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Upgrading my Graphics Card

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May 13, 2011 6:21:37 PM

People of Tom's Guide:
My home made PC has a AMD quad core CPU running at a tad more than 2.2 Ghz. It has a Gigabyte MB, 2 x 2 gigs of 800 Mhz ram, 450 watt Thermal Take PSU and a EVGA Nvidia 9600 GTU video card w/ I gig of RAM. The CPU cooler is really great! :bounce:  25 C is the maximum temp that the display has ever shown. The system is approximately 3 years old and runs on Win XP 3.0. I buy from Tiger Direct, Amazon & Newegg. I have the resolution on my LED LCD Viewsonic monitor set at 1024 x 768. I use it for gaming mostly, but on only old school games like CFS 3. I want to upgrade the video card to a slightly less than state of the art unit. I know that I must upgrade the PSU as well. I am an Nvidia user from way back. but I might be convinced to use Radeon. I want a card that only takes up two slots. My budget is fairly open. What do you folks recommend?
a b Î Nvidia
a c 376 U Graphics card
May 13, 2011 6:40:14 PM

At that resolution the 9600GT should actually do alright. It is more likely your CPU that is holding you back. Even on a quadcore 2.2 ghz is quite low and especially in games that only use two cores(there are a lot) it is going to be what is holding your system back.
What motherboard do you have? There's a good chance it can use current AMD processors.
a b Î Nvidia
a c 214 U Graphics card
May 13, 2011 8:22:11 PM

If it's clocked at 2.2ghz it's likely a first gen Athlon or Phenom.You will have to ugprade both the motherboard and CPU to get better performance.Do you know the model of the processor?
At that resoultion you don't even need a dual slot card but choosing a more powerful would be better for future upgrades if you someday get a 1080p monitor.
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a b Î Nvidia
a c 106 U Graphics card
May 13, 2011 9:01:47 PM

Sounds like you have a Phenom 9500 or 9550 which is pretty low end for todays games. If you have the 9500 turn off the TLB bug fix. Your temps are encouraging so you may want to overclock your CPU but it's doubtful you'll get more than 2.6 out of it. Anyway if you want to upgrade something I say upgrade your CPU. At that resolution a better video card won't make much of a difference as it will usually be your low clocked CPU that's the limiting factor with your current video card
May 14, 2011 1:48:35 AM

The MB is a GA-MA74GM-S2 from Gigabyte. And since it has a AM2 CPU socket, I suspect that I am limited in the choiceof higher speed CPU's The model # of the current CPU is 9550'
May 14, 2011 1:55:07 AM

jyjjy said:
At that resolution the 9600GT should actually do alright. It is more likely your CPU that is holding you back. Even on a quadcore 2.2 ghz is quite low and especially in games that only use two cores(there are a lot) it is going to be what is holding your system back.
What motherboard do you have? There's a good chance it can use current AMD processors.

The MB is a GA-MA74GM-S2 from Gigabyte. And since it has a AM2 CPU socket, I suspect that I am limited in the choiceof higher speed CPU's The model # of the current CPU is 9550. :o 

May 14, 2011 1:55:56 AM

purple stank said:
If it's clocked at 2.2ghz it's likely a first gen Athlon or Phenom.You will have to ugprade both the motherboard and CPU to get better performance.Do you know the model of the processor?
At that resoultion you don't even need a dual slot card but choosing a more powerful would be better for future upgrades if you someday get a 1080p monitor.

The MB is a GA-MA74GM-S2 from Gigabyte. And since it has a AM2 CPU socket, I suspect that I am limited in the choiceof higher speed CPU's The model # of the current CPU is 9550.
a b Î Nvidia
a c 214 U Graphics card
May 14, 2011 2:16:42 AM

It looks like it's actually one of those all in one boards.It support AM3/AM2+/AM2.Thats good because it looks like you can upgrade to a new AM3 processor and not have to upgrade the mobo.

Can you look and see what revision number the mobo is?If you looking at the mobo it should be on the bottom left corner.Ex.Rev.1.0 or something.
a b Î Nvidia
a c 376 U Graphics card
May 14, 2011 3:02:22 AM

Even the first version of that motherboard supports AM3 processors with a BIOS update so it doesn't really matter. If you can afford it I would recommend something like this Phenom II x4 955;
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Nice deal at $120 plus a $10 gift card. It will be a very large upgrade with a much improved architecture over the initial Phenoms and 1ghz higher clock speed.
Is 1024x768 the actual native resolution of your monitor? If so I'd try the 9600GT with the new CPU and see if you are satisfied. If not or if the resolution can go higher it would make sense to look at upgrading the card now that your CPU is current.
a b Î Nvidia
a c 214 U Graphics card
May 14, 2011 3:16:57 AM

With that processor you should see a HUGE improvement in gameplay.
May 14, 2011 8:35:32 PM

purple stank said:
It looks like it's actually one of those all in one boards.It support AM3/AM2+/AM2.Thats good because it looks like you can upgrade to a new AM3 processor and not have to upgrade the mobo.

Can you look and see what revision number the mobo is?If you looking at the mobo it should be on the bottom left corner.Ex.Rev.1.0 or something.


purple stank:
At great risk to life and limb (you don't want to know how my PC room is!), I checked out the MB and it's Rev 1.0. :pt1cable:  But the manual for the MB says that it has a AM2 socket. And AMD's web site states that the highest CPU built for that socket is 2400 Mhz. I'm a bit confused by you statement that my MB supports AM3/AM2+/AM2 processors. I just checked out the Gigabyte web site, My MB does indeed support AM3/AM2+/AM2 socket CPU's. But what does this statement mean? "If you install AMD AM3/AM2+ CPU on AM2 motherboard, the system bus speed will downgrade from HT3.0(5200MHz) to HT1.0(2000 MT/s) spec; however, the frequency of AM3/AM2+ CPU will not be impacted. Please refer "CPU Support List" for more information. " How would this effect say a 3.6 Ghz quad core CPU?
a b Î Nvidia
a c 214 U Graphics card
May 14, 2011 11:18:38 PM

Yah make sure you upgrad your BIOS to the latest version.

Usually all you need for those types of mobo's is the TDP(maximum power of the processor it can support)and a BIOS update.It says on the CPU compaitlity list to support every type of AM3 processor but I haven't been able to find the TDP.I find it strange that the Mobo was initally made a AM2 board but is able to support high wattage chips like the Phenom ii x4 965 which has a TDP of 125watts.We must find the TDP of the mobo before we can start getting processors.

!