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Author Topic: Worthwhile upgrades... SSD and new graphics  (Read 1187 times)
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kratz
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« on: January 30, 2013, 04:00:42 PM »

When I run the Windows Experience index on my... shit, 6 year old PC, it comes up 5.8, based on the transfer speed of the primary HDD. Processor and Memory come up  7.1, and Graphics come up 6.9.

It runs most games pretty well, and I don't have many complaints... but I wonder if a few hundred bucks would make a big difference?

As I understand it, when you get an SSD, you basically just run your OS on it, and use traditional drives for storage.  If I were to do this, would it actually increase game performance if the games themselves were stored on the regular HDDs?

Graphics wise, I'm looking at the Radeon HD 7870 or 7850, which Tom's recommends as a good mid-range cards.

Current setup is:
Intel Core2 Quad Q6600 @2.4Ghz
nVidia 8800 GT
6GB RAM
My HDDs are Western Digial something or others... WD3200AAJS and WD5000AAJS... I guess those are 320 and 500gb, respectively.  I'm guessing 7200rpm?

Anyway... any input would be appreciated.
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kratz
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« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2013, 04:01:54 PM »

Or, if I'm going to spend $300 - $400 on this stuff, is it better to spend $1000 on a completely new PC?  I think I got some killer deal on this one 6 years ago and spent $1000 - $1200 from Dell.

Not that I really have $1000 sitting around for this purpose... but I do have $300 - $400 right now.

Also... I see the SSDs are SATA III... I can't figure out what I have.  The original order says SATA 3.0Gbs.  Is that SATA I?
« Last Edit: January 30, 2013, 04:16:30 PM by kratz » Logged
kratz
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« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2013, 04:07:29 PM »

I guess my other questions would be:

I really want to add a second monitor to this rig since I'm doing a lot of work from home now, and coding on one monitor blows... will I see a gaming performance increase with an SSD, or would that money be better spent on a second monitor? 

And part 2, would upgrading just the graphics card and keeping my 'slow' transfer HDD actually hamper gaming speed increase?  I don't feel like I have a lot of HDD related slowness, but that just might be ignorance on my part, and maybe it's a big bump of the type I associate with upgrading graphics.

Part 3... I feel like my CPU isn't that far off from the new stuff... is that right?  It seems pretty solid.
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Turtle
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« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2013, 11:01:23 AM »

You'll be able to install a small number of games on the SSD without problems, then quickly uninstall or reinstall as needed. Even Steam now supports installs into different drives and directories.

The main gaming benefit from SSDs are load times, they go down to almost nothing on most games. You know all those tips they put on loading screens now? You'll never have time to read them unless the game is really badly optimized.

The main benefit of SSDs is everything on them loads super fast, booting is also crazy fast. In windows 7 you know how even after the desktop loads, there can be many minutes while stuff is all loading in the background, making the computer mostly too slow to be used. That doesn't happen. The same goes for complex and heavy duty creation software like visual studio and the adobe line of media software.

Those are definitely good cards, it doesn't seem like your CPU will bottleneck those cards, but someone more tech oriented should be able to tell you.

Most CPUs in the last few years are on par with each other I've found. There hasn't been too much new stuff there since the gaming hardware has mainly kept in pace with the 5 year old consoles. Just more cores and such.

Honestly, if you can stand the load times, go with a second monitor for productivity and a new video card for gaming. Grab the SSD later when you want to build a new PC.

Admittedly, the SSD is a really big thing, I can't stress how much I like having on in my system. You'll find yourself using your PC like a tablet sometimes, just hit the power button and go, and shut down after the task.
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TheAtomicKid
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« Reply #4 on: January 31, 2013, 11:37:15 AM »

http://www.anandtech.com/show/6670/dragging-core2duo-into-2013-time-for-an-upgrade

Note: your cpu is a quad core, which will help with some games. However, the per-core output isn't as fast as say, an 8400. So good for games that use the cores, but not as good for pure keeping-up-with-the-gpu drivers.

Using an SSD as your system drive is pretty much what you want to do. It will give your comp an overall more responsive feel. Actually, you can read this as 'everything else will feel broken after you start using one'. You can use one for game installs, but the benefits are very specific... aka, loading times become much quicker.

