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Upgrading

Discussion in 'Techno-Magic' started by Aldeth the Foppish Idiot, Dec 19, 2011.

  1. Aldeth the Foppish Idiot

    Aldeth the Foppish Idiot Armed with My Mallet O' Thinking Veteran

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    Instead of outright purchasing a new computer, I'm considering upgrading my current one. While my 3.6Ghz processor is less than ideal, it is probably adequate. Plus I've never replaced a processor on my computer before, and if I can avoid doing so I'd prefer that, provided it won't really hamper the performance. The thing I think will do the most to boost my performance is upping my RAM and my video card.

    I went to crucial.com, and it turns out that while my current computer is incapable of handling a 2GB RAM chip, it can handle a 1GB RAM chip. I currently only have two 512MB RAM slots filled, with two empty. So for about $100, I can buy four 1GB RAM cartridges, and improve that significantly. I have a few questions though before I go ahead and do that:

    1.) Is 4GB RAM adequate to meet the recommended requirements for most games out there right now?
    2.) Crucial tells me that I'll only get the 4GB performance if I'm using a 64-bit OS. I'm still using XP, and I have no idea if that's a 64-bit OS. (I'm assuming Windows 7 is, and a lot of the older OS aren't, but I have no idea one way or the other with XP.)

    The next item that needs upgrading is my video card. And this is where I need some suggestions. Given the specs of my current computer, and what is needed for a lot of the games out there (I definitely want to grab Skyrim, and D3 when it comes out in the next few months), what type of video card should I be looking for?
     
  2. Splunge

    Splunge Bhaal’s financial advisor Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    4 GB is the minimum you'd want for games these days, but you'll probably want 8GB before too long. Your XP is probably 32 bit, so the RAM you're looking at won't work for you. W7 is available in 32 or 64, but 64 is the norm.

    As for videocards, what do you have now, and what kind of motherboard do you have?

    Also, what is your processor? TBH, I suspect you might be at the point where full system replacement is easier.
     
  3. Aldeth the Foppish Idiot

    Aldeth the Foppish Idiot Armed with My Mallet O' Thinking Veteran

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    Well, that sucks. I believe my processor is 3.6Ghz, I have no idea what kind of motherboard I have, and my current video card is ancient - it's the same one I had when I bought the computer about 6 years ago. I'm guessing it's something around an 8MB video card, which was good 6 years ago, but is rubbish now. Also sucks that XP is 32-bit. It says that I'll get ~3.5GB performance instead of 4GB.
     
  4. Blackthorne TA

    Blackthorne TA Master in his Own Mind Staff Member ★ SPS Account Holder Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    We'd need more information about your computer to be able to recommend anything. Did you buy a consumer product like a Dell? If so, what is the make and model? Any upgrades from the standard? etc.

    After six years though it may be time for something new...
     
  5. Splunge

    Splunge Bhaal’s financial advisor Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    I stand to be correted by people more technically knowedgeable than me, but if your machine is 6 years old, I would say that there's no point in upgrading. I recently replaced my 6 year old machine, and there was nothing in it worth keeping. Any of the games coming out now would require more than my old machine could have provided to run decently.

    In your case, your m/board wonn't support a new processor or be able to hold enough RAM, and might not even be able to handle current GPU's.
     
  6. henkie

    henkie Hammertime Resourceful Adored Veteran New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!)

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    I don't necessarily agree with Splunge here. First off, you're running XP so for now 2 GB should be enough to run most games. By comparisson, I'm running Win 7 and it is using 2.2 GB at this moment, while I only have Firefox, Skype and a media player open. I'm guessing if you'd do the same in XP you should have around 700-800 MB of memory in use. If I start for instance The Witcher 2 or STALKER: Call of Pripyat, this goes up to around 3-3.5 GB. So for Windows 7 (which is optimised for rather allocating more memory to processes because memory is simply available in abbundance nowadays), Splunge is correct and you'd need at least 4 GB. For XP, much less is needed, though I would still recommend at least 2 GB.

