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Video Card Upgrade Questions


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#1 TNF

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 03:51 PM

Hey Guys, back for more help.
Been searching the forums to see if I could get the answer but I haven't seen it.

My current system (for gaming, Photoshop and various other photo editing progs):

Biostar TA785GE 128M motherboard.
AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Ed.
8 GB DDR2 Ram
XFX Radeon HD 5550 1GB Video card

I know it's all outdated but until I can start a casual new build, it does what I need pretty well.
In my games though, I think I am feeling a need to upgrade.
Load times getting into a multi-player game as an example (I know my son's Radeon HD 6870 card seems to do better (quicker)).

In my reading about Radeon HD model numbers:
1st number is the generation of the card (7 being the latest?).
2nd number is the performance level of the card (7,8,9 good for gaming (higher # the better)).
3rd number, if it's not 0, has to do with overclocking but that's all I know.

I am on a budget (Under $100 if I can).

My questions are these:
- Am I correct in how I stated the above ?
- Are the "cheap" 2GB GPUs ($60+ on Amazon) a noticeable improvement over 1GB ?
- Or is it better to get a 1GB card that has a better model number ?
- Does a PCIe 3.0 card run on a PCIe 2.0 system? Just slower?
- I have a 5550...is a 4870 better for gaming even though it's older ?
(in other words is it worth getting an older generation card where the 2nd number is a 9, vs. a newer card where the 2nd number is 7?)

I am more familiar with the AMD Radeon cards which is why I haven't mentioned the Nvidia's.

I saw a post by Killerx525 recommending this, and mentioning no aux power connector.
PowerColor Radeon HD 7750
Might it be a good upgrade for me?
And does that mean it uses the older style power connector my PS probably has? (4 hole instead of 6??)


Thank you very much for any and all help, and advice.

Edited by TNF, 07 September 2012 - 06:48 AM.


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#2 killerx525

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 04:21 PM

The third number would be either "50" or "70" eg. 7850, 7870, 7950, 7970. The memory doesn't justify the performance of a graphics card. PCI-E 3.0 is backward compatible with the older PCI-Es. Yes, the 4870 would be faster then the 5550.

>Michael 
System1: CPU- Intel Core i7-5820K @ 4.4GHz, CPU Cooler- Noctua NH-D14, RAM- G.Skill Ripjaws 16GB Kit(4Gx4) DDR3 2133MHz, SSD/HDD- Samsung 850 EVO 250GB/Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB/Seagate Barracuada 3TB, GPU- 2x EVGA GTX980 Superclocked @1360/MHz1900MHz, Motherboard- Asus X99 Deluxe, Case- Custom Mac G5, PSU- EVGA P2-1000W, Soundcard- Realtek High Definition Audio, OS- Windows 10 Pro 64-Bit
Games: APB: Reloaded, Hours played: 3100+  System2: Late 2011 Macbook Pro 15inch   OFw63FY.png


#3 TNF

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Posted 07 September 2012 - 06:51 AM

The third number would be either "50" or "70" eg. 7850, 7870, 7950, 7970. The memory doesn't justify the performance of a graphics card. PCI-E 3.0 is backward compatible with the older PCI-Es. Yes, the 4870 would be faster then the 5550.


Thank you Killer,
Am I right that the "50" and "70" are to do with overclocking?
If so, is that an easy explanation or pretty in depth?

Thanks for your response.
I guess what I'm trying to decide: Coming from a 5550... what would be the most noticeable upgrade...
a 4950'ish card... or the 7750 ?

And is there much noticeable difference between a xx50 and xx70 ?

Thanks again

Edited by TNF, 07 September 2012 - 06:52 AM.


#4 DJBPace07

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Posted 07 September 2012 - 09:00 AM

I've never heard of a Radeon 4950, I thought the best card for the 4000 series was the 4870 X2. I would get a current generation card from the Radeon 7000. The Radeon 7750 is considered a current mainstream card and is a significant upgrade over a 5550. With the Radeon 7000 series, the numbers have become a bit different. The first number still represents the series, the second sort of determines the intended market, the third, usually a 5 or 7, further breaks the market down with 7 being a bit more powerful, and the last number is always 0. For the Radeon 7000 series, the 7700 is considered an upper mainstream or standard gaming GPU, the 7800 is for the high-end gaming crowd, and the 7900 is for the enthusiast market. With the Radeon 6000 series the numbers still mean the same, but the 6900 generally wasn't aimed as severely at the enthusiast market. I suggest getting the newer card, it has more features and is more efficient.

