Need some help with a small PC upgrade

#1 Posted by bibamatt (1088 posts) -

Hey fellow bombers! I posted this query on Reddit r/buildapc and got absolutely zero help apart from one "I'd just upgrade everything, your rig is out of date" comment. I know that at least some of you fine folk have given out really good build advice in the past, so wanting to try my luck here. I'm basically looking to upgrade one (or maybe two) bits of my rig.

I realise that my rig is a little bit old and it could probably all do with an upgrade. However, I'm not doing that. I can't afford it and, as it is now, I'm happily playing every new release. I'm currently playing Sleeping Dogs, AC3, Battlefield 3, Skyrim etc with no huge problems. I've got AA and the like turned off and I'm only pumping out to a 1080p TV so no crazy high resolutions. I've also been pretty ok with 30fps, so that's how most of those games have been performing. However, I'd like a little boost. I'd maybe like some higher fps in some of my games. I'd like to turn some of those 'medium' settings up to 'high' if possible. So anyway, here's my current rig...

AMD Athlon(tm) 64 X2 Dual Core Processor 6400+

4GB DDR2 RAM

NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTS 512

Giga-Byte GA-M61P-S3 Motherboard

So I realise that many newer graphics cards are going to bottlenecked by that CPU. So I'd think about upgrading the CPU, but then I'd probably need a new motherboard too. So my real questions...

  • would that motherboard accept a 550ti or a GTX 470? They're the ones I've been looking at. I know I might need a new PSU and all that, but that's ok.
  • would my processor severely bottleneck a 550ti or a GTX 470? Am I likely to see a boost over my 8800 GTS 512?
  • at this point, would a CPU/motherboard upgrade give me any upgrade without upgrading my graphics card (I absolutely can't afford to do them all).

Again, just to clarify before the inevitable "your rig is out of date, throw it away" comments: I'm fairly happy with this build and a complete rebuild would be total overkill for what I want. I'm not doing that. If my current rig is absolutely the best it can be without upgrading everything in it, I'm happy to leave it as it is. I'd just like to spend a small amount to tease a bit more power out of it until the next gen stuff starts to come through and I'm forced to do a complete new system. Thanks in advance!

#2 Posted by rambostyrer (34 posts) -

I'm no expert, and I could be wrong, but In my honest opinion, you really can't do anything with that rig that would be worth it, so if you are happy with it, I would suggest that you save up some money, and buy a new PC later.

The problem is that the Motherboard does not have a PCI 2 port (the one that connect the card with the motherboard) and your CPU is rather slow. So no matter what you would need a new cpu AND new motherboard in order to run a 550ti properly. Besides your ram is also old and slow, and you would also need new sticks of that.

You could run a 550ti on that motherboard, but I doubt you would see much improvement over your current 8800 gts.

#3 Posted by dyeager (2 posts) -

@bibamatt: I just swapped in a 550ti 2g into my ga-m61p-s3 motherboard. No problems so far other than 6666's replacing the graphics box for the bios login after you have entered your password. the 5500 ti 2g has passed all tests given so far, even when overclocked to 1000 core 2300 memory. This includes 3dmark6, 3dmark11, passmark, furmark, wei, and folding@home. It even handles acronis disk manager from cd which my amd 5770 was failing to do after I upgraded the processor to a 955 x4 95-watt. running at 3.4. The 5770 may also have given me some reset problems which held down the overclock of the 955.

I also tested the 5500ti in my ga-m57sli-s4 2.0 which has a athlon x2 overclocked to 3.2. The penalty for processor speed/cores and HT link is as follows:

1GB 550ti SC 3dmark 11 graphics: 2589 (x2 m57sli-s4) versus 2636 (x4 m61p-s3)

2GB 5500ti 3dmark 11 graphics: 2371 (x2 m57sli-s4) versus 2422 (x4 m61p-s3)

The video card still responds further to overclocking. You will likely have a windows experience index of 7.3 to 7.4 for both graphics.

The 2gb should perform better on a x2 with games using lots of textures, but I did not test for that.

