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Hardware Upgrade Help

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December 6, 2011 6:30:56 PM

Hello everyone I am looking for help upgrading my computer but I am already sort of in a situation, hear me out. My computer is 3 years old, its an Alienware custom built aurora. The specs are as follows: http://speccy.piriform.com/results/d...PC4CuMiro27ztv

The basic rundown if u don't want to click link (Info from original invoice + speccy)

OS = Windows 7 64x bit
Motherboard = Asus 790fx M3A32-MVP Deluxe
Ram = (4) Elpedia 1GB DDR2 PC2-6400 U-DIMM 800 MHZ
CPU = AMD,X2,5800+,3000,2X1M,2C G2.89 WATT PROCESSOR
GPU = (2) Visiontek ATI HD4850 512MB PCI-E (Running in crossfire)
Monitor = Samsung SyncMaster (1920 x 1200)

Now my situation is that I didn't really do my research and bought a GPU ( http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...D=oqsmdqt53bxd) for 170$ (150 After M.I.R)

The GPU is XFX HD-687A-ZHFC Radeon HD 6870 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP (If you didn't want to click link)

Now from doing some research I have come under the impression that the my 2 radeon 4850's are just as good or a little less (performance wise) then this radeon 6870. I originally bought the GPU because i was under the impression that my GPU's were getting old since they have started to make more noise and run at 80-83 C idle.

Now if you are still with me, my question(s) is simple but i have some input. First off, what part of my spec's is in need of an upgrade the most? I can return this GPU and purchase a new Mobo/CPU/RAM if that will boost my performance more than this GPU, if not is this GPU a good buy for what i have paid? (Im sort of hoping so) I am looking to just upgrade slowly over the next year, so my budget as of right now is the $170 i have invested in the new GPU. Like i said i can return it and maybe go up to $200. Any thoughts? Thanks in advance

More about : hardware upgrade

December 6, 2011 6:58:17 PM

Dual HD 4850 GPUs are still a solid setup... The HD 6870 is a great GPU, but IMHO your CPU / MB should be the first to be replaced. It is quite dated and you would notice a huge difference replacing it with an AM3 / AM3+ platform. Your best option may be to return the GPU, pick up a MB / CPU / MEM setup, and roll with the HD 4850 GPUs until you can afford to replace them. My next question would be where you stand with a power supply in regards to make / model / size (your link is broken).
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December 6, 2011 7:13:23 PM

On the invoice my PSU is 750 Watt OEM ATX, I know that's a generic PSU and not a indepth spec with the rails but I have opened my case and tried to take off the side panel of the PSU to check the spec's but i had to unscrew something i couldn't reach or was to scared to try. I know its 750 watt and it looks like it gots like 3-4 6 pinn connectors so it should be good
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December 6, 2011 7:43:53 PM

If it is a generic 750w then you are probably good using that in a new machine with a single high end GPU. I would not try using it with a SLI / CF setup like dual HD 6870 or greater GPUs.

If you are considering replacing your MB / CPU / MEM consider something like the combo below. The focus is on a solid motherboard that can do SLI / CF and accept an AM3+ CPU later. The X3 450 will perform fine with a mild overclock until it can be replaced down the road with a quad core or greater.

MB - ASRock 970 EXTREME4 AM3+ - $110
CPU - AMD Athlon II X3 450 - $78
MEM - G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB DDR3-1600 CL9 - $23
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December 6, 2011 7:45:56 PM

If one or more of your 4850 cards is failing, then you need to do something about it.
Is it possible that the graphics card fans have accumulated dust, and cleaning things out would fix them?

If you are happy with your performance, then just replace the failing unit.

If you want better performance(FPS) then the answer is not so clear.

To help clarify your options, run these two tests:

a) Run your games, but lower your resolution and eye candy.
If your FPS increases, it indicates that your cpu is strong enough to drive a better graphics configuration.

b) Limit your cpu, either by reducing the OC, or, in windows power management, limit the maximum cpu% to something like 70%.
If your FPS drops significantly, it is an indicator that your cpu is the limiting factor, and a cpu upgrade is in order.

It is possible that both tests are positive, indicating that you have a well balanced system, and both cpu and gpu need to be upgraded to get better gaming FPS.

If a cpu, and associated motherboard/ram are in order, you will exceed your $170 budget.

If you need to upgrade your graphics, the jump needs to be more than a 6870 which is sort of a sideways step. That will also exceed your $200 budget.



