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Any ideas....CPU/MB/Video Card

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October 29, 2011 3:59:03 AM


Seems like games are beginning to creep up on video card requirements. I was thinking of doing a minor overhaul. I was thinking of replacing the motherboard, CPU, RAM, and video card. I've been out of the loop with what's new lately! Now that my daughter was born, older, and sleeps thru the night, I can go back to my gaming PC (late at night only lol). This is for gaming PC only. I don't surf or have multiple programs up when Im gaming.

Should I wait for Ivy Bridge (read it here and in wikipedia)?

I noticed on the video card front that it's all quiet; GTX 570 and 6970 as the ones most talked about. Any thoughts? I've had a nvidia card blow up 8 yrs ago which makes me afraid to go back to NVidia and Ive had ATI's since then. I won't sli/crossfire because Im not a FPS fan.

With respect to mobo's I was thinking of going with either a Gigabyte, Asus, or Asusrock but was wondering if I should wait for Ivy Bridge amd/or who's the good quality maker these days.

RAM; Does it matter if 6GB is enough or double it?

Price: no maximum because Im wondering on others thoughts; but definatley not in extreme territory.

More about : ideas cpu video card

October 29, 2011 1:11:31 PM

Intel is definitely the better cpu maker at the moment. I don't know if I would wait for Ivy Bridge because it will be very expensive when it first comes out and Sandy Bridge is the best build at the moment.
I would double your RAM because 8 gb is the standard for gaming computers at the moment.
Nvidia cards are also preferred by most over ATI and the GTX 570 is a great card.
I personally prefer Gigabyte for mobos but I'm sure Asus is good as well.
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October 29, 2011 1:19:52 PM

Can you let us know what your current specs are?
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October 29, 2011 3:16:36 PM

2x4GB kits are inexpensive and more than enough memory these days. Just be sure to purchase a 'kit' which is on the mobo-maker 'QVL' list.

nVidia/AMD-ATI is more of a personal preference these days. It is a simple process to unlock a reference-design dual-BIOS AMD/ATI HD69502GB to an HD69702GB. There is another mini price war brewing (good for you!) and AMD should be rolling out some new 28nm 7XXX-series cards in the next 2 months.

Here is a single-fan HD69502GB and a double-fan HD69502GB that come in $240-$250 after rebate. AMD/ATI is kinda kicking nVidia arse on price-performance these days; for alternatives to the HD69502GB from nVidia look at either the 560TI or the GTX570 -- here is a review from Anandtech

Gaming is about the VIDEO CARD - any modern CPU will push a single video card quite well. Your processor/motherboard is also a matter of personal preference as to vendor(s). Waiting for IB is not really necessary as SB will be fine -- as will AMD for that matter. Best 'bang' CPU today looks to be the AMD Phenom II X4 970 Black Edition Deneb 3.5GHz at $130, though, since the BEs have unlocked multipliers a 955 or 965 will easily clock to that level at stock volts.

If the truth be known, a fast dual core will handle most gaming these days. They keep talking about quads and gaming (for nearly 5 years now) but few out there will take advantage of the additional cores - it's why the SB i2100 is such a great bargain. Folks rumored BF3 being a core-sucking monster but as it turns out 2 cores is just as good as 'more cores' ... and it's the video card that ultimately determines your frames...




And don't discount MSI from your motherboard selection - they are as 'top-tier' in product and support as any these days.


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October 29, 2011 9:42:48 PM

Thank you for all of your advice (everyone). I didn't want to click 4 replies :)  That's what I was thinking about IB. I was leaning towards SB specifically the i7-2600. I keep saying I would try o/c but in the end, never do. I would rather have the MB or the utility within the MB do it! Is L3 something to pay attention to are just a number. I like that the 2600 has 8mb of L3 cache but the i3/i5 have 3mb.. I thought the higher the better.

