need advice for core 2 upgrade video card

gatoatigrado

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I know there are a lot of Core 2 threads existing, and I have read at least some of them (e.g. $630 Core 2). However it didn't match my upgrade situation, and I wanted to bring up some slightly different hardware and my reasons for (at least for now) liking them more.

What I have now - Athlon 64 3000, Geforce 6600 GT, 1gb pc3200 ram (kingston value, after looking at many benchmarks with minor percentages I decided to go with the circuitcity rebate deals), 350w Antec power supply, generic case, nice monitor and peripherals. I have two 160gb Caviar 2 hard drives, but took them off raid after terrible experiences with cheap software drivers and terrible Linux compatibility.

e6400 - the clock multiplier for the E6300 is not worth it. This has a 14% faster clock for 20% more money. The E6600 has a 12% higher clock for 43% more money (compared to the E6400). Thus, as I don't mind the extra $35, I think the E6400 is the best price/performance for me. Also, I do plan to overclock, hopefully to around 3 ghz, so I won't have to worry about an excessively fast fsb and heat. If these are mistakes (I don't know if lower clock multipliers result in lower heat output at the same frequency), please correct me.

Crucial DDR 2 800 cl4 - usually I get cheaper RAM, but for $120, this doesn't look like a bad deal.

foxconn motherboard - after searching for a good Core 2 motherboard, this one seems like the best to me. the latest antec buyer's guide recommended it. It has good ratings from users, not only a few professionals (not common with a lot of others), decent overclocking, good memory compatibility, external sata is always a plus, and "hd" / 7.1 integrated audio (I don't listen to much music so a $70 card doesn't make sense). It has a 3 year warranty and the price seems right. I don't want sli.

I don't know what graphics to get. I don't want to spend a lot of money; obviously none of the other components are excessive. I was looking at the 7900 GTO, but it looks like it would become a $300 purchase because I would need a new power supply. The 7600 GT seems a bit like a non-upgrade. My current graphics was about a 5x upgrade from what I had. I will absolutely not have an ATI card; I use Linux frequently and ATI's linux drivers are awful and they have no real OpenGL support compared to nvidia.
 

gatoatigrado

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actually I forgot I got a 500w for my sister's computer but it definitely could run stably with my 350w power supply. so, maybe I can go with a 7900 GTO after all...if I can find one. Supposing I can't, and I don't want to spend that much money, any suggestions are welcome. maybe ebay? or is that not a good idea?
 

MadHacker

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I went from a 6600GT to 7600GT.
there is a nice improvement. and the price is nice.
Myself I will wait a few months till the DX10 cards come out and get stable before I will sink any $$$ in them...
As for power supply I think the 520w I got will suffice me for any future video card I need... I hope anyways...
 

gatoatigrado

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Thanks for your advice. I will admit there is a decent increase, but from Tom's VGA charts, it's at most twice, for $120. I am also not getting DirectX 10 because I cannot afford a $520 card. The $700 8800 gtx is twice as powerful as the 7900 gtx. Compared to the 7900 gto, this is not a good deal. I think I might be able to find some cheaper cards with evga's lifetime warranty from ebay, which would hopefully be around $200 for performance around the 7900 gt.

I hope the power supply is okay, not only to avoid buying a new one. 1000 watt power supplies with the g80 obviously take money; if my computer is on an average of 10 hours a day, that could be about US$150 wasted per year.
 

Anoobis

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It looks like you've done some homework and everything looks good. The biggest downside to that Foxconn board is it's lack of CPU mulitiplier adjustment which is a negative when overclocking, other than that it's a solid board and you'll be hard pressed to find another board for $100. Also note that it doesn't have Firewire. The next choice would be the $116 Gigabyte GA-965P-S3.

The 7900GS is being bested by the new X1950Pro according to the reviews but you're not interested in ATI cards. For the money that 7900GS looks like a good deal and you won't find any other nVidia cards worth getting in that price range.
 

gatoatigrado

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I'm sorry I'm sort of new to overclocking. Why would I want to adjust the CPU multiplier? If I wanted to make the fsb as fast as possible? The core 2 overclocks well so I would want to use the full multiplier. I don't need firewire; I don't even need USB 2.0.

