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Good time to upgrade this year?


Azure79

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I'm in the market to upgrade my computer this year. Current one is going on 3 years old.

 

Before I delve into internet research for components, would appreciate whether there might be an optimal time to upgrade this year. Any new generations of CPU, GFX cards coming out that will drop the prices of previous gens?

 

My budget is $1,200 and am looking to upgrade CPU, GFX, RAM and possibly motherboard if the other components call for it.

 

Currently

 

CPU: Core 2 Duo E8400 Wolfdale 3.0GHz

 

GFX: GeForce 8800GTS (G92) 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 X 2

 

MB: NVIDIA nForce 780i SLI ATX Intel Motherboard

 

Planning to reuse my hard drives, fans, case and powersupply (1000W).

 

Thanks guys and gals!

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You will have to upgrade the motherboard, yes.

 

 

CPU-wise, Intel's Sandy Bridge launched earlier this year and that's all we'll see from them this year. Ivy Bridge is a refresh to it, not due until next year. AMD's next-gen, Bulldozer, is nominally due out this month but seems all but delayed until September at the least. Unlikely to be worth waiting for, unless you need 8 cores at an affordable price, it's very much expected Intel will hold onto its performance lead.

 

For graphics, nothing has really been announced - the best we can do is rumours and that's that AMD will launch 7xxx sometime this year, probably Q4. Very unlikely nVidia will have anything this year. Graphics are in a bit of an odd spot currently - in terms of price/performance there's probably never been a better time, plenty of viable options all the way from $100 to $300. On the other hand, in terms of real performance gain there's been not a whole lot of improvement on 2009's 58xx series (which were admittedly a big jump).

 

 

All-in-all it's hard to go wrong at the moment. I5-2500k (the 'k' version is for overclocking which is a huge gain on this platform), Z68 based motherboard, and for graphics AMD 6850/6950 or nVidia 560Ti/570.

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Pretty similar to what I've been hearing elsewhere Humanoid. I want to build a desktop when I'm in the US in September that will kick TW2's butt, would i5-2500k + 570 do the job? I suppose it's harder to predict longevity at the moment because for gaming it would depend on the new consoles timeframe.

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Pretty similar to what I've been hearing elsewhere Humanoid. I want to build a desktop when I'm in the US in September that will kick TW2's butt, would i5-2500k + 570 do the job? I suppose it's harder to predict longevity at the moment because for gaming it would depend on the new consoles timeframe.

 

Would be a pretty balanced system for resolutions up to, say, 1920x1200. On larger monitors the 1.2GB memory on the 570 might start choking and the 2GB on the ATI 69xx cards will start to tell.

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Hrm, interesting. Not bothered about ubersampling but by kickass I mean high/max on TW2, Shogun, etc., then I'd want the system to keep handling high-max specs for 2 years or more. For instance, I've just been recommended elsewhere the following setup;

 

 

Plus 8gb RAM, two HDs (one SSD for games), a 650W PSU, etc. I'm not too fussed about huge resolutions - I had a look at some ~23" LCDs that seem to run at 1920x1080 and I'd be fine with that. But if there's something to go up to from the 570, for example, I'm still under my max budget...

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P67 is the launch platform for Sandy Bridge, it has now been superceded by the new Z68, so the former becomes the "budget" platform - and a poor excuse for one given the price difference of only $10-20. The 2500k is indeed the popular pick, as only it and the 2600k can be overclocked - and the price difference is pretty big for a small clock speed bump and the addition of hyperthreading (useless for gaming).

 

8GB RAM is good, some might argue overkill but at rock bottom RAM prices who cares. On this platform, memory frequency (MHz) matters more than latency (CL rating). And yeah, grab the SSD for sure.

 

 

nVidia vs AMD graphics is not so much about one performing better than the other, but on features. nVidia has more mature 3D glasses support, PhysX hardware physics for selected games, and support for up to two monitors. AMD has more memory which starts becoming a limiting factor at high resolutions and/or extreme anti-aliasing or if you plan on multimonitor support (3-6 monitors off the one care depending on model).

 

That said, for raw performance I'd rank off-hand 560Ti (note the Ti is pretty important) < 6950 < 570 < 6970, but the gaps are small enough and highly variable depending on game such that I'd suggest basing your pick on the above criteria.

Edited by Humanoid

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A rather tangential question, but anyone have any idea where to shop higher end EVGA products on this side of the world?

