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Trying to keep 5 year old rig 'in the game'

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November 24, 2011 2:33:42 AM

Hi all, I read here a lot but havent posted often if ever.

I am trying to keep an old gaming rig going. I have my own new-ish rig...built in 2009 but it still has no problems running new titles on high to max settings. Ill list the specs below then continue with what Id like to do.

2009 rig:

P5B-SE Mobo (PITA to get stable)
Intel E8500 CPU
Nvidia 9800 GTX 1gb (XLR8 died, could not find exact replacement anywhere)
4 Gb RAM

2006 rig

*some type of Asus Mobo, not sure what. came in Compaq Presario Wal Mart special. I didnt know better at the time. I can look at it when I get home from vaca and see.
Intel 641 3.2 P4 Ghz HT
GT440 1Gb GPU (almost a lateral from 8600GTS OC)
2Gb RAM

Im not ready to drop 500 bones +/- on building a new up to date mid range gaming rig. The 2006 pc is used on weekends when I have my son out and we play games together. I managed to play Crysis on it at reasonable framerates with the old 8600 GTS OC, and only upgraded to GT440 (not much of an upgrade) because it just wasnt running Borderlands too well. It still handled Source games like a champ, and most newer titles ran reasonably with some in-game quality settings tweaking.

What I want to do is pick up a GT560 or GT460 for the 2009 rig. Then I want to stick the 9800 in the 2006 rig as that GPU had held its ground with everything Ive thrown at it so far. Im worried about just how much of the 9800 Ill actually get out of a single core CPU, though it is a 3.2 HT. The only game Ive seen noticeable CPU lag in is Dead Rising 2. (which it technically shouldnt run at all as it requires a dual core minimum) Im wondering if the CPU bottleneck would make stuffing a 9800 in the 2006 rig pointless. I can stick more RAM in, but 2 Gb has been fine so far. We're not looking for outstanding performance, just somethig to run newer titles at reasonable framerates with modest graphical settings.

I DO plan on trying this out when I get back home, but I figured some expert opinions cant hurt. Im trying to find the most economical solution, and the next best deal is to build an AMD/ATI rig from scratch. Ive always been an Intel/Asus/Nvidia guy so that scares me.

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November 24, 2011 2:55:56 AM

HAHA. No reason to be scared. So I didn't see your resolution anywhere, its important to know for making recommendations.

If you want the 9800GTX in the P IV rig That would be ok, although you won't be doing any serious gaming with that one. Call it the casual gamer. And I do think if you were to try some of the latest titles it certainly would be bottlenecked by the single core.

Without knowing more about your resolution or power supply, I think the GTX 560ti would be a good choice. However it runs about $240, closer to $220 with MIR.

So then for a midgrade choice at about $150 you have the quickly disappearihng GTX 460 or the HD 6850/6870 which I think will be fine with that E 8500 for now. This would probably squeeze a bit more life outta those machines. I'd start saving soon for an upgrade because that hardware is fading fast.
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November 24, 2011 3:01:43 AM

The 9800 is way more card than that Presario will ever handle fully, you'll need a decent 500 watt PSU just to run it. Outside of that, there is no reason not to install it, if you have it just laying around after your upgrade your newer rig. Don't expect miracles, but it will likely make some noticeable difference. I wouldn't bother spending anymore money on RAM or other hardware for this old rig, it ain't worth it. The PSU could be carried over later to a newer build when you finally do decide to retire the Walmart box.
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November 24, 2011 3:59:52 AM

I forgot to mention, the 2009 rig has a 750 watt PSU and the 2006 rig has a 500 watt PSU. Resolutions vary, but I typically run the 2009 rig at 1600x900 and the 2006 rig around 1024x768 to 1200x800. As for the 2006 rig, it depends on what title as that has a dramatic effect on frametrates.

Ive been studying Newegg and reading reviews, comparing prices, etc. Looks like for what I want to do, the 460 is the best choice. (Since the hardware IS getting old) Its the most economical and will allow me to upgrade both PCs.

Ive got the funding to build 2 all new rigs but I just dont want to drop a lot of money on gaming in the current economy and right before Christmastime. Plus I just got him off the 32" bedroom TV onto a new 20" monitor and new PC desk, so we are already 200$ down.

Its a hard choice, but upgrading both PCs for 160$ isnt a bad deal at all. Its a lot more appealing than dropping 500$ on a new mid-range rig and still be left with an aging LGA 775 machine. Thats not including upgraded RAM, which is something Id want to do if I did another custom build.

Ill try out the 9800 in the 2006 rig when I get home and come back with the results...Im curious to see what that old workhorse can do.

And now a shameless plug of the Half Life 2 Ep1 total conversion Mod Im working on:

http://www.moddb.com/mods/novacor

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November 24, 2011 10:01:12 AM

agent00kevin said:
I forgot to mention, the 2009 rig has a 750 watt PSU and the 2006 rig has a 500 watt PSU. Resolutions vary, but I typically run the 2009 rig at 1600x900 and the 2006 rig around 1024x768 to 1200x800. As for the 2006 rig, it depends on what title as that has a dramatic effect on frametrates.

Ive been studying Newegg and reading reviews, comparing prices, etc. Looks like for what I want to do, the 460 is the best choice. (Since the hardware IS getting old) Its the most economical and will allow me to upgrade both PCs.

Ive got the funding to build 2 all new rigs but I just dont want to drop a lot of money on gaming in the current economy and right before Christmastime. Plus I just got him off the 32" bedroom TV onto a new 20" monitor and new PC desk, so we are already 200$ down.

