Time for an Upgrade


Sep 11, 2009
Hey guys. I've been lurking for a while, first time poster.

Current Setup:
Intel Core 2 Duo E6550 OCed @ 2.94ghz (7x multi, 420 FSB) - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115030
ASRock P43Twins1600 - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157130
4gb G.Skill DDR2 800 (Dual Channel) - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231121
OCZ ModXStream Pro 500w PSU - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817341016
ASUS GeForce 8600GT 512MB GDDR3 - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814121097R

I'm looking to upgrade my graphics card, but I have a few concerns.

1.) Will my PSU handle the power demand that a GTX 260, HD4870 or HD4890 requires? I have 18A on each of my two 12v rails, and I'm fairly certain that I'm in the clear with the hardware I'm currently running, but it doesn't hurt to double check. I bought this PSU less than a month ago when my HEC 485w had a fan die on me, and I made sure to go for quality and longevity with this purchase after seeing the low grade components in the HEC with my own eyes.

2.) Which GPU will give me the best bang for my buck?

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814130434 - GTX 260 - $194.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814130482 - GTX 260 Recertified - $139.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814161294 - HD4870 - $152.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814150359 - HD4890 - $194.99

I've really got my eye on the GTX 260 Recertified from EVGA, but this card (wife's orders) is going to be a Christmas present for myself, and a recertified item isn't going to last on the list forever. In addition, I'm concerned with the limited 90 day warranty that comes with it as opposed to a full warranty, box and accessories that come with the retail product.

I'm very interested in the HD4890 at a price point that matches the GTX 260 (retail), but I've always held to the side of NVIDIA in the past (drivers, *nix compatibility), but I'm doing a lot less *nix work nowadays, and I've heard that ATI has polished the drivers a bit. I'm pretty big into games, but not necessarily brand spankin' new games, so I'm not too worried about DX11 or PhysX compatibility...but if I have a game that features PhysX, I'd sure like to be able to use it. I'm really on the fence with the HD4890.

The frugal side of me leans toward the HD4870 / Recertified GTX 260, while I'm learning that quality at a higher price (retail vs. recertified) is sometimes worth it. Prices will change before Christmas, and I plan to make this purchase in mid October / November.

I play at 1440x900, and don't foresee going past 1920x1200 in the near future.

Games & Avg. Framerates:
Left 4 Dead - 35
CS:S - 100+
WoW - 40 to 60
Crysis - 20 to 30, Med settings
Bioshock - 20 to 30, High settings

I haven't ventured to newer games, mainly because I know I'm going to be disappointed with the overall performance...but I'm ready to move on.

I appreciate your time and advice.

- Marcus
Steer clear of recertified products, unless a fair warranty is offered.
Either the HD4870 or GTX260 would be a massive improvement and will run easily on your current rig.
Having fried a PSU in the past I'm always paranoid about advising someone else to push theirs but you have a good quality unit so I'll say you will be OK with a HD4890 as well.
Do n't forget the GTX275 either:


The HD4870 or GTX260 is going to be the sweet spot. If you really want PhysX then get the '260 if not the listed '4870 has similar performance and is a little cheaper. Both can run current games at high or maximum settings, even at 1920x1200.
For a bit more cash you get a bit more power, but I'd say the HD4890/GTX275 would be the better buy if you intend to upgrade the display in a year or so, both will have some power in reserve and will handle a larger display with more aplomb than their smaller siblings.
And I'd wait until November before making a decision, by then most of the DX11 fallout will have settled down and prices might very well be even better;)
Their support is not the best but they do give a decent, if not XFX class warranty.
Read the Newegg reviews on anything you are looking to purchase, they often highlight issues missed by proper magazine/internet articles.
Sparkle have been around here in the UK for years so they're not a new player in the market here, not sure about the US, obviously.
I would not hessitate to buy one, if the price was right, and it had good reviews.


Sep 11, 2009

And here's what I'm most worried about. I'm wondering if I made a mistake getting a model with two 12v rails with split amperage rather than a model with a single 12v rail providing total 12v amperage.

Does anyone know how these rails are split? Is it only the CPU on one rail, and the remainder of components (motherboard, GPU, HDDs, etc.) on the other, or some other configuration? Is there a formula to calculate max wattage available on one rail?


Sep 11, 2009
BFG Website - 525W PCI Express®-compliant system power supply with a combined 12V current rating of 38A or more (Minimum system power requirement based on a PC configured with an Intel Core®2 Extreme QX9650 processor)
If I'm reading this correctly, it goes against everything I've read about two+ 12v rail PSUs. Maybe they're idiot proofing by knowing that your average Joe is going to sum up his 12v rail amperage? I can cross my fingers. Based on this, I think a stock clocked GTX 260 would run in my system just fine.
A 500W psu that cleanly delivers its rated power will support any video card. Certainly, it'll support a 260.

The connectors are usually spread so that enough power is available.