http://i.imgur.com/5zVqJQz.jpg
I have been really happy with the Gateway PC I picked up a few years ago. My PC shipped with a good video card at the time in a Nvidia GeForce 440. Recently I picked up a new monitor that has a max resolution of 2560x1600 and I have wanted to play games at that setting. Most Indie titles fair well but most AAA games suffer on higher resolutions so I decided to start looking for a replacement.

Last week I purchased an EVGA GeForce 750. The GeForce 750 is Nvidias Maxwell architecture retooled to a lower power draw and form factor. If you are bound to a PC with a lower end power supply, this card will work systems as low as 300 watts. The form factor is nice and easily fit in my PC. I have heard that this card will be featured in many new Steam Machines and it makes sense, this card is a good value for the performance.

But you know, that is all well and good but how does well does it work with my games? Since all my Indie titles ran well before, there is no change in that department so I loaded up a few AAA games and maxed them out. First game in my list was Wolfenstein: The New Order. Maxing this game out to 2560x1600 with everything dialed to 11 is incredible. My wife noted that the game "looked like real life." I'd say we haven't hit that level of graphical detail yet but Wolfenstein turned all the way up is an amazing sight to behold. Shooting Nazi's has never been as beautiful.

Next up was Skyrim, the only game that still lagged when I dialed everything to 11. I imagine this has to do with the high res texture pack I was using or some other thing that wasn't immediately obvious. That said, the game looks fantastic, it's just a slideshow at 2560x1600. I dialed it down and it ran fine but I was a bit bummed it didn't work at full settings.

Columbia never looked so stunning at max settings. I noticed a smidge of a frame rate drop at full settings but dropping it down slightly improved things considerably. I don't mind losing a few FPS if the overall picture is great and even at max settings it was a treat.

I tried a few older games that all ran without a hitch at max settings. Half-Life 2, Portal 2 and Rage all looked and played great. Portal 2 looked especially crisp and clean. I was also finally able to max out Diablo III without any frame-rate issues, which is awesome because killing Diablo should be a "high quality experience."

If you are looking for a graphics card replacement and want to go with something that won't break the bank and deliver good performance, you might want to consider a GTX 750. I picked it up on Amazon and you can by clicking the link below.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00IDG3NDY?ie=UTF8&camp=213733&creative=393177&creativeASIN=B00IDG3NDY&linkCode=shr&tag=jdodsonorg-20&linkId=GNR643LIS7RM35GL

Travis   Admin wrote on 05/25/2014 at 08:02pm

"Remove protective film before use"

I would think if you're putting in your own video card you'd be able to figure that one out. :)

jdodson   Admin   Post Author wrote on 05/25/2014 at 08:04pm

smile Yeah, I did remove it too. Funny thing is I didn't notice those words until I posed the image. Funny. Kind of like the signs that say "DO NOT DRINK TOILET WATER." I mean, it makes sense for 99% of the time, but sometimes you just need too, like in Fallout 3.

jdodson   Admin   Post Author wrote on 05/25/2014 at 08:07pm

On another note, I had to migrate Linux distros because the one I was using didn't support the GTX 750 in any sane way. I upgraded to Ubuntu 14.04 and it's been the best Linux distro i've used yet. I only got the max resolution out of my monitor after installing the normal nvidia driver but after that everything is buttery smooth.

No idea what they've done, maybe it's just the new kernel and updated software, but it's easily the fastest and most performant PC desktop i've ever used.

Travis   Admin wrote on 05/25/2014 at 08:12pm

Interesting about Ubuntu being the fastest-- I've seen some chatter from some old LoCo contacts on Facebook about people jumping to Debian because 14.04 was dragging. I still need to upgrade at some point.

jdodson   Admin   Post Author wrote on 05/25/2014 at 08:14pm

I was running the last Debian stable and 14.04 is so much more smooth compared to that. Perhaps under the hood Debian is faster, but the UI certainly isn't.

GregoPeck   Super Member wrote on 05/25/2014 at 09:43pm

I was looking for the GPU chart I found months ago that convinced me to get the GTX 690, but it's apparently been updated for May 2014. Sadly my GPU isn't on the new chart (http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gaming-graphics-card-review,3107-8.html), your's is (well the Ti model). Even though my card is worth about 10x that of yours, I'm happy for you. I've been enjoying throwing games and my new PC to see how they perform and I have not yet been disappointed. I have not yet tinkered with resolution settings. My desktop is currently maxed at 1920x1200.

