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Upgrading GPU, 2x 7900 GTX or newer better card?

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November 18, 2012 5:08:23 PM

Recently decided to upgrade my ageing computer for X3 Rebirth but I'm not sure which would be the bottleneck between the graphics card and CPU. The specs for my comp at the minute are:

Processor:Intel Core 2 Duo E6700 @2.66GHz
Motherboard:p 5N32-SLI SE Deluxe
[http://uk.asus.com/Motherboards/Intel_Socket_775/P5N32S...]

Memory: 2x 1GB DDR2 @ 333MHz
GPU: Nvidea Geforce 7900GTX 512Mb (not sure on power)
Monitor resolution:1600x900

My plan was to first upgrade the RAM to 4 x2gb ddr2 @ 800 MHz as I assumed this was the worst of the three. The other two I'm at a complete loss at, at first I thought buying another of the 7900 and putting in parallel with the one I've got might work [crossfire?]. But I'm not sure whether just buying a newer,better graphics card and replacing it would be better value for performance. Finally I got to site which said that quad core is the way to go, in addition the same site said that ddr2 might actually be the bottleneck, even after putting it up to 8gb total...after this i felt a bit lost whether to buy a new graphics card,CPU or buy a whole new motherboard.

Sorry for the broadness of the question, any help would be greatly appreciated, I was going to put £50 for the memory and up to £200 for the grahpics card/CPU/other.


a b Î Nvidia
November 18, 2012 6:58:22 PM

Previous X games have all been single threaded, meaning they do not really benefit from multi-core CPUs, Rebirth, however will be multi-threaded, and will benefit from a quad core CPU, so your site was correct.
BUT, your current motherboard will only support dual core CPUs:
http://www.asus.com/Motherboards/Intel_Socket_775/P5N32...
From what I've gathered, Rebirth will stick with DX9 graphics, although the detail levals will be ramped up.
Given the age of the system (you said it :)  ) I'd suggest the following:
1; Go for the extra 2Gb of memory. It's usually good practice to install matched modules to reduce problems. Unless you are using a 64 bit operating system, more than 4Gb will simply be wasted, see here:
http://www.techpowerup.com/forums/showthread.php?t=9126...
2: The X games have not been very heavy on graphics (up to now) but the 7900 is getting on a bit, so a bit more clout seems to be in order. I'd suggest something around the HD7770/GTX650Ti leval, much more is going to be held back by the CPU. See here for further help:

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gaming-graphics-car...

3: Get a half decent cooler and overclock the existing CPU: You cannot install a quad core CPU in your existing motherboard and replacing the MB/CPU will, if you purchase new, require new DDR3 memory as well, along with the graphics upgrade this will push you well beyond your budget.
November 19, 2012 9:49:28 AM

Thanks for your advice, and for taking the time to give it :) .

I think ill go for the suggested Graphics card and memory (many thanks!), after a quick bit of searching I do have a 64bit operating system, but i think ill hold off for anything more than 4gb in favour of a complete overhaul; save for a new proccessor and motherboard, i have no idea if it would make a difference anyway.For the MoBo and processor would you have any suggestions?
Related resources
a b Î Nvidia
November 19, 2012 1:47:30 PM

l tend to build every three years and upgrade the graphics once, about halfway through, right now I'm at the halfway point so am a little 'out of the loop' with CPU and motherboard tech.
I suggest you start threads in the Homebuilt and CPU/motherboard Forums, I simply cannot give accurate, precise advice.
When starting your thread do n't forget to specify: Budget, type of case, powersupply make and model, monitor resolution, country of purchase and timeframe.
As a very general guide:
Check the motherboard specs against your needs: You can easily end up with an expensive 'board crammed with features you neither want nor need.
Memory is almost so cheap they're giving it away in Cornflakes packets at the moment so 8Gb is a good idea.
Memory speed has the smallest effect on overall performance of any component in the system, do n't pay too much for clever coolers or the latest superfast stuff; Unless your going to heavily overclock you're paying for features you do n't need.
If you go for another case (good idea) keep it simple, a single exhaust fan and one or two intake fans at the front are plenty.
November 20, 2012 9:31:23 AM

Sound advice, ill go searching for info on MoBo and processors, then post a message.

