Hi, I'm about to upgrade my current gaming rig. Previous specs here: Soul Savage
Although that page is slightly out of date, the only modifications since then have been a rhoebus and an aftermarket GPU cooler and some GPU overclocking.
I just ordered an additional 2 gigs of G.Skill's D9GMH, a 1.5TH HDD, a Rosewill SATA controller and Vista Ultimate 64-bit edition. Once they arrive, I plan on converting my 500GB RAID10 into a 1TB RAID0 and using the 1.5TB HDD as a backup drive, since I don't entirely trust the onboard RAID controller to not be the weak link in my data security.
The upgrade process will be rather convoluted, but I plan for it to go something like this:
1) copy all of the data from my 400GB data partition to the 1.5 TB HDD, leaving unpartitioned space
2) copy all of the data from my 300GB external storage drive to the 1.5TB HDD also
3) install Windows XP on the unpartitioned portion of the 1.5TB HDD, installing the RAID drivers from a removable floppy drive, and install Acronis.
4) make an image of the remaining 100GB system partition on the array and store it on the 300GB external HDD.
5) clear and rebuild the Array as a 1TB RAID0
6) restore the image using Acronis from the 1.5TB HDD
7) expand the system partition to 200GB, add an additional 100GB partition and a 650GB partition, leaving 50GB unpartitioned to add a Linux distro later.
8) install Vista x64 on the 100GB partition,
9) combine and move the data from the 400GB and 300GB partitions stored on the 1.5TB drive to the 650GB partition on the Array
10) wipe and repartition the 1.5TB drive, configuring Acronis to backup all partitions of the array to it, excluding the folders containing tons of raw multimedia that I don't care if I lose.
Sounds pretty straightforward, no?
Once I add in the extra 2GB of D9GMH, I plan on going into the BIOS and changing the clock from 1:1 FSB to 3:2 FSB, since I know it has a lot more speed potential than I'm using right now (currently clocked down to 750 or so MHz)... might even be able to push it higher, but don't want to end up with dead memory... wondering if anyone knows if the claims that it can be pushed above 1600MHz are true, because then I might shoot for 2:1.
I'm also looking to upgrade the 8800GTS I have now... simply because it's only the 320MB model, and some games *require* more than that.
That said, the 8800 GTS is plenty fast in my opinion, especially once overclocked with the cooler, the way I have it. I guess what it boils down to, is if I'm going to spend money on upgrading my GPU, I may as well try to get something faster than what I have, to futureproof it... the problem there, is that none of nVIDIA's modern GPUs are as fast as mine, unless I want a GX2 or SLI, and by then I'm spending a whole lot of money.
The 9800GX2 has come down to under $300 in price, so that alone is somewhat tempting... except for the fact that it runs *hot* and has a ****** stock cooler, and if I wanted to keep it cool, with, or even without, overclocking, I would need to spend $300-$400 on a water cooling system and a waterblock for the card.
On the other hand, I could always get another 8800GTS 320 and SLI it with my current card, but then I would have to cut down the overclock to the point where there's no gain in speed, OR invest another $70 in an aftermarket cooler for the new card... plus there's the issue of the SLI eclipsing the PCI slot where my wireless card resides, meaning I would have to either switch to USB wireless or upgrade my mainboard.
Right now though I'm looking at the new Radeons, and comparing to the latest from nVIDIA, they're looking pretty good, if pricey.
So, does anyone have an opinion on these? Here are the ones I'm considering, and what I know:
nVIDIA GeForce 9800 GTX/G92 (512MB) $160
Newegg.com - EVGA 512-P3-N871-AR GeForce 9800 GTX(G92) 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card - Desktop Graphics / Video Cards
Easily the cheapest of the bunch... though from what I understand, it actually has lower performance than my current overclocked card, apart from the increase in video memory.
nVIDIA GeForce 9800 GX2 (1024MB) $280
Newegg.com - EVGA 01G-P3-N891-AR GeForce 9800 GX2 1GB (512MB per GPU) 512-bit (256-bit per GPU) GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card - Desktop Graphics / Video Cards
Price has come down a long ways since they came out, so it's finally worth considering, and should outperform my current card by a fair margin... there's just that heat issue.
ATi Radeon HD 4870 (1024MB) $300
Newegg.com - SAPPHIRE 100243-1GL Radeon HD 4870 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card - Desktop Graphics / Video Cards
Kinda pricey, and there's some argument over whether it outperforms the GX2, though nVIDIA must be worried, considering how quickly their GX2 prices came down to match once this card was released... or, and it sounds like a jet engine.
ATi Radeon HD 4870 X2 (2048MB) $550
Newegg.com - MSI R4870X2-T2D2G-OC Radeon HD 4870 X2 2GB 512-bit (256-bit x 2) GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card - Desktop Graphics / Video Cards
Extremely expensive, drivers still in early stages, but easily outperforms anything else on the market. This one's the OC Edition @ 780MHz, though I have to wonder about heat, cooling and power. Is a Corsair HX 620W PSU going to be enough?
Will post progress pictures once I start.
EDIT: does anyone know where I can find an actual comparitive benchmark of the video cards I listed?