The 7900gs is 16 percent slower (in fear, which is mostly what I play) and 57 percent cheaper - those in stock at least. If possible, gto / gtx would be nice, but I don't know how cheap I can find them. I have definitely heard mixed things about the 7800 gtx - I thought they would be cheap on eBay because no one wanted them, instead buying the 7900 gtx. If anyone has experience with eBay cards or reasons I should avoid it, I would appreciate any advice. MSI has good fans though; I think if I bought other things I would probably need to replace the fan.
 

fate0n3

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If you are planning on you using your old PSU you will also need to make sure it has PCI-E power capabilities if not then you will not be able to get alot of the high end cards which require PSU power to them.
 

Anoobis

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Put simply you could lower the multiplier and raise the FSB/RAM to achieve a higher clock and vice versa. The key is finding the highest stable balance of them all. There are others more qualified to delve deeper on the subject than me.

The 7900GS is your best bet if you want to stay in the $200 range as well as stick with nVidia. It's a good card that comes damn close to the 7900GT in a lot of games but at a sub-$200 cost.
 

purdueguy

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I recommend getting a 1GB stick of RAM instead of 2x512MB. You are going to need 2 GB's soon and 4x512MB is worse than 2x1GB.

You may lose dual-channel performance (~10%) for the time being but adding another 1GB stick when you save up your money would definitely be worth it.

Just be sure to get a CAS latency of 4.
 

gatoatigrado

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uh, not unless I go to Windows Vista. Most games actually work fine with 512mb. Compared to video and other applications, textures are relatively small and usually reside in gpu memory anyway. I agree dual channel has relatively few performance gains.

If I do ever need 2gb, what's wrong with 4 512mb? I don't think I will ever need 4gb.

From what I read http://www.hardcoreware.net/reviews/review-341-2.htm, only the higher end gigabyte has unlocked cpu multipliers.

does this sound like a good overclock?
fsb 350
cpu multiplier 8 = 2.8 ghz
ram multiplier 2 = 700 mhz

I have heard that is the fastest this board goes; maybe I could look into another. It's still a decent 30 percent faster though. I like the performance increase http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/showdoc.aspx?i=2802&p=10. I will also probably be using the default heatsink and fan.
 

fate0n3

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To be honest it is almost impossible to say what is good and what is not good with OC'ing all boards and processors OC differently. It would be very hard to judge without already having the stuff and tryin to just say what you are going to OC too and it be perfect and work stable. But that is just my 2 cents. I have found just because other people have been able to reach HIGH OC with hardware just like yours doesn't mean you can. That is the fun with OCing you might get a CPU that you OC to your hearts delight then you might not :( . If you are looking to push high OC i would def recommend DDR2 800 rather then 667.
 

gatoatigrado

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okay, the gigabyte looks nice. Thanks. What is the issue with solid state and electrolytic capacitors? I haven't seen any reviews of the other board and it's only 10 dollars cheaper. some reviews at newegg say the gigabyte needs 1.8 volt memory to get into the bios and change options though.
 

gatoatigrado

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i hope sometime nvidia gets better and gets a fast nforce board for the core 2. the nforce 4 amd boards are always reliable and compatible. oh well. i guess the gigabyte is the best option now. one person said they were able to boot with one 2.1 volt memory, change the voltage, and put the other in.

i am not impressed by the difference between cl 4 and cl 5 http://www.legitreviews.com/article/258/12/. If anyone has a different benchmark result, I would like to see it. The ocz has cl 4 and the others are mostly cl 5. the cl 5 memory is a bit cheaper and not as high voltage.
 

Anoobis

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Solid state capacitors are supposed to last longer and that's really the extent of my knowledge on the issue. However, I can tell you this. Overclocking strains components and can shorten their lifespans. Chances are, the moderate amount of overclocking you're looking for is nothing to worry about.

Also note, as far as I know the BioStar TForce965PT and the Gigabyte GA-965P-S3 both use solid state capacitors near the VRM and electrolytic capacitors everywhere else. The Gigabyte GA-965P-DS3 uses solid state capacitors throughout and is quite a bit more than the other two boards.