I was looking at the mobos and saw there is no clear one that is running away with satisfaction. Gigabyte doesn't seem to have a highly rated board and the MSI board seemed to be giving people problems as the Asus one is. Was comparing these:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Productcompare.aspx?Submi...

Ram kit:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Productcompare.aspx?Submi...


Is ddr3-1600 enough?
<raw look...was going to loot at Asus/Gigabyte/EVGA website and see what ram each takes>

video card....still not sure...GTX580 is over $450, AMD 6970 is $300's yet the charts wisecracker posted show the GTX 580 tops all with the 6970 a close 2nd (yet 100-150 bucks less). Plus AMD is coming out with the 7xxx series soon which might lower prices.


Any thoughts?

By the way I have presently;

EVGA x58 (i7 920)
Xigmatek heatsink (the big huge one lol that keeps my system/cpu temps in the low 30's to high 20's even after system is running for more than a few hours).
300GB Velociraptor WD
1TB WD Caviar Black Sata II
Auzentech XFI
5.1 Logitech Digital Speakers
g15 gaming mouse and keyboard
24" LG 1080p LCD monitor
6GB (3x2GB) ddr3-1600 g.skill triple channel
Saphire 4870
Vista Home premium at 64bit

I just started to play Railworks 3 and things look like they are lagging at parts.

Had problems last year...RAM and MB can't coexist. If I put the RAM using xmp profile I get BSOD's and system is unstable. If I lower it to what the mobo wants it at....1066...it's stable. Also at times when I put the USB cables in (charging ipod, iphone, or use printer) the system freezes. When I restart, I then get keyboard failure. When I shut system totally off at PSU switch; things act normal. I've flashed the bios and same happens. It's been a while since the USB issues have happened.

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October 30, 2011 7:05:22 AM

I wouldnt wait for more powerful processors . Already the intel processors are more powerful than they need to be for gaming .

I have never been able to sell a second hand nVidia graphics card . They all stop working . So far the Radeons have been fine
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October 30, 2011 8:27:33 AM

You don't need to replace the CPU/RAM/mobo, the 1366 is technically still the high end platform until the X79 (IIRC) is released :sol:  It wouldn't be worth the money going to SB from that - just OC your 920. Check my specs on the left. It still hangs with the i5s.
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October 30, 2011 12:02:14 PM

If you replace that 4870 with an HD69502GB (and do the simple mod to an HD6970) you should be good for years !!

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October 30, 2011 12:06:23 PM

Yeah the 920 is still a very viable processor. While sandy bridge is technically faster, I don't think it would be worth the upgrade. However, that 4870 is getting weak by today's standards, that is what you should be upgrading.
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October 31, 2011 2:08:49 AM

Ah! In answering the infamous..why don't you overclock your i7; nope too chicken, especially since my system acts funny when I put the correct timings on RAM. I have ddr3-1600 set at 1066 but I was thinking of taking them out; going on EVGA's website and seeing what RAM my board coexists with. I've emailed EVGA over this issue for a good 6months and they never caught the problem so I gave up and just left the timings at 1066 frequency.


Wisecracker, you mentioned 2 sticks of ram...doesn't that go against...triple channel needing 3 sticks? Does anyone know the sweetspot for RAM and the i7-920? ddr3-1600 or the highest my mobo can support and lowest cas latency. I picked 1600 because the cas:7. You mentioned 6950, you mean crossfire 2 of them as they will act like a 6970?
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October 31, 2011 2:11:02 AM

FinneousPJ said:
You don't need to replace the CPU/RAM/mobo, the 1366 is technically still the high end platform until the X79 (IIRC) is released :sol:  It wouldn't be worth the money going to SB from that - just OC your 920. Check my specs on the left. It still hangs with the i5s.



saw your config....I thinkt eh x58 board is the same one I have. Have you had RAM issues...it doesn't read the correct RAM? Do you have 1 6950 or 2 or are you overclocking it.
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October 31, 2011 7:41:37 AM

Yes, my RAM refuses to run at its rated speed of 1600 MHz. I tweaked it some and it runs now at 1400 MHz which is fine by me. If you have the first stepping of 920 they seem to have problem running higher density modules and require lots of voltage on the VTT to do so. I needed 1.29V on the VTT to stabilize this 3x4GB config at 1400 MHz.

