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Upgrading GTS 250, $120-$200 budget

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September 8, 2012 2:22:16 AM

Hello! Looking to upgrade my old GTS 250. Please see below:

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: This week
BUDGET RANGE: USD $120-$200 (under $200 would be great. Is under $150 possible? :whistle:  ) Before / After Rebates

USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming, art/music programs. Examples such as: Metro 2033, Skyrim, Max Payne 3, Sleeping Dogs, Mafia 2, etc. Mostly newer titles. I can run some older games at "high" settings, but the majority of new titles I have to turn many graphic features off (settings to medium) and run the games in 1600x900, (native resolution is 1920x1080) in order to get acceptable performance.

CURRENT GPU AND POWER SUPPLY: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

OTHER RELEVANT SYSTEM SPECS: Please see above link. This is a direct list of the prebuilt machine that was purchased. The only change that has been made is upgrading to 12GB RAM.

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Newegg, TigerDirect, Amazon, etc.

PARTS PREFERENCES: Nvidia (most familiar), PhysX compatible, Asus

OVERCLOCKING: Maybe (unfamiliar, would rather not)
SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Maybe

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1920x1080

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: This was our first computer. In order to keep it within budget, we had to purchase it with a card that we knew was sub-par (or would be within a couple of years. It was bought in 2010.). We've known since we got the PC that the card needed to be updated - and now that we have the money to do so, we are hoping it will be as enjoyable and headache-free as possible. Thanks in advance!

(edited for clarity)
a c 103 U Graphics card
September 8, 2012 5:08:23 AM

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

this card would do you well....its on the high end of your budget ($190 AR) but you wont regret spending a little more..the GPU has the greatest affect on game performance over any other component in the system that is something I would not want to skimp on if you do you will be disappointed.
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September 8, 2012 5:16:32 AM

I recommend waiting for the GTX 650 Ti. It should be out this month.
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a b U Graphics card
September 8, 2012 5:42:57 AM

For your budget the HD 7850 is the best card you can get.If you really wan't a good Nvidia card for that price you should take a look at this card.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
It's a bit faster than a HD 7850 but it will be a lot louder and will consume two times more power.
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a c 92 U Graphics card
September 8, 2012 5:59:24 AM

the 7850 is probably the best card for that price range.
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September 8, 2012 6:08:22 AM

Wait for the 650 Ti to be released, see how much it costs, and see if it's a better bang for the buck than the 7850. Then you can decide which one to buy.
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a b U Graphics card
September 8, 2012 6:53:30 AM

First I would like to address physx. If you look it up on wikipedia, you will find a sad list of
games that use it and a link at the bottom of the page to nvidia's physx page with a similar
list. It isn't used in many games and likely won't be due to vendor exclusiveness. (Devs)
would alienate 40% of their target audience by releasing a game that can't be realized as
they intended it on the customer's hardware. It also adds development time and delays
release further inhibiting profit. Metro is the only game you mentioned that has physx and
no card in this price range will allow you to enable it and remain playable. (developers)

That said, there is a far less expensive card that could show you double performance over
your gts250 and allow you to play games at 1080p on high/ultra. That card is the hd7770.

http://hardocp.com/article/2012/02/14/xfx_r7770_black_e...

In February, hardocp showed that a mildy overclocked xfx 7770 could provide the same
gameplay experience as both hd6870 and gtx560ti. That was with the launch drivers.
Newer drivers in the last few months have boosted performance even higher.
(hd6870 is twice as fast as gts250, gtx560ti is even faster)

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

This HIS model sports a reference style cooler that works well at keeping the gpu cool
while doing so quietly and should allow for a nice little overclock. IT comes in at a tidy
104.99 after 15 dollar mail in rebate and free shipping. I know you said you didn't plan
to do any overclocking, but these new 28nm gpus from both amd and nvidia positively
beg to be overclocked. Google some guides, take notes, proceed carefully and you should
safely achieve an overclock that is both stable for the long haul and very satisfying.

