What to upgrade for better FPS?

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by BioAftermath
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I was planning on replacing my i5-3470 CPU with an i7 when someone said that it wouldn't help as mush as a new graphics card. I have an AMD Radeon 9000 Series graphics card and was wondering what other graphics card I should get to go along with it. Which one should I get?
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Buy an Nvidia GeForce card, at least a 660's worth of power with as much video ram as possible.

I'm currently using a 660ti with 3GB video ram (with an Intel i5 3570k), and can run BF4 on Ultra comfortably (40-60FPS all the time, no drops).
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Buy an Nvidia GeForce card, at least a 660's worth of power with as much video ram as possible.

I'm currently using a 660ti with 3GB video ram (with an Intel i5 3570k), and can run BF4 on Ultra comfortably (40-60FPS all the time, no drops).
I was thinking about a GeForce GTX 770, along with the Radeon 9000 for a great performance. Probably a bit overborad, so I might choose a lower GeForce.
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I was thinking about a GeForce GTX 770, along with the Radeon 9000 for a great performance. Probably a bit overborad, so I might choose a lower GeForce.
You can't mix brands for dual-card setups. You have to have either two AMDs or two Nvidias, and they have to be from the same chipset family (i.e. two Radeon 9xxx's or two Geforce 6xx's).

You won't get much benefit from having two graphics cards in SLI/Crossfire either in my opinion, it causes more hassle than solution - especially when you are trying to play an older game or any game that does not explicitly support more than one graphics card.

Most games on launch actually perform worse in SLI/Crossfire mode until the developer finally gets around to adding support for it.
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You can't mix brands for dual-card setups. You have to have either two AMDs or two Nvidias, and they have to be from the same chipset family (i.e. two Radeon 9xxx's or two Geforce 6xx's).

You won't get much benefit from having two graphics cards in SLI/Crossfire either in my opinion, it causes more hassle than solution - especially when you are trying to play an older game or any game that does not explicitly support more than one graphics card.

Most games on launch actually perform worse in SLI/Crossfire mode until the developer finally gets around to adding support for it.
So could I buy the same exact AMD Radeon 9000 and expect an improvement? Or do I have to buy a better one?
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So could I buy the same exact AMD Radeon 9000 and expect an improvement? Or do I have to buy a better one?
Can you post a link to the exact card you have? I could give a more accurate answer that way.

Also about to leave for lunch but I'll be back to respond later.
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Can you post a link to the exact card you have? I could give a more accurate answer that way.

Also about to leave for lunch but I'll be back to respond later.
i looked up how to find out what graphics card how have and it turns out that I have an AMD Radeon 7900.
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i looked up how to find out what graphics card how have and it turns out that I have an AMD Radeon 7900.
Is your PC custom-built, or is it a name brand like Dell/Alienware?
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Is your PC custom-built, or is it a name brand like Dell/Alienware?
It's custom built.
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It's custom built.
Before I say anything else I want to make sure that your problem is your GPU and not your CPU.

Pick a game (recommended: BF3/4 or Crysis 2/3) that is very demanding on performance and adjust the settings until you can just barely enter a playable state of the game (i.e. 30+ fps with no drops). Once you are at that point, push the settings a bit higher and start playing. After you get into the gameplay and things start to lag, minimize the game and open task manager - switch to the CPU tab. If the usage graph shows your CPU was running at a constant 90-100% load at any time while you were playing, then your bottleneck is your CPU. If the load did not hit 100% but you were still lagging, then your GPU is the bottleneck because it can't handle the load.

In my case if I play BF4 on ultra my CPU never exceeds about 60-75% load, which means I could get better performance by upgrading my GPU (the CPU could still take 25-40% more load before it became the bottleneck).

So assuming your bottleneck is your GPU, keep reading. If it's your CPU, buy a $350 3.7Ghz i7 4280k and then re-evaluate your performance and bottleneck.



Continuing on with the GPU discussion...

Are you sure that the motherboard in your desktop has SLI/Crossfire support? - Look it up.

Not only does it need to have two full PCI slots, but ideally both should be PCI-x16 and meet PCI-Express v3.0 standards. Depending on how old your build is, your board might only be PCI-x8 + PCI-x4 while in SLI/Crossfire (which means PCI-x16 only when using a single slot)  which limits your choices as far as how new you can go with your cards. If your build came with a 7900 in it, it should have a new enough board to do dual PCI-x8 SLI/Crossfire.

