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  1. #1
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    Bloomin' graphics cards! New PC but don't want to go all 'overkill' on the wallet!

    Hey guys and gals,

    Last year, I attempted to upgrade my PC by treating myself to a new GFX card - the nVidia GTX 850, and was horrified to realise that I couldn't fit it because it was too bloody big. The combination of the hardware that was already packed onto the motherboard meant that there was no hope of ever getting it in there - it would have literally crushed or irreversibly bent some of the circuit components out of the board.

    However, before I discovered this rather annoying problem, I didn't realise (likely as a result of my sloppy / ignorant research) that the card required two 8-pin power connectors, only one of which my PSU was actually capable of supplying. The card did come with a converter that transformer two 4-pin connectors into a single 8-pin one, but my PSU didn't even have any spare rear-panel slots for these aforementioned 4-pin plugs.

    Honestly, upgrading is a bloody nightmare. Back in the late 90's and the first few years of the 00's, I was quite content building machines up from scratch and cherrypicking my favoured components. Now, however, it seems that buying a modern graphics card requires you to reserve a small auditorium within which to acommodate it.

    I have a watercooled i5 750, nVidia GTX 285, so it's not a pants machine by any standard. But the watercooler is starting to beep regularly as the pump fails, and the graphics card seems to be running hot regularly now, as I think the fans are stuttering, and in some cases failing completely.

    I'd like to purchase a new gaming machine, but I'm not one of these people to want the latest and greatest 'must have' gaming rigs - I just want something capable that will be able to run moderns games on their 'good' graphic settings at a decent framerate.

    I'm totally out of the loop now with hardware, to be honest. Back when I built PCs, it was all about 'Socket 7' or 'Slot A' motherboards and DIMM chips, with their fancy new 'AGP' graphics busses. Now, I couldn't even tell you what the standards are, or even what format of memory is the most 'current'.

    What sort of budget should I be looking at? And more to the point, is there a decent UK supplier that doesn't ponce you off in the manner you might get if you walk into PC World and have one of their salespeople try and dumb down to you why having 'tech guy' aftersales support and warranties is a must have. Please, that's why I have home insurance!

    Thanks to anyone who can offer an olive-branch on this :)

    EDIT: As wisely pointed out, I should've probably mentioned that my budget is around the 1,300 mark - no need for a display, keyboard or mouse!
    Last edited by pixelprime; 10-03-2012 at 02:09 PM.

  2. #2
    First of all, welcome! I hope you enjoy your stay. In the future it would be better to submit a thread like this to the 'Tech Support' subforum, that way everything's a lot neater. :)

    Do you have a budget for the PC? If you set a budget then everyone here would be able to build a new PC tailored to your needs in 5 minutes.

  3. #3
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    Sorry, I'm not quite au fait with the structure of these forums yet. So many, and with so many different rules :)

    My budget is probably looking around the 1300 maximum. No need for a display (or KB / mouse), just the box would be enough!

  4. #4
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    Dunno if it may be useful, but I recently upgraded my rig to an Intel i5 2500k, 4gb Corsair RAM, ASUS PBZ68-V LX motherboard and a 2gb Nvidia GT440, with a new Corsair TX550M power unit and a 1TB SATA HD. Had to fish out around 500 € total, reusing monitor, kb/mouse and case. This thing manages to run everything at top detail on 1440x900 (I have an ASUS widescreen monitor) as long as I keep antialiasing down to 2x or off (I find the loss of framerate to be excessive for a very minor increase in visual quality). I built that all by myself, however, so if you're okay with tinkering you may save some bucks.

  5. #5
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Grizzly's Avatar
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    Toms hardware page is extremely usefull when it comes to people who are doubtfull about their hardware purchases. Here's a neat link for your convenience.

  6. #6
    Lesser Hivemind Node Feldspar's Avatar
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    1300 is probably overkill, if I say 800 will buy you what you want then someone will spec a 500 machine that will suffice :)

  7. #7
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    Unless you have money to burn, you don't need to replace your whole machine.

