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Upgrade for gaming: where to invest? gpu? cpu? mobo? ...?

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March 9, 2012 9:08:30 AM

Hello,
#1 how much lower are the graphics in the second scenario than in the first? in % plz :) 
scenario 1: AMD Radeon HD 6950 with ~ 200 € cpu and ~ 200 € mobo
scenario 2: AMD Radeon HD 6950 with ~ 200 € cpu from late 2007 and ~ 200 € mobo from late 2007

note that i am TALKING ABOUT GRAPHICS IN GAMES ONLY. im satisfied with my PCs performance in every way but not in games.

#2 the question is: if i only want games can i just buy a gpu and leave the rest on higher-end-2007-parts?

#3 what is optimal ratio where to put money in @ upgrading for gaming? 100 % gpu 0 % rest? 50 % gpu 25 % cpu 25 % mobo? 33 % 33 % 33 %? ...?

yes, i asked the same question 3 times, but i hope i get a better understanding of upgrading this way : )

thank you <3
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March 9, 2012 10:04:28 AM

I'd need more specifics.

What is the actual 2007 CPU, how much RAM?
March 9, 2012 10:21:21 AM

If you ask very generic questions, then you'll get very generic answers.

Provided you have enough RAM, graphics will always give you more bang from the current system, if the graphics and system are the same age. (Again very general, not always true)

If you can afford to upgrade your system, but not buy a new one, then make sure that your processor meets the minimum requirements for the game you are intending to play. If it does, then graphics will be your best option.

Normally, the CPU upgrade is a waste of time. The motherboard is likely more in need of an upgrade than the CPU will ever be, of course, when you update the MB, you update the CPU too.

Same goes for RAM, upgrades don't really add much if you have enough to start with.

If you upgrade the MB, then upgrade the RAM, CPU and graphics card. (That is a whole new system, mostly)

Related resources
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March 9, 2012 10:37:54 AM

Hello.

1. AMD 6950 (or AMD 7850 if its available at your area) + Intel Core i5-2500K Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz $225 (should be around 200 €) + ASUS P8Z68-V/GEN3 $180 (should be around 170 €) or ASRock Z68 Extreme3 Gen3 $130 (should be around 120 €).

2. What higher-end-2007-parts do you have? If by higher end you mean Q6600 (it was around $850 when it was released and about $500 6 months later), then we (I have the same processor) need an upgrade. But this is not totaly accurate. It havenly depends on the game (graphic engine).

Games like Dragon Age 2, with a 6950 you will not see any difference at all cause its heavily GPU depended (I had same fps with a Q6600 with GTX570 compare to i5 2500k). It was needed the brute horsepower of a 6990 to see a 10% difference. source: Techspot performance review on Dragon Age 2 comment from article writer: "For the most part it appears that Dragon Age II is primarily GPU dependent. Any current Core i3, i5, i7 or Phenom II processor will be sufficient to get the most out of your graphics card. Even the old Core 2 Quad performed well. Keep in mind we are using the Radeon HD 6990 to remove a potential GPU limitation, so there will be even less of a margin when using slower graphics cards. "

Games like Skyrim, which is a cpu devourer, even an i5 2500k o/c to 4Ghz wasn't able to keep the average 60FPS (but manage to do 40minimum) source: Tom's CPU benchmarks 2-3 weeks ago

So it really depends on the game you wanna play.

3. I dont know if its the same as the previous questions but it has the same answers. The percentage of the performance you will get (so you will decide where to spend more money) depends on the game(s) you want to play...