The memory issue is due to some memory requiring 2.2V in order to function correctly. The issue people have run into is that a lot of board's default option is to run the memory at 1.8V. I've read about it mostly concerning Gigabyte boards and OCZ modules though and I think a lot of BIOS updates have solved the issue. Again my knowledge in the area is a bit vague.

The nVidia 6XX series of chipsets is due to arrive soon. A lot of people are pinning their hopes on them. Personally, I'm looking forward to ATI's RD600 chipset. :wink:

I think any of the boards (Foxconn, Gigabyte or BioStar) would work well for you.
 

gatoatigrado

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thanks for all your help. i edited the post above - i think i will go with lower voltage, cheaper, and minimally different (<2 percent) cl 5 memory. i don't want to have to rma the board and hope another comes with a higher bios version.
 

Anoobis

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I don't think the risk is that great. Worst case, you take it to a PC shop and ask them to throw in some test sticks, raise the VDimm to 2.2, save it to the BIOS and put your RAM back in.
 

gatoatigrado

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okay thanks for your help. I'm not getting it immediately but I'll tell you when I do. I will probably wait for things to come up on sites like techbargains, and maybe for "black friday" (i think) sales during thanksgiving.
 

purdueguy

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uh, not unless I go to Windows Vista.
Mostly, true. Oblivion and BF2 make use of 2GB's quite nicely. As I'm sure other games will in the future.

Most games actually work fine with 512mb.
Not true. Games produced in the last year or so definitely need 1GB of RAM to perform well. I just bought NWN2 and it recommends 1GB.

If I do ever need 2gb, what's wrong with 4 512mb? I don't think I will ever need 4gb.
For gaming, it's a known fact that 4x512MB can produce slower results than 2x512MB. Look here and draw your own conclusions.

You may not "see" the need for 4GB but it's nice to know that 2 slots are available to you. If you fill in all four slots with 512MB sticks and say 2 years down the road need 3 or 4 GB's, then what do you do? You're stuck throwing them away.
 

Anoobis

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I think the OP was planning on going with 1GB and not 512MB. 1GB is still sufficient for XP. Yes BF2 does work better with 2GB of RAM but not everybody can afford 2GB of RAM and 1GB and a higher end graphics card is a better all around purchase. And that applies to any of the newer games.

You may not "see" the need for 4GB but it's nice to know that 2 slots are available to you. If you fill in all four slots with 512MB sticks and say 2 years down the road need 3 or 4 GB's, then what do you do? You're stuck throwing them away.
:roll: Ebay dude.
 

gatoatigrado

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Mostly, true. Oblivion and BF2 make use of 2GB's quite nicely. As I'm sure other games will in the future.
I don't play Oblivion / BF2. I'm sure any well designed engine, as long as the resolution is not extremely high, should not need it.

Games produced in the last year or so definitely need 1GB of RAM to perform well.
depends on what background things you are running. I can still play armyops fine with 512mb, it's just slow after the levels change.

For gaming, it's a known fact that 4x512MB can produce slower results than 2x512MB. Look here and draw your own conclusions.
yeah, my conclusion: bad DirectX implementation and insignificant differences anyway.

2 years down the road need 3 or 4 GB's, then what do you do? You're stuck throwing them away.
When I need 4 gb I will probably be getting a new system with whatever next generation processor, a DirectX 10 card / OpenGL 3 card with some hundred gigabyte per second connection which obviously isn't compatible with pci express, and hopefully it will be some truly innovative technology, such as XDR DRAM, or some magnetic XDR2 DRAM which runs at 8Ghz and has low latency. It's octal data rate as well, so that's probably the equivalent of 64 Ghz SDRAM. If you look at the benchmarks, you would be surprised how little RAM has progressed. For gaming, DDR 2 800 is only a very small margin better than DDR 400.
 

purdueguy

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Yes, I agree that 1GB is sufficient. I was just recommending to get 1GB stick initially rather than 2x512GB.

gatoatigrado: Any NEW video game needs 1GB. I played Diablo II well with 512MB but when I played NWN Hordes of the Underdark, I got a noticable improvement going to a full gig.

And you're right, there's really an insignificant performance increase between 4x512MB and 2x1GB. But my point to your question was proven even if it was minimal.
 

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