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Recommend new video card for Core 2 Duo PC

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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September 12, 2012 4:54:13 PM

Hello, I'm looking at upgrading my video card. Here's the template info:

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: October sometime BUDGET RANGE: $50-200?

USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Playing full settings at 1080p with: Tera Online, Rage, Diablo 3, Dead Island, Alice Madness Returns, Alan Wake, maybe Borderlands 2 or Skyrim soon, etc.

CURRENT GPU AND POWER SUPPLY:
MSI 8800 GT
Corsair HX650 PSU

OTHER RELEVANT SYSTEM SPECS:
ASUS P5Q SE PLUS LGA 775 (PCI Express 2.0)
Intel Core 2 Duo E8500 Wolfdale (at 3.16 GHz, but will soon be overclocking a bit with a new Hyper 212 cooler)
Coolermaster Hyper 212+
Corsair Dominator 4 GB DDR2
Samsung 830 250 GB SSD

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: newegg.com or amazon.com

PARTS PREFERENCES: Highly prefer Nvidia. (Had some pretty bad experiences with broken ATI drivers and hardware. You can throw out any recommendations, but I lean toward Nvidia.)

OVERCLOCKING: No SLI OR CROSSFIRE: No

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1920x1080

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:
I know that after upgrading the 8800 GT, the limiting factor of my system will be the CPU and DDR2. I'm not upgrading the whole system until Haswell in 2013, seeing as I don't play the most demanding games currently (like BF3 or Crysis). But I would like a little new life for this system until then.

I like the looks of the GTX 660 TI, but they look like expensive overkill for a C2D system. And in a year or more when I rebuild, it will probably be outdated and performing like cheaper cards.

So, the trick I need advice for is finding an optimal video card for the current setup, given its limitations. I was thinking of a GTX 560 from EVGA (link) or MSI (link). I like the looks of the MSI cooler better, but of course EVGA warranty is slightly better.

Am I about right for what's optimal in this system? Would you recommend a different video card? Or would it be worth waiting to see if they release a GT 650 TI or GTX 660 in September? Thoughts?
September 13, 2012 1:32:22 AM

Thank you, auntarie. This is kind of confirming what I was thinking.
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a c 259 U Graphics card
September 13, 2012 3:25:59 AM

You can go with a fast card even tho you will experience some CPU bottleneck. You will not get the full benefit from the card's capability, true, but it will still game faster than a card that just meets the CPU's ability. Besides, games that are not CPU limited will benefit from the faster card. And the faster card can always be moved to the new system when you do the major upgrade.

Here are Tom's recommendations for graphic cards: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gaming-graphics-car...
Especially check out the hierarchy chart at the end.
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a b U Graphics card
September 13, 2012 7:57:03 AM

I hope you're not suggesting that the OP should buy a 660ti and pair it with his dual-core because that would just be cruel to both the CPU and GPU :D 
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September 13, 2012 4:36:40 PM

clutchc said:
You can go with a fast card even tho you will experience some CPU bottleneck....


Thanks for the reply, though Tom's articles and charts all assume that I have a modern system with DDR3. Since I am on a Core 2 Duo and DDR2, my "best graphics cards for the money" would be different than that article. I'm concerned paying more for a card may not get enough performance to be worth it. That's the thing I am trying to get a recommendation for.

So, auntarie is suggesting I get a GTX 650 which looked like a match for the system. Are you saying a GTX 660, 660 TI, or something more would perform better enough in my system and games to be worth the extra $$$?


560 -- $177
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

660 -- $237 (+$60 over the 560)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

660 ti -- $300 (+$120 over the 560)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


What model (listed or not listed above) is the sweet spot of giving performance at 1080p without being a waste of money on the system?
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a c 259 U Graphics card
September 13, 2012 5:36:50 PM

@killerkow
I would get the fastest card your budget will allow because you mentioned upgrading your whole system in the next year. Unless you want to buy another card at that time, or you want to continue to use a card that was just adequate enough for the C2D, I would suggest getting a card that will match the capability of the new sys you plan to upgrade to. The card isn't going to "go bad" just because it's running on a C2D/DDR2 sys. And if Playing full settings at 1080p is a requirement, then 2GB would be prefered if/when you get into newer more demanding games with high levels of anti-aliasing.

Between the choices you presented, I would opt for the GTX 660 or 660ti with 2GB VRAM if budget permits. If budget doesn't permit, go with the GTX 560 or an HD 6850. But they won't be able to maintain fast frame rates Playing full settings at 1080p in the more demanding games.
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September 13, 2012 11:24:04 PM

Thanks both of you guys. I really appreciate the different advice. Helps me think through it. :D 

A 660 TI wouldn't "go bad" but... for example the GTX 570 over a year ago cost $350+, but now I can get it for $220 and dropping. Expensive cards seem to drop off fast. Playing a 660 TI bottle-necked for a year, I might as well buy a something cheaper until I get around to building a system and Nvidia releases Maxwell, then buy another. Similar $$$ and performance overall.

But you're right, when I turn up the textures, my games need more VRAM. The cheapest 2 GB cards are a low end 550 TI or a 660. Guess I'm leaning toward 660 I can get a little more use out of, and not a disposable 560 now lol
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September 14, 2012 12:26:12 AM

Best answer selected by killerkow.
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