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Question Upgrading GPU/Monitor for gaming ~400$ budget i7 CPU

Apr 17, 2020

I'm looking to buy, within a week, a new GPU and monitor for competitive gaming. I intentionally run games on the lowest settings and I do not play graphically intense games (currently playing Valorant and my current setup rocks 60fps-120fps in-game). All I care about is getting consistent frame rates to utilize higher hz monitor. Also display lag being able to keep up with the monitor refresh rate sounds important to me though I don't understand the explanations I've read online.

--Current specs--
Motherboard: Intel dx58so2
CPU: Intel i7 Extreme x980
RAM: wmic is returning weird values but I know they are kingston 4gb ddr3 dimm CL9, not sure exact product. seems to be overclocked at 1776 so I am assuming they are ~1600 base clock? (I did not build this computer myself and haven't opened it up in awhile)
Tower: I am not sure, it is decently big, not overly huge but definitely not a mini-tower.
GPU: 1GB AMD Radeon HD 6870
Monitor: Dell U2412M (1920x1200 24'' 60hz)

--Looking for--
GPU: 8GB (I will be adding 2 more sticks of RAM so I'd prefer 8GB to best take advantage of my CPU)
Monitor: 1920x1080 144hz 1-3ms lag (unless suggestions/prices allow higher but 144hz works for me)

I am a huge noob with all of this but doing my best to understand so I apologize in advance for the generic questions/concerns.

1. NVIDIA/AMD Sync tech. do I really need to buy a monitor that supports w/e Sync tech comes with the GPU I pick? As in, lets say I buy an AMD, if I don't get a Free Sync "enabled" monitor, will I suffer from tears/visual artifacts in game with high levels of motion? If so, this is a real requirement for me. I play most games with anywhere from 1620 DPI to 4k DPI so needless to say when I move my mouse quite a bit could hypothetically be changing and any tearing/artifacts would greatly distract me in those moments.

2. PCIe3.0/PCIe2.0 vs GPU vs CPU // As far as I understand and have seen online, the major bottleneck I need to be aware with my CPU is roughly around 8gb range. Given that PCIe2.0 16x can handle an 8gb card, I shouldn't have to worry if I get a PCIe2/3 GPU?

3. Am I thinking about all of this correctly? Or am I missing some vital compatibility issues?

Given this, I'm looking for suggestions of GPU+Monitor combos that would have a fair chance of working within my system. I'm also up for any kind of comment on WHAT I'm looking for. If you think that I would be better off going a different direction I would love to hear your comments and suggestions! :)

P.S. I am also looking to get 8GB because I enjoy some tensorflow projects from time to time and running it on the CPU is painfully slow and a 1GB GPU actually does nothing. So yea!
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