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Upgrade on a budget. Mandate please?

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
March 27, 2011 9:43:34 AM

Hello all, hopefully this post will not break etiquette too much. I have been reading up on my situation for nearly 2 days worth of free time. My brains are in full-on knots. I am hoping I have arrived at a solution that is within budget.

I purchased a Dell XPS 8100(gasp) last year after my iMac *** a brick. I had planned to build a comp, post-iMac, but having no secondary internet access we purchased this PC immediately upon losing the iMac. The specs are as follows:

Dell XPS 8100
Intel i5 650@3.2ghz
8gb ram
Nvidia GeForce gt220 1GB
350 watt stock PSU
windows 7 64-bit
23" Dell cheapo lcd monitor
unsure of the MoBo
1tb HD

No OCing going on anywhere in the system. Nothing else special about it, just essential stuff like the dvd drive, usb ports, etc...

I recently purchased a newly released AAA MMO title to find that the FPS/general quality of the graphic rendering is unacceptable. After reading up on the situation I am fairly certain my GPU is floundering in the deep end of the performance pool, causing me distress.

So, I have decided to replace it and necessarily the PSU with a budget of $300. The best I can come up with are these two items:

Gigabyte ATI Radeon 6950 2gb GPU


Antec EarthWatts 500W ATX12V, 22amps on the 12v rail as I understand it.

These put me ~$15 over budget. But having a pretty soft mind when it comes to this stuff I am not entirely convinced this is the best way to improve my gaming performance. Hence my desire for a mandate from this community. Presently I need it to play Rift on solid settings with 40+ FPS, later, I need it to handle SW:TOR, which is optimized far better. I'd like to spend this $300 and be set for a few years of enjoyable MMO gaming, maybe some Total War; Shogun 2.

Is this the best way I can spend the $300? Should I instead go with the 6950 1gb model and a more powerful PSU?

For the record, I don't mind finding another use for the PSU later on if I decide to upgrade the MoBo/CPU so long as it will be sufficient for my current needs. Thanks in advance for your help, I really need it for peace of mind. :sol: 

More about : upgrade budget mandate

a c 153 U Graphics card
March 27, 2011 10:02:42 AM

What is the native resolution on that dell monitor?
March 27, 2011 10:04:37 AM

Native resolution is 1920x1080. This is also the resolution I game with.
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a c 173 U Graphics card
March 27, 2011 10:19:47 AM

first of all your cpu is all good for any game. a 500w earthwatts is a great psu that can run any single gpu setup and some mid range crossfire/sli setups. review here
22A on 12v rail? in the review its 17A x2 12v rails. either way the earthwatts 500w is a solid choice for that setup and you wont be straining the psu. You can flash the 2gb 6950 to a 6970 if you need the extra power. I think your making a good choice.
March 27, 2011 10:34:40 AM

Very good to hear. Regarding the 22A on 12V rail, the output was listed as:

+3.3V@24A, +5V@24A, +12V1@22A, +12V2@22A, -12V@0.8A, +5VSB@2.5A

Seeing the 12v1@22a is what lead me to say that. However, I don't fully understand what those numbers mean. I suspect that much was obvious. :lol: 

Thanks for the input. One more response like yours and I'm pulling the trigger on this purchase.

Edit: shiiiit, just realized I typed i6 instead of i5 when listing the CPU. Hopefully this is not going to be an issue. I was digging the CPU approval.
a b U Graphics card
March 27, 2011 12:26:00 PM

+1 yeah, that setup is about the best you can do for $300....

The $10 off w/ promo code EMCKGHE77, ends 3/31 is nice too...........

I'd also comment that you choice of video card is good for a second reason, it'll keep the inside of your case cooler than non-reference designs.

With a Dell, they don't generally have the greatest in case cooling. So, when upgrading it's best to dump all the heat from the GPU out the back of the case.
a c 87 U Graphics card
March 27, 2011 1:35:18 PM

huskell said:
Very good to hear. Regarding the 22A on 12V rail, the output was listed as:

+3.3V@24A, +5V@24A, +12V1@22A, +12V2@22A, -12V@0.8A, +5VSB@2.5A

Seeing the 12v1@22a is what lead me to say that. However, I don't fully understand what those numbers mean. I suspect that much was obvious.
12V1 and 12V2 combined max load 444W
so that really means one rail can give out 22 amps when the other isn't fully loaded, and 18.5 amps when maxing them both

+1 I agree, good setup

edit looks like the link doesn't lead straight to a pic of the label, but close enough :p 
April 2, 2011 11:56:59 PM

Best answer selected by huskell.