you increase the FPS to 60. I have seen some reports though that this can have an undesirable effect on cut scenes. It can make them look choppy.
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January 31, 2011 4:32:44 PM

swifty_morgan said:
I haven't looked but wonder if that game/games take advantage of 4 or more cores ? As things are I'd adjust my settings from the nvidia control panel and from the games control panel until it ran right.


I'm only guessing, but I suspect TFU2 can only utilize 2 cores at most.
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January 31, 2011 4:52:28 PM

geofelt said:
Let me presume that your games are now running at 30FPS, at least on the average.
If so, then the only advantage of a faster graphics card might be the reduction of occasional drops below 30FPS. That is a good thing, since inconsistency seems to bother us more than low performance.

There may be other factors involved.

4gb of ram is normally all that any single game can use. If there are other things going on at the same time, then competition for ram can cause momentary stutters.
Assuming a 64 bit OS, there is no performancedownside to getting 8gb, and possibly some help. Considering the current low price of ram, you might consider that upgrade.

Or, have you considered a SSD? Everything will feel considerably snappier. Some internal game functions, like autosaves and level loading will happen faster also.
Next month, gen3 SSD's should arrive, and I expect to see drives selling for $150 per gb.


Sorry, I should have been more detailed, the pc is actually only running the 32bit version of XPSP3, so I'm not even using the whole 4GB of memory. Once prices come down some on SSD drives, I may upgrade to one, although I'd hate to put anyhting smaller than a 250GB HD in the box.
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a c 376 U Graphics card
January 31, 2011 4:56:13 PM

Oh yeah, you say your card came with a slightly factory OC, have you considered overclocking it higher? It's pretty easy to do with a program like Afterburner and the GTS 450 OCs quite well. For your current resolution It likely won't make too much of a difference outside of maxing out all settings in the most graphically intensive current games and probably not the specific one we are discussing now but you could give it a try and see what happens. I believe the GTS 450 can usually get over 950mhz on the core.
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January 31, 2011 5:29:20 PM

jyjjy said:
Oh yeah, you say your card came with a slightly factory OC, have you considered overclocking it higher? It's pretty easy to do with a program like Afterburner and the GTS 450 OCs quite well. For your current resolution It likely won't make too much of a difference outside of maxing out all settings in the most graphically intensive current games and probably not the specific one we are discussing now but you could give it a try and see what happens. I believe the GTS 450 can usually get over 950mhz on the core.


Thanks, I'll give it a shot. I'll definitely want to install that top exhaust fan that I left out when I first put the pc together. Overclocking the CPU & GPU will for sure create some extra heat.
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February 7, 2011 1:03:49 PM

Best answer selected by Ed4609.
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a c 274 U Graphics card
February 7, 2011 6:54:07 PM

This topic has been closed by Mousemonkey
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