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What's limiting my computer?

Last response: in CPUs
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January 29, 2012 5:32:31 AM

I'm software savvy, and and a hardware noob.

What is limiting my "current" rig? I used to play a lot of video games, but now do not do so. I'm looking for cheap ways to make my computer run just a bit faster, so i'm not sure what should be the first to change.

Dell inspirion
Core 2 Quad Q6600
4 GB of RAM (i assume DDR2). this is in 4 1GB sticks
3x maxtor 7200 RPM
ATI Radeon 4800 series

I've been trying to run skyrim, which looks good enough for me, however my computer routinely shuts down because of overheating. I'm going to do a big dust/clean off, but I'm afraid that the GPU is getting too hot.

So, what is the easiest and cheapest way for me to make this computer run just a bit faster?

Thanks

More about : limiting computer

January 29, 2012 5:35:05 AM

Forgot to mention, I have windows 7 professional, so I believe i do have a max amount of RAM that this OS can support.

At the same time, I'm not sure what's the max amount of RAM my Dell mobo can support...I do think that this (or an SSD drive) are my cheapest and most effective way to increase power.
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a c 186 à CPUs
January 29, 2012 6:30:50 AM

Your graphics card isn't fast enough. What is your budget?
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January 29, 2012 6:51:40 AM

it's probably an overheating problem... there could be issues with the power supply also since it's a dell. dust it out with some compressed air and see if that helps with the stability. any idea what 4800 it is?

a SSD would improve the boot times and access times of programs, generally making the computer 'snappier', but has nothing to do with gaming FPS.
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January 29, 2012 7:33:16 AM

What's your power supply rated to ? I know from experience that Dell usually ship with the bare minimum installed.

Be aware though that going to a much more powerful card (if you did upgrade the gpu) could mean you bottleneck the Q6600. HD5770 seems to be the best companion with a Q6600, however with a 6xxx series card you won't see much more of a frame rate increase but you might be able to enable more effects (more Anti Aliasing etc etc).

My gut says power supply though, if it's messing up when things start getting pretty on screen I think the graphics card isn't getting enough juice. Just my ten cents worth.
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January 29, 2012 7:52:02 AM

he will see gains by upgrading to the 6000 series, but first you need to clean your pc case.

to determine your temperature at idle and under load download hw monitor. Your gpu is your bottle neck.
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a c 80 à CPUs
January 29, 2012 8:16:56 AM

for a general purpose upgrade an SSD would be worth it, for gaming gpu.

http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/304?vs=291

might give you an idea as to what you can expect, note that you probably have a 4850 and not a 4870, and that you need to watch the power consumption. although it looks likes the 4870 is hungrier than a 6850 for instance.
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a c 172 à CPUs
January 29, 2012 8:28:08 AM

A 4870 uses more power than a 6870.
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a c 80 à CPUs
January 29, 2012 8:42:45 AM

agreed
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January 30, 2012 2:39:12 AM

ok...so correct me, but why is nobody talking about RAM? i have 4 gigs, which means only 3+ is usable. most games/programs load more into RAM than that...right?

also, yes, i do need to clean, which i will do on tuesday.

my quad core temps are around 31-34 idle, and my GP is idle at 64, and busts out to 110-115-120 until skryim finally crashes 10 minutes later.

thanks for the quick help!
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a b à CPUs
January 30, 2012 2:45:03 AM

you should just get a new gpu. Probably better than trying to fix that one unless its under warrenty
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a b à CPUs
January 30, 2012 3:09:00 AM

As people have said, a newer GPU. What PSU do you have?

Also, 4 GB of RAM is fine (even with only 3 usable). Now Windows 7 professional itself isn't going to limit your RAM. Its whether or not a 32-bit or 64-bit edition that will limit it. Windows 7, of all kinds of it (aside from Basic I think) comes in either 32-bit or 64-bit configurations.

Unless you are doing a ton of multitasking, 3 GB RAM will be fine. I got away with 3 GB of RAM for years. It wasn't until I started doing video and photo editing while doing other things at once that my system hit a wall.
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a c 80 à CPUs
January 30, 2012 6:20:10 AM

effang said:
ok...so correct me, but why is nobody talking about RAM? i have 4 gigs, which means only 3+ is usable. most games/programs load more into RAM than that...right?

also, yes, i do need to clean, which i will do on tuesday.

my quad core temps are around 31-34 idle, and my GP is idle at 64, and busts out to 110-115-120 until skryim finally crashes 10 minutes later.

thanks for the quick help!


What air have you got going into the case, that sounds like a GPU thats starved of air.
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January 30, 2012 9:20:52 AM

Cool. Thanks. I will first clean my case (as users noted, dell's are very cramped, and not much power going in there.)

I will de-dust everything, and then see how the fans are kicking in. I might just start blowing an external fan as well, but gotta clean that dust first.
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a c 80 à CPUs
January 30, 2012 10:08:09 AM

well if you blow and external fan into it, it will prove that the gpu etc. work ok when they have air. then you can figure out how to give them air (new case in all likelyhood)
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January 30, 2012 6:54:22 PM

It depends on what resolution your are trying to play at, a 4850/4870 would be powerful enough to play Skyrim at 720p (High settings) but would not be powerful enough to play it at 1080p (High settings).

But it seems like you should upgrade your card because it is overheating (I would suggest a HD 6850 if you want to play Skyrim at High).

But in the end Skyrim is very CPU intensive and to be honest your CPU is just about good enough for High settings, maybe you should consider an upgrade to future-proof your system?
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a c 80 à CPUs
January 30, 2012 7:31:51 PM

upgrading because it is overheating will not solve the problem the new card will overheat too. Cards generally do not get warmer just because they are older. Get a new card because you want more performance.
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