Note that this WILL increase the responsiveness from your games somewhat, simply because having your OS on one drive and your games on another, allows you to access both at the same time. A trick I've been using to great extent for a while now.

If you want greater framerates for your games, a new gpu is the order of the day. Given the age of your system, which can be basically read as 'I tend to keep parts in service for an extra long time', I definitely recommend that whatever purchase you make, you make it with an eye for the future. I recommended a 3GB version of the 660ti to someone else recently, and it would almost certainly be appropriate for you as well... and it falls within your budget range. 3GB is more than most games need at the moment... but 2-4 years down the line, 2GB is going to stop being enough, and start becoming 'budget'.

Also as I recommended the other day, increase your ram to 8GB if you can. The kits are getting pretty cheap, although if you're using DDR2 on your rig you may have trouble finding a good kit at this point. (and also if you ARE using a DDR2 based board, be aware that your ability to carry this ram forward will be limited, so don't spend a fortune here... the other stuff is more important.

http://gamingtrend.com/forums/hardware-software-hell/new-desktop-pc-advice/  (thread from the other day)

Second monitor: If you want it you want it. Money spent here won't make any games go faster though biggrin

As for your sata ports... I believe all socket 775 mobo's were limited to sata 3.0Gbs.. which is Sata II spec. Sata III is 6.0Gbs  (Ignore this, and buy a Sata III drive, it will last long enough you'll be carrying it forward to a new mobo, barring some accident of fate.

In order.

1: New gpu will give you better framerates on games, and dx10/11 capability.
2: SSD replacement of your system drive will give you overall system responsiveness and superb reliability.
3: More ram/replacement ram, if it can be managed in the budget. Definitely last, 6GB is 'enough', though not extravagant.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=ENE&N=100007709%20600315498%20600311818%20600286741&IsNodeId=1&name=3GB  (any of these would do ya, I lean towards the gigabyte unit for the cooler)

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820147193  butt-kicking SSD... many 'editors choice' awards, etc.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=20-227-916           same here. awards all over the place.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820233398  sleeper butt-kicker ssd. check the reviews.

the trick is to get a good quality ssd... especially if you're getting one for a system drive... the lesser quality/older units tend not to hold up as well due to all the read/write activity.

Atomic

PS: a big chunk of your performance issue with games currently, is the half gig of memory on that 8800gt. Not enough memory means it has to constantly swap textures in and out of memory, from the drive. A new card with at LEAST 2GB on it, and as I mentioned, preferably 3GB, (or more, but that's really not in your budget range), will alleviate that tremendously, not including the sheer speedup of the new gpu hardware.

PS2: I linked the 240/256 GB versions of those drives for a reason. Basically, the next size down is 120/128 GB.. which isn't really enough room left over on the system drive if you end up installing anything else to the SSD. My current box has 209 of 239 GB free on the primary drive, but that's because it literally has almost nothing else installed. Web browser, etc, is about it. If you start piling stuff up on your desktop, downloads folder, etc, it will fill up fast. (if you use a smaller drive)


« Last Edit: January 31, 2013, 11:42:32 AM by TheAtomicKid » Logged
kratz
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« Reply #5 on: January 31, 2013, 03:48:19 PM »

Thanks for the replies!

I don't want to get more than say... Another year or so out of this computer, so $300+ on the video card wasn't an option.

I ended up going with a Radeon HD 7870 2gb, and then grabbing a second monitor (24" acer LED that was on a good sale - I have an acer at the office and I like it... And it was cheap!). If I'm still complaining in a month, I will grab an SSD drive. Boot up time is definitely a concern, but nicer graphics are more fun. smile

Spent $384.
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TheAtomicKid
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« Reply #6 on: February 01, 2013, 05:46:17 AM »

The 7870 is a good card, you'll do fine.

You want the SSD. You know you do.

AND DON'T SKIMP ON IT WHEN YOU FINALLY CAVE. Or you'll defeat the purpose.

http://www.anandtech.com/show/6489/playing-with-op

Atomic
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kratz
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« Reply #7 on: February 01, 2013, 06:07:41 AM »

Yeah, Tom's recommended that card for that price range.
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ericb
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« Reply #8 on: February 07, 2013, 03:05:33 AM »

If you're planning on keeping the bulk of the computer then plan on installing 64 bit windows on the new SSD (new fresh install should be the only option considered) if you don't have it already.  After the SSD upgrade the memory to 8 GB (memory is dirt cheap now) as long as the MB supports it.

