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Thread: Tech/PC hardware question thread... let mortal upgrades begin!

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    Ascendant rabb1t's Avatar
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    Default Tech/PC hardware question thread... let mortal upgrades begin!

    What with growing excitement about beta peeps may be getting excited and wondering if their system can handle things or may want to upgrade. While I'm not saying 'go run out and spend money to play', I figure peeps might want a semi-official place to throw out some questions. Though I don't always have access to teh Internets to answer I'll get to 'em when I can (I'm usually on a few hours every day), and if I don't get to 'em right away it's possible Fozzik or someone else may be around to answer ya.

    So... provided it's not to early for peeps to start asking, let the asking begin! (or, you know, not and we can lol at how fast the thread sinks. )
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    Plane Touched Ware's Avatar
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    Thanks for the offer rabb1t - I'll start this off.

    Is it worth it to upgrade my GeForce 9800GTX to a GeForce GTX 460 or better? I have a Best Buy gift card burning a hole in my pocket and I'm debating if the performance upgrade is worth the price...

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    Prophet of Telara Fozzik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ware View Post
    Thanks for the offer rabb1t - I'll start this off.

    Is it worth it to upgrade my GeForce 9800GTX to a GeForce GTX 460 or better? I have a Best Buy gift card burning a hole in my pocket and I'm debating if the performance upgrade is worth the price...
    What's the rest of your system like?

    Would you be upgrading for games you're playing now, or just for Rift?
    Last edited by Fozzik; 09-11-2010 at 05:20 AM.
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    Ascendant rabb1t's Avatar
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    As above, but I'll add...

    How is the performance in the games you are playing? Are you happy with it? While you would gain power, do you really need that power? While a bit behind, the 9800 GTX should still be holding pretty solid in most games. (I know my 8800 GTX was running Mass Effect 2 at 1920x1200 on I believe high or maxed.) Note that LCDs cap at 60 FPS, well most anyways, so if you are seeing an average FPS of say 40 in your games it may not be all that worth it compared to waiting. A big gain you'd get by changing to something newer would be DX11, but right now not many games use any DX10+ effects, let alone DX11. And of couse, DX10/11 would be dependant on having Vista / Win 7.

    Sooo... yeah. We needs more info. Note though with Foz and my questions, we are really focusing on 'do you feel you need to upgrade right now due to not being happy with your current performance?' While the obvious answer is that Rift beta isn't even here yet, there is also the point that there are series 6 AMD cards coming 'soon(tm)', and no doubt more Nvidia series 4 cards, possibly the series 5, also soonish. Both will be trying to put out new shinies for the holiday season, so you may want to hold off until then if you are ok with performance now. (But that depends on the rest of your system, as Foz already pointed out. Graphics may not be your most burning upgrade.)

    (I'm out until the morning PST, so hopefully nothing will asplode before then. ;) )
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ware View Post
    Is it worth it to upgrade my GeForce 9800GTX to a GeForce GTX 460 or better? I have a Best Buy gift card burning a hole in my pocket and I'm debating if the performance upgrade is worth the price...
    Well I can sort of add to this. I recently upgraded from a Radeon 4870 1gb card to the GeForce 460 1gb. I was alittle iffy on the upgrade at first tbh. I can honestly tell you 2 things. First, the GTX460s are horribly underclocked from the factory. EVERY 460 will OC to 800/1600/2000 (core/shader/mem). I'm sure this was done from a marketing standpoint because when "overclocked" they reach into Nvidias more expensive 470 territory. Even if you're generally not comfortable with overclocking, you could see the "overclock" on the 460 as simply placing at its true clocks instead of over them. As for the comparison between your 9800 and the 460, well, 9800s are very roughly half as fast as a 460 at stock clocks and closer to 1/3 the speed of an OC'd 460. IMO its a very nice upgrade even if you choose not to overclock it.

    Second, unless that BB gift card is for 100$ or more, I'd stay away from the brick and mortar stores and order the 460 online. Not sure if I can name stores on here (Mod: edit it if its against the rules please) but Newegg, Microcenter or Tiger Direct would be your best bet for a good price, in that order. Make sure you get the 1gb card instead of the 768, it not only has more RAM but also additional shaders which make a huge difference.

