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GPU upgrade?

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August 23, 2011 6:48:31 AM

Hi all,

I am interested in making an upgrade of the GPU. Since I am a bit of a noob in regards to hardware I’ve a few queries around how it will all work. :p 

What I use the PC for: gaming, internet, programming/office applications

Current set up:

Intel Core i7 2.8GHz Socket 1366 8MB L3 Cache
ASUS P6T SE Intel X58 / ICH10R Socket 1366 Motherboard
Corsair 6GB (3x XMS3 2GB) PC-12800 1600MHz
XFX GX-285N-ZDFF Geforce GTX 285 1GB GDDR3
Liteon 24X Dual DVD RW
LB CH10 Blu-Ray Drive
SAMSUNG 1TB 7200RPM 32MB SATA II HDD
Antec EarthWatts650W ARX 80PLUS 8cm
Antec TWELVE HUNDRED Full Tower Gaming Case Advanced Cooling
Windows 7 prem 64-bit

Main reason for upgrading: To handle upcoming PC game titles with smooth frame rate on high settings (e.g. for Skyrim :) )

I was naturally looking at the Geforce 500 series, but my questions are:

1) Installation and space – The concern was around the ease of replacing my current GPU with the newer GPU. Will a card from the 500 series fit in the space as the replacement inside the case? How much bigger would it be?

2) PSU – will my current PSU be adequate to handle a higher series card without issues? (Bearing in mind the other devices)

3) Heat/noise – would heat be an issue if the card was put under pressure for long periods of time? What would the noise levels be like? (a minor concern, I have a set of headphones if necessary)

4) SSD – Is installing one worth the trouble (reinstall windows, all apps?) for what I am intending to do?

5) Lastly, if it is really worth just ordering a new set up entirely for long term use?

Any assistance and/or advice would be greatly appreciated!

Cheers

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August 23, 2011 7:33:49 AM

You don't mention which i7 cpu you have, but I don't think that will turn out to be a major factor. I would, however, like to know what screen resolution you game at.

1) a GTX 580 is 10.5" long, and will project slightly less than an inch off the end of a standard 9.6" ATX motherboard.

http://www.nvidia.com/object/product-geforce-gtx-580-us...

For other 5XXs, consult the similar nVidia webpage for the length. When the Extra power connectors plug into the top of the card (as they do on mine), they do not effect the card's length. I'm not sure if ALL 580s are plugged that way - but consult a picture of your choice of 5XX at newegg.com

2) Your psu will handle a 580. A PC with a 920 and a 580 running Crysis drew 380W from the wall, which is less than 350W from the psu.

3) A 580 will be less intrusive than your current 285 (heat and noise). See Anand Bench links below.

4) An SSD will noticably reduce your boot and application load (for those apps that fit on your SSD) times. In gaming it will reduce level load times, and Intel has reported that *some* in-game stuttering caused by the need in some games to load (eg) additional textures when that game's engine has guessed wrong about what it pre-loaded for you.

Is it worth it? IMO, its by no means a "value" purchase, so its the kind of thing that's nice to have but first to go if budget is a concern.

5) Probably not. You've likely got enough cpu power, though moving to a 580 will noticably increase your FPS. OTOH, if you're not noticing any shortcomings in your 285, you might as well let your configuration live a little longer.

As you can see in the table linked below, your cpu is very close to the top of the heap, bested only by (eg) 2500 etc and likely not in a noticable way for most games.

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/cpu-gaming-performa...

I can't pull a comparison of your 285 to the 580, but here it is in 2 stages. In the first link, your 285 is roughly comparable to, though slightly edged out by, a 460. In the second table compare the 460 to the 580.

http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/166?vs=180

http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/313?vs=305
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August 23, 2011 11:20:38 AM

Thanks for taking the time to compile the response and adding in the links, much appreciated.

Apologies, the CPU was i7 930. I've reviewed the chart, still looks good. I purchased this rig in March 2010.

In regards to resolution, in Aliens vs Predator (2010), I can run a smooth game at 1920 x 1200 with high textures, normal shadows and 5x Antisotropic Filtering. (DX9)

1) Also looked at the specifications, specifically the dimensions between the 285 and 580; they're exactly the same it seems.
2) Good to know. Thanks
3) Cheers
4) SSD's are quite expensive currently, yeah. I'll hold onto my HDD.
5) No shortcomings just yet, but I was keen on preemptively sorting out a smooth running for Skyrim.

Maybe I'll wait and see what I can pull out of the 285 before an upgrade? The price will hopefully drop before the decision, regardless. Thanks for the advice, I'll give it more thought :) 
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August 23, 2011 7:37:13 PM

NP. I lived alongside the heat and noise of an OC'd quad extreme and a pair of 8800GTXs for 3+ years. The gaming was fine but when the 5870 came out I replaced the SLI with a single card, and was cooler, more relaxed, and happier. Less than a year later I moved to a 2600k and moved the now 4-year old rig into secondary service.

You have a pretty powerful gamer there. If heat and noise are significant to you, you can improve that by moving to a 2500/2600/k and improve FPS (and heat and noise) with any cpu with a 580.

But if you're ok with heat and current fps, I'd probably wait for the 6XXs and see what they offer. And then to the next release of CPUs after that. Unless you've got the itch . . . and the budget :) 
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August 25, 2011 12:17:50 AM

Best answer selected by AcidZealot.
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