I don't understand the "dialed everything to 11" part of your post. I guess that's a setting some where I haven't yet explored.

Travis   Admin wrote on 05/25/2014 at 09:48pm

"Even though my card is worth about 10x that of yours"

Damn, Greg put you in your place Jon! ;)

"Dial everything to 11" is a reference to Spinal Tap. It just means turn everything up to the maximum graphical settings.

Travis   Admin wrote on 05/25/2014 at 09:53pm

Also, wait a minute-- you said "I have not yet tinkered with resolution settings."

Does that mean you haven't tweaked graphical settings in your games? Because often the defaults are lower than your capabilities and with your rig you could be getting way more out of it.

GregoPeck   Super Member wrote on 05/25/2014 at 09:56pm

Hahahahaha, I wasn't trying to belittle Jon and his new GPU. Ah, well I guess that makes sense since I'm only familiar with Spinal Tap by name. As I said in my Skyrim post, when I installed Skyrim it detected my hardware and put everything on "Ultra High" settings. Still, Jon's getting more resolution in his set up than I am. My guess is that my 24" Dell monitor is the source of my resolution limitation.

GregoPeck   Super Member wrote on 05/25/2014 at 09:57pm

Yes, Travis, that is exactly what it means. Perhaps I should look into that. I believe the GeForce Experience can help me with that, too.

Travis   Admin wrote on 05/25/2014 at 10:00pm

Oh man yeah. Even the ultra quality on Skyrim doesn't have *everything* cranked up. You're probably getting far less out of your games than you can.

But yeah, if your monitor only goes to 1080p, that's as high as you'll get in terms of resolution-- but there's so much more that gives you shiny graphics. Shaders, shadows, lighting, occlusion, so on. You should definitely do that :)

Travis   Admin wrote on 05/25/2014 at 10:00pm

Er... not 1080p-- 1200p it looks like for yours.

jdodson   Admin   Post Author wrote on 05/25/2014 at 10:05pm

I did turn all the fancy FOV, Anti Aliasing and the like up as high as I could.

As far as me getting the best video card on the market, this ain't it. But for the price, power draw and form factor I am not sure what is better. Plus, I don't play AAA games all day so in a way it's a tad overkill BUT will last me for many years to come.

GregoPeck   Super Member wrote on 05/25/2014 at 10:06pm

Ok, I just updated my GeForce Experience and for the first time I went in to configure my games. Well, I only tweaked Skyrim for now. I couldn't tell which settings it was changing because my configuration for it looks the same as what it suggested, but I told it to optimize anyway. With the old PC, I was unable to utilize this feature of GeForce experience as my 8800 GTS wasn't supported.

jdodson   Admin   Post Author wrote on 05/25/2014 at 10:07pm

Greg:

http://gpuboss.com/gpus/GeForce-GTX-750-vs-GeForce-GTX-690

AT 10X less the price the 750 holds it's own pretty well against the 690. That and, due to it's high power draw, I don't think I could use it in my PC much less it's form factor. godmode

GregoPeck   Super Member wrote on 05/25/2014 at 10:10pm

Ok, I was able to optimize Starcraft II and Diablos III. Why didn't I think of this before? I was playing those two games on lower quality settings. So, thank you Jon for your post and Travis for your comments. Now I have some optimized games. I wonder how they look now....

jdodson   Admin   Post Author wrote on 05/25/2014 at 10:10pm

Also, the 690 looks like a spaceship. Which is to say, awesome.

GregoPeck   Super Member wrote on 05/25/2014 at 10:13pm

Thanks for the link, Jon! That is an awesome comparison. What I gather from it is that while mine costs about 10x more, your's does a really good job of coming close to my performance. It seems as though you got a good deal. =) That's something I learned with that chart on TomsHardware.com, that just because a model has a higher number doesn't mean that it's better. One thing that surprises me (and feel free to correct me if I'm wrong) is that mine is quieter than your's. I'm not sure that this makes sense, but I do know that my new PC is VERY quiet.

jdodson   Admin   Post Author wrote on 05/25/2014 at 10:15pm

Yup. The 690 smokes the 750.

http://www.hwcompare.com/17305/geforce-gtx-750-ti-vs-geforce-gtx-690/

Still, for what it is and the price, I dig it. For my next PC I might trick it out to be a bit more like yours Greg. That said, I kind of like starting with something modest and upgrading it over time too. Oh well, i'll have lots of options for when the time comes that's for sure. I love that the guts of my PC (I7, 8G RAM) are still really great.

