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  1. #1
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    Looking for Advice Upgrading my Graphics

    I am looking to upgrade my video card (GTS 250) and my monitor acer al2216w (1680x1050). I've been looking around newegg and tiger direct at everything but it becomes overwhelming for me, so I ask for your recommendations because you guys helped me build this rig originally a year ago on a budget and I have been very happy with it so far.

    The reason I want to upgrade my video card is because it only supports newer games such as Skyrim and Rage at only medium graphic settings. I buy new graphic intensive games as they come out and it's a waste to not be able to view them at their highest quality settings. So i was looking at video cards and stumbled upon the fact that they are soon to come out with new more powerful series the GTX 600 and AMD hd 7000. Is it worth while to wait a couple months to buy new cards or wait just because the price of current cards will drop significantly? I want to know if I should buy now and if you guys are aware of any great deals or have any recommendations for high performances video card brands/models.

    My monitor only supports 1680x1050 resolution that's why I want to upgrade it, I like my current monitor because there is little screen glare no glossy edges and the edges are minimal in size. Its 22". Do you guys have any monitors you are currently recommending? Looking for anything 1920x1080 that will perform well for gaming.

    Here's the shorthand for the specs of my rig I think you'll need:
    500W PSU Gigabye Mobo AMD Phenom 2 x3 GTS 250
    I don't have a budget, because I'm looking for a long term investment, although I'm not rich so I'd like to pay less then $1000 in worst case scenario where I need to upgrade my PSU.

  2. #2
    PC Upgrade Procrastinator ShyguyXPC's Avatar
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    Until those cards come out, there's no telling how good they will be over current generation cards.

    I also recently read that the new Radeon 7900 series cards are expected to be AT LEAST $350 price tag, up to $450-500 at release.

    The only thing I can think of with your system is the CPU might be a bottleneck on some of the top end cards, and the GTX 600/Radeon 7800/7900 series out next year.

    You could overclock it, or even see if the X3 will unlock to a Full X4 model via the motherboards Bios.

    PSU should still be ok for a Single Card.

    Since you have a Crossfire capable Mobo (no SLI Support) and your talking Long term here...

    Though single card is still best bet...

    May want to check to see if that Mobo has a Bios Update that would let you run Socket AM3+ CPU's. (Specifically the Piledriver CPU's coming out next year, as the current Bulldozers aren't worth it over the Prior Phenom II Series).

    but I'd consider something like a Radeon 6900 series card currently with a bigger PSU, 650W range or so, maybe 700W.

    Since those 6900's are usually 200W+ range cards for power consumption.


    Downside is the 6900's will be severely bottlenecked by the CPU currently.


    For under, WELL under $1000 worst case scenario...

    Newegg.com - Acer S231HLbid Black 23" 5ms HDMI LED-Backlight LCD monitor Slim Design 250 cd/m2 ACM 12,000,000:1 (1000:1)

    Newegg.com - MSI 990XA-GD55 AM3+ AMD 990X SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard

    Newegg.com - AMD FX-4100 Zambezi 3.6GHz (3.8GHz Turbo) Socket AM3+ 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor FD4100WMGUSBX

    Newegg.com - EVGA 012-P3-1571-KR GeForce GTX 570 HD w/Display-Port (Fermi) 1280MB 320-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card

    Subtotal: $744.96

    $30 off w/ promo code EMCJHKD64, ends 12/12 On the Monitor

    $20 promotional gift card w/ purchase, ends 12/14 With the CPU.



    As for the PSU, it should still be able to handle all that with just a Single GPU, but if you ran something more powerful CPU wise, or 2nd Video card down the road, then I'd see about Upgrading it.

    Your DDR3 you have now should work in this board with the CPU also.

    Drives, and everything else should be transferable.

    Mobo is Crossfire AND SLI capable.

    The new AMD Bulldozers aren't all that much more powerful in single Threaded operations than Prior AMD's were. And Multi Threaded uses are quite optimized it seems. But considering AMD has Ceased Production of Current Athlon II/Phenom II CPU's whats out there is all there is.

