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Best Upgrade path?

jkkyler
04-19-2012, 02:31 PM
I am getting an unexpected chunk of money and I was going to save some but take $200-$300 and look at ugrading my gaming rig.
currently I have a gtx 460. I had hoped to maybe get a 580 but those are still $430+ so I have found 550, 550ti, 560, and 560 ti.

How big a difference is there between a base and ti model is there (real world performance)?
Is it better to go up an iteration in card or get a lower model with more vram - meaning better to get a 550ti card with 2gb rvram or a 560/560ti with 1 gb vram? Not to current on radeon cards what level would be comparable- where does the radeon hd7770 place?

The other possibility would be to upgrade my cpu/mobo/ram - currently I have a phenomII 4.2g 955 black - unlocked to 3 cores but in an AM2+ mobo (biostar - not great but was free w/ cpu in bundle) with ddr2 ram so would I be better off going to an AM3/AM3+ processor (not bulldozer i know perhaps a six core thunderbird or quad core phenomII ) and new mobo and ddr3 ram or possibly a core i5 cpu and mobo with ddr3 - I have noticed that the core clock speed seems to actually be less on some of these 'upgrade' processors but being more cores does this matter? Also is there a big diff between 2400 and 2500k iterations ?

Mase
04-19-2012, 02:56 PM
I will tackle this question in regards to how much you are going to spend, if you stay at that $200-$300 you would not have enough to upgrade your RAM, CPU and MOBO. While that would be a good upgrade route that Tri Core @ 4.2ghz will get the job done for the time being. Plus you dont want to half ass a new build, so if you go the GPU route now you can pluck it out of this system adn throw it into a new one once you have the funds to do it right.

As to the GPU, if you went with Nvidia with those funds I would recommend a 560Ti 448, its a great bang for your buck card. The prices have come down and its on average 10% slower than a 570 which is on average 10-15% slower than a 580. They can be had for $250-$280 on Newegg right now and 570s are going for as low as $290 - $350. The 570 is also a good recommendation for the right price.

My personal choice would be the new 7850 as its on par with a 570 but costs just $250 and uses a shit less power. Its cool and quite and OC likes a monster! On average people are getting a 30% OC that shows a 10-15% performance increase which puts its faster than a 570 for almost a $100 less and still consumes less power (less heat).

AMD has the low end and mid end locked down for value or bang for your buck cards. With the 6850/6870 in the low end and the 7850 in the mid end, its hard to beat. Just dont go listening to Kams BS about AMD. I have NEVER had an issue and there are many here who have not had any issues either. Both have pros and cons but the value and performance speak for themselves.

EDIT:
As to your questions about the base 560 vs 560 Ti, the 560 is a waste imo as its nearly identicle to the 460 performance (slightly faster stock clocks) wise so it would be a side step to what you have now. Now the Ti is where there is a real difference as the 560 Ti has 384 shaders vs the 460 having 334, so its not just clocks that give it the advantage. In regards to VRAM its debatable especially if we are talking about games in the future. I am of the mind that more in this regard is not always better (meaning 1-1.5gbs is plenty for right now), just look up the 580 1.5gb vs the 580 3gb, even at resolutions of 2560x1600 or 5760x1600 both cards are indenticle with the 1.5gb actually getting a slight edge in some benches. Check it out here (http://www.overclockers.com/forums/showthread.php?t=684954). So could more VRAM be good in the future, yes but will that card be powerful enough and have enough bandwidth to utilize all of it? Who knows about the future, but right now I would not make a choice about cards solely based on VRAM unless you are using a program where more is better. For gaming, more is better is just not true right now and there are plenty of benchmarks to show just that.

railven
04-19-2012, 03:04 PM
GPU questions: Always, ALWAYS - for the love of kittens, buy the better GPU you can afford unless you are comparing some freak like the GTX 560 ti 448 and a GTX 570 (I'd still opt for the 570, but either card is still a win.) Anyways, yes there are performance difference with the ti and non-ti cards. A stock GTX 460 falls in line with a GTX 560, the GTX 560 ti is about 15-20% faster. The GTX 550 ti is slower than your GTX 460 by a smidge, and the GTX 560 should be in equal.

