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Going 4k semi-soon. CPU Upgrade, or add a graphics card?

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Sorry guys, I know I always write narratives..... little too much :tea:most of the time....


Okay, most of you (there's not that many of us left :bawling: ) all know I'm running this old 1090T, and it's no slouch for how old it is, and at a little over 4GHz, it still beats out most stock FX8350's and overclocked FX6300 (which is no bragging rights, it really just tells you that AMD is GOING BACKWARDS on CPU advancements....)


None the less, I am considering grabbing another bargain 79**/280* GPU off the used mining market to run in a CF configuration. I'm more concerned with graphic horsepower than anything right now because I am planning to go from a 46" 1080p LED setup, to a 50+" 4k :yikes: setup.... Seems like this stuff is so cheap now, and I wouldn't be upgrading the display until tax refund/Super Bowl time, so I have a little while to figure this all out.


A few concerns:


As of now, I'm afraid this overclocked 280x I am running is all this old CPU can handle :geezer: . As GREAT as crossfire scaling seems to be now days, I'm a little reluctant with my CPU... I understand that Firestrike is a synthetic benchmark, but there is no 7970/280x game play data to be found using my CPU, or even for the FX8350 etc because all reviews are ran on Intel systems for best results now.I have been going through the results DB and looking dual cards, and it looks like the scaling is only about 40-55% on the 1090T for 7970's .... I currently have the HIGHEST recorded Firestrike score for a single 280x on a 1090T CPU (8230 points), so that tells you a few things.... 1)My CPU is definitely making full use of the single GPU. 2) There are not many people running new GPU's on 1090T's, and 3) Firestike is NOT a CPU benchmark AT ALL. There is not a huge set of data for me to compare against either. I did look at some 7970 systems, and there are hundreds and hundreds on there runing my CPU with dual cards, and scoring well, but they are all throwing flags for things like "altered tessellation," or reporting insanely low GPU clock speeds, with insanely high scores, which always tells me someone is running dice or LN2 on some crazy unapproved driver, it makes all the data questionable....


Also, I believe I will need to beef up the power supply, I'm guessing to an 850w+ unit..... I can do this off the used mining market as well for a decent price, or if ANYONE has any good sub $100 PSU's that would handle 2 overclocked 280x's and an overclocked CPU, please let me know. I think everyone here knows by now that I am extremely thrifty and value minded, but there is still that young enthusiast in me that wants top performing equipment.....


My MAIN question: :h3lp:


Would I benefit more from an upgraded CPU/Mobo (I'm thinking some type of i7 if I'm even going to bother.....I am NOT SKEERED OF USED STUFF :mrgreen: ) and holding off on the PSU/additional video card??


Or would getting a 4k display, create such a GPU bound situation on newer games, that the power supply and extra video card would better suit me, regardless of the CPU I am using?


I guess one thing to keep in mind, is that I COULD continue to run games at 1080p on high/ultra quality as I am now, but it kind of defeats the purpose :bang: ..... The other option for one GPU (maybe?) is to run games in 4k, without AA/AF, which may actually be more appropriate because the resolution is so high, that stepping, especially across a living room, should be VERY MILD....

I'm guessing that those would be my options for the single GPU (not sure on what quality I can run 4k with a 280x yet)


The other thing to keep in mind, is that I can only do one or the other (CPU/Mobo upgrade, or GPU/PSU upgrade) :facepalm: so whatever I go with, sticks for a while.... It's a little bit of a damned if I do, damned if I don't scenario, so opinions are DEFINITELY WANTED!!!!!


I am even open to going with a used 800w +/- PSU, older i5/i7 that WILL overclock, a decent NEW motherboard(don't like used mobo :nono: ) and using my current 16GB 1866 DDR3 kit, and then grabbing one of these local 7950's for $100 to add to the 280x?


I'm thinking the dollar breakdown would be something like this.... (keep in mind I AM FOR SURE GOING TO SSD main drive during my next upgrade :rocks: , but that does not pertain to my graphical performance concerns in this thread).


Used CPU/newMobo $300+/-??

240GB SSD $100+/-


probably $400++ for a fairly nice upgrade...