As for the card name you provided, "AMD Radeon 7900" is just the chipset series of your card - the last two digits denote which model it actually is, for example 7970. The 7900 series is still relatively new but you can do better as far as performance at a reasonable price.

Here's a list of the three available models in that series: [You are not allowed to view external links. Register or Login to see them]

Depending on if you bought an aftermarket version such as MSI or Gigabyte, your card my have extra ram or better cooling abilities than the standard models on that page.

Plan to sell your current 79xx card in order to make at least $120 (depending on the model and brand)  towards a better Nvidia card. Plan to spend at least $250 + tax and shipping. Whenever you find a model that you like, look to see if there is a superclocked version, and in addition look to see if there is a superclocked version with extra ram. If you can splurge the extra $$ to get either of those editions, you will have a card that will last a lot longer than your AMD 7900 would on next-gen titles.

Once you have purchased that card, your new bottleneck will be your CPU.

Here is a benchmark reference chart for high-end GPUs: [You are not allowed to view external links. Register or Login to see them]
Use it to directly compare cards to narrow down your decision.
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Before I say anything else I want to make sure that your problem is your GPU and not your CPU.

Pick a game (recommended: BF3/4 or Crysis 2/3) that is very demanding on performance and adjust the settings until you can just barely enter a playable state of the game (i.e. 30+ fps with no drops). Once you are at that point, push the settings a bit higher and start playing. After you get into the gameplay and things start to lag, minimize the game and open task manager - switch to the CPU tab. If the usage graph shows your CPU was running at a constant 90-100% load at any time while you were playing, then your bottleneck is your CPU. If the load did not hit 100% but you were still lagging, then your GPU is the bottleneck because it can't handle the load.

In my case if I play BF4 on ultra my CPU never exceeds about 60-75% load, which means I could get better performance by upgrading my GPU (the CPU could still take 25-40% more load before it became the bottleneck).

So assuming your bottleneck is your GPU, keep reading. If it's your CPU, buy a $350 3.7Ghz i7 4280k and then re-evaluate your performance and bottleneck.
I have BF3 and BF4, but no Crysis games, and I always run Both Battlefield games at the max settings for everything and get about 35-60 frames per second (it depends on what's going on in the game). I don't know what you mean about task manager. And we have very similar CPUs so I;m thinking that the AMD is the problem.
Last Edit: November 04, 2013, 02:33:19 am by BioAftermath
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get about 35-60 frames per second (it depends on what's going on in the game).
35-60 is a large range and does not result in smooth gameplay. Ideally you don't want to see a variation of over +-10FPS, otherwise it becomes noticeable and has the effect of an FPS drop.

I don't know what you mean about task manager.
If you open task manager and go to the Performance tab you will see something like this:


Follow my instructions and it should make sense.
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35-60 is a large range and does not result in smooth gameplay. Ideally you don't want to see a variation of over +-10FPS, otherwise it becomes noticeable and has the effect of an FPS drop.
If you open task manager and go to the Performance tab you will see something like this:


Follow my instructions and it should make sense.
I super sized the graphical settings in campaign and it went down to about 17 FPS. The CPU usage was about 52-53%
Last Edit: November 04, 2013, 03:01:04 am by BioAftermath
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I found task manager, and I'll try a test.
Alright, let me know when you have some results :)

Edit: I see you updated your post. Definitely a GPU bottleneck.

As for the motherboard, yep you have two slots. It's the one on the left and the one on the right (they both have tabs on the upper end and are aligned with each other horizontally).

That 7950 you have there is definitely a decent card, but what makes the major difference between my 660ti SC and your 7950 is that mine is is Superclocked (has a higher GPU clock than the stock version of the card). Really makes a huge difference for not a lot of extra money.

You should be able to get at least $210 for that card if you choose to sell it.

I would try to get the Geforce 770, which only cost about $70 more than what you spent to get that 7950 and is a major performance increase. If you cant afford the 770, the next best thing is the 680 and 670 respectively.
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You should be able to get at least $210 for that card if you choose to sell it.
Where can I sell it? And I'm planning ahead for Christmas and/or my birthday in May. (I one of those people who likes to do extensive search before he gets something, but somehow finds a way to make it better after the damage is done) I was actually thinking about getting the GeForce 770. 
Last Edit: November 04, 2013, 03:12:43 am by BioAftermath

 

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