I'm thinking about upgrading the graphics card in my PC. I intended the PC to be able to run graphically intensive games pretty smoothly, but I made a bad call with the graphics card when I built it late last year. Here are the specs:
Athlon64 x2 4400
2 GB 800 Mhz RAM
Geforce 8600GT 256 MB
160 GB 7200 SATA HDD
(Can't remember the specific motherboard brand other than the fact that it is a Gigabyte and has one x16 PCI-E slot)
Vista Home 32b
After putting this system together I was pretty underwhelmed by its gaming performance. Neverwinter nights 2, oblivion, and Assassin's Creed are games that I've installed on the system and although it can play them all, it tends to be somewhat confined to fairly low graphics settings (even though I've only been playing at 1280x1024 on my 17" Viewsonic). And even at these settings, its still fairly laggy.
I'm fairly sure that the main bottleneck for gaming performance is going to be my graphics card. I have a friend with a similarly specced system but with an 8800, and the performance of that system completely blows mine out of the water.
At the moment, I'm looking at the possibility of shelling out some money to improve the gaming performance of my system so that it's fairly future-proof. I don't mind paying the money for it - as long as I'm not faced with this same situation in another 9 months. I'm probably going to also buy a 1080p LCD TV some time soon so will want to be able to play graphically intensive games at 1920x1200 (This computer will be a hybrid gaming/HT PC). Is it feasible that I'll be able to do this with a graphics card upgrade?
The two cards I was looking at are the HD4850 and the HD 4870. I've heard that these are both extremely good cards. My question: do you think that the rest of my system is powerful enough that upgrading to one of these cards will be worthwhile? While the cards fare very well in review benchmarks, I understand that these benchmarks tend to use much higher-rated CPUs than my own. Though my CPU is by no means outdated, I'd hate to pay $450 for a new graphics card, only to find out that my gaming performance is still hindered greatly by the rest of my system.