CPU Questions: If you are going to upgrade your whole platform I'd personally leave AMD. Bulldozer is all you have in the AM2/3 platform and even Piledriver got delayed. AMD has no saving grace in the AM2/3 platform - my opinion. If you really wanted to upgrade your platform, I'd look at the Intel line and eyeball an i3 to i5 range CPU. You'll notice off the bad the performance difference in at least every day tasks and encoding/decoding stuff. Only look at the higher range CPUs if you find yourself doing that alot. Either way, this is just my suggestion you won't be bottlenecking yourself in terms of GPU power with either AMD or Intel range of CPUs.

The K in the Intel names signifies that it is an unlocked processor. The number range is the class (I need to look up their stupid naming scheme) and the generation indicates their architecture differences, example:
Core i3 - dual core series with Hyper Threading - 2 physical cores + 2 virtual cores == 4 threads total
Core i5 - quad core series without hyper thread - 4 physical cores == 4 threads total
Core i7 - quad core series with Hyper Threading - 4 physical cores + 4 virtual cores == 8 threads total.

Now, for most mundane things such as web browsing, 2 cores is more then enough. For mid range gaming the same applies. For high end gaming 4 cores is still more than enough. If you are doing a butt load of computation, you want the 8 threads (there is no benefit to gaming going from 4 threads to 6 or 8 threads, games are still single/dual/quad threaded and thus don't scale too well beyond that. There is only one game I've played that benefit from 8 threads and it wasn't worth it - Rage with texture detail ON requires minimum 6 threads.)

Now the question is do you want to increase your gaming performance or your overall PC performance? I just upgrade my girlfriend from an AMD Phenom II X3 (unlocked fourth core) stock (no OC - forgot the base speed, i think 2.8ghz) with 2x2GB of RAM to an Intel 930 Core i7 OC'ed to 3.3ghz and she said off the bat her programs load faster and she is very excited with her new hardware (note she was an ex-AMD fangirl and this is her first Intel system, she didn't want to get Bulldozer after seeing how poorly it did in the consumer benches and we don't run server apps on our desktops.)

This post is already long so, I'll try to summarize my point:
GPU Upgrade - Shop around, I saw GTX 580's going for $350 after rebates if you really want to stay with nVidia. Or you can wait and see when the GTX 670's get revealed.
Platform Upgrade - You'd get a system performance increase going to Intel without spending too much dough, but that will be minimal and it won't do much for you in terms of gaming.

EDIT:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=ENE&N=-1&IsNodeId=1&Description=GTX%20580&bop=And&Order=PRICE&PageSize=20

AMD's recent announced price cuts for the HD 79xx series should influence these prices just a tad more. The HD 7950 is a tad better than the GTX 580 and is MSRPing for $380, so I'd personally expect to see all remaining GTX 5xx cards to scale down at least another $20-30.

railven
04-19-2012, 03:11 PM
Nice post Mase :thumbsup: You beat me to it this time haha :hithere:

I know Jkk is an nVidia user, but if he was even willing to entertain the thought, the HD 7850 is getting a bunch of love due to its OC'ing over head (1100-1200 on the core seems common), stays relatively cool and sips power. People are getting their HD 7850's into GTX 580 stock territory which is impressive for $250.

jkkyler
04-19-2012, 03:16 PM
I am looking for gaming improvements as that is what this computer is used for about 80-90% of the time with web browsing / music streaming/ media center as the rest. I have a separate desktop for productivity work.
As far as price for ~$325 I could go corei5 $175 ,4gb ram ~$45, and a slew of motherboards available for around the $100 or less mark so it can be done. Not to mention what I can get for my old ram/mobo/cpu but it sounds like gpu is the way to go now and my gtx 460 may be worth $90 on fleabay/craigslist but it sounds like gpu is the way to go. I have an Nvidia based on availability and price/value at the time of purchase - I could care less about who makes it just that it works and works well. My 460 came o'clocked and I have oc'd it even more - it is at about 22% over stock right now so sounds like I need a 560ti or 6870 (is the hd7770 any good?)