    So anything newer will be AMD "Bulldozer" FX series, or when their 2nd revision "Piledriver" is released.

    Just be aware some of these Motherboards, though supporting the newer CPU's need a Bios Update before they will run them (usually the case with the FX Series 6 & 8 core CPU's), so many users need to pick up a cheap Sempron Single Core AM3 CPU and use it to do the Bios Update before popping in the new CPU.

    In your case, you could just use the CPU you have now though.



    Cheaper in budget, you could just toss in a couple Radeon 6770's in that system you have now. Run them in Crossfire, and the PSU should still be enough, as the cards are only about 110W a piece. (36A on +12V Rail for that PSU)

    108W x 2 = 216W total, WELL below the 36A (432W) available on the +12V Rail of the PSU.

    PSU also has Dual 6 Pin connectors which is all you'd need for the 2 cards.

    It may bottleneck the CPU a bit, but since its Crossfire and depending on the Resolutions, games, and settings, actual performance increases could be all over the board, there may or may not be a bottleneck depending on all this.

    Still could try to unlock the CPU to a Quad, see if that helps (either it will or won't unlock, so no harm in trying)

    Same monitor above

    +

    2x Newegg.com - MSI R6770 Twin Frozr II/OC Radeon HD 6770 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card

    Subtotal: $439.97


    Minus the $30 Promo Code before 12/12/11

    and your just over $400 mark not including shipping.

    Could spend closer to $110 per card instead, for a lesser cooling system,

    Newegg.com - HIS H677F1GD Radeon HD 6770 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card with Eyefinity



    it certainly isn't a long long term solution, but on a budget so to speak its a worth while idea. That or just go with a single Radeon 6870 instead.

    Newegg.com - MSI R6870 Twin Frozr II Radeon HD 6870 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card with Eyefinity

    And add a 2nd later if needed.


    Could even toss in the 6870 or a Geforce GTX 560 (similar performance card) into the AMD Bulldozer list above, instead of the GTX 570, and throw in a 2nd later if needed for better performance, along with a better PSU.

    Subtotal: $604.96



    Overall its really hard to say what to do, with no real budget restrictions.

    Waiting for the GTX 600 or Radeon 7900's are an option, but like I mentioned until they come out there's no way to know how much better they really will be.

    with GTX 600 I have read that those may not be released until spring time, if that.
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  3. #3
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    I was able to unlock the 4th core. About overclocking, one of my cores reaches 50c while gaming so I'd need a new cpu cooler. At what point will this CPU not bottleneck a GTX 750 or the like? Speedfan isn't picking up the 4th core, does that one not have a temperature sensor?

    If i need a new Mobo I need to work in the fact that i have a raid 0 with 5 hdd and also 2 more hdds and a cdrom drive. Im using 8 SATA 3 ports on my MOBO.

    I only want to go with 1 video card. I don't want SLI/Crossfire since it produces mixed results with games.

    I do like the monitor, but I was wondering what the status of higher resolutions is? or if it seems like 1080 is going to be king for a while.
    Last edited by tomblits; December 9th, 2011 at 06:59 PM.

  4. #4
    PC Upgrade Procrastinator ShyguyXPC's Avatar
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    for most consumers 1920x1080 (16:9) or 1920x1200 (16:10) is about the best you will need.

    There are some higher resolutions, but they're geared towards high end applications like 3D graphics/Animation, or stuff like that needing a Lot of screen size real estate.

    AND... They cost a lot more.


    next step beyond 1080p range displays is running 2 or more monitors in a Spanned environment, for example running Battlefield 3 on 3 Displays for 1920x1080 would be 1920x3240.

    1 Video card is fine, I'd get as much as you can for the price, GTX 570 or Radeon 6970 is about as high as I would go.

    OR for a bit more than the GTX 570, something like EVGA's GTX 460 2Win, which costs less, but performance is on par with a GTX 580 (though it is a Dual GPU Card running 2 GTX 460's in SLI on the card).

