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Suggestions on Updating My HTPC for Gaming

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
I used Assassin's guide to build an HTPC about a year ago. Here's the relevant info for the current build:

CPU: Intel i3-2105 CPU 3.1 GHZ
RAM: 8GB Ripsaw DDR3
HDD: SAMSUNG HD 240UI 2TBx2 (Ecogreen)
Mobo: ASRock H67M-ITX LGA 1155
Case: nMEDIAPC HTPC 5000B Micro ATX Media Center
PSU: Rosewill Green Series RG430-S12 430W Continuous

I've been thinking about upgrading to a new video card and possibly a new PSU as I'd like some more oomph for gaming. I'd like to get more out of Steam, play the new Tribes game as I was an addict of the original series, and generally be able to play most games with a nice presentation. I don't necessarily want to play the most cutting edge FPS's in 1080p with everything set to high, but I would like to be able to play most games with a nice presentation (I'd like to play things like Rayman in 1080p though). As of now, I can't even get FTL to run properly.

So given the above information, what would be the most cost-effective upgrades to the system as it stands? I asked a few people on Reddit and got suggestions of the Radeon HD7750/7770. I'm having a tough time getting a good idea of what I'd get with the 7750: I understand it has low power needs so I don't have to upgrade the PSU, but the reviews don't really describe what my gaming experience would be like.

In looking at other cars, too, i'm not even sure what will fit in my case/mobo. Basically I'm just lost in general trying to figure out how best to upgrade my system. Any help would be much appreciated!
post #2 of 9
The 7770 cards are getting cheaper so that would be my pick of the Radeon cards. Before you go selecting a card make sure you have the real estate inside your case to fit one. These new cards are getting bigger and bigger!
post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 
I think I've ended up deciding on the 7750 here: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814127709.

Is the only way to figure out my space to pop open my case and take a look-see? I don't have anything else installed aside from what's listed above, and the nMedia case I have is pretty large.
post #4 of 9
Find the dimensions online. Check the makers website, or wherever you bought it from. Newegg most of the time has those measurements. Since video cards recently have been getting longer, it's become standard to list how long a card a case will accept. Having said that, the card you linked is extremely short, I'm 99.99% sure it will fit. I have no idea what your case is like, but I'll bet the bank it fits.

If you were looking to upgrade your PSU, I would do it, personally. Rosewill is not known for quality items. Give us an idea of your budget.

Also, I absolutely love this website when it comes to video card reviews. It's based in UK, and they don't get everything there is, but they do some fantastic graphs and performance tests. Fan noise, which is a big deal with a HTPC, power use. All kinds of things. I haven't been in the market for a card for more than a year, but I was just checking it out after reading your post. They have a new thing where they rate the performance per wat, and per dollar. Which, when you compare whatever card you are aiming at, puts a good perspective on things. Maybe there are other sites that do this, I don't really look through reviews very much.


I found a card they reviewed that uses the same chip, it's overclocked at 900mhz, where your link is 800mhz. Review card is also only sporting 1gig, where yours would be 2g. The difference won't be huge, you can get a general idea from the other cards on how it performs.
post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 
If you were looking to upgrade your PSU, I would do it, personally. Rosewill is not known for quality items. Give us an idea of your budget.

Yeah? One of the reasons I went with the 7750 was that I figured the PSU could handle it. I had planned on spending in the $200+ or so range for a card and PSU if need be. I figure from everything I'm reading, Corsair is the brand to go for. But this was my first build in about a decade, so I figured it was best to stick closely to Assassin's recommendations, and he didn't have bad things to say about the Rosewill. I figure since I'm going with the 7750, I'll stick with the rosewill for now, but assume a 500w-ish Corsair would be a smart upgrade at some time in the future?

Thanks for the recommend of Tech Power up. I like the layout. I've spent way too much time on Anandtech and Toms trying to figure out which card I should get, there's just so many stats to compare. That's initially what confused me about the 7750: People on reddit were recommending it, but sites like Toms were saying that it wasn't really much for gaming/wasn't much of an upgrade over integrated graphics. So I was initially hesitant, I mean... we are all spending time/money making HTPCs so we want everything to look nice. I don't want to spend any money for a game card if everything has to be super low res in order to play.

But have you ever seen this site: http://www.game-debate.com/. I had never heard of it before, but it lets you put in your hardware specs and then you can search for random games to see if they will run on low/med/high graphics. Pretty much everything I had been planning on playing looked to work under recommended settings. Is this site trustworthy for that kind of info?
post #6 of 9
Nobody asked the most important question: What resolution are you trying to run?

Your CPU is going to limit you to some 30-45fps gameplay, which is fine but not the ideal of 60fps. A Radeon 7770 will let you do 1080p with heavier shader effects running. The 7750 puts you closer to 720p with heavy shader effects, or 1080p at lower graphics settings. A CPU upgrade to something like the i5 3570 as the next step will give you better framerates, and at the same time allow either video card to open up a bit more.

If I may; look at Nvidia cards. Adaptive vsync is the most important thing to happen to video cards in the last several years, and AMD still has not caught up in that regard. The Geforce GTX 650 would be a good place to start.
post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 
I mean, ideal world would be everything 1080p, world peace, etc. But I watch most TV in 720 and movies as well... So I'm fine with 720p gaming.

That being said, though, I was looking at Passmark video card rankings, and noticed that the Geforce 650 ti is ranked abovethe 7750, 7770, and the regular geforce 650. It requires a 400 psu and is the same size as the 7750, so it would work in my setup. I found one for $159 (EVGA on newegg). Should I go for that, or does my CPU limit the performance gains I'd be getting as I move up the scale in cards?

EDIT: Unless anyone has a reason that I shouldn't, I think I'm going to go with the EGVA 650ti. It comes with Assassin's Creed 3, which I had planned on getting anyway, and that makes it's price come down into the range of the 7750 I was thinking of getting. Let me know your thoughts, all, and thanks for the input so far.
Edited by Effingood - 11/15/12 at 5:57am
post #8 of 9
No I think it's a good choice for your price range.

My recommendation on the PSU is purely a personal preference. I can't say with any certainty that the item is crap. But that is how I equate Rosewill products. It's a brand known to make cheap (price) products, and you can't make cheap products with the highest quality components. Maybe it works just fine and you never have any issue. A PSU is also hard to judge the quality in normal day to day use. Your stuff is either on or not.
post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 
Alright, the 650 ti has been ordered. I probably won't install it until I have a little bit more time in December, but thanks for everyone's input.

Also, YRD: I just noticed you're from Elkton. I grew up in Easton, MD, and used to have a good friend that lived in Elkton so I spent a good deal of my formative years hanging out there. Small world.
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