Upgrading - just a silly old habit? (as in - is there a reason to get a new gfx card)

BlindZenDriverBlindZenDriver Registered User regular
Since almost forever* or more specific since I bought my first computer it has been a given that upgrading was called for time and again. However I do now find my self wondering if my 2+ year old rig really need any upgrading which is a weird thought.

Current relevant specs:
Core i7 - 870
4 GB ram
ATI 4890 2GB

For a while I have been waiting for the next big thing in graphics and while the new 7970 from AMD seems like the best thing since freshly baked bread it's just not exciting. Not because the hardware is bad but because I have a hard time seeing there are any games really using the new GPU's.

It seems to me that the games which have come out the last couple of years are all held back by being console games meaning simplified game play and graphics which was nothing special two years ago. Am I wrong in thinking there is little to no point in upgrading my gfx card? Maybe I'm even so wrong that I should go for a new GPU and CPU?

I'm sure many of you have done an upgrade similar to what I'm wondering about - was it worth it? Did it really bring more fun except when looking at benchmark numbers?


*It is almost forever ZX81, VIC20, ZX Spectrum, C64, A500, ST1040, 486DX, Pentium, Celeron, Pentium3, PentiumIV, i7 or in GPU terms ET4000, S3 256KB, S3 1MB, Nvidia TNT, GeForce256, KyroII, Radeon9700,1900XTX, 4890 and a few I can't remember :-)

Bones heal, glory is forever.
BlindZenDriver on

Posts

  • TefTef Registered User regular
    edited February 2012
    It really depends on many different things. For instance, screen resolution and amount of monitors will often necessitate a bigger, better card.

    I would argue that something like the 7970 is used by new games, particularly when you consider post-processing effects.

    It really comes down to what you, personally, will accept as decent visuals. For me that's 1920x1080, a minimum of 60fps with any and all details set to maximum and with very nice, smooth edges (this usually translates to at least 8x MLAA or equivalent). Subjectively, I feel that this provides me an experience that is far and away superior to anything being produced on current gen consoles and is enjoyable to look at; increasing in my immersion in a game.

    Tef on
  • TychoCelchuuuTychoCelchuuu PIGEON IndiaRegistered User regular
    What games are you currently playing that don't run well enough and that you want to run better? When you can answer that question with enough games to justify upgrading, upgrade. Until then, don't.

  • BlindZenDriverBlindZenDriver Registered User regular
    Thank you both for your replies.

    Current games I'm playing are CivV, Limbo, Portal2 which all run just fine.

    I game in 2560x1440 on a 27" monitor and the high res on that relative small monitor means a super high pixel density which makes FSAA lot less important than on monitors with lower pixel density. Also my 4890 having 2GB helps it perform better than you'd think in that high resolution. All in all parts of why it seems less urgent to upgrade.

    I guess the sensible thing is to wait upgrading till there start being games which seem to need it. Which then leads me back to most games now being console games and the main thing we get on our PC's is high resolution, higher res textures and AA (if we want it). It even seems a big game like DiabloIII is gonna be hit with the console sickness just as fx. Deus Ex :-(

    Bones heal, glory is forever.
  • TheCanManTheCanMan Registered User regular
    Thank you both for your replies.

    Current games I'm playing are CivV, Limbo, Portal2 which all run just fine.

    I game in 2560x1440 on a 27" monitor and the high res on that relative small monitor means a super high pixel density which makes FSAA lot less important than on monitors with lower pixel density. Also my 4890 having 2GB helps it perform better than you'd think in that high resolution. All in all parts of why it seems less urgent to upgrade.

    I guess the sensible thing is to wait upgrading till there start being games which seem to need it. Which then leads me back to most games now being console games and the main thing we get on our PC's is high resolution, higher res textures and AA (if we want it). It even seems a big game like DiabloIII is gonna be hit with the console sickness just as fx. Deus Ex :-(

    To be fair to D3, it's long been standard Blizzard design policy to make their games run on a toaster. And that was true before console porting was even a thing that existed.

    None of those games you're playing need a whole lotta GPU muscle. But there are games out there that do. Games like Metro 2033 and Battlefield 3. But you're right, if you don't absolutely need to max every setting (especially high AA), then there's really no reason to waste money. The easiest answer to whether or not you should upgrade is to do so when you're no longer happy with what your current one can do. It's very subjective. If you look at the games you play and can't see a reason you need better, then don't. If you look at the games you play and are unhappy with the compromises you need to make to get them to play smoothly, then go for it.

