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Upgrade for 512MB 3870HD in Athlon X2 system

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April 9, 2011 8:57:13 PM

I'm asking for advice because I don't want to buy a card that's overpowered for our CPU, but I think we need to go up to a 1GB card now for better performance. Computer seems to run well in general, so we'd like to extend it's life by another 1-2 years or so before doing a rebuild.

Thanks!

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: within a week or so

BUDGET RANGE: would like to stay under $200

USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Currently use mostly for WoW and internet surfing. Would like to be able to play DAII and ME2 on it at decent settings, if possible. I don't have these games for PC yet (PS3 for now).

CURRENT GPU AND POWER SUPPLY: Palit 512MB ATI Radeon HD 3870 256 bit, DDR3 / PSU: 500W (don't remember manufacturer)

OTHER RELEVANT SYSTEM SPECS:

Home-built in 2006:

CPU: AMD Athlon 64 X2 6000+
MOBO: ASUS AM2/2+, Model M3N78-VM
RAM: We are going upgrade from 32-bit Vista to 64-bit Win7, and increase our RAM from 2GB to 8GB (max supported by this mobo) this week.

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Amazon (I have their Prime membership) or Newegg

OVERCLOCKING: No SLI OR CROSSFIRE: No

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 22" - 1680x1050 (not HD, although we may upgrade the monitor, too, eventually, or plug it into a 37-42" LED TV when we finally get one)
a c 130 U Graphics card
April 9, 2011 9:33:51 PM

I don't know what DAII and ME2 are and as you know a 3870 is quite old so i have had to extrapolate performance by comparing to the nearest equivalent through the various review charts but i think a 5750 would be a good bet for you.
This is a review of a 5670 which i think is of a similar level to your 3870 http://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/HIS/Radeon_HD_5670_I...

You could go up to a 5770 i guess but im a little worried about just how much your CPU would hold back performance.

Check the review and see what you think.

Mactronix :) 
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a c 173 U Graphics card
April 9, 2011 10:09:13 PM

The 5770 is about the right card for you, for both power as both cards fall in the same 80w range while the 5770 is a match for bandwidth the only loss is the pixel fill rate. The raw shader and texture fill rate will make up for that. I personally would say this is a done deal. Both cards use 84w give or a take a few w so your psu is no problem here. I own a 3870 my self ;) 

Don't worry about the cpu bottleneck, just don't go crossfire.

EDIT: Correction both are 16 Rop so there will be no loss of fill rate over your current card so in short this is a best in slot upgrade over your current card for the price and power draw.
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a b U Graphics card
April 9, 2011 10:37:30 PM

Buy a 5770. It will give you better performance and low temperature. Buy a model with an aftermarket cooler like vapor-x from sapphire or similar so that you will have low temps and low noise. Also for what you are doing 8 gb of RAM is not needed. It would be a waste. 4Gb should suffice.
If you want to know what a 5770 can do click the link below this post(my signature).
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April 9, 2011 11:25:25 PM

Hey thanks everyone! I can't select one answer as the best since you all had very helpful advice. Exactly the type of comments I was hoping for.

Quote:
Also for what you are doing 8 gb of RAM is not needed. It would be a waste. 4Gb should suffice.

Even better! Do you think it's fine to get 2 more sticks of 1GB to match my current RAM and fill all 4 slots rather than spend more $ on 2x2GB sticks?

Here's what I found on Newegg:

SAPPHIRE Vapor-X 100283VX-2L Radeon HD 5770 (Juniper XT) 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card w/ Eyefinity

This is the same RAM as we have currently. I would just add these to the remaining 2 slots.
CORSAIR XMS2 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model TWIN2X2048-6400

I did read your reviews - can't say I understood everything - but they were interesting. I'm no overclocker or dual graphic carder. I have just enough reading comprehension ability to be dangerous assemble a functional system without the bloatware/extra crap/higher cost of the PC manufacturers. :whistle: 
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April 9, 2011 11:54:19 PM

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=E...


I'd push the budget a bit for one of those, it would push the life a bit longer.

"The HD6850 is up to 50% faster in games than the 5770, especially if you have AA turned on.

HD5770 128 bit / 800 Unified Shaders / Memory Bandwith 76 GB/s

HD6850 256 bit / 960 Unified Shaders / Memory Bandwith 128 GB/s

This is what makes the difference. The lower clocks don´t fall into count that much.

Also better DX11 Tesselation support. Uniengine Heaven Bench 2.1 had a major increase, also Metro2033"

Quote from research while looking this up for you.
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a c 173 U Graphics card
April 9, 2011 11:57:43 PM

The 6850 is a decent card and a better choice, good luck with either card you do settle with. Just don't buy a pos 6790 or gtx 550ti. Those are real money waster cards.
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April 10, 2011 12:00:34 AM

nforce4max said:
The 6850 is a decent card and a better choice, good luck with either card you do settle with. Just don't buy a pos 6790 or gtx 550ti. Those are real money waster cards.