    It also sucks that in XP, it's not easily visible if you've got the 32 bit or the 64 bit version running. Chances are good, though, that you're running 32 bit. Which means that the maximum addressable memory is limited to 4 GB. This includes, however, your videocard memory, so if you've got a video card with 512 MB of RAM, you will only have 3.5 GB left for the rest of your system.

    Without more specifics on what your current system has in terms of hardware, it's very difficult to give good advice on what to upgrade. A 3.6 GHz processor is not very descriptive, for instance, as my current and not too shabby processor is actually only 3.2 GHz, but has four cores and probably would still outperform your processor even if only a single core was used, despite the lower clock rate.

    Also, 8 MB videocards were maybe topical in the 486-era, but you'd have to try real hard to find them even ten years ago. Maybe you could run GPU-Z to identify your graphics card and CPU-Z to get some more information on CPU and such? CPU-Z can also identify your motherboard to yourself (and by proxy, to us) which would help on seeing if the 2 GB memory card limit is indeed valid for your PC.

    If you're sure you just want to upgrade some components, I would say that getting some extra memory and getting a new graphics card would net you the biggest performance jump. Most new games nowadays are limited by the graphics card rather than the CPU, so that would normally give you the most bang for the buck.

    There are some notable exceptions, though, like for instance GTA 4 and Starcraft 2. The expectations are that Diablo 3 will also be CPU heavy rather than GPU heavy, so if you'd like to play Diablo 3 at maximum, it's probably also a good idea to invest in a new CPU.

    This being said, it's worth noting that many games nowadays are being designed first and foremost for consoles, of which the xbox 360 is also at least 6 years old (I don't know the exact numbers), so even a new budget PC can usually give you performance equal to or better than that of the xbox 360. And since many people are quite happy with the graphics on their consoles, you might be as well.

    /edit
    Upgrading memory can be done very cheaply nowadays. I just upgraded from 2x 2 GB to 4x 4 GB for my PC and the 4x4 cost me less now than the 2x2 cost me early last year, only € 75,-.
     
  7. Aldeth the Foppish Idiot

    Aldeth the Foppish Idiot Armed with My Mallet O' Thinking Veteran

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    It's a Gateway, 505 series. Other than the video card, it's how it came, out of the box.

    You see, this is exactly the type of advice I'm looking for. If I have to spend more than a couple hundred dollars to get this thing up to speed, I may as well buy a new one.

    Well, like I said, Crucial tells me that my memory is in fact limited to 4GB, so it sounds like I have 32-bit.

    I'm not sure I even know that. The placard on the front of my tower says "dual core" - FIIK what that means. (Well I know dual means "2", but I don't know what the advantages or disadvantages of that description means.)

    I'm a freakin idiot. I don't have an 8 MB video card. According to the box I just dug out, I have a 64MB video card.

    Yeah, I have no clue about what kind of motherboard I have, other than to tell you that it is whatever came standard in Gateway's 505 series.

    Oh certainly - the reason I was saying 4GB and not 8GB is that my computer won't support anything beyond a 1GB RAM, and with 4 slots, I can get 4GB.
     
  8. henkie

    henkie Hammertime Resourceful Adored Veteran New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!)

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    I know components, not pre-built PCs. If I look on google, I find the Gateway M505. This is the one you have? A notebook? Or do you have a desktop in the 500 series? This is all getting very confusing for me.

    Can you run those tools I linked to in my previous post? At least then we know what's under the hood and can give you some more specific advice.

    From what information I can glean from google, it seems that this Gateway (whether it's the notebook or desktop) still uses plain DDR memory, not the more common DDR3 memory. If this is the case, it's almost certainly not worth it to upgrade it - it's actually more expensive per GB than DDR3 and you won't be able to use it if you do get a new PC later.

    /edit
    Also, where the hell can I buy some Lower Resistance scrolls in BG2? I haven't found in any random drop so far and it makes taking down dragons so much easier =/
     
  9. Blackthorne TA

    Blackthorne TA Master in his Own Mind Staff Member ★ SPS Account Holder Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    This looks like it's at least close. I don't see the power supply rating though. What is the current video board you have? At this point I think the only issue would be if your current video board needs a lot less power than what you would consider as an upgrade. Pre-built computers usually don't have a lot of excess power capacity.

