Friday, January 11, 2019

The Joys of New Hardware

For most of my time as a gamer, any PC gaming I did was either on the family computer as a child or old business-class computers that I modded as a young adult (see my zombie rig for example). However, back in 2015, I built my first ever dedicated gaming PC (specs) and it quickly became my go-to device for home gaming. While this was a budget build, it smoothly ran pretty much anything I threw at it on moderate settings until recently. Unfortunately, as 2018 was coming to a close, some of the discount parts I had put into this PC were starting to struggle with current releases, particularly the graphics card.

Thanks to Black Friday sales, I was able to make the sizable but still affordable upgrade from my original starter GPU, a Sapphire AMD Radeon R9 270x (1 GHz, 2GB VRAM), up to the superior Sapphire AMD Radeon RX 580 ( 1.4 GHz, 8 GB VRAM). This new card was massive and cramming it into my case was a challenge. Here you can see the card unboxed and then as-installed:

Radeon RX 580 kind of looks like a VHS tape
New GPU as-installed. Even though I have a large boxy case, it proved to be a fairly tight fit.
A second image to show off the LED "Sapphire" logo changes colors. I find it far more entertaining than I should watching it cycle through the whole color spectrum.
Model numbers and specs aside, what this upgrade really amounted to was that on newer releases I could jump straight from the Low settings, that I was previously stuck with, to the High or Ultra settings. As far as PC gamers go, I'm not much of a resolution or frame rate snob, but I was still stunned by the profound difference this upgrade made. So far that games I've tried out with the new graphics card are Hitman 2, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, and Just Cause 4. See below for some screenshots:

Hitman 2
Shadow of the Tomb Raider
Shadow of the Tomb Raider
Just Cause 4
Just Cause 4

For a more objective comparison of the performance I ran the Final Fantasy 15 benchmark with my old GPU and my current one, here are the results:
Before Upgrade

After Upgrade

I'm pretty happy to have doubled the results! With my newly upgraded rig, I'm pretty excited about getting into a new year of PC gaming! 

Note: While I was at it, I also upgraded to 16 GB of RAM to the computer to help with streaming

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