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Upgrading graphics card on old CPU - makes sense or not?

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February 8, 2013 5:19:43 PM

I'm not a 'serious' gamer, I do occasionally play a game or two (recently Far Cry 3) and with these new games my PC is struggling.

It is based on Intel Q6600 (quad core) at 2,4GHz, has 6GB DDR2 memory and a GeForce 9600 GT 512kB graphics card, running Windows 7 Ultimate off a SSD drive. I'm quite happy with 'general' performance, it's only the latest games that make it 'sweat'. For example - to achieve 40+ FPS in Far Cry 3, I had to run it in 800x600 mode with video quality set to 'low'.

Would it make sense to replace the graphics card with a newer one, something like NVidia GTX 650 or perhaps GTX 660? Will that alone improve things 'enough' or will the CPU and the rest of the system then become the bottleneck?


D.

More about : upgrading graphics card cpu makes sense

February 8, 2013 6:36:50 PM

That CPU should be able to handle most any of the Nvidia cards up until the 400 series. The 500 or 600 series would be too much, unless you plan on a new build eventually anyways. On the AMD side it should handle a low end 6000 series or a high end 5000
a b U Graphics card
February 8, 2013 6:49:52 PM

Getting the GTX 660 would improve your game play by a good amount - but it will be bottlenecked by your CPU... In my opinion it is better to upgrade to the highest GPU within reason that you can afford - that way when you do upgrade to a new computer you can just move the video card over and not have to buy an new one again. Here is the cheapest GTX 660.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Related resources
a c 123 U Graphics card
February 8, 2013 7:00:01 PM

more or less agree with Derza, but wouldn't buy the card listed ( my personal feeling). others are similar in price.

the card you have is a dog and replacing it will bring some new life into your old system.

FC3 is brutal on more powerful machines so cutting back on some settings will still be mandatory.
February 8, 2013 7:12:38 PM

I had a amd phenom 1.8ghz quad core which i upgraded with a hd 6790 and i ran battlefield 3 at 1080p on decently high graphics... so i think that getting a good gpu will definitely increase your experience. Your cpu which is much better then the one that i had will only be bottlenecking at much higher gpus like the 670 or 680.

Also is there a reason why people are suggesting the gtx series... they're bang for the buck ratio is much lower then the ati hd series.

here is a link to the best gpus for the money... anything between $150-300 will increase your play experience dramatically. I personally would get a hd 7870... is very reasonably priced for the performance. I would not recommend the gtx cards unless your going to go for the 670 or better, but those cards are more expensive and really worth it unless your going to be editing and utilizing the cuda cores.

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

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

Basically just look at your price range and pick the card that you like... once you decide on a specific card... look at the different companies and see what they offer. For example, msi has a lot of their cards come with factory overclocked and with better cooling... example being:

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

February 8, 2013 7:32:17 PM

Thank you all. So a GTX 660 would be a good choice for now and would still be 'OK' in future if/when I get a new PC.


About ATI (now AMD?) - I had Radeon's before and I learned to hate their drivers and control panel - slow, unresponsive or quite often just not working. I suppose they managed to fix those issues but somehow I'm still reluctant to try them again.

With NVidia it was pretty much smooth sailing - even with Linux.

D.
February 8, 2013 7:33:07 PM

AMD usually has much better drivers than Nvidia. But whatever floats your boat.
February 8, 2013 7:35:26 PM

Yeah I never had problems with AMD drivers as well... You can always choice not to install the control panel if you dont like it during the drivers install, you just have to choice custom instead of express install... but yeah really whatever floats your boat.
February 8, 2013 7:41:16 PM

Well.. My ATI experience may have been before 'your time' - no disrespect intended... :lol: 

I'll certainly look into RadeOn's now - especially if it saves me a buck for the same performance.

D.
a c 87 U Graphics card
February 8, 2013 8:08:47 PM

swifty_morgan said:
not even in the same park.

click on link, go down to drop down menu, check numbers.

http://www.guru3d.com/articles_pages/msi_geforce_gtx_66...


