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Advice for a graphics card for an old machine

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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October 15, 2012 11:56:50 AM

Hey all,

I am trying to extend the lifetime of my old machine (for gaming) a little by upgrading the video card. Basically the games I play on it are (1) WoW, which doesn't put much strain on things, and (2) World of Tanks, which does. I have a Radeon 5670 in it currently.

I've got a Sonata III case which came with a 500W power supply, and I mean I could look into figuring out how to replace it, but that's taking me a bit out of my comfort zone in terms of hardware.

I have been looking at the power consumption charts for various cards - just looking at Radeon to keep things simple - and I see that I can DEFINITELY put in a 7750. The question I have is whether I could safely use a 7770 instead.

Or whether in fact it's not worth bothering because the CPU or mobo is just going to hold me back. The CPU is an Intel E8400 @ 3Ghz, and the mobo only has PCI-E 2.0 slots.

Any thoughts? Most appreciated! :) 
a b U Graphics card
October 15, 2012 1:13:45 PM

yup the hd7750 is a better choice. i wouldnt risk putting the hd7770 in with that psu. even though it states 500 watt i doubt it delivers any more than 250 watt. more than the watt though its the amps on 12v rail thats important which is printed on a sticker on your power supply. i suggest you go for hd7750 and dont risk putting in hd7770 unless you are willing to upgrade your psu.
also the hd7750 which is also the card i own is good for upto 1680*1050 without any problems though i use it at 1440*900.
so get a 7750 and have fun with it !!
October 15, 2012 2:33:23 PM

Thanks Mohit! :) 
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October 15, 2012 2:57:28 PM

hi mate
the E8400 isnt that old and to be honest its still more than capable of running the latest games..... and your current HD5670 was a frequent card on "best graphic cards for the money" feature ( http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/gaming-graphics-card-revi... ) but has been replaced by the HD6670 which is basically the same but with 80 more stream processors and gddr3 memory ( compared to gddr5 memory on your HD5670 )
this actually makes the HD5670 a better card than the HD6670... however both cards are limited especially if your looking at running your games at higher detail and resolution
the sonata III case is reasonably big case and will accomodate most cards,and your 500w psu should be fine... however this does depend on the brand and the ampages on the +12v rails...... a corsair,tagan or seasonic 500w psu would be fine... but if its a generic/budget psu then you cant be sure it will deliver the rated 500w power so a psu upgrade would be in order
as for a graphic card for your pc then the "radeon HD7750" is a good choice... its currently the most powerful card that does not require a additional 6pin/8pin pci-e power connector and can draw enough power from the pci-express x16 bus....
in the nvidia camp the "GTX650"( http://www.aria.co.uk/Products/Components/Graphics+Card... ) ... these are popular cards with alot of performance for the price.... however you do need a 6pin power connector and a 450w or better psu.... that said even if your psu has no 6pin connectors you can use the bundled molex to 6pin adapter which will work fine
the HD7770 should be fine and again you will get a molex to 6pin adapter with this card.... however as with all these cards ( except for the HD7750) your psu is the limiting factor ..... 500w psu,s come in all shapes and sizes.... ive seen 500w psu,s that are absolute tripe... with 13A total and dodgy looking components i wouldnt trust these with a pentium 4 never mind a core 2 duo
but then theres corsair,ocz and seasonic 500w psu,s .... these are solid and reliable and will safely power any of the above cards..... and they have healthy +12v rails with plenty of ampage.....
one of the best deals at the moment is the "500W OCZ CoreXStream 80PLUS Power Supply "( http://www.aria.co.uk/Products/Components/Power+Supplie... ) with 38A over 2 x +12v rails and 2 x pci-express power connectors ( 1 x 6pin and 1 x 8pin(6+2) )..... this will power any of the above cards.. infact its enough to power cards such as the GTX660ti or the radeon HD7850.......
in summary ( and considering bottlenecks ) i would go with the GTX650 .... this is a impressive card and would work well with the E8400..... the model i recommend is the "SPARKLE GeForce GTX 650 OC 1024MB GDDR5 PCI-Express Graphics Card "( http://www.aria.co.uk/Products/Components/Graphics+Card... ) ..... excellent card and retails for just £85.....
hope this helps
a b U Graphics card
October 15, 2012 3:46:07 PM

Hey there,

Honestly, the 7750 may not be enough of an upgrade over the 5670 to make it worthwhile - particularly on an older PC.

Can you overclock your E8400? That might give you a little more life out of it.

Are you planning to build your next PC soon? If so, a new power supply and 7770 are a good path - since they could transition to the new pc. If not, I wouldn't spend more than I have to on the upgrade. Upgrading the power supply is very easy - you just plug it in to the same plugs as the old one.

You haven't told us what resolution monitor you are gaming on. That's important.

Also you should read the specs on the power supply and post them.
a b U Graphics card
October 15, 2012 3:53:38 PM

Antec normally bundles nice Antec TruPower PSUs with their Sonata cases. So I would imagine you have a good power supply already. If so, you should be set to run most of the newer cards, even up to like a 7950 or GTX660 Ti.

E8400 was one of the fastest Core 2 Duos and still performs about like Intel's G630's. Tom's used one of those in their budget gaming system build article and it worked very well for most games.

So what's your budget? 7850 and 7870 are probably the sweet spot in terms of bang for the buck just as a general recommendation.
October 16, 2012 6:22:06 PM

Hey wow, more replies! I thought I had mail notification on but obviously not. Thanks all!! :) 

Budget: let's say $170 US before taxes? (I'm in Canada, so there's a bit of conversion, plus 13% tax) I'm very much of the inclination to try to pick what gives good value per dollar.

