I want to do a minor upgrade to the system I currently have. I was thinking about upgrading the memory and video card. Here's what I have currently:
ASUS Sabertooth 990FX motherboard
ASUS Radeon HD 6870 1GB
Antec EarthWatts 750W
AMD Phenom II X6 1100T Black Edition Thuban 3.3GHz
Kingston HyperX T1 Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3
I was thinking of upgrading the video card to either a 7970 HD or a 680/670 gtx. I'm intending to spend ~$400, so the price doesn't matter, just don't know what will be the best choice.
I was also thinking of adding to the memory that I already have with this: G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) 240-Pin DDR3 (cheap on newegg!) However, I'm not really sure if it's worth it or if it will really benefit me at all.
You might be best off with a second HD 6870 in Crossfire. That combo would be pretty nice and would be about a third the cost of the other GPUs. Unless your CPU clock speed is closer to 4.0GHz (overclocked) you will likely bottleneck the HD 7970, GTX 670, or pair of GPUs. They all would give you better gaming frame rates than the single HD 6870, but could be somewhat limited when at high processing demands. Are you at the stock 3.3GHz speed on that X6? Stock or aftermarket CPU cooler?
Don't worry about the memory unless you are seeing memory consumption maxing out. At 8GB you are probably fine.
Good idea about the crossfire, I have another question, however (I'm new at this), can you tell me how/why a higher end (7970/670) video card would bottleneck? And what would be an example of a high processing demand?
Also, if you saw what dxventimiglia posted, he recommended the AMD FX-4170 Zambezi 4.2GHz...so to both you guys, if you don't mind, how would this increase my performance as well? Is there a benefit to a quad core as opposed to 6 cores? and I supposed it being at 4.2 GHz is a huge benefit as well?
As mentioned, I'm completely new at this and trying to learn what and why to do things, I appreciate any advice!!
AMD processors need high clock speeds to reduce the bottleneck from high GPU loads. Intel processors have a clear advantage here with better clock-for-clock performance. In high video processing demands (high detail at resolutions past a single monitor at 1920x1200) you COULD tax the CPU to the point it will be your bottleneck. Six cores versus four is less relevant than clock speed. I would keep the X6 and overclock by simply turning up the multiplier. The FX-4170 would get clock speeds up nicely, but sacrafices cores (modules). There are a LOT of overclocking guides for your CPU (Google is your friend).
IMHO the cheapest upgrade, and possibly best, would be to overclock the X6 and add a second HD 6870.