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Computer upgrade questions and priorities

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March 22, 2012 10:35:58 PM

My present system is about 4 years old (some parts older than that). The layout is as follows:

Windows XP Pro
Intel Core2 Duo E6850 3.00 ghz
ASUS mobo
Generica case with stock power supply (I think 450W)
4 GB RAM (no clue on specs)
NVIDIA GeForce 8000 GTX
Western Digital 80 GB HD (most data stored on NAS)
20" Samsung widescreen LCD

I'm looking to upgrade my system a bit at a time throughout the rest of this year, maybe spending a few hundred every other month. Probably do not want to spend more than $600-$800.

I'm assuming I will need:

new mobo and CPU (thinking Core i3-2120 for ~$130)
better power supply
new RAM(?) - assuming I will need this with the new mobo? - probably 4 GB to begin and eventually going up to 8?
new GPU - (thinking of buying one 6850 and eventually adding another in SLI)
a small SSD (80 GB?)

Will these upgrades be worth the money, or will they not be significantly better than what I have now?

If I only do one upgrade at a time, what order should I do them?

Thx!
a c 78 B Homebuilt system
March 23, 2012 12:07:40 AM

First I would get a good case and a good PSU. The HAF 912 and an XFX Pro 650w Core.

That will support an eventual 6850 x 2 if you get to that point.

In the next few months, Intel has some Ivy Bridge processors coming out, so when you get around to the next purchase point after the Case/PSU you can probably look at getting a 3120 instead of a 2120. That should be about 10% better for about the same price.

Any time you upgrade one part of the core you gotta do the whole thing, though, so you will need to get a Gigabyte Z68 1155 motherboard for about 90 and some good RAM like CT2KIT51264BA1339 for about $40 at the same time. That block purchase will probably run you about $300, or $350 if you decide to push for a 34xx processor instead of 31xx (not the worst idea, btw).

By then all the next generation video cards should be released and prices should start to get normalized on things, so you might want to look at a HD 7850 or a GTX 660 instead of the 6850. The new cards are much better than the previous generation in efficiency and I would suggest getting one of the new generation cards if you can. This is unlike, say, upgrading from 5xxx to 6xxx series cards (ATI) or 4xx to 5xx series cards (Nvidia) which for the most part didn't increase people's performance or efficiency very much.

Also, I just wanted to say that another reason I suggested this order is that a major RAM maker just went bankrupt (Elpida) which likely means RAM prices aren't going to stay bargain basement like they have in the last few years. The reduced supply combined with consistent demand will likely mean prices increase.

If you have kept up with the prices of hard drives lately, you should have a pretty good idea of how reduced supply causes increased prices.

If you get a SSD, get it in a 4th round after the case/psu, the processor/motherboard/ram, and 1 video card. You will also want a 128 GB instead of a 64 GB. Maybe you can get by with a 64, but the 128s are just so much better for most people.

With a 64 GB, you only get like 20 GB for programs and there are some games that come close to that. Probably even some that pass it.

20 GBs is going to go to the OS, another 5 or 10 gets you basic stuff like Acrobat Reader, Flash, Chrome, iTunes if you are into that, 7zip, and Libre Office. Another 8 or 12 will be taken up by the page file. BTW, you want at least 10% of a drive's space to be empty for best performance, so that is another 6 GB gone.

By the time you get around to installing a game on there, you may be looking at like 10 GBs left. If you had a 128 GB instead that would be more like 70 GBs left and you can fit all the games you want on there.

I would go with the Crucial M4 128 GB too, btw, if I were you. Crucial and Samsung make the best SSDs from all that I have read.
March 23, 2012 12:01:28 PM

Thanks for the feedback. Based upon my current system, will I see a big jump in performance with these upgrades? I presently play older games mostly, but want the flexibility to play newer ones as they come out.
Related resources
March 23, 2012 12:12:42 PM

Change the Motherboard, the CPU and the RAM and most of all the GPU. If you think the PSU is still reliable you can change it later. How about the HDD? What is the capacity of the HDD?
March 23, 2012 12:35:33 PM

I have an 80 GB primary drive with a 200 GB backup, but also do all my media storage on a NAS. So I don't really any more space, but I do like the idea of a SSD and the performance benefits that come with it.
a b B Homebuilt system
March 23, 2012 1:02:05 PM