    If you're looking for a new graphics card a Radeon HD7850 or HD7870 should serve you well. Neither of them should be larger than your current GTX 285, and they use less power while offering a substantial performance boost.
    It may be worth waiting a week or three to see what Nvidia brings to the table with their upcoming GTX 680/670 release. They should also be good performers without taking up a huge amount of space or power.

    The state of consumer CPU's hasn't advanced much in the last couple of years. Unless you do a lot of video encoding or software 3D rendering, then your presumably factory overclocked i5 750 should continue to serve you well.
    Last edited by kalelovil; 10-03-2012 at 03:42 PM.

  8. #8
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    Thanks, everyone who took the time to reply to my questions.

    It might be worth reiterating my original point about the watercooling sporadically failing - I actually went into the BIOS and disabled the factory's default 'overclocked' settings that had been used for the CPU timing. I was concerned that the extra juice the CPU was pulling was perhaps getting too much for the watercooler to bear the brunt of, and that's especially more apparent now that pump isn't up to scratch. I didn't want to overstress it.

    After all, a less speedy machine that works is still better than a broken one.

    I spoke to the original supplier, and they don't make this type of watercooler anymore, which means I'd probably have to fork out for a newer version - and those things are bloody expensive. Add on top of that the intention of upgrading the graphics card (even if, as suggested, to a middle-of-the-road between what I have and what's most modern), we're still talking getting quids-in.

    Let's say I'd drop my budget to a more acceptible level of 800, I'm probably going to follow the advice of some on here and work with that as my budget; but I don't really know if I'm at all comfortable doing a self-build anymore.

    I'll take a look at Tom's Hardware though, perhaps an out of touch hardware guy like me can glean some useful ground-up build assistance there :)

    One more thing (In my best Peter Falk)...

    Back in the day, if you bought all the components yourself you could save yourself a fortune over a shelf-purchase. Nowadays, I see ads in magazines offering gaming machines for as little as 600. Can a self-build really be much cheaper / viable these days?

    Thanks, guys.

  9. #9
    Lesser Hivemind Node Spider Jerusalem's Avatar
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    a self-build is most certainly still miles cheaper.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by pixelprime View Post
    ...
    Get something like http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16835103065 to replace the current water cooling system. It will work fine for even an overclocked i5 750; water cooling setups are for the most part overrated.

    If you don't feel comfortable with taking off the current watercooling system and installing in its place a heatsink&fan like that one, there will surely be a local PC repair shop nearby who can do it for you for a reasonable price.

    Altogether you will be looking at a cost of under 60, rather than 800. Then add about 170 for a Radeon HD7850.

    I'd suggest then putting some of the money you have saved towards an SSD (assuming you don't already have one). Even a reasonable mainstream SSD (OCZ Agility 3, Adata S510, Crucial M4, etc.) will make you notice the difference much more than a minor CPU upgrade.
    Last edited by kalelovil; 11-03-2012 at 03:26 AM.

  11. #11
    Lesser Hivemind Node Feldspar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spider Jerusalem View Post
    a self-build is most certainly still miles cheaper.
    It's much cheaper than a branded PC, but there are plenty of smaller outfits out there who specialise in sourcing their components as cheap as possible so the difference may not be as big as you think. It all depends on if you want the satisfaction and smugness that comes with an own build PC and can forgive the fiddling and small frustrations, or are willing to let someone else make some of the decisions with the knowledge that if it doesn't sork then it is someone else's fault.

  12. #12
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    I was going to sidle with the Radeon HD7850 as a good middle ground between my current GTX 285 and the bleeding-edge, but I can't seem to find a retailer anywhere online that stocks it.

    Is it going to be a mission to find something that's quite a bit better than the 285, but will still fit in my case?

    Graphics cards are really expensive, but if I can see a decent performance boost for under 200, then I'd really like to go with that option - providing it doesn't far exceed the dimensions of what I already have in my PCI-X slot!