railven
04-19-2012, 03:22 PM
I am looking for gaming improvements as that is what this computer is used for about 80-90% of the time with web browsing / music streaming/ media center as the rest.
As far as price for ~$325 I could go corei5 $175 ,4gb ram ~$45, and a slew of motherboards available for around the $100 or less mark so it can be done. Not to mention what I can get for my old ram/mobo/cpu but it sounds like gpu is the way to go now and my gtx 460 may be worth $90 on fleabay/craigslist

If your ultimate goal is gaming, then platform swapping won't be a good choice. Your AMD system should power even up to a GTX 570 without hampering too much (and when it does hamper, you'll already be in the 100+ FPS range.)

I'd look at the GTX 560 ti 448 thru GTX 580, and see what fits best in your price range. I forgot to address your other question:

VRAM is only as good as the GPU. Everything you do in terms of gaming requires GPU computation, if you run out of GPU computation you can't saturate your RAM. Example, a GTX 560 ti 2GB cost almost as much as the GTX 560 ti 448 and GTX 570, which both have less VRAM, however they have more computation power so the GTX 560 ti 448 and GTX 570 have more ability to use their VRAM versus the GTX 560 ti 2GB. Before you can even hit the 2GB VRAM limit you'll start to see performance hitches due to not enough GPU power. Try not to get lost in the VRAM gimmick. Sure, more RAM is generally better, but if you aren't using it - it goes to waste, and never sacrifice performance for VRAM pool.

Mase
04-19-2012, 03:27 PM
Nice post Mase :thumbsup: You beat me to it this time haha :hithere:

I know Jkk is an nVidia user, but if he was even willing to entertain the thought, the HD 7850 is getting a bunch of love due to its OC'ing over head (1100-1200 on the core seems common), stays relatively cool and sips power. People are getting their HD 7850's into GTX 580 stock territory which is impressive for $250.
:lol:

Its about time I beat you to the punch!

As to the 7850, that card is an absolute steal!
I am looking for gaming improvements as that is what this computer is used for about 80-90% of the time with web browsing / music streaming/ media center as the rest.
As far as price for ~$325 I could go corei5 $175 ,4gb ram ~$45, and a slew of motherboards available for around the $100 or less mark so it can be done. Not to mention what I can get for my old ram/mobo/cpu but it sounds like gpu is the way to go now and my gtx 460 may be worth $90 on fleabay/craigslist

For pure gaming improvements, GPU hands down. Your CPU should not bottleneck the cards we are discussing and honestly going from what you have now to an i5 with faster memory may only net you a handful of frames at the current settings you are playing at now, this is assuming you dont play strategy based games where they require ungodly amounts of calculations or CPU based (think StarCraft, Civilization ect). A GPU for the majority of games will be the difference from MEdium settings to high settings and being able to run a lot of DX11 settings without killing your frames.

Mase
04-19-2012, 03:28 PM
If your ultimate goal is gaming, then platform swapping won't be a good choice. Your AMD system should power even up to a GTX 570 without hampering too much (and when it does hamper, you'll already be in the 100+ FPS range.)

I'd look at the GTX 560 ti 448 thru GTX 580, and see what fits best in your price range. I forgot to address your other question:

VRAM is only as good as the GPU. Everything you do in terms of gaming requires GPU computation, if you run out of GPU computation you can't saturate your RAM. Example, a GTX 560 ti 2GB cost almost as much as the GTX 560 ti 448 and GTX 570, which both have less VRAM, however they have more computation power so the GTX 560 ti 448 and GTX 570 have more ability to use their VRAM versus the GTX 560 ti 2GB. Before you can even hit the 2GB VRAM limit you'll start to see performance hitches due to not enough GPU power. Try not to get lost in the VRAM gimmick. Sure, more RAM is generally better, but if you aren't using it - it goes to waste, and never sacrifice performance for VRAM pool.