Other things to consider...make sure the MB supports SSD.  I had a MB and an E8400 (around 4 years old) and it simply would not work as a system drive.  With the age of your MB that's a real concern.  Also, you do have SATA II.  Won't make much difference and SATA III will auto downgrade to support it but it's something to be aware of.  I would double and triple check compatibility though.

Excellent choice on the 7870 and honestly after a couple days of using the second monitor you'll wonder why you didn't start using two of them years ago.

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kratz
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« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2013, 03:44:35 PM »

I have been up and running since Monday - the video card looks great, but holy hell does it get hot when playing games (~90C on BF3). I checked on the manufacturers site which said up to 95 is normal, so I guess it is fine. Running the game at 1920 with 'Ultra' settings is cool!

I have had a second monitor at the office - so I knew what I was missing. I had to mess with color settings a TON to get rid of a blue cast and general weirdness, finally going into the color settings in the catalyst control panel to get it non-annoying. Whites still seem a little cool, but it isn't actively distracting now when coding.

I will look into my board supporting SSD. I am already thinking it is a good idea.
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kratz
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« Reply #10 on: February 07, 2013, 03:45:23 PM »

And I do have 64 bit windows 8.
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lex
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« Reply #11 on: February 08, 2013, 01:55:43 AM »

Do you feel the new video card is being bottlenecked by the Q6600?

I have a 4 year old system (Q6600, HD4850, 4 gb RAM), and AMD currently has a buy a video card get two games promo going on, which I might be interested in.

You can get Bioshock Infinite and Tomb Raider with a 7800 series card or Bioshock Infinite and Crysis 3 with a 7900 series card.

My system runs fine with a SSD as a boot drive (I have an ASUS M/B and an ADATA SATAII SSD)
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TheAtomicKid
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« Reply #12 on: February 08, 2013, 03:52:11 AM »

Quote from: lex on February 08, 2013, 01:55:43 AM

Do you feel the new video card is being bottlenecked by the Q6600?

I have a 4 year old system (Q6600, HD4850, 4 gb RAM), and AMD currently has a buy a video card get two games promo going on, which I might be interested in.

You can get Bioshock Infinite and Tomb Raider with a 7800 series card or Bioshock Infinite and Crysis 3 with a 7900 series card.

My system runs fine with a SSD as a boot drive (I have an ASUS M/B and an ADATA SATAII SSD)

http://www.anandtech.com/show/6670/dragging-core2duo-into-2013-time-for-an-upgrade

Did you read this one?

Atomic
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kratz
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« Reply #13 on: February 09, 2013, 03:57:29 PM »

I may have a small sense of the CPU bottlenecking, but I'm pretty happy, overall.

I'm wondering how I can take advantage of that promotion... I see that it refers to a unique ID that I need, but I'm not finding anything like that in my stuff from Newegg...
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kratz
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« Reply #14 on: February 09, 2013, 04:04:47 PM »

I guess I'll have to call Newegg... it certainly appears that this promotion should apply to me, runs from January 22, and I bought on the 30th.
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lex
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« Reply #15 on: February 10, 2013, 04:11:55 PM »

Quote from: TheAtomicKid on February 08, 2013, 03:52:11 AM


I saw the anandtech article earlier, but I wanted to see what others thought.  I do hope they do more features like that.  Upgrading older computers and testing their performance gain, in addition to here's what the the latest and greatest hardware can do.

Quote from: kratz on February 09, 2013, 04:04:47 PM

I guess I'll have to call Newegg... it certainly appears that this promotion should apply to me, runs from January 22, and I bought on the 30th.

I heard about the promo last month, but didn't see anything from the usual retailers until last week.  I just checked Newegg, it looks like there's an option to add the coupon to your cart now, which wasn't there a few days ago.  So they probably didn't have their stuff together yet.

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kratz
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« Reply #16 on: February 11, 2013, 05:59:07 PM »

Newegg told me nope.  I see that the terms changed to be from 2/4.  Oh well.  Guess I should've ordered 4 days later. :/
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