Strongly Agree.
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April 10, 2011 12:04:41 AM

Ok. I assume you don't think it will be hampered by the processor then. Also, do you agree with ionut's RAM assessment (4GB is fine, 8GB would be unnecessary)?
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April 10, 2011 12:06:42 AM

jrom76 said:
Ok. I assume you don't think it will be hampered by the processor then. Also, do you agree with ionut's RAM assessment (4GB is fine, 8GB would be unnecessary)?



Yes Toms did a review on this, only like 2 games like GTA 4 and one other benefitted from 6GB but none benefitted from 8GB.
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a b U Graphics card
April 10, 2011 12:15:26 AM

The 6850 will be bottlenecked by your cpu. Even the 5770 will. Mostly it will vary from game to game depending on if the title is heavily cpu dependent or gpu dependent. But performance will still be a bit better then the 3870, and even better when you get around to a cpu upgrade. Your board is listed as accepting Phenom II processors, but the cpu list is not coming up on that page for me. Before you do a cpu upgrade of any kind, do make sure you update your motherboards bios.
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April 10, 2011 12:31:09 AM

You can read all over the place, Graphics cards get bottlenecked by any processor its just a matter of how much.
Theres a good chance its bottlenecking the 3870.
But 75% of the 3870 vs 75% of a 6850 is still better.
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a b U Graphics card
April 10, 2011 10:18:44 AM



In your motherboard description it says it has PCI-E 2.0 support but i don't see the slot to be listed as PCI-E 2.0 only 16x. Try finding a card that is PCI-E 2.0 and not 2.1 because there might be some compatibility issues. But that is rare. I did not even look when i bought mine.

I did not find the memory as being supported by the motherboard but it should work fine. Try finding a set that has better timings like 5-5-5-15 not 5-5-5-18. If you don't care that much about it it should be fine.
If you install these new sticks remove the old ones if the speed is lower or the timings are different.
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a c 130 U Graphics card
April 10, 2011 1:50:50 PM

I really wouldn't recommend anything more powerful than a 5770 as im pretty sure even that will be restricted a little by your CPU.

Mactronix :) 
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a b U Graphics card
April 10, 2011 2:08:50 PM

I would go with a 5750, you really don't need anything more, your processor is a big problem too. As someone who has progressed from Athlon XP processors all the way through the X2's and the Phenoms, I can attest to that. I was running a 4800X2 overclocked to 3.2ghz and started with a X850XT and then a 1950pro and then 1950pros in Crossfire, and finally lastly 8800GTS 512 meg G92 card. Not quite the 6000+ processor you have, but not too far off either. I got a little over 10,000 in 3Dmark 06 with that 8800GTS. Just by going to a Phenom II X4 3 ghz, my 3D Mark score jumped to 15,000+. And it was a huge difference gaming, not just benchmarks. That's a full 30% jump by upgrading the processor from the X2, they are pretty outdated for gaming by today's games, sorry to say but been there and done that.
So, you are going to see some improvement with a new card, but don't expect miracles until you do some other major platform upgrades as well. That is why I am saying stick with a cheaper card, no sense tossing a lot of money into this system, you are not going to be happy with it for long, expecting another 2 years for gaming is nuts. It's already a slug by todays standards.

On a side note, I know this is not the place and I usually don't do this, but what the heck, I have a retail AM2+ Phenom II 920 and that BFG 8800GTS 512 G92 OC sitting right here in the closet if anyone wants them, they are in perfect condition, in the original boxes and packaging with all the parts, make me an offer.
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a b U Graphics card
April 10, 2011 3:04:30 PM

3dmark's score is based on CPU also so the difference was not only the removed bottleneck but also the performance of the CPU and added cores, somebody with an i7 and with that same card will have higher score because of the CPU. You can not compare that.

His CPU runs at about 3Ghz if i remember right. I read one of toms articles where there ware tests to see at what speed games take the most advantage and ~3.2Ghz is the sweet spot for almost all games. So above 3Ghz is a good speed plus if he wants he can overclock a little. His CPU is around mine in terms of performance only that mine is at 2.66Ghz.
It is more important to have speed then cores, at list at this level. I bet i get higher fps in games with the same video card then a guy with a core 2 quad q8200 or Q8300 at any resolution.


Also without the reason of interfering with your parts discount the 5770 beat's the crap out of a 8800gts 512. But as a plus the CPU is a new chip for an older socket. :) 

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April 10, 2011 6:07:10 PM

My processor is indeed a 3GHz - not overclocked. The RAM I linked to is straight off ASUS' approved list for the mobo and is exactly what we have in there now. I would just be adding in 2 additional sticks of 1GB each to total 4GB.