    As Rabb1t and Foz said above, make sure your system can handle the upgrade also. I placed my 460 into an i7 system and it runs great, it ran great with the 4870 as well. However, I placed my 4870 into my LAN Pc, a Core 2 2.4ghz, and the 4870 doesn't go above maybe 80% usage. AkA, the processor cant feed the graphics card enough data to keep it busy (There may be other issuses with that pc , I just havent had the time to spend with it but its a good example). If I had paid for this upgrade to my Core 2 system I'd surely not be getting my moneys worth.
    Last edited by Shangril; 09-08-2010 at 08:18 PM.

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    Plane Touched Ware's Avatar
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    Thanks Fozzik, rabb1t, and Shangril for the replies.

    I have a 3.16Ghz Core 2 Duo (E8500) with 8Mb PC6400 DDR2 RAM. As far as I can tell, my motherboard (GIGABYTE GA-EP35-DS3L) will support a Core 2 Quad but I'd have to upgrade it to go to the i3/i5/i7 line. What I'm noticing is with newer games (e.g. Starcraft 2) I get frame rate issues when I play using the highest graphics settings - not a huge deal I guess but what fun would computing be if I upgraded only when I absolutely needed it!

    Games on my radar now are Civ 5, Rift, GW2, and SWTOR.
    Last edited by Ware; 09-09-2010 at 01:33 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ware View Post
    Thanks Fozzik, rabb1t, and Shangril for the replies.

    I have a 3.16Ghz Core 2 Duo (E8500) with 8Mb PC6400 DDR2 RAM. As far as I can tell, my motherboard (GIGABYTE GA-EP35-DS3L) will support a Core 2 Quad but I'd have to upgrade it to go to the i3/i5/i7 line. What I'm noticing is with newer games (e.g. Starcraft 2) I get frame rate issues when I play using the highest graphics settings - not a huge deal I guess but what fun would computing be if I upgraded only when I absolutely needed it!

    Games on my radar now are Civ 5, Rift, GW2, and SWTOR.
    SC2 uses a lot of CPU.

    Given US prices an upgrade to a i5 with a 460 is very affordable.

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    Prophet of Telara Fozzik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ware View Post
    Thanks Fozzik, rabb1t, and Shangril for the replies.

    I have a 3.16Ghz Core 2 Duo (E8500) with 8Mb PC6400 DDR2 RAM. As far as I can tell, my motherboard (GIGABYTE GA-EP35-DS3L) will support a Core 2 Quad but I'd have to upgrade it to go to the i3/i5/i7 line. What I'm noticing is with newer games (e.g. Starcraft 2) I get frame rate issues when I play using the highest graphics settings - not a huge deal I guess but what fun would computing be if I upgraded only when I absolutely needed it!

    Games on my radar now are Civ 5, Rift, GW2, and SWTOR.
    What's your power supply?

    I think that CPU is fine for current games, as long as you're using a relatively high resolution and settings. What resolution do you typically game at?

    The frame rate issues you are seeing...are they more stuttering or is the frame rate just low all the time?

    EDIT: An update to a Core i5 CPU would mean also buying a new motherboard and new RAM. I don't think that's really necessary from a game performance standpoint yet. The amount of performance you'd gain wouldn't justify that cost. If you are getting stuttering performance issues, it's likely that you're hard drive is coming into play (you definitely have enough RAM), if it's more a consistent low frame rate...then a GPU upgrade might make a noticeable difference.
    Last edited by Fozzik; 09-09-2010 at 02:48 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fozzik View Post
    What's your power supply?

    I think that CPU is fine for current games, as long as you're using a relatively high resolution and settings. What resolution do you typically game at?

    The frame rate issues you are seeing...are they more stuttering or is the frame rate just low all the time?

    EDIT: An update to a Core i5 CPU would mean also buying a new motherboard and new RAM. I don't think that's really necessary from a game performance standpoint yet. The amount of performance you'd gain wouldn't justify that cost. If you are getting stuttering performance issues, it's likely that you're hard drive is coming into play (you definitely have enough RAM), if it's more a consistent low frame rate...then a GPU upgrade might make a noticeable difference.
    I have a 650w power supply and typically play at 1800 x 1000 or thereabouts (that's the maximum viewable area for my monitor). As for the frame rate, it's more stuttering than consistently low. It coincides with a lot of action on the screen like big RvR battles in WAR or the video overlay during the SC2 campaigns. It feels like an edge case right now in that I don't see consistently low frame rates but I'm concerned that the next generation of games will push me a few steps down the display setting sliders to get decent performance.