:lol:
I guess you beat me to this one!!!! Nice post and I agree with your sentiment on VRAM, we have seen some people here blow a lot of cash for what they may think is an upgrade but in reality it is not..

jkkyler
04-19-2012, 03:48 PM
I do play rts and cpu heavy games - Starcraft II, Civ 5. Those two and BF3 raise my cpu temps to 80-81c. I had my cpu temp regulated to shut down at 80 but I raised it to 85 and haven't had a shutdown since. This is with stock HSF, sounds like a gpu upgrade and new HSF/cooling solution is the way to go. I turn my eyecandy up and run most stuff at high or ultra res and trun things like Anti-aliasing and Af or ambient occlusion down/off and usually end up over 30 but less than 60 fps - BF3 looking damn pretty runs at about 47-52 fps even higher if i turn my resolution to 720p which is native on my projector when I use it but Metro2033 can bring my rig to it's knees.

Mase
04-19-2012, 04:04 PM
Well at that resolution a GPU will definintely make the most impact, as to a new HSF that is a great option and the one I recently installed took load temps from my friends Phenom II x4 from mid 70s to mid 40s!

However it may be a good idea to start planning for a new build soon, especially if you play heavy computational games. A 2500k i5 is just an amazing CPU for gaming and it OCs like a monter, with a modest HSF you can get it to 4.ghz no problem and just under 4ghz on stock air without tampering with voltages. Plus it sips power in comparison to Phenoms.

John Rambo
04-19-2012, 04:34 PM
570 is available under $300. I don't think I'd bother with the upgrade if only going to a 560ti. You're already spending $220+ for that card, for another $70-80, you can bump up to the 570.

jmwatkins
04-19-2012, 09:10 PM
I installed the same HSF on my Phenom II that Mase installed on his friends. I have yet to see the temp go over 50c, but I didn't really have a temp problem with the stock HSF and I don't play RTS games.

Also, while I'm happy with my 6870 and it is very good at stock settings for the price, I would not recommend it to anyone that wants to do some OC'ing. I overclocked the core last week for the first time. Stock setting is 900Mhz and I started getting artifacts at 940. 950 froze the card up. I then did some reading around the interwebs and found out that the 6870 is a poor overclocker. I'd go bigger if I were you anyway.

kharaa
04-19-2012, 09:32 PM
I installed the same HSF on my Phenom II that Mase installed on his friends. I have yet to see the temp go over 50c, but I didn't really have a temp problem with the stock HSF and I don't play RTS games.

Also, while I'm happy with my 6870 and it is very good at stock settings for the price, I would not recommend it to anyone that wants to do some OC'ing. I overclocked the core last week for the first time. Stock setting is 900Mhz and I started getting artifacts at 940. 950 froze the card up. I then did some reading around the interwebs and found out that the 6870 is a poor overclocker. I'd go bigger if I were you anyway.

TwoPlusTwo was having the same results on his 580 GTX, I tried to help him overclock it over the phone, and he was getting crashing and instability at like 50mhz over, which is kinda weird.

jkkyler
04-20-2012, 05:20 AM
My 460 is clocked at 900mhz FWIW - stock is 675 and the oc version that mine is came at 763 and andantech has the max listed at 840 (with one in particular able to get to 930 with an overvoltage at 1.062 - stock voltage is 1.00 and I run mine at 900 at 1.035 - afraid to go any higher didn't want to fry my card can't go any higher at my voltage of 1.035)

marcallo
04-20-2012, 07:08 AM
My I5-2500K Runs at 4.1Ghz on stock cooling. Doesn't usually go above 50C under load. It's a pretty hearty chip.

I should say of course I'm using an absolutely enormous case with 3 120 fans blowing in, and a 240 chimney blowing out the top. So it has amazing air flow.

jkkyler
04-20-2012, 09:04 AM
Yea my case has 2x120mm fans one in and one out as well as 2x240mm fans one chimney on top and another in the side panel right over my gpu blowing on it.

kamspy
04-21-2012, 07:09 PM
jkkyler, my financial situation may prompt me to sell my 580 for a good price. PM me.