edit: Oh if you also want new RAM, dont worry 2 x 4GB 1600Mhz should cost around 40€. So in the end no matter what mobo you will choose, the worst case scenario is to go around 10€ more than your budget.
March 9, 2012 12:45:34 PM

the game im upgrading for is GW2: what does that mean? strong cpu needed,...? do offline-rpgs have similar requirements?
minimum sys req:
Core 2 Duo E6550 2.33GHz / Athlon 64 X2 Dual Core 5600+
GeForce GT 240 / Radeon HD 4670 512MB
http://www.game-debate.com/games/index.php?g_id=684&gam...
if that helps: with this setup you can play it on max with some little problems
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KocXN1xDA8A
CPU: AMD Phenom II X6 1090T, 3.6GHz six-core
MOBO: ASUS Crosshair IV Formula
RAM: 8 GB
GPU: Radeon HD 6970 2GB
1920x1200


my specs:
GF Sparkle 8800GTS 320 mb 320 €
intel core 2 duo e6750 2.66 GHz 220 €
ABIT AB9 Pro Intel P965 + ICH8 Firewire *S775* 160 €
2 x 2 GB RAM
1920x1024 24''


another way to ask my question "what part should be upgraded for how much?":
my current gpu has arround 1/4 of the futuremark score compared to the AMD Radeon HD 6950. hypotheticaly that would mean 4x better graphics. how much of this "4x" do i lose if i dont upgrade my cpu and mobo?

btw would it work to buy two ATI Radeon HD 4870 ? that would be only half the price of the 6950 but the same futuremark score points = )

thx for your answers
a b à CPUs
March 9, 2012 12:51:21 PM

superaffe said:
Hello,
#1 how much lower are the graphics in the second scenario than in the first? in % plz :) 
scenario 1: AMD Radeon HD 6950 with ~ 200 € cpu and ~ 200 € mobo
scenario 2: AMD Radeon HD 6950 with ~ 200 € cpu from late 2007 and ~ 200 € mobo from late 2007

note that i am TALKING ABOUT GRAPHICS IN GAMES ONLY. im satisfied with my PCs performance in every way but not in games.

#2 the question is: if i only want games can i just buy a gpu and leave the rest on higher-end-2007-parts?

#3 what is optimal ratio where to put money in @ upgrading for gaming? 100 % gpu 0 % rest? 50 % gpu 25 % cpu 25 % mobo? 33 % 33 % 33 %? ...?

yes, i asked the same question 3 times, but i hope i get a better understanding of upgrading this way : )

thank you <3


I think your PC is old and needs retirement. You have to build a new PC from scratch.
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March 9, 2012 2:01:52 PM

superaffe said:
the game im upgrading for is GW2: what does that mean? strong cpu needed,...? do offline-rpgs have similar requirements?
minimum sys req:
Core 2 Duo E6550 2.33GHz / Athlon 64 X2 Dual Core 5600+
GeForce GT 240 / Radeon HD 4670 512MB
http://www.game-debate.com/games/index.php?g_id=684&gam...
if that helps: with this setup you can play it on max with some little problems
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KocXN1xDA8A
CPU: AMD Phenom II X6 1090T, 3.6GHz six-core
MOBO: ASUS Crosshair IV Formula
RAM: 8 GB
GPU: Radeon HD 6970 2GB
1920x1200


my specs:
GF Sparkle 8800GTS 320 mb 320 €
intel core 2 duo e6750 2.66 GHz 220 €
ABIT AB9 Pro Intel P965 + ICH8 Firewire *S775* 160 €
2 x 2 GB RAM
1920x1024 24''


another way to ask my question "what part should be upgraded for how much?":
my current gpu has arround 1/4 of the futuremark score compared to the AMD Radeon HD 6950. hypotheticaly that would mean 4x better graphics. how much of this "4x" do i lose if i dont upgrade my cpu and mobo?

btw would it work to buy two ATI Radeon HD 4870 ? that would be only half the price of the 6950 but the same futuremark score points = )

thx for your answers


Now I am a little bit confused. What's you total budget for upgrade?

Theoritically MMO's need a mid-range gpu and they require more cpu/ram.

