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  1. #1
    Activated Node One Pigeon's Avatar
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    Upgrade my GPU, CPU, motherboard or all of them!?

    Hi all,

    Having played Planetside 2 (and enjoying it) it's got me thinking that it's probably about time to start upgrading my rig.
    I know that they're attempting to optimise it at the moment and people with far better pc's than me are having fps issues in the zerg but I'd like to be able to stop running the game on lower settings with maybe a few more fps than I have now.
    This would also have a nice knock on effect of making Arma 2 and all the other games I enjoy and will enjoy in the future, play a lot better.

    So, my current setup is:

    Gigabyte P43T-ES3G motherboard
    Intel Core 2 Quad Q8400 2.66GHz
    Corsair (2 x 4GB) 8GB DDR3 1333MHz XMS3
    Radeon HD5770 1GB
    Samsung HD103SJ Spinpoint F3 1TB Hard Drive SATAII 7200rpm
    OCZ Stealth Xtream 500W PSU

    My initial thoughts were to get a new GPU as this Radeon is looking a little old right now but then I'm not sure if this would necessitate a new PSU as well.
    Then if I wanted to upgrade my processor to something faster I don't know whether this would mean a new motherboard too.
    Basically my knowledge is fairly limited, although Google has been a good friend in the past but I find asking for first hand advice and suggestions far better than many tutorials that come up.

    I haven't put a price but anything you think would definitely be necessary or at least the absolute minimum to make it worth spending my money would be a good start.

    Thanks in advance.
    OP

  2. #2
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Sakkura's Avatar
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    A new processor would indeed mean a new motherboard. You could at least still recycle the RAM.
    Upgrading the graphics card wouldn't necessarily mean upgrading the PSU. You can get more performance at, heck, even a lower power consumption than the HD 5770. I'm not a fan of the OCZ StealthXStream PSUs though. Their quality is so-so at best.

    For most games, a new graphics card would make the biggest difference. Your Q8400 isn't perfect by today's standards, but it'll manage in most games. I don't know how CPU-intensive Planetside 2 is though (nor does anyone, really, if it's still being optimised).

    A Radeon HD 7850 would be a major improvement over your HD 5770 and only draw a little bit more power. It also only requires a single 6-pin PCIe power connector like the 5770, so it would work with your PSU in that regard as well.
    It comes in two overall versions, with 1 GB or 2 GB. If you play at 1080p you should try and get the 2 GB version if possible, but the 1 GB should mostly be fine. If you play at lower res you don't need the 2 GB; if you play at higher res (2560x1440?) you'll need the 2 GB.

  3. #3
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Grizzly's Avatar
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    To see if your PSU is up to scratch for your upgrades: Use this page

    Your system is basically the same as mine, except that it has a slightly faster CPU, and that you have DDR3 ram.
    The problem is that I really can't recommend what you should upgrade first, as your system is actually pretty well balanced.

    Any processor you can buy today requires a new motherboard, so you are out of luck there (the Q8400 is already top of the line for the mobo it was made for).
    However, the new Ivy Bridge and Sandy Bridge i5 CPUs (The i5 is basically the spiritual successor to your CPU) all draw less power then the Q8400 you have now. If you upgrade your motherboard and your CPU, you get less power consumption, thus giving you more headroom for a more powerfull GPU whilst being able to keep your Power supply and the same power bill. However, according to that calculator I gave you, you already have quite a bit of headroom.

    On the other hand, upgrading your GPU will probably get a (much) more noticable performance increase in almost any game, since most games these days are not CPU intensive (Except probably Arma 2 and Planetside...). I don't think power supply will be a big problem as detailed above.

    As for recommendations for what you want to upgrade to, check out Tom's Hardware, which have a neat Graphic's Card buying guide and a neat CPU buying guide.

    Be advised that the equivalents of your card and your processor are actually being sold as lower-end components today (the 5770 falls between the 7770 and the 7750 in performance, for example, and your CPU is the equivalent of the Pentium Gseries being sold today. Except that it is a quad core).

    Tl;Dr - You probably have the best luck upgrading your GPU, I think your PSU will handle it just fine.
    Last edited by Grizzly; 28-11-2012 at 12:16 PM.

