Was:Replace my Geforce 8800 GT / Now: upgrade my whole PC

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Oh, how I loved the 8800. I set up a 3rd party cooling system on it which included a dozen small heatsinks, one large one on top and two clip on fans, and it got me through everything I threw at it: Crysis, Skyrim, Left 4 Dead, hours and hours of TF2...

It died on me last week and I've been looking for a suitable replacement. After 6 years, I thought just about anything that was out there would be better. Oh God, I was wrong. I tried cheap- Radeon 6670 - horrible, no comparison to the 8800.

I then tried a Geforce 550 Ti. This is as good or better in most of what I've tried so far: TF2 (as good), Orcs Must Die 2 (as good), Batman Arkham City (better). BUT, then I tried Skyrim and everything is a horrible slideshow. Even lowering the resolution and settings, and the game is unplayable for me.

I was thinking of returning it and trying a 560 Ti (or the soon to be out 660 Ti) but I'm worried about my power supply. It's 375 watts. It had the one cable to plug into the 550, but the 560 requires two of those. And I don't know what the 660 will require out of the power supply.

I can't believe I'm having this much trouble finding a card that as good as the 6-year-old one I just lost...

Any thoughts or suggestions? I'm looking for something to run Skyrim, TF2, Guild Wars II, Torchlight 2 and maybe Diablo III if I ever choose to get back into it.

Other specs on my PC are a 2.40 Quad Core processor, 3 GB RAM and Vista 32 bit OS.

If you're fine with everything else, swap up your PSU to a 550w or 600w unit and buy a 560ti. Most of your issue is that your PC is, looking at everything else, around 6 years old. You're essentially a generation behind what's current on the market. It's also a solid testament to the 8800.

Can't really comment on other cards around the same level but my geforce 560 (not Ti) is fine but can be extremely noisy when it's running a demanding game. My previous cards were nowhere near as bad so it was a stark contrast for me... If you do get a new card make sure you get one with a quiet fan and cooler or at least one that does not sound like a jet engine when you play any game that's post 2008/9.

I'm trying to imagine playing Skyrim on an 8800GT and can't get there. I would have thrown my computer in the trash and just given up ages ago

Thin_J wrote:
I'm trying to imagine playing Skyrim on an 8800GT and can't get there. I would have thrown my computer in the trash and just given up ages ago :P

Considering it's a multiplatform game, and those consoles are around 6-7 years old, I'd say skyrim will work just fine on an 8800gt until you start modding the hell out of it.

Still, you're all forgetting WWMA - "what would Malor ask?"

Malor would ask "What resolution are you playing in?"

Scratched wrote:
Considering it's a multiplatform game, and those consoles are around 6-7 years old, I'd say skyrim will work just fine on an 8800gt until you start modding the hell out of it.

Playing games at 720p on a PC is just silly time though, and the consoles often don't even run in actual 720p.

Yeah. I was able to play Skyrim with my 8800 GT at 1680x1050 on medium settings after playing around with some of the view distances and other settings.

And... um, after playing around with the settings just now I could get Skyrim playable again with my new Geforce 550 Ti- so I may not be in as dire straights as I thought. This post was a result of me freaking out after my first attempt at playing Skyrim with the new card at the auto-detected settings.

Since, as it was pointed out, my PC is basically 6 years old I'm not sure now if going any higher would be worth while- especially, since it seems like I'd have to start messing with other stuff like the PSU.

The only other option that I didn't mention yet was the possibility of getting a Radeon 7770 instead of the 550Ti. I think(?) that would work with my current power supply. Anyone know if it would and if I'd see an improvement from the 550 Ti with it?

Just a note about the other games:
-TF2 is a 5 year old game on a very scalable engine
-Guild Wars 2 isn't out, and isn't fully optimised/bug free yet. However it's meant to be playable with old-ish hardware, from my experience with the betas you will need to turn things down, but the higher settings are meant for good hardware.
-Torchlight 2 is very likely to run well on older hardware, it even has a netbook mode
-Diablo 3 should scale well, but I haven't played it besides the beta so I'll let someone else handle that one.

A 7770 would definitely run on a system that can push a 550Ti and it should outperform in most game, but not by much. I wouldn't bother with that upgrade, you'd be better off getting a new PSU and step up another level to the 560Ti, but that'd be overkill @ 1680x1050.

A good PSU is a long term investment as well. You'll be able to take it from system to system for a long time.

In doing a search for 550 Ti vs 7770, it does seem that there'd be some improvement with the 7770, but probably hardly noticeable. However, another possibility has appeared - the Radeon 6850. It's got better performance than the 7770, and uses about the same power as the 550 Ti.

(BTW, I've also discovered that my current PSU isn't anywhere near what's recommended for the 550 Ti, but I've had no issues so far, so don't tell my computer that fact. )

Playing with fire, man, playing with fire.

tboon wrote:
Playing with fire, man, playing with fire.

Yeah but, you like that, don't you?

Edit: Oh, and when I said "isn't anywhere near", I guess I should have said "just under". I'm at 375 watts, the card says it requires 400 watts. I was mistakingly thinking it needed 500 watts when I typed that.

Wattage only tells half the story. It's all about the amperage rating of the +12v rail used for the video card. For instance, I believe a 560Ti requires 20 amps on the rail. A 7770 or 6770 probably requires <16 amps. I know they're good on power, so it's possible it could be lower.

What psu do you have? If you don't know you can look on the label on the side of it and find out the +12v amperage. Should look something like this:

IMAGE(http://www.ocztechnology.com/resources/drivers/500wchart.JPG)

In this case, the psu has two +12v rail with 18 amps per rail.

