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Should I upgrade to SB or crossfirex?

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July 10, 2011 5:01:56 AM

My specs are as follows:
Phenom II x4 920 @3.3ghz
4gb DDR2 1066 RAM
1 HD5850 1gb
Windows 7 64bit
Resolution: 1680 X 1050

I built the system in january of 2009 (it originally had 2 4850's and I upgraded to a 5850 later on)

I have been considering upgrading to a sandy bridge i5 2500k recently so I decided to do some (very basic) benchmarking. I found that in all of the games that I tested (battlefield bad company 2, crysis warhead, and team fortress 2) my cpu usage seemed to hover around 75% for all 4 cores. It never really spiked above that. My gpu usage, on the other hand, was constantly above 90% (of course this is due to vsync being turned off, the gpu is always working at full tilt) and my framerate occasionally drop below 60 in BC2 and (albeit more sparsely) in TF2 (I play tf2 with either 4x or 8x AA, don't remember. Either way, small hitches are to be expected). Crysis is of course always below 60fps. I play BC2 the most and that is the one that really bothers me, because the framerate will just drop out of the blue for no apparent reason.

My point is that it doesn't seem that upgrading my cpu is really necessary as my cpu usage never goes above ~75% in game. It seems like getting a second 5850 or saving up for a more powerful single card would be more worth my while. The main reason I want to upgrade is for Bad Company 2 and Battlefield 3. I feel like I ought to wait for that to come out and for gpu prices to come down.

Now here are my questions to you guys:
1) should I upgrade to sandy bridge now and save up for a second 5850
2) should I keep my phenom II and get a beastly gpu in a couple of months
3) should go all out and get both SB and a beastly gpu

I (and my wallet) would like to avoid #3 but if SB is really that big of an upgrade for gaming and if crossfire isn't worth the $ and effort, I might have to go that route.

More about : upgrade crossfirex

a b à CPUs
July 10, 2011 8:51:39 AM

No reason for an early upgrade if you are satisified with current framerates.

I don't pay much attention to processor/ore useage perentages, as even slower or faster quadcores might give similar readings; it does not imply there is (or is not) room for improvement...

The highest gaming framerate jump would likely be from a 2nd 5850, if your PSU is up to the task of powering the whole rig...

As you on an older DDR2 based rig, you mnight even want to wait a few months until BD (and BF3) releases, then can decide for sure what/when/where would be the greatest gains for the least money.
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July 10, 2011 5:09:57 PM

mdd1963 said:
No reason for an early upgrade if you are satisified with current framerates.

I don't pay much attention to processor/ore useage perentages, as even slower or faster quadcores might give similar readings; it does not imply there is (or is not) room for improvement...

The highest gaming framerate jump would likely be from a 2nd 5850, if your PSU is up to the task of powering the whole rig...

As you on an older DDR2 based rig, you mnight even want to wait a few months until BD (and BF3) releases, then can decide for sure what/when/where would be the greatest gains for the least money.


That's the thing, I'm not satisfied with my frames. BC2 consistently goes below 60fps with no AA enabled and hbao turned off.



During that game it dipped to around 45 fps for a good 2-3 minutes at a time. That is near unplayable to me.
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July 10, 2011 5:12:02 PM

And yes, my gpu is overclocked, for some reason gpu z wasn't picking it up (maybe because it's an older version of gpuz)
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July 10, 2011 5:21:53 PM

Actually I take that back, for some reason, my 5850 seems to be stuck in 2d mode! I am going to see if it's only bc2 or if it affects other games.
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July 10, 2011 5:41:32 PM

Ok, problem solved, apparently when you have any sort of video playing that is gpu accelerated (I had a youtube video open in chrome while I was playing) it limits the gpu clocks to 400/900. Now that that has been solved, it appears that I do have a cpu bottleneck.


Gpu usage never goes above 60% and my cpu usage never goes below 80%.

What do you guys say, would sandy bridge be better enough to warrant an upgrade?
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a c 81 à CPUs
July 10, 2011 7:11:02 PM

The HD 5850 is a very capable card. Especially at that resolution. No need to put another one here. If you really want to upgrade something then going for the i5 2500k is the ideal route.
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July 10, 2011 8:19:31 PM

Quote:
those links dont seem to be working on my PC, but have you tried the latest ATI drivers?


Huh, that's strange. it's just a screenshot showing my cpu usage at 80% and my gpu usage at 55% in bad company 2. And yes, I am running the latest drivers.
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a b à CPUs
July 10, 2011 9:04:27 PM

1680x1050 is an intermediate resolution, which still allows good scaling from CPU upgrades and/or GPU upgrades.....

http://www.tomshardware.com/charts/2010-gaming-graphics...


