Ant Pruitt
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Nvidia GTX 660 Upgrade

Ok so the less technical people would see this post's headline and wonder what the heck I'm talking about. Or probably would just skip down to the next item in their feed. Hopefully, no one skips down. Sure this is a bit of technolust, but it may be useful for those wanting to get a lil' more out of the computer they own before buying a new one. So let me tell ya a lil' about the graphics card I picked up from Nvidia (not a sponsor yet). The GTX 660.

Image credits Ant Pruitt for antpruitt.com

***note. I'll use the terms "video card" and "graphics card" interchangeably.***

Ok. Your computer has to have a video device of some sort on the main circuit board (motherboard) so you can plug a monitor into it and see things on your screen. In some instances, usually older PC's, you'll have a video port on the main board. In the new PC's you usually have a separate video card that connects as a peripheral to the motherboard. In my scenario, my computer is a custom build and has separate parts. 

Why Get A New Graphics Card?

I wanted to get a new video card (graphics card) because I desire to have better performance on how things are displayed and rendered on my computer screens. I have two modest +20-inch monitors on my desk. Yes. I have a DESKTOP computer that I use at home. I know the norm is usually towards a laptop at the home. But believe me, there are a few of us with actual desktop computers in the home being used regularly. But I digress. Anyway, I wanted better performance. Performance as in, when I play a video game on the computer, I wanted the game play to be smooth and not stuttering. When editing photographs or videos, I wanted to see the images in the highest quality my monitors could display. This performance increase would require a device with more RAM and an updated graphics processing unit (GPU). My old video card was a Nvidia 7900 GS with 256MB of memory. Yes. 256MB of memory. The video card was functional and did ok for its age. But it was definitely long in the tooth. My new one gives me 2GB (not MB) of memory. That's a SIGNIFICANT jump.

I had my eye on several different upgrades for my video card. I narrowed it down to three models.  All were Nvidia GPU's. Yeah I'm biased towards Nvidia over AMD when it comes to graphics cards.

  1. GTX 550Ti
  2. GTX 650
  3. GTX 660

Ok so with the that said, the first one I tried was the 650. I figured it was middle of the pack in my wishlist and would be safe a choice. Wrong. I totally didn't see any difference in performance when i bought it and ended up returning it. The freakin' 550Ti was just as good according to some reviews I read and CHEAPER. 

So I waited a little while longer and went ahead and ordered the Gigabyte version of the GTX 660. I'm glad I did. 

Initial Concerns and Why I Went With the 660

Ok. I didn't mention that I would have loved to have the GTX 760 model, but I ain't got that kind of money just yet. That GPU would definitely suit my needs for a few years. Sadly now that I'm writing this, I'm seeing I could have gotten it for $50 more instead of $100 more. Oh well. Anyway, the 660 which I grabbed proved to be a great value. I did some research on benchmark testing and everything was consistent. When compared with the 660Ti, it really faired well and was less expensive. Here's just one of the test as mentioned by Nicolas 11x12

 

So I felt safe in going the less expensive route. My primary concern though was will the graphics card actually fit in my PC case. It was a little tight when i originally built it. And with it being a tight fit, I worried about airflow and keeping the card cool. As you can see, the card is almost two inches larger than my original video card.

Fortunately, the card did fit inside my PC. I just had to move one of my hard disks out of the way. But I definitely will need to get a larger case so this thing can stay cooler. Heat is never good in a PC. 

Since I've been sick, I haven't been able to spend a decent amount of time with my new graphics card. But for the brief times I've goofed with it, I have seen a much better looking display as well as smoother performance. I played Team Fortress 2 for a few minutes and it was much better at 1080 resolution than previous times played. No stutter at all. 

If you actually have a desktop computer and are in need of a little performance boost, take a look at a few things before just buying a new PC. 

  1. Can the computer have more RAM (memory) installed (Y/N)
  2. Can the computer have a new graphics card installed (Y/N)

Those are two items that are usually cheaper than going to buy a new computer. Just look into all of your options first and save yourself some bucks. Your mileage may vary depending on your current set up, but at least take a look before swiping your plastic. at the merchant.

Thanks for reading this and hopefully it was helpful to the less technical and not totally a snooze fest for the geeks and nerds reading it. ;-p 

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-RAP, II

***coming soon, the new motherboard, more system RAM and a CPU to complete the upgrade. I'm pretty set on the case and CPU. The mother board is debatable. See my wishlist here. ***