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Thread: Undecided on new GPU (4xxx or 5xxx) for old system

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    Red face Undecided on new GPU (4xxx or 5xxx) for old system

    Hi there,

    I hope you can help with a bit of a conundrum. Basically I am having some trouble in deciding what to do about my old system.
    Right now I have the following components in my PC:

    Intel D915PBL Mobo
    Intel P4 3.4ghz HT
    Sapphire X700 Pro
    Couple of 160gig HDD's
    XFi Soundcard (Extreme Music I think)
    400w PSU (came with the case, an AOpen H700B)
    DVD Drive

    I am also running a naff 1280x800 monitor at the moment.

    The thing is I have been "OK" to an extent with games on this rig since I bought it (back in early '04), I have been able to play most of the games up until the last few years (when most seemed to switch to SM 3.0) at a reasonable rate (low to medium settings).

    I am aware that my little rig isn't all that powerful and that I am probably in dire need of an upgrade!
    As I am sure you are aware, money is a little tight right now and I'm wondering what I should do in order to get some of these newer games running.

    The way I see it I have two (maybe three) options:

    1. Complete upgrade (New everything) - not really open to this right now though

    2. Upgrade the GPU to a newer model which still runs from the PCI-Express socket on the Mobo (thinking 4650 or 4670, I have found "Ultimate" versions of both which use passive coolers)

    3. Go for the latest 5xxx card and a new PSU - Could probably stretch to this.

    So basically I am stuck between getting a new card that will run from the Mobo (no PCI connectors on my PSU) which would probably keep me going for another year maybe 18 months while I save up some dosh for a proper rebuild. Or go for a new PSU and grab a 5770 (or perhaps one of the new "Q1 2010" models yet to be announced which look like they might take over from the 46xx range).

    As I only have a 1280x800 screen right now, would I see much of an improvement if I went for "option 3" over "option 2"? I am aware that my Mobo doesn't support PCI-Express 2.0 (or 2.1, whatever is the latest), according to the Intel Site I can support a PCI-Express x16 card... wow!

    I can probably go to around £200 if I went for the "option 2" upgrade, to take into account the current 57xx pricing and a decent PSU. On the other hand, the 4670 I have spotted is around £45, which would allow me a little more time to plan an upgrade.
    Basically I don't want to be throwing my money at something like a 5xxx card if it won't run that well on my system. I have read that the "Q1 2010" cards will aim to replace the 46xx range (among others) but I have no clue if they will need a separate Power connector.

    I am also a little unsure on when to buy a new spec (if I get that far £££ wise), I know there never seems to be a good time but would it be worth me waiting until the new nVidia cards hit before doing anything?

    Any help you folks could offer would be truly appreciated,

    Cheers,
    Harv
    EDIT: Thanks to Phage for suggesting posting this here

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    Re: Undecided on new GPU (4xxx or 5xxx) for old system

    You could probably do a system upgrade for around £200.

    This is what I would look at getting:

    AMD Athlon X2 240 ~ £44

    http://www.ebuyer.com/product/168971

    MSI 770-C45 ~ £47

    http://www.ebuyer.com/product/165438

    4GB DDR3 ~ £68

    http://www.ebuyer.com/product/179278

    HD3870 GDDR4 512MB ~ £60

    http://www.ebuyer.com/product/138656

    OR

    HD4670 GDDR3 512MB ~ £50

    http://www.ebuyer.com/product/152940

    OCZ 400W StealthXStream PSU ~£35

    http://www.ebuyer.com/product/152505

    TBH,the CPU in your system is going to be a bottleneck for most modern games. If you go with the HD3870(it is faster than an HD4670) you should get a new PSU. You should hopefully be able to get away with using your existing PSU if you keep the HD4670 as the Athlon II should have lower power consumption than the Pentium 4 3.4GHZ you have and hopefully the HD4670 should not consume too much power too.

    However the motherboard only has one IDE connector like most motherboards I have seen recently.


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    Re: Undecided on new GPU (4xxx or 5xxx) for old system

    A higher end graphics card is likely to be bottlenecked by your CPU I'm guessing. However you certainly will see performance gains from upgrading to a new graphics card. Although the processor is essentially a weak dual core due to HT, it still doesn't match even a lower end dual core. If you have £200 right now you could go for a half decent AMD build I'm guessing. You should be able to reuse your 3GB ram and upgrade it at a later date too but the upgrade won't be as large. HDD and DVD drives probably won't need an upgrade anytime soon although upgrading the HDDs will, once again, offer performance upgrades, albeit on a smaller scale.