BFBC2's average framerates should jump from the 40s/50s into the 70s-80s with a 2nd 5850

(THG GPU performance charts show a pair of Crossfired 4850's as being a bit faster than a single 5850 in BFBC2 at your resolution, with 58 fps vs 50, respectively...)
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a c 127 à CPUs
July 10, 2011 9:17:04 PM

mdd1963 said:
1680x1050 is an intermediate resolution, which still allows good scaling from CPU upgrades and/or GPU upgrades.....

http://www.tomshardware.com/charts/2010-gaming-graphics...


BFBC2's average framerates should jump from the 40s/50s into the 70s-80s with a 2nd 5850

(THG GPU performance charts show a pair of Crossfired 4850's as being a bit faster than a single 5850 in BFBC2 at your resolution, with 58 fps vs 50, respectively...)


The only issue with those charts is that they are done on a Nehalem based system, considering its 2010 I would guess its probably a 980x. Considering that info its hard to say that his current CPU would be able to satisfy two 5850s and give the same performance jump.
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a c 111 à CPUs
July 10, 2011 9:20:31 PM

Your best upgrade is probably an AM3 PhenomII. It will move forward to AM3+ and DDR3 when you are ready to make that leap.

Otherwise -- what motherboard are you using (that is most likely holding you back along with your RAMs) and how far have you cranked your IMC/NB ?

For each 10% you increase the IMC/NB over stock, memory bandwidth is increased 3-4% and latency is reduced 3-4%. The best way to accomplish this may be to use a combination of the system clock and CPU multiplier while dropping your memory ratio a notch (to keep it in spec).

Dropping from 533 to 400 should allow room for the system clock to go as high as 266MHz and still keep your RAMs in spec -- 4X266MHz=1066

13.5x250MHz looks like a good spot --- drop your HT to x4 and raise your NB volts to 1.2v or so.

You may have to go 14x240MHz because of the earlier version PhII. You should see a nice increase with the IMC/NB at 2400MHz.

Stoopid Triva: Your PhII 920 has DDR3 capability, but it has been disabled (as was the PhII 940).

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July 10, 2011 9:22:37 PM

Your system is almost exactly the same as mine (excluding the ram speed) and i have installed a second 5850 and I got a great fps boost on most 3D games and 3D applications.

Installing an Intel sandy bridge would increase the framerate but only slightly as most games are not very CPU intensive.

PS : the only games I have played and have problems running at full are crysis 2(DX11) and for some reason half life 2 at action scenes?
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July 10, 2011 10:20:39 PM

Wisecracker said:
Your best upgrade is probably an AM3 PhenomII. It will move forward to AM3+ and DDR3 when you are ready to make that leap.

Otherwise -- what motherboard are you using (that is most likely holding you back along with your RAMs) and how far have you cranked your IMC/NB ?

For each 10% you increase the IMC/NB over stock, memory bandwidth is increased 3-4% and latency is reduced 3-4%. The best way to accomplish this may be to use a combination of the system clock and CPU multiplier while dropping your memory ratio a notch (to keep it in spec).

Dropping from 533 to 400 should allow room for the system clock to go as high as 266MHz and still keep your RAMs in spec -- 4X266MHz=1066

13.5x250MHz looks like a good spot --- drop your HT to x4 and raise your NB volts to 1.2v or so.

You may have to go 14x240MHz because of the earlier version PhII. You should see a nice increase with the IMC/NB at 2400MHz.

Stoopid Triva: Your PhII 920 has DDR3 capability, but it has been disabled (as was the PhII 940).


My mobo is an asrock a780gxe/128m.
http://www.asrock.com/mb/overview.asp?Model=A780GXE/128...
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a b à CPUs
July 11, 2011 12:00:59 AM

If you drop the resolution/detail settings, and the framerate increases massively, you are still GPU limited.

(Many folks seem to think that all GPUs give similar performance at 'only' 1650x1080; as THG charts clearly show up to a doubling of framerates with more powerful GPUs.... then clearly this resolution is partially GPU limited as well.)

I'd personally get the 2nd 5850 now, then carry both cards with me later in the year to whatever upgrade is feasible (BD or SB) , after the BD release/evaluation of price/performance.
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a c 473 à CPUs
July 11, 2011 12:07:41 AM

The best solution is to add another HD 5850.

Upgrading the CPU can potentially improve your frame rates a bit, but most games are dependent on the video card rather than the CPU (as long as the CPU is fast enough).
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July 11, 2011 12:52:51 AM

mdd1963 said:
If you drop the resolution/detail settings, and the framerate increases massively, you are still GPU limited.