    Newegg.com - EVGA 02G-P3-1387-KR GeForce GTX 460 2Win (Fermi) 2GB 512-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready Video Card

    Its an extremely long card, uses a Fair chunk of Power, about 350-375W if I remember.


    Definite PSU upgrade would be needed.

    Its about 11 or 12 inches in length I think.

    But if your looking at the newer AMD build idea and a single GTX 570, or even that 460 2Win Card...

    a mobo like this would fit what your looking for as far as SATA connectors go:

    Newegg.com - ASRock 990FX Extreme4 AM3+ AMD 990FX SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard


    has 8 SATA 6.0Gb/s connectors, 6 of which can be run in RAID.



    just curious, why so many HDD's run in RAID 0?

    Is it RAID 0, or JBOD that your running them? (all the drives identical or is it a mix of various drives?)
    Last edited by ShyguyXPC; December 9th, 2011 at 08:00 PM.
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  5. #5
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    The reason I have 5 in Raid 0 is because I had them in Raid 5 before for the redundancy but somehow the raid configuration got corrupted and I lost all the data so I decided if there is no benefit for the redundancy that I would just get as much performance as I could out of them.

    Is upgrading my CPU a must? I looked up my MOBO and it doesn't look like my MOBO will support AM3+.

    I like the idea of the
    Newegg.com - EVGA 02G-P3-1387-KR GeForce GTX 460 2Win (Fermi) 2GB 512-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready Video Card
    However does it still have the issues of a SLI card with games that don't properly support it? or will it run as if it was a single unit?
    Last edited by tomblits; December 9th, 2011 at 08:31 PM.

  6. #6
    PC Upgrade Procrastinator ShyguyXPC's Avatar
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    It would still have the same Limitations, but even still, Coming up from a GTS 250 to a single GTX 460 is like Night & day, so even if you did encounter a game with lack of SLI support its not the end of the world.

    EVGA has a GTX 560 Ti 2Win recently released as well, but its much more pricier, Single GTX 560 Ti from a GTX 460 1GB isn't a huge jump either, but if a single GPU was used in Non SLI situations, it'd be better off than a single GTX 460.

    Newegg.com - EVGA 02G-P3-1569-KR GeForce GTX 560 Ti 2Win (Fermi) 2GB 512-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready Video Card

    But that pricing isn't far off from a GTX 580's pricing, and when you factor in SLI performance, its better than a single 580.

    Otherwise, a single GTX 570

    Newegg.com - Computer Hardware, Desktop Graphics / Video Cards, 480 Processor Cores, GeForce GTX 500 series, 1280MB

    or Single Radeon 6970 would be the best choices for that price range if SLI/Crossfire is an issue.

    Newegg.com - Computer Hardware, Desktop Graphics / Video Cards, Radeon HD 6000 series, Radeon HD 6970


    As far as Upgrading the CPU, for the cards listed here, Yes, otherwise your paying more for GPU performance that can't be used due to the CPU choking it for optimal performance.


    If you went with something lesser like a Radeon 6870 or Geforce GTX 560 it would be less of an issue and less in costs.

    Still even those are massive jumps up from a GTS 250.
    i7 940//Corsair H60//EVGA X58 SLI LE//6GB Corsair Vengeance 1600MHz//2x EVGA GTX 560 Ti FPB SLI//NZXT Hale82 850W//CM 690 II Advanced//Win7 64//WD 74GB V-raptor, 750GB Black, 1.5TB Green

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  7. #7
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    So whats the deal with the Zambezi processor and waiting for the Piledriver CPU? I'd be up for upgrading my Mobo and processor, just want to know why you recommend buying the Piledriver later. I'll probably grab a good cooler for the CPU as well if you guys have any recommendations for that as well so I can overclock it.

