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Upgrade ~$500

Last response: in Systems
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February 2, 2012 8:30:27 PM

Approximate Purchase Date: >1 week

Budget Range: ~$500

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming, Surfing the WWW

Parts Not Required: Case(Antec 900), PSU (SeaSonic M12 700W), Monitor(Asus VE247H), HD(OCZ 32GB SSD for boot, WD Black 640GB for storage), keyboard, mouse, speakers, sound card, OS(Win7), ?GFX (4870x2)?

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Newegg, Microcenter

Country: US

Parts Preferences: None... had very good luck with EVGA and Patriot though

Overclocking: Yes

SLI or Crossfire: Maybe

Monitor Resolution: 1920x1200

Additional Comments: Looking to upgrade my current system which is an e8400@3.6, 4gb RAM, 4870x2 and parts above. My current system can play any game but not at high enough settings that I want. Just want advice on my build below or if I should just wait until Spring when the new CPU/GPU's come out. I should only need Mobo/RAM/CPU and mabye GPU.

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CPU - i5 2500k ($180 Microcenter)
http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml...

I think this processor is a no brainer for gaming. I feel comfortable enough to OC if need be. I OC'd my current CPU (e8400) and I hear this one is a lot easier.

Motherboard - ASRock Z68 Extreme3 Gen3 ($122 Newegg)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I haven't done a lot of research on motherboards but the little I have done I see this one thrown around a lot and it gets very favorable reviews on newegg, 4/5 eggs with 213 reviews.

RAM - G-Skill RipjawX 8GB DDR3 1333 / G-Skill Sniper 8GB DDR3 1600 ($40/$50 Newegg)
DDR3 1333 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
DDR3 1600 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Correct me if I am wrong but there is no point in paying more for any RAM over 1333mhz as the performance difference is moot. I also listed a DDR3 1600 in case the performance increase is worth the $10. These are both on the supported RAM list at ASRock.com and get excellent reviews on newegg, both 5/5 eggs with 100+ reviews.

GPU - EVGA 560Ti / MSI HD 6950 Frozr III(~$230 Newegg)
EVGA http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
MSI http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

This is where I am unsure of an upgrade. I currently have a 4870x2 that is still viable according to the Hierarchy chart but I dont feel the performance that I think I should be getting. Any input would be appreciated. It will also put me above $500 but am willing to spend an extra $100 for a good performance boost. Also, should I wait to buy a new card until the new cards come out in a couple months, for price decreases on current cards or pay a little more for a much better card?

To add another question to the mix, I currently have a SB Audigy X-Fi and am wondering if I am better off just chucking/selling it and using onboard sound or keeping it. There hasnt been new drivers for it in years and currently have minor issues with speakers. Although it could be the speakers also as I bought them in 02', Logitech Z440 or something! I am also contemplating getting a new boot drive as my current one keeps filling up even after disabling hibernate/indexing etc.. Well, let me know what you think. If you have better recommendations feel free to post as I am open to anything. Thank you for your comments in advance.

More about : upgrade 500

February 2, 2012 8:48:48 PM

Sounds good to me! Let your old video cards rest!
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February 2, 2012 8:50:05 PM

Your plan for cpu/mobo/ram is fine.

As to the graphics, I think I would wait, or, look for a much stronger graphics upgrade.

A 7950 should be about what you need. If you do much less, you run the risk of being disappointed. A 7970 is probably overkill unless you are planning on triple monitor gaming.
Your current 4870X2 may be exhibiting the microstuttering which a single gpu card would fix.

Later, perhaps in april, nvidia will have it's 28nm response to keep amd honest on pricing.
Untill then, card prices will be what the traffic will bear.
Only if you are willing to buy used will you see any big price drops on older cards.

I would not think that a discrete sound card would be needed. Certainly not from a cpu savings point of view. Try it without first. You can then decide to reinstall it or sell it.
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February 2, 2012 8:54:29 PM

If your current RAM is DDR3 I would be tempted to reuse it so you can put the cash towards graphics instead. As mentioned earlier, I would aim for the HD 7950.
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February 3, 2012 6:11:07 AM

jmsellars1 said:
If your current RAM is DDR3 I would be tempted to reuse it so you can put the cash towards graphics instead. As mentioned earlier, I would aim for the HD 7950.

My current RAM is DDR2. Are my assumptions correct on DDR3 1333 vs 1600+? As for getting a 7950... I would love to but I just can't justify spending $470 on the GPU alone. I can settle for a middle high range card for 1/2 price. Mabye I will wait on the GPU until nvidia launches there new line.
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February 3, 2012 8:03:30 AM

Yeah there is little no to gain when going over 1333Mhz really.

As for the GPU, the HD 4870x2 is about as powerful as the standard GTX 560 as far as I'm aware so upgrading it to the GTX 560Ti would be a very small improvement. At high resolutions the HD 4870x2 may even be better due to the 2GB memory.
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February 3, 2012 8:40:48 AM

Besides HD4870x2 have 2GB memory, they work with real 1GB only.
Due to textures and info that must de copied to both GPUs.
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February 3, 2012 8:59:10 AM

jmsellars1 said:
Yeah there is little no to gain when going over 1333Mhz really.

As for the GPU, the HD 4870x2 is about as powerful as the standard GTX 560 as far as I'm aware so upgrading it to the GTX 560Ti would be a very small improvement. At high resolutions the HD 4870x2 may even be better due to the 2GB memory.

Is there a diagnostic tool you know of then to see if my card is running how its suppose to, or can that card still be bottlenecked by my e8400. I can't even run SWTOR at high settings or ARMA2 at medium w/o stuttering. Granted I know SWTOR is much more cpu intensive. But BF3 can only be run at medium and that relies heavily on gpu. I guess this is turning into tech support now! Haha.

I think I'm pulling the trigger on mobo/cpu/ram and will try the 4870x2 and see how it works and go from there. Any1's advice is still more than welcome on the gpu!
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February 3, 2012 2:29:31 PM

amundbr said:
Is there a diagnostic tool you know of then to see if my card is running how its suppose to, or can that card still be bottlenecked by my e8400. I can't even run SWTOR at high settings or ARMA2 at medium w/o stuttering. Granted I know SWTOR is much more cpu intensive. But BF3 can only be run at medium and that relies heavily on gpu. I guess this is turning into tech support now! Haha.

I think I'm pulling the trigger on mobo/cpu/ram and will try the 4870x2 and see how it works and go from there. Any1's advice is still more than welcome on the gpu!


I think your plan to use the 4870x2, at least initially is a good idea.
A GTX560ti is a similarly performing card to the 4870x2. Yes, it might solve dual gpu issues, if you have them.
But, if a graphics upgrade is not a significant jump, you will be disappointed if you do not see much improvement.

To better assess your cpu, 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.
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