Edit: about waiting on gtx650ti...

the oem gtx660 is about on par with hd7850 but it is an oem card and not available for
sale at retail. The gtx650ti will be basically the same as gt640 except for faster gddr5
memory. It will only match the 7770 at best and will likely be priced higher. That is if
gt640 and hd7750 price/performance are anything to go by. hope this helps.
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a c 92 U Graphics card
September 8, 2012 7:57:10 AM

no point in waiting for the 650 ti since performace will most likely be at the level of the 7750. If the 660 launches in the next month or so, it might be an ok card but its performance and price is still unconfirmed, it will most likely be only slightly faster than the 7850 but cost more.
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September 8, 2012 11:30:21 AM

Thank you all for the clear, helpful advice. We would like to stick with Nvidia, but the Zotac brand seems to run hot based on the Newegg reviews. Do you suppose that would be a problem?

I do hear good things about Asus, and have had virtually no issues with my laptop from them. What do you all think of this card?

http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/searchtools/ite...

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a c 92 U Graphics card
September 9, 2012 12:17:13 AM

550 tis are really horrible for their price. basically nothing really good from nvidia from your price range. The best you can do with nvidia is a 560 ti.
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September 15, 2012 9:55:14 PM

Update:

Well after much debate, we did get the Zotac card, mentioned above:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

The person whom I paid to install the card (was apprehensive about doing it myself, honestly) used the drivers from the included CD. After about three minutes of the "Sleeping Dogs" demo, the screen went black and the PC had to be hard reset. It appeared to be running, but I had no picture. Cue panic. I figured it was due to outdated drivers, so I updated them from the Nvidia website. The same thing happened WHILE updating to the new drivers. Cue heart attack. I did do a clean install.

I took it back to the shop, after a long and frustrating phone call. They actually asked if it was the fact that I was using an HDMI input to connect to a TV that black-screened me? (Seriously?!) I explained that while I had used the VGA output on the old 250 card to the TV, the new card did come with a mini-HDMI converter and I would prefer to use that. Furthermore, I have a 360 and PS3 using HDMI ports on the TV without issue. They then asked me what brand my TV was, was it a conflict, etc. After several long, long minutes of this conversation, I went back to the shop (now "after hours", mind) and did my own "troubleshooting" (which, I suppose I could have saved $40 + gas!) for about an hour and a half. I tried Metro 2033, Dead Island, Painkiller, and Sleeping Dogs again. All ran pretty well, from what I could see in a few minutes anyway. Except SD had the black-screen issue a second time in front of them. They seemed to have no clue what the cause might be. (!!)

I did try to update my "Windows Experience Index" rating to see if I could determine the cause of the black-screen. It did it AGAIN, on testing something regarding "3D ALU". I believe that's what it said on-screen. I am sure more knowledgeable types would be able to translate that. I was then faced with the decision of having the shop put my old card in, or leave the new one. They offered to "further troubleshoot" for $75, and in the meantime "I could play my old games instead". Just, y'know. Not one which I specifically got the card for.

That being said, I decided to leave and visit Geek Squad at my local Best Buy. Luckily, I was assisted by someone who knew what they were talking about. I recounted my awful day to him, and he offered to hook the PC up right there and see if he could sort anything out. At no charge, even.

Turns out this card needs a different power supply. (Why didn't the former shop suggest that? Who knows.) He suggested this one:

http://www.bestbuy.com/site/Corsair+-+Gaming+Series+700...

He wrote down "Corsair 700watt 58amp on 12v" on a scrap of paper for me, which I hope translates to the above link. And in the meantime, I could underclock the card to avoid the black-screening (which I assume is something normal done to avoid damage to the hardware, etc). He did suggest Tom's Hardware forums for instructions on how to proceed, and brought up Rivatuner as an easy to use program. When I get the new PSU, I can simply reset the card's settings as they were prior to underclocking. (Right? I hope so.)

So, now here are my inevitable questions, oh gracious & patient forum gurus:

1. Why did the HDMI signal stop working? My TV said "Invalid Format" (instead of, say, "No Signal") once the card shut itself off. We were able to get VGA working using an adapter at the shop/Best Buy, but I'm afraid something may be wrong with the HDMI input. I understand about needing a better PSU, but how does that work with the video signal? Wouldn't it still show a black screen? Basically, the HDMI *was* working, then the card shut off, then the screen said what it did. I don't see how the video input has anything to do with the power supply not being enough. I understand the game black-screening, but why does it seem the HDMI suddenly STOP working altogether? I still had audio but no picture.

2. If I underclock this card, is it going to be easy to set it back as it was when I took it out of the box? Furthermore, does anyone know what would be a good threshold to set it at?

3. How easy is it to underclock? I have NO experience with this. I can't afford a new PSU just yet, and want to be able to use my PC with the new card comfortably, without fear of the black screen or any other problems.