  8. #8
    PC Upgrade Procrastinator ShyguyXPC's Avatar
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    as stated the current FX series Socket AM3+ CPU's don't really perform much better, and in some cases worse than Current Phenom II X4's.

    Since the Older Socket AM3 CPU's aren't being made anymore, their going to be in short supply and only the Socket FM1, and Socket AM3+ CPU's are to be made, for desktops, the Zambezi Quad is the cheapest one out right now for AM3+.

    Bulldozers were a bust, despite AMD's promises on an Intel Killer. Intels Socket 1155 Sandy Bridge chips are still better.

    for that same price range all one can get is an Intel Dual Core, though comparable in performance to the lower range AMD quads, but still, for an Intel Quad your still going to have to pony up close to $200.

    For an intel build you'd be looking at $800+ with that monitor and GTX 570.

    Newegg.com - Intel Core i5-2400 Sandy Bridge 3.1GHz (3.4GHz Turbo Boost) LGA 1155 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor Intel HD Graphics 2000 BX80623I52400

    Newegg.com - GIGABYTE GA-Z68XP-UD3 LGA 1155 Intel Z68 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard

    Newegg.com - CORSAIR Vengeance 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Low Profile Desktop Memory Model CML4GX3M2A1600C9

    Newegg.com - EVGA 012-P3-1571-AR GeForce GTX 570 HD w/Display-Port (Fermi) 1280MB 320-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card

    Newegg.com - Acer S231HLbid Black 23" 5ms HDMI LED-Backlight LCD monitor Slim Design 250 cd/m2 ACM 12,000,000:1 (1000:1)

    Subtotal: $868.95

    the 500W OCZ should still handle all that.

    Added in the DDR3 since it was so cheap and might as well maximize performance, run it at 1600Mhz rated RAM speed, even if you aren't OCing.

    For $30 more you could opt for this one: Newegg.com - Intel Core i5-2500K Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz (3.7GHz Turbo Boost) LGA 1155 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor Intel HD Graphics 3000 BX80623I52500K

    a bit more OCing Friendly with unlocked clock multipliers.

    The one issue with the Mobo I could see, and this was based solely on the specs listed, is that it only shows the 3rd Gen SATA ports as having RAID support (4 of them), and nothing listed for the 4 SATA 2nd Gen ports (though I'm sure they should support RAID as well, but nothing is listed., and whether or not the 2 chipsets for each would communicated with one another running RAID would have to be seen as well, may have to sacrifice one of the 5 drives for RAID 0 if it turns out it doesn't support it for the 2nd gen ports)

    Otherwise, a 6x 3rd gen SATA mobo costs $250+

    for some reason boards with that many ports cost far more than they do for an AMD system.

    Intels Z68 chipset is also the newest and usually recommended not to bother with older P67. if your just building a real basic budget system the H61/67 boards are ok, but for a good gaming based system its recommended to stick with Z68 for now.

    But Price wise the AMD route is still better.

    Nothing really wrong with the current Zambezi's, but they just don't provide a big enough boost in performance over the older gen CPU's. But for the price, its still a good deal.
    i7 940//Corsair H60//EVGA X58 SLI LE//6GB Corsair Vengeance 1600MHz//2x EVGA GTX 560 Ti FPB SLI//NZXT Hale82 850W//CM 690 II Advanced//Win7 64//WD 74GB V-raptor, 750GB Black, 1.5TB Green

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    Last edited by tomblits; December 10th, 2011 at 01:51 PM.

  10. #10
    Reap what you sow Aaron_8015's Avatar
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    Pick up a 2x 4GB set....

    For CPU coolers look for the 212+ or maybe look at the H50/60 coolers?
    I7 920 @ 4.2Ghz/6GB//GTX480 SLI/M4 64 GB + 1.5 TB + 2x 640 GB/Corsair TX950/ASUS blu-ray/ASUS P6X58D-E + X-Fi /LC PCK62

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  11. #11
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    I have to drop the idea of AMD, and look at intel.
    Last edited by tomblits; December 10th, 2011 at 02:07 PM.