  13. #13
    Network Hub PeteC's Avatar
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    If you're really not at all confident about building your own PC then you could check out PC Specialist. Just choose the parts you want and they'll put it together and send it out. I used them for my computer a couple of years ago and they're really very good.

  14. #14
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    pixelprime, the 7850s have been announced but are not for sale yet. Gotta wait for a little while.

    That's exactly the card I'd be buying if I was buying now. Price/performance isn't all that much improved from last generations but the card is very very low power for what it does. It's incredible to think that I could upgrade to a 7850 and Ivy Bridge processor once those are out, and probably quadruple my computer performance while staying on the same power consumption.

    One thing though, what resolution screen are you running? Just checking because if it's more than 1920x1200 you might want to think about going with a 7870 instead.

  15. #15
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    +1 for the 7850 performance/watt. I'm holding off on building a gaming PC (I don't have one) until these things come out.

  16. #16
    I would never bother spending over 500 on a pc. Spend that much, have fun maxing everything out, in 12 months to 2 years upgrade with the difference, or buy another for 500 and ebay the old one/do some LANing/turn it into a media centre.

  17. #17
    Network Hub Revisor's Avatar
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    Dear sir,
    just take 20 minutes to read the Logical Increments PC Buying Guide
    http://tinyurl.com/falconguide

    This will tell you everything you need in order to purchase a gaming machine with the best price/performance ratio at your desired price level.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by CuriousOrange View Post
    I would never bother spending over 500 on a pc. Spend that much, have fun maxing everything out, in 12 months to 2 years upgrade with the difference, or buy another for 500 and ebay the old one/do some LANing/turn it into a media centre.
    Max everything out on a PC of that price? At sub-1080p resolutions maybe.

    Unless you are really hurting for cash, spending some extra on a nice case, power-efficient components and quiet is very much worth it. Minor spending on power efficiency may even concretely pay itself back assuming you pay for your own electricity. Ugly, hot, noisy and power-hungry boxes do not make good media centres either.

    I feel a good balance between price, performance and quality has always sat somewhere around 0.8k-1k euros. 200-300 towards the graphics card, 150-250 towards the processor, 100-200 towards case and PSU.

  19. #19
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    Thanks for the update suggestions on this.

    I wasn't aware that the 7850 wasn't out yet - It was something somebody suggested earlier on in this thread, which I suspect was down to my mention of the power-hungry nature of modern GPUs (and my slightly underperforming PSU).

    It sounds, from the tone of the replies, that a new machine is preferable to upgrading a component, considering the machine's age (~2 yrs). Looking on Tom's Hardware makes me realise that graphics card performance levels have increased, as predicted, by at least 2 factors since my GTX 285 came out. Even a 'budget' graphics card seems to offer more than twice the performance of my current card.

    In answer to another query posed earlier on: I'm running at 1920 x 1200 (16:10) in most of my games. Although, for some reason, Starcraft 2 bugs out after about 2 minutes unless I drop the resolution down to a miserly 1280 x 800. Part of ther reason I think an upgrade is necessary; the machine doesn't seem to let me run anything modern at full-whack anymore.

    A very (very) loose reason for this upgrade is the hopeful new release of Diablo 3 soon. And although I hear many people cry that the game will likely be very scalable, graphics-wise, I've waited years and years for this game, and I want to be able to run everything at full everything to enjoy the very best it has to offer. I'm pretty sure any PC configuration released in the last 6-8 months should be capable of that?

    Thanks for linking the Logical Increments Buying Guide, it made for interesting perusal. I'm familiar with PC Specialist here in the U.K., as that's whom I purchased my original gaming PC from - although at the cost of ~1,300. I'd rather not spend quite as much this time around.

  20. #20
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    I'm thinking this as a starting point:
    http://www.pcspecialist.co.uk/view/V...750-gaming-pc/

    The specs seem pretty decent for the price. What do you guys think?

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