I decided to upgrade my graphics card today. My computer is several years old and the old setup consisted of two GeForce 7800 GT graphics cards.
I wanted to upgrade the graphics card for several reasons.
- I wanted to increase the performance of my computer
- I wanted to decrease to just one graphics card
- I wanted to decrease the power usage of the computer
While looking around at all the different graphics cards for the upgrade I knew that I had a small budget. Because I wanted the new card to be around $150 I knew I could not get a current generation card. I wanted to get a GeForce 8800 because I knew how great the performance was. According to what I read one 8800 could outperform two 7800s. Unfortunately, are difficult to find since they have been replaced by the 9800s. So since I wanted to stick with Nvidia I went up to the GeForce 9800. From what I read the 9800 has the same or better performance as the 8800 so as long as it fits the price I will be happy.
The card I ended up getting is the EVGA GeForce 9800 GTX+ from NewEgg and it only cost $159.99 and it has a $20 mail in rebate. Once I purchased the card and it was delivered I went to install it. The biggest concern I had is that the 9800 is quite a bit bigger than the 7800. Not only does the 9800 take up two slots, it is also longer and I didn’t know if it would fit in my case.
After removing the two 7800’s I tried to install the 9800, but it did not fit because one of my SATA cables on the motherboard and a power plug for one of the hard drives was in the way. So I had to swap out the SATA cable with one that had a 90 degree plug, and I had to switch the standard power cable with a SATA power cable.
After doing that I managed to get the 9800 in the slot just fine, except my computer wouldn’t turn on. All that would happen is the power light on the motherboard and the lights on my keyboard would blink. I had a sudden panic attack because I thought I might have broken something. So I started taking things off to see if I could get it back into working order. Well to make a long story short after I removed all the USB devices the power light stopped blinking and after starting the computer I was able to plug the USB devices back in and it all worked great.
So was it all worth it? Did I get better performance and did I save on power? Well here are the results. With my original setup I measured the power usage and the performance. When idling at the login screen my computer with the two 7800’s installed used about 208 watts and while running 3DMark06 it jumped up to 359 watts.
With the new setup and the 9800 GTX+ installed my computer idled at a slightly lower 170 watts. During the performance test it got to around 294 watts. This is a decent savings when compared to the original setup.
The power savings was kind of a given because I was going from two cards to one. So what about performance. I ran the tests twice for each setup, once at 1280 x 1024 and 1920 x 1200, and here are the numbers. For the original setup I got a score of 6389 at 1280 x 1024 and a score of 4938 at 1920 x 1200. As you can see there was a huge drop when the resolution was increased.
With the new setup I got a score of 8879 when run at 1280 x 1024 and a score of 8564 when run at 1920 x 1200. The performance was definitely better than the old setup and the drop in performance was a lot smaller when the resolution was increased.
The other added benefit with the new card is that it vents to the outside of the case, where the old cards vented their heat inside the case. This helped the whole system run a lot cooler, which lets the system run quieter and use less power.
I am really happy with the upgrade. I think I got good deal on the card, I extended the life of my computer a little longer, I am saving on my power bill, and my computer runs a lot cooler. If anyone else is in the same situation as me I highly recommend the same upgrade.
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