Video Card upgrade or will I be CPU bottlenecked?

Looking at picking up either a 7850 or spending some more if not bottlenecked, a 7870

Currently running Win 7 on a Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 2.4GHz with 4GB RAM. The old card is a Sapphire Radeon 5870.

Spend the extra for the bigger card or go budget as my system won't handle it?

What resolution?

I'd say if you're going to upgrade one, upgrade the CPU first. The 5870 isn't that much of a slouch, so I don't think a minor GPU upgrade is a good use of funds for what you'd get out of it. With neither nvidia or AMD coming out with a new generation any time soon, and AMD having a really nice games bundle now, I wouldn't be surprised to see more deals later in the year to keep stock moving and empty any inventory before whenever the new cards release.

From my recent upgrade, I've found that the CPU makes for an all round smoother performance, while in games the GPU raises the performance ceiling, both will have a benefit.

A Q6600 is meant to be an easy one to overclock, at least to 3GHz, if you're looking for a bit of a boost.

TheGameguru wrote:

What resolution?


and thanks for notes Scratched.

1200P is a good amount of pixels... a 7870 would be a beefier card than a 5870 in most games.. certain games (especially MP) will probably enjoy the benefit of a new processor and overall system refresh (new mobo, faster DDR ram, etc..)

As someone still running a GTX 460 I think a CPU refresh would be better than a new video card. I've got a i5-2500K and it along with faster RAM made a world of difference.

The old card is a Sapphire Radeon 5870.

The 5870 is an excellent card. A 7870 may not even be as fast; AMD pulled a sleazy maneuver in the 6XXX series, renumbering everything. The 7970 is the current equivalent of what you have.

Is there something specific that's not running well? The 5870 should be very strong still at 19x12.

Also, chances are pretty good that that CPU will overclock to 3GHz, which is enough for basically anything.

Richy, that a look at this, specifically the GPU chart at the end.

tomshardware wrote:

I don’t recommend upgrading your graphics card unless the replacement card is at least three tiers higher. Otherwise, the upgrade is somewhat parallel and you may not notice a worthwhile difference in performance.

No...a 7870 is faster than a 5870.. the 6870 isnt.. but that was last generation.

Thanks for the chart (which show my current card still in top ten) and tips.

I might play around with OCing the chip. The reason was some of the multiplayer games like BF3 have been a bit jerky on big player maps with lots o'action.

I think I'll just save up and maybe splurge on a system board, chip, and RAM later in the year.

Here's some comparisons of the cards in BF3

The reason was some of the multiplayer games like BF3 have been a bit jerky on big player maps with lots o'action.

That's probably CPU; Battlefield uses lots of it, apparently, on big maps. It's super-efficient with just one player, but load that sucker up and your CPUs will be hurtin'.

Most Q6600s are fairly trivial to overclock to 3GHz; they were really impressive chips. Many went further; I'm pretty sure we had someone here at 3.8GHz. Since you're getting ready to replace it anyway, now's the ideal time for a major OC.... you don't care too much if you shorten the chip's life, and if you outright break it, well, there's your upgrade excuse. (just take it slow, raise the speed in steps, and don't overdo it on the voltage, and you should have almost zero chance of frying it.)

3GHz should be much better in BF3, and if you get lucky, and can go to 3.4 or 3.8, you probably wouldn't have any pressing need to buy a new chip.

The board (GIGABYTE GA-EP45-UD3P) came with some overclocking tools. I'll give those a go and see what happens.

If you're using the stock cooler, you might want something aftermarket instead; the stock cooler just doesn't dump enough heat for much of an OC. The Cooler Master Hyper 212+ is pretty good, and it's like $25.

So overclocked it from 2.4 to 3.2 and its stable. Still a few hiccups in game, but better than before. Thanks for the suggestion.

At that point, that's a pretty well-balanced system, and it should play most games well. If you're seeing glitches, that could be the chip self-throttling from heat -- make sure your cooling is adequate to the new heat load, which can be a LOT higher at 3.2 than it was at 2.4. Again, the Hyper 212+ is really decent for $25, and it will should handle that heat load nicely. Just be aware that it uses a cheap fan, and to kind of keep an eye on it -- in a couple more years, you may need to drop another few bucks on a new fan. ($5 for another sleeve bearing cheapie, $10 for a ball bearing fan, $15 or so for a nice fluid drive bearing unit, which would probably last a decade or more.)

If you know you've got the temps stable, you can probably do one more video card upgrade, but after that you're probably going to want a new CPU/motherboard/RAM.