While some may consider me a troll. Consider this. I build and repair botique custom gaming rigs for a living.
That being said there are some misconceptions being told here in this thread.
Firstly) SL can be very CPU intensive. When a an object is rezzed in an open world, the CPU must recalculate the co ordinates every time you teleport or even move within the same sim and ajust the co ordinates of every other prim, it will start with those within drawing distance first. This heavily cripples single threaded single core CPUs and it is somewhat better with hyprethreading on dual core CPUs. A true quad core being ideal. If building a new machine for SL today, a Minimum of a