“He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would surely suffice.” - Albert Einstein

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http://staticice.com.au/ - search for EVGA 570 brings up a fair few shops, including my favourite local online shop (semi-contradiction I know) PC Case Gear.

 

 

Note though I don't think they honour the lifetime warranty outside the US which removes much of the incentive of going with them in the first place.

Hey, seems way better than shopbot :)

 

Unfortunately the one I'm curious about (the gtx 590 hydro coppper) isn't there. Closest thing I got was Black Tea tech who had the 580 HC2... and the buggers at EVGA doesn't ship outside mainland North America. Been there tried that too.

“He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would surely suffice.” - Albert Einstein

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Yeah, AUS/NZ have a long way to go for proper hardware... I'd love to upgrade now (so I didn't have to play TW2 at 8fps) but I'm just waiting since doing it in the states pretty much halves the price.

 

Humanoid, I loved my Radeon 9600 Pro when I had it for performing much better than something that price had any right to, but have this lingering impression that NVIDIA is always a bit better for game compatibility. I'm looking now at a EVGA GTX 580, definitely a jump in price but would fit my budget.

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There is no difference in game capability these days. Possibly if a game uses PhysX heavily, but that's it (and there has been something like 3 games where that applies). Nivida has 3D-support, AMD has more than two screen support through eyefinity.

 

Nvidia does have better performance in DX11 titles, but again, not many of those arround yet. Basically with graphic cards you get what you pay for. A more expensive card will outperform a cheaper one. The 580 is a fine choice, as is the 6990 from AMD (if it's in your budget). The 6990 has the slight drawback that it's a double card, and will only perform at it's best with games that have Crossfire support. This is all games, it may just take a couple of weeks after some releases.

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The 580 is the top single-chip solution ...and is as such, very poor value for its performance. This is balanced by avoiding the complications of support for multi-GPU solutions. If you have an allergy towards the issues that do crop up with SLI/Crossfire then the premium may be worth it to you, but for raw speed, you can get in excess of 50% more bang per buck by buying two lesser cards. Remember that these days, both vendors multi-GPU solutions can scale in excess of 90%, compared to the situation just a generation or two ago where you would only gain 50-80% from the second card.

 

I'd personally take a pair of 2GB 6950s, as at the top-end of performance, nVidia's lack of memory will be an even bigger limitation. Crossfire also scales marginally better than SLI. That said, a pair of 560Tis can hold their own for raw performance when not bottlenecked by the frame buffer. If you're sure you'll never want to go for gaming on multiple screens and/or 27"+, then the disadvantages of the nVidia option won't show up. Both have their issues - SLI didn't work at all for DA2 for a couple weeks for example, and both had issues with The Witcher 2 - but waiting a couple weeks is okay for me given the big gains otherwise and because even when problems do arise you can just use one card for perfectly serviceable performance.

 

 

The value proposition can be shown in any old review - e.g. http://www.anandtech.com/show/4061/amds-ra...radeon-hd-6950/ to see just how dual GPUs crunch the 580.

Edited by Humanoid

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Don't know why, I rarely think of SLI/Crossfire as a default option (even though I use SLI myself). But yeah, I agree with what Humanoid said.

 

I'll also add that the AMD cards use up less electricity and generate less heat compared to Nvidias offerings. I echo the recommendation for twin 6950 2GB.

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Thanks you two, good learning for me. I've built a PC before but that was years ago and I'm a bit wary of managing SLI/Crossfire or such. I'm probably happy to pay a bit more for peace of mind at this point, since I've often heard of people having various niggles with SLI/Crossfire. I'm currently planning to get one screen, 23-7". At some point I'll get another one, but to multitask rather than to use Eyefinity/etc. (The twin 6950 ratings on those tests are sure droolworthy though.)

 

Although, is it inconceivable that I could add on a second 580 a couple of years into the future? Or would that just not make any sense cost-wise?

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It's certainly a possibility. It's hard to say how much sense it will make, because that all depends on how the price drops, and if it is available. If you're not afraid to buy used, it will be easier, but comes with it's own risks.

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If you're looking that far into the future, and because you're considering larger displays, it may be worth going the (somewhat rare) 3GB version of the 580. And yes, you probably need to go second-hand for a second one if you decide to go that way in the future (though next year's release of 28nm chips - the current generation is 40nm - may make that path poor value since it's expected to be a pretty healthy jump in performance).

 

 

Alternatively, go for a midrange card now, and replace with a next-gen card next year.

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