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What's a good new video card for a 5 year old computer? ($100-$200 USD range)

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
January 4, 2014 5:31:10 PM

I think my video card is dying. I'm not sure that's what the problem is but i have a strong enough hunch to buy a new one (most games crash nowadays. oftentimes get blue pixels flickering across the screen like snow. sometimes get white horizontal lines running across the screen. tried reinstalling windows and getting all new drivers/ thoroughly cleaning/dusting PC. no luck. tried different monitor to rule that out.)

so i'm gonna roll the dice and buy a new video card. i did a bunch of research building this PC 5 years ago (thanks tomshardware community!) but now i'm way out of the loop so i don't know what's good while still being compatible with this old PC with DDR2 ram. here are my relevant specs:

MSI R4870-T2D1G Radeon HD 4870 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express
(probably dying)

GIGABYTE GA-EP45-UD3P LGA 775 Intel P45 ATX Intel Motherboard

Intel Core 2 Quad Q9650 Yorkfield 3.0GHz LGA 775 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor BX80569Q9650

CORSAIR XMS2 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model TWIN2X4096-6400C5 (i have 4 strips now so 8GB total ram but it's DDR2 and i'm not sure if that's gonna cause any issues with newer cards...

any and all recommendations are greatly appreciated.

i think an article i read said that this mobo/CPU worked a little better with an ATI card but i could be mistaken it was a long time ago. i'm down for either ATI or Nvidia. whatever works and gives me most bang for the buck.

January 4, 2014 5:36:07 PM

oh and i want to be able to run most games even if i have to turn some settings down.
January 4, 2014 6:43:12 PM

I believe ATI is AMD now, so when someone refers to a specific card, I'm just making sure you aren't confused as to what brand they are.

Your CPU isn't as bad as I thought it would be for a 5 year old system, you should be able to run most GPUs without it bottlenecking.

What is your PSU and how many watts is it as that might affect which graphics card your system will be able to handle. Since it's an older system it likely doesn't run at the same voltage as it did when you bought it.

I personally would recommend anything in the 150-175$ range, I personally wouldn't go much higher because of how old your system is, but your CPU is pretty impressive for 5 years. I'm honestly not that knowledgeable of that price range, I was looking at getting an AMD 7850 or an AMD 7870 (both fall into that price range) before I decided to wait for the R9 series both are excellent cards. Or perhaps a 660.

Here's a benchmark that shows all three cards that I mentioned, though it's kind of funky since it has the 650 ti as the reference point and not one of the other ones, sorry I couldn't find a specific graph like that that set one of those three cards at the 100% mark.

What games are you planning on playing? That price range should let you run any game with good FPS and quality, though not at the highest settings on some of the newest generation games with a 175$+ card. Also what resolution is your monitor 1080? Or lower? If you're going to spend that much on a new GPU, if you don't have a 1080p by now I highly recommend it.
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January 4, 2014 8:31:09 PM

thanks archie.

my monitor is 1080p... Acer H233Hbmid Black 23" 5ms HDMI Full HD 1080P Widescreen LCD Monitor

power supply should be plenty it's 750W... PC Power and Cooling S75CF 750W EPS12V SLI Certified CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Power Supply
a c 362 U Graphics card
January 8, 2014 5:03:18 PM

I have a Radeon HD 5850 running with my Q9450. At the time the Radeon HD 5850 was released it was not bottlenecked by the Q9450. Current generation Radeon HD 7790 and the GTX 650 Ti is probably only a little more powerful than the HD 5850. Therefore, that should be your starting point.

Using the following performance chart for ARMA 3 which includes many CPUs paired up with a GTX Titan, the Core 2 Quad Q9xxx series should generally fall between the Core i3-3220 and the A10-5700k.That would be my educated guess for looking at various benchmarks over the years since I initially bought my Q9450 early in 2008 (nearly 6 years ago). ARMA 3 is a somewhat CPU demanding game. If it was a very CPU demanding game, the FPS would be lower (like SimCity 5). If it was a less demanding CPU game (like Bioshock Infinite), then you will not see much difference in performance compared to the Ivy Bridge i5-3570k. I would say most like are like ARMA 3; dependent on the CPU, but not excessively.

Let's say the Q9650 will get 44 FPS which is in between the performance of the CPUs I mentioned above. The i5-3570k gets 51 FPS. The difference is 7 FPS which means the i5-3570k get about 16% better performance than the Q9650. Another of looking at it is the Q9650 gives you about 14% less performance with the GTX Titan compared to the i5-3570k.

Naturally, the GTX Titan is way beyond your budget, but this demonstrates that at worse you will suffer about a 14% performance when matched up with an extremely high end graphics card. The lower the performance of the graphics, the lower the lost in performance due to CPU bottlenecking. So a Radeon HD 7790 / GTX 650 Ti you should not be bottlenecked at all.

In your price range, the best graphic cards you can buy is a Radeon HD 7870 and the GTX 660. Overall performance is very similar and so is the price. It would basically be a matter of preference. Would your Q9650 bottleneck either card? My guess is you might experience a loss of maybe 5% at most if paired up with a more modern CPU.
a c 362 U Graphics card
January 8, 2014 5:06:14 PM

The new Radeon R7 270 selling for similar prices compared to the Radeon HD 7870 and GTX 660, however I have not seen any benchmarks of that card. I know the R7 270X is more powerful and more expensive compared to the cards I mentioned above.
January 17, 2014 12:02:06 PM

thanks a million jaguars!
January 31, 2014 3:46:15 PM

does anyone know if the two fan model is much better than the one fan model of this? is that the only difference is an extra fan? i'm not into overclocking and will just run it stock so is there any reason to spend the extra money for the two fan model?

this one

XFX AMD Radeon HD 7870 2GB GDDR5 2DVI/HDMI/2Mini DisplayPort PCI-Express Graphics Card

or this one

XFXAMD Radeon HD 7870 2GB GDDR5 2DVI/HDMI/2 Mini Display Port PCI-Express Video Card FX787ACNFC

January 31, 2014 3:54:11 PM

i saved up $200 in amazon gift cards over christmas and my birthday so that's why i gotta get it from amazon.