Rig GPU & CPU Update Help

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HuskerSix Posted: Wed, May 20 2009 6:32 PM

First, thanks for the help anyone here can provide. I’m pretty useless when it comes to choosing hardware as you’ll undoubtedly know by the end of this. So the story is, back in September of last year I built a new rig completely from scratch (You guys were kind enough to lend me your advice on some of the components) and basically it seems to be a lemon. At first I thought it was because I hadn’t set everything up properly due to my lack of knowledge on the subject, but now it’s just getting frustrating. Basically, I want to upgrade my GPU & CPU to something that can actually cut the mustard when it comes to games like Crysis and Far Cry 2; hopefully without having to change my motherboard.

Current specs:
CPU: AMD Phenom X4 9950 2.6ghz Black Edition + Thermalright Ultra-120 Heatsink
RAM: OCZ (2x2GB) DDR2 1066MHz/PC2-8500 Reaper HPC Edition
Case: Antec 1200 Twelve Hundred Full Tower Case
PSU: Corsair 1000w HX
HDD:Samsung SpinPoint HD103UJ 1TB + Samsung SpinPoint HD502IJ 500GB
Soundcard: Creative X-Fi Platinum Fatal1ty Campion Series
Motherboard: ASUS Crosshair II Formula Republic of Gamers Series nForce 780a
GPU: EVGA 9800GX2 KO Edition

Ok, so first the CPU. I knew AMD were behind Intel when I bought the processor, but I’ve been with AMD for many years now and I’ve never had any grief from them, so I chose to go with what I felt comfortable with. But now AMD have the Phenom II X4 Black Edition and while it still doesn’t trump Intel, it still does 3.2ghz out of the box with an 8MB Cache. I know the Intel fans out there will tell me to ditch AMD, but that means I’d definitely have to upgrade my motherboard and that would just be the icing on the cake to have to spend yet another £150 or so. But am I going to see a significant performance increase by purchasing the Phenom II?
The product description says its socket AM3 and my motherboard and current processor is AM2, but I read it’s also backwards compatible with AM2. My question is am I going to lose any performance by not using a motherboard with a genuine AM3 socket?

The GPU, like I said I’m pretty useless when it comes to choosing hardware and understanding how it works, so when I built the system I did a little research and in the end just decided to go for the most expensive GPU I could find, thinking I would get the best performance; at the time this was the 9800GX2. In my search for answers as to why games like Far Cry 2 were lagging and having continuous errors in graphics when playing, I quickly found that because the card lacked in other areas, it was pretty much useless at running such games. Although an average frame rate of around 30-35 when playing Far Cry 2 still seems like a joke.

In light of all this I’m not sure what my next choice should be. From what little knowledge I have, the GTX200 series is now nVidias flagship line. Is one or even two of these going to be my best choice for an upgrade? Which one? 280? 285? 295? 260? 275? This is where I just get a headache looking through everything because I have no idea what I’m looking at, that being the reason I just went for the most expensive thing I could get my hands on originally, which obviously didn’t work. Also, will my motherboard be compatible with a GTX200?

What I’m asking at the end of all this is, with my current motherboard and everything else, will changing my CPU to the Phenom II, and GPU to a GTX200 provide me with a performance increase enough to run games like Far Cry 2, Crysis, CODWAW etc. at high settings and maintain smooth gameplay? Or am I living a pipedream and I’m going to have to start from scratch?
Thanks again for any help you guys can provide, it really is appreciated. I feel like such a loser having spent all that cash to get nowhere, but I don’t plan on making a similar mistake again, for my wallets sake.

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Super Dave replied on Wed, May 20 2009 11:40 PM

If you haven't tried overclocking your current system yet, I would advise you to try it before you upgrade, Husker. My son has a Phenom 9750 overclocked to 2.7GHz on air (2.4GHz stock) and that thing isn't even a Black Edition (the multiplyer is locked)! With that beautiful OCZ Reaper memory I suspect you have lots of overclocking potential there!

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I don't understand how you can't play those games at max settings.  I can and I run a 9800gtx.  Actually I couldn't get higher than either 2x or 4x AA on Farcry2.  You should be getting better fps than me, after all you have two gpus on there.  Also, like Dave mentioned you should OC your cpu.

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Super Dave replied on Thu, May 21 2009 12:26 AM

HERE is a link that compares your current 9950 to the Phenom II X4 955 that you mentioned above. I must defer to my other HH buddies to suggest to you what to do about the video card, though. What about it, guys!

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mentaldisorder:
Actually I couldn't get higher than either 2x or 4x AA on Farcry2

What rez you running FC2 at?

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I run all my games at 1440x900.

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HuskerSix replied on Thu, May 21 2009 11:49 AM

Super Dave:

If you haven't tried overclocking your current system yet, I would advise you to try it before you upgrade, Husker. My son has a Phenom 9750 overclocked to 2.7GHz on air (2.4GHz stock) and that thing isn't even a Black Edition (the multiplyer is locked)! With that beautiful OCZ Reaper memory I suspect you have lots of overclocking potential there!

 

Hey Dave, I havent tried overclocking my CPU yet so I'm not sure what else I could get out of it. How would I go about doing this?

