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What can I upgrade?

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September 30, 2011 11:41:33 PM

Hello everyone,

You can call me Louis or Subspace, whichever is fine, I'm fairly new here and I've come to ask for your advice and help.

I have a PC that is fairly old, about 3-4 years old, and despite it being old I'm able to play games like Battlefield 2, portal 2, and Black Ops fairly well on low-medium settings. I originally bought this system to aid me as a 3D graphics artist, thus some of the parts in my system might seem out of place for gaming. Now, with Battlefield 3 coming out and craving for some high-end graphics and smooth action, I began to think about upgrading some parts within my old system. Mind you that this system had cost me close to $4,000 (typical price for a system used for 3D modelling) and so it is hard for me to let go of it, although I do realize that I will have to dump it sometime in the future.

Here are my system specs and I would like to know as to what parts I should upgrade. My budget is limited to $500-$600, so please choose based on priority. My main concern is the graphics card which costed me $1400 at the time but it is not meant for gaming, and so I would definitely like to swap it out for something that is meant for gaming.

Operating System :
Windows 7 Ultimate (x64) (build 7600)
Processor :
2.50 gigahertz Intel Xeon (2 installed)
64 kilobyte primary memory cache
24576 kilobyte secondary memory cache
64-bit ready
Multi-core (8 total)
Drives :
250.99 Gigabytes Usable Hard Drive Capacity
System Model :
Supermicro X7DWA
Main Circuit Board :
Supermicro X7DWA PCB Version
Intel(R) 631xESB/6321ESB/3100 Chipset
Memory :
4096 Megabytes Usable Installed Memory DDR2
Slot 'DIMM x 2' is Empty
Slot 'DIMM x 2' is Empty
Slot 'DIMM x 2' is Empty
Slot 'DIMM x 2' is Empty
Display :
NVIDIA Quadro FX 1700
Sound Card :
SB X-Fi Xtreme Audio

Please tell me if you would like more information. This system of mine is very special to me, like an old muscle car that I would like to restore, and so your help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

Louis

More about : upgrade

October 1, 2011 12:02:41 AM

From what i can see here you have a few options for upgrading. I have to admit upfront that I not work with Xeon CPU very much (just on some servers at work).

The specs on the MoBo suggest that you can fill up to 64gigs of RAM onto that board. So you can, with some very simple widgets in Win7 or Tasks manager, see how much of your system RAM you are using and upgrade based on that.

Your video card also seems to have a great deal of upgrade available to you. You board has 2x x16 PCI 2.0. The key to watch here is that 2.0. the newer cards are 2.1 - i am not sure of the compatibility issues with 2.0-2.1 but its something to investigate. that said, you could look into some new card(s) and consider Crossfire or SLI.

and finally the CPU you are running, the 2.5, seems to be at the very low end of the CPU spec. (if i am looking at the right model run) it seems you could go all the way to 3.4ghz with this MoBo.

Again, I disclosed that i do not deal with your system too much and hope that anything i have said helps you out.

Thanks,
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October 1, 2011 12:46:17 AM

Nemacol said:
From what i can see here you have a few options for upgrading. I have to admit upfront that I not work with Xeon CPU very much (just on some servers at work).

The specs on the MoBo suggest that you can fill up to 64gigs of RAM onto that board. So you can, with some very simple widgets in Win7 or Tasks manager, see how much of your system RAM you are using and upgrade based on that.

Your video card also seems to have a great deal of upgrade available to you. You board has 2x x16 PCI 2.0. The key to watch here is that 2.0. the newer cards are 2.1 - i am not sure of the compatibility issues with 2.0-2.1 but its something to investigate. that said, you could look into some new card(s) and consider Crossfire or SLI.

and finally the CPU you are running, the 2.5, seems to be at the very low end of the CPU spec. (if i am looking at the right model run) it seems you could go all the way to 3.4ghz with this MoBo.

Again, I disclosed that i do not deal with your system too much and hope that anything i have said helps you out.

Thanks,


Thank you Nemacol for your well informed reply has enlightened me a bit. Based on what has been said, I am considering getting this graphics card,

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814130661

My board should be able to support it since it is a 2.0 and not a 2.1. The question is, will my CPU be able to handle it? And I know that the 2.5 Xeon's are fairly low but I have 8-cores, would that be sufficient?

On top of this, I am considering getting 4-6gb more ram as DDR2s and not DDR3s because my board can't support DDR3s.

Thanks and more input would be awesome.
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October 1, 2011 1:23:26 AM

I dont see anything wrong with your choice of video card. One of the reviews even says that they can play BF3 on it. So it sounds great.

Something you have to consider when trying to game with multi core: Is the game designed to be played on that system?

chances are low that they have designed the game to be played on anything greater than 4 cores let alone a second CPU at all. For example SC2 (from what my reading has told me) was written for play on a 2 core CPU. so a 4core CPU will not see too much improvement in the game. same with Crossfire and SLI SC2 was simply not written to be played on systems with Xfire and SLI.

I am not sure that many game Devs have considered that a multi CPU system will be used to play games. what you are going to have to decide here:

Is the upgrade worth it? If you are goign to spend $200 on a new card, 100 on ram and maybe 200-500 on new CPUs... it seems you may be better off going with a new system for the sake of gaming.
That is all personal preference and gaming style - if you are happy to be able to play a game on low to mid graphics then you might be just fine. If you are intersted in playing a game with the details up then i would have to suggest getting a new system..
Toms has some great articles on budget systems

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/phenom-ii-overclock...
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/overclock-cpu-ssd,3...
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/overclock-cpu-sli-s...

There are 3 links to different build marathons (500, 1000, 2000 dollar builds)

Hope this helps more,

Nem

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October 11, 2011 12:25:01 AM

Best answer selected by subspaced.
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