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Looking to upgrade, can't decide between gfx card or ram, what's worth it more?

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July 5, 2011 1:06:51 AM

As the topic states, I want to upgrade my graphics card or max my ram out, just not sure which route to go. My budget is about $100 - $200 USD.

System Specs:

Motherboard: ASRock 870 Extreme3
Processor: AMD Phenom II x6 1075T (@ 3.0 Ghz)
Memory: G.SKILL RipJaws 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600
Hard Drive: Seagate Barracuda LP ST32000542AS 2TB 5900 RPM SATA
Graphics Card: SAPPHIRE 100283-2L Radeon HD 5770 1GB

I was thinking of buying an extra 5770 and crossfire them together so it'd be like a top end gfx card, but I heard a single card is better than two cards, and the crossfire technology doesn't really make much of a difference... As for a a single card, I was looking at maybe the 6870, but not really sure if it's worth the money if I'm just going to replace it again after a year or so...

As for ram, I have 8 now, which seems like enough, but I end up using 80% of it somehow, when switching between firefox, photoshop, video games, etc... so I was thinking if I maxed it out to 16 that's one less upgrade to worry about down the line.

So the ultimate question is... which one do I go with? Any help is appreciated.
a b B Homebuilt system
a b U Graphics card
July 5, 2011 1:16:30 AM

If you are a gamer, vid card all the way. 8GB is PLENTY of ram, windows has excellent memory management. Not sure why you are seeing 80% but if you have photoshop and a game open that would probably do it lol.
2x5770 is basically a 6870. I would get a second 5770 since you already own one. What case do you have, and what PSU?
July 5, 2011 1:29:06 AM

I'm a gamer, but not games like Crysis, but more like StarCraft2, Minecraft (surprisingly that takes a pretty decent card + memory to render...), Assassin's Creed, Fable, etc... The 5770 handles them fine, but with the amount of money I've spent on this rig, I want to be able to run games on their maximum graphics settings and not harm the gameplay.

As for ram, right now I'm running 60% with Firefox (23 tabs) 3 PDF files, pandora, mumble, minecraft testing server (no clients, just me), Eclipse, steam, and a couple notepad files. That is a lot, I agree, but a lot of them are things I need simultaneously, some not which I close when I don't of course. Usually when I hit 80% I close out tabs that I don't need right away, and restart Firefox but it shoots back up to 40 - 60% pretty fast, then over time gets to 80 and the rinse and repeat game begins.

Case: Cooler Master HAF 932 AMD Edition
PSU: not really sure, been awhile since I got it, but I remember it being a raidmax 560 or 600 watt SLI/CrossFire compatible PSU
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a b B Homebuilt system
a b U Graphics card
July 5, 2011 1:34:32 AM

Ahh ok, you have plenty of room in the case. However, you need a new PSU ASAP! Raidmax makes terrible PSU's, which have a semi high rate of failing. You need to upgrade to one from Corsair, XFX, Seasonic, Antec, or Silverstone. A 500w-600w would be just fine you 2x5770's.

I would also check your background tasks. That seems like a lot of mem usage, but then again it might just be windows actively making use/throttling the mem usage, I don't know.
July 5, 2011 5:06:09 AM

You opened a can of worms here bud. But as was mentioned, look into a new PSU above either RAM or Video card. The reason you are seeing such a memory spike is probably a lack of updates for Adobe products but also, depending on the version, it may have the all too common Adobe memory leak issues. Great software but, it has always suffered on Windows boxes. (I run Adobe on Win 7 too, unfortunately. My days of Mac Pros and Apple Servers is gone...for now anyway. Eventually it may come back...if Apple still makes computers then *gaze into the distance with longing eyes*. 8 GB of RAM is plenty in your machine. You are not doing anything in need of extra RAM. (servers NEED a lot of RAM, on a standard). As for video card, I'd look into an nVidia. 560, but that may be a bit high. (I don't watch prices for consumer components too closely anymore. Servers are my specialty currently)

Don't take offense to the nVidia comments, I simply prefer them and have seen greater benefits over ATI/AMD graphics. I also use Intel processors for my desktops so take my advice as you see fit.

Enjoy your upgrades! You have a nice system to work with.
July 5, 2011 5:31:24 AM

a new psu will serve you very well as mentioned. strictly between vid card and memory, go vid card. another suggestion that hasnt been made yet is to get a SSD boot drive, with a 5900 rpm hard drive you're likely to experience very long load times. since your OS, minecraft and SC2 will combine for a pretty small amount of space overall, even a smaller SSD should be just fine and will increase your speed more dramatically than vid card or more ram.
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