 

mentaldisorder:

I don't understand how you can't play those games at max settings.  I can and I run a 9800gtx.  Actually I couldn't get higher than either 2x or 4x AA on Farcry2.  You should be getting better fps than me, after all you have two gpus on there.  Also, like Dave mentioned you should OC your cpu.

I didn't understand it myself either. I know next to nothing about hardware specs but even I thought I would get something more than what I'm getting out of it. I've tried overclocking my GPU using the EVGA Precision tool, but even with very minute changes the card just gives out after a minute or so and I get a nvlddmkm failure. With larger tweaks the card gives out instantly and my system crashes. Also, it seems as though it doesnt have a manually controlled fan, even though all posts I've seen suggest otherwise. So even if I were to tweak the card, I wouldnt be able to compensate for the gain in heat properly.

 

I've read posts of how the GX2 was an unstable card to begin with and causes jutters in gamplay etc. As far as I'm aware its been completely discontinued. The only place you can buy it now is used and retailers that have excess stock.

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Have you tried different drivers?

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HuskerSix replied on Thu, May 21 2009 11:58 PM

I have the latest nVidia Drivers for the card, but I need to try reinstalling them again after using DriverCleaner. Thinking about a full reformatt and going through every component, downloading the latest drivers for each using Driver Cleaner each time. I'm pretty sure I have the latest for everything including my mobo. Hopefully that will smooth things out a little, although if that doesn't work I'm not sure where to go from there.

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I was meaning trying older drivers.  Sometimes newer drivers can get screwy.

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HuskerSix:
Hey Dave, I havent tried overclocking my CPU yet so I'm not sure what else I could get out of it. How would I go about doing this?

My Son's Phenom 9750 wasn't a Black Edition CPU so I was pretty limited on the overclocking options. I simply went into the BIOS and raised the CPU frequency from 200 to 225. I did it gradually - in small increments - running Super Pi 1M each time to see if it was stable. He has an Asus Crosshair mobo (the original!) w/Corsair Dominator memory so everything went smooth. Since you have a Black Edition Phenom with an unlocked-multiplier you have a lot more options. One of our HotHardware members, AMDCrankItUp, just won a Phenom rig and is currently experimenting with overclocking his new system. Let me see if I can steer him over to this thread to give you some more pointers. By the way, make sure you have a good heatsink on that CPU and that you carefully monitor the temps when you are overclocking, Husker.

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Also another important rule!  If you get instability you bump the voltage, However DO NOT bump the voltage and increase the FSB!  Everytime you bump up your voltage you will get a nice little kick in higher temps.

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There were a couple of versions of that Phenom 9950: a 140W and a 125W. If you have the 140-watt version be extremely careful not to fry it! HERE is a good article for you to read, Husker.

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HuskerSix replied on Sun, May 24 2009 12:16 AM

I have the 125w version. I've been trying to overclock it over the last day or so but I just keep getting bsod no matter how small my changes are. I'm starting to think this rig has it in for me Stick out tongue

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Super Dave replied on Sun, May 24 2009 12:54 AM

So what exactly have you done to get that dreaded BSOD?

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That's what I was wondering.  Usually when you overclock you won't get a BSOD.  What generally happens is (with a problematic OC):

A) bios won't load (reset cmos to fix)

B)Your OS freezes while loading

C)Your OS boots and then freezes

D)Your OS loads with no issues however you will get an error in Prime95 or another software for error checking

E)(goes with D) The OS seems fine, however the computer will randomly freeze up

 

Those are what usually happen when you have a problematic condition with your OC.  Do you have your bios setup properly for OCing?  The cases being that your voltages are manually inputed, speed stepping disabled etc.  There are others, however they are specific to each motherboard. 

Also, what does the BSOD say?  As in, what's the error stated (capital letters I believe?)

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HuskerSix replied on Sun, May 24 2009 2:28 PM

It boots then depending on how much I changed it either cuts out just before the Windows Vista loading screen or as it's actually loading. I only get a brief flash of the BSOD as it resets itself, but it's definately the BSOD Stick out tongue

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Your next step would be a bump in vcore of .025.

Also, read this guide.  http://hothardware.com/cs/forums/t/40875.aspx?PageIndex=2

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HuskerSix replied on Sun, May 24 2009 2:50 PM

this is a shot of my bios, the only thing thats been changed in this shot is my DDDR2 voltage and AI tuning to manual. Ram timings themselves are 5-5-5-15

 

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Ok there's your problem.  You need to manually set your voltages.  Your ram voltage should be what your ram runs at stock.  Did you manually input the ram timings?  If not, then you should even the part that say 1T or 2T.  As for the voltages of the vcore, you need to find the stock voltage of your cpu(AMD site probably has this info.)  You need to make sure the cpu multi is set manually aswell.

What's basically happening with auto settings is that the bios is managing the volts and timings and it changes them on the fly.  So things will be running smoothly and then the bios switches the voltage and bam your screen is frozen.  Again, make sure you read the overclocking guide.  Also, make sure you DO NOT change any gpu settings in the bios.  If the voltage changes on there you could fry your gpu.  I also hope you're keeping an eye on your temps when you can boot into windows (all in the guide btw.)

 

[edit] I read that the blue screen could be caused by your ram...you may need to loosen the timings to continue your overclock.

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Husker have you got anywhere with your OC yet?

 

 

 

 

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