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Upgrading my ATI 4890 graphics card without changing PC

post #1 of 32
Thread Starter 
Hi guys,

Hope all are well! I've currently got a 4890, but with the latest games coming out, my PC is starting to struggle and I'm considering getting a new, DX11 graphics card to get better performance without being bottlenecked by my processor. I would also consider upgrading the RAM too, but my mobo will not let me go above 4gb so would have to be for faster RAM if permitted.

Buying a new PC is currently out of the question as I'm a student and can't afford it. I've had this PC for 4 years now so ideally don't want to break the bank as I feel I will buy a new PC in a 2-3 years when I will hopefully be working. My budget is around £150/$250. I was considering the ATI 6850 or 6870 but thought I would get some opinions on the matter.

My current specs:

OS: MS Windows 7 64-bit SP1
CPU: AMD Phenom II X2 550 @ 3.1 GHz
RAM: 4.0GB Dual-Channel DDR2 @ 401MHz (6-6-6-18)
Motherboard: ASUS M2N68-AM SE2 (AM2)
Graphics: ATI Radeon HD 4800 Series (ATI AIB)
PSU: Cyberpower 700W power supply

Cheers for your time!
post #2 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by souljacker13 View Post

Hi guys,

Hope all are well! I've currently got a 4890, but with the latest games coming out, my PC is starting to struggle and I'm considering getting a new, DX11 graphics card to get better performance without being bottlenecked by my processor. I would also consider upgrading the RAM too, but my mobo will not let me go above 4gb so would have to be for faster RAM if permitted.

Buying a new PC is currently out of the question as I'm a student and can't afford it. I've had this PC for 4 years now so ideally don't want to break the bank as I feel I will buy a new PC in a 2-3 years when I will hopefully be working. My budget is around £150/$250. I was considering the ATI 6850 or 6870 but thought I would get some opinions on the matter.

My current specs:

OS: MS Windows 7 64-bit SP1
CPU: AMD Phenom II X2 550 @ 3.1 GHz
RAM: 4.0GB Dual-Channel DDR2 @ 401MHz (6-6-6-18)
Motherboard: ASUS M2N68-AM SE2 (AM2)
Graphics: ATI Radeon HD 4800 Series (ATI AIB)
PSU: Cyberpower 700W power supply

Cheers for your time!

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post #3 of 32
Those cards you are considering are now old, you can find better value in a new card. If you want to stay with AMD, the soon to be released R7 265 should be a fine choice for $150, or the R7 260X for $120.

You should spend the rest of the money on upgrading the rest of the system, otherwise you'll have an unbalanced experience and not see the full benefits of a new GPU.

A dual core nowadays will be a bottleneck in a lot of games. A second hand Phenom II X4 940 (Edit: all the way to the Phenom II X6 1090T) for your motherboard would be a good idea, but I wouldn't recommend overclocking it as the motherboard is not that good for that kind of thing. The CPU support list for your motherboard is a bit confusing, it lists AM3 CPUs such as the 1090T as compatible with your motherboard, but that is probably wrong. (Edit: I was under the impression the last CPU compatible with AM2+ was the 940, but the other ones following in the number scheme have both a DDR2 and a DDR3 memory controller, sorry for my confusion, Asus' CPU support list is right).

Without changing platform there is only so much you can do to improve performance. You can try finding a second hand motherboard with better quality and more slots to upgrade RAM in the future (4 GB also bottlenecks some games now, such as BF3 and BF4 multi-player), along with a second hand AM2+ quad core.
Edited by tpi2007 - 3/3/14 at 6:43am
 
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post #4 of 32
Best you can do is look for GTX750 or 750TI. on AMD I'd only say the R7 250X at 99 the 260C at 120, and the 265 at 150. Try to find some cheap AM3 Motherboard that supports core unlocking, the X2 555 may have some secrets.
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post #5 of 32
A dual core nowadays will be a bottleneck in a lot of games. A second hand Phenom II X4 940 for your motherboard would be a good idea,

+1
A quad-core Phenom X4 940 or 945 CPU would seem like a good upgrade.
Find something used off eBay.

The latest BIOS update for your motherboard is August 2012.
http://support.asus.com/cpusupport/list.aspx?SLanguage=en&p=1&s=24&m=M2N68-AM%20SE2&os=25&hashedid=rzWjxRHTivB96wPd

After the processor upgrade, see how much you have left over for a graphics card.
ATI/AMD 6870 1GB?
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post #6 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tacoboy View Post

A dual core nowadays will be a bottleneck in a lot of games. A second hand Phenom II X4 940 for your motherboard would be a good idea,

+1
A quad-core Phenom X4 940 or 945 CPU would seem like a good upgrade.
Find something used off eBay.