    Seems like you should be able to upgrade without too much trouble.
     
  10. Aldeth the Foppish Idiot

    Aldeth the Foppish Idiot Armed with My Mallet O' Thinking Veteran

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    It's a desktop and it's a 500 series, but the specific number on the front of the tower is 505. I'll try the links you mentioned, but I'm at work right now, so I can't until I get home.

    As for the scrolls - check the woman selling scrolls at the back of the Aventurer's Mart. Not the special merchant - there's a woman who only sells scrolls and potions all the way in the back. I'm near certain she carries two of every scroll of level 6 or less. Also glad someone besides me is willing to use LR - everyone else seems to fill their 5th level spell slots with Breach.
     
  11. henkie

    henkie Hammertime Resourceful Adored Veteran New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!)

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    Well if that's it, at least it's got a PCI-express slot. If it still had an AGP slot for the videocard, upgrading would've been not possible.

    /edit
    I already checked, but she doesn't have any. Or I'm very consistently missing it for a couple of times in a row now. Breach is nice, but when nuking a single target, lower resistance is much better. I will usually have around half-half LR and breach. Possibly also skeleton warrior summons when they're still able to stand on their own. And all the other spells that lower magic resistance are higher level, so I only use them if I encounter an enemy which is immune to at least lvl 5 spells.
     
  12. Aldeth the Foppish Idiot

    Aldeth the Foppish Idiot Armed with My Mallet O' Thinking Veteran

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    Like I said, I'll check again when I get home.

    You sure? That's who I usually purchase mine from. If it's not there, other than getting a lucky drop, you've got a long wait. Like Shaugin City, or maybe even the Underdark.

    That is certain. Crucial tells me the available RAM upgrades are all DDR - not DDR3. It's DDR PC 2700 or 3200.
     
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2011
  13. Blades of Vanatar

    Blades of Vanatar Vanatar will rise again Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    Aldeth,

    Splurge and buy a new rig. But kep your old one for the older games, if you revisit them that is. Check out iBUYPOWER or Cyberpower, they allow you to customize. Pricing is comparable to. I now have 2 PCs in my house, I bought one last year for the wife)it was originally for me but she was really monopolizing the time. Now I own another that I built from ibuypower. It is an AMD Phenom II x4 925 CPU, runs nice. Added more ram and a second video card. I also helped my nephew build from their site earlier this year and he is most pleased with the results. I bought the monitor from Newegg though, got a cheaper deal there. Spent just over a grand overall, plus shipping.

    Concerning LR scrolls, you cannot get them in the Adventurer's Mart. If you ca't find it, CluaConsole it in or Shadowkeeper it and remove the gold from your inventory or buy something else of the same value and drop it. I believe I have bought them from the merchant who looks like a mage in the Temple District, sitting on the bridge just southwest of where you first meet Gaal trying to convince everyone to join his faithful in the Unseeing Eye Cult. But I believe he is added from the Undying Mod, which I have had installed for a while now. It adds several new merchants tot he game. I think you might be able to buy one from the Merchant on the second floor of Gaelan Bayle's house.
     
  14. Aldeth the Foppish Idiot

    Aldeth the Foppish Idiot Armed with My Mallet O' Thinking Veteran

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    A new tower it is then. But why would I need to keep the old one? Don't older games run just fine on a newer computer?

    btw, I just checked last night, and the woman in the back of the Adventurer's Mart does in fact have a lower resistance scroll. I thought she had two - technically I was wrong about that, as there is only one. But still. It's about the 10th scroll from the bottom of the list.
     
  15. Ragusa

    Ragusa Eternal Halfling Paladin Veteran

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    Aldeth,
    I have made the experience, for the first time with Vista, that older games don't run all that well on newer OSes. As a result, I still ponder to get myself an old notebook on XP for that reason alone.
     