But you should change pretty much everything if you want smooth gameplay.
March 9, 2012 2:46:10 PM

i dont have a budget. if i could play GW2 on max only with the HD 6950 that would be perfect. id spend 240 there for sure!
but i think i wont upgrade at all if i dont get at least mid-high settings for 200-300 €.

it sounds like your saying with my setup i cant dream of playing anything on max with a 300 € upgrade. that suprises me since i can run C2 on mid (not low or high or max) and ME2 on max without problems. so i thought i can play GW2 on low-mid without an upgrade and high to max with an (300 €?) upgrade. do i see that wrong?

again: tell me how much games depend on the gpu. if it is like 90 % i could play at least on high with the HD 6950, dont you think?
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March 9, 2012 2:52:26 PM

get the new stuff

sandybridge is awesome

i hate to put it so simply, but if you are serious about building a rig, sandybridge is cheap. low power. powerful. if you want to use an apu or are fine with core2/phenom2 level performance and want to save 60 bucks, well, i suppose theres other options.

just get a 2500/2550k on a good cheap board. there are some fine choices. or wait for ivybridge

i hate to sound like a fanboy, but really. a 6950 produces more fps on a sandybridge configuration than anything else. its all in the architecture. thats not even including the obscene overclocks this cpu does consistantly
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March 9, 2012 4:32:17 PM


You didn't list your RAMs speed but assuming it's DDR2 800mhz, you should be able to run 1:1 8x400MHz or 3.2GHz.

That should make a big difference in your CPU.

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March 9, 2012 6:15:05 PM

superaffe said:
i dont have a budget. if i could play GW2 on max only with the HD 6950 that would be perfect. id spend 240 there for sure!
but i think i wont upgrade at all if i dont get at least mid-high settings for 200-300 €.

it sounds like your saying with my setup i cant dream of playing anything on max with a 300 € upgrade. that suprises me since i can run C2 on mid (not low or high or max) and ME2 on max without problems. so i thought i can play GW2 on low-mid without an upgrade and high to max with an (300 €?) upgrade. do i see that wrong?

again: tell me how much games depend on the gpu. if it is like 90 % i could play at least on high with the HD 6950, dont you think?


First of all we are talking for a title that isnt out yet. From what I am reading at Guild Wars 2 System Requirements – System Specifications even the devs didnt figured out what will be needed. That's an advantage considering that by the time it will be out and benchmarked, you would defenitely take more performance for the same amound of money (Kepler and Ivybridge should be arrived and also AMD should lower their gpu prices).

If you dont want to upgrade now and you want to upgrade only for guild wars I suggest you should wait.

Second I am saying that with your system and a HD6950 you will have lower fps than other systems with sandybridge. Crysis 2 has 4 options (high - very high - exreme - ultra) its natural that you can play it on 2nd option, altough you should have some fps spikes. Also Mass Effect 2 doesnt want any monstrer pc system.

We need to wait and see. I searched and I didnt found any good benchmark on GW2 beta. It would be nice to see a site benchmarking it since its the second most anticipated game of the year (1st was diablo III). We need to see benchies on CPUs and GPUs. But if it is like Aion, I think it will require more a good cpu an a midrange gpu.
March 12, 2012 12:06:30 PM

i found this:
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/cpu-gpu-upgrade,192...
is an old test. is it still ture that the same amount of money gets you +250 % 3D performance if you spend it on a GPU and only +40 % if you spend it on a CPU?

i guess there is point where the CPUs performance is just too low to really get the 250 % out of the new GPU. yes? no? where does that point lie? is my Core Duo E6750 2.66 GHz good enough for a 200/400 € GPU?

_
i think i will wait with the upgrade for some months and then get a 200/400€ GPU if my CPU can work with it. i m expecting your answers. ty
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March 12, 2012 2:47:22 PM

superaffe said:
i found this:
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/cpu-gpu-upgrade,192...
is an old test. is it still ture that the same amount of money gets you +250 % 3D performance if you spend it on a GPU and only +40 % if you spend it on a CPU?

i guess there is point where the CPUs performance is just too low to really get the 250 % out of the new GPU. yes? no? where does that point lie? is my Core Duo E6750 2.66 GHz good enough for a 200/400 € GPU?


i think i will wait with the upgrade for some months and then get a 200/400€ GPU if my CPU can work with it. i m expecting your answers. ty


That's not entirely true. Games back then didnt use properly new generation cpus (most of them were like single threaded lol). Most MMO's use at least 8 threads (WOW uses 64...).
So lets take an example of todays heavy cpu-gpu titles like metro 2033. At today's article at tom's you can see a very good chart:

You can see that by adding a new gpu (instead of cpu) gives you around 15% more performance. On MMOs the difference will be lower and probably it would be better if you would add a cpu.