GregoPeck   Super Member wrote on 05/25/2014 at 10:16pm

Haha, imagine that, a spaceship-looking GPU in an Alienware PC. This isn't the default GPU that came with this build, I was able to customize it and specifically chose the 690 because TomsHardware.com showed me that even though it's expensive, it's a bad ass GPU.

jdodson   Admin   Post Author wrote on 05/25/2014 at 10:17pm

Also worth noting, that when you bought your card Greg, the 750 wasn't out yet. Nvidia just launched it a few months ago and I was waiting to read reviews and see how they faired with gamers before I bought one.

jdodson   Admin   Post Author wrote on 05/25/2014 at 10:17pm

What GPU came with your rig initially?

Travis   Admin wrote on 05/25/2014 at 10:19pm

Also, Greg, the Geforce experience still may not get your games tweaked as well as it could. If you go into the game settings once you've launched the game, try bumping things up that the Geforce Experience didn't bump all the way up, and see how it looks/feels.

For example, it wanted me to turn my Skyrim settings all the way down for some reason, but I can play it just a few settings away from the Ultra High defaults. It isn't perfect.

jdodson   Admin   Post Author wrote on 05/25/2014 at 10:20pm

Greg: Also, that 690 has 3 DVI ports are you running dual monitors on it? When I work I have my Macbook screen and then my Monitor thus giving me a dual monitor setup, which is great.

I haven't done it for a gaming yet, but it's nice for work for sure.

GregoPeck   Super Member wrote on 05/25/2014 at 10:21pm

Looking at the Alienware website (http://www.dell.com/us/p/alienware-aurora-r4/pd?oc=dpcwny2&model_id=alienware-aurora-r4), it looks like it comes with a 770 by default, which has half the memory of the 690. I'm not sure if that option has changed since I got mine.

GregoPeck   Super Member wrote on 05/25/2014 at 10:23pm

I'll look into it, Travis. I don't know why I didn't think of it before.

Jon, I used my 50" Samsung plasma TV as a "second monitor" on the old PC. I have not hooked the new PC up to it.

GregoPeck   Super Member wrote on 05/25/2014 at 10:50pm

Skyrim settings are maxed out, I believe they've been maxed out this whole time I've been playing. The game is beautiful and it doesn't seem to have any lag. Granted, objects are still behaving strangely. The last time I talked to Maven Black-Briar, a few objects took flight after I opened the door and entered the room. A wooden plate was stuck on Maven's neck, like a collar. I should have taken a screenshot before she moved, which is what removed the plate from her head. I also found a Mammoth stuck in ice. Oh and one of the dragons I fought kept nose-diving down and flew back up after it hit the ground with it's head.

scrypt   Supporter wrote on 05/26/2014 at 12:52am

I think your card is better than mine. I'm using a Sapphire Radeon HD 6870 1Gb. I know little about the relevance of certain features on cards these days. I like that yours has a low power draw. I'm sure that keep the system nice and cool. With the demands of some of the newer games, I was contemplating upgrading processor and GPU sometime this year, but this upgrade would be significantly expensive. Is there a market for selling used components?

jdodson   Admin   Post Author wrote on 05/26/2014 at 01:25am

Craigslist has a healthy PC used market.

What's your CPU?

scrypt   Supporter wrote on 05/26/2014 at 02:15am

Core i5 2500K @ 3.3GHz

jdodson   Admin   Post Author wrote on 05/26/2014 at 03:52pm

That should still be great right?

scrypt   Supporter wrote on 05/26/2014 at 04:50pm

It is, and it's been working really well. There are instances where I'd like to see a game perform at higher settings (Rage, Skyrim, etc.), but maybe an updated GPU would suffice. What I'm getting at the moment is still gorgeous, so I'm not complaining by any means. Just curious to see how much more there is to see :).

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