To answer your previous questions:

The 2GB cards are preferred if you game at 1920 x 1080 or better resolution with most of the eye candy on, if you use high definition texture packs or some forms of antialiasing, you really should use 2GB. If you don't and want to settle for medium or high graphics without the above, then a 1GB card will do. PCI-Express 3.0 is backwards compatible with 2.0 and you only really need to worry about this with enthusiast cards on multi-GPU systems.

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#5 TNF

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Posted 07 September 2012 - 11:05 AM

I've never heard of a Radeon 4950, I thought the best card for the 4000 series was the 4870 X2. I would get a current generation card from the Radeon 7000. The Radeon 7750 is considered a current mainstream card and is a significant upgrade over a 5550. With the Radeon 7000 series, the numbers have become a bit different. The first number still represents the series, the second sort of determines the intended market, the third, usually a 5 or 7, further breaks the market down with 7 being a bit more powerful, and the last number is always 0. For the Radeon 7000 series, the 7700 is considered an upper mainstream or standard gaming GPU, the 7800 is for the high-end gaming crowd, and the 7900 is for the enthusiast market. With the Radeon 6000 series the numbers still mean the same, but the 6900 generally wasn't aimed as severely at the enthusiast market. I suggest getting the newer card, it has more features and is more efficient.

To answer your previous questions:

The 2GB cards are preferred if you game at 1920 x 1080 or better resolution with most of the eye candy on, if you use high definition texture packs or some forms of antialiasing, you really should use 2GB. If you don't and want to settle for medium or high graphics without the above, then a 1GB card will do. PCI-Express 3.0 is backwards compatible with 2.0 and you only really need to worry about this with enthusiast cards on multi-GPU systems.



Thanks again DJB, you've helped me every time I've been here.
Killerx525 too I think.

As far as the Radeon 4950, I was just throwing out an example... older gen but a 9 as the second number.
Trying to get an idea of the preference of older gen/faster card vs. new gen/slower card.
You explained it well though, thank you.

As far as the 2GB cards, I just wondered why I would find them on Amazon/eBay/etc. so cheap.
Seems like a lot of memory for video. I didn't know the real value though, for me.
My games consist of the Battlefield series... and various other things I sometimes play (MW3, Payday, etc)
Nothing requires the highest quality settings, so 1GB should do fine.
I will shoot for new gen, affordable.

I built a couple computers for my twin boys a year or more ago, and they notice that when waiting for Battlefield: BC2 to actually let me join the game (load time) seems quite a bit slower on my 5550, than it does on their 6870's.
Then when BF3 came out I started feeling the lag. I can play it, but it does seem like it should be better.

Anyway, all that is useless info, just an explanation of where I'm at.

I was asking about the PCIe 3.0, because if I decide to invest more in a graphics card, I want to be able to bring it with me into a new build.

Again, like always, thank you for the help !


Anyone's thoughts on brands would be appreciated, otherwise I will just stick with names I know.

XFX - Vision Tek - Sapphire - PowerColor - HIS - ASUS - MSI - Diamond - Gigabyte.... It gets a bit overwhelming ;)

#6 Baltboy

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Posted 09 September 2012 - 12:31 PM

The cheap 2GB cards are a function of the newer cards just having more memory. The low end 6000 series AMD cards had much more memory ta=han the 5000 series. The 7750 are right around $100. If you want something comparable to your sons the 7850 is close at $200. Also if you want a little more speed loading programs and general responsiveness than I suggest putting in an SSD. 120GB SSD's can be had for under $90 right now.
Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.
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#7 TNF

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 09:37 AM

The cheap 2GB cards are a function of the newer cards just having more memory. The low end 6000 series AMD cards had much more memory ta=han the 5000 series. The 7750 are right around $100. If you want something comparable to your sons the 7850 is close at $200. Also if you want a little more speed loading programs and general responsiveness than I suggest putting in an SSD. 120GB SSD's can be had for under $90 right now.


Thank you Baltboy.
You mentioned the 7750 and I just happened to see it yesterday for $78 ($93 with $15 rebate) on Amazon, and ordered it.

Amazon page

Any thoughts as to the upgrade from a 5550 being substantial?
Or maybe not really worth the $78 ?

Thank you all... again.

Edited by TNF, 24 October 2012 - 09:40 AM.


