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Looking at upgrading from onboard GPU to make budget/retro gaming system

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Tech Tweaker

Member
Joined
Dec 14, 2010
Looking at upgrading from onboard GPU to make budget gaming system

I'm looking at upgrading one or possibly two old desktops I have had sitting up in my attic to make one or both capable of playing modern or semi-modern games such as Battlefield 3, Battlefield 4, and Titanfall at medium settings (at a minimum) at 1080p with 45+ fps.

Looking at doing this mainly to increase marketability of this system to include possible gamers on a tight budget, as I know that older PC's are of course worth less when they're several generations behind the current technology. I'd like to try to sell this system (again), but wanted to see if I could increase its value by doing some upgrades from the stock config.

System specs:
System 1:
Dell Inspiron 560
CPU: stock Intel 3.2GHz Pentium E6700, upgrading to C2Q (probably Q8300, Q8400, or Q9400, since the board definitely supports 1333MHz bus CPU's)
Board: LGA775 G43T-DM1 Version: A00
Memory: 2x4GB DDR3-1600 Corsair memory
SSD: Thinking of slapping a Vertex 3 120GB into it, since I have one laying around.
HDD: 250GB WD Caviar Blue
PSU: Corsair HX620 620 Watt (an old Power supply I had laying around from when I upgraded my old PC's power supply like three years ago, figured I'd reuse it for this system since it still works fine and has no obvious bad caps)
GPU: currently using onboard graphics

System 2:
CPU: stock Intel 3GHz C2D, upgrading to C2Q (probably Q8300, Q8400, or Q9400, since the board likely supports 1333MHz bus CPU's)
Board: LGA775 Intel board with Q45 chipset
Memory: 2x2GB DDR2-800 low-profile Kingston memory
HDD: 250GB WD Caviar Blue
PSU: Corsair HX520 520 Watt (an old Power supply I had laying around from when I upgraded my old PC's power supply like three years ago, figured I'd reuse it for this system since it still works fine and has no obvious bad caps)
GPU: currently using onboard graphics


Possible graphics card options I'm looking at currently:

nVidia: GTX 570 ($44.89-139.99), GTX 660 ($67.99-140), GTX 660Ti ($60-147.03), GTX 580 ($41.59-134.09), GTX 760 ($54.99-187.6), GTX 670 ($21.04-170.25)

AMD/ATi: Radeon HD6950 ($41-125), Radeon HD6970 ($48.75-159.75), Radeon HD7850 ($37.64-161.34), Radeon HD7870 ($69.99-191), Radeon HD7950 ($65-209.99), Radeon HD7970 ($110-296.8)

Listing in order of overall performance level: GTX 570 ($44.89-139.99), GTX 660 ($67.99-140), Radeon HD6950 ($41-125), GTX 660Ti ($60-147.03) = Radeon HD6970 ($48.75-159.75), Radeon HD7850 ($37.64-161.34), GTX 580 ($41.59-134.09), Radeon HD7870 ($69.99-191), GTX 760 ($54.99-187.6), GTX 670 ($21.04-170.25), Radeon HD7950 ($65-209.99), Radeon HD7970 ($110-296.8)

So, is there any point in upgrading the graphics capabilities of this PC to make it capable of playing some games, or am I just barking up the wrong tree on this one (or going in the wrong direction upgrade-wise)?

I'm a bit less experienced/informed on the AMD side when it comes to graphics cards, as I've never owned an AMD card. Had a Radeon HD4870 once, but I think that was when they were still ATi. So, suggestions would be welcome there, if some of the cards I have listed are just too low in performance to be relevant, or too expensive to make a good "budget gaming" card.
 
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Tír na nÓg

Member
Joined
Sep 19, 2015
Well, I have a little AMD A4-4000, [email protected], coupled with a 7970 and 8Gigs of RAM.
@1080p, it runs games like Shadow of Mordor or Dragon Age inquisition on high [email protected]+FPS.
Borderland trilogy [email protected] maxed out.

Did not try any online game though.

I believe a C2Q with a bit of an OC would match it at least...

I'd go with a 7970... CPU can be a bottleneck in CPU bent games, but sure will allow nice FPS in Borderland or such.
 
OP
Tech Tweaker

Tech Tweaker

Member
Joined
Dec 14, 2010
I believe a C2Q with a bit of an OC would match it at least...

I'd go with a 7970... CPU can be a bottleneck in CPU bent games, but sure will allow nice FPS in Borderland or such.

Unfortunately, overclocking is not possible as this is a generic Intel-branded motherboard. Like one you would find in a Dell or HP, etc. The BIOS doesn't even allow me to change voltage, about all I can do is change memory speed and timings.

I wonder if a 7970 would be worth it though, as I'm planning to sell this system when I finish upgrading and refurbishing it. If so, how much would a video card such as that (or one of the others) increase the system's value?
 

bob4933

Member
Joined
Jan 3, 2014
Unfortunately, overclocking is not possible as this is a generic Intel-branded motherboard. Like one you would find in a Dell or HP, etc. The BIOS doesn't even allow me to change voltage, about all I can do is change memory speed and timings.