  16. Aldeth the Foppish Idiot

    Aldeth the Foppish Idiot Armed with My Mallet O' Thinking Veteran

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    OK, after some additional research, it appears that I want either a I5, I7, A6 or A8. I also have come up with some additional questions:

    I can tell what the physical difference is between a quad and interlaced processor, but functionally, what is the difference? Does a quad processor have notably better performance than an interlaced processor?

    It seems that there are very few differences between a I5 and A6, or between an I7 and A8. Does in make any difference in regards to video cards? I would fully expect a video card would be fully compatible with either, I just don't want to have any surprises.

    On video cards, other than more is more better, what should I know going in? Is there some type of ratio that if you have X GB of RAM you should have between Y and Z on your video card?

    It looks like most of the models I'm considering have 8GB RAM. Assuming I have 4 docks available, is upgrading immediately to 16GB advisable? (Note: while I don't have a lot of computer knowledge, I can do some stuff myself, like adding RAM and plugging in a video card.)
     
  17. Blackthorne TA

    Blackthorne TA Master in his Own Mind Staff Member ★ SPS Account Holder Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    I doubt you need 16GB; I do fine with 2 though I'd prefer at least 4 (one of my TV tuner drivers won't work right at 4GB and above; it's old).

    Processor doesn't matter as far as the video card you choose.
     
  18. Splunge

    Splunge Bhaal’s financial advisor Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    I don't know much about A6/A8. However, for gaming, sandy bridge processors have the best benchmarks, and the I5-2500k is generally preferred over the more expensive (but not really much better) I7-2600k.

    8GB RAM is enough, and there is no "ideal" relationship that I know of between system and video RAM.
     
  19. Blades of Vanatar

    Blades of Vanatar Vanatar will rise again Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    Not sure if it is a mod or not, but my game does not have the LR scroll available in the Adventurer's Mart. Started a new party last night ans was looking for it for Aerie. Wasn't available. Didn't get far enough into the game to find it anywhere else though. I'll check tonight. Note I do have a lot of Mods installed though, which can change what merchants sell.
     
  20. henkie

    henkie Hammertime Resourceful Adored Veteran New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!)

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    BTA, 2 GB is maybe enough for XP, but likely Aldeth's new rig will run on Win7, so he'll want at least 4, and with 8 GB RAM he should be comfortable for the coming few years at least.

    Processors will differ in benchmarks, but it real world performance it probably won't matter which you choose. Just pick a budget and select the appropriate processor. Like I said, most games are not CPU limited but GPU limited, so it doesn't really matter unless you're planning to do a lot of video/photo editing in the future, for which a faster CPU is nice.

    There's no relationship between system RAM and VGA RAM. If you want maximum performance with high resolution textures, you'll want at least 2 GB. Otherwise there's a wide range of video cards with 1 GB RAM on it. I wouldn't go for anything less than that. As for the specific card, it depends on how much you're willing to spend and if you have any hard targets for performance you'd like to meet. For instance, when I chose my card, I decided that I wanted to run at least STALKER: CoP at maximum settings at 1900x1200 (the native resolution of my monitor). This led me to a quite high performing card at the time (still, actually).

    Nvidia and AMD doesn't really matter at the moment, they're not differing that much from one another in terms of performance, though I believe ATi/AMD has a slightly better price/performance ration at the moment in the mid-range cards. Tom's Hardware has these nice buying guides you could look to for guidance. Actually, I believe ATi/AMD is set to release a new card in january, so you could wait for that (if nothing else, the prices for the current cards should go down a little).

    Harddisks are relatively expensive at the moment due to the floods in Thailand a while back, so if you can just take them from you old PC and put them in the new case, that'd probably be best. I understand that it's expected to improve only by the second half of 2012.


    I found that my bard does have the LR scroll - which accounts for the missing LR scroll on the merchant in the Adventurer's Mart - but apparently there's none left for Imoen (who could combine it with a PI for extra efficiency). There should be one in Trademeet also, but I checked the merchants that I know of (one with the Belt of Inertial Barrier and the one in the tent that sells Spell Immunity) and can't find it there either.
     
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