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    Prophet of Telara Fozzik's Avatar
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    You might not see much improvement in the current issues you're having by upgrading your video card. It may be better to wait until the next-gen games come out and you try them to see how they perform...by then you'll be able to get more GPU for your money, anyway...so it's a win-win. I think waiting is probably your best option right now.

    You might consider (and this is obviously sort of a frivolous expense) an SSD... it might help some with the stuttering you're seeing and wouldn't cost nearly as much as a mobo+CPU+RAM+Vid card upgrade.

    Also remember that with games played online, it's possible that some stuttering and lag is actually caused by the server or your ping...and nothing you do with your computer will change that (other than moving it closer to the server).
    Last edited by Fozzik; 09-09-2010 at 05:39 AM.
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    Plane Touched Ware's Avatar
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    Thanks very much Fozzik - I really appreciate the help! Doing my own research on this kind of stuff gives me a lot of data but little context on how it all relates to performance...

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    Ascendant rabb1t's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ware View Post
    I have a 3.16Ghz Core 2 Duo (E8500) with 8Mb PC6400 DDR2 RAM. ... What I'm noticing is with newer games (e.g. Starcraft 2) I get frame rate issues when I play using the highest graphics settings.
    That seems odd. While I haven't been able to play single player, when I was playing in beta with my X2 4200+ and 8800 GTX, both under your specs, at 1920x1200 I'm pretty sure SC2 auto-detected at Ultra settings.

    I'd think you shouldn't be seeing studdering. If you haven't already, and again I don't have SC2 so this is just guessing, try turning down the shadow settings, and turning anti-aliasing to 4x if it has an option to do so.

    As Foz mentioned, spending money on a core change won't net you a huge gain, but should you decide to do so here is a lower cost suggestions to consider. (Though again, a graphic change would likely net you more gain, but I'd say hold out for the holiday cards and see what's out there.) Also note that a core change would require installing an OS. If you don't have one to move over, that will increase any core change cost by +$100.

    AMD Athlon II X3 440 $75
    G.Skill Ripjaws 4 gig DDR3-1600 $96
    Asus M4A77TD AM3 motherboard $80 - note while this is low cost it's limited to a single GPU slot.

    Total = $251


    Quote Originally Posted by Ware View Post
    Doing my own research on this kind of stuff gives me a lot of data but little context on how it all relates to performance...
    My site has some help on that, and Tom's Hardware has several handy charts that compare performance.
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    Prophet of Telara Fozzik's Avatar
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    After rabb1t's comments...Is it possible that your Windows install is sloppy, and that might be causing the performance issues?

    Do you regularly check for spyware and viruses? Do you have anti-virus running?
    Do you clean out cookies and temp files?
    Do you defrag?
    How long since your last reinstall of Windows?
    What are you running in the background while playing? Do you have tons of icons in your system tray?
    How full is your hard drive?
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    Can I chime in here for a question as well.

    How do you see a 2.8ghz 2CPU with a 550 watt power supply run at 460gtx?

    That is what i'm running now and am looking to upgrade to the 460 graphics card(and OC it), and hope I dont need to upgrade the power supply..


    Thanks guys.

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    Ascendant rabb1t's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xanax View Post
    How do you see a 2.8ghz 2CPU
    It's not so much about the speed and the generation/model of the CPU. Something that's newer tech will sometimes greatly outperform older tech even though it's slower raw speed.

    What CPU are you talking about?

    with a 550 watt power supply run at 460gtx
    Errrrmmm. That sounds really low powered. Evga often references what they think should be a minimum, let's take a peek. Looks like the new FTW edition recommends a 450w, so you should be ok. Note though that not all PSUs are created equally. It's not just raw watts you need to worry about, but also how much power is on each line.

    Personally I really don't recommend less than around 650w for a single GPU system, and ideally I'd say go with 850w so you are ready to go dual card or just have plenty of power. With your 550... again, it should work, but I don't recommend keeping it for long even if it did. Remember, a power supply is just a controled lightning gun. If that gets out of control...

    You can also think of the PSU as the heart of your system. If you went to the doctor one day and he said, 'well the bad news is you need a new heart, the good news is that I have this dog's heart in the back and that should work ok' would you really want to go with something that's going to be just above minimum, or would you rather be a bit more safe?

    Corsair are solid with lots of connections. If cost is a real concern I'd say look at OCZ. They may not have enough connectors to consider multi-card without going to 850w or higher, but you may find something in the 650-700w range that'd be a bit lower cost.
    Last edited by rabb1t; 09-09-2010 at 12:50 PM.
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