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July 30, 2014

Graphics Card Upgrade Featuring The Asus GeForce GTX670 DirectCU II Mini


If you have been an ardent follower of Tech-Critter.Com you might remember when I did a Plug & Play test with the Sapphire HD7850 2GB a while back to show what kind of performance you'd get in an outdated PC. So today, we'll do another one in pretty much the same PC, but this time it'll be with the Asus GeForce GTX670 DirectCU II Mini. Should be interesting I'd say to keep you readers happy.

As I'm trying to keep things as simple as possible, I'll be comparing stock speeds of the cards in a stock speed system. This is so that evryone can do this and that we can see what difference it makes if we just plug in a new component; particularly useful for those who are not really used to tweaking their PC.

Graphics Card(s) Tested:

Sapphire HD7850 2GB


This version of the HD7850 from Sapphire did not have the label "Dual-X" and is one of the very first batch to hit the Malaysian shores way back then. This was a budget-friendly powerhouse with great price/performance ratio that has made it a very good choice amongst mid-range cards. If it were to be compared performance wise to the current generation of GPUs (as at July 2014) it would be slightly more powerful than the AMD R7 260X / nVidia GTX750Ti and just under the AMD R7 265 and valued at about RM400 in the used market.

Asus GeForce GTX670 DirectCU II Mini



The GTX670 DCU II Mini is designed to fit smaller systems, especially with the boom of small form factor (SFF) gaming platforms in recent times. Though small, this GPU packs the same GK104 as it's bigger compatriots and is actually a mid to high-end card in it's time. Today, it would be comparable to the nVidia GTX760 / AMD R9 270X and priced at RM750 to RM800 depending on where you're getting it from.

Test Setup / tools:

Since we've just recently completed a review on the Silverstone Raven 04 with a working system, this test will be conducted using the chassis rather than having to shift all of our components out again.

System Specification:
AMD PhenomII 710 X3
Gelid Solutions The Black Edition CPU cooler
Asus M4N785TD-V Evo
Kingston Value RAM 1333Mhz 2GB x4
Seagate SSHD 1TB
WD Caviar Blue 1TB
Huntkey ASPC 700W PSU
Silverstone Raven 04 Chassis
Dell S2009W1600x900 resolution

As you can see, the hardware isn't exactly new, and has been around with me for about 6 years now. Needless to say, some of you may be still rocking the same hardware and itching for an upgrade as well, but hold that thought for a moment and see if just changing the GPU will be enough.

MSI Afterburner V3.0.0
Driver versions:
  • nVidia 337.88
  • AMD 13.12 
Performance Test

Unigine Heaven 4.0




In this synthetic benchmark, the GTX670 did very well though it didn't reach 60fps, it's still faster than the HD7850 by about 40%.
Unigene Valley 1.0



Unigine Valley is another benchmark tool from Unigine which again we see the GTX670 edging out the HD7850, which wasn't doing so bad to begin with at all.

Grid2




Grid2 is a seriously fun racing game, the HD7850 was actually playable but having the GTX670 in the system made the gameplay better and smoother at higher settings averaging out at 60fps without dipping below the 30fps mark.

Tomb Raider



Tomb Raider is also playable on the HD7850 and while the GTX670 is doing better, it's not exactly as ground-breaking this time like it did in Grid 2, only averaging out at about 43fps, no more than 10fps better than the HD7850.

Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag



Last but not least, the latest instalment of the Assassins Creed series, Black Flag. If you're a fan of the franchise, you're in luck as the upgrade we made boosted the game from unplayable to playable. Yes well it didn't hit 60fps at the average mark but it is an overall improvement of more than 60% over the HD7850. 

Conclusion



As expected, the GTX670 does trump the HD7850 being the superior card, more on some tests and not so on others. In short, yes it does give you the performance boost when one simply plug in a more powerful GPU especially if you're looking forward to playing the latest titles like Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag that changes from laggy to playable. Bear in mind that the settings are cranked all the way up, which means that you could get better fps by lowering some details on both cards, but the upgrade is definitely a step up in performance despite the the older CPU to begin with.

So before any of you decide to decide to change everything or buy a new PC just to play games, changing up the GPU might be the only upgrade you'll need to achieve just that.

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