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New OS... Or new GPU?

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August 22, 2011 8:42:27 AM

Hi All,

I've had some great feedback on these forums about a homebuild i am looking at, and i wondered if i could get some similarly excellent help on my 'current' gaming PC:

Whilst it isn't state of the art, i had thought it to be at least reasonable powerful... But playing games (especially MMO's) recently seems to be getting laggier and laggier - especially with multiple players on screen - And it feels like the computer is struggling with multiple applications (despite Task Manager being relatively stable between 30 and 50% CPU etc.) - to add insult to injury, my GF, playing (the same games, often at the same time) on a 4 year old, single core Windows XP machine next to me (so on the same connection etc.) has no such problems...

I have antivirus all up to date and running, Malwarebytes keeping me (hopefully) nasty-ware free etc. and scans reveal nothing untoward that i can see...

I have tried turning the graphics down to 'Low' - which helps a little... But i feel i am missing out on something...

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System Information
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Operating System: Windows Vista™ Home Premium (6.0, Build 6002) Service Pack 2
BIOS: BIOS Date: 12/04/07 17:40:55 Ver: 08.00.12
Processor: AMD Athlon(tm) 64 X2 Dual Core Processor 5200+ (2 CPUs), ~2.7GHz
Memory: 3070MB RAM (NB - I have 4GB installed, but seems to only recongise 3Gb? I believe this is to do with the 32Bit OS?)
Page File: 1370MB used, 3984MB available
DirectX Version: DirectX 11 (but the game only allows me to select DX9?)

GPU: ASUS 512MB NVIDIA GeForce 8600GT SILENT HDCP PCI-E SLI
PSU: 500W

Everything scores into the high 5's on Windows performance... So i am baffled as to why a relatively decent machine should be suffering so many problems...

So - What is the solution? Would upgrading to Windows 7 64 bit (and potentially throwing in an extra 2/4 Gb of RAM) make a significant difference? Or should i change the GPU to one that is more powerful? (or both?)

Or an anyone notice anything from the above that struck them as glaringly obvious... That i have missed in my glorious n00biness?

Thanks all :) 

- Robert

More about : gpu

August 22, 2011 9:16:03 AM

So the game used to run smooth, but now does not?

I'm not sure which game or resolution you are playing at, the 8600 is an aging gpu and could be the issue, but before you purchase a new card try some of this.

Just some general system optimization:
You could try running ccleaner. It will scan and remove all temporary files, cookies, local cache and general bloat files that accumulate from use. Get it at piriform.com, also pick up defraggler and run that as well. On an older computer you should be using a minimalistic approach, keep all launching services and programs to a minimum. Type msconfig into the startmenu search, under the startup tab u can close down all unnecessary programs that start with windows. This will free up RAM and cycles.

What antivirus are you using?

Also check the load temp on the GPUs. Your cards have passive coolers and SLI could be running the temps up too far. If that is the issue, mounting a fan to blow on the cards is an easy fix.
August 22, 2011 9:43:25 AM


Snowbum said:
What antivirus are you using?

Also check the load temp on the GPUs. Your cards have passive coolers and SLI could be running the temps up too far. If that is the issue, mounting a fan to blow on the cards is an easy fix.


Hey there - thanks for the reply.

Antivirus: I use AVG Gold (it's free and seems to do the job ok - happy to consider any alternatives that are also free and decent that use less resources)

CCleaner: Yup - ran this over the weekend as part of a 'last ditch' attempt to sort stuff out on my own - good shout though.

Re: Load temps etc. - Ummm... Not sure how to check this; and as for mounting a fan - not sure how to do that either tbh - or even if the machine has the relevant 'slots' to put one in... How would i check this/find fans that could help? Overheating would make sense; as it did seem particularly unstable over the three hot days we had (that was basically the entire British summer lol)

Re: Msconfig: i ran this and looked through it - but none of it meant very much so i closed it down - i wouldn't know an unnecessary program if it came out of my machine and bit me on the ass, and knowing my luck i'd disable something rather vital and break the thing completely :p 

In terms of GPU's - looking around i have seen all sorts of cards, and trying to decide which one(s) would be best to use is making me go more than a little crazy... If anyone has any suggestions (in addition to the above) for a new GPU that costs £50 - £80 that will make a significant difference (and one that has (lots of) it's own cooling preferably) that will be greatly appreciated :) 

Thanks again!

- Robert
Related resources
August 22, 2011 2:11:24 PM

You definitely don't want to waste money on a OS upgrade when you Vista. It's a shame you have the 32bit version though, I can't understand why people even buy the 32bit version.

You could use an entire machine upgrade, but I think a gpu upgrade will help you quite a bit to get some more life out of the machine.

