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Upgrading from Asus EN9600GT 512MB, $250 budget

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
November 27, 2011 5:47:12 AM

Hello everyone!

Just to lay down some facts:

I built my first computer back in September 2010, just over a year ago. One of the only components I did not buy was a GPU, since I really dislike shopping for them.
Instead, I'm currently using an old Asus EN9600GT 512MB graphics card that I received from a friend. He thought the card fried along with his mobo, but it was fine, so I've been using it since last year.

As of the last several months, however, I have been getting numerous BSoDs while using 2 monitors. In fact, while typing this post up the first time, I received a BSoD. I have now 59 unresolved BSoDs, almost all of them related to a "Video Hardware Failure", according to Windows Action Center. My display drivers also crash and recover while I am playing games, specifically Garry's Mod. This was happening even with the most recent drivers installed from the manuf. website. Rolled back, same issues. All of this has become extremely annoying and cannot be good for my system's health. The deciding factor occurred when my computer set my graphics to medium settings on Skyrim.

The 9600GT is getting old, and I believe it's time to get with the current technology. I don't have anything specific in mind. I've always had NVIDIA cards but I am not against trying Radeon.

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Anywhere between now (11/26/11) to Christmas (12/25/2011), preferably.

BUDGET RANGE: Up to around USD $250.

1. Gaming [Garry's Mod, Minecraft, Skyrim/Oblivion, Fallout3/NV, L4D1/2, GTA IV, LoL, BioShock1/2]
2. Home theater/watching movies
3. Folding@Home (Not doing it)

GPU: ASUS EN9600GT Silent/HTDI/512M GeForce 9600 GT 512MB 256-bit GDDR3
PSU: SeaSonic M12II 620 Bronze 620W

CPU: AMD Phenom II X6 1055T Thuban 2.8GHz (OC'd @ 3.5GHz)
RAM: (G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 240-Pin DDR3 1600) x 4 (8GB total)
CASE: LIAN LI Lancool PC-K62 Black
WEI rates my 3D Graphics Performance at 6.4, my lowest rating (CPU @ 7.6 of 7.9).

FANS: (Scythe ULTRA KAZE fan) x 2

Using the Hyper 212 on my 1055t, 1 ULTRA KAZE pushing air into a stock fan on the the other side of the grill.
1 ULTRA KAZE on the back of the case to pull the air from the CPU out. 2 stock push fans on top, 1 stock intake fan in front.
CPU is overclocked to 3.5GHz currently.

CPU temperature: ~38*C Idle -- 42*C Practical Load (50% CPU Usage)
GPU temperature: ~56*C Idle -- 64*C Practical Load (50% CPU Usage)



PARTS PREFERENCES: No brand preference.

OVERCLOCKING: Never overclocked a gpu but willing to try it.

SLI/CROSSFIRE: Never done it, not really interested.

MONITOR RESOLUTION: [1 ASUS VH232 1920x1080] and a 1024x768 Dell Monitor (replacing it with an ASUS VH238 within a week, 1920x1080). I'm not interested in doing SLI/Crossfire. I just like having two monitors for playing games on one and doing everything else on the other. GPU must have at least two video ouputs (VGA/DVI/HDMI).

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Nothing specific here, just wanting a reliable card between $250 that has a noticeable performance jump from my 9600GT. I am not a hardcore gamer, as my list of games that I play shows. But I would like to be able to throw in games like Skyrim and play at max settings. I also play all games at 1920x1080 if possible.
a b U Graphics card
November 27, 2011 6:04:39 AM

Nvidia: GTX 560 Ti

AMD: HD 6950

Both are extremely good cards and will run today's games on high settings @ 1920x1080.

The choice is yours ;) 

Related resources
November 27, 2011 6:05:49 AM

What about from a $100 to $200 range?

Also, why do you say that the 560Ti is basically the only option?
November 27, 2011 6:11:13 AM

Ryan Zauros said:
What about from a $100 to $200 range?

Also, why do you say that the 560Ti is basically the only option?

For a lower price I would suggest HD6850 (6870 is not worth the extra $):

560Ti is the only option because you would like to be able to play games at 1080p with max setting. Neither card below 560Ti can do that (for Skyrim especially).
a c 106 U Graphics card
November 27, 2011 6:33:54 AM

For the price the best choice is a Radeon 6950. On the nVidia side there's the 560Ti though be aware there are two versions. The 448 shader model uses more power of course.
December 1, 2011 11:17:37 PM

Sorry to bump this thread again. Your suggestions have been very helpful!

I've mainly been looking in to the EVGA models of the GTX 560 Ti with 384 core processors.

I've realized this is the reference card:

One of the card versions that was suggested in this thread was the 1563-AR version

I recently remembered I had $50 in gift cards for, so I was looking to possibly buy either the reference card (1560) or the slightly OC'd card (1563-AR) from BB to get a pretty good deal. However, searching through BB's selection revealed they do not stock the reference 1560 card, but instead have a 1563-KR model. I checked on Newegg to see if they had the KR model, but they don't. Thinking it might be a typo or incorrect product info on BB's part, I searched and found the 1563-KR model on Amazon and several other sites.

I was wondering, what exactly is the difference between the 1563-AR and 1563-KR models? They both cost the same (~$250) and it seems like the only real difference is the Lifetime Warranty. If the warranty is the only difference, why would they sell it for the same price?