I have one 6950 2 GB that I overclocked a bit. I'm debating on adding a second one.
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October 31, 2011 12:32:53 PM

That's true, i7 920 still worth it. Just replace the graphic card. Others recomended the best graphic card on these day. 560 Ti, 570 or 6990 it's best (you can said that i can't afford it, lol).
For my self, i'm stick with the Q6600, Abit IP35Pro, Corsair XMS2 4x2 GB DDR2 6400, 8800GTS 512 MB. And i'm still considering this is my best machine of all, even it's out dated. LoL
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October 31, 2011 6:04:20 PM

FinneousPJ said:
Yes, my RAM refuses to run at its rated speed of 1600 MHz. I tweaked it some and it runs now at 1400 MHz which is fine by me. If you have the first stepping of 920 they seem to have problem running higher density modules and require lots of voltage on the VTT to do so. I needed 1.29V on the VTT to stabilize this 3x4GB config at 1400 MHz.

I have one 6950 2 GB that I overclocked a bit. I'm debating on adding a second one.



If I connect a USB in my system and it freezes, is that the mobo? This is why I was going to change the cpu/mobo/ram/video card.


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October 31, 2011 6:09:47 PM

Hard to say. Does it depend on the USB port you're using or do they all crash? Does it depend on the hardware you're connecting?
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October 31, 2011 8:55:06 PM

FinneousPJ said:
Hard to say. Does it depend on the USB port you're using or do they all crash? Does it depend on the hardware you're connecting?



It didnt matter which USB port I used; either the front on the tower or in the back (in the motherboard). So far, I used USB cable for a printer and the USB cables for a iphone and ipod. It doesn't do it all the time.

The RAM/CPU quirk; anyway to permanently fix that? I only have 6GB RAM. I was hoping to bump it up to 12GB since RAM is so cheap. By the way, I was looking at my old invoices on newegg....I have the 4890. Sorry all for the mistake everyone.

Is SLI/Crossfire still having those issues? What is it called, blinking?

I'm still torn on video cards! I don't plan on placing a order until at least Thanksgiving or by Christmas.
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October 31, 2011 9:11:09 PM

Hm, you might want to contact evga on the USB issue, I at least haven't even a guess.

The RAM appears "fixable" by tweaking voltage and timings, there's stuff about this on evga forums.

There was an article on microstuttering on Tom's quite recently, try the search ;) 
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October 31, 2011 9:57:46 PM

FinneousPJ said:
Hm, you might want to contact evga on the USB issue, I at least haven't even a guess.

The RAM appears "fixable" by tweaking voltage and timings, there's stuff about this on evga forums.

There was an article on microstuttering on Tom's quite recently, try the search ;) 


Yes, I contacted EVGA again, I think when I first saw the issue they didn't know of the issue you mentioned concerning the first batch of 920's. Yes, microstuttering. Saw it in October's article of video cards. Funny how my present video card in the hierarchy is not very low and it's not far from the 6850. The GTX 570 looks appealing. Saw in the article that it's excellent/good for high settings and honorable mention was 2 6850's and 2 gtxs...but it says if you dont want to deal with microstutteringl steer clear.
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November 1, 2011 12:38:54 AM



Just thought, if I do sli/crossfire...my PSU would need to be replaced then. It's only 850w. I was looking at:

GTX570

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

MSI overclocked 6970:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Saphire 6970 (not overclocked)

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

EVGA 6970

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Zoltoc 580

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Not sure about the 588...Would like to stay under 400 but then again, if Im not buying mobo/processor, I guess I can spring for $400 video card.