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December 6, 2011 7:57:50 PM

thank you for reply, if my 2 radeon 4850's are fine for another year or so (just trying to run swtor) then i am probably going to return the 6870 and upgrade the mobo/cpu/ram like you suggested. I like the motherboard and ram but im not sure about the CPU. I dont want to overclock, could i get a quad core for $100 and it would be much better?
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December 6, 2011 8:05:27 PM

I clean my computer out with air duster every couple months. In the last year or so the computer has been making more noise and the GPU is showing increased heat. Thanks for the tests, im going to do that right now and see what is in better order to upgrade CPU or GPU. Is there anyway to test if my GPU's have just gotten old and arn't working up to optimal performance?
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December 6, 2011 8:36:33 PM

I don't think graphics cards wear out and lose performance.

If you are going to replace the motherboard, you might want to read this article on <$200 gaming cpu's:
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/best-gaming-cpu-cor...
It shows that the sandy bridge 2100 is a very capable gaming chip. Competitive with even the phenom X6 1075T.
The reason is that most games will use two fast cores, or perhaps three.
You can buy a 2100 for $99.99 at microcenter: It has two cores plus two extra hyperthread"cores"
http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml...

You can get a H61 based motherboard for $50:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
And 8gb(2 x 4gb) DDR3 1600 ram for $30:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

To my mind a $180 upgrade is pretty good.
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December 6, 2011 9:18:01 PM

thanks for the suggestions everyone, i am probably going to keep the 6870 with the intention of crossfire'ing another down the road. I am now looking to upgrade the mobo/ram/cpu.
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December 6, 2011 10:02:07 PM

Isn't your motherboard supposed to support Phenoms and Athlons, being AM2+? That would make your upgrade quite easy. Just get an X4 and OC it.
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December 6, 2011 10:35:58 PM

Eagerforhelp said:
thanks for the suggestions everyone, i am probably going to keep the 6870 with the intention of crossfire'ing another down the road. I am now looking to upgrade the mobo/ram/cpu. I like the 2100 for the CPU but does that allow for crossfire?


Crossfire and sli are functions of the motherboard and not the cpu.

Much is made of the impressive benchmark fps you can get with dual graphics cards. But there are some issues:

1) Microstuttering is the momentary delay while two different cards render their half of the frame is slightly different time. It brings inconsistent response times, particularly with lesser powered cards. Read about it here:
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/radeon-geforce-stut...

2) Some games do not make good use of the second card.

3) You will need a more expensive motherboard to be capable of cf/sli.

4) You will need a stronger more expensive psu to manage two cards vs. a single strong card.

5) Dual cards present more case ccooling problems. The top card will run hotter unless the motherboard has well separated pci-e x16 slots.

But, sli may be necessary to power triple monitor gaming.
In general, though, my take is that I would prefer a single great card when it will do the job.
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December 6, 2011 10:55:39 PM

your suggestions for the cpu/mobo/ram intrigue me. The ram is now sold out =P but i am looking at the cpu and mobo and understand that they are compatible with each other but the mobo doesnt support crossfire. My question is ive already got $170 into the GPU, do you think that the GPU is a good single card to run with the mobo/cpu u have listed? Also the mobo is micro atx, does that mean anything in regards to reducing performance for reduced size for ppl with small cases? Cause i got a big case
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December 7, 2011 4:01:31 AM

Eagerforhelp said:
your suggestions for the cpu/mobo/ram intrigue me. The ram is now sold out =P but i am looking at the cpu and mobo and understand that they are compatible with each other but the mobo doesnt support crossfire. My question is ive already got $170 into the GPU, do you think that the GPU is a good single card to run with the mobo/cpu u have listed? Also the mobo is micro atx, does that mean anything in regards to reducing performance for reduced size for ppl with small cases? Cause i got a big case


A full atx motherboard will have room for 7 expansion slots.
A micro-atx motherboard has only 4 expansion slots, and a mini-ITX motherboard has only one expansion slot.
All will have a pci-e x16 slot for a discrete graphics card. All will fit in a mid sized case.

With a 2100 cpu, they all will perform exactly the same with any chipset.

If you might want to upgrade later to ivy bridge, then you will want a H67, P67 or Z68 based motherboard.
They are a bit more expensive, you are looking at $90 or so.

If you really want crossfire, then you will want a full atx motherboard which has dual x16 pci-e graphics slots and is capable of cf/sli.
They will be more like $150.

Your research shows that the 6870 you bought is comparable to the cf cards you already have, assuming the cpu is not a limiting factor.
If the cpu is the current limiter, then a cpu upgrade along with the 6850 could be good.

If you can, I would suggest an inexpensive P67 or Z68 based motherboard and run with your 6870 and see how you do.
The P67 or Z68 will be compatible with ivy bridge, or, you could drop in a 2500K and be able to oc it.

With a single card, your upgrade strategy would be to sell the 6870 in favor of a 6950 or a stronger 7000 series card. The 6950 is a very good card for 1080P, and the 6850 is really not that far behind.
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