+1 to Raiddinn
The 912 is a good deal in the $50.00 range. Fairly quiet and cool. Power supply is a matter of preference. But never scrimp on a cheap one. Always buy 80+ certified
units . Johnny guru rates them so check them out before you buy. A good unit does not have to be expensive.
Without knowing exactly what power supply you have now or how old it is,I would have to say no to using it in your new build.
March 26, 2012 2:06:43 PM

Is there much of a market for used parts? Just curious if I could get a significant discount by buying second hand parts (some people seem to turn over their components pretty regularly!) Is there a safe way to go about doing it? If so, what is the best avenue to take?
a c 78 B Homebuilt system
March 26, 2012 6:00:05 PM

The computer parts market on ebay seems to be pretty strong. From what I can tell, most people get back at least 80% of the value of what a given video card sells for on the market at that time brand new.

Thus if a card costed $100 at the store, it is probably $80 or so used on ebay.

Thus, upgrading isn't too painful most of the time if you just ebay the old thing right away after you upgrade to the new thing.

You aren't going to get nearly the price you paid for something back, usually, because the market price of some thing goes down by a lot in the few years you will have it, but often people get back 50% of the original cost which is not bad after using something for two or three years.
March 26, 2012 6:09:23 PM

conwaysc27 said:
I have an 80 GB primary drive with a 200 GB backup, but also do all my media storage on a NAS. So I don't really any more space, but I do like the idea of a SSD and the performance benefits that come with it.


all about high end computing my computer was built in 2004 the hardware is
AMD FX-60 clocked to 3 GHz
4 rapters 36.4 raid array for performance
AGP PRO 6800 GT clocked to 700 MHz
ASUS A8V deluxe pro motherboard
OCZ 400 MHz memory clocked to 500 MHz
all water cooled still runs top end games today
and in most cases faster than any stock computer pulled off the self today EX: best buy computers true a alienwear 2012 area 51 is faster but not by much
the key is quality and reserch the fact is computers have not gotten much faster in the last 8 years and thay won't until thay make processors faster
a c 78 B Homebuilt system
March 27, 2012 1:43:07 PM

Don't most games require Shader 3.0 now? Dx11 too?

Sure that computer with a video card of some kind can probably compete with OEM computers that have multiple generations old processors and graphics chips actually integrated into the motherboard, but nobody is going to play BF3 on that anyway.

Anything with an i3-2120 or better and a 6770 or better would put out like 5x+ the FPS of that system.

Processors really haven't gotten super amounts faster in the last 8 years, but they have increased in number and that means stuff like anti-viruses can be run in the background without stopping your ability to do other things like play games or run productivity apps.

In terms of gaming, it has been the video card that is the biggest factor and video cards have increased in power exponentially over that same 8 years. You might as well not even try to compare a GTX 680 with a AGP Pro 6800 GT, water cooled or not.

It may be kinda hard to increase the speed of processors much farther than 5 GHZ for technical and financial reasons (OEMs can't make up the couple thousands of dollars price of a Frozen Hydrogen/ Frozen Helium processor cooler in the purchase price of a computer by increasing the cost from $300 to $5300) and its hard to keep the heat down enough otherwise.

They can add more cores relatively easily, though, and the only thing holding that back is that program writers don't know how to write their programs to load balance on multiple cores, or they are unwilling to because it hurts backwards compatibility since not everybody has 4+ cores.
March 28, 2012 5:18:47 PM

Raiddinn said:
Don't most games require Shader 3.0 now? Dx11 too?

Sure that computer with a video card of some kind can probably compete with OEM computers that have multiple generations old processors and graphics chips actually integrated into the motherboard, but nobody is going to play BF3 on that anyway.

Anything with an i3-2120 or better and a 6770 or better would put out like 5x+ the FPS of that system.

Processors really haven't gotten super amounts faster in the last 8 years, but they have increased in number and that means stuff like anti-viruses can be run in the background without stopping your ability to do other things like play games or run productivity apps.

In terms of gaming, it has been the video card that is the biggest factor and video cards have increased in power exponentially over that same 8 years. You might as well not even try to compare a GTX 680 with a AGP Pro 6800 GT, water cooled or not.