    The one thing you may not really notice though, is that your 4890 is only DX 10.1 capable. So spending ~$140 for a HD 6850 or GTX 460 really will get you a noticeable performance boost. It just depends on whether you want to spend $140 to improve graphics that you're currently happy with.

  • MuridenMuriden Registered User regular
    The only thing I can think of for you currently is to bump your ram up to 8 gb and to get an SSD. If you are satisfied with your GPU performance currently you don't have a reason to upgrade. The only thing I could think of that you might want an upgrade would be the inclusion of a 2nd monitor and I'm a huge fan of them (2x24" for me).

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  • floobiefloobie Registered User regular
    Sounds like you should wait. Save your money and wait until you're actually not satisfied with the performance you're getting. Instead of buying something inferior now when you don't really need it, spend the same amount of money on something superior later when you do need it. Given the pace at which graphics cards are renewed and bettered, simply waiting will give you more performance for the same amount of money. So, I think it makes sense to wait until you actually need it.

    You could upgrade your RAM, though. RAM is absolutely dirt cheap right now (at least DDR3 is). Might as well pick some up while that's still the case.

    And yeah, PC games aren't exactly pushing the current hardware very hard, and that's in part due to a lot of them being console ports. But, really... We don't have to constantly upgrade our hardware every half year to play the latest games like it used to be... those bastards...?

  • MuridenMuriden Registered User regular
    Side note, if you are interested in an SSD, Tom's Hardware just released an update bench for Jan 2012.
    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/ssd-review-benchmark,3115.html

    MrGulio.332 - Lover of fine Cheeses. Replays
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  • BlindZenDriverBlindZenDriver Registered User regular
    Thank you all for more input.

    A big question for me is would games look better with new hardware? I get that the frame rate may improve but I don't really notice any issues at the moment and that is with all but FSAA turned to the max so there is that. DX11 should bring something but from what I understand for many games it's more a performance thing to use DX11. To put it differently I'm satisfied with how games run on my system but wondering if I'm missing out by not having DX11 and maybe FSAA (even though I think the high monitor DPI takes care of that).

    Multi-screen gaming could also be interesting but I think gaming on two screens putting the bezel in the center of the action would drive me nuts and neither my desk nor my budget allows for 3x27" 2560x1440 monitors.


    One game I forgot to mention or rather three games depending how you count. STALKER which as I understand should require rather a lot when you apply all the mods made for it - the only thing the game runs very nice (which I partly think is due to CPU power and also the 2 GB gfx ram).

    RAM:
    Yes, one would think 8 GB was a no-brainer upgrade but when I look at memory usage then I don't see games hitting 4 GB or Windows starting to swap. Still I'll likely upgrade anyway just because :-)
    If possible I'd like very much if some of you people would check the memory use the next time you have been gaming.

    SSD:
    That I am a big fan of. I didn't mention it earlier as storage is not really a game performance thing but I was actually really early with SSD and even though the SSD drive replace a 10,000 hard drive it cut load times in half. Best upgrade ever to general computer use (especially on laptops). I have even fitted my PS3 with a SSD which have done wonders with some load times like in GT5 and in other games done almost nothing (the controller transfer rate on the PS3 is a bottle neck so SSD mainly brings fast seek time on the PS3).

    Bones heal, glory is forever.
  • mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    Thank you all for more input.

    A big question for me is would games look better with new hardware? I get that the frame rate may improve but I don't really notice any issues at the moment and that is with all but FSAA turned to the max so there is that. DX11 should bring something but from what I understand for many games it's more a performance thing to use DX11. To put it differently I'm satisfied with how games run on my system but wondering if I'm missing out by not having DX11 and maybe FSAA (even though I think the high monitor DPI takes care of that).

    I noticed a pretty significant difference when I upgraded in BF3. Being able to knock a couple things up to Ultra made an actual visible difference that I was able to see. However, had I not upgraded I'd never have missed it...it looked more than good enough before. In that case it was a matter of upgrading meshes, not just antialiasing, so that's the reason there was a difference. I really don't usually care much about upgrades in antialiasing, at least not enough to spend hundreds of dollars...but when you start talking about higher texture and model settings? It can be a pretty big difference.

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