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Upgrading on Budget

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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March 14, 2011 10:06:34 PM

Hello, I would like to upgrade my PC in order to acquire maximum graphics on a $500 budget. I think I only need to upgrade my PSU and GPU but im not certain. Could you guys give me some recommendations for maximum graphics on this budget?

Specs:
Manufacturer: Dell
Processor: Intel(R) Core(TM)2 Quad CPU Q6600 @ 2.40GHz (4 CPUs), ~2.4GHz
Ram: 8190 MB
Hard drive: 623 GB
GPU: ATI Radeon HD 3650
Motherboard: Dell Inc. 0M017G
PSU: 350 Watt DC Power Supply

More about : upgrading budget

a b U Graphics card
March 14, 2011 10:08:57 PM

what do you mean by "maximum graphics" Do you mean you wanna max your settings on a certain game? or you want the best possible graphics solution with a $500 budget? elaborate a bit if you would please.
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March 14, 2011 10:10:57 PM

opexx said:
what do you mean by "maximum graphics" Do you mean you wanna max your settings on a certain game? or you want the best possible graphics solution with a $500 budget? elaborate a bit if you would please.

Oh, sorry for not clarifying efficiently. I would like the best possible graphics with this budget. Thanks for the quick reply.
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a b U Graphics card
March 14, 2011 10:14:07 PM

well, you have a crappy board, power supply, and the graphics card is "meh" you need to do quite a few upgrades imo to get anything nicer than what you have. I assume you have a dell 540 minitower with that mobo? if not what model dell do you have.
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March 14, 2011 10:17:54 PM

opexx said:
well, you have a crappy board, power supply, and the graphics card is "meh" you need to do quite a few upgrades imo to get anything nicer than what you have. I assume you have a dell 540 minitower with that mobo? if not what model dell do you have.

Yep that's correct.
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a b U Graphics card
March 15, 2011 12:57:55 AM

You will get a HUGE boost with a $50 graphics card from a 3650 without adjusting any settings. I recommend you get a 9800GT for $60 (http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...)

And you can also buy a solid PSU for your next build (maybe a 750W from Corsair, Antec, Seasonic, Silverstone, or XFX). The 9800GT can also be used in the future as a solid PhysX card. A Radeon 5670 would have similar performance and not require any PSU upgrade.

If you want the best graphics, the $60 9800GT isn't it--that card is just, as I said, a considerable upgrade (4x the performance or so). If you spend $160, you can get a card with 10x the performance (Radeon 5850 or GTX 460 1GB). Performance really does not scale well with price after that, but a GTX 570 is the best within your budget that will allow you to get a Power Supply (which you need) with it. A GTX 570 would also require overclocking.

That said, see if your motherboard will allow you to adjust your base clock (bclk) or front side bus (fsb). If it will, you should be able to get around a 25% overclock (up to 3.0GHz) on a Q6600 at stock voltage. This will greatly improve what graphics your computer will be capable of handling. There are many steps to overclocking, but whether or not you can even adjust your clock rate will make a huge difference.

What are your RAM sticks/sizes? Is it 4x2GB DDR2 800MHz? If not, then you only need 4GB (2x2GB) of your fastest sticks for best gaming performance.

With overclocking, your system should be able to fully utilize a GTX 570.

Lastly, I would like to reiterate that you should just get a cheap card and consider saving the extra money for a complete new build sometime later this year (Black Friday?).
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a b U Graphics card
March 15, 2011 1:02:26 AM

I would suggest you OC, but with a Dell tower and cooler, that is pretty much impossible, if the MB allows it at all.

Do you know if the power supply is of regular size/shape? Do you know how much room you have for a video card? Is the case well ventilated?

If all is ok, you could probably get something like a GTX 460 1GB or a HD 6870 and an Antec BP550 or an Antec EA650.

Total should be ~250$+tx+ship.

I would also suggest you consider getting a brand new PC, you could probably get something very decent for ~1000$ with casing, top-of-the-line Sandy bridge CPU and everything. Just saying as some people still think you need to spend 1500$+ to get something decent.
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March 15, 2011 1:44:17 AM

dalauder said:
You will get a HUGE boost with a $50 graphics card from a 3650 without adjusting any settings. I recommend you get a 9800GT for $60 (http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...)

And you can also buy a solid PSU for your next build (maybe a 750W from Corsair, Antec, Seasonic, Silverstone, or XFX). The 9800GT can also be used in the future as a solid PhysX card. A Radeon 5670 would have similar performance and not require any PSU upgrade.

If you want the best graphics, the $60 9800GT isn't it--that card is just, as I said, a considerable upgrade (4x the performance or so). If you spend $160, you can get a card with 10x the performance (Radeon 5850 or GTX 460 1GB). Performance really does not scale well with price after that, but a GTX 570 is the best within your budget that will allow you to get a Power Supply (which you need) with it. A GTX 570 would also require overclocking.

