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  1. #1
    Cain's Lair General
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    Default All due to Skyrim mods - GFX upgrade time !

    So I thought Skyrim was the bees knees !! Awesome game, 175+ hours in and still going strong !! Wow, how did I miss playing this when it first came out ?? I blame Company of Heroes and its mod, Eastern Front, for this.

    Anyhow, a certain 'Amazing' Lair regular who shall remain nameless, saw a few of my Skyrim screenshots posted and made light of the fact that I should like, uhh, mod the hell out of the graphics in this game. Oh come on now, how much better can it ... OMG, whoa !!?? That's the same game !!?? Jaw dropping is my first impression after I installed about 12 graphics improvement mods. Note that this is beginner stuff for the true Skyrim modder, and I know gamers who are rolling with over 100 mods built on top of Skyrim.

    Anyhow, for its original task, my AMD 7970 was doing an adequate job, but one mod in particular that added lush, and I mean LUSH, vegetation, put a serious hurt on my FPS. Hoping off my horse, i often couldn't even find a downed bandit it was that deep.

    So, Newegg sale to the rescue !! This just showed up yesterday at the house:
    Powercolor Box.jpg

    A Powercolor PCS+ 290X 4GB card for $270 after rebate. Not bad. I was convinced I was going for just a 290, but I don't upgrade as often as I used to, so this card needs to last me 3 years.

    The 'before' upgrade shot:
    OutwiththeOld.jpg

    The 'after' upgrade shot:
    InwiththeNew.jpg

    Good grief, this thing is HUGE !! I knew it was a triple slot setup, and I have had sizable cards before, but it feels like its bigger than my old ATI 4870x2 card.
    7970vs290x.jpg

    Side shot, showing the triple slot cooling setup needed to keep this behemoth from throttling:
    Dualvstripleheight.jpg

    Last pic, and one to give a heads up to anyone planning on upgrading to a monster card. If you do NOT have right angle SATA cables in your build, you had better get some before buying one of these cards:
    RightAngleSATA.jpg

    So modded Skyrim is now fluid again, with no dropped frames or sluggishness to be found. Surprised ?? Yea. Once again, a video card upgrade isn't initially worth the investment (IMO) of $270, as the old card played the game fine, and I could have very easily removed that one single vegetation mod and had $270 more in my bank account. But I didn't buy just for Skyrim - I bought it so that Company of Heroes 2 would run over 50 FPS (a game that is horribly optimized to the point that a Titan can't even crack 60fps in 1080p with AA turned up) and for future games that can take advantage of the cards raw horsepower.

    At no point did I ever think I should wait and hold out for an AMD 390X, as I fully expect those cards to sell for well over $600. I'd prefer a nice 27" IPS 1440p panel like a Yamakasi Catleap 2B to pair with this card next, so that's the next upgrade coming.
    Oh if a man tried to take his time on Earth and prove before he died what one man's life could be worth, well I wonder what would happen to this world ? - Harry Chapin

  2. #2
    Cain's Lair General Life Time Member Rand{CLR}'s Avatar
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    Congrats.

    I'm actively looking out for upgrade deals now in preparation of the utterly insane minimum and recommended specs for Witcher 3. I'm probably going with a GTX 970 (yes, I know about the 3.5/4 gb ram issue. No, I don't care since I'm not upgrading beyond 1080p for some time), but a 290x on a good enough sale would work for me too.

    My biggest problem now is I've owned Far Cry 4 since it came out but since I'm upgrading anyway I'm trying to fight myself from playing it until I get the new card (got DA:Inquisition the same day, so that kept me a bit busy).

    -Rand



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  3. #3
    Cain's Lair General
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    I'm actually surprised at how much discussion Witcher 3 has generated. Every gamer is sweating out the reported hardware specs on that thing.

    I don't have as much time to game as I did, so I end up playing games a few years behind the curve (hence my thread title !!), so how that benefits me greatly is the fact that I don't need to stay on the high end with my hardware to play 2-3 year old games.

    I was looking for a 290 deal since after Xmas, and missed out on a XFX DD 290 simply because I didn't like their fan design, and that card was notorious for overheating with its poor TIM application. At least it had a lifetime warranty to make buying it worthwhile. The 290 is a better bang for the buck than the 290x, but I paid the same for my new 290x than a used Sapphire 290x Tri-X that a friend was selling. Even a bit shorter 2 year warranty with the Powercolor card (most vendors give you 3) was better than no warranty on the used Sapphire card (with no backplate to boot).
    Oh if a man tried to take his time on Earth and prove before he died what one man's life could be worth, well I wonder what would happen to this world ? - Harry Chapin

  4. #4
    Moderator Life Time Member Duke{CLR}'s Avatar
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    That is one hell of a huge video card. I have been looking around for a video upgrade but it will be at least six months before I'm of probation pay at AA. I haven't messed around with any mods to Skyrim but I have been trying to get to level 78 so I can get the perk for killing a legendary dragon, maybe a few mods will make it more interesting and help me get there. Again, nice card, congrats on the upgrade.