But at the older article you should notice something else too.
All gpus bellow 512MB RAM, were out of VRAM in 1920x1200 and they have abysmal frame rates (5-6fps :S).
So I think the best is to get a balanced system between those 2.
March 12, 2012 4:05:29 PM

ok. very good information. ty!
u convinced me that CPU is very important too. so if i had to upgrade right now (im not): would a ~150 € cpu and a radeon 6950 / Nvidia 560 Ti have the right "balance"?
is it correct that CPU is a very important factor (at some games especially) but its ok to pay online half the money you spend on the GPU?

last question:
so can i ignore MoBo? i mean: if id get one of those you recommented me how much more performance would i get compared to only upgrading GPU and CPU?
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March 12, 2012 4:45:39 PM

Unfortunately you cannot ignore mobo. Neither RAM too. But since you are not going for a high-end system, you can find (from asus, msi, gigabyte or asrock) H67 or H61 mobos very cheap and along with RAM (2x4gb or 2x2gb) should be around 100€ and with the rest of money you can buy a 6870/560(non ti) plus the lower i5 2310 or i5 2320.
the difference between 6870 to 6950 and 560 to 560ti in performance is around 13% only.



I think you can afford the 560ti if you add a few bucks more. Or if you choose the i3 2120 plus 2x2gb ram.

Its your choice :) 
March 12, 2012 4:52:11 PM

ok. thats i for now i guess. cu in some months again = ) when i have my selection
thx everyone. thx memnarchon
unfortunately i dont know how to /solved or /best answer
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March 12, 2012 4:55:25 PM

superaffe said:
ok. thats i for now i guess. cu in some months again = ) when i have my selection
thx everyone. thx memnarchon
unfortunately i dont know how to /solved or /best answer

Its alright, we love to help. :) 
March 12, 2012 6:21:52 PM

can u recommend me a guide on "what is best: new gpu cpu mobo ever 2 years; new highest end gpu high end cpu and mobo every 4 years; highest end gpu very 2 years and highest end gpu and mobo every 4/5 years; ....;...;..." ?
i guess its a question off wheater you want highest end performance for much money or state of the art minus 2 years for ok money...
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March 12, 2012 6:32:40 PM

my personal preference is a $600-800 mid-range gaming PC every 2-3 years; just building from scratch a new PC while the old one goes to Linux or a hand-me-down to parent/sibling/partner
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March 12, 2012 10:03:06 PM


ScrewySqrl said:
my personal preference is a $600-800 mid-range gaming PC every 2-3 years; just building from scratch a new PC while the old one goes to Linux or a hand-me-down to parent/sibling/partner


I'm going with this.

You should not spend money now for performance you think you may need in the future, because technology advances so quickly, and prices generally trend downward over time for performance that is so "one or two years ago."

Folks also tend to abuse terms like 'future-proof' and 'bottleneck.' In the OP's case he can get a nice bump from OC'ing his processor and snagging a nice video card.

If his CPU 'bottlenecks' his new card 10%, who cares? :lol:  It's still a new modern GPU.






March 13, 2012 7:54:34 AM

Wisecracker said:
I'm going with this.

You should not spend money now for performance you think you may need in the future, because technology advances so quickly, and prices generally trend downward over time for performance that is so "one or two years ago."

Folks also tend to abuse terms like 'future-proof' and 'bottleneck.' In the OP's case he can get a nice bump from OC'ing his processor and snagging a nice video card.

If his CPU 'bottlenecks' his new card 10%, who cares? :lol:  It's still a new modern GPU.