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November 1, 2011 2:50:25 AM


You may purchase a single HD69502GB 'reference card' with a dual BIOS for $250-$260. There is a simple mod to convert the card to an HD69702GB -- with a 98% success rate! Your current PSU should be fine .... and you will not have 'micro-stutter' issues with a modded HD6950.




Triple-channel memory does not provide much of any gain in performance over dual-channel with a desktop computer -- you may well see better performance with a dual-channel 2x4GB kit on your motherboard.

I would suggest starting a new thread on your USB issue in the motherboard section -- post a link to it in this thread so we may follow up.

Could be a driver/config issue if it tends to happen when you 'hot plug'. Did you properly set up AHCI ?? Do you have any 'bang marks' in your device manager ??

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November 1, 2011 11:32:02 PM

Wisecracker said:
You may purchase a single HD69502GB 'reference card' with a dual BIOS for $250-$260. There is a simple mod to convert the card to an HD69702GB -- with a 98% success rate! Your current PSU should be fine .... and you will not have 'micro-stutter' issues with a modded HD6950.

http://i716.photobucket.com/albums/ww165/Back_at_the_Ranch/AMD%20Overlords/hd6950-powerup.jpg


Triple-channel memory does not provide much of any gain in performance over dual-channel with a desktop computer -- you may well see better performance with a dual-channel 2x4GB kit on your motherboard.

I would suggest starting a new thread on your USB issue in the motherboard section -- post a link to it in this thread so we may follow up.

Could be a driver/config issue if it tends to happen when you 'hot plug'. Did you properly set up AHCI ?? Do you have any 'bang marks' in your device manager ??



RAM: Are ripjaws, vengence etc any better? I have 6GB (3x2GB), I was thinking of selling them on ebay and as you said, get 2x4GB. I was thkinking GSKILL or Corsair.

Device manager shows no "!" set up AHCI? When I built system I installed all that was on the EVGA mobo disk.

Reference card? You mean a card that is not O/C'd? dual bios?
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November 2, 2011 12:29:36 AM

Thread posted on Motherboard section:

http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/300063-30-issue-evga


Forgot to mention; sometimes, almost weekly, my system doesn't load to Windows (Vista) desktop. After the post screen, the screen is black, and seems like it doesn't go to desktop screen. Have I been striken by Vista?
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November 4, 2011 12:42:40 AM

Wisecracker said:
You may purchase a single HD69502GB 'reference card' with a dual BIOS for $250-$260. There is a simple mod to convert the card to an HD69702GB -- with a 98% success rate! Your current PSU should be fine .... and you will not have 'micro-stutter' issues with a modded HD6950.

http://i716.photobucket.com/albums/ww165/Back_at_the_Ranch/AMD%20Overlords/hd6950-powerup.jpg


Triple-channel memory does not provide much of any gain in performance over dual-channel with a desktop computer -- you may well see better performance with a dual-channel 2x4GB kit on your motherboard.

I would suggest starting a new thread on your USB issue in the motherboard section -- post a link to it in this thread so we may follow up.

Could be a driver/config issue if it tends to happen when you 'hot plug'. Did you properly set up AHCI ?? Do you have any 'bang marks' in your device manager ??



I've posted in MB forum, no response. I also emailed EVGA tech support and 1- They respond every other day 2- We seem to be going back and fourth as they are saying the registered mobo is under another name!!! I sent them my receipt and took a picture of my motherboard's serial number.

Looks like I might have to go thru with Sandy Bridge. There tech support stinks so far and I think I should go back to Gigabyte! Never had a problem when I had Conroe!
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November 4, 2011 2:22:18 PM

You would not gain much over your 920 -- and would (believe it or not) be back-sliding on your motherboard.

I think you need to do a fresh OS install -- enter the BIOS before you get started and set your HDDs to "SATA-AHCI". Set your boot sequence to the DVD, F10 and exit.

Prior to the actual installation of the OS there will be a screen with a tab that says "Load Drivers"

If you have the current AHCI drivers for your motherboard on a thumbdrive you may then load 'em up before the actual OS installation. You MUST install them before installing the OS.