As to the memory, where do you usually get it? Im finding it hard to get 4GB DDR2 under 50 pounds?

Cheers!
a b Î Nvidia
November 20, 2012 1:27:36 PM

Like this ? ;)  .

http://www.ebuyer.com/164758-corsair-4gb-ddr2-800mhz-me...

There is a great many E-tailers around so when you go shopping here's a few places to start the ball rolling: Overclockers, Aria, Misco, Dabs, Scan, Ebuyer and Misco. Perhaps other posters will enlarge this list for you.
With Christmas, and the inevitable credit card hammering that entails, just around the corner I'd suggest you hold off on a full blown rebuild until next year, but, by all means, do the research and compile a list of parts.
In the meantime, your best bet mght be to drop the extra memory in and add a half decent cooler, (Coolermaster Hyper 212 is decent and cheap) the C2D processors were good overclockers and you might be surprised how much extra performance is just a few BIOS tweaks away.
As for a new graphics card you can:

Go for the 7750 class as suggested. It's a decent upgrade for now but it'll be a restriction in the faster system.

Go for a more potent card, around the HD7850/70 or Nvidia GTX660 mark, they're equal to, or better than the HD6950 I'm using and it's plenty, even at 1920x1080. This will be less of a restriction in the new build ;)  .
This is going to push your total spend to about £200 with the memory. Before you take this route, check the installed powersupply, quite a few of these cards need dual 6-pin PCI-E power connectors and a decent 500Watt unit. If you're not certain, pop off the side panel and either post a photo of the rating label or post the details, Make and model will do but we really need to know the Amps (not Watts) on the +12v line or lines.
November 21, 2012 1:35:37 PM

Once again thanks for your advice (and website), cant tell you how much time and money you have saved me.

A for the grahpics card, im going to go with option 2, it is xmas after all :D , ill go hoking around for the power details. From your description it doesnt sound like it should be to hard to find.
November 24, 2012 2:03:21 PM

I think the power supply is good, after opening the hood I got the following make of power supply:

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

Didn't quite understand a lot of the features, but it does have the the dual 6 pin PCI-E, and the various ampage as seen from the link. Would it be possible to reuse this in a new build,or is this also outdated? I tried looking around for this info but it seems that you need to know your stuff to really compare...

Looking at the sites you suggested for GC's, a leaned towards this one:
http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=GX...

Cheers!
a b Î Nvidia
November 24, 2012 6:30:36 PM

Not the best powersupply ever made but not in the paperweight league either, you'll be fine using it with an new card (truth to tell the 7900 you're using probably uses more power than the replacement you have in mind but I'm just making sure all is well).

The GTX660 and HD7850 trade blows, with neither really having a overall performance advantage but the AMD cards do tend to be a little less expensive so to keep within budget I'd be inclined to suggest this:

http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=GX...

You could carry the existing powersupply over, it depends on your circumstances.
Usually, I'll build a complete new box every three years or so, upgrading the graphics about midway, then sell off the 'old' box, keeping the monitor, or, in the case of my own E6600 setup, donating it to my brother, who now mainly uses it for the 'net and light gaming, perhaps the wife/kids will appreciate their own setup?
November 27, 2012 10:00:37 AM

I think ill upgrade it bit by bit until june, Get the suggested graphics card (cheers!) and then do as you said, visit the other forums after xmas and get advice on power, mobo and processor. Shouldnt be too much of a pain on the bank account over 6 months (perhpas i should invest in a slightly better graphics card for this time span?).