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  5. #5
    Cain's Lair General Life Time Member goldenfooler's Avatar
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    Did you guys get the DLC for skyrim? It has been a while since I last played. Maybe I should download it again and start over.
    When I played I did almost all the side quests before the major one. When I finally started doing the main quest I ran over everything and it wasn't anywhere near fun anymore.

  6. #6
    Cain's Lair General
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    Duke, your timing for a video card upgrade is actually about perfect !! The new AMD 390X should be out by then, and depending on how much you want to sink into it, (I'm guessing that for $700) you can own a card that is at least twice as fast as my 290X ! The 380 and 380X are apparently going to be re-badged 290 and 290Xs, just like AMD did with the 7950 (280) and 7970 (280X) cards. So if you want the latest technology I would look specifically at that card. That musta been a helluva grind to get to 78 - 80 is so close !! The black knight awaits you as well. I'm only up to level 57 since I keep 2 followers with me at all times (I had 4 at one point) so they end up killing off a lot of the bandits and I lose the XP from doing it myself at that point. They sure to help to aggro a dragon tho !!

    GF, I avoided the DLC for now. There is soooo much to do in the main game that I did not want to plow through it too rapidly only to get to the DLC. Dawnguard adds way too many vampires and related quests that I can't think I would enjoy that one. Dragonborn looks more appealing to me personally, but I still don't think I will spring for that unless the price is around $5, just like Skyrim when I bought that. I'm at the point you were at, and my archery skills advanced too fast and I kill pretty much anything that is not a dragon with one shot. So I started working on leveling restoration and alteration now to bring those skills up.
    Oh if a man tried to take his time on Earth and prove before he died what one man's life could be worth, well I wonder what would happen to this world ? - Harry Chapin

  7. #7
    Moderator Life Time Member Duke{CLR}'s Avatar
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    I had all the DLC before I set out with my second character, at first I put most of my efforts into building a house then I set out to get the Thieves Guild and Dark Brotherhood quests finished as I didn't get those done the first time through, I'm at 75 and still haven't done the main quest line yet. I think I will reset a skill or two before doing that in order to get me past 78.


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  8. #8
    Cain's Lair General JohnyRico's Avatar
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    I crafted a set of armor that made destruction magic free and it kinda broke the game. That last perk that lets you put 2 enchantments on the same item is pretty uber.

  9. #9
    Moderator Life Time Member Duke{CLR}'s Avatar
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    Yes it is, I was able to craft a set that would give huge benefits to Heavy Armor and Two handed which I had not used so when I started using those I was able to level up quickly.


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  10. #10
    Cain's Lair General Life Time Member goldenfooler's Avatar
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    Yea thats where you can break the game. You just have no challenges after that. Even the dragons weren't that hard.

  11. #11
    Cain's Lair General
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    Still researching a quality 27" panel. I was sure I wanted an IPS 1440p panel, but knowing that my vision continues to deteriorate (my current 1080p 23" panel is running @ 1440x900), I thought it better to pass on 1440p and go with 1080p. I then decided to pass on an IPS panel due to the horrible backlight bleed that some have, and the fact that they cannot reproduce black properly (it looks like a dark gray).

    I now have narrowed it down to a 27" glossy VA panel with DVI (amazing black reproduction and no backlight bleed) and that is quite a short list. I consulted a monitor expert who pointed me towards the Benq EW2740L, which meets all of my criteria but doesn't have DVI. I don't like HDMI, but my expert says HDMI is fine and to not worry over the input when you will never have to deal with it after you first plug it in.