    So what I'm thinking is £200 on a graphics card, PSU (I don't trust PSUs that come with a case), motherboard and CPU. HDD, case, DVD drive, RAM can be reused for now.

    An AMD system is what I'm thinking at the moment:
    CPU: AMD Athlon II X2 240 - £40
    PSU: OCZ 500W ModXStream (Modular PSU) - £50

    Can't seem to find the good priced graphics cards at the moment though, nice priced 4770s are gone from everywhere :/ 4850s are out of stock in most places too. Could grab an 8800GT off eBay.

    Not sure if there are any decent yet cheap AM3 motherboards that support DDR2 RAM though :/ Can't seem to find one.

    EDIT: CAT beat me to it and made a better choice haha. I checked around on google and found that the PSUs from that AOpen case is pretty good but I'm guessing that even though it was good for it's time it's likely to be considered not as good in current time.

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    Re: Undecided on new GPU (4xxx or 5xxx) for old system

    AM3 motherboards only support DDR3 whereas AM2+ motherboards support DDR2. OTH,the Athlon II can support DDR2 and DDR3 so you can use it in both motherboards.

    The DDR2 in the computer that the OP has would probably be 400MHZ or 533MHZ DDR2. With the Athlon II this could lead to a performance hit though.


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    Re: Undecided on new GPU (4xxx or 5xxx) for old system

    Quote Originally Posted by CAT-THE-FIFTH View Post
    AM3 motherboards only support DDR3 whereas AM2+ motherboards support DDR2. OTH,the Athlon II can support DDR2 and DDR3 so you can use it in both motherboards.

    The DDR2 in the computer that the OP has would probably be 400MHZ or 533MHZ DDR2. With the Athlon II this could lead to a performance hit though.
    Ah no wonder I couldn't find a single AM3 motherboard that supported DDR2, stupid me.

    I was guessing the memory would be 533mhz and therefore a memory upgrade wouldn't help as much as a CPU and graphics upgrade would be but now that I think about it, upgrading to DDR3 will be quite a large upgrade.

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    Re: Undecided on new GPU (4xxx or 5xxx) for old system

    Can't seem to find the good priced graphics cards at the moment though, nice priced 4770s are gone from everywhere :/ 4850s are out of stock in most places too. Could grab an 8800GT off eBay.
    Maplin are(was) doing Powercolor HD4850 1GB B-grade for £69.99. Now available @ £79.99.....Aria are doing HD4870 @£80.49

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    Re: Undecided on new GPU (4xxx or 5xxx) for old system

    £80 for a 4850 doesn't seem worth it IMO and £80 for a 4870 would be out of the price range for the OP.

    If I was the OP I'd leave the graphics card upgrade for a little later and just wait till he had enough money for a 4870 or possibly even a 4890 as the price/performance ratio for those are very good and can run most games without a breeze.

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    Re: Undecided on new GPU (4xxx or 5xxx) for old system

    Hi folks,

    Thanks for all the replies so far, much appreciated.

    I can see where you are all coming from, it would be great to go for a partial update (i.e. mobo + CPU) but I just don't know that I would get the most out of that, would I not be better going for a cheapo GPU now / Q1 2010 and saving up for a complete overhaul? FWIW I did have some parts on order but I have had to return them due to a family emergency. I was really hoping that I could do a system build this side of the New Year but now I am not so sure.

    Would this Sapphire Ultimate 4670 not be worth it? Don't get me wrong I can see what you mean about the whole system lagging behind but would this not work even as a temporary update to see me through 2010 (or even to September when I'm likely to have extra funds due to my Birthday on the 10th)?

    I apologise if I made it sound like I couldn't play games in any decent way, I can play L4D, CoH, HL2 and pretty much any pre-SM3.0 game (i.e. DoW 2, Fallout, Bioshock etc.) at a reasonable rate, admittedly not on the highest settings but I can get by with "medium" settings (only have to go on "low" for things like shadows and AA settings)

    FWIW, I think my RAM is 533mhz stuff, I remember buying some quite a few years back to get me to 4gb (as has been said I only get about 3.5 though due to not being a "true" 64-bit CPU / Mobo), as to whether the whole lot is 533 I can't say right now as I haven't looked at the RAM for quite a few years! It might be running at 400mhz as I'm sure the original spec of my machine came with that (it was a custom build by a local PC shop).

    I guess in an ideal world I would go for a complete i7 rebuild (probably keep my case but if not then maybe a 183/93 or Cosmos 1000) and get a decent screen (thinking 24") but I just can't go that far right now.