It may be kinda hard to increase the speed of processors much farther than 5 GHZ for technical and financial reasons (OEMs can't make up the couple thousands of dollars price of a Frozen Hydrogen/ Frozen Helium processor cooler in the purchase price of a computer by increasing the cost from $300 to $5300) and its hard to keep the heat down enough otherwise.

They can add more cores relatively easily, though, and the only thing holding that back is that program writers don't know how to write their programs to load balance on multiple cores, or they are unwilling to because it hurts backwards compatibility since not everybody has 4+ cores.



well this sounds about right but the GTX 680 will score at 1900 on my bench my card scors 1160 on the same bench as single cards go i would not say that thay have exponetially increased in power in fact its not even twice as good it still takes two cards to achive that. let me explaine somthing to you i am a electronics design engineer working on my phd when i say its about how you bild it i am not making it up, if you use the correct products for your desired goal the system it will last longer than most people would belive, i have some friends that will tell you the same i built all of there systems as well not one of them has ever complained because i got them out of the rut of replacing the computer every two years. in fact
i have built a 3D1 system with duel 6800 cards, that would blow your mind, with what it is capible of doing.

a c 78 B Homebuilt system
March 28, 2012 5:42:52 PM

Well, Passmark scores tested by a 3rd party to both of us have the 6800 GT listed as 408 points and the 6770 listed as 1749.

I don't have a 6770 laying around, but I do have a 6850 which is a small step above that.

How about we agree on a game to benchmark test performance in with your setup vs mine and see who gets more FPS?

I am not OCd, water cooled, or setup with a performance raid array, so this should be a snap for you if it somehow matters more how you engineer your perfect system instead of me just slapping more powerful stuff together as I can acquire it.

You can use either of your system or the 3D1 system for these purposes, whichever you prefer.

I will let you do the blowing away of your mind through FPS figures.
March 28, 2012 5:54:54 PM

ok do you have devil may cry 4 it has desent graphic capabilities and a FPS test bilt in on medium settings at AA set to 4 it scores 72 FPS avarage on low 270 FPS
a c 78 B Homebuilt system
March 28, 2012 8:24:50 PM

I just bought it, I have to download it before I can do the test.
March 28, 2012 8:42:17 PM

ok i am reinstalling now we can set our setting the same and see the results true my system can not max this game but neihter can yours unless you have more than 1 video card
a c 78 B Homebuilt system
March 28, 2012 9:21:24 PM

What I have is in my signature. Just 1 video card, no OCing of anything, stock coolers on all of the parts.

- Edit - My video card doesn't even have a fan on it.

- Edit 2 - The first number it showed right when I clicked Performance Test was 807.xx I didn't see any way to adjust those settings. It dropped back from there to hover around the 250 - 400 range for the next few minutes.

What it said in the bottom left was
Phenom 2 x4 840 Processor
AMD Radeon HD 6800 Series
1280x1024x32 (A2RGB10)
DirectX 9.0c

I restarted the test a couple times and managed to see a number at the very start that was 1100+ for about half a second.

After watching for the street, forest, fire, and plateau though, I got about the following breakdowns
150 - 200 fps = 20%
200 - 250 fps = 35%
250 - 300 fps = 25%
300 + fps = 20%

That was with a dozen browser tabs, 2 programming environments, a word program, a ftp program, a graphics program, sticky notes, and some directories open.

I don't know how to record the video or set it to track any of this stuff by itself so I can post the results directly.

The fire simulation was only under 300 for a total of like 5 seconds combined, mostly 330ish.

The Forest and Plateau maps were the only ones that put me under 200, I got about 150 - 250 on those throughout.

- Edit 3 - I tried it with 8x MSAA instead of none, but it seemed to give about the same FPS numbers on the test, so I don't think that is included in the test.
March 28, 2012 11:09:34 PM

Raiddinn said:
What I have is in my signature. Just 1 video card, no OCing of anything, stock coolers on all of the parts.

- Edit - My video card doesn't even have a fan on it.

- Edit 2 - The first number it showed right when I clicked Performance Test was 807.xx I didn't see any way to adjust those settings. It dropped back from there to hover around the 250 - 400 range for the next few minutes.