The latest BIOS update for your motherboard is August 2012.
http://support.asus.com/cpusupport/list.aspx?SLanguage=en&p=1&s=24&m=M2N68-AM%20SE2&os=25&hashedid=rzWjxRHTivB96wPd

After the processor upgrade, see how much you have left over for a graphics card.
ATI/AMD 6870 1GB?

6870 not a good choice right now.
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post #7 of 32
Thread Starter 
Thanks alot for the replies, I appreciate the advice thumb.gif

I've had previous experience with ATI cards so that's where my preference for them comes from, but wouldn't mind switching if it's better at the price point. I just wanted to ask whether the R7 265 would be compatible with the mobo I have? I was considering a new mobo with a new gfx card, but thought adding a new processor and upgrading the RAM on top would essentially be a new pc and therefore would start to hike the costs up. However, if changing all of the components is below £300/$500 and would last me a good 3-4 years than I do not mind doing so. Most of my intense graphics card workout comes from playing single player games. My co-op or multiplayer experiences are usually with fairly low spec games as my friends have non-gaming laptops. In terms of second hand, any particular mobos you would recommend that would last for a good few years?

Thanks redface.gif
post #8 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by souljacker13 View Post

Thanks alot for the replies, I appreciate the advice thumb.gif

I've had previous experience with ATI cards so that's where my preference for them comes from, but wouldn't mind switching if it's better at the price point. I just wanted to ask whether the R7 265 would be compatible with the mobo I have? I was considering a new mobo with a new gfx card, but thought adding a new processor and upgrading the RAM on top would essentially be a new pc and therefore would start to hike the costs up. However, if changing all of the components is below £300/$500 and would last me a good 3-4 years than I do not mind doing so. Most of my intense graphics card workout comes from playing single player games. My co-op or multiplayer experiences are usually with fairly low spec games as my friends have non-gaming laptops. In terms of second hand, any particular mobos you would recommend that would last for a good few years?

Thanks redface.gif

Gigabtye GA-78LMT USB3.
The R7 265 will work.
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post #9 of 32
Thread Starter 
Thanks again for advice everyone.

Lots of food for thought - going from just considering a gfx card alone to practically changing the system! However as my wallet is rather thin, I may get the 945 and R7 265 at the moment and wait until I have a bit more money for a better system.

Once again, thanks for the advice guys, much appreciated redface.gif
post #10 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by souljacker13 View Post

Thanks alot for the replies, I appreciate the advice thumb.gif

I've had previous experience with ATI cards so that's where my preference for them comes from, but wouldn't mind switching if it's better at the price point. I just wanted to ask whether the R7 265 would be compatible with the mobo I have? I was considering a new mobo with a new gfx card, but thought adding a new processor and upgrading the RAM on top would essentially be a new pc and therefore would start to hike the costs up. However, if changing all of the components is below £300/$500 and would last me a good 3-4 years than I do not mind doing so. Most of my intense graphics card workout comes from playing single player games. My co-op or multiplayer experiences are usually with fairly low spec games as my friends have non-gaming laptops. In terms of second hand, any particular mobos you would recommend that would last for a good few years?

Thanks redface.gif

With the Value Added Tax you have over there in Europe, I do not think 300 GBP ($500) is enough to makes it worth the MB/CPU/Memory/Graphics upgrade.
Here in the USA with it lower prices and me knowing where to find the best prices, $500 (300GBP) is still hard to justify a worthwhile upgrade.
It also might depend on if you have retail or OEM version of Win 7?

I would say to get the Phenom II 945 quad-core 3.0Ghz CPU, it can work with your current motherboard and it's DDR2 memory and also the 945 can work with DDR3 memory (the Phenom II 940 is DDR2 only).
A Phenom II 955 might even work in your current board
So in the future you can do a motherboard/DDR3 memory upgrade and still use the 945 (955) CPU.
Your motherboard is a little on the old side, designed over 5 years ago, so the more modern the graphics card you get for it, the slightly more chance it might have an issue with it.
So that's why selling off your current 4890 and getting a 6870 (256-bit memory interface) might be a safe choice over the newer R7 (which only have a 128-bit memory interface anyway).
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