    @CAT-THE-FIFTH, really appreciate the work you put into speccing me a few parts to keep me going (you to Ulti ), just to confirm, the 3870 "range" is likely more comparable to the 4870 "range" whereas the 4670 is a cut down 4770?
    I have been thinking more about the "option 3" part build overnight and I must admit that, compared to the other "options" I have suggested it would at least get me on to the "upgrade path" whereby I could use the PSU and GPU with the "new" build when it gets under way. I could imagine that poor 4670 struggling to get me past 10fps on a lovely 1920x1200 screen

    I am tempted to wait until the 1st Quarter of next year to see what Ati release to replace the 4xxx range, but then I have a horrible feeling that it wouldn't be such an affordable option (having read about the 40nm issues that are plaguing the chip maker Ati use for the 5xxx range at the moment).

    Look forward to your thoughts on this,

    Cheers,
    Harv

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    Re: Undecided on new GPU (4xxx or 5xxx) for old system

    Your X700 Pro is in par with modern integrated graphics (the good stuff, not Intel integrated graphics).

    A 4670 would be a *major* upgrade, and frankly are a steal at their current cost (my wife's PC has one). Not sure I would have a passively cooled one though. The card my wife has which is single slot with a tiny fan is almost silent at the desktop and not too bad under load, so one with a big fan should be nice & quiet.

    An X700 pro is supposed to draw up to 33W, a 4670 can pull up to 70W so you are looking at about another 40W of draw on your PSU.

    I am driving a 2048x1152 monitor with my 8800GT, and it does OK. Driving a 1920x1200 with a 4670 should be a similar experience as it isn't that far off the speed of an 8800GT. Or put it another way, a new screen will have twice as many pixels to paint as your current screen, and the 4670 is about 10 times faster than your X700.

    Not sure what your best option is tbh. Possibly comes down to how soon you expect to upgrade the motherboard and cpu.
    If you wait over 6 months to upgrade, then a 150 quid card now will probably have dropped by 50 quid so you can buy a 50 quid card now, a 100 quid card then and be no worse off than buying a 150 quid card now

    If you are to upgrade the CPU+mobo in January, then option 3 sounds better.

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    Re: Undecided on new GPU (4xxx or 5xxx) for old system

    Although the graphics card is the most important part of the system, it's just going to be bottlenecked so badly and although the 4670s have a good price performance ratio, for just a bit more they do very well. I'm expecting 5670s to come out and to be around the £60 mark whilst being able to match the performance of 4770/4850. And Nvidia *MAY* also give you another option.

    Upgrading the CPU though will definitely show an increase in FPS for gaming still and with faster RAM (low end DDR2 to mid range DDR3) will show quite a large increase for general system speed/multitasking.

    Basically put it this way, in the short term, if you get a graphics card, you'll see an increase in gaming potential but the speed of the system itself will bottleneck it. However, if you get a CPU/Mobo/RAM (PSU would be a good idea as PSUs tend to go after a few years - even if they're good makes) upgrade then the whole system will be faster and it thereotically shouldn't be too long till you can get a graphics card.

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    Re: Undecided on new GPU (4xxx or 5xxx) for old system

    Hi DanceswithUnix, Hi Ulti.

    Thanks for the replies, much appreciated.

    @DanceswithUnix,
    Good to know I'm still with the current "in" crowd

    I can see where you are coming from, in a way it is almost like a Catch-22, if I get the GPU now I'll have to upgrade within the next 6 - 18 months because eventually nothing will work on it. If I went with "option 3" I could see it lasting me a little longer, I would be starting to build a new spec (even with the GPU bottlenecked to hell) and I could add to it once things have settled a bit with regards the new 6 core CPU's and the like.

    Its the same, as you inferred, with the pricing. Go now, spend a few pennies and get a "usable" spec for a while (then update again when the dust has settled... maybe a 5850?) or go for a new PSU and GPU (thinking maybe 5770?) and then use that as the basis for a new build (perhaps even pick up another 5770 at a later date and cross-fire them, though I am not too keen on this)

    I must admit that the thing stopping me (apart from the £££) is the spec of the 5770, I have been debating with myself and others over whether it is actually "crippled" (as some have said) by its Memory Bus of 128 compared to the 256 of the 48xx range and the 58xx range. I would hate to get a "1st gen" 5770 now and then find out they were going to release a 256 version within a few months (I'm sure I remember seeing a road-map of some sort showing the hypothetical route for ATi in 2010).

    To play the Devils' devils advocate (does that even make sense ), surely it is unlikely for ATi to do this? I could imagine a 5790 perhaps but I'm guessing that would come in at around £150-£180 to wedge the gap between the 57xx and the 58xx range(s).


