Any computer buildy people? I have some questions.

My graphics card ‘died’ last night. In the middle of doing nothing in particular (well, I begun to watch 10 Oclock live on the channel 4 website) the screen went black for a second, then came back but the resolution was switched to 800x600 or something else really low. Cue a few hours of messing about, turning the PC off and on. the best it could do was think that the sole monitor plugged into slot one on the graphics card was actually the second monitor. The last thing I did was ‘make this my primary display’ and that seemed to be the final nail in the coffin.

Anyway, I think it’s dead, so I need to either replace it or choose this as an oportunity to get a new custom-build.

Question 1: I am looking to get a Directx 11 card. I am an nvidia loyalist so I was looking at the gtx 580. (my dead one is a gtx 295). Problem is, my motherboard’s PCI-E slot is 16x, not 2.0. The specs of the GTX 580 say it is compatible with PCI-E 16x 2.0. No mention of backward compatibility. Thing is I think my 295 also said that when I bought it. So the question is: Will the gtx 580 still work in a PCI-E 16x that is’n’t ‘2.0’?

Question 2: If it will, what am I losing by not plugging it into a PCI-E 16x 2.0 slot?

Question 3: If I decide instead to just get a new PC (I’m not confident enough to do a build myself so I’d be looking to get one from a custom-build website) what company would you recommend?

Thanks in advance.

Doing a complete build isn’t much more difficult than plugging in a video card. The only part of the task that is any more involved than “plug A into socket B” is mounting the CPU heatsink, and that’s pretty simple too. Just sayin.
I’m 6 months out of date, so I can’t recommend specific parts, but PCIe 2.0 items are generally backwards compatible with 1.1 stuff. The formats are identical aside from a doubled clock speed on the data bus, so 2.0 has double the bandwith of 1.1. Whether this makes a difference will depend on if the data bus is a limiting factor. I’m going to guess that sticking this year’s second fastest card into a three year old system is not an efficient expenditure of dollars, though. You’ll likely be cpu-bound on everything and the extra $$ spent on a 580 over a 470 or something will net you approximately nothing.

When I say my mobo isn’t 16x 2.0 I mean it doesn’t mention ‘2.0’ I don’t actually know if it’s just 1.1 or 1.0 (it simply doesn’t mention a number after the 16x)

I heard the 470s get terribly hot. Any truth? And is the 470 likely to be better than my 295 was? (bearing in mind the 295 was two gpus on one card)

Not sure. When I built last summer the 5850 was the best price/performance card by a mile and since I’m not an nVidia fanboy (not that there’s anything wrong with that) I went ATI. The 400 series was just coming out then, and the power/heat numbers were actually part of my decision because I’m anal about noise levels, but I’d have to go research things again refresh my memory and you’re just as capable of googling up comparative reviews with benchmarks as I am.

I’d be pretty surprised if your slot was 1.0 rather than 1.1, since 1.1 was introduced in '05, but I believe the differences are miniscule anyways.

I’m just thinking that to actually see performance differences between a $250 card and a $450 card you’re going to need a machine that isn’t 3 years old. $450 is usually pushing waaaaay into diminishing returns territory at the best of times.

A friend of mine suggests that my PCI-E “Is probably 2.0 anyway” but I take that with a pinch of salt.

I think my PC is around 2 and a half years old (at a rough guestimate without endeavouring to find out) It was a high-spec machine back then. (Quad core cpu, 8gb ram)

Not to ignore advice but I’m ok with spending more on a card on the basis that I might one day upgrade the mobo, cpu and ram anyway. I’d rather have a card that’s ‘too good’ for my current rig and be able to keep it when I upgrade, than have a card that’s about right, and then have to buy a gfx card again when I decide to upgrade the other stuff.

And thanks for your replies/advice so far :slight_smile:

Your friend may well be right. What’s the mobo part number?

Moving thread from MPSIMS to GQ.

I found the info in my old emails. I guess my estimation of how old my PC is was way off. It is more like 3 years and 4 months old.

Anyway, my mobo is - ASUS SKT-775 P5K PREMIUM/WIFI S/L 1333FSB

The age - all the more reason to upgrade soon (ish)

The only advantage of PCI-Express 2.0 is that it has double the bandwidth, but the PCI-E bandwidth is usually not limiting, so I wouldn’t worry about that.

But I would personally consider a GTX 580 overkill for most people, my recently bought GTX 560 is already far more than I would need. If you’re not playing at the very highest resolutions you don’t need that much GPU power for current games. Future-proofing almost never works, so I’d rather spend less on the graphics card, but upgrade it earlier.

I’d also guess that you will be severely limited by your old computer if you put in such a high-end card. But I can only guess at the specifications of your computer.

The board? Looks to be based on the Intel P35 chipset, which according to Wikipedia has a pcie 1.1 interface.

In my opinion, if you are happy with the overall performance of your machine, your best course of action is to get a recent generation card with comparable performance to the old 295. This should run cooler and quieter than the 295, and cost a lot less than a 580. Then when system performance as a whole becomes an issue, upgrade the whole thing.

Otherwise, get a whole new machine.

However, I will add that if you’re only replacing a gaming machine every 3-4 years, then it makes little sense to buy really high-spec. You can buy what was a high-spec machine 9 months ago for like half the cost, and then double your upgrade frequency. For the same money you’ll have a machine that’s more current most of the time than spending more less frequently.