This is what concerns me: "Psu 500w"
Usually when someone doesn't mention it by name, its some generic junk.

The best thing your going to get for around $70 (US $) is a 5670/6670. Keep in mind the 6670 is very slightly faster than 5670 and not really worth more money. Neither cards require a dedicated power cable.

Not sure how $70 US$ compares to 50-70p, and I'm too lazy to look up the conversion.

August 22, 2011 2:52:31 PM

geekapproved said:
You definitely don't want to waste money on a OS upgrade when you Vista. It's a shame you have the 32bit version though, I can't understand why people even buy the 32bit version.

You could use an entire machine upgrade, but I think a gpu upgrade will help you quite a bit to get some more life out of the machine.

This is what concerns me: "Psu 500w"
Usually when someone doesn't mention it by name, its some generic junk.

The best thing your going to get for around $70 (US $) is a 5670/6670. Keep in mind the 6670 is very slightly faster than 5670 and not really worth more money. Neither cards require a dedicated power cable.

Not sure how $70 US$ compares to 50-70p, and I'm too lazy to look up the conversion.


Heh - first time i've ever hear anyone defending Vista... My reasons for wasting/spending the money were to allow for extra RAM to be registered (unless anyone know if a cheap/easy way to upgrade Vista 32 to Vista 64?) - Extra 2Gb of RAM is cheap enough, and should theoretically make a nice difference to performance/multi-tasking - seeing as only 3 are 'seen' at the moment, even without buying any more theoretically i get 33% more RAM straight away - combining this with a new GPU, and i had thought it would make a significant difference...?

As for the PSU/32Bit etc. - It's one of those 'that's what it came with' situations - when i bought it two years ago i knew even less than i do now about computers/components, so don't know for sure - can check when i get home for the details.

As for the GPU's you mentioned - nice - looks like the right sor of thing for the right sort of price - the only thin i get confused with is the fact that you can get loads of different cards, all with the same reference number (i.e. 5670) - and i don't know whether a Sapphire/Nvidea/ATI one is better/more suitable? - Any general rules/guidance on this front?

Thanks

- Robert
August 22, 2011 2:59:28 PM

I like Snowbum's suggestions.
I have Vista 64-bit which allows me to use more than 3.27gb (I think) of RAM. I recently upgraded from 4 to 8gb and have seen no perceptible difference in-game. File transfers are a bit faster though.

If it's a recent thing, and possibly related to temperature, then it may be that the GPUs are overheating. Although that might also lead to graphics failures and reboots. Running 2 graphics cards in SLI with passive cooling sounds scary, unless you have good airflow through your case.

I upgraded from an 8800GT to a HD5850 to take advantage of DirectX11, so I'm not sure how your 8600GTs can support it.

If you have tidied up your system -- cleaned out temp files, delete unused games/movies etc to free up space and defrag the disks and registry (I use auslogics but I'm sure defraggler is good too) -- and checked your heat/cooling (make sure all fans are running ok and not caked in dust) and still see the problems, then I think you should consider a newer graphics card. The HD5850 was one of the first DirectX11 cards and that sells for around £180 now (according to Amazon). But as GeekApproved says, you'll need to check if your 500w PSU can handle it.
August 22, 2011 3:40:00 PM

HomeGamer said:
the only thin i get confused with is the fact that you can get loads of different cards, all with the same reference number (i.e. 5670) - and i don't know whether a Sapphire/Nvidea/ATI one is better/more suitable? - Any general rules/guidance on this front?


Tom's seems to have GPU benchmarking which looks good. You may have to check the 2010 charts for older models.

ATI and Nvidia are the main manufacturers of graphics cards. Many other companies take their stock boards and rebrand them. Sometimes they will overclock them or implement a new cooling design (Sapphire often does this) but usually they are just selling the standard boards with a different colour or picture on it. Unless the card mentions overclocking, then you should be getting the same card regardless of which supplier's name is on it. So a non-overclocked 5670 from Asus should be the exact same as a non-overclocked 5670 from Gigabyte or Msi. They are usually only differentiated by the free game that comes with them! Find a few that you are interested in and then look for reviews of them on Amazon to help you choose.
August 22, 2011 4:23:53 PM

Ok... So... From having a bit of a look around - is this the sort of thing i should be considering: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Asus-1GB-Radeon-5670PCI-HDMI/dp...

or this one: Sapphire 11168-30-20G HD 5670 1GB GDDR5 Graphics Card

Seems to tick all the boxes (in terms of reference numbers/memory size etc.) - And the prices are OK too...

So... Assuming this is indeed the sort of thing i need::

a: Are they (both?) compatible with everything i have? (i.e. 32bit Vista and assuming my PSU etc is crappy etc - just in case it is...)

b: Would they give me a significant improvement over what i have? (The 8600 etc.) (and is one better than the other?)