Its a hard choice, but upgrading both PCs for 160$ isnt a bad deal at all. Its a lot more appealing than dropping 500$ on a new mid-range rig and still be left with an aging LGA 775 machine. Thats not including upgraded RAM, which is something Id want to do if I did another custom build.

Ill try out the 9800 in the 2006 rig when I get home and come back with the results...Im curious to see what that old workhorse can do.

And now a shameless plug of the Half Life 2 Ep1 total conversion Mod Im working on:

http://www.moddb.com/mods/novacor

All that just for a shameless plug? I'm afraid you leave me no choice!
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November 25, 2011 2:51:23 AM

Its Done.

After careful consideration I just ordered the parts to build a modest yet more up to date rig for myself. The added cost as opposed to JUST ordering the GPU was only 218$ in the end. Im pretty confident the 2008 rig will go for a couple more years before reaching the point the 2006 rig is at now.

New Build:

BioStar A880G+ AMD 880G Mobo
AMD Phenom II X2 Black Edition 3.2 Ghz (fingers crossed on unlocking 2 extra cores)
EVGA GTX 460 Superclocked 1gb
Ballistix sport 2gb 1333 x2 (4gb total)
Samsung CD/DVD Burner
HEC 6BRBBB Black Steel case
+ some reused parts

all for 375$ + shipping.

*Saving 100$ by using an old HDD with Vista Basic on it + a 1TB Barracuda. Sure I wanted W7 but Ive never had issues with Vista and I have 3 versions of it across 2 desktops and a laptop. and thats not counting saving on not buying a new HDD.

*Saving 85$ by reusing power supply and keeping fingers crossed that 585 Watts will do the 2008 rig. I ran a test online and it skates in under 500W.

*saving at least 50$ by going with only 4gb RAM, keeping fingers crossed that 10$ each 1333 RAM will actually function properly. 4gb is plenty IMO.

*can still upgrade CPU, GPU and RAM in the future to stay in the mid-range gaming rig zone

* IF I dont get the extra 2 cores I can retain my 2008 rig with the 460 in it and give the boy the AMD machine with the 9800 in it and still have two better PCs.

In all Ill have two well capable rigs for 400$ after shipping costs, as the 2008 rig hasnt seen a game yet that it couldnt run on highest or almost highest settings smoothly. Then Ill have the 2006 rig which still does the older titles well, and can be used by my stepson on the occasion he visits too. He wont be playing on the greatest settings, but at least he can join in the fun. When he isnt on it, the woman can play her casual games without the thing even breaking a sweat.

Having 3 PCs capable of a wide range of gaming from Crysis to Civ 5 to Bejeweled for 400$ isnt bad at all.

Thanks for your opinions :)  Thoughts on the new system welcome...just remember I am not trying to build top of the line.
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November 25, 2011 3:09:44 PM

It is too late to really matter, but I would have said you were fine to order the 1 new card and switch it out with the one in the weaker PC. Just sayin.
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November 25, 2011 4:47:37 PM

Raiddinn said:
It is too late to really matter, but I would have said you were fine to order the 1 new card and switch it out with the one in the weaker PC. Just sayin.



I agree. There were 3 factors that tipped the scales in the new machine direction:

1. The third rig, though old, still runs newer games. I occasionally have a 3rd player around that might want to jump in a LAN game. Its not fair to the other kid to have to sit and watch my son play and/or take turns.

2. The added cost of building a new rig or just keeping the old two were marginal. At barely over 200$, its like getting a computer capable of gaming for 200$...unbeatable. (even if its not going to be gloriously beautiful :p )

3. Upgrading the P4 machine was its last step before retirement anyway. The Mobo would hamper any future attempts at upgrades with a FSB of only 800Mhz and abslutely zero OC potential. A lot of new titles require a dual core now too, not just recommend it. The 2008 machine Mobo can take any core 2 quad so a future upgrade is still possible, and theres not a GPU yet that wont go into it. The AMD machine can also be upgraded so both PCs are better future-proofed than just upgrading the old P4 HT rig and still having it struggle on some titles.

While already dropping 200$ on a GPU it just made sense to throw a little bit more at it and have 3 PCs instead of 2. And the two main gaming rigs will be better than the two I would have had with just a GPU upgrade. Basically, its more bucks, but much more bang-per-buck than just a simple GPU upgrade.

The only real downsides I see are that its already getting hard to find LGA 775 socket CPUs (online at least, the local electronics store probably has a stable of them still) and The AM3 socket has already been replaced. (but it seems theres still more AM3 socet CPUs availible than LGA 775)

It sounded logical enough in my head :p 
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November 25, 2011 6:54:23 PM

I don't fault the decision, it meets the objectives well.

$200 will get a decent low to medium end AMD core my stats run about the same cost and I do pretty well gaming on my system too.
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December 2, 2011 3:01:29 AM

New rig is all assembled :D 

I went with liquid cooling and ended up picking up a 850 W PSU. Fired up a few games for texsting, but the most important one was Crysis. It detected the system and set everything to max. WIN. Smooth as butter.

Also got lucky enough to unlock all the cores so my Phenom Black x 555 is now detected by Windows as a Phenom X4 B55 quad @ 3.2 ghz.

On a side note, I went over the P4 HT box and put some Arctic Silver on the CPU, OCd the GPU a tad and found in BIOS for some reason the PCI slot was selected as the main video slot, so I changed it to PCI E as it should have been. There was a noticeable improvement in Borderlands and Far Cry 2. Its still not powerful enough to run new releases, (well) but it will suffice for the occasional 3rd LAN player.

Thanks for all the input :) 
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December 2, 2011 3:02:20 AM

Best answer selected by agent00kevin.
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