I don't think our expectations are "miraculously" high - it's not like we play Crysis. With the exception of WoW, we mostly console game. We are fairly casual gamers being old fogies with time-demanding jobs and kiddos. ;) 

I think I'm going to start with the OS upgrade, add the extra RAM, and see what happens. WoW runs relatively fine currently on decent settings (not sure what settings since I'm not really the primary WoW player in this household). I got a download code for Mass Effect 2 from Bioware for buying Dragon Age II, so I'll see how it runs after the OS and RAM. If it has issues, I'll spring for a new GC - and decide which one then since I'm feeling rather indecisive now. Since ME2 is an older game, I'm thinking it might just be ok considering our system already beats the recommended specs. I am really trying to resist building a new system for now as we have more pressing (though decidedly less "fun") demands on our money at this time.
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a b U Graphics card
April 10, 2011 7:01:57 PM

Well my bad then. Those sticks should be fine. Windows 7 is something else compared to vista. Your PC will move faster, smoother and with less problems.

When and if you decide to upgrade ask on the forum if you need help.

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April 10, 2011 7:12:22 PM

Will do. Thanks so much for your help. :) 
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a c 130 U Graphics card
April 10, 2011 7:46:25 PM

I would agree that 4 GB is the sweet spot for Ram and your CPU while not the best isn't terrible.
The Ram and OS should make a noticeable difference to the smoothness of your gaming but obviously wont make much if any difference performance wise. there could well be some in some games as i did experience a small increase moving from XP to W7.

Glad we could all help

Mactronix :) 
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a b U Graphics card
April 11, 2011 10:31:48 PM

ionut19 said:
3dmark's score is based on CPU also so the difference was not only the removed bottleneck but also the performance of the CPU and added cores, somebody with an i7 and with that same card will have higher score because of the CPU. You can not compare that.

.......Isn't that the main part of the question, how much of a bottleneck is my CPU? I think that is exactly what I was just demonstrating, it's a huge bottleneck for a 8800GTS, so if he buys something better, the bottleneck is only going to get bigger, right?

His CPU runs at about 3Ghz if i remember right. I read one of toms articles where there ware tests to see at what speed games take the most advantage and ~3.2Ghz is the sweet spot for almost all games. So above 3Ghz is a good speed plus if he wants he can overclock a little. His CPU is around mine in terms of performance only that mine is at 2.66Ghz.

......We are talking about an AM2+ AMD X2 here, not Intel Core technology, his X2 is 15-30% slower clock for clock than a Core 2, or one of the new generation Phenoms and Athlons.

It is more important to have speed then cores, at list at this level. I bet i get higher fps in games with the same video card then a guy with a core 2 quad q8200 or Q8300 at any resolution.

......To some point this is true, but if you never ran a fast Quad, well I will just say this, the only people who brag about how fast their dual cores are, are people who never had a fast quad core, sorry they do make difference you can see and feel


Also without the reason of interfering with your parts discount the 5770 beat's the crap out of a 8800gts 512. But as a plus the CPU is a new chip for an older socket. :) 
A 5770 beat the crap out of a 8800GTS G92 core? I don't think so, you are mistaken here.



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a b U Graphics card
April 12, 2011 2:42:33 AM

jitpublisher said:
A 5770 beat the crap out of a 8800GTS G92 core? I don't think so, you are mistaken here.


No, actually you are mistaken here. :p  Besides feature sets, in general it is a much faster card over all, except on rare occasions.
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April 12, 2011 5:43:50 AM

Hi again. I double checked my existing RAM to make sure I did indeed pick the same stuff. Everything is the same (brand, model #, speed, size) *except* the timings. My current RAM is 4-4-4-12. The ones I have in my cart on Newegg are the same model but the timing is 5-5-5-18. I can't find the Corsair sticks with the 4-4-4-12 timing. I assume this is old. Will this matter? Should I buy completely new RAM so they all match?
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a b U Graphics card
April 12, 2011 9:39:11 AM

The lower the timings, the faster the RAM. If you buy RAM that has looser timings the ones on the motherboard already will change their timings to accommodate the new ones. If you increase the voltage you get better timings. If the timings are different the RAM is not the same model.
That's why i recommended above to buy RAM that has lower timings.

If you are worried about compatibility issues you can buy a 4Gb set and sell the ones you have or keep them for spare.


jitpublisher said:
A 5770 beat the crap out of a 8800GTS G92 core? I don't think so, you are mistaken here.


And also it is faster than 8800GTX, ultra and all 9000 series based on g92 chip except the dual GPU card and faster than a gts250. ;)  It's very close to a gtx260 core 216. You can reach that speed with an overclock.
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