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Upgrading PC - Need Advice

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
December 30, 2012 3:49:02 PM

Bought system in 2007 and I'm looking to upgrade. Casual gamer, mostly Total War Series and Flight Sim X on my PC. Just got Chivalry; Medieval Warfare and it's total crap with my current setup. Looking for a set up that will run these three games with decent results.

Current Specs:
Motherboard: ASUS P5K SE
Processor: Core 2 Duo E6850 @ 3.0 GHz
GPU: ATI Radeon HD 2600 pro Clock: 600 MHz. Memory: 512 MB
RAM: 4Gb DDR2 (2x1Gb, 1x2Gb)
Windows 7 Ultimate 32bit

Hoping to get away with just upgrading video card and PSU. Was looking at the GTX 650 Ti. Wondering if my motherboard will support it and if my CPU will just be a bottleneck anyways. Any other recommendations on GPUs would be welcome as well. Not sure what my current PSU is, but I'm confident it isn't enough.

More about : upgrading advice

a b U Graphics card
December 30, 2012 3:53:37 PM

Looks like a solid choice to me - will be fine for what you need. As for bottlenecking, your CPU would probably hold you back a little at lower resolutions (though of course that's where framerates are higher anyway). Although it's not a new processor, it's definitely not terrible - not miles behind AMD's Phenom IIs which a lot of people are still using. So I'd say you're fine with that.
December 30, 2012 4:03:50 PM

Thank you. Any recommendations on PSU? I was looking at:
CZ ModXStream Pro Power Supply - 600-Watt, Modular, Dual +12V Rails, SATA, 80Plus

But not sure if 600W will be enough/too much...
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a b U Graphics card
December 30, 2012 4:08:49 PM

I think it's a good wattage. It is more than you need, but it's nice to have some excess for upgrade potential. The counter to that is that your power draw may not be in the best range for efficiency (so slightly higher energy costs). I'd personally avoid OCZ for PSUs though, and stick with Seasonic-built units, so XFX, Silverpower SP-Sxxx / SP-SxxxM / SP-SS lines, PC Power & Cooling Silencer series and Silencer Mk III series. Or obviously Seasonic themselves. Failing that, Antec and Corsair are typically a safe bet, though they are supplied by a range of OEMs - only a few of their models are Seasonic-built. I have a Corsair TX850 though (non-Seasonic) and it's still going strong.
December 30, 2012 4:56:17 PM

Thanks again.The GTX 650 ti is PCI-e 3.0. Do I need to be concerned about any compatibility issues with my motherboard? I know PCI-e 2.0 is backwards compatible with PCI-e 1.0 and that PCI-e 3.0 is backwards compatible with PCI-e 2.0, but can't find anything to confirm for me if PCI-e 3.0 will work with PCI-e 1.0...
a b U Graphics card
December 30, 2012 8:52:22 PM

I couldn't say for sure, but I'd expect if you stick those two facts together, you've got PCI-E 3 working in PCI-E 1 :-) Honestly, I've never heard of PCI-E cards not working in all PCI-E slots. Shouldn't be a problem.

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a c 275 U Graphics card
December 30, 2012 10:36:35 PM

You may need both a cpu and gpu upgrade for good results.

To help clarify your options, run these two tests:

a) Run your games, but lower your resolution and eye candy.
If your FPS increases, it indicates that your cpu is strong enough to drive a better graphics configuration.
If your FPS stays the same, you are likely cpu limited.

b) Limit your cpu, either by reducing the OC, or, in windows power management, limit the maximum cpu% to something like 50%.
This will simulate what a lack of cpu power will do.

Go to control panel/power options/change plan settings/change advanced power settings/processor power management/maximum processor state/
set to 50% and see how you do.

If your FPS drops significantly, it is an indicator that your cpu is the limiting factor, and a cpu upgrade is in order.

It is possible that both tests are positive, indicating that you have a well balanced system, and both cpu and gpu need to be upgraded to get better gaming FPS.

I know that FSX can be very cpu intensive.

If you can not upgrade both cpu and gpu, then I would do the gpu first.
Your HD2600 is, by today's standards a very weak card, perhaps the equivalent of intel HD4000 graphics found on the 3570K ir i3-3225.
It can be carried over later to a cpu upgrade if that is in order.
The GTX650ti is a nice upgrade.
It needs only a 430w psu.
Here is a handy chart of psu needs for various graphics configurations.
I might go a bit stronger, perhaps to 550-650w. It will not cost much more.
And, there are better units than the OCZ X modstream. It is a tier 3 unit on this list:

Do not be concerned about pcie 1/2/3. Cards are both forward and backwards compatible.
It is only the strongest of today's cards that are impacted by pcie2.0, and only a couple of % at that.
December 31, 2012 12:28:39 PM

Thanks. I'll run these tests before shelling out.
December 31, 2012 6:31:32 PM

Ran the tests with the following results (from one game):
Test a:
FPS on settings I had been using: 40-50
FPS went from 10-20 on high settings up to 70-80 on low settings

Test b:
No large change on either low or high settings with CPU limited to 50%

Thanks for the suggestion and info. Much appreciated.
December 31, 2012 6:31:50 PM

Best answer selected by hummusnpita.