I just checked. That's what my PSU happens to have: two +12v rails with 18 amps per rail.

The 550Ti requirements say I need 400 watts, with minimum of 24 amps on the +12v rail. Does that mean 24 for each, or combined?

Combined, sort of. It's more complicated than just adding the two together, but since you have 18 amps on each that's definitely good enough for a video card requiring 24 amps (obviously, since it's working).

Tscott wrote:
tboon wrote:
Playing with fire, man, playing with fire.

Yeah but, you like that, don't you?

Edit: Oh, and when I said "isn't anywhere near", I guess I should have said "just under". I'm at 375 watts, the card says it requires 400 watts. I was mistakingly thinking it needed 500 watts when I typed that.

I'm a trained professional, I'll have you know. I don't "play" with fire, I use it as a precision tool to give warm hugs to my bestest friends.

Also, if your card says it needs 400W and you have a 375W PS, what about all the other pieces of your rig? Like the CPU?

If it's working, I'm glad. But you may be stressing it and making problems for yourself down the line. Just want to make sure you stay up and running.

Noted. Thanks.

One time, before I knew better, I threw a fancy videocard in a computer with a weak stock PSU that came with the system.

One night at about 4am in the middle of a game of Counter-Strike it blasted a bunch of blue sparks out the back of the case and took the motherboard and hard drive with it when it blew. There were scorch marks on the case.

Just sayin.

Ok. Thanks for the warnings everyone.

Even though I think I'm relatively safe with the slightly less than par PSU, I'm now looking for a better one. Then since I'll have the power for it, I plan to exchange the 550Ti for something more powerful.

I'm planning to make those the first two pieces towards building a completely new PC. They'll keep me gaming while I pick out the CPU, motherboard, memory, case, etc. to get me all current eventually.

Smart move. You'll be happy upgrading right now.

The main thing I'd be concerned with regarding the current purchase of a video card that you want to get any long life out of is the RAM. If your card is at or under 1GB of ram, then within a few years that's going to be hampering you. I wouldn't buy a card now with anything under 2GB.

We've had reasonably low requirements for so long primarily because of the impact of cross-platform gaming with the 360's hardware limitations. Once we hit the next console gen in a year or so, I expect to see a rapid uptick on VRAM requirements before they start to reach a new plateau.

Farscry wrote:
We've had reasonably low requirements for so long primarily because of the impact of cross-platform gaming with the 360's hardware limitations. Once we hit the next console gen in a year or so, I expect to see a rapid uptick on VRAM requirements before they start to reach a new plateau.

I've been thinking on that, and I think that comes under futureproofing. My thoughts on futureproofing is that it's a bit silly if you're buying now trying to futureproof against games that will come out for consoles that haven't even been announced yet, and will take a while to get up to speed with games that really work with those systems instead of being previous gen games that were kicked up a generation. Trying to predict the future is a fools game.

Looking back 5/6 years ago, I wish I'd not upgraded from an x800 to a 7800, then to an 8800, and waited a while to just go straight to an 8800, but at the time there was no real way to know how awesome that card was going to be and the legs it would have. You can't see where that plateau is going to start.

Buy for the games that are available now, and the near/foreseeable future. Another important factor to this is that future cards for that amount of horsepower will be cheaper, you'll spend less money buying a reasonable card now and a reasonable card in a few years time, than a superpowered card now that you hope will keep up for a long time. Chances are it'll be more efficient too.

I agree, I don't think 2gb is necessary, especially if he isn't planning on upgrading his monitor in the next few years.

I've already found that with a few games, the 2GB has been very nice as it enables high-resolution texture options that 1GB or less can't quite handle as well (Dragon Age 2, Crysis 2, Battlefield 3, and Skyrim for example). And even at 1680*1050 the difference can be quite noticeable.

I think we'll be seeing more of that in the very near future, but yes, it won't become commonplace for recommended specs for a few years at least.

Everyone with power concerns will be glad to know that I've now got a 700 Watt PSU powering my system. It arrived today and after a lot of fun with wires everywhere, now is working fine.

And the 550 Ti will be going back Friday to be exchanged for something more suiting my needs. Hmmm, the Geforce 660 Ti is supposed to be out on Fri... I wonder what I'll buy.

Next step: save up a bit for new motherboard, CPU and memory. See if I can drop them into my current case(?)

Final(?) step: Bigger, faster hard drive- upgrade to Win7 64-bit(?)

...SSD...Profit?

Hey, if you ever ever need someone to help you spend your money, you can ask ol' tboon, I be more than happy to help!

[quote=Scratched]

Thin_J wrote:
Still, you're all forgetting WWMA - "what would Malor ask?"

Where's (s)he been?

Oh dear, you're still running Windows XP? Yeah, Windows 7 will be a huge upgrade once you get a new MB/CPU/Memory. We had some budget builds going in the Help me Build a PC thread. You might take a look at those.

Edit: Eek! I see it's even worse when I scrolled back up to the OP: 32 Bit Vista.

tuffalobuffalo wrote:
Oh dear, you're still running Windows XP? Yeah, Windows 7 will be a huge upgrade once you get a new MB/CPU/Memory. We had some budget builds going in the Help me Build a PC thread. You might take a look at those.

Edit: Eek! I see it's even worse when I scrolled back up to the OP: 32 Bit Vista.

At least he didn't say Windows Me...

tboon wrote:
...SSD...Profit?

Hey, if you ever ever need someone to help you spend your money, you can ask ol' tboon, I be more than happy to help!

:)

On himself? Or on ol' tboon?

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