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Upgrading budget computer's graphics card for gaming, $100-150 budget

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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June 12, 2012 1:41:21 AM

My main interest here is playing games on my HDTV at 1080 or 720 resolution. Don't need to be at maxed out settings or anything like that, but in the case of games that also have console versions I'd like to be able to make them at least look nicer than they would if I bought them for my PS3 instead.

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Now or in the next few weeks, ideally.

BUDGET RANGE: Less than $150, if possible for what I'm after.

USAGE: Games, word processing with speech recognition software, internet browsing. Interested in games such Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Crysis series, Skyrim, Warhammer: Space Marine, grand strategy games (e.g. Victoria II, Europa Universalis)

CURRENT GPU: GeForce 9400 GT

POWER SUPPLY: Orion 585 Watt Power Supply

MOTHERBOARD: Asus M2N68-CM

CPU: Currently Athlon 7750, 2.7 GHz dual core. However, I am also strongly considering upgrading my CPU, most likely to the AMD Phenom II 955 (quad core, 3.2 GHz), so suggestions for cards to go with the latter processor are equally relevant.

RAM: 4 gigabytes DDRAM2 PC2-6400

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: newegg.com or amazon.com, just for familiarity, but don't have a strong preference

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: United States of America

PARTS PREFERENCES: None in particular

OVERCLOCKING: No (Fine if it's done by the vendor, not something I'd attempt myself)

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: No

MONITOR RESOLUTION: Main monitor is 1280x1024, also have a 1920x1080 HDTV I play games on

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS

1. My ears are a bit oversensitive, so less fan noise would be a benefit. Would probably pay a little more for the sake of a less noisy cooling system, though more noise isn't an absolute dealbreaker.

2. Not essential, but a variety of connection types minimizing the need for adapters would be convenient and money-saving- I use two monitors, one with a DVI connection and the other VGA, and a TV with an HDMI connection.

3. My residence can get pretty warm in the summer, and I don't like to have the air conditioning on while playing a game because of the racket it makes. It's not pass-out-from-heatstroke-hot, but it's often uncomfortably hotter than typical room temperature. I don't know enough about heating and cooling to know how much effect that has, but wanted to mention it.

More about : upgrading budget computer graphics card gaming 100 150 budget

a b U Graphics card
June 12, 2012 2:03:30 AM

^Note that that's a crippled, lame 460 with a 192-bit memory interface. A 7770's roughly equivalent in performance to a real 460, though, and costs around the same.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Don't bother with the CPU upgrade for now. The 955 isn't worth it. Wait a while and then do a full upgrade on everything.
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June 12, 2012 2:20:37 AM

Get a 6850 or a GTX 460. Both are much better than the 7770.
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a b U Graphics card
June 12, 2012 2:25:44 AM

Oh, so they are. Oops.
You just can't get a proper 256-bit 460 these days at a reasonable price. The 6850's the only option.
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Best solution

June 12, 2012 3:15:59 AM

Since you are noise sensitive, than I would suggest aftermarket cooling GPUs... Unluckily they are both above your budget by $10.
$159.99 after mail-in rebate card
HIS 6870 AMD solution ^_^ Probably the better solution.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

$159.99 after mail-in rebate card
Gigabyte GTX560 Nvidia solution
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Here is a performance comparison chart from AnandTech.
http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/543?vs=540

On a side note, I would suggest turning off anti-aliasing first, instead of lowering resolution if the game feels "laggy".
Also, I believe Nvidia drivers will push the clock speed to maximum at all time when you plug in 2 or more monitors... meaning the fans might be running at high speed regardless. However, I am not quite sure about the "recent" drivers... They might have fixed it? I am NOT quite sure about the AMD side but my HD6950 sounds quiet enough.

Have Fun upgrading your PC~ ^_^
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June 12, 2012 3:20:07 AM

For 10 dollars, a 560 is a good upgrade over a 460. However, I wouldn't recommend HIS, I've heard that they aren't very reliable.
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June 13, 2012 4:22:22 AM

Thanks for all the feedback! After checking out KelvinTy's links, another question: Is the HD 6870 or GTX560 worth the extra $10-20 it costs over the 6850, and if so, is the rest of my computer properly equipped to use one of them? It's a bit more than I initially planned to spend, but not intolerably so, and I wouldn't want to give up a notable difference in performance on an important component I'll be using for several years to save 20 bucks.
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June 14, 2012 2:16:32 AM

Best answer selected by Agent_Flandry.
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June 14, 2012 2:17:54 AM

You might need 2 of them actually.
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