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Upgrading Graphic Card On My old Computer. Quick Help !

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November 27, 2011 4:57:36 PM

Hi,
I bought a new computer recently and gave my old one to my brother, it could play games like league of legends, battlefield 2142, very well, even starcraft 2 very decently (medium quality). It could also play dragon age 2 altho there would be occasional stuttering but still playable... its starting to show its age on the newer games like BF3 / Skyrim which are unplayable ( he had like 5-10fps in bf3 beta with bugs and glitches ) .

Here are the relevant specs of the computer :

- Intel Core 2 duo E6400 ( overclocked to 2.4ghz, i know its a crappy oc but cant do better without losing stability, tried a lot )
- Asus P5WDH Deluxe Motherboard
- Antec EarthWatt 500w ( EA-500 )
- 4gb Ram
- GeForce 9600GT

My brother plans on buying a completely new computer in about 1 year or so, until he can save enough money, but meanwhile he would like to play BF3. Do you think it is possible ?

Here are some graphic cards I was going to recommend :
PowerColor HD 6870 ( 150$ CAD )
MSI HD 6950 twin frozr III ( 200$ CAD )
Gigabyte GTX 560 ( 155$ )

The plan would be to get 1 graphic card now, then when he is ready to buy his new computer, get a second card and put them in sli / crossfire. Apparently the HD 6xxx series scales better in crossfire than GTXs in SLI ... Also im not sure if this is still true but it seems like the HD 6950s can be converted to HD 6970s (how easy is it) ?

My concern is that i don't know if any of these cards will be enough to run bf3 in his current system ... will the cpu be too much of a bottleneck ? Does he need to get a video card with 2gb memory or will 1gb memory do fine ? Also, does he have enough power ( 500w powersupply should be enough no ? ) Should he just not spend anything now and wait ?

Thanks for your help !
a b U Graphics card
November 27, 2011 5:25:48 PM

The cards listed will need more than 500W, so go ahead and get a power supply (once capable of doing SLi or xFire), as well as a GPU.
Also, if not doing video editing or 3D work, then I would go with one of the AMD cards. They have a little more bang for the buck, and use a little less power from the wall. But if doing any production work that takes advantage of CUDA then jump on the nVidia. xFire does scale better than SLi, but SLi drivers tend to work better than xFire, so it is give and take between the 2 technologies. xFire is also more leanient about what you pair the card with, where SLi requires an identicle GPU, clock, and ram size.

Yes, the CPU will bottleneck these cards, but it will still be a minimum 2 fold gain over the old 9600GT, so you will still get a boost for games. Just expect a little more boost when you upgrade the rest of the system later.

Lastly, keep an eye out for a C2Q, it will give you the quad core performance required for some newer games. I wouldn't pay retail for one, but if you find one at a garage sale, or for super cheap online, it will help a little.
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November 27, 2011 5:42:07 PM

louno said:
Hi,
I bought a new computer recently and gave my old one to my brother, it could play games like league of legends, battlefield 2142, very well, even starcraft 2 very decently (medium quality). It could also play dragon age 2 altho there would be occasional stuttering but still playable... its starting to show its age on the newer games like BF3 / Skyrim which are unplayable ( he had like 5-10fps in bf3 beta with bugs and glitches ) .

Here are the relevant specs of the computer :

- Intel Core 2 duo E6400 ( overclocked to 2.4ghz, i know its a crappy oc but cant do better without losing stability, tried a lot )
- Asus P5WDH Deluxe Motherboard
- Antec EarthWatt 500w ( EA-500 )
- 4gb Ram
- GeForce 9600GT

My brother plans on buying a completely new computer in about 1 year or so, until he can save enough money, but meanwhile he would like to play BF3. Do you think it is possible ?

Here are some graphic cards I was going to recommend :
PowerColor HD 6870 ( 150$ CAD )
MSI HD 6950 twin frozr III ( 200$ CAD )
Gigabyte GTX 560 ( 155$ )

The plan would be to get 1 graphic card now, then when he is ready to buy his new computer, get a second card and put them in sli / crossfire. Apparently the HD 6xxx series scales better in crossfire than GTXs in SLI ... Also im not sure if this is still true but it seems like the HD 6950s can be converted to HD 6970s (how easy is it) ?

