GTX 280 upgrade? Gaming on a budget...

By Mechagran · 15 replies
Apr 21, 2012
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  1. Hello,

    I have used your information here and there and generally find you guys are spot on so decided to sign up & ask some qs before i put my bjs down! hope you guys can help!

    I am currently upgrading my machine to win7 64 and just bought a new hdd(2Tb) to go with it, funds are tight though so im still running my original mobo ( asus m2n32 sli-deluxe) and my amd athlon 6000 (3ghz) with 6 g Ram.

    My basic question is, with new games coming out would i be better running another 280 gtx in sli ( and will it cope?) or should i go for a 460 gtx which appears to bench about the same!

    I know i should go full overhaul with proc and mobbo but wedding this year and a massive surfing habit means death to money already so im budgetting £200 ( hd & dvdrw has just cost me £115!) so far my gtx 280 has done me proud but not sure if overclocking or sli is a better ( cheaper?) option than full blown upgradings. I always used to think an "80" was better than a "60 or 75" whatever the number at the front, i hope im still on the right lines!

    Any help greatly appreciated!! Cheers mech
  2. Mechagran

    Mechagran TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Ps i have a Tagan PSU which is 530 W or "max output current of 20A 20A over 33A" ? If that makes any sense at all!
  3. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,797   +117

    I wouldn't replace the GTX280 with a GTX460 1GB at all. Performance wise I found the GTX280 to be slightly better than the newer GTX460. I purchased one in a mad moment and realised very quickly it was a bad move. It uses considerably less power due to being much more efficient, but the performance of the GTX280 is very high.

    Also, powering two GTX280's in SLI is going to need a top quality, powerful PSU with high wattage and more crucially, high amperage rails. It could potentially bottleneck due to your CPU as well.

    The GTX280 will overclock well, but if its a few years old I'd definitely strip it down and clean it up and put new thermal paste on it before you start asking more of it. Given your current circumstances, and the system you intend to use it with, this is your best option.

    EDIT: Your PSU has absolutely no chance of powering two GTX280's. Ideally you need at least 800w with around 50 amps on the 12v rails to power two of them. Your PSU will be under heavy load as it is, with just the one GTX280.
  4. Mechagran

    Mechagran TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Hello, leeky! Thanks for your help i think I saw your post about the 460, it was what made me ask the Q above in fact! So... Are you essentially saying my PSU is going to be the limiting factor in all this?

    I have never done anything with a gpu apart from unbox insert install- paste? Can you elaborate?

    How would i go about overclocking ( sympathetically?) cheers again!
  5. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,797   +117

    Your PSU is a limiting factor now. I'd be really hesitant to overclock the GTX280 with that sort of power supply. It is hard to convey just how much juice these GPUs use (not to mention the heat, in my experience), but they are still worthy GPU's for those that can get them cheap secondhand.

    I powered mine with a Corsair HX-750 power supply, which has a 62 amp 12v rail. It could handle two, but even I would have gone higher had it been the case.

    If you want to keep the PSU, and not spend too much, you could try out the HD6870, or HD6950, or even a second-hand HD6970. Again, the GTX560 TI is another option. The HD6870 will give you slightly more performance, with considerably less power consumption. It's not going to be a difference like night and day, however, but it will be a small improvement (and save you electric!).

    I'll let someone else explain the overclocking aspect, as that's far from my strong point.
  6. Mechagran

    Mechagran TS Rookie Topic Starter

    power consumption was a major concern anyway so it looks like id be spending money to buy an equivalent card ( ish graphics wise) but less powerr hungry. The other option you are too polite to say is probably " suck it up" until i csn upgrade my psu! At which point i guess id be looking at upgrading the mobo, etc. Dammmniittt!!!! :)
  7. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,797   +117

    I think given the age of your hardware, running more than one GPU is just going to result in CPU bottlenecks, regardless of whether you upgrade the PSU or not.

    The good thing here though, is you can upgrade the GPU to something newerand more power efficient, then when you do upgrade the whole system later on you can migrate it to that, or even add a second and CF/SLI it.
  8. Mechagran

    Mechagran TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Fair point, appreciate you taking the time to help me out! Im searching for cards- is the radeon range better for my circumstances than geforce ( ive only ever used geforce?)
  9. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,797   +117

    No problems.

    It depends on the exact models. Both brands are equally good at certain price points. Whether you turn to Nvidia or AMD really depends on your budget. The HD6870 is a fantastic mid-range GPU though, and is priced very competitively. It's precisely wise I use one myself. They also crossfire very well, so adding another one down the line is an option as well.

    That said, if you're prepared to spend a little more, Nvidia's GTX560 TI is step up from the HD6870, and will offer slightly more performance, all-be-it at a increased cost.
  10. Mechagran

    Mechagran TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Brill thanks a lot dude, really appreciate all the info
  11. Mechagran

    Mechagran TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Hi again, been having a bit of a think about my system and would like to clarify some points if that's ok?

    I enclpose a pic of my PSU info - I wonder if you or others would be able to clarify if my PSU will support the HD6870 or indeed the GTX560 ti. Birthday coming up, Im hopeful my mobo and proc will hold up for another year and I am taking Leeky's advice and simply upgrading my GPU a bit.

    I do not understand 12v rails however hard I try, but I am presuming my PSU is at the lower end. If anyone has any recommednations please let me know - but if my PSU that i have WILL support a graphics card then im willing to spend £100-150 on then its a question of what youg guys recomend.

    In short:-

    1. How good/bad is my psu
    2. Can i defo run a better gpu on it now
    3. If so, what do you recommend.

    Again, thanks to Leeky for pointing me in the right direction, as ever much appreciated.

    Attached Files:

  12. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 9,726   +3,700

    From what I can see and interpret myself, you have two rails which give 20A a piece. When drawing power from both rails, 33A is the most you can draw at the same time.

    Electricity Note: Wattage is Voltage times Amperage (W=V*A)
    12V * 20A = 240W per rail independently
    12V * 33A = 396W total power

    GTX280 requires a 550W power supply
    GTX560 ti requires a 500W power supply
    HD6870 requires a 500W power supply

    I've no idea as to the quality of your power supply.
    You should be fine upgrading cards with a 510W power supply. Have you noticed that you are above power specs with the GTX 280?
    As for recommendations, that is a decision you need to make on your own. I think they are both good choices.
  13. Mechagran

    Mechagran TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thank you for your response, that has helped a great deal and I am no on the search for an HD6870. A final thought, is it worth the extra ££ fpor an HD6970 /6050 etc? All answers greatly appreciated.
  14. slh28

    slh28 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,706   +172

    I think any more than a 6870 and your CPU will start to bottleneck the system.
  15. Mechagran

    Mechagran TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thanks slh28- i now own a 6870, £80 quite
    Pleased with that. Looking forward to a quieter gaming experience!
  16. slh28

    slh28 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,706   +172

    That's a good price. Enjoy!

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