This may well solve your "Hot Plugging" and HDD issues.

The HD69502GB 'reference design' dual BIOS card is simply an HD69702GB in 'disguise' - some vendors even ship the cards with the 'unlocked' 6970 on the second BIOS.

Look through the comments on the Egg or punch "HD6950 unlock" into your fav search engine. It is actually quite a simple mod if you find one of the 'reference design' cards ...
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November 4, 2011 3:26:51 PM

Wisecracker said:
You would not gain much over your 920 -- and would (believe it or not) be back-sliding on your motherboard.

I think you need to do a fresh OS install -- enter the BIOS before you get started and set your HDDs to "SATA-AHCI". Set your boot sequence to the DVD, F10 and exit.

Prior to the actual installation of the OS there will be a screen with a tab that says "Load Drivers"

If you have the current AHCI drivers for your motherboard on a thumbdrive you may then load 'em up before the actual OS installation. You MUST install them before installing the OS.

This may well solve your "Hot Plugging" and HDD issues.

The HD69502GB 'reference design' dual BIOS card is simply an HD69702GB in 'disguise' - some vendors even ship the cards with the 'unlocked' 6970 on the second BIOS.

Look through the comments on the Egg or punch "HD6950 unlock" into your fav search engine. It is actually quite a simple mod if you find one of the 'reference design' cards ...



Before I do a fresh install, if i go into the BIOS, it will show if my HDD's are set to SATA-AHCI? Should use this opportunity to go to Windows 7? If I reinstall the OS, I will loose everything that's on that HDD?

Is there s specific name of the video card that has the reference design? I was on newegg looking for a 6950 reference card but I didnt see one named," reference card."
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November 4, 2011 3:49:21 PM

If the AHCI drivers were not loaded prior to the OS install, even if your current BIOS is SATA-AHCI, they will not properly function. There MIGHT be a work-around available to you that involves loading the proper AHCI drivers, and then editing the Windows registry to convince the OS to utilize them ---> search for 'Vista AHCI' and see what you come up with.

Reinstalling the OS will wipe out any information on the HDD -- you will need to backup any important data. I've had no issues with Vista and would not see any advantage on a machine upgrade to Win7. Win7 would, however, bump you from DX10 to DX11 (which I don't really think it's much of a bump; you effectively trade frame rates for a little more eye candy).

The 'dual-BIOS' feature was part of the original AMD 'reference design' -- OEMs are pretty much free to change some parts of the original design. Since 'unlocking the shaders' became popular many OEMs did not change the original reference design (well, some did, by adding the second fan) by eliminating the BIOS 'switch'.

Aside from the 'unlocking' it is actually quite handy to have a second BIOS chip in case of corruption of the original.



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November 4, 2011 4:01:00 PM

A card without dual BIOS can be unlockable too. It's harder to revert back to the original if it doesn't work, though.
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November 4, 2011 5:20:53 PM

Wisecracker said:
If the AHCI drivers were not loaded prior to the OS install, even if your current BIOS is SATA-AHCI, they will not properly function. There MIGHT be a work-around available to you that involves loading the proper AHCI drivers, and then editing the Windows registry to convince the OS to utilize them ---> search for 'Vista AHCI' and see what you come up with.

Reinstalling the OS will wipe out any information on the HDD -- you will need to backup any important data. I've had no issues with Vista and would not see any advantage on a machine upgrade to Win7. Win7 would, however, bump you from DX10 to DX11 (which I don't really think it's much of a bump; you effectively trade frame rates for a little more eye candy).

The 'dual-BIOS' feature was part of the original AMD 'reference design' -- OEMs are pretty much free to change some parts of the original design. Since 'unlocking the shaders' became popular many OEMs did not change the original reference design (well, some did, by adding the second fan) by eliminating the BIOS 'switch'.

Aside from the 'unlocking' it is actually quite handy to have a second BIOS chip in case of corruption of the original.



