Want to upgrade my PC for gaming - budget: $500

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eide

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Oct 11, 2009
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I want to upgrade my PC for gaming. Current specs:

Windows 7 64-bit build 7600
Intel Core 2 Quad CPU Q9400 @ 2.67 GHz
4 GB RAM
Nvidia Geforce 9800 GT
750W PSU

Scores at Windows Experience Index:

Processor: 7,2
RAM. 7,2
Graphics: 6,8
Game graphics: 6,8
HDD: 5,9

At the moment I can run every game except for Crysis & Warhead with everything maxed out and high resolution (1600-1200 ++) plus some AA, FPS 30-60+. I've been looking at the 1GB HD5870 card, it costs about $400 right now but prices may drop. Crysis & warhead I can run on very high/enthusiast with low resolutions (1280x1024 and lower) and no AA with 20-40 FPS.

Anyway how can I improve my gaming with a vudget of $500...?

Thanks a bunch for any help!
 
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Aug 19, 2009
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To be honest, the system you already have is going to run pretty much any of the latest games without any problems. My own system is half of that of yours, besides a similar gfx card, and I ran Crysis without too much trouble, though my gfx level was on medium, not full.

If you really feel the need to invest to play those games on full then yeah that card will probably work. Personally, I think you could afford to wait a year - you will not have any problems running any games released - and by the time the games companies start upping the hardware requirements for future games, that card will be in a bit more of a suitable price range.

Whatever you decide, yes your PC should accept your suggested card, provided you have/will have at least one free PCI-Express 2.0 x16 bus slot on your motherboard.
 

eide

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Joined
Oct 11, 2009
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To be honest, the system you already have is going to run pretty much any of the latest games without any problems. My own system is half of that of yours, besides a similar gfx card, and I ran Crysis without too much trouble, though my gfx level was on medium, not full.

If you really feel the need to invest to play those games on full then yeah that card will probably work. Personally, I think you could afford to wait a year - you will not have any problems running any games released - and by the time the games companies start upping the hardware requirements for future games, that card will be in a bit more of a suitable price range.

Whatever you decide, yes your PC should accept your suggested card, provided you have/will have at least one free PCI-Express 2.0 x16 bus slot on your motherboard.
Thanks for your reply.

Yes, I'm fairly satisfied with my system right now, as long as I can run games on high with 30+ FPS it's OK. But now the new DirectX11 technology arrives...

Crysis is probably the best looking game but it' s 2 yrs old, I think most PC games are hindered by the consoles in terms of gfx (developers don't want to make PC games look much better than 360/ps3 because console people will complain)... Maybe this'll mean that PC graphics won't improve much until the next console generation? If so buying a new card now won't be worth it. DX10 wasn't so powerful compared to Dx9, maybe this'll be true for DX10 -> 11 as well.
 
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DX10 has some important features... but the failure of Vista meant that game developers had little desire to do much with DX10. DX11 has some important features and the cool this is that it'll work with DX10 code.

Crysis still looks very good in HIGH compared to MAX... that'll help.

The 5870 is the best you'll be able to get for a good while... Your CPU could be enhanced through overclocking. My Q6600 (2.4Ghz default) runs at 3.0Ghz... and 9400s can easily hit 3~3.2Ghz. Get a better cooler like this one: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835186134

Your PC will need to support OC... if its a name-brand, you most likely won't be able to do so.

Here are some 5870s
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...0&bop=And&ActiveSearchResult=True&Order=PRICE

If you want to save a bit of money, theres the 5850s:

Here is a great chart: http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=3650&p=4
Your 9800GT would be a tad below the GTS250 (bottom card on the chart).
 

eide

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Unfortunately I have a Dell, so OC isn't possible? How exactly can Dell stop me from OC?

Do u think my PC can perform well until Xbox 720/PS4 generation with for example 5870 gfx card but only 2.67GHz...? I mean lots of people nowadays have 3.0GHz++...
 
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Unless its certain XPS models, you can't. Dell doesn't have to "stop" you, there just won't be the options to do so. That part is controlled when your first turn on your computer - like when you sell the DELL logo.

High end PCs or those that are hand-built, we can adjust our CPU clocks.
Its not always about the CLOCK speed that determines which CPU is faster. Back in the P4 Days, a $1000 3.4Ghz P4 would lose to a 2.0Ghz AMD chip ($150~180). Today's intel Core i5 (2.6Ghz) out runs $1000 3.2Ghz Core2 chips.

Who knows about consoles... The next gen won't be out until 2012+. We'll be using ATI 7870s by then... if PC gaming hasn't collapsed. A 7870 card would be about 8x more powerful than whats in todays consoles.
 

eide

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I see.

Well pershaps I'll have to buy a new CPU in a while, but the gfx card is the most important component right? Will I notice much performance differences between a Intel Core 2 Quad CPU Q9400 @ 2.67 GHz and a HD5870, compared to for exmple a Intel Core i7-860 2.8GHz + HD5870?

My Dell model is XPS 630i, I expect that it isn't OCable...
 
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You CPU is not the problem with over clocking. Its the bios built into your CMOS on your motherboard. You technically could use the same CPU with a different MB that allows for overclocking. You probably won't notice much if you simply replaced the CPU to a core i7 on you current MB. I'm not even sure if your bios on the MB will even accept the i7's clock speed. The bios might de-tune it to the clock speed built into it. The great aspect of the core i7 is its capability to be over clocked and many other small aspects as well. I have a Dell as well and it is not capable of being overclocked unless I had a different bios. Also, I can't even fit it with a i7 because the socket is different. That might be the same case with yours. You could get a new MB as an alternative and basically reuse all the components in you present computer and then you could beef of the clock settings.
 
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Your XPS should allow you to over clock. You'll need to go into BIOS (during power up, it'll tell you which key to press... F2, DEL, ESC - whatever) - locate a section that gives you FSB (Front Side Bus), voltage, multipliers.

I don't KNOW how good a Dell XPS such as yours works. As you increase the FSB, it effects memory - so some tuning of that is required.

For example, I can OC to 3Ghz, and adjust my memory to its still running at about 1066mhz.

The differece in performance between your PC (stock) and an i7 PC will vary between games. About 5~15fps.

Here is a game, 12fps slower. If you OC to 3.0Ghz, then the difference is 4fps... so replacing your CPU/PC is not required anytime soon. ;)
http://www.anandtech.com/bench/default.aspx?b=47 Even a $100 AMD CPU will perform about the same as yours. (3 or 4 core).

Crysis is still the biggest GPU killer.http://www.anandtech.com/bench/default.aspx?b=50
And your CPU is only 6fps slower than the i7-860. (which by the way, you do know that you can't fit any i5~9 CPUs in your computer)

Keep in mind, these benchmarks are comparing the GF GTX 280.
 

eide

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Joined
Oct 11, 2009
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6
So I OC by going into BIOS when starting the PC? Anything I can do now before going into BIOS to optimize for OCing (settings etc)? Do you recommend me to OC now? I've heard that it kills the PC's lifetime quite a bit.
 
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