My concern is that i don't know if any of these cards will be enough to run bf3 in his current system ... will the cpu be too much of a bottleneck ? Does he need to get a video card with 2gb memory or will 1gb memory do fine ? Also, does he have enough power ( 500w powersupply should be enough no ? ) Should he just not spend anything now and wait ?

Thanks for your help !


The conroe core2duo will probably bottleneck a newer GPU, not a whole lot though. The minimum requirements for BF3 concerning the cpu is, infact a dual core processor running at 2.4GHz. However the recommended requirement is a quad core processor.

SLI scaling vs crossfire scaling concerning GTX 570 cards and Radeon HD 6950's has been tested at toms hardware, here is a link to the article: CrossFire Scales Spectacularly

2gb of video memory typically does better at higher resolutions, anything above 1920x1080 can see benefits over 1gb as i recall.

It is possible to unlock certain HD 6950's , only reference boards with a "bios" switch on them - it is a risky thing to do though.

a 500 watt PSU is good enough for a single 6870, a 6950 would be pushing it pretty close though but i really have no idea of your system configuration (how many hard drives, size of fans, how many fans, how many sticks of ram (not ram amount, but how many dimms are making up your 4gb) how many USB devices you use how many and what sorts of cd/dvd/blu ray drives do you have if any.. every things a factor. So i really cant say for certain unless you want to fill in the gaps of missing data

hope this helps!


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November 27, 2011 6:26:47 PM

Thanks for the info so far, i will try to fill in some additional info regarding the other components for power consumptions :
hard drives : 1 x WD 2500KS 250GB Serial ATA-II 7200 rpm 16M buffer
Size / Qty of Fans : 1 x 120mm 12v 1000 - 2200 rpm ( cpu heatsing is dark knight s1283v ) + 1 x regular 120mm rear exhaust fan
Ram : G.Skill F2-6400CL4D 4GBPK ( 4gb 2x2gb) DDR2 800 CL4-4-4-12 2.0~2.1V
USB Devices : 1 keyboard, 1 mouse ... maybe plug iphone occasionally, think thats about it.
Dvd drive : 1 x LG GSA-H10N DVD RW 16x ( rarely used... )
Monitor : not sure which one it is, but its a cheap ( 100-200 $) led monitor bought 1 year ago

Does that help ?

He will not planning to be gaming at resolution higher than 1920x1080 for now, so basically, so far what i can understand is that the HD6950 1GB would be best if he wants to spend 200$ otherwise the HD6870 would be fine, its only a matter of knowing if the powersupply has enough power ?

OR would a HD6870 2GB be a better investment vs a HD6950 1GB ?

Keep in mind this will be crossfired eventually, i dont know how that affect the memory... does having 2 x 1GB card makes it as tho you had a 2gb card therefore allowing you to better game at resolutions above 1080p ? or do you still need the actual individual card to be 2gb ?

thanks for the help so far, really useful
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November 27, 2011 8:54:28 PM

def go for the 6950, your psu should be fine, an estimated 402watts with a 6950 in it, a 2nd 6950 and you will need a higher wattage psu - no you only get 1gb even with two 1gb cards, but it wont matter much for current games with two 6950s, itll have pleanty of power
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November 28, 2011 3:30:58 AM

kd0frg, thanks a lot for your input... Honestly my main concern is more the CPU... i am afraid it will be too much of a bottleneck no matter what videocard we upgrade too... I know you said that it meets the minimum requirement, but... is the minimum requirement really enough to play the game ( even with settings at low ) with a playable framerate ?

I tried looking for BF3 benchmarks with old cpus but cant fin any... But found this : http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/battlefield-3-graphics-performance,3063-13.html which basically means that BF3 doesnt care how many cpu cores you have as long as you have 2... but then, is 2.4ghz enough?

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