Time to upgrade my video card?

I’m going to overhaul my home built system, ditch XP (x86) and install Windows 7 x64. The mobo and CPU will take it so no issues there. I’ve got 4 GB RAM; going to upgrade to 8 GB. I’m also running a 500W p/s so probably no concerns there.

My concern is for my video card which I paid a pretty penny for in the day… a GTX 9800 (512 MB) series. It still rates as a ‘minimum spec’ card for some of today’s top-end games (Skyrim, etc.) but I’m curious if people think I’ll get a lot more bang for $100 to $150 more.

Cards like a GT 400 (DDR5) 1 GB ~ $90

Or a GTS 450 (DDR5) 1 GB ~ $120

GTX 460 (DDR5) 1 GB ~ 180

Lots of cards ~ $75 in the DDR3 class… whatever that is

What is the difference/distinction between cards that advertise DDR3 and DDR5 and what the hell became of DDR4?


I’d wait 2-3 months and get a new generation card. If your current card’s working there’s no real urgency and the new cards should be a decent performance boost. (It’s what I’m doing)

And graphics card makers basically wanted something which drew less power than GDDR3. GDDR4 didn’t do it, and wasn’t a major speed advance over 3, while being more expensive to make.
5’s about the same cost, but is lower voltage (cooler) and faster. (Just to confuse you, both GDDR 4 and 5 are based on DDR3 RAM :P )

Is the GTX 460 still that high? I got mine in August 2010 for that price. I would wait the 2-3 months as new cards are releasing soon that should bring down current prices which have stayed static, and in some cases actually gone up from about a year ago.

You can always wait and always get a better deal, so it really just depends on if you want to wait or not. I’ve always just done video card upgrades on a basic “two years since the last time I bought a video card” and “best card I can get for $150-200” approach. Seems to work pretty well.

Newegg has a Gigabyte GTX460 for $140.

No, not really. We’re in the middle of the new generation of cards launching right now.

I didn’t think nVidia had introduced any parts based on Kepler yet.

Yeah, that’s not bad. Don’t by anything with a 450 or 550 or lower number. You want that second digit to at least be a 6, as in the 460 or 560. The price jump might be 20-50%, but the performance basically doubles when you step up.

ATI have though. And the HD7770, which is expected sometime next month, looks to be deacent - leaked benchmarks put it on par with the GTX 560 for $150.

Apparently the 1GB 7850 might only be $219 mind you…

And you don’t think that might have an effect on 560 pricing?

Tough to know what to do right now. I’m planning a build for sometime in the next few months, and I’m starting to nail down all the other components, except for graphics. It sounds as if the new nVidia parts might be much more of an upgrade than the 7x ATi cards, but even if that is true, we may not see the first parts until April and there are conflicting reports as to which parts we will see first.

I also keep hearing that the ATi drivers have been a bit iffy lately. Is that true?

I also keep hearing that the ATi drivers have been a bit iffy lately. Is that true?

Yeah I dunno. I just bought a 7970 to upgrade from a 6870 and I have been having issues with the CCC not working but other then that I’ve not had any issues with the ATI drivers.

I’ve had no issues with my 4850.

On the other hand, had to scrape Nvidia drivers off and reinstall from scratch on several friends PC’s recently. So annoying. (Really, is “uninstall during the upgrade” a hard concept? Grah!)

Thanks DF et al for the advice. And I think Brad’s point about the second digit in the GeForce series being a “6” or above is excellent. After I dug into some more video card comparisons that seemed to hold up… Gamers and other high-end vidcard enthusiasts greatly prefer them and the others (400, 420, etc.) are rated as mid-range or bargain priced options.

Looks like my 9800 GTX+ still has legs. I’ll wait until I can get a card that benchmarks at 4x or 5x my current performance rating for around $100 - 150. But I’m not as concerned at this moment.

I was looking mostly at the PassMark Benchmarks after checking out many others; seemed to be very thorough and also fairly readable.

I have the same card (well, a 9800 GTX…minus the plus) and so far it runs everything I’ve thrown at it with no issues. I can usually run new games at just under whatever Ultra is…and I usually have to turn down shadows.

9800’s must’ve been damn good cards considering their age.

Yeah, my current rig has two 8800GTs in it. Even if I do build a completely new machine, I might also be looking for an upgrade for those at the right price. This would be my first build. Every time I have started to do this before I have chickened out and bought something from Dell or a boutique shop.

Passmark is a single synthetic benchmark. You want a gauntlet of real-world benchmarks, like so.

Right now, the 6870 is the best buy for the money. But whichever you use, I recommend using the PC Part Picker to shop around.

That 9800 GTX will be dead soon, by the way.

Well, I picked up a 550ti recently, mainly because it ran cooler and with less power than the 560ti… and it cost like $100 less. The price jump is closer to 80%.

Ultimately, the 560 will give you some significant performance improvements, but draws a good deal more power, and will run hotter. If you’re building from the ground up, I could see going for that, but in my case I was fitting it into an already crowded case with poor ventilation… and I didn’t feel like reworking stuff (i.e. I’m lazy).

I’ve been real happy with the 550ti though… The thing runs very cool, and almost silently. And with current games, like SWTOR, I can run it with every single bell and whistle turned on and get good framerates.

For my needs, it seemed to do the job pretty good… And the low price means that I can just upgrade it again in half the time, and get a card that beats anything on the market today anyway. :D

So what’s the best video card for <$200 right now?

$199 shipped right now. Pretty much as good as you can do.