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Graphics card suggestion on old system

I was wondering if I could get some advice on an old-old system. I am just looking to slightly bump the graphics card to get by for a few months for minimum specs for Guild Wars 2 in the next few months.

I think they had said they were shooting for a smooth experience on a mid-level PC and I think we a bit better graphics card I could squeeze in for the time being. I know I should scrap the whole thing but would like to try this route first if possible with some help.

Ultimately I would like to custom build a PC with good parts that allow overclocking and some tweaking. Historically I have just bought "pre-built" systems from like Best Buy, etc and I have always wanted to build a "killer" rig or at least in the higher end instead of the mid to low end.

I have done a lot of reading about the video card exceeding what the CPU is capable of and thus bottle-necking which I am wondering about in this scenario.

My question is how much of a performance hit would it take? I couldn't find anything really that explained it, for lack of a better word, thoroughly. There's some good articles but it seemed like experience and understanding seemed to be the best way to find the answer and I don't have that experience and understanding at this point.

What I was looking to do was replace my old EVGA 8600 GT with a MSI 6670 1GB DDR5 or possibly a EVGA GTX 550 Ti 1GB. I know the latter and probably both are complete overkill but the price difference was only about $35 dollars between the two at Best Buy on sale but I think the 550 is twice as fast at least? I do have the PCI-E 16x slot and the power as well as the 6-pin connector for the bigger card.

I guess my main question is the performance decrease and would one or other make more sense or a completely different one altogether. I don't mind the lower resolutions on gaming of that's what it takes to make a go of it.

My specs are as follows (don't laugh):
Monitor: 23" HP 1920x1200
Motherboard: ASUS M3A
CPU: Phenom II x4 9550
Heatsink: Artic Cooling 64 Freezer Pro
Memory: Super Talent DDR2-800 PC 6400 4GB (2x2GB) kit CL5
Hard Drive: Western Digital 1TB (Black)
Video Card: EVGA 8600 GT
Power Supply: RaidMax ATX12V 500W (RX-500S)

I tried to overclock it a bit but it seems really limited and I have no experience with it. I tried to follow an article on overclocking and one of the first steps was to lower the CPU multiplier and HT multiplier to 5 and then start increasing the FSB from 200 in increments from 2% to 5%.

I was able to get to 230 before it wouldn't boot. Then I tried to lower my HT multiplier to 4 but it still wouldn't boot. I figured that was max for the motherboard.

I didn't know where to go from there since the CPU multiplier only goes from like 11x down to like 8x BUT not up. Also the HT multiplier only goes down to 4x.

The article suggested things that either just weren't in the BIOS (like motherboard voltage?) or were out of range of what the BIOS could do.

Any help or suggestions would be great. Thanks and have a great evening.
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  1. Best answer
    The 550ti is faster than a 6670: http://www.gpureview.com/show_cards.php?card1=647&card2=654

    DO NOT BUY A CARD FROM BEST BUY. You will pay WAY more. Use an online site. Newegg is by far the most used by people around here and is very reliable and quick to ship and has very good prices.

    For the 550ti, here are some good cards:
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814127649
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814130625 - EVGA is the best Nvidia brand and that model is factory overclocked

    Radeon 6700 series (Much better than the 6670 you suggested):
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814161379
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814150540 - Lifetime Warranty. Also a 6770 so more shaders and high clocks.

    Here's the comparison for a 550ti and 6770, showing they are much closer in performance: http://www.gpureview.com/show_cards.php?card1=647&card2=658

    550ti has higher bandwidth and more ROP's so it can push a few more pixels (higher resolutions).
  2. that comparison was horrible it doesn't even show any performance.

    the 6770 is comparible to the 550ti and they are generally the same in terms of performance.

    I'd suggest the 6670 as it is probably more reasonable give your system. Your system will not have proper overclocking options if you are on a prebuilt system.
  3. Yeah well that's the first site that popped up and you can tell the performance generally by looking at the pixel fillrate. They will be about the same in terms of FPS, especially since the 550ti has fewer texture units and has fewer shaders (in terms of Nvidia's architecture vs AMD's, the 550ti still is choked) while still having more ROPs.
  4. Here this shows the comparison in Aliens vs Predators @1080p: http://www.hwcompare.com/9713/geforce-gtx-550-ti-vs-radeon-hd-6770-1gb/
  5. I appreciate the advice. I was comparing apples to oranges! Is it silly to put one of those cards in the system for the time being and will the processor handle it ok, mostly? I guess that's where I keep wondering if I put a card into the system that is only going to get 50% performance because the CPU is going to bottleneck it so bad that it's not worth spending anything except a lower intro card. I am not sure how to word that.