Its unfortunate but the rest of my family are not computer fans so it looks like it (7900) might go to waste. Is there any value in that graphics card? Ive seen some people selling lesser cards (256mb version) on ebay for 80 quid...
a b Î Nvidia
November 27, 2012 1:01:29 PM

My usual tactic!
Hmmmm...
As you have noticed, prices, and performance are incremental, so it's easy to fall into the 'it's only a few quid more' mindset.
If you are going to go ahead with the new build, then yes, step up the card a bit but keep an eye on the budget, and your requirements, this is getting expensive just to play X Rebirth!
As a plan: I'd go for a HD7870, it's faster than my card and I think as expensive as you need to go.
Unless you have an E-bay account I would n't bother, keep the old card as a spare.
November 27, 2012 1:33:44 PM

This one? :

http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=GX...

Was definitly at the top end (budget wise) of what i expected, but i suppose is a good investment.

I thought i might be getting a bit overboard. Although i started thinking upgrade, with your advise and some extra thought as to "what after" x-rebirth, its become more of a new build to last me 6 years (bit longer than your 3 but i think i might have to sell myself after june,so a chilled 3 years extra is in order).

Have no idea why ive gotten "computery" all of a sudden :D ...I have a bad feeling as to the state of my mobo after i attempt to overclock it...

a b Î Nvidia
November 28, 2012 1:50:20 PM

Nice card.
Right now I'll suggest you get the card and see how things work out, it's a BIG improvement over the 7900 and I think you'll be more than a little surprised how much extra performance it'll release.
As for the overclocking, you're right to feel nervous: it can be dangerous if done carelessly, so while you're enjoying (Ihope) the new card, do some research into the subject (Toms has some good guides in the Overclocking Forum).
Although better cooling of the CPU is a requirement something like the Coolermaster Hyper 212 will be enough unless you want to really push it ;) .
One final word of caution: You may have to take the motherboard out to install a better cooler, it'll depend on which one you choose and case design, some cases have a large cut out in the panel behind the motherboard, allowing access to the rear of the motherboard without removing it, others do not. To see, remove the right hand side panel and look inside.
If you do have to remove the motherboard and are unhappy with the idea, do not proceed, it is possible to damage the 'board on the small metal standoffs underneath, to which it is screwed.
November 29, 2012 10:55:53 AM

Sound advice, Ill collect as much info as possible and tred carefully.

The cooler you suggest is perferct, but ive never installed a new one of these things (theres a metal panel blocking the entire back,underneath the case) so i think ill refer to a computer store rather than remove the mother board. Also from what ive seen the heat sink for my current cooler is circular, im not sure wether this will be a problem or not. Im also going ot have to check the dimensions, looks to be a pretty big cooler?

Ill have a look around and compare with my current case and mobo. Once again, many thanks!
a b Î Nvidia
November 29, 2012 1:02:27 PM

All the stock Intel coolers were circular, it's not a problem, my own rig has a Hyper 212 installed on it's Intel CPU.
Dropped the ball on the size issue, check the Coolermaster site, it should have the dimensions.
To check the internal height of the case: remove the side panel, strech a length of sellotape across the opening then use a strip of card, or something non conductive as a measure, mark where the tape is, then use a tape measure to check the dimension,.
subtract 12 m.m. to allow for the setback of the panel. To ease removal, stick the tape to the palm of your hand first :) .
Depending on prices, you might want to hold off on the heavier overclocking. It's still possible to overclock with stock cooling but its low heat capacity will limit the results. Making sure it's clean will help-a fine paintbrush and a little blowing will do just fine, but do not use a vacuum cleaner the fast airstrem generates a strong static electrical charge which you do NOT want to put in close proximity to microelectronics.
November 30, 2012 2:34:45 PM

Good save with the vacuum cleaner, i took out the cooler last week to bring down the temp from a brilliant 60 idle at 1600rpm, to 42 degrees idle at 2300rpm, was extremely close to hoovering the heat sink...

From using your measuring technique :)  i think it will just fit. Im going to have a closer look tomorrow, spent the entire day sorting out problems with the new RAM, and installing the new card :D , so a bit tired with turning this thing off and on all day...Meh, 1st world problems.
a b Î Nvidia
November 30, 2012 8:00:15 PM

Those temperatures seem high, as do the fan speeds.
Did you change the thermal grease (you sound tach savvy but I have to ask), and are the push pins fully home? They are a total b"£$%rd to get fully tight and, truth to tell, damaging one during the assembly of my current build is why it has the Hyper 212 installed .
Most likely this is the cooler you'll be looking at:

http://www.coolermaster.co.uk/product.php?product_id=67...