(Many folks seem to think that all GPUs give similar performance at 'only' 1650x1080; as THG charts clearly show up to a doubling of framerates with more powerful GPUs.... then clearly this resolution is partially GPU limited as well.)

I'd personally get the 2nd 5850 now, then carry both cards with me later in the year to whatever upgrade is feasible (BD or SB) , after the BD release/evaluation of price/performance.


Lowering resolution/detail in bad company 2 does increase my maximum fps by a bit, but my minimum is still around 45-50.
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July 11, 2011 1:41:03 AM

I just went Crossfire with 5850s and WOW! I also have an Intel2500k@4400. Its a game killing BEAST!
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a b à CPUs
July 11, 2011 1:43:33 AM

gonintendo said:
Lowering resolution/detail in bad company 2 does increase my maximum fps by a bit, but my minimum is still around 45-50.


bfbc2 does use four cores but i think you have a combination of gpu and cpu bottleneck reason being is when i play i have 20% cpu usage and 95% gpu usage on high excluding hboa and never dip below 30fps. thats a sandy bridge i7.
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July 11, 2011 1:47:02 AM

cbrunnem said:
bfbc2 does use four cores but i think you have a combination of gpu and cpu bottleneck reason being is when i play i have 20% cpu usage and 95% gpu usage on high excluding hboa and never dip below 30fps. thats a sandy bridge i7.


Interesting. What gpu do you have?
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a b à CPUs
July 11, 2011 2:48:47 AM

gt 540m
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a c 103 à CPUs
July 11, 2011 12:55:16 PM

Looking at this

suggests you are getting the max you can from you GPU but I think getting a seconf 5850 your CPU will limit it to not much more. I suggest get the second 5850 1st and if you don't get the boost you wanted get a 955BE and overclock it (or get a 2500K if you have alot of spare cash).
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a c 111 à CPUs
July 11, 2011 11:18:26 PM

simon12 said:
Looking at this
http://www.xbitlabs.com/images/video/battlefield-bad-company-2/BFBC2_Game_HighEnd.png
suggests you are getting the max you can from you GPU but I think getting a seconf 5850 your CPU will limit it to not much more. I suggest get the second 5850 1st and if you don't get the boost you wanted get a 955BE and overclock it (or get a 2500K if you have alot of spare cash).


Nice find! It looks like the PhII 920 is takin' care of business. If the PSU can take a second card that would be great.

Didn't BFBC2 have some lag problems, anyway?

@ OP: Have you loaded any patches ??
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a c 86 à CPUs
July 12, 2011 2:34:40 AM

I would get the second 5850, if you can find one in stock. they wont be around for long and you will have to risk it with a second hand one
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July 12, 2011 3:23:49 AM

Yeah, I just bought one off of ebay. I'm kind of pissed because they were going for ~$130 - $150 when newegg was clearing stock. Now they are around $180 - $220 on ebay. Oh well, they seem pretty hard to come by so I'm glad I bought one now that I did.
Here's the one I bought in case you guys are curious:
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=2006...

The guy has really good feedback, so I figure it should be relatively safe. I'm going to make sure he puts it into an antistatic bag when he ships it.
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July 12, 2011 3:27:50 AM

I should add that no etailers had them in stock except for amazon, and imo ebay's feedback system is more trustworthy that theirs.
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July 12, 2011 5:48:11 PM

Quote:
hope you enjoy your new/relatively new card!


Thanks!
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July 12, 2011 5:51:00 PM

Best answer selected by gonintendo.
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July 16, 2011 4:23:39 AM

In case anybody is in my situation, here's how it turned out: Bad company 2 does run a lot better and I can max out all of the settings now while still maintaining 60+ fps. My minumum fps is still in the upper 40's lower 50's though I reach it less often (but still frequently enough for it to get annoying. This is after I oc'd to 3360 mhz (as far as I could take it with out errors in p95) I am going to wait until the beta for battlefield 3 comes out so I can get a feel for how cpu dependent that game is. If it is comparable to BC2, I will probably upgrade to a 2500k system or to bulldozer.
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a b à CPUs
July 16, 2011 5:09:28 AM

bf3 new extreme physics engine is cpu based...
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July 16, 2011 5:50:36 AM

cbrunnem said:
bf3 new extreme physics engine is cpu based...


new cpu it is then :(  Still going to wait for bulldozer. It should at the very least lower sandy bridge prices.
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a b à CPUs
July 16, 2011 5:57:38 AM

i would wait though. never hurt anything to wait till the game comes out to determine if you have to upgrade or not.
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