I wonder if a 7970 would be worth it though, as I'm planning to sell this system when I finish upgrading and refurbishing it. If so, how much would a video card such as that (or one of the others) increase the system's value?

It's the lowest card thats still "relevant" imo. 7950's sell on ebay all day for under 75. Will it net you a bigger selling price? Maybe... it wont be much; however it will raise the curb appeal over the likes of say, a gtx 480. Three games you should focus on to help you sell, thats dota 2, league of legends, and counter strike global offensive.
 
OP
Tech Tweaker

Tech Tweaker

Member
Joined
Dec 14, 2010
Original post edited heavily.

I have come to the conclusion that it might make more sense to put a graphics card in my other LGA775 system, as it supports DDR3 memory (a lot of it as it turns out, since it had no trouble detecting 2x4GB DIMM's when I put them in for testing), and because it has the G43 chipset which was more marketed to normal users (and so might have better gaming performance) whereas the Q45 chipset in the other computer is more for just an office workstation type of computer.

Plus the Q45 computer has some strange issues that some users might find annoying. Such as you have to fiddle with it a bit and know its quirks to get it to POST. All of them were like that in that model though, so it's not a defect in this one computer.
 
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DaveB

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 18, 2000
It's the lowest card thats still "relevant" imo. 7950's sell on ebay all day for under 75. Will it net you a bigger selling price? Maybe... it wont be much; however it will raise the curb appeal over the likes of say, a gtx 480. Three games you should focus on to help you sell, thats dota 2, league of legends, and counter strike global offensive.
I second the recommendation of the 7950.
 

wagex

Chapstick Eating Premium Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2011
i think even the older 6950's were bottlenecked by the c2d series id toss one of those in there if you could find one cheap enough.
 
OP
Tech Tweaker

Tech Tweaker

Member
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Dec 14, 2010
So, I managed to pick up an HD 7850 for what I thought was a reasonable price and have been testing this out.

With a Q8400, HD7850, and 8GB of DDR2 this is looking like a reasonably acceptable gaming experience. It's playing Battlefield 4 on High graphics settings at 1920x1080 and averaging 60-80 FPS, with dips down to 45 FPS usually and one dip down to 30 FPS. Overclocking the CPU to 3.6GHz does net more performance (tested on my backup PC, which can overclock), and I was getting around 20 FPS higher on average. It's actually more playable than the 660 Ti I was gaming on in this system before, regardless of whether I use DirectX 11 or Mantle settings on this card. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive looks to be no challenge at all, even with graphics settings pretty much maxed out I was still pulling 100-200 FPS with no problems. I don't think it ever even dipped below 100 FPS.

Main gripe is that this card absolutely wouldn't output any picture through a DVI to VGA adapter to a VGA cable, no matter what monitor it was hooked up to. Which I've now learned is apparently a glitch/quirk of the 7850 series GPU's (no idea why), seems fully functional otherwise so far. My other gripe is that they didn't use a better heat sink/cooler on this card and it's just a thin slab of Aluminum with no heat pipes.

This is the first AMD graphics card I've tested out, and so far I have to say that it's not bad. Seems to perform reasonably well for being what it is, which is a lower-powered card, for more of a low-to-mid range market from what I can see.
 
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OP
Tech Tweaker

Tech Tweaker

Member
Joined
Dec 14, 2010
Okay, games are playable with an HD 6950, but I definitely wouldn't call it a pleasurable gaming experience.

I've been testing an HD 6950 with my 4690K + Z97 system and the frame rates aren't great. It's around 35-45 FPS most of the time in BF4 with High settings (medium is 10-15 FPS higher), with random frame rate dips below 30 FPS and it occasionally goes up to 55-60 FPS. This is with the 4690K overclocked to 4.2GHz, and the gaming experience is probably worse with an LGA775 Core 2 Quad system.

Would recommend something better than a 6950 if building a budget gaming system.
 
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caddi daddi

Godzilla to ant hills
Joined
Jan 10, 2012
what 7850 did you pick up?
my little asus 7850 is a little honey dripper, with the mentioned dvi to vga adaptor I have never had an issue.
 
OP
Tech Tweaker

Tech Tweaker

Member
Joined
Dec 14, 2010
what 7850 did you pick up?
my little asus 7850 is a little honey dripper, with the mentioned dvi to vga adaptor I have never had an issue.
I got the XFX HD 7850 Core Edition. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814150617

Found multiple threads online with complaints about not being able to run a VGA display, with several of them being about this specific card. No idea why, because it works fine with a DVI cable in the same port???
 

wagex

Chapstick Eating Premium Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2011
when you were asking about a retro gaming system i wasnt expecting bf4 to be one of the titles played with said gpu. lol.
 
OP
Tech Tweaker

Tech Tweaker

Member
Joined
Dec 14, 2010
when you were asking about a retro gaming system i wasnt expecting bf4 to be one of the titles played with said gpu. lol.

I said the hardware would be older, never said the games would be though. Although BF4 is three years old now, so it's sort of older.