    I still look at the Korean 27" IPS panels like the Qnix 2710 or Yamakasi Catleap 2B and get the 1440p bug again, but I need to convince myself that scaling those panels from 2560x1440p to 1920x1080p will possibly cause the text onscreen to become fuzzy, so I'm trying to give my eyes a break, not make them work harder.
    Oh if a man tried to take his time on Earth and prove before he died what one man's life could be worth, well I wonder what would happen to this world ? - Harry Chapin

  12. #12
    Cain's Lair General
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    Found a helluva deal on the Benq EW2740L on Amazon - a refurb directly from Benq for only $194 - 90 less than a new model. After applying for an Amazon CC, that knocked another $40 off the price, and I added my accrued Amazon gift cards totaling $129 to the total to arrive at a final shipped price of $34.34

    Still trying to find what warranty I actually have, but it appears that since it was refurb'ed by Benq, I have a full warranty as if it were a new unit. Even so, I think I did OK. This model is arguably the best VA 1080p panel you can get, highly recommended if you don't want or need 1440p. Here is a glowing review on the panel - https://pcmonitors.info/reviews/benq-ew2740l/

    Now all I need to do is start selling off the various panels I have accumulated - I have a 20", a 21", three 22"s, one 23" and just fixed a 24" Soyo panel.
    Oh if a man tried to take his time on Earth and prove before he died what one man's life could be worth, well I wonder what would happen to this world ? - Harry Chapin

  13. #13
    Moderator Life Time Member Duke{CLR}'s Avatar
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    lol, that's a lot of panels. I just had an old one crap out on me, I think the backlit died.

    Nice deal on the monitor, I hope it works out for you.


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  14. #14
    Cain's Lair General
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    Got the Benq 27" panel - hooked it up, and then saw the nasty crack in the upper right corner of the screen itself ! HORRORS !! The ensuing scream emanated from the very depths of my soul at this tragic discovery. Note that I bought it as a refurb, but .. damn .. I assumed someone at least made sure it worked after they fixed it !?!? It was packaged very well, so I doubt it was damaged in shipping. Contacted Amazon, returned the panel, then sat and waited for the eventual reimbursement of my fundage. Apparently Benq screwed that up too, as I waited 3 weeks after the panel was returned before calling, and they said that the return had been received, but my funds were not properly returned to my account - it was sitting there in a holding pattern.

    By the time this all went down, the refurb units were all bought up on Benq's Amazon's storefront. So I had to start over from scratch and find another panel. I went with the Asus VN279QL, a similar 27" VA panel at 1920x1080. This one cost more than the Benq refurb, but it had a $30 MIR and a 3 year warranty, much better than the 1 year on the Benq. I wish they still made 1920x1200 panels (love me some 16:10 !!) but I'm happy with what I got. One thing about a VA panel - you immediately notice how dark the black is compared to a TN or IPS panel. The poison Ebony armor that you can acquire in Skyrim (Boethiah's Calling quest) has the coolest vapor effect as it wraps around the armor and turns anyone that moves within 5' of you a poisoned black color is very impressive.

    The QL version of the Asus panel offers an adjustable stand - good thing I got that, as my hutch will just barely fit this 27". And 1080 isn't as appealing as 1440, but I found it perfect for reading text at native resolution with my eyesight getting progressively worse over the past 4 years. The 290x is able to easily max out Skyrim at 60fps, so between the two, the monitor offered a more noticeable upgrade than the 290x card, which just smoothed out some slowdowns that the 7970 was having. Truth be told, I could have passed on the card upgrade and still been satisfied, but with $270 extra in my pocket. Then again, that 290x will be relevant and still able to play newer games long after the 7970 would have tossed in the towel and gave up.

    Now I need to get to it and sell off these extra panels taking up space on the shelves.
    Oh if a man tried to take his time on Earth and prove before he died what one man's life could be worth, well I wonder what would happen to this world ? - Harry Chapin

  15. #15
    aka RuThLeSsKiLLa Donation Contributer Contributer AmazingRedd's Avatar
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    Hey WT there no shame for dropping $ for skyrim. Trust me i also upgrade from a gtx460 to a gtx770, just to mod the hell outta skyrim and for 60fps. I also got more mods for you, like 100 more

    talking about witcher 3...i might need that 970 as well.
    Hit 'em like comic books, kaboom! pow pow!

  16. #16
    Cain's Lair General
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    Yea, when I look at my 20 mods and think "Goodness, I have this modded to Hell and back ?!!" then look at a thread over on Ars and those guys are running over 100 mods on that game ... *cringe* ... that's insane.

    I actually got burned out on Skyrim last week, as I have exhausted all of the quests, including minor side quests. Unless I splurge for DLC, it's pretty much dried up. I did start playing Sniper Elite V2 last night (picked it up for free last summer !), and that was a blast. I've never been good at sniping in games, but I'm getting some serious training in it with that game, as you either learn to snipe or find another game to play.
    Oh if a man tried to take his time on Earth and prove before he died what one man's life could be worth, well I wonder what would happen to this world ? - Harry Chapin

  17. #17
    Cain's Lair Sage
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    You really should get the Skyrim DLC, Dawnguard was my favourite but Dragonborn was also really good.
    UT2004, FOREVER!!!!

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