#8 DJBPace07

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 03:29 PM

The Radeon 5550 is quite old and, even when it was first released, aimed at the lower end of the performance spectrum. The Radeon 7750 is a middle-of-the-road mainstream card. I would consider the 7750 to be the bare minimum for anyone building a PC needing any kind of graphical performance above what an APU can offer. In terms of theoretical performance, the 7750 is anywhere from two to three times more powerful than a 5550.

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#9 killerx525

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 04:09 PM

The 7750 game performances at 1920 x 1080 is pretty solid as i got Saints Row The Third, Left 4 Dead 2 and Team Fortress 2 to play at maximum graphic settings.

>Michael 
System1: CPU- Intel Core i7-5820K @ 4.4GHz, CPU Cooler- Noctua NH-D14, RAM- G.Skill Ripjaws 16GB Kit(4Gx4) DDR3 2133MHz, SSD/HDD- Samsung 850 EVO 250GB/Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB/Seagate Barracuada 3TB, GPU- 2x EVGA GTX980 Superclocked @1360/MHz1900MHz, Motherboard- Asus X99 Deluxe, Case- Custom Mac G5, PSU- EVGA P2-1000W, Soundcard- Realtek High Definition Audio, OS- Windows 10 Pro 64-Bit
Games: APB: Reloaded, Hours played: 3100+  System2: Late 2011 Macbook Pro 15inch   OFw63FY.png


#10 TNF

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 06:36 PM

The Radeon 5550 is quite old and, even when it was first released, aimed at the lower end of the performance spectrum. The Radeon 7750 is a middle-of-the-road mainstream card. I would consider the 7750 to be the bare minimum for anyone building a PC needing any kind of graphical performance above what an APU can offer. In terms of theoretical performance, the 7750 is anywhere from two to three times more powerful than a 5550.


Thanks DJB.
I would rather get a higher end card but my minimal gaming doesn't justify it.
Photoshop progs don't need the power so it's really just for the little gaming I do.
I guess I thought for a very reasonable $78 it would be worth giving it a shot.
I appreciate the reply.

Does anyone know of a site that compares the performace of cards between makers? Like Radeon vs. equivalent Nvidia, etc.
My youngest son does his Minecraft and Mario games along with some TF2... I have an old 8800 GT (I think) in his, but I'd like to see if there is an affordable Radeon upgrade.

You guys taught me how to read the numbering system of the Radeon cards... but Im lost on the Nvidia.

Thanks!

#11 TNF

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 06:38 PM

The 7750 game performances at 1920 x 1080 is pretty solid as i got Saints Row The Third, Left 4 Dead 2 and Team Fortress 2 to play at maximum graphic settings.


Ok, thank you Killer.
I mostly play BFBC2, some MW3, BF3 and a couple Sniper games. Hoping to see better performance mostly on the BF3. The rest does fine even with my 5550.

#12 killerx525

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 11:45 PM

Minecraft and TF2 can be easily ran on a 6670 or you can buy another 7750 for your son.

>Michael 
System1: CPU- Intel Core i7-5820K @ 4.4GHz, CPU Cooler- Noctua NH-D14, RAM- G.Skill Ripjaws 16GB Kit(4Gx4) DDR3 2133MHz, SSD/HDD- Samsung 850 EVO 250GB/Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB/Seagate Barracuada 3TB, GPU- 2x EVGA GTX980 Superclocked @1360/MHz1900MHz, Motherboard- Asus X99 Deluxe, Case- Custom Mac G5, PSU- EVGA P2-1000W, Soundcard- Realtek High Definition Audio, OS- Windows 10 Pro 64-Bit
Games: APB: Reloaded, Hours played: 3100+  System2: Late 2011 Macbook Pro 15inch   OFw63FY.png


#13 DJBPace07

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Posted 25 October 2012 - 02:38 PM

To compare between two cards, I use the GPUReview "Compare Cards" feature here.

Note: The numbers shown there are merely a comparison between components, the actual performance may vary. The comparison there is purely theoretical.

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#14 TNF

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Posted 25 October 2012 - 08:16 PM

To compare between two cards, I use the GPUReview "Compare Cards" feature here.

Note: The numbers shown there are merely a comparison between components, the actual performance may vary. The comparison there is purely theoretical.


Thank you DJB !

Edited by TNF, 25 October 2012 - 08:16 PM.


#15 OccSean

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Posted 11 November 2012 - 05:04 AM

I haven't seen anyone mention the memory bus of the card either. I would take a 1GB 256 bit card over a 4GB 64 bit card any day of the week.




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