I'm looking to achieve better graphics for my games (like Black Mesa, Guild Wars 2, Skyrim).
I'm not sure if I should upgrade one or the other. There are waaaaaaaaaaaay too many choices and ups and downs to each item.
I think I need a new GPU, because my 9400 is from 2008; I also read that 9400 isn't a good gaming card and that it bottleneck's decent processors. When I run a game in low graphics, I gain frames - When I lower the resolution from 1600x900 to 1360x768 (in Guild Wars) I gain some frames.
I may have overclocked my CPU before; it's running at 3.0 Ghz, when it's default is 2.8 Ghz. I can run most anything rather quickly. Things like opening windows, browsers, load times, and movies all load fast.
I've done a lot of research to explore my possibilities, but it's hard to find a cookie-cutter answer.
I've read it said that if frames are gained when graphics are lowered, then it is a GPU issue. Then I read something about... another test to check to see if there is a CPU issue. Though, I cannot recall the facts.
Now, what I'm thinking... is that my CPU is alright, it's Dual Core @ 3.0Ghz - runs all my games well on low/med graphics, lags on high graphics. Moreover, my GPU used to be a good one - but from what I've gathered, it's not that compelling of a video card.
What I'm interested in is considering either upgrading the CPU or GPU.
I have some products in mind:
I'll be continually checking this page for replies, so be thorough. Note that I'm not rolling in dough or able to buy high-end or "latest" products. For instance, if my 2008 Athlon 64 X2 processor model is working strong enough, then it's age isn't a major hindrance. Then again, picking up a video card from '09 or '10 that is a great improvement is well worth the effect.
Right now running Guild Wars 2 in 1360x768, with medium shadows and medium shaders, medium textures, and Native rendering (as opposed to the lesser Subsample and the greater Supersample) I'm getting about 18-26 fps out in the open world. It drops to like 13-18, or so, in populated cities. I could run more tests.
The first thing I would upgrade is the graphics. That Athlon is not going to give you much of an upgrade. You may as well just get a nicer GPU, like a Radeon HD7750. Then I would save for a nice GPU, like a AMD 965 Black Edition.
Do you have any friends with older graphics cards, like 8800GT's?
Man, I could just mail you my old 9800GTX if you want. It plays games great. I bought it for $50, but if you want, I will just send it to you for free if you are in the states.
That being said, I have no idea how to send stuff.
Well, you could upgrade the CPU to something nice, like a Phenom II 965.
I actually mistyped my first post about the 9800GTX, its actually the 9800GTX+, the mechanical equivalent to the Nvidia GTS250.
Awesome, I live in California too!
EDIT: I think that a GPU upgrade would benefit more over a mediocre CPU and GPU upgrade. If you want this card, its yours. I will clean it of dust first. It was confirmed working yesterday on my test bench. Then you would be able to afford a nice CPU, like the 965.
I have a 965 actually, it was the first processor I built with. Its gone through massive overheating, serious overclocking, and bent processor pins. It still runs to this day, and I love it. Runs alongside my 6950.
What do I think of your CPU? Well, I have an Athlon x2 4600+, and that plays everything I've tried on it, but it is a bit old.