These cards are over twice as fast as a 8800gt which I also have.

Hope this helps

#4 Posted by bibamatt (1088 posts) -

@dyeager said:

@bibamatt: I just swapped in a 550ti 2g into my ga-m61p-s3 motherboard. No problems so far other than 6666's replacing the graphics box for the bios login after you have entered your password. the 5500 ti 2g has passed all tests given so far, even when overclocked to 1000 core 2300 memory. This includes 3dmark6, 3dmark11, passmark, furmark, wei, and folding@home. It even handles acronis disk manager from cd which my amd 5770 was failing to do after I upgraded the processor to a 955 x4 95-watt. running at 3.4. The 5770 may also have given me some reset problems which held down the overclock of the 955.

I also tested the 5500ti in my ga-m57sli-s4 2.0 which has a athlon x2 overclocked to 3.2. The penalty for processor speed/cores and HT link is as follows:

1GB 550ti SC 3dmark 11 graphics: 2589 (x2 m57sli-s4) versus 2636 (x4 m61p-s3)

2GB 5500ti 3dmark 11 graphics: 2371 (x2 m57sli-s4) versus 2422 (x4 m61p-s3)

The video card still responds further to overclocking. You will likely have a windows experience index of 7.3 to 7.4 for both graphics.

The 2gb should perform better on a x2 with games using lots of textures, but I did not test for that.

These cards are over twice as fast as a 8800gt which I also have.

Hope this helps

Holy shit dude, that's super in depth, but sounds awesome. You think it's a worth while upgrade even considering my processor? It won't bottleneck it beyond belief? Thanks!

#5 Posted by dyeager (2 posts) -

@bibamatt:

Now lets look at your games: Skyrim only uses 2 threads. Stats from http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/skyrim-performance-benchmark,3074-9.html show that going to a phenom II X4 would not make much difference (of course an i7 is off the charts).

The CPU for Battlefield 3 does not matter -- it wants graphics!! ( http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/battlefield-3-graphics-performance,3063-13.html )

Assassin's Creed 3 is single threaded http://benchmark3d.com/assassins-creed-3-benchmark.

Sleeping dogs will use up to 3 cores, but is also graphics bound. http://benchmark3d.com/sleeping-dogs-benchmark

There are so few games that actually can use a quad core.

The graphics card is where you want to spend your money (plus power supply if needed). Your current CPU out of the box matches what is shown for the m57sli-s4 v2.0 in the stats in my first post to this thread. These stats compared with other users should put you slightly above average performance for the 550ti video card. If you can overclock the CPU and video, you will get better performance, but this is not required (just don't go to ultra settings) Good luck!!

#6 Posted by bibamatt (1088 posts) -

@dyeager said:

@bibamatt:

Now lets look at your games: Skyrim only uses 2 threads. Stats from http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/skyrim-performance-benchmark,3074-9.html show that going to a phenom II X4 would not make much difference (of course an i7 is off the charts).

The CPU for Battlefield 3 does not matter -- it wants graphics!! ( http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/battlefield-3-graphics-performance,3063-13.html )

Assassin's Creed 3 is single threaded http://benchmark3d.com/assassins-creed-3-benchmark.

Sleeping dogs will use up to 3 cores, but is also graphics bound. http://benchmark3d.com/sleeping-dogs-benchmark

There are so few games that actually can use a quad core.

The graphics card is where you want to spend your money (plus power supply if needed). Your current CPU out of the box matches what is shown for the m57sli-s4 v2.0 in the stats in my first post to this thread. These stats compared with other users should put you slightly above average performance for the 550ti video card. If you can overclock the CPU and video, you will get better performance, but this is not required (just don't go to ultra settings) Good luck!!

Thank you so much. That's what I needed to know! I feel like every other time I've asked these things, people just go "your gear is three years old, you should just replace it all". You're awesome, thanks.

#7 Posted by byrjun (154 posts) -

Sorry, I didn't read what you wrote, I just noticed your Why? profile pic. Awesome.

Wait. What were we talking about?

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