    @Ulti,
    Thanks for sticking with me on this, truly appreciated

    When you say
    ...for just a bit more...
    are you referring to the 48xx range?
    I can see where you are coming from too, I can imagine the spec you posted would keep me going for a while but I guess I'd rather go for an x58 based spec to take advantage of some of the coming releases (a bit more future-proofed?).

    I can totally see where you are coming from with the bottlenecked scenario though, it's almost damned if I do and damned if I don't!

    The advantage of going for the new spec would hopefully keep me going for another couple of years (maybe even 6!), it really is just a case of deciding when to pull the trigger, I can't say I'm in a good position now as I can only get to around £200 at a push... I've been an Intel chap for ages now and I really haven't a clue what is on the horizon for AMD... are they releasing new kit this year?

    I must admit I am tempted by the 5770 but I just don't want to get one and then find it's obsolete before the end of the year

    Look forward to your thoughts,

    Cheers,
    Harv

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    Re: Undecided on new GPU (4xxx or 5xxx) for old system

    The HD3870 GDDR4 is considerably faster than an HD4670 as it has a faster core and more memory bandwidth. The HD4650 and HD4670 have 320 shaders like an HD3850 and HD3870 but have lower memory bandwidth.


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    Re: Undecided on new GPU (4xxx or 5xxx) for old system

    OK, have a look at this benchmark:

    specifically at the bottom of the page where the resolution is highest so it is hurting the bus throughput most.

    Compare the 256 bit bus 4870 to the 128 bit bus 5770. They are very closely matched. Perhaps the 5770 would be faster with a wider bus, but it would also be more expensive and it certainly doesn't look cripped as it is.

    Quick estimate, I think your X700 is equivalent of about 30 stream processors, so 800 is a tidy upgrade

    If you get a PSU and 5770 then your CPU will be a bottleneck, but meh you have to have a bottleneck somewhere eh?

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    Re: Undecided on new GPU (4xxx or 5xxx) for old system

    Hi DanceswithUnix,

    That is one impressive set of stats! Must admit I hadn't really read too much into the difference, just that it "held the card back"... I suppose with a 256 bus it would be closer to a 58xx so there has to be some discrimination for the bang/buck.

    I am a moving a little more towards this idea, as I previously mentioned if I went for this I would have the start of the new build instead of having to replace it. After all, as Ulti mentioned, I would be bottlenecked with the 4670 so I might as well go the whole hog! Can you enlighten me asto whether I'll have any trouble running this card on my current Mobo? Will it still run in a single PCI-E x16 slot?

    Yes, but those 30 stream processors have gotten me through some tough times (and Psychonauts without any aggro)

    I have a few vouchers that I could use to get a Sapphire 5770 for around £100, would it be worth it at that price? I don't fancy buying the thing for the price to drop by £40 in Q1 2010

    Thanks again for the help,

    Cheers,
    Harv

  17. #15
    Not a good person scaryjim's Avatar
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    • scaryjim's system
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    Re: Undecided on new GPU (4xxx or 5xxx) for old system

    Personally I wouldn't buy a 5770 at the minute, and particularly not with your existing system. I'd be tempted to point you in the direction of a sub £40 4650 for a short term gain - it performs about 20% behind a 4670 but would still be a significant upgrade from an X700! Besides, anything better than a 4650 will be significantly bottlenecked by the rest of your system tbh - if you hunt around these forums I've linked to a review a couple of times of a 4650 AGP which is shown to be bottlenecked by an Athlon 64 x2 4200+ (or something of about that spec) (can't remember the review URL now I'm afraid, but it's out there ).

    4650s start at £37, but also come in low profile and passive variants. Personally, I'd recomend just getting the cheapest one you can get your paws on and saving the rest of your cash for a full system upgrade. You can always sell on the 4650 later to recoup some of the money...

  18. #16
    Bows out! CAT-THE-FIFTH's Avatar
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    Re: Undecided on new GPU (4xxx or 5xxx) for old system

    I would probably get an HD4670 GDDR3 for around £50:

    http://www.ebuyer.com/product/152940

    http://www.ebuyer.com/product/158546

    There is also the slower DDR3 version for around £45:

    http://www.ebuyer.com/product/181962

    An HD4650 is not really worth it unless it has DDR3 or GDDR3 RAM and is not that much better than a 9500GT GDDR3 IIRC! The HD4670 will also have a better resale value too IMHO than an HD4650 DDR2 or GDDR2.


    Those despicable Elk,stealing the pond weed!

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