I'm not sure of what you're trying to prove because I stopped reading after I say the date. Early 2012 makes it a pretty useless article or whatever it is for proving any point today. Also, Guru3D really likes to not use up to date AMD drivers in their tests compared to drivers used for Nvidia tests. They're by far not the least biased site around. Anand and Tom's (among a few others) are generally better about that.
a c 85 U Graphics card
February 8, 2013 8:09:59 PM

id recommand changing ur plateform, and than upgrading ur videocard.

whats ur budget?

February 8, 2013 8:13:52 PM

Why in the hell do people go looking for a 3rd party program to install their drivers for them? Then actually spend the time to install it, and set it up, when in that time they could just find the drivers anyways... its silly. Poor installations of Windows is the #1 cause of bad performance.
February 8, 2013 8:14:24 PM

First, you could overclock your CPU to at least 3.0GHZ. The Q6600 shouldn't have a problem hitting that.. that'll help just a little bit, but it's free and worth doing (check the forums here for some guides, it's actually not that big of an undertaking.) For video card yeah I'd upgrade from a 9600GT even with that cpu.

If you are a FPS gamer and if down the road you want to try out lightboost for zero motion blur on a 120hz monitor get an nvidia card. That's pretty niche but if I had to re-do my purchase I'd probably go nvidia for that reason. Also, I haven't been happy with my ATI 7850 experience due to the crappiness of the catalyst control center and various driver issues.
7850 is a pretty good value sweet spot, though.
a c 123 U Graphics card
February 8, 2013 8:14:55 PM

blazorthon said:
I'm not sure of what you're trying to prove because I stopped reading after I say the date. Early 2012 makes it a pretty useless article or whatever it is for proving any point today. Also, Guru3D really likes to not use up to date AMD drivers in their tests compared to drivers used for Nvidia tests. They're by far not the least biased site around. Anand and Tom's (among a few others) are generally better about that.



obviously a fan boy or you would realize both companies update drivers.
let's see, oh yes WAY BACK in October 22nd, 2012.... hmmm that would be almost 3.5 months time........ hmmmm. Makes me feel old.
if you don't want to read it don't.......... don't sit here and tell me a card is better when it isn't.
a c 85 U Graphics card
February 8, 2013 8:16:38 PM

meh i think researching many sites and getting a sum of it all gets u most accurate information. also no need for infantile remarks.

a c 87 U Graphics card
February 8, 2013 8:16:45 PM

swifty_morgan said:
obviously a fan boy or you would realize both companies update drivers.
let's see, oh yes WAY BACK in October 22nd, 2012.... hmmm that would be almost 3.5 months time........ hmmmm. Makes me feel old.
if you don't want to read it don't.......... don't sit here and tell me a card is better when it isn't.


I never said anything about what the companies do. My point is that Guru3D uses up to date Nvidia drivers and tends to not use up to date AMD drivers. For example, when I read their GTX 660 Ti comparison last year, they had the latest Nvidia drivers, yet used friggen January 2012 drivers for AMD.

Furthermore, I never said anything about any card being better or worse than any other in this thread. I specifically said that I wasn't sure of what you're trying to prove.

Both AMD and Nvidia have had several driver updates since October. Furthermore, perhaps my browser had a glitch, but it said March, not October for me.
a c 123 U Graphics card
February 8, 2013 8:30:19 PM

don't mean to jump in your ****..... my day is coming to an end and it's been a rough one. sorry.
February 8, 2013 9:39:54 PM

blazorthon said:
I never said anything about what the companies do. My point is that Guru3D uses up to date Nvidia drivers and tends to not use up to date AMD drivers. For example, when I read their GTX 660 Ti comparison last year, they had the latest Nvidia drivers, yet used friggen January 2012 drivers for AMD.

Furthermore, I never said anything about any card being better or worse than any other in this thread. I specifically said that I wasn't sure of what you're trying to prove.

Both AMD and Nvidia have had several driver updates since October. Furthermore, perhaps my browser had a glitch, but it said March, not October for me.