I would like to try to eke out another year or so of play on this machine if I can manage it. The ONLY things I'm playing on it are the games I mentioned. And web-surfing which obviously is no stress on anything.

- Clearly I need to pop open the case again and verify that I have that the power supply is the Antec TruPower one, and look up its specs. I never replaced it so I assume so. Is it difficult to actually measure the current output of the power supply? Could it have degraded over time? And I'd better check about those 6pin connectors.

- Overclocking. It's something I miiiight be able to do but I'm uneasy about it. I put this machine together myself and putting on the thermal paste and CPU were extremely stressful for me. Very (very) occasionally the machine locks up and I have reset it.

- Resolution. Well I have a nice 23" or 24" monitor (I was going to get a smaller one but it was out of stock, so...) and I actually had the resolution in World Of Tanks cranked up to 1920 x 1080. :o  I've since reduced it to 1600x900 but even that now looks fuzzy to me.

So it may very well be that I was trying to run the game on way more than my machine could handle. But hit "recommended settings" and the game tries to crank everything to max... stupid game.
a b U Graphics card
October 16, 2012 7:18:45 PM

For $170, I'd try to find a good deal on a Radeon 7850. If you can't find one under budget, try a Radeon 6870 or GTX 650 Ti as the next best alternative.

a b U Graphics card
October 16, 2012 7:47:29 PM

My quick thought, reflecting my earlier comment, is that a $170 card is only worth it if you plan to keep it for the next PC. The C2D will likely struggle to keep up with that card. That 7770 thrown out above would be more appropriate (read: less overkill) for your build, assuming you have the truepower in there.

The e8400 was a very strong overclocking processor, easily reaching 3.6-3.8ghz for many. Since its old anyway -- you have very little to lose in overclocking it now. There are literally hundreds of articles and discussions on toms about overclocking it.

Could pick up a relatively cheap custom CPU cooler (if you do not already have) reapply paste, and bump it up a few notches.
a c 172 U Graphics card
October 16, 2012 7:52:17 PM

A generic 500w typically handles a 9800gt or a 5770 just fine as both cards are roughly the same consumption so a 7770 won't cause any real issues. The 1-1.2ghz 7770 will push 90w but at idle it is very low. You can get a decent unit pretty cheap these days but most will be over $50-75 minimum.
October 16, 2012 7:57:04 PM

actualy brand psu its not always a factor, i see etasis 850 break up in 2 months with 8800 gtx ultra, and i see 450 no name watt psu running a 8800 gtx ulta for 4 years now and still going sometimes a brand dont solve nothing......
October 16, 2012 8:40:38 PM

I would agree with HD 7850.. An upgrade from 5670 to 7750 is not much of an upgrade.. it would be a waste of money. You can bring the 7850 to your next computer unlike the 7750 who would be outdated very quickly. Right now it can't play 1080p on high games. Don't worry about bottlenecks too much, i've seen a pentium d running a 7750 and their is about 20-30% performance loss in some games however an e8400 would bottleneck the 7850 but maybe just a little. Some games depend on gpu so much that it can perform almost the same as a i7. See this benchmark below. A e8400 with HD 7970. Its in german. Translate it

http://www.ocaholic.ch/xoops/html/modules/smartsection/...
a b U Graphics card
October 16, 2012 8:59:03 PM

Again, e8400 is not that bad. It was one of the fastest dual cores from the Socket 775 days. It's competitive with the Sandy Bridge Pentium G600 series which many people recommend as a good low budget gaming processor.

http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/56?vs=406

I agree the PSU doesn't HAVE to be an Antec or high end to be usable, I was just throwing that out for those that were suggesting it is probably crap. Antec normally bundles good Antec PSu with their cases.

Even if it would be overkill, I'd rather spend a little more on something I can use for a few years than spend less on something I want to upgrade in 1.


October 16, 2012 11:57:42 PM

Ok, the power supply is the Earthwatts EA-500D. The specs (here: http://www.antec.com/pdf/flyers/EA500D_flyer_EN.pdf) say "+12V1, 12V2 Maximum combined output: 444W" but I don't know if that is the key figure or not?

As far as video cards go, if it is something which would still be serviceable on my next machine, I think that's a plus. I just don't (didn't) know enough about for which cards my machine would be a bottleneck.
a b U Graphics card
October 17, 2012 12:19:14 PM

ccamfield said:
Ok, the power supply is the Earthwatts EA-500D. The specs (here: http://www.antec.com/pdf/flyers/EA500D_flyer_EN.pdf) say "+12V1, 12V2 Maximum combined output: 444W" but I don't know if that is the key figure or not?

As far as video cards go, if it is something which would still be serviceable on my next machine, I think that's a plus. I just don't (didn't) know enough about for which cards my machine would be a bottleneck.


EXCELLENT. This is a GREAT power supply. You are good with any single card. If you can use the card in your next machine, price is the only thing holding you back from overkill.

There will be some instances in which maxing out your budget($170 card) will give you better performance, and there will be some instances in which your processor holds you back to the level of a cheaper graphic card ($130 card) anyway.

Edit: And get this $34 Hyper 212 to overclock:
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1683...
October 18, 2012 12:06:10 AM

Ok, so... does that really mean "any"? :) 

I went to the store this evening looking for a 7850, but they didn't have any base 7850s. They did, however, have the Sapphire 7850 OC - a bit out of my listed budget range at least up here in Canada, but oh well. Am I likely to be able to run it? It looks like it only draws minimally more power than the 7850, at least according to this review.

http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Hardware/Reviews/Sapp...
!