That said, see if your motherboard will allow you to adjust your base clock (bclk) or front side bus (fsb). If it will, you should be able to get around a 25% overclock (up to 3.0GHz) on a Q6600 at stock voltage. This will greatly improve what graphics your computer will be capable of handling. There are many steps to overclocking, but whether or not you can even adjust your clock rate will make a huge difference.

What are your RAM sticks/sizes? Is it 4x2GB DDR2 800MHz? If not, then you only need 4GB (2x2GB) of your fastest sticks for best gaming performance.

With overclocking, your system should be able to fully utilize a GTX 570.

Lastly, I would like to reiterate that you should just get a cheap card and consider saving the extra money for a complete new build sometime later this year (Black Friday?).

I think I could get my parents to buy me a new case, which I will definitely need, so I'm not really worried about that in my budget. I would like if I could split that $500 between a new PSU, GPU, and possibly mobo and then just move everything to the new case. I definitely want optimal graphics, so max pretty much most newer games, and since I'm only gonna be playing on 1680x1050 or less I could probably achieve that quite easily. I just need some recommendations on my budget to get me the best possible performance. Even though I understand GPUs well enough I don't have a good basis of knowledge about PSUs and mobos, especially mobos. so any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for the reply.
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a b U Graphics card
March 15, 2011 1:44:35 AM

If you don't want an all-new PC, I would recommend you start with just upgrading parts that your old PC can use just as well. That starts with Case, PSU, & CPU cooler. You can also get a new HDD (Samsung Spinpoint F3) and graphics. You could pick up all these parts for $500 on Newegg:

Case: $55 Antec 300 Illusion
PSU: wait for a deal--$75 750W Corsair, Antec, Seasonic, Silverstone, or XFX.
Cooler: $30 Hyper 212+
HDD: $55 Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB
Graphics: $250 GTX 560 Ti OC Edition

Then get an i5-2500K and a P67 mobo (8x/8x) for $330 in a combo down the line. You can add a second GTX 560 Ti too eventually.
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a b U Graphics card
March 15, 2011 1:54:51 AM

I wouldn't get a motherboard because socket 775 (for Core 2 Quads) it is already obsolete--even if the CPU is still useful.

I think the GTX 560 Ti or Radeon 6950 2GB would be perfect for you. That--or a Radeon 5870 for $180 if you can still find those.

You can totally skip my hard drive recommendation (& the cooler if your mobo doesn't allow overclocking). That would let you get a GTX 570--which can max out EVERYTHING in 1680x1050 and will be able to 'til at least the end of the year. But your CPU might be limiting.

If you're interested in overclocking, you can start a new thread.
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March 15, 2011 2:14:59 AM

dalauder said:
I wouldn't get a motherboard because socket 775 (for Core 2 Quads) it is already obsolete--even if the CPU is still useful.

I think the GTX 560 Ti or Radeon 6950 2GB would be perfect for you. That--or a Radeon 5870 for $180 if you can still find those.

You can totally skip my hard drive recommendation (& the cooler if your mobo doesn't allow overclocking). That would let you get a GTX 570--which can max out EVERYTHING in 1680x1050 and will be able to 'til at least the end of the year. But your CPU might be limiting.

If you're interested in overclocking, you can start a new thread.

I was actually thinking the same thing as you in terms of the Radeon 6950 and im considering buying this one specifically: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... but now im confused on what to do in order to get my rig ready for such a card and on a side note im confused on what it means when the card "Up to 50% increase in performance with Voltage Tweak". Im leaning more towards this one cause its already overclocked and apparently upgrading its BIOS will turn it into a 6970. Sorry for being such a noob and bugging you so much, thx a lot for the advice you have already given me.
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a b U Graphics card
March 15, 2011 3:00:42 AM

You definitely want the unlocked 6950 2GB bios for 6970 performance. But don't confuse that with a 6970 bios, which can slowly kill a card.
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a b U Graphics card
March 15, 2011 5:41:30 AM

I'd go with this XFX 6950 2GB because of XFX's (limited) lifetime warranty. Eventually the card will fail--and this pretty much means it will get replaced for free. Also, it's one of the cheapest. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Btw, that card won't fit in your current case and they bumped the price of the Antec 300 Illusion back up to $70. You may as well wait to see if the case drops...or if you're not paying, get it or any other good looking case with ventilation and a bottom mounting PSU.
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March 15, 2011 7:21:48 PM

dalauder said:
I'd go with this XFX 6950 2GB because of XFX's (limited) lifetime warranty. Eventually the card will fail--and this pretty much means it will get replaced for free. Also, it's one of the cheapest. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Btw, that card won't fit in your current case and they bumped the price of the Antec 300 Illusion back up to $70. You may as well wait to see if the case drops...or if you're not paying, get it or any other good looking case with ventilation and a bottom mounting PSU.

Are there any other advantages to the XFX vs ASUS 6950 other than warranty?
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