Once again, that is NOT AMDs fault... It actually looks like Nvidia has this 3rd party company on their payroll... So you can work with crooks like that, or you can choose to just simply spend 10 seconds to find the drivers yourself (so you know they are up to date)
a c 87 U Graphics card
February 8, 2013 9:44:34 PM

JefferyD90 said:
Once again, that is NOT AMDs fault... It actually looks like Nvidia has this 3rd party company on their payroll... So you can work with crooks like that, or you can choose to just simply spend 10 seconds to find the drivers yourself (so you know they are up to date)


I never once blamed AMD. AMD had nothing to do with it. I blamed Guru3D for giving Nvidia an unfair advantage by using out of date drivers for their AMD card tests. I also find that it is common practice on a lot of web sites to do this and like I said earlier, Tom's and Anand (among a few others) are among the few that do not give either side an unfair advantage. I don't waste my time using out od date drivers on my Radeon 7850 and I didn't do that either on my GTX 560 Ti before my 7850, although I do tend to wait for some reviews of new drivers before updating since those old WHQL 196.75 drivers burned my 8800 GT a while back.
a b U Graphics card
February 8, 2013 9:48:38 PM

I'd upgrade your GPU to the best you can afford and not worry about bottlenecking.
a c 87 U Graphics card
February 8, 2013 9:50:34 PM

cuecuemore said:
I'd upgrade your GPU to the best you can afford and not worry about bottlenecking.


The graphics is by far the greater bottleneck in OP's situation.
a c 123 U Graphics card
February 8, 2013 9:51:37 PM

I've had drivers ruin cards before. the cards were too old for the drivers being written I guess. architecture couldn't handle it.
February 8, 2013 9:52:05 PM

blazorthon said:
I never once blamed AMD. AMD had nothing to do with it. I blamed Guru3D for giving Nvidia an unfair advantage by using out of date drivers for their AMD card tests. I also find that it is common practice on a lot of web sites to do this and like I said earlier, Tom's and Anand (among a few others) are among the few that do not give either side an unfair advantage. I don't waste my time using out od date drivers on my Radeon 7850 and I didn't do that either on my GTX 560 Ti before my 7850, although I do tend to wait for some reviews of new drivers before updating since those old WHQL 196.75 drivers burned my 8800 GT a while back.

I update drivers immediately... the ONLY time the performance goes down I in a very new game on SPECIFIC configurations. And usually that is fixed with a patch, usually within a week. And I just simply think its stupid to use a 3rd party program to do something that takes you NO time to do yourself... you can probably make the overall process go by quicker.
a c 87 U Graphics card
February 8, 2013 9:56:34 PM

JefferyD90 said:
I update drivers immediately... the ONLY time the performance goes down I in a very new game on SPECIFIC configurations. And usually that is fixed with a patch, usually within a week. And I just simply think its stupid to use a 3rd party program to do something that takes you NO time to do yourself... you can probably make the overall process go by quicker.


I used to update immediately (I don't use any third party program to do it, I do it manually), like I said, until Nvidia's WHQL 196.75 drivers burned y 8800 GT. I don't take such chances anymore and prefer to wait a few days after they're released or if sooner, when a good review of them is out :/ 
February 8, 2013 11:28:08 PM

blazorthon said:
I used to update immediately (I don't use any third party program to do it, I do it manually), like I said, until Nvidia's WHQL 196.75 drivers burned y 8800 GT. I don't take such chances anymore and prefer to wait a few days after they're released or if sooner, when a good review of them is out :/ 

How do you mean it "burned" like heat damage? Because the driver has no barings on the cooling of your system? But if you just mean the performance, then its more than likely your manufacture used its own "custom" BIOS that was incompatible.
a c 100 U Graphics card
February 8, 2013 11:34:19 PM

A driver is VERY unlikely to damage a piece of hardware unless the hardware is poorly designed.