If you've made it this far, thanks very much. Apologies for the wall of text.
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a b U Graphics card
September 16, 2012 4:22:04 AM

That corsair gs700 is too much money per amp on the +12v rail. get this:

http://us.ncix.com/products/?sku=59615&vpn=P1550SXXB9&m...

It is a very high quality unit at an amazing price. Here's more info on it at newegg:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

44A(528w) +12v rail, 1pcie 6+2pin and 1pcie 6pin, ball bearing fan(long life), jonnyguru.com recommended.
jonnyguru and hardwaresecrets are pals, and hardwaresecrets knows how to properly evaluate a power supply.

It is 80+ bronze certified like the corsair, too. The corsair is way more than you need and less watts per dollar.

I believe this xfx psu is made by seasonic, as well. Almost all pc parts use +12v power either directly or
indirectly, and the cpu and gpu are by far the biggest culprits. That i7 860 of your is a 95w cpu, and the
gtx560ti is 170w. That is 265w right there or a little over 50% of what the 550w xfx psu can provide. The
optimal efficiency is usally at about 60% usage on a psu. You will still have plenty of extra wattage available
for a cpu and/or gpu upgrade and more drives/usb powered devices in the future. btw, these parts never use
anywhere near their max tdp under normal usage, and never all at the same time.
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September 23, 2012 7:29:23 PM

Thanks very much for the reply. From what I understand, the wattage that we have now is fine. It is a 600w psu, and "looks" to support up to 24A (taking a quick peek at the psu in the case). The reason that the card was shutting itself off is due to not having enough amps in the psu. I think that was why the guy at Best Buy suggested the Corsair model.

One week without issue, save for one time in "Red Faction: Guerrilla" (an older title). Same black screen, same needing to hard reset.

I don't mind to save up and spend a little more on the Corsair IF I know it has sufficient amps to run the card normally. The guy I spoke to assured me of this. Right now it is underclocked @ 75%. Would the one you suggested be suitable in relation to amps as well? The card's box suggests a minimum of 500w, with minimum 12v current rating of 30A.

The case is nearly empty, if that makes a difference. All cables are neatly inside of it, and we have a little desk fan blowing into one of the side vents.

I have seen the card idle between 30-35C at desktop, running "Dead Island" at ~ 70C with all options maxed. Most of our other games are at this temperature range, not really going above 80C.

If you have any questions or need more info, please let me know. Apologies if I sound daft, but I am about as novice as one can get here.
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a b U Graphics card
September 23, 2012 7:59:18 PM

pckitty4427 said:
I recommend waiting for the GTX 650 Ti. It should be out this month.

I agree i would wait for the 650 Ti as well..Op said he wanted to stay with nvidia as well unless he wants to go gtx 660 Non ti either card would work..Not to say the 7850 is a bad card either all personal pref
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a c 92 U Graphics card
September 23, 2012 8:03:40 PM

the 650 ti is going to be slightly faster than a 7770 but cost $30 more.
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a b U Graphics card
September 23, 2012 8:05:20 PM

esrever said:
the 650 ti is going to be slightly faster than a 7770 but cost $30 more.

Thats true..He could go either way
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September 23, 2012 9:25:14 PM

Thanks guys, but the 560 ti has already been purchased. I am certain we will upgrade to the 650 after a while, but for now it looks like the issue is with the psu. Do you have any info on that? (See a few posts above this.) I figured it would be an upgrade swap and go, but...that's why I come here.

Thanks in advance!
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a c 173 U Graphics card
September 23, 2012 10:35:54 PM

Absolutely avoid anything that is weaker than a stock GTX460/560 for 1080p, I would get a 7850 hands down and be happy with it provided that it was a good quality model. Not all are equal but some are noticeably better build quality than most. Look for models that are easy to clean and easy to maintain. Also be sure that it is not a model that would need to be improved by the user.
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a b U Graphics card
September 23, 2012 11:28:04 PM

To all contributors: The zotac gtx560ti has been bought and is in the hands of the OP. What we are dealing with
now is a replacement power supply. Based on current pricing here in the US, I'd go with a corsair cx600 v2:

http://us.ncix.com/products/?sku=60330&vpn=CMPSU-600CXV...

It's currently on back order at ncix, but more are on the way. Here's full specs at newegg(click the details tab) :

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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