Used 7950 - 280x $100-150

2x NZXT Kraken water coolers $60

Corsair H50-60 (will this handle both GPU's?) Would it be better to go with the H120 and try to put the CPU, and both GPU's together on the whole loop?? I have very little water cooling knowledge :surrender: $$$???

Used or new PSU $75-100

240GB SSD $100+/-


Probably pull all this off for less than $500. The cooling is just an idea after having heat issues with my current 280x :sandi: and also really liking the water cooling I have on my CPU right now...


I'll be looking for some replies later on while I :b33r::b33r::b33r::b33r::b33r::cheers: and play Blacklight Retrobution (btw, this is a free to play game that's absolutely awesome for people who LOVE the unreal engine, and the graphics are pretty good too!)

Edited by Agent Smith
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i would suggest an i7 new or used take ur pick,new asus board and hopefully the 2 280x cards will make it playable enough for you,16gigs at the very least and by all means a new PSU. 1000w either a seasonic,silverstone or a corsair AX series PSU. and a quality screen for sure,and at 4k resolutions you wont need AA/AF

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i7 in my book...Asus board as bh suggested.

BTW, where are you finding all these 79xx/280x type cards for so cheap? I need to get in on some of that myself!






All over craigaslist and ebay my friend....


Burned ati got a MINT Sapphire 7950 reference card with hynix memory for $100 cash on craigslist from a miner closing up shop.... that card clocked to 1200/1850 after modifying the power limiter to 50%.....

The guy had 3 more of those, and 2 Powercolor PCS 7950's he was selling for the same price.


I got my 280x on ebay for $125 shipped (which was cheap as hell, even for ebay) Just a lucky late night find.... The seller told me he was selling off all his stuff and the 280x I bought was his last of 4 cards.


This won't be going on for much longer I'm sure.... the miners screwed the market up when they caused all the $350 video cards to shoot up to $500+, and now they have screwed it up again for anybody selling used mid-high end cards....

A 7970 is STILL a beast of a card if you ask me, and they are going for peanuts right now.....

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I am going to look for a bargain i7 combo....

like this:


My bro ran that same CPU, and it turbo clocked to 4.4GHz on his setup.... IT WAS A BEAST!!! And that mobo is socket 2011 so I'm a little more future-proofed.


I guess the real question is.... what is better;


New CPU/motherboard and 240GB+ SSD, and use my existing PSU, 16GB DDR3 1866 RAM set, and 280x




Just get my new SSD, and add another 7970/280x and a bigger PSU???? :blank:


I'm really hoping to run all 4k where possible, and I agree that AA/AF will not be needed at that resolution.....

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Okay, so this is interesting..............



Here is my Firestrike (again, I know it's synthetic, but Firestrike has proven to be a great indicator of real world performance for modern cards).




Here is a similar system (slightly slower CPU), with 2x 7970's clocked lower than what my 280x will do...





Look at the graphics score.... IT'S SCALING 85% !!!!!



Here is an i7 3820 running at 4.5GHz!!!!!! Using a single 280x with an overclock...




And here is that same CPU, at 4.5GHz, with 2 7970's clocked similarly....





Guess what??? Because it's so GPU intensive, it STILL SCALES around 85%!!!!!!



The physics score of the i7 at 4500MHz is 25% faster than the 1090T at 4050MHz.

If we consider that the clock speed is 10% higher it tells us this;


In modern GPU intensive titles, CPU will have very little impact on performance.... (ESPECIALLY AT 4K!!!)


It also tells me that the i7 in a gaming/physics situation is no more than 15% faster at the same clock speeds, and the combined performance is no more than 10%!!!


Sure, these are synthetic tests.... and the i7 wins the battle (mind you I am demonstrating performance data for a 3820, which is a pretty powerful processor at 4.5GHz!!!)

but am I the only one shocked by these results?????


It's clear now that the 1090T can definitely handle another video card, is it not?? Or am I missing something???


I may now be MORE confused than I was.... :huh:


It looks like as long as the game is threaded well enough to USE my 6 cores, then it will perform well and not be bottlenecked by the CPU.....

I will admit that there are current titles that only use 2 or 3 of my CPU cores (Skyrim, Blacklight), and I see 60-80% GPU usage when this happens..... however, these titles are old now, and newer titles seem to be very multithreaded.

Edited by Agent Smith
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