but memnarchon said my CPU only has 1 thread and MMOs use many threads.. so?
memnarchon, wouldnt you say that its like -50 % instead of -10 % my old CPU would bottleneck a new 200 - 400 € GPU ? and -50 % easily can be the difference between high settings and max settings.. isnt that ture?
March 13, 2012 8:17:22 AM

another question:
i m now quite convinced that my old CPU and MoBo will lower my performance significantly. because they are 5 years old.
but somehow i think it could be the case that what i just said does ONLY APPLY to old CPU and MoBo like mine AND WOULDNT APPLY in 5 years for the CPU and MoBo of today. rephrased: is it the case that, while todays CPU and MoBos are a huge upgrade compared to 5 year old CPU and MoBo, that CPUs and MoBos in 5 years from now arent a big upgrade compared to todays CPUs and MoBos. rephrased: is the following ture?: "years ago CPU and MoBo were a limiting factor of gaming performance. but a 200 € CPU or 100 € (?) MoBo from today wont limit any higher mid-range GPU in 3 or 4 or 5 years"

depending on your answers it would be more effective to spend 400 instead of 250 for CPU and MoBo, so that instead of upgrading them again in some years i can keep them for some more years and only get a new GPU in my 2015-upgrade. rephrased: almost-high-end-CPU and -MoBo instead of mid-range-CPU and -MoBo to avoid need for upgrade in 3 or 4 years? what is more money-efficient?

ty
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March 13, 2012 11:01:47 AM

superaffe said:
another question:
i m now quite convinced that my old CPU and MoBo will lower my performance significantly. because they are 5 years old.
but somehow i think it could be the case that what i just said does ONLY APPLY to old CPU and MoBo like mine AND WOULDNT APPLY in 5 years for the CPU and MoBo of today. rephrased: is it the case that, while todays CPU and MoBos are a huge upgrade compared to 5 year old CPU and MoBo, that CPUs and MoBos in 5 years from now arent a big upgrade compared to todays CPUs and MoBos. rephrased: is the following ture?: "years ago CPU and MoBo were a limiting factor of gaming performance. but a 200 € CPU or 100 € (?) MoBo from today wont limit any higher mid-range GPU in 3 or 4 or 5 years"

depending on your answers it would be more effective to spend 400 instead of 250 for CPU and MoBo, so that instead of upgrading them again in some years i can keep them for some more years and only get a new GPU in my 2015-upgrade. rephrased: almost-high-end-CPU and -MoBo instead of mid-range-CPU and -MoBo to avoid need for upgrade in 3 or 4 years? what is more money-efficient?

ty

Moore's Law hasn't been repealed yet.
Computing power still doubles every 18 months.

in 5 years, the new cpus will be as much more powerful than sandy bridge as it is over a Core2Duo
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March 13, 2012 2:28:05 PM


superaffe said:
but memnarchon said my CPU only has 1 thread and MMOs use many threads.. so?
memnarchon, wouldnt you say that its like -50 % instead of -10 % my old CPU would bottleneck a new 200 - 400 € GPU ? and -50 % easily can be the difference between high settings and max settings.. isnt that ture?



You have a dual-core processor.

I have seen nothing that would lead me to believe GW2 will magically become multi-threaded. GW preforms best on a single-core affinity. At best, they may push a few new limited processes off onto a second core but there has been no (at least, from what I have seen) significant changes to the game engine.

Guild Wars was originally designed to function on low- to mid-range systems, and there is no reason to expect GW2 to function any differently. Revising a game engine to scale with up to four threads most likely ain't gonna happen no matter how much folks want to spin it.

If you wish to purchase a new cpu and motherboard, that's fine. But to draw the conclusion that it is needed for GW2 is most likely a false assumption on your part, as is the idea that you would need something like an HD6950.

And I suspect no one will 'bite' on your 50%-bottleneck assumption because, essentially, it ain't happening with a modern CPU, and you have a modern CPU -- one that will easily over-clock over 3GHz at stock voltage if you feel the need for more CPU power.








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March 13, 2012 4:44:15 PM

Hello and sorry for the delay I didnt see this yesterday.

superaffe said:
can u recommend me a guide on "what is best: new gpu cpu mobo ever 2 years; new highest end gpu high end cpu and mobo every 4 years; highest end gpu very 2 years and highest end gpu and mobo every 4/5 years; ....;...;..." ?
i guess its a question off wheater you want highest end performance for much money or state of the art minus 2 years for ok money...

Imo this entirely depends on your wallet. I personally think that is best to go for the best bang for buck every 2-3 years. Or every two gpu/cpu architectures.

