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Need advice on poor AA and potential upgrades...

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#1 vetFourjays

Fourjays

    Neowinian Senior

  • Joined: 09-September 05
  • Location: Staffordshire, UK

Posted 09 May 2012 - 12:52

Hey,
Well about a year ago I built a new computer to use for a mix of work and gaming. I have since got another computer for work purposes and now use the original machine for gaming alone. It is only a year old so it isn't bad at all, but there are some areas that could possibly use improvement. First the current specs:
  • Core i5 2500
  • ASUS P8H67
  • 2x2GB Corsair 1333Mhz RAM
  • Sapphire HD5830 1GB GDDR5
  • WD Caviar Blue 500GB SATAII HDD
  • Coolermaster 600W Silent Pro Modular PSU
I mostly play Battlefield 3 at the moment and a lot of strategy games such as Civilization V, Total War (Shogun/Empire), Hearts of Iron 3, Europa Universalis 3, Crusader Kings II and Victoria II. Also the Sims 3 and Train Simulator 2012 occasionally. I do most of my gaming on my PS3 (prefer the comfort and like to share gaming with family), but some games are just best done on a PC.

My main issue is with the video card's anti-aliasing. I can't really complain about performance (e.g. BF3 set to "auto" claims to be on high with 4x AA which seems great for an £85 card), however, the anti-aliasing in all games seems to be terrible. With it turned up to max I at best get blurred edges, still clearly aliased in places and with large gaps in any thin lines (like wires). Only very specific angles seem to get the proper AA treatment and in some games it looks better when it is turned down. Is this a general issue with this card or perhaps a software setting or even to do with my 1440x900 resolution (as daft as that sounds)? I've tried newer drivers to no avail. Would really like to fix it if possible, even if it means a new video card.

I'm also curious about upgrading to an SSD. My HDD seems to "churn" less since enabling NCQ, but I still wonder if an SSD would offer significant benefits for a gaming only PC? And would I benefit from 8GB RAM or do most games not use it? I'm mostly thinking about the strategy games with these two components as Civ in particular becomes sluggish towards the end of a game and I figure one of these is most likely responsible.

I could also use some advice on a new monitor (especially if it is related to my AA issues).... my Samsung 940BW is getting kind of old now and has a couple of dead pixels. Any tips for a decent monitor roughly the same size (19")?

Budget is up to £350 if necessary. As I said, I don't really know what (if any) upgrades are going to be beneficial here which is why I am seeking your help. They are minor issues with an otherwise good machine.

Many thanks in advance. :)


#2 +zhiVago

zhiVago

    Pax Orbis

  • Tech Issues Solved: 2
  • Joined: 04-October 01
  • Location: The Heartland
  • OS: Windows Seven

Posted 11 May 2012 - 15:18

Hey man!

For a gaming PC, I'd definitely ditch the 5830. As you might know 30 is an indication of the budget series and AA is one area where it's crippled significantly compared to 5850.

but I still wonder if an SSD would offer significant benefits for a gaming only PC?


Yes it will, your games will load much-much faster!

And would I benefit from 8GB RAM or do most games not use it?


If your budget allows for it - go for it!

However, the reason Civ V runs slower towards the end is because of your GPU's RAM size.

More RAM will help a little cause there'll be more virtual memory available, but upgrading to a faster GPU with a greater memory size will provide you with a better increase in performance per dollar.

Any tips for a decent monitor roughly the same size (19")?


I'd go for a 1920x1200 resolution and this means upping the size a little :)

Check out this DELL

#3 Astra.Xtreme

Astra.Xtreme

    Electrical Engineer

  • Tech Issues Solved: 5
  • Joined: 02-January 04
  • Location: Milwaukee, WI

Posted 11 May 2012 - 15:35

A SSD will make a pretty huge increase in all-around performance. Pick yourself up a 128GB Crucial M4 for $120 and you'll be rockin'. You could also get the latest-and-greatest OCZ Vertex 4 for a little bit more if you have the budget.

Regarding the video card, you could try to get another HD5830 and run them in Crossfire. Ebay might be your best bet since I don't think the major stores carry it anymore. The downside here is that your PSU might be cutting it close if you go that route.

You can get another 2x2GB set of RAM for about $20, so at that price point, it's worth it.

And for the monitor, the price difference between a 19" and a 23" inch really isn't that much, so it's worth getting the bigger one:
For example:
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16824236100

#4 +shift.

shift.

    Neowinian Senior

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  • Joined: 28-July 06
  • Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada
  • OS: Windows 8.1 Professional
  • Phone: Samsung Galaxy Nexus

Posted 13 May 2012 - 00:24

Still looks like a really decent gaming system to be honest with you.

A video card upgrade and maybe an SSD (as mentioned above) would be perfect.

#5 K2CrO4

K2CrO4

    Neowinian

  • Joined: 11-August 02
  • Location: Rimouski, Québec, Canada
  • OS: Win7, Linux

Posted 13 May 2012 - 00:54

1. More RAM definitly! More RAM = less swap
2. Budget GPU are alway (in my experience) subpar for FPS. I have an ASUS nVidia 460GTX 768Mb and I played BF3, Crysis (1,2) full AA @ 1600x900 smoothly.
Everything else is at native resolution (1920x1080).
3. As for HDD, I see your mobo support RAID. I'd stick another HDD in there in RAID0. Got 2 Caviar Black and things fly and it might be cheaper than an SSD.

My 2cents

#6 CGar

CGar

    WOOF

  • Joined: 04-February 07

Posted 13 May 2012 - 01:12

Did a quick skim read...

So you complained about blurriness in BF3... is Postprocessing AA turned on for you? This is a technique called FXAA and it is probably the worst thing to happen to PC gaming image quality in all my years of playing. I HIGHLY recommend you turn off postprocessing AA, and stick to MSAA if your video card can handle it.

If you want to go the extra mile, I highly suggest using the SMAA injector to beef up the visuals in your games. You should only take a 1-3 fps hit, and it looks AWESOME. It's a very cheap, very high quality postprocessing AA that blows FXAA out of the water. You need to install it per game though, and it does cause some of the UI to look a little off depending on the game, but I use it in BF3 and it looks amazing

http://mrhaandi.blog...injectsmaa.html

SMAA, TAA, and TXAA (I believe those are the 3 names) are shaping up to be the next generation of image quality enhancers, and I am very impressed by the results of the SMAA injector.

#7 ViperAFK

ViperAFK

    Neowinian Senior

  • Tech Issues Solved: 3
  • Joined: 07-March 06
  • Location: Vermont

Posted 14 May 2012 - 18:50

Looking at your current specs, the only upgrade you'd want for gaming is a new video card, and possibly more ram (only if you are running into stuttering issues though, just getting more ram won't increase fps).

Regarding bluriness, a lot of recent games have an option for various types of post processing AA (FXAA,MLAA,SMAA etc..). These are better performing than MSAA, but blur the whole picture. Disable these in any games that have those if you find them too blurry, BF3 does tend to enable this option by default for example (its called post aa in the settings), but keep in mind games like BF3 perform significantly better using the post aa instead of the MSAA.

If you have problems with MSAA performance a new vid card would definitely help.