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Help me decide on a video card upgrade?

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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January 16, 2013 4:45:33 PM

Hello there! First off, this is my computer:

http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/searchtools/ite...

The AMD Radeon HD 6450 isn't really enough to do anything in the gaming area, so it's time to upgrade! I'd like to keep it less than $350.

I play things like Skyrim, Fallout NV, Mass Effect, Assassin's Creed III, and other decently demanding games.

Also, are there differences in the cards by different brands (manufacturers)?

Thanks a bunch!
a b U Graphics card
January 16, 2013 4:57:36 PM

Build has a 285 watt power supply, so that limits you unless you are willing to upgrade the PSU as well. If you budget $75 for a new one, you are left with $250 or so. The Radeon 7870 is in there, also the 650 ti on the lower end.

also - the difference between the makers of the cards - some have nicer coolers, memory, memory/gpu speeds, or better warranties.
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a b U Graphics card
January 16, 2013 4:58:54 PM

^+1
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a c 87 U Graphics card
January 16, 2013 5:02:00 PM

Hmm... for about $350, you can get a GTX 670 or a Radeon 7970. Either of those will max out 2013's games, and will last on high / some medium settings for a long time to come.

The differences between manufacturers come in two ways: The first is the clock speed of the chip. If you want to overclock your graphics card a little, this won't matter, but if you don't, then higher is better... all else being the same. (For example, GDDR 5 vram is a must have over gddr3.)
The other difference is the cooling. If you are overclocking, this is important; you don't want a reference cooler, as they run hot and noisy when overclocked. The cooler is also indicative of the brand quality - look at some cards in your price range, and ask around as to good brands. (For example, Asus and Sapphire are cream of the crop, while Powercolor and Zotac are, well... not.)


ALL that being said, there are two problems you're going to have.

One, your power supply is crapola. Upgrade that to a good quality 550w PSU. I recommend Antec or Seasonic. (Make sure it has at least two PCI-E power connectors; four is better.)

Second, I can't tell, but that might be a slimline case - if it is, that means it can only accommodate half width (low profile) cards, in which case you're going to have a LOT of trouble finding one you can game on. If it is slimline, I'd recommend upgrading to a $40 NZXT Gamma Classic, or something of roughly equal price and build quality.
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a b U Graphics card
January 16, 2013 5:27:38 PM

I agree with everything that Darksable has recommended including the PC cabinet
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January 16, 2013 5:56:43 PM

So, I was looking up PSUs, and apparently buying a power supply is just as complicated as buying a video card. >_>
This one is the most popular in the 500+ watts range: http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...

As for the graphics card, the 7970 is a bit more expensive than I'd like... I was looking at other popular ones, and 7870 and 7950 are in there. Which one of those would be better?

Oh, and the case - I'm pretty sure my case isn't a slimline. I've had one before, and this is much bigger.

Thank you all!
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a b U Graphics card
January 16, 2013 9:29:33 PM

That linked PSU brand, Ultra, doesnt have a single review on newegg... sounds fishy. I would get a PSU from a quality brand like Corsair, Antec, Silverstone, PC power&cooling. Buying a cheap one will potentially kill all of your other components.

If you have the $ left over from a psu, the 7950 is the one to go with out of those two. Long legs if you have a CF motherboard and can pick up a second card in a year or two.
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