    Also when I did that slight overclock (11 x 225 = 2.475) and ran Prime95 it was hot (around 60C) but when I returned it to the stock settings and ran Prime95 again it was still hot (around 60C). I keep it pretty cool in my house (around mid 60s) through the winter.

    My question is that heat sink a bad one? I popped it off at lunch and it looked like it had good coverage on the CPU and heatsink. Pretty much corner to corner except the very far corner tips and none flowing off the sides.

    I basically followed the manufacturers instructions for Phenom x4 processors off there site (Artic Silver 5 thermal paste) and did a slight "glaze" with a latex glove (I didn't use a credit card) to fill in the "pits" on both the heat sink and CPU. Then I wiped off the minute excess with a coffee filter (closet thing to a lint free cloth suggested on another site). There description was it will still look a bit discolored due to the paste filling in the cracks. Then I put a rice/BB sized amount in the center of the chip and secured the CPU.

    I think that processor is 95W but it doesn't seem to make much of a difference whether it's the stock or the Artic Cooling one. Does that processor just run to hot or am I installing the heat sink/paste improperly?

    Do you have any suggestions on where to start looking at what hardware is good to buy? I basically just lurk and read what others are buying but is there like some guides on suggestions or current hardware that does a good job overclocking.

    When I think of the whole thing it comes across daunting and I am just looking to start out and ease into it. Hence the band-aid until I can understand, put together a list and make an order. I have mostly used AMD processors and NVIDIA cards but I am open to either really. It's always that getting started that's difficult but I enjoy the time tinkering.
  6. Your CPU will not bottleneck a 500ti or 6770.

    To put paste on the CPU is one of the most debated things around here. Most prefer the dot in the middle. You did that so you should be fine. 95w CPU's shouldn't be that hot, I have a Core 2 Quad with 95w TDP and it hangs around 50C under load. However, 60C isn't dangerous, and if it was, your CPU would throttle itself. Plus my temps are pretty low since I have 2 fans directly around my heatsink (which is a downward blower type stock heatsink) pulling air away, and the CPU fan is RIGHT below a top fan mount which I left bare to let it pull cool air into the case to cool itself. Then 1 top exhaust fan and 1 rear exhaust plus 1 front intake.

    Right now running Folding@Home I'm currently at 50/40/45/47 for my cores.
  7. prime will always push your cpu to high temperatures if you are on a stock fan, 60C is fine.

    for you I'd suggest getting a 6670 or 6770 and thats about all. ddr2 ram is really expensive now and not worth buying. 4 gb should be enough for now. you will be able to play games on medium to high settings generally depending on the game.

    The system should still be fine for light gaming and general use once you get a new gpu. Once you save up for a substantial upgrade (~$800) you should build a new pc.
  8. As far as temps go I think you're doing about as good as you can get from the cooler. You can always try another case fan to help prevent buildup, but again I think you are ok. Depending on your processor revision I think you have around 70C for max temps.

    I also have to agree with a 6770 for an AMD card. They are a little over $100 and will provide a huge surge in your graphics. You should be able to play most games with mid settings at 1920X1200.
  9. Thank you for all the replies and information. I feel a lot more comfortable now after the help and suggestions.

    I also did read a thread on the numbering of the cards which was extremely helpful and now I look at the cards differently as it makes a little more sense.

    I did notice a lot of controversy on several forums about paste. I suppose depending on personal experience it can make or break suggestions on "best practices". Maybe an air pocket or just the right or wrong twist or a super flat and smooth heat sink/CPU could make one method seem superior than another for that one install. Then I suppose it could make one biased toward one method or shy away from it. Kind of like a each CPU can overclock differently depending on the batch or "materials" used for a specific model.

    Thank you and I will be placing an order today at Newegg and not Best Buy! ;)
  10. Best answer selected by Riverstorm.
  11. This topic has been closed by Mousemonkey
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