It's 159 m.m tall overall, so, you'll need about 170 m.m. clearence to be safe.
How's the new card and memory anyway? The smiley on your post suggets the idea of thinking about enjoying the upgrades is beginning the cross your mind ;)  .
December 1, 2012 1:57:00 PM

Haha I wouldnt say tech savy, but i hope im getting there.

It was because of the high temperatures at idle that i tried to remove the fan and heat sink, to apply a thermal grease and also to clean the fan. But i couldn't remove the heat sink easily, so i didn't try to force it so only the cleaning part happened. Would you have to remove the back panel on the case to unscrew it through the motherboard?

And indeed you are right :D  , it might be six months till the games im doing this for are out, but im starting to look at relatively cheap graphics intense games to get to test it. My brother suggested skyrim elder scrolls for 20 quid? Although i have to admit im more of an RTS fan but cant think of Graphics intense ones...

Edit
i managed to get a look at the heat sink components and it is attached to the back of the motherbaord so i might just check the dimensions and get the cooler you suggested and forgo any overclocking till i install it. Rather not take it apart twice, twice the opportunity to mess something up. However the dimensions of the current cooler are much much smaller than the one suggested:

http://www.overclockersonline.net/?p=5000229 [Page 3 : Spire SP503B0 CoolWave II]

which has roughly 90:90:32 (w:L:H) If the limiting factor is the height i dont think its a problem, but im more worried about the L and W. Ill give it a proper measure today. Hoepfully all good in all directions.

If this did work would it be a decent cooler in the new build with a hypothetical quad core?
a b Î Nvidia
December 1, 2012 4:41:39 PM

The stock heatsink is retained by 4 plastic 'pushpins'. If you look at their tops you'll see a slot, carefully insert a screwdriver and turn it 1/4 turn-I think-anticlockwise, it should take little effort. As each comes free the metal leg it's holding down should spring up a little. With all four loose, the heatsink will come off, it'll probably be stuck so use a twisting/rocking action to release it.
The old gloop will usually come off if you use a kitchen paper towel moistened with alcohol, although most places these days sell cleaning fluid. Clean both the heatsink and CPU. If the stuff is really solid, use a credit card as a scraper, do not use anything metallic.
Put a small drop of new thermal grease, about the size of a grain of rice, on the base of the cooler, and spread it out to form a fairly even layer over the contact area.
Lower the cooler into the computer and align one of the pins with its hole then press down on the top of that pin until it clicks, it may not be a loud click. Align the pin diagonally opposite to the one you've just locked down and, using the rubber tip of a pencil, press down on the metal leg to compress its spring action then press down on the pin top. Repeat with the remaining pins.
With all 4 pins secure, gently try to rock and twist the cooler, if they're all fully home it will fell solid.
The above is easier to do with the system laying on its side;) .
The cooler you've linked to is no longer available.
Better coolers are more effective because thay're larger than the small stock unit, it's very unlikely you'll have problems with L and W but the height is another thing altogether but if you subtract 12 m.m. from the measured internal height you should be fine.
There are replacement coolers that use pushpin attachments like this one:

http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=HS...

The downside is than none of them will 'carry over' into the new build, still it's cheap enough and better than stock (and you wo n't have to pay a shop to install it).
Have a look over at the Steam site, they've plenty of games-and free demos :)  .
And type "Crysis demo" into your search engine, it's a long 1Gb+ download but its worth it just for the early morning sunrise over the Pacific you get early on.
December 4, 2012 2:33:58 PM

That is a really nice fan, especially for the price. I think I’m all right for the height, I have a funnel on the side of the case but its easily removed. For sake of argument, if the height turned out to be bigger than the case, is running the comp without the side portion advisable? Or is there a very good reason, other than mechanical safety, for keeping it on?

Also I think I worded my previous statement badly. The link was supposed to be for the cooler I have at the minute.