  4. #4
    Activated Node One Pigeon's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the information guys, both extremely useful.

    Looks like GPU is the way to go then. I guess if my processor isn't that outdated then it seems more sensible for me to wait a while longer until upgrading becomes more necessary!

    The 7850 looks a decent bet so I'll have a look into it

  5. #5
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Sakkura's Avatar
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    You could also start saving up some money for the upcoming launch of Intels Haswell processors (expected circa April). That's one nice thing about desktops, you can upgrade them in stages.

  6. #6
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    First of all @ op, a 500W psu is more than fine unless you go crossfire/SLI. Don't throw your money away.
    Even a gtx 670 doesn't use more power than a gtx 260, which is a card most people used with a 400W PSU 4 years ago. A 7850 uses like 40W less than a gtx 260...

    Quote Originally Posted by Sakkura View Post

    For most games, a new graphics card would make the biggest difference. Your Q8400 isn't perfect by today's standards, but it'll manage in most games. I don't know how CPU-intensive Planetside 2 is though (nor does anyone, really, if it's still being optimised).

    A Radeon HD 7850 would be a major improvement over your HD 5770 and only draw a little bit more power. It also only requires a single 6-pin PCIe power connector like the 5770, so it would work with your PSU in that regard as well.
    It comes in two overall versions, with 1 GB or 2 GB. If you play at 1080p you should try and get the 2 GB version if possible, but the 1 GB should mostly be fine. If you play at lower res you don't need the 2 GB; if you play at higher res (2560x1440?) you'll need the 2 GB.
    It's extremely, ridiculously cpu intensive, it's the single only game that seems to not run on amd cpus at all.
    I get 10-25 fps with my phenom II x3 @3.4 ghz in the zerg in planetside 2 on lowest possible settings (cpu bottlenecked so settings don't matter) , 40-100 fps in every other game with the same cpu.

    Even on a 4.5 ghz i5 ivy bridge it barely stays above 35 fps in zergs from what I hear.


    If op wants to play planetside (and zerging is the only reasonable way to farm certs, yay for f2p grinds taking a shit on what would otherwise be a good game) then he'll get more value out of a better cpu.

    It really isn't that demanding gpu wise unless you turn on AO, I get 35-50 fps on a hd6870 on highest settings outside of zergs.

    @ sakkura, isn't haswell supposed to only be a 5-10 percent performance increase again? It's pretty safe to assume there will also be at least a 10 percent price premium for those cpus in the first year.
    Last edited by Finicky; 28-11-2012 at 01:29 PM.

  7. #7
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Sakkura's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Finicky View Post
    It's extremely, ridiculously cpu intensive, it's the single only game that seems to not run on amd cpus at all.
    I get 10-25 fps with my phenom II x3 @3.4 ghz in the zerg in planetside 2 on lowest possible settings (cpu bottlenecked so settings don't matter) , 40-100 fps in every other game with the same cpu.

    Even on a 4.5 ghz i5 ivy bridge it barely stays above 35 fps in zergs from what I hear.


    If op wants to play planetside (and zerging is the only reasonable way to farm certs, yay for f2p grinds taking a shit on what would otherwise be a good game) then he'll get more value out of a better cpu.

    It really isn't that demanding gpu wise unless you turn on AO, I get 35-50 fps on a hd6870 on highest settings outside of zergs.

    @ sakkura, isn't haswell supposed to only be a 5-10 percent performance increase again? It's pretty safe to assume there will also be at least a 10 percent price premium for those cpus in the first year.
    The way the game runs now isn't necessarily representative of how it will run later, since it's obviously not optimised.

    Haswell is a tock, so I'd expect between 10 and 15 percent more performance. Price will probably go up, but not by as much. They'll probably also cut prices on Ivy Bridge CPUs.

  8. #8
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    The OP is in the opposite situation to me really - I could easily upgrade ANY part of my system and see a benefit but he can't really do that.

    First thing I'd do is install a decent overlay and see what's being hammered - you want to monitor CPU usage by core, memory usage and GPU utilisation.