I am willing to bet it was only a coincidence.
a c 87 U Graphics card
February 9, 2013 12:13:16 AM

Actually, it was the fault of the drivers. What they did was accidentally disable the GPU fan after installed. It led to an epidemic of GPU failures due to GPUs overheating when their fans were disabled. Look it up if interested.
February 9, 2013 2:01:42 AM

Is that the same driver release that started to allow you to OC your video card in the control panel? If it is, then it was not the driver, it was the BIOS of the video card, look it up :D . The driver released a feature that the BIOS was not compatible with. What happens is PNY or Gigabyte or whoever, thinks they can do better than NVidia and tweaks the BIOS to meet their "settings" when in fact, they change something that NVidia has plans for down the road. THUS the reason, they tell you to go to the manufactures website to obtain a driver, not the "generic" (even tho it is a much better performing driver release) so it is not "incompatible"

This is another big reason to go with big name brands.
a c 87 U Graphics card
February 9, 2013 2:06:05 AM

It affected even reference Nvidia cards regardless of brand. It was a Nvidia driver issue and Nvidia admitted it to be their fault. Look it up if you want more info on it; it's all over the internet.
February 9, 2013 2:42:38 AM

Drivers are simply software that control how the device operates. Up until just recently (2 years ago) the fans were controlled NOT by the driver, but by the BIOS itself, otherwise when you do a clean install of Windows your fan would not work at all until you install the driver, which for some people is never.

Now the BIOS of the video card has its own "onboard" (don't know what else to call it) way of managing the fan speed. But when NVidia released its control panel where you could OC your video card using the sliders, it gave you the option to change that for the fan as well. Well some of your manufactures (I believe EVGA was one of the major ones to be hit) added their own code to the BIOS to manage the cooling of the video card. So when NVidia released their Driver to control the fans, their code was not there, so it didn't have anything to control.

PS refrence cards are not released to the public, they are only used for testing inside the company. No one would have any info on if they were affected.
a c 87 U Graphics card
February 9, 2013 2:46:23 AM

JefferyD90 said:
Drivers are simply software that control how the device operates. Up until just recently (2 years ago) the fans were controlled NOT by the driver, but by the BIOS itself, otherwise when you do a clean install of Windows your fan would not work at all until you install the driver, which for some people is never.

Now the BIOS of the video card has its own "onboard" (don't know what else to call it) way of managing the fan speed. But when NVidia released its control panel where you could OC your video card using the sliders, it gave you the option to change that for the fan as well. Well some of your manufactures (I believe EVGA was one of the major ones to be hit) added their own code to the BIOS to manage the cooling of the video card. So when NVidia released their Driver to control the fans, their code was not there, so it didn't have anything to control.

PS refrence cards are not released to the public, they are only used for testing inside the company. No one would have any info on if they were affected.


Perhaps we're having a misunderstanding of what reference means. From what I've been told for many years, a reference card is a card that uses a stock PCB and cooler as was designed by Nvidia with clock frequencies and such that are also unmodified from the Nvidia design, IE a generic card. We call those reference cards because they abide by Nvidia's specifications and all of the major sites and more use this terminology. We call the cards that are not released to the public engineering samples.

Also, I really don't care exactly how the problem happened at this point. Nvidia said that it was their fault back then and never changed that statement. Perhaps it truly wasn't their fault, but that doesn't change the fact that they were related to the problem and their driver update burned many cards' GPU.
February 9, 2013 3:31:26 AM

reference cards do abide by NVidia's specs, and are unmodified. Lets take a look. We will look at first, the reference design for the 650 video card (just the first one that popped into mind)
This is the reference design: http://www.geforce.com/hardware/desktop-gpus/geforce-gt...
Notice it has a clock speed of 1058Mhz and 1GB of VRAM.

This is EVGAs card: http://www.evga.com/Products/Product.aspx?pn=02G-P4-265...
Notice the same clock speed, but different amount of VRAM. This is not, obviously, a reference design.

This is Zotac's model: http://www.zotacusa.com/geforce-gtx-650-zt-61001-10m.ht...
Notice the clock speed, it is different than the reference design by NVidia.