ScrewySqrl said:
my personal preference is a $600-800 mid-range gaming PC every 2-3 years; just building from scratch a new PC while the old one goes to Linux or a hand-me-down to parent/sibling/partner

I don't think that all parts need upgrade every 2-3 years. Just Mobo/CPU/RAM/GPU. The other parts such as HDD (you can add only when you feel you require more), Case, monitor, psu and peripherals don't need upgrade often (lets say an average 5 years). Also you dont have to reach 800$ for these 4 parts. At the moment for i5 2500 + 8GB +z68 mobo +560ti you need around $550 (or less with 6870).

superaffe said:
but memnarchon said my CPU only has 1 thread and MMOs use many threads.. so?
memnarchon, wouldnt you say that its like -50 % instead of -10 % my old CPU would bottleneck a new 200 - 400 € GPU ? and -50 % easily can be the difference between high settings and max settings.. isnt that ture?

I am sorry I wasnt made myself clear, When I said "Games back then didnt use properly new generation cpus (most of them were like single threaded lol)." I was referring to the games not the cpus. Well I cant tell you much about what will be needed for high settings or max settings on GW2. If the game relies a lot at gpu and none at cpu you might be able not to even see this performance gap. But according to developers you are gonna need a quad core with a gtx460/hd6850. Guild Wars 2 technician

Wisecracker said:
You have a dual-core processor.

I have seen nothing that would lead me to believe GW2 will magically become multi-threaded. GW preforms best on a single-core affinity. At best, they may push a few new limited processes off onto a second core but there has been no (at least, from what I have seen) significant changes to the game engine.

Guild Wars was originally designed to function on low- to mid-range systems, and there is no reason to expect GW2 to function any differently. Revising a game engine to scale with up to four threads most likely ain't gonna happen no matter how much folks want to spin it.

If you wish to purchase a new cpu and motherboard, that's fine. But to draw the conclusion that it is needed for GW2 is most likely a false assumption on your part, as is the idea that you would need something like an HD6950.

And I suspect no one will 'bite' on your 50%-bottleneck assumption because, essentially, it ain't happening with a modern CPU, and you have a modern CPU -- one that will easily over-clock over 3GHz at stock voltage if you feel the need for more CPU power.

He wants MAX settings and I was judging by WOW, SWTOR and Aion (all of them use at least 4 threads), according to Guild Wars 2 System Requirements – System Specifications : "The consensus is that ArenaNet will keep the minimum system specifications as low as possible, so that if you can play other online games like Aion and Star Wars the Old Republic you will also be able to play Guild Wars 2." And as it seems I wasn't far from what I assumed. Guild Wars 2 Technician

ScrewySqrl said:
Moore's Law hasn't been repealed yet.
Computing power still doubles every 18 months.

in 5 years, the new cpus will be as much more powerful than sandy bridge as it is over a Core2Duo

+1
March 13, 2012 8:40:37 PM

=> i will wait for GW2 and the new product generations and price lowerings
=> if i upgrade i will spend arround 500 on GPU CPU MOBO RAM BANANA
=> if i want to play a game on MAX in 2015-17 i will do the same ~500 € upgrade again
March 13, 2012 8:47:29 PM

=> i will wait for GW2 and the new product generations and price lowerings
=> if i upgrade i will spend arround 350 - 550 on GPU CPU MOBO RAM BANANA (350 if performance gets much cheaper in the next months. i think it could happen? "moor's law" n all = ) how does this law relate to price-for-performance? does the price for performance devide by 2 in 18 months?
=> if i want to play a game on MAX in 2015-17 i will do the same ~500 € upgrade again
ok?
ty <3
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March 13, 2012 8:58:51 PM

Well it is much like that. if you want to spend 350 €, you can probably buy a core i3 + 8GB ram + H61 or H67 mobo + gtx460/HD6850 which they can play most game at high settings and some of them on max. To be honest this system should be fine for 2 years but the 500€ (which would have a better cpu) one might take a bit more (3-4years) with a change of a gpu (maybe Kepler maybe Maxwell).

ps: Keep in mind that new generation consoles are rumored to be out in a 2 years so games (like console ports) should require more resources at that time...
!