Comparing the two on power, I am massively confused. The link I posted seems to say that my current cooler runs at 2-5 watts? Whilst the new one is going to use 130? There is no way this is right?

Thanks for the thermal grease advice, ordered some from overclockers and I’ll get started at that when it gets here. I looked at the stats for my processor and you’re more than right, the idle temperature is still 10 degrees off what it should be.

Thanks for the crysis demo tip! I’ve heard so much about it being the top game for testing your GPU but i never wanted to buy it, but a demo is a good idea.
I got skyrim off steam and the graphics is immensely better than the 7900 :D  (i can play it without crashing), thanks to excellent advice for getting to it ;) . but I must admit that it saddened me a little when the auto detect put the graphics at high instead of ultra-high (sorry for sounding spoilt!).., but considering I couldn’t play this game on ultra-low two weeks ago I’m extremely pleased with the result. Amazing graphics.
a b Î Nvidia
December 4, 2012 4:58:45 PM

It's unadvisable to run with the side panel off if: You have cats in the house-they LOVE to play inside boxes! Small children can also get in, and they can be every bit as destructive as cats. Otherwise there's no problem-some actually run with side panels removed to improve cooling.
If I'm reading the linked article correctly and you have the Spire cooler installed, you'll have to take the motherbord off to remove its backplate before any alternative cooler can be installed-Sorry 'bout that.
Also, removal of the Spire cooler is different to that I described-you just unscrew the hold-down screws then twist and lift the cooler assembly free.
The wattage number is how much heat it can dissapate, the fan'll only draw a couple of Watts of electricity.
You can always force the game to higher settings, you spoilt child ;) .
Never could get into Crysis as a game but that sunrise as you come out of the jungle after the night time trek is a wonderful surprise.
December 17, 2012 3:30:21 PM

Sorry for the long wait for a reply. It seems my hand destroys everything it touches. Comp died (and internet along with it). or at least the hard drive did, OS wouldnt boot and safe mode hung up at classpnp.sys. Spent the last week trying to fix it, gave up today and wiped the hd and in the process of reinstalling everything back on to it.

Your advice for the side panel is sound, flatmate bought a cat last week. his girlfriend hates me, so im beginning to think that the timing was more than coincidence.
I put the cooler idea on hold, was convinced the HD was physically damaged so was tinkering with the "whole new computer idea", but luckily working fine (touch wood) now. Now its fixed though im heading for the new cooler idea (rechecked my core temp, and its hitting 50+ before loading the OS) but is it possible to get one that could carry on to the new build?

Before it died, i upped the stats on skyrim and it worked perfectly :) .

Thanks again for all your advice/help coozie :D .
a b Î Nvidia
December 18, 2012 9:22:44 AM

Thought you'd left the Country, mate.
Yes, you REALLY need to sort those CPU temperatures out! I mean REALLY URGENTLY.
That sort of reading is what you should be seeing under heavy load, not idle.
I've already covered the replacement/reapply thermal grease bit but my concern is the little plastic backplate, I'm not sure if it's stuck into place (they usually are) or not. If it's loose then it'll drop off so I'll suggest you;
1: Do the job with the system on its side.
2: Check with your local comtuter shop/s and see if they have a simple to fit LGA775 compatable cooler on the shelf-no harm in having a backup position.
3: there's a small gap between the motherboard and its mounting plate, it should be enough for you shake the backplate out toward the front of the case.
Most coolers are fairly universal but unless you're going for a high end component it's not really worth the hassle to swap them over.
This little Arctic cooler is better than stock, or the one currently installed and should be a breeze to fit (just remember my pencil tip).

http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=HS...
January 7, 2013 8:25:24 AM

Ordered the cooler and thermal paste, should be here by tomorrow so hopefully can get back to you tomorrow saying all fitted an good. Downloaded a few programs to keep an eye on my core temp in the mean time, but at idle it averages at 45-50 depending, as you said pretty bad. But hopefully I cant do to much damage to the MoBo and processor by tomorrow night .

Also Happy new year/xmas!
!