And EVERY manufacture is different. The "reference" designs are simply that, for reference. The manufacture will make them vary to their will. Now I have only showed you the actual specs of it, I didn't show you the code for the BIOS. I had a PNY 9800GT XLR8 edition, and I COULD NOT flash my BIOS with a EVGA brand or anything like that, it had to be the XLR8 edition, or it wouldn't work. (it was also about twice the size of the EVGA BIOS) Obviously a more complex code. Also, you can click on the product images, and see a picture of the reference card that NVidia sends their manufactures. And as you can see, no card on the market looks like that.

Also, if you pay attention, when you FIRST start your machine your video card BIOS pops up first, it will tell you the brand, and model, and the BIOS version. I almost guarantee that no other card you will see is like that. I got 2 9800GTs at the same time, and they had different BIOS revision (thus the reason I know so much about it, via extreme troubleshooting). They would not run in SLI right because the BIOS revision was WAY off...
a c 87 U Graphics card
February 9, 2013 4:00:04 AM

Each video card company may have some non-reference models, but just about every company sells a reference model for each card that they utilize in non-reference models too. For example, every major company such as EVGA, Sapphire, Gigabyte, MSI, and more all sell some reference cards.

Regardless, IDK why you're going off on tangents. The exact causes of the issue don't change the fact that updating to that driver version burned many GPUs and that was a problem that shouldn't have happened nor do the exact causes of it change the fact that Nvidia went out and said that it was their fault.

Furthermore, even if the issue was caused by straying from Nvidia's design (which it seems to have not been since the issue affected reference cards as well as non-reference cards), Nvidia should have made sure that the issue wouldn't happen. Updating to current drivers, even if they're not from the card manufacturer's site, doesn't cause the GPU to burn. Sure, they might not work, but they don't cause the GPU to burn by disabling the fan or any other way.
February 9, 2013 4:04:57 AM

blazorthon said:
Each video card company may have some non-reference models, but just about every company sells a reference model for each card that they utilize in non-reference models too. For example, every major company such as EVGA, Sapphire, Gigabyte, MSI, and more all sell some reference cards.

Regardless, IDK why you're going off on tangents. The exact causes of the issue don't change the fact that updating to that driver version burned many GPUs and that was a problem that shouldn't have happened.

It happened because you got the driver from Nvidia, not from the manufacture. The manufacture wouldn't have givin a driver with that issue (cost them money in RMAs)
a c 87 U Graphics card
February 9, 2013 4:05:55 AM

JefferyD90 said:
It happened because you got the driver from Nvidia, not from the manufacture. The manufacture wouldn't have givin a driver with that issue (cost them money in RMAs)


It happened to reference cards too. If Nvidia's driver doesn't work on reference cards, then what's the point of Nvidia posting their driver anyway? Furthermore, why does this issue not happen with subsequent Nvidia driver releases?
February 9, 2013 4:16:21 AM

blazorthon said:
It happened to reference cards too. If Nvidia's driver doesn't work on reference cards, then what's the point of Nvidia posting their driver anyway? Furthermore, why does this issue not happen with subsequent Nvidia driver releases?

We just went through this. There would be NO public data on a reference card. NVidia is the only company that makes a reference card, NVidia DOES NOT sell cards to end users. They GIVE the cards to manufactures. I would be surprised if ANY video card is 100% like NVidia's reference card, hell Ill even settle with 90% like a reference. With that said, NO ONE should be downloading the drivers from NVidias website. You should do so from EVGA's website, or PNY's website, or someone else...
a c 87 U Graphics card
February 9, 2013 4:26:35 AM

JefferyD90 said:
We just went through this. There would be NO public data on a reference card. NVidia is the only company that makes a reference card, NVidia DOES NOT sell cards to end users. They GIVE the cards to manufactures. I would be surprised if ANY video card is 100% like NVidia's reference card, hell Ill even settle with 90% like a reference. With that said, NO ONE should be downloading the drivers from NVidias website. You should do so from EVGA's website, or PNY's website, or someone else...


Actually, Nvidia does in fact sell their own cards, granted they're usually only sold to OEMs. There is plenty of public data on reference cards too because we can all look at the exact specifications. We can even look up the board layout of the reference PCBs and the specifications of the reference coolers.