AHSI drivers are on the mobo maker's website?
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November 4, 2011 7:02:32 PM

Please tread likely on this before getting carried away ... here is a further explanation:

Quote:
For Intel chipsets (for example, Intel ICH9) drivers are available from either an OEM board or computer manufacturer. For the Intel versions, the driver must be loaded before loading the OS (by pressing F6 as setup starts).The Intel drivers will work for both XP and Vista. Also, in the case of ICH9, an unsupported method to enable AHCI on ICH9 is available.

Enabling AHCI in a system BIOS with Windows Vista already installed will result in a BSoD if SATA has been running in IDE mode during Vista’s installation. Before enabling AHCI in the BIOS, users must first follow the instructions found at Microsoft Knowledge Base article 922976.

Enabling AHCI in a system BIOS on installations of Windows XP or Windows Vista will cause SATA Optical drives to disappear. A Hotfix for Windows Vista is available under the title: “SATA optical drives are not available after you start a Windows Vista-based computer.” This problem is also fixed in Vista SP1.


EVGA should have the current Intel ICH10R drivers IN ADDITION TO the JMicron JMB363 chip drivers.


You should find, read and understand the knowledge base article and all others that might apply. Here is a discussion from Technet regarding your AHCI. Notice where the Msft guy twice suggested to "reinstall Windows Vista to get a more stable system" :lol: 

A clean install with current drivers solves many ills! Though there are 'fixes' out there my experience is they work well 50% of the time, and it can take 2 or 3 attempts with Windows to make it stick. That's just the way it is.

With the fresh install you can follow the proper driver installation procedures, update Windows without all its accumulated clutter, and get a 'clean' working config with up-to-date drivers.

I think it will do wonders for your HDD issues and your USB 'hot-plugging' problems.

Good luck!
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November 4, 2011 8:58:35 PM

Wisecracker said:
Please tread likely on this before getting carried away ... here is a further explanation:

Quote:
For Intel chipsets (for example, Intel ICH9) drivers are available from either an OEM board or computer manufacturer. For the Intel versions, the driver must be loaded before loading the OS (by pressing F6 as setup starts).The Intel drivers will work for both XP and Vista. Also, in the case of ICH9, an unsupported method to enable AHCI on ICH9 is available.

Enabling AHCI in a system BIOS with Windows Vista already installed will result in a BSoD if SATA has been running in IDE mode during Vista’s installation. Before enabling AHCI in the BIOS, users must first follow the instructions found at Microsoft Knowledge Base article 922976.

Enabling AHCI in a system BIOS on installations of Windows XP or Windows Vista will cause SATA Optical drives to disappear. A Hotfix for Windows Vista is available under the title: “SATA optical drives are not available after you start a Windows Vista-based computer.” This problem is also fixed in Vista SP1.


EVGA should have the current Intel ICH10R drivers IN ADDITION TO the JMicron JMB363 chip drivers.


You should find, read and understand the knowledge base article and all others that might apply. Here is a discussion from Technet regarding your AHCI. Notice where the Msft guy twice suggested to "reinstall Windows Vista to get a more stable system" :lol: 

A clean install with current drivers solves many ills! Though there are 'fixes' out there my experience is they work well 50% of the time, and it can take 2 or 3 attempts with Windows to make it stick. That's just the way it is.

With the fresh install you can follow the proper driver installation procedures, update Windows without all its accumulated clutter, and get a 'clean' working config with up-to-date drivers.

I think it will do wonders for your HDD issues and your USB 'hot-plugging' problems.

Good luck!


I was fiddling with Vista last night and went through the control panel and clicked on the spot where it Vista can run tests on all parts. Everything passed; no problems were found. I went into all the parts in Device Manager and it said device working properly. I clicked on the 2 HDD's in DM and there were listed as ATA. Im getting so agitated at the lack of response from EVGA, maybe I will get a new x58 board. Im thinking about changing nehalems also, since a poster said that the original 920's have issues with ddr3-1600 ram speeds
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