    I recommend an overlay tool like PlayClaw (free version will work) or MSI Afterburner (not restricted to MSI products but faffy to get CPU readings from). PlayClaw is self-explanatory - Afternurner you'll need to Google to setup for CPU monitoring using HW64.

    I have a feeling that any problems you're seeing are just a overall lack of oomph tho - changing CPU means changing Motherboard (and reinstalling everything).

    You could get a better GPU on your current PSU tho - GPU power reqs have dropped quite a bit and almost any single card will run on a 500W PSU (power connectors permitting).
    Last edited by trjp; 28-11-2012 at 03:47 PM.

  9. #9
    Obscure Node Sdoots's Avatar
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    I hope it's alright for me to piggyback on this thread, as I'm in the same situation as the OP.

    Nothing on the PS2 forums is giving me any help, and with Christmas coming up I figured I'd ask for some money to go buy some PC parts. My current rig is starting to show its age, and PS2 just chugs on anything but absolute low.

    So right now, I'm using:

    AMD Phenom II X4 840
    GeForce GTX 560 1023MB
    MSI 880G-E45
    Corsair CX500 500W PSU
    12 GB DDR3 RAM 668 MHZ

    I was thinking of picking up an Intel Core i5 2500K, the Gigabyte GA-Z77X-D3H Motherboard, and a 7950 for the GPU. Does that seem like something that would run PS2 fluidly?

    I have an additional 4 gigs of RAM I can drop in, for what it's worth. A bit of plastic from the anti-static sleeve got caught between the heat shield and the chips, so I need to get some air and blow it out before I can actually use it.

  10. #10
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    Let me just say one thing - no game on earth will notice the difference between 12 and 16Gb of RAM because I'll be amazed if any game uses much more than 2Gb of RAM (remember, they have to work on systems which only have 3 available in total!)

    As people have said, loads of people having issues with PS2, even on high-end kit - using it as an excuse to upgrade is fine but expecting a result - well, maybe not so likely :)

  11. #11
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Sakkura's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sdoots View Post
    I was thinking of picking up an Intel Core i5 2500K, the Gigabyte GA-Z77X-D3H Motherboard, and a 7950 for the GPU. Does that seem like something that would run PS2 fluidly?
    Might as well make it a Core i5-3570k, unless it's significantly more expensive. There's little sense in getting a more expensive CPU for gaming. The graphics card is high-end as well.

    Quote Originally Posted by trjp View Post
    Let me just say one thing - no game on earth will notice the difference between 12 and 16Gb of RAM because I'll be amazed if any game uses much more than 2Gb of RAM (remember, they have to work on systems which only have 3 available in total!)

    As people have said, loads of people having issues with PS2, even on high-end kit - using it as an excuse to upgrade is fine but expecting a result - well, maybe not so likely :)
    Yeah, some games just want to watch the world burn.

    As for the RAM, you definitely don't need more than 12 GB. Heck, you don't even need more than 8. However, adding the last stick will get you a pure dual-channel configuration, which is nice.

    If you're on a spending spree you could switch to faster RAM though. 800 MHz (= 1600 MT/s, often called 1600 MHz) is standard today, and 933 MHz (1866 MT/s) is a little better and still reasonably priced.

  12. #12
    Obscure Node Sdoots's Avatar
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    I'm not sure I follow. Do I go for the 3570k or no? You say to do so, and then say there's little sense in going for a more expensive CPU. I just checked, it'd only cost me another $10. As for the GPU, that was the intent.

    Thank you for the reality check on PS2. I've kind of known all along that it wouldn't be as simple as "Buy this stuff, and it'll work well!", but a guy can dream, right? That said, other recent releases have made the need of an upgrade apparent, if not now than soon, so I figured I'd get it over with when I had the money to do it.

    RAM wise, it's probably going to stay where it is in terms of speed unless I can find some for a really good price. I just recently bought these sticks, so I'd like to try to make them last.

    Thank you so much for the help you guys, I appreciate it a lot!

  13. #13
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Sakkura's Avatar
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    I meant more expensive than the Core i5-3570k, sorry.
    A lot of people buy Core i7s for gaming, which is frankly a waste of money.

  14. #14
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    I wonder if I could piggyback as well; I'd love some advice.