Furthermore, just about every video card company has purely reference cards. All cards (at least in the last few years) have had many reference Nvidia and AMD/Ati units sold right on Newegg and other such sites.

I asked why Nvidia posts their drivers if we're not supposed to use them, not should we use them or not. I also asked why is it that their releases after 196.75 did not have the issue that 196.75 had if that issue was caused by the driver looking for code that wasn't there since that data shouldn't be in the video card's BIOS from a driver update after 296.75 either, should it?
a c 123 U Graphics card
February 9, 2013 9:05:00 AM

I got 2 9800GTs at the same time, and they had different BIOS revision (thus the reason I know so much about it, via extreme troubleshooting). They would not run in SLI right because the BIOS revision was WAY off...[/quotemsg said:



that happened to me with 7800gt's. makes you wonder.....
a c 85 U Graphics card
February 9, 2013 12:40:50 PM

ya ive never bought a straight nvidia card. wonder where to buy those :D .

guess repackaged cards works good also :p 

a c 87 U Graphics card
February 9, 2013 2:33:41 PM

I've got two Nvidia-branded GTX 295s as an example. Like I said, they're usually not sold except in some OEM machines, but they do exist. Reference cards with other brands are all over. For example, Newegg has dozens of them.
February 9, 2013 6:30:11 PM

blazorthon said:
I've got two Nvidia-branded GTX 295s as an example. Like I said, they're usually not sold except in some OEM machines, but they do exist. Reference cards with other brands are all over. For example, Newegg has dozens of them.

I own my own computer repair shop, and been doing this for years. And I have only seen 1 reference card, ever, and it was at a conference.
a c 87 U Graphics card
February 9, 2013 6:45:34 PM

They're everywhere. Many of the cards that I've used were reference cards, although I usually use above-average non-reference cards because reference cards tend to have poor cooling. I build and sell computers for clients and I've probably built hundreds of systems.
February 9, 2013 6:50:50 PM

blazorthon said:
They're everywhere. Many of the cards that I've used were reference cards, although I usually use above-average non-reference cards because reference cards tend to have poor cooling. I build and sell computers for clients and I've probably built hundreds of systems.

well I guess I just don't see them, and I guess they are never benchmarked, or anything
a c 87 U Graphics card
February 9, 2013 6:52:09 PM

Tom's benchmarks some of them and TPU benchmarks tons of reference cards. For example, I think it was Tom's first benchmarks of the GTX 690 that used a reference model. Tom's also benchmarks a few engineering samples (for example, Tom's benchmarked a Radeon *7850* single slot card with a 768 core GPU), so maybe they're not the best example, but most review sites benchmark some reference cards. Anand is another good example of a site that benchmarks many reference cards. Guru3D does too, but they're AMD benchmarks are often useless because they don't like to use up to date AMD drivers for their tests.
a c 87 U Graphics card
February 9, 2013 6:57:57 PM

On second thought, I retract my statement about Newegg having dozens of them. They only seem to have a few right now. They usually have more.
a c 87 U Graphics card
February 9, 2013 7:02:11 PM

I found the link for my 690 example:
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/geforce-gtx-690-ben...

All of the comparisons in this link's benchmarks are also to reference graphics cards unless stated otherwise, or at least the performance of reference GPU/memory frequency and memory capacity specifications for those graphics cards.
February 9, 2013 7:20:17 PM

You do realize that Nvidia sent Toms that video card, just to make that article... even in the article they say that all the manufactures will differ...
a c 87 U Graphics card
February 9, 2013 7:40:15 PM

That's not the point. You said you've never seen a benchmark of a reference card and that is what I provided an example of. You can buy reference 690s if you want to.
February 9, 2013 7:54:39 PM

I was referring to a actual benchmark... like if you went to 3dmarks website and looked at top results. Im trying to say, no normal person has one. So NO normal person should be downloading drivers from the Nvidia website, they should get them from their manufacture, which is why this whole thing started.
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