Upgrade advice needed for older system

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Upgrade advice needed for older system

Postposted on Sat Mar 31, 2012 9:53 am

A few years ago I built a low-mid gaming system for my son, now it is showing its age and I was looking for low cost upgrades to make it acceptable for newer games (eg skyrim, mass effect3).

System is:
athlon 64 x2 4200+
biostar M61PB-M2S (according to cpuid anyway, it is uatx nvidia 6150)
4GB (2x2) memory
7900GS
cooler master silentpro 600
750GB 7200rpm hdd

I got a 'HIS Radeon HD 6850 IceQ X Turbo' at amazon for $140 but couldn't get it to display anything - not even bios screen at boot. Made sure I plugged in the aux power connector. Switched to the on-board graphics, OK. Swapped the 7900 GS back in, OK. Repeated the un-install all drivers, re-start, shut-down, swap the new card in - nothing. Returned it (love amazons no hassle returns, I don't even pay return shipping, prices are right there with newegg lately if you can find what you want).

Three questions:
1. Was this likely to be a bad card, or is it not compatible with the system (mb, PS) ?
I don't have the specs on the ps handy, but I think the 6850 at start up / idle should draw less than the 7900.
2. If it was just a bad card, is the 6850 a decent choice here ?
3. Other suggestions -assuming that replacing everything with 2500K, GF680, etc is not feasible, how can I best spend a couple hundred $$ ?

Thanks
Chris
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Re: Upgrade advice needed for older system

Postposted on Sat Mar 31, 2012 10:12 am

1. I'm guessing that it was a bad graphics card. It might also have been a bad power cable or bad power supply.

2. Radeon HD6870 is still the best graphics card under $200. The price of the Sapphire model that was $160-10MIR at Newegg yesterday has gone back up to $180 today, but it's still $160 at Amazon.

3. Try a graphics card again. If you get similar results, replace the power supply, as well. Something like the Earthwatts EA-650 with 54 amperes of +12 V power would be overkill. The EA-430D (32 A), CX500v2 (34 A), EA-380D (28 A) or S12II 380B (28 A) would be adequate.
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Re: Upgrade advice needed for older system

Postposted on Sat Mar 31, 2012 11:17 am

It could be PSU-related. There might be an initial surge when you turn the PC on that the old PSU cannot handle.

The other thing I'm thinking is that if your mobo is PCIe 1.0 the 6850 might not work.
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Re: Upgrade advice needed for older system

Postposted on Sat Mar 31, 2012 2:52 pm

The other thing I'm thinking is that if your mobo is PCIe 1.0 the 6850 might not work.


That sounds plausible. This is the board (cpuid says it is M61PB-M2S, but MCP6P M2+ 6.4 is printed on the board).
It says 1 x PCI-E x16 Slot is that PCIe 1.0 ?

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6813138111

Thanks
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Re: Upgrade advice needed for older system

Postposted on Sat Mar 31, 2012 4:54 pm

Yeats wrote:It could be PSU-related. There might be an initial surge when you turn the PC on that the old PSU cannot handle.

The other thing I'm thinking is that if your mobo is PCIe 1.0 the 6850 might not work.

I thought all versions were backwards compatible. True or not true? Searching.... Wikipedia says PCIe 2.1 cards can have trouble in "older" PCIe slots. The 6870 linked above is PCIe 2.1. The manual for that Biostar board lists the PCIe slot as version 1.0a. So it probably is the motherboard that is the problem. Interesting; this is the first I've heard that a card of a newer versions of PCIe is incompatible with a motherboard that uses an older version of PCIe.
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Re: Upgrade advice needed for older system

Postposted on Sat Mar 31, 2012 5:26 pm

Is there a newer BIOS available for your motherboard?
http://www.biostar-usa.com/app/en-us/mb ... p?S_ID=370
Last edited by JustAnEngineer on Sat Mar 31, 2012 5:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Upgrade advice needed for older system

Postposted on Sat Mar 31, 2012 5:27 pm

flip-mode wrote:
Yeats wrote:It could be PSU-related. There might be an initial surge when you turn the PC on that the old PSU cannot handle.

The other thing I'm thinking is that if your mobo is PCIe 1.0 the 6850 might not work.

I thought all versions were backwards compatible. True or not true? Searching.... Wikipedia says PCIe 2.1 cards can have trouble in "older" PCIe slots. The 6870 linked above is PCIe 2.1. The manual for that Biostar board lists the PCIe slot as version 1.0a. So it probably is the motherboard that is the problem. Interesting; this is the first I've heard that a card of a newer versions of PCIe is incompatible with a motherboard that uses an older version of PCIe.


I never tried.

I think it's worth noting that an X2 4200+ just barely meets the minimum system requirements for Skyrim & ME3. According to Biostar's site, it looks like the motherboard will support up to a 95w Phenom II CPU.

Addendum: after a very quick search on Newegg, you can get an AMD A8-3870k, FM1 motherboard, and 4GB DDR3-1866 RAM for around $240. That would be a big upgrade for both CPU & GPU. I'd bet with more searching you could even beat that on either the AMD or Intel side.
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