What it said in the bottom left was
Phenom 2 x4 840 Processor
AMD Radeon HD 6800 Series
1280x1024x32 (A2RGB10)
DirectX 9.0c

I restarted the test a couple times and managed to see a number at the very start that was 1100+ for about half a second.

After watching for the street, forest, fire, and plateau though, I got about the following breakdowns
150 - 200 fps = 20%
200 - 250 fps = 35%
250 - 300 fps = 25%
300 + fps = 20%

That was with a dozen browser tabs, 2 programming environments, a word program, a ftp program, a graphics program, sticky notes, and some directories open.

I don't know how to record the video or set it to track any of this stuff by itself so I can post the results directly.

The fire simulation was only under 300 for a total of like 5 seconds combined, mostly 330ish.

The Forest and Plateau maps were the only ones that put me under 200, I got about 150 - 250 on those throughout.

- Edit 3 - I tried it with 8x MSAA instead of none, but it seemed to give about the same FPS numbers on the test, so I don't think that is included in the test.


try uping it to 1600 x 1200 and every thing oh high at 8xaa, or for more fun try 2048 x 1600 that is what i mean by high, i gatting 72 fps on medium 1600 x 1200 but on 2048 x 1600 about 32 fps at low 1280 x 1024 i get an average of 270 fps
March 28, 2012 11:25:53 PM

FYI you need to shout down the game and start it agen for the settings to take affect
March 29, 2012 12:08:41 AM

Raiddinn said:
What I have is in my signature. Just 1 video card, no OCing of anything, stock coolers on all of the parts.

- Edit - My video card doesn't even have a fan on it.

- Edit 2 - The first number it showed right when I clicked Performance Test was 807.xx I didn't see any way to adjust those settings. It dropped back from there to hover around the 250 - 400 range for the next few minutes.

What it said in the bottom left was
Phenom 2 x4 840 Processor
AMD Radeon HD 6800 Series
1280x1024x32 (A2RGB10)
DirectX 9.0c

I restarted the test a couple times and managed to see a number at the very start that was 1100+ for about half a second.

After watching for the street, forest, fire, and plateau though, I got about the following breakdowns
150 - 200 fps = 20%
200 - 250 fps = 35%
250 - 300 fps = 25%
300 + fps = 20%

That was with a dozen browser tabs, 2 programming environments, a word program, a ftp program, a graphics program, sticky notes, and some directories open.

I don't know how to record the video or set it to track any of this stuff by itself so I can post the results directly.

The fire simulation was only under 300 for a total of like 5 seconds combined, mostly 330ish.

The Forest and Plateau maps were the only ones that put me under 200, I got about 150 - 250 on those throughout.

- Edit 3 - I tried it with 8x MSAA instead of none, but it seemed to give about the same FPS numbers on the test, so I don't think that is included in the test.



Memory Interface 256-bit
Memory 512 MB
Memory Bandwidth 35.2 GB/sec.
Fill Rate 6.4 billion texels/sec.
Vertices per Second 600 Million
Memory Data Rate 1050 MHz
Pixels per Clock (peak) 16
Textures per Pixel* 16
RAMDACs 400 MHz

here are the stock settings of this video card without o-clocking
a c 78 B Homebuilt system
March 29, 2012 12:50:43 AM

You will have to test at my resolution because, along with a lot of other stuff, my monitor sucks. It is an old 19 inch and can't do 1600 x 1200 or 2048 x 1600.
March 29, 2012 5:40:53 PM

well at low res almost any comp can do well or even decent at gameing, jist ask my kids, that's how thay play, but under stand that at 1024 x 768 is the same as 1080p on a telivison, so really you have been playing at or jist above a playstation 3 or xbox 360 system. you really havent been seeing the true ability of a comp, there are a lot of graphics that do not get rendered at low res.
March 29, 2012 5:51:50 PM

Raiddinn said:
You will have to test at my resolution because, along with a lot of other stuff, my monitor sucks. It is an old 19 inch and can't do 1600 x 1200 or 2048 x 1600.


back to your question at 1280 x 1024 i have a average of 270 fps at all high 8x aa jist add up all 4 scores and divide by 4 to get your average, try looking at high res. monitors the price will surprise you, there not cheep. but with one, all of your old games, at high res will be a new experience for you, you will not believe your eyes.
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