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Need help upgrading my old build (AMD) Where to spend my money?

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December 11, 2011 1:17:02 PM

Hello all,
I know there are experts here. I noticed my PC is not up to bar to run Skyrim as of late with mods like ENB and all the texture mods.

I'm currently playing Skyrim at 2x anti aliasing and 8X AF (semi-high settings) with maximum fade settings. It runs fine but it lags in cities a little bit.

My Setup:
Motherboard:MSI GD70-790FX AM3.
CPU: Pheonm X4 955 OCed to 3.4 on stock cooling.
RAM: 4GB Corsair DDR3 1066.
Graphics: XFX 2XHD5770 in crossfire. Total 2GB video RAM.
OCZ Power supply 1000 KW

The thing is, I want to mod a lot out of this game and lots of mods are demanding and I want some extra power. I think my build just need a little extra juice and I don't want to change a lot because I'm waiting for new architectures. Plus I don't think there's a huge need for extra processing power until the new consoles hit the market and the game industry moves forward with new capabilities for PC.

My question is: What is the best way to upgrade this setup without changing the motherboard (To minimize my costs) and get the best performance possible.

CPU: Do I need to get an 6 core Phenom or should I just buy a cooler to overclock it further.
GPU: I'm thinking about getting a 3rd XFX 5770 to run in triple crossfire. I think that's around 150$. Or would it be more cost effective to buy something like an AMD 6950 to see results. Maybe this is the most important question.
RAM: Do I really need more than 4GB ram? anyway it's cheap so I'm going to add more sticks.

Thank you and please give me your opinions.
a b B Homebuilt system
December 11, 2011 2:34:12 PM

Tom's has a recent article on Crossfire scaling (Triple-GPU Scaling: AMD CrossFire Vs. Nvidia SLI) that shows quite variable results with triple Crossfire. Look at the article and see what happens with three cards over two in the games they tested---sometimes nothing, sometimes pretty good, sometimes even worse.
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December 11, 2011 2:55:12 PM

Petrofsky said:
Tom's has a recent article on Crossfire scaling (Triple-GPU Scaling: AMD CrossFire Vs. Nvidia SLI) that shows quite variable results with triple Crossfire. Look at the article and see what happens with three cards over two in the games they tested---sometimes nothing, sometimes pretty good, sometimes even worse.


Thank you. I think according to that article 3-way crossfire is not the best option and only shows decent gains at ridiculous resolutions. I game on a 1680X1024 resolution.

It would be interesting how the scaling works if I had a 3D TV though.


Well, looks like I need to change my GPU's :( 

Any other pointers regarding the CPU for instance?
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December 11, 2011 3:14:19 PM

When you say 2GB total video ram, do you mean each card has 2GB? That's what total of 2GB implies.

What about other games? Like Batman: Arkham City? It looks like a completely different animal with and without Physx. I didn't realize this until I made a youtube video benchmark run after they patched DX 11 for x64 systems.

More about Skyrim, I'm using some of the new mods. I'll list which ones I'm actually using.

Enhanced Blood Textures - nice

Glowing Ore Veins - nice

Nicer Snowflakes - realistic - nice

RSE High Res v1.3-836-1-3 (realistic smoke and embers) - nice

RWT High Res v1.5b-711 (realistic water textures) - ok, some sli glitching still appears depending on the angle of view of water surfaces - no idea if this appears in crossfire systems - the glitch is worse with default water, plus there are multiple options for the new water textures to play with to find your sweet spot

Skyrim HD 1.1-607 (applies to Whiterun and Windhelm) - very nice, no problems so far

Skyrim Sunglare v3.0 HD-116-3-0 - very nice and options for lens flare etc

Vurts Skyrim Flora Overhaul v1.04-141 - very nice, upgrades Aspen (bark and branches), Green Pines (bark and Branches),

Snowy Pines (Bark and Branches), and Whiterun Tree (Bark and Branches) - some tree types have multiple options - this mod works and looks great

Enhanced Night Skyrim - Color Galaxy - beautiful

Enhanced Night Skyrim - High Res Stars - beautiful

Binaries and Source Update 4 - flags the exe to address more than 2GB RAM - works great

XCE Combo pack of Detailed Bodies, Faces, Lips, Eyeballs - very nice

The above mods are ones I currently use. They haven't caused me any issues, and don't appear to have caused very much extra strain, but my setup is quite a bit different than yours. I would expect to definitely upgrade the graphics cards, probably in the 2GB 6950 / GTX 560 and up range (xfire or sli likely necessary) to utilize everything to its fullest and get the most out of the whole experience.

I experimented with:

Various mods that change graphics quality, like

Post Process Injector, multiple FXAA choices - This just made things more complex and constant fiddling with the config manually, and I'd rather just play than edit and pray

enbseries skyrim "patch" - same as above, works but at a price of time and wasn't happy with results or the work required

QD Inventory - Complete UI overhaul... it needs more polish. Some items like the Thieves gear no longer displays its magical attributes, and just quirky I think - Worth it to wait and try later revisions. I'll be keeping an eye on this one to possibly add later

Lost Art of the Blacksmith - worth looking into, I removed it in part of troubleshooting some of the mod issues, and havent had time to add it back and really put it to use

(Edit: Duh, here's a good link - http://www.skyrimnexus.com/index.php )
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