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Advice on Upgrade for Gaming / Video Editing / Software Development

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October 3, 2011 10:20:32 AM

Hello,

I am considering upgrading my PC and was just looking for a little advice as to what is necessary.

I have been running the same machine for almost 5 years, so figured its about time it had a bit of an upgrade, specs currently:

Intel Q9550 + Corsair H50 water cooler.
Asus P5E-Deluxe (Rampage Formula Bios)
4GB Kingston DDR2 1066MHz
Sapphire ATI Radeon HD4870 1GB (Upgraded last week, see below)
2x standard Samsung Spinpoint F1 7200rpm hdd's
OCZ Stealth XTreme 580W / 600W (can't remember off the top of my head if its 580 or 600W)

So basically, it was a decent machine when I bought it, and still is a decent machine, it handles most games I play, albeit at lower settings these days.
However with games like BF3 and MW3 etc etc all approaching, I would like to be able to play them at higher settings again, and it would be nice to speed up my video rendering etc as well.

That being said, I was planning on upgrading to the following CPU, mobo and RAM configuration:

Intel i5 2500k + some form of aftermarket cooler.
8GB G.Skill Ripjaws 1600MHz DDR3
MSI P67 Pro motherboard (can't remember the exact name, but reviews are good and it overclocks the 2500k really nice)

For the graphics card, I had been looking at things like the nVidia GTX 560Ti / 570 or the ATi 6950 1GB / 2GB, but they are around the £240-260 mark, and I just felt that I don't game as much as I used to, and anything above a 6850 was going to be a massive update to my dated 4870.

I had also once planned to add a second 4870 in crossfire, which I did, but donated to my brother about a month later, so I know that if I buy an expensive card, the chances of me ever actually adding a second are slim.
So I settled on an ATI 6870 1GB, with plans of adding a second in crossfire next month (would like to make use of my dual x16 lanes on this mobo seeing as I forked out for it with crossfire in mind!) as buying 2 6870s is the same price if not cheaper than a single 2GB 6950, and apparently out performs it!


This is turning in to a really long post, so I will try to be brief.....when I got my new gcard, I decided to re-overclock my Q9550, which is now running at 4GHz, 24hours prime stable, no crashes in any games as of yet, and my fps in BFBC2 and BF3 beta with the 6870 is now hitting 60-80+ fps on max settings.

This makes me question whether it is worth upgrading the rest of my rig yet?

So my questions are as follows:

1) The games I am playing are BFBC2, Crysis 2, a little MW2, Age of Conan, BF3 Beta
and a little Deus Ex.

With Frame rates like 60+ in BF3 maxed, and 80+ in BC2 maxed, is it worth upgrading my CPU, mobo and ram for gaming? Or should I wait now until Ivybridge / Bulldozer?

2) If no to the above, I do have another 4GB of Kingston 1066 DDR2 that I bought but didnt realise it has slightly different timings, it might be a bit of a ballache but I am sure I could find some settings to get all 8GB running together if it would be a benefit to me? However I do realise that using all 4 channels adds strain to the NB and could cause my OC to become unstable.

3) Regardless of whether I update the rest of my system, I still plan on adding a second 6870 as they are cheap as chips, and this is going to be the first thing I do even if I decide to upgrade to sandybridge.

Basically, I am running a 6 or 7 year old Samsung 22" 1680x1050 2ms monitor which has been amazing, but I would like something a little bigger, and higher res for games so I can also run dual monitors for when I am editing or developing. The monitor I am looking at is a BenQ 24" full HD 2ms for £125, the same as adding a second gcard, so which would you do first?

4) As above, the first upgrade I will definitely be doing is adding another graphics card, so my question is, do I just add a single 1GB 6870 for ~ £130-£140 (the one I got is no longer available at £125), or do I consider a 6870x2 for ~ £300. I have read around and it seems that running three way crossfire completely eliminates micro-stuttering, and the performance must be amazing with a 1GB 6870 + 6870x2 in crossfire.

So depending on that, I can safely say I will need a new PSU for the three-way crossfire if I bought an X2, but would my PSU hack it if it was just 2 standard 6870s in crossfire? I did run 2 4870s about 2 or 3 years ago and didnt have a problem.



I think that is everything, sorry for such a long post, and I hope you can help me make a decision.

As for timescale, I am looking at adding either a second gcard or monitor in the next couple of weeks, depending on whether I get the X2 or just a single card. If I was to upgrade the rest of my system, It would be a case of saving up a bit of money leading up to christmas, and getting the rest as a christmas present from the mrs, so essentially, hopefully finishing the upgrade by christmas.

Budget isn't a big problem, if it is worth ugprading for, I will save up and do it, however as always, cheaper the better!

Finally, I use my PC for Gaming, Media Center use including using it as a Blu-ray player, Photo editing and video editing (only hobbies that I do occassionally, don't need to have the fastest hardware for this) and a lot of Software design and development, especially web design.


EDIT: Forgot to mention I live in the UK, so websites I buy components from are:

www.ebuyer.com
www.overclockers.co.uk
www.scan.co.uk
www.amazon.co.uk

Ok thanks for reading, so what would you guys do in my position?

Thanks again,

Stu.
a b B Homebuilt system
October 3, 2011 10:39:57 PM

U should upgrade your mobo probably next year when bulldozers and ivy bridge come out as that is when prices will go down. For right now, I suggest adding another 6870 as it is a pretty nice card and two of them in SLI > single 580.
October 3, 2011 11:15:24 PM

Ok, I have been leaning that way since I found out how well the Q9550 can perform if overclocked.

Would my PSU power 2 standard 6870's?

And how much benefit does 8GB of ram give over 4GB really?

Thanks.
a b B Homebuilt system
October 3, 2011 11:33:49 PM

2 6870s should be fine on a 600W PSU...but yours in 5 years old and may be suffering capacitor wear by now. I'd the following upgrades: get a 1920x1080 monitor and a New 600-650W PSU (Antec HCG 620W, XFX 650W, Seasonic S12II 620W, Corsair CX 600W), then get a second 6870 during the holiday sales. You'll be ready to use them if you upgrade to bulldozer or ivy bridge next year.
!