Thanks again for the help!

- Robert
August 22, 2011 8:59:12 PM

HomeGamer said:

a: Are they (both?) compatible with everything i have? (i.e. 32bit Vista and assuming my PSU etc is crappy etc - just in case it is...)

b: Would they give me a significant improvement over what i have? (The 8600 etc.) (and is one better than the other?)



a. According to AMD, they need at least a 400w PSU, so you should be ok. The AMD Catalyst drivers support vista 32-bit but some of the reviews say you should get the drivers from AMD as the ones supplied are out of date.

b. That looks like a good card (both are the same). Of the 2, I'd choose the Asus as it seems to have a better fan design and has solid reviews. I can't say by how much a single 5670 is better than 2x8600s, but this forum thread sounds very similar to your situation. There is also a short comparison here.
August 23, 2011 7:44:45 AM

capaill said:
a. According to AMD, they need at least a 400w PSU, so you should be ok. The AMD Catalyst drivers support vista 32-bit but some of the reviews say you should get the drivers from AMD as the ones supplied are out of date.

b. That looks like a good card (both are the same). Of the 2, I'd choose the Asus as it seems to have a better fan design and has solid reviews. I can't say by how much a single 5670 is better than 2x8600s, but this forum thread sounds very similar to your situation. There is also a short comparison here.


Absolutely amazing - thank you!!! That comparison site is exactly what i have been looking for too (i have found a few, but most tend towards the overly technical or don't have both cards i was looking at etc. - GREAT find - thank you!!!!)

So, seems this is the card to go for - i was a little concerned about things like DDR3 vs DDR5 memory (i.e. would my older machine be compatible etc.) - but from my (limited) understanding it should be ok...

I will be ordering the card this morning :) 

Out of interest - I have found out that as a student, i can actually get an upgrade to Windows 7 64 bit relatively cheaply too - is it worth the upgrade? i.e. is 7 significantly better/more stable than Vista? Will i notice the extra RAM available? (4GB as opposed to 3?)

Thanks again all - superb help and feedback from the forums here, as always :) 

- Robert
August 23, 2011 3:50:11 PM

HomeGamer said:

Out of interest - I have found out that as a student, i can actually get an upgrade to Windows 7 64 bit relatively cheaply too - is it worth the upgrade? i.e. is 7 significantly better/more stable than Vista? Will i notice the extra RAM available? (4GB as opposed to 3?)


I cannot tell you, I'm afraid. I'm still on Vista myself. Many people say that Vista should be skipped and get 7. But 8 is due out next year, so maybe we should wait and see. Likewise I don't know how much better 4GB would be. My RAM usage rarely went over 50% with 4GB.

When it comes to speeding up a system, the usual easy upgrades are graphics card, RAM and possibly replacing the boot disk with an SSD (although that is still too expensive for most people). Try the graphics card first and see if you are happy with it.
August 25, 2011 9:18:28 AM

Hey all - Update on this one:

I received the new Asus 1GB Radeon HD 5670PCI-E 2.1 HDMI card yesterday and happily installed - And OH MY GODS it's pretty lol :D 

Went from 'Medium' Graphics to 'Very High' with DX11 - the game (LOTRO) has never looked better!!!

Only slight fly in the ointment - i still get rather annoying lag/stuttering in Raids/groups/busy areas - even when i reduce the graphics back down to 'medium' it is still laggy - is there anything i can (now) do to help reduce this? (new HDD? More RAM? new OS?)

Again, my GF playing next to me on a MUCH older system had no lag; so it is unlikely (i think) to be the internet connection itself... Would love to be able to play completely smoothly/no lag etc. so very open to suggestion on solutions.

Thanks all - you've all been great so far; any additional help is very much appreciated.

- Robert
August 25, 2011 1:57:12 PM

Hi there,
I'm glad the new GPU is working well.

For lag spikes, there are a few things that can be checked before you go down the road of getting a 64-bit OS to access more RAM (in which case, look into getting Win7 instead of Vista)...
- Try playing when nobody else is using the internet and see if you get lag.
- Are you using wireless internet? If so, try running an ethernet cable from your router/modem to your PC and see if it improves.
- Do multiple scans for viruses and malware using, eg. AVG or Avast, MalwareBytes, SpyBot, Windows Defender, Microsoft Safety Scanner.
- If any Norton anti-virus products are installed on your computer, remove them as they are widely believed to be resource hogs.
- Ensure you are not using other applications at the same time that access the internet, like RSS feeds, MSN or Skype. Or downloading movies.

There may be some software you can use. However I have never used them myself so I cannot personally recommend them. Please do your own research before running them. The 2 I have found are Game Booster and speedguide's TCP Optimizer. Scan everything you download before running them.
!