The eVGA card runs pretty hot and I think it's about to die... artifacts appear and the system crashes even on the lowest settings in SC II. I bought a Gigabyte 660 Ti to replace it but the system either halted with code 94 or restarted after the BIOS check with the card installed (tried both PCI-E slots), so I've RMA'ed it back to Newegg. Given the age of the system (4 years), I'm a bit gun-shy about dropping another $300 to test out a (nearly) top of the line card, since it's a bit overkill for what I'm doing anyway. My priorities are longevity (stock clocking, cool running) and stability over cutting edge speed and OC-ability. I also want to get something that's highly likely to work
Games played: StarCraft 2, Half-Life 2/CS:S/Portal/other Source+Havok games ... I'm happy to play on Medium/High or at a lower resolution (right now everything's unplayable, so anything is an improvement!)
Budget: I suspect the other limits will prevent me from spending all that much, but let's say $150
Chipset: Nvidia, primarily because it's what I'm used to (but also because I saw problems with SC II reported by Radeon 7870 owners, so I'm wary)
Preliminary research has led me to considering the Gigabyte GV-N630-2GI GT 630, which seems good enough to handle what I'm looking for and pretty likely to be compatible (plus the $65 price point makes testing it out more palatable). Additionally, looking at available Nvidia cards, options between $70 and $150 are limited and I'm concerned about compatibility, so I'm leaning a bit towards lower end.
Any help, suggestions, recommendations, etc would be appreciated.
you should update the BIOS. there is really no point going higher than a gtx650ti with the cpu you have, you will be extremely cpu bottlenecked. the gt630 would not be any better than what you have already. If you want something that will be more likely cmpatable with your motherboard, i ran a 6850 on that same board and it ran fine. its a good upgrade from your 8800gt. i used to run a Q6600 with it and i found even that bottlenecked the 6850, until i OC'd to 3.5ghz.
Thanks for the response. I'm not necessarily unhappy with the performance of the current card, it's the instability that renders it non-functional. So getting an equivalent card that's currently in production would be fine. Any reason to believe the gt 630 or 640 wouldn't be compatible? The 6850 looks good but availability seems limited... any similar current model AMD cards you'd suggest?
After talking to EVGA tech support and the BYOPC guys at Micro Center, they both seemed to think that the problem was around handling PCI-E 3.0. The recommendation I received was to go with a PCI-E 2.0 GPU, so I picked up an EVGA GTX 560 Ti (02G-P3-1568-KR) for $200. A little more than I wanted to spend for my second attempt, but it's installed and working. I'm definitely seeing the CPU bottleneck at times, but the GPU performs great (GPU-related SC2 settings are all on high/ultra).