    Bought this about 2.5 years ago:

    ATX mid tower case
    GIGABYTE GA-H55M-S2H LGA 1156 Intel H55 HDMI Micro ATX Intel Motherboard
    Radeon HD5770 1GB
    Intel Core i3-530 Clarkdale 2.93GHz
    400w Corsair PSU
    G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

  15. #15
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Grizzly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Herkimer View Post
    I wonder if I could piggyback as well; I'd love some advice.

    Bought this about 2.5 years ago:

    ATX mid tower case
    GIGABYTE GA-H55M-S2H LGA 1156 Intel H55 HDMI Micro ATX Intel Motherboard
    Radeon HD5770 1GB
    Intel Core i3-530 Clarkdale 2.93GHz
    400w Corsair PSU
    G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
    Your computer is basically on par with the OP, except that you have less, albeit faster, RAM, and a 400 wat PSU as opposed to a 500 watt PSU. Basically, follow the advise on the above posts, with two caveats:

    Your PSU might need upgrading.
    8GB DDR3 is slowly becoming the new standard in gaming, although I think you will do just fine with your 4gb, Planetside 2 might disagree.

  16. #16
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Sakkura's Avatar
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    If it's a Corsair CX 400, it's actually more powerful than their newer CX 430.

  17. #17
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    Thanks for the advice, guys. Basically I'm waffling between updating the CPU (which probably requires a new mobo, which probably requires a new PSU anyway, which means rebuilding the whole damn thing, etc.) and doing the GPU + new PSU + some RAM route. The reason I'm waffling is that although Planetside and ArmA are currently the only games I'm playing that appear to be CPU-limited, I play them a fair amount.

    Meh. I think I'll probably just do the graphics card, then. CPU can wait another year. Thanks all!

    edit: I think it's overkill for now, but this PSU should last me through another couple of decent upgrades, no?
    Last edited by Herkimer; 29-11-2012 at 04:06 PM.

  18. #18
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Jesus_Phish's Avatar
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    You could give it a while and see what the game runs like when they get to optimizing it properly? Though that could take months.

  19. #19
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Sakkura's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Herkimer View Post
    edit: I think it's overkill for now, but this PSU should last me through another couple of decent upgrades, no?
    Yeah. That'll let you pick and choose pretty freely, most configurations with two graphics cards would still be viable with that PSU. Even three graphics cards as long as they're not too power-hungry.

  20. #20
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Grizzly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Herkimer View Post
    Thanks for the advice, guys. Basically I'm waffling between updating the CPU (which probably requires a new mobo, which probably requires a new PSU anyway, which means rebuilding the whole damn thing, etc.) and doing the GPU + new PSU + some RAM route. The reason I'm waffling is that although Planetside and ArmA are currently the only games I'm playing that appear to be CPU-limited, I play them a fair amount.

    Meh. I think I'll probably just do the graphics card, then. CPU can wait another year. Thanks all!

    edit: I think it's overkill for now, but this PSU should last me through another couple of decent upgrades, no?
    I think it is fair to say that it is overkill now, and overkill forever. The main aim on tech these days is not performance, but power effeciency, with newer generations of hardware requiring less and less power (Look at, say, the power difference between the Q8400 and the Ivy Bridge i5 - the latter is faster but requires less power).

    On the other hand, having a 750 watt PSU will mean that you probably will never have to upgrade that thing ever again. And, as a side bonus, a PSU that can perform reliably at 750 watt will most certainly perform extremely reliably at 500 watts, and reliability is all you want when getting more expensive components (PSUs have a nasty tendency of doing splash damage when they go down). It will probably also last quite a bit longer.

    Personally, though, I'd rather go for a 600 or 650 watt PSU, and invest the money you save on the other components. A 750 watt PSU is only requiered when you plan to build a computer with the high end i7s or AMD processors, and if you crossfire or SLI two or more graphics card. But if you had the buying power to do that, you wouldn't be here asking if you should upgrade your CPU or GPU first.

    There is, unfortunately, no defintive answer I can give you on that point.
    Last edited by Grizzly; 29-11-2012 at 09:36 PM.

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