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New graphics card or new build?

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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July 11, 2012 10:02:52 PM

I am considering which would be the better option, a new build (motherboard, CPU, RAM) or a new graphics card? I am a gamer and run 1080p currently playing Crysis, Crysis2, and WoW.

I am interested both in current bang-for-the-buck as well as in a degree of "future-proofing" my system.

Current system:
XPower 780 PSU
XFX i750 motherboard
Intel Q9505 quad core overclocked to 3187 MHz
8 GB DDR2-800 RAM
Windows 7 64-bit
Asus EAH6870/2DI2S/1GD5 overclocked to 1030 core / 1060 RAM


My question: in your opinion, would I get more of a performance boost now from replacing the graphics card, or from replacing the CPU / RAM / motherboard? If card, which would you recommend?

Thanks for your input!

More about : graphics card build

a b U Graphics card
July 11, 2012 10:08:36 PM

That depends slightly on what games you are wishing to play at what resolution, as well as your budget. My guess, however, is that you will see the greatest jump in FPS (in the largest number of games) from a GPU upgrade.
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a b U Graphics card
July 11, 2012 10:09:52 PM

His gpu is a good one his cpu,ram and motherboard are bottlenecking, IMO
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a b U Graphics card
July 11, 2012 10:09:57 PM

One caveat: The highest level GPUs are now PCIe x16 (3.0). Your motherboard will have either PCIe x16 or PCIe x16 (2.0). I'm not sure how that will come into play.
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a b U Graphics card
July 11, 2012 10:14:18 PM

is known that pcie 3.0 is little to no beneficial in gaming than 2.0, just listen to Isaiah4110 but if you want some really future proofing just update your cpu and ram also, next gen is right ahead and gaming will be more tough for the mid section.

http://www.overclock.net/t/1188376/hardwarecanucks-hd-7...
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a b U Graphics card
July 11, 2012 10:18:46 PM

2fast4thetown_down said:
His gpu is a good one his cpu,ram and motherboard are bottlenecking, IMO

That depends on the game. TH has shown in a couple of articles (here's one) that even an Intel Pentium G860 can game well with a high end (AMD Radeon HD 7970) video card. His CPU should be roughly around the same area in the latest Gaming CPU Hierarchy Chart.

The MB, CPU and RAM are definitely dated, but all I'm saying is that it should be simpler, less expensive, and easier to simply upgrade to a new card that could still be used in a future upgrade of the MB, CPU and RAM in a year or two.
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a b U Graphics card
July 12, 2012 4:08:47 PM

But why did you recommend to upgrade his gpu that is terrible advice it is the best part of his build. Why get rid of it? :non: 
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a b U Graphics card
July 12, 2012 5:10:39 PM

2fast4thetown_down said:
But why did you recommend to upgrade his gpu that is terrible advice it is the best part of his build. Why get rid of it? :non: 

His GPU is the newest component in his current rig. That doesn't mean that it is the best part, and it also doesn't mean that it isn't the bottleneck.

If the OP is playing/wanting to play older or less graphically intensive games (Counter Strike (any version), Borderlands, League of Legends, etc.) at 1920x1080 or less then his current setup is likely adequate. If he is experiencing any issues in that situation then he either needs to install updated drivers or wipe/re-image his PC to clean it up.

If, however, he is wanting to play newer games then he could very well be experiencing a bottleneck somewhere, and the location of the bottleneck will depend on the game he is playing.

If the game is Starcraft II, or a similarly CPU intensive game then there is a *slight* chance that the CPU/RAM is the bottleneck. I would have a hard time believing this without testing because, even though his CPU is older tech, it is still very capable in today's gaming world. Again, I point to the Gaming CPU Hierarchy Chart. Spend $1000 on a CPU today and it will likely still be around the same level as a $150 CPU 5 years from now in gaming performance. I'm not sure when the OP purchased his current components or how much he spent, but he would be looking at spending around $350-400 on a CPU/RAM/MB upgrade to see any sort of significant gaming improvement.

On the other hand, if the games with which his PC is struggling are newer, graphically intensive games (the majority of newer games fall under this category) like BF3, Metro 2033, Crysis 2, etc., then a GPU upgrade will cost him a lot less and yield a much more tangible gaming performance improvement. Spending, say, $250 on an AMD 7870 or nVidia 560 Ti (448 cores if I remember right) will give him an immediate FPS improvement and won't require a reinstall of Windows. It is a simpler, less expensive upgrade and should be fully transferable to his next build (especially if said build occurs within the next 2 years).


seamus_ar: Just to clarify, you will spend less money right now, see more results, and have a much easier time if you simply upgrade your GPU at this point. The only exception to this is if you are playing CPU intensive games like Starcraft II. If that is the case then you might get better results (though it will still take more of your time and money) from upgrading your CPU, MB, and RAM to a more current Socket 1155/DDR3 setup. I would be happy to give advice that is more specific to your situation if you provide some more details about your gaming situation. i.e. What games are you playing and what is your desired resolution?
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July 12, 2012 5:12:29 PM

I appreciate everyone's input. I am still in the process of deciding in which direction I want to go.

One thing that caused me to start considering this was the move from a 1680 x 1050 to a 1920 x 1080 monitor. This system was quite fast on the smaller monitor but I am getting noticeably slower frame rates on the larger monitor.

I would love to do a complete tech refresh and make an all-new build, but I am not funded for that at this time.
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a b U Graphics card
July 12, 2012 6:28:01 PM

seamus_ar said:
I appreciate everyone's input. I am still in the process of deciding in which direction I want to go.

One thing that caused me to start considering this was the move from a 1680 x 1050 to a 1920 x 1080 monitor. This system was quite fast on the smaller monitor but I am getting noticeably slower frame rates on the larger monitor.

I would love to do a complete tech refresh and make an all-new build, but I am not funded for that at this time.

In what games did you notice the performance drop?
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July 12, 2012 7:22:00 PM

WoW has been the worst....also Crysis and Crysis 2. Although the average framerate probably isn't too bad, in all three of these there are times where the frame rate drops significantly and you are suddenly trying to play a slide-show.
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July 19, 2012 12:58:52 AM

Best answer selected by seamus_ar.
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