  12. #12
    What? SoloCamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tomblits View Post
    Why couldn't I use my current CPU in the new board? If they preform relatively the same.
    Has there been confirmation that the new Piledriver will be on the AM3+ socket?

    I'll stick with the AMD list of products here.

    The point being made is simply that sure, you could use your current cpu, and you could stick with an AMD based build, however sticking with that setup and then spending that much money on a new GPU and Monitor is not ideal.

    Why stick with AMD when their CPUs are not even currently in the same league with Intel? Go with an intel board and you will be much happier with the results at hand.

    This is coming from someone on a AMD build right now myself.

    Your current CPU is simply not a good match for that videocard if you want to extract it's actual performance. I've got a current GTX 550ti paired to an older 2.2ghz A64 Dual Core and it's a major bottleneck. This is essentially similar to the bottleneck you would face if you pair that 3.6 AMD with a top of the line GPU as my 550ti is mildly better than your gts450

    Essentially by placing a 570, 6970, etc and pairing it with a 3ghz or so AMD right now is not very smart, even if you do save a tiny bit of cash

    The AMD's are far from impressive right now, and again, please note, all of my past few rigs as well as my current have been AMD.
    Last edited by SoloCamo; December 10th, 2011 at 02:24 PM.
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  14. #14
    Reap what you sow Aaron_8015's Avatar
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    I would be thinking about an SSD and get a Z68 board, rather than using your 5 HDD raid array... Then setup the SSD cashing...
    I7 920 @ 4.2Ghz/6GB//GTX480 SLI/M4 64 GB + 1.5 TB + 2x 640 GB/Corsair TX950/ASUS blu-ray/ASUS P6X58D-E + X-Fi /LC PCK62

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aaron_8015 View Post
    I would be thinking about an SSD and get a Z68 board, rather than using your 5 HDD raid array... Then setup the SSD cashing...
    Why not a P67?
    I have a 64gb SSD for my main drive, the rest of the space is for multimedia and large video games. I could drop the raid down a drive if that's a big deal, I've never been able to reach max read/write speed anyways.

  16. #16
    Reap what you sow Aaron_8015's Avatar
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    Z68 has SSD cashing...
    I7 920 @ 4.2Ghz/6GB//GTX480 SLI/M4 64 GB + 1.5 TB + 2x 640 GB/Corsair TX950/ASUS blu-ray/ASUS P6X58D-E + X-Fi /LC PCK62

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    Didn't know what SSD cashing was before. That is very interesting technology, I could use it and remake my raid 0 back into raid 5 and still have similar load speeds with the reliability of data backup.

    Although I probably wont set up the SSD Caching until a HDD fails, since its about the same loss if I have to reformat my windows install on the SSD.

    Build List

    Intel Core i5-2500K Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz (3.7GHz Turbo Boost) LGA 1155 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor Intel HD Graphics 3000 BX80623I52500K
    MSI Z68A-GD65 (G3) LGA 1155 Intel Z68 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard with UEFI BIOS
    Newegg.com - Acer S231HLbid Black 23" 5ms HDMI LED-Backlight LCD monitor Slim Design 250 cd/m2 ACM 12,000,000:1 (1000:1)
    Newegg.com - XFX HD-697A-CNFC Radeon HD 6970 2GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card with Eyefinity
    Newegg.com - COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 Plus RR-B10-212P-G1 "Heatpipe Direct Contact" Long Life Sleeve 120mm CPU Cooler Compatible Intel Core i5 & Intel Core
    Newegg.com - G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1866 (PC3 14900) Desktop Memory

    Now does this look good? exactly $1000 a little expensive just to upgrade the video card :/

    What I plan to do is to buy the motherboard and cpu after I test out the other components in my current system and see if I notice the bottleneck from my CPU and if I do then I'll upgrade the motherboard and cpu otherwise I'll hold off until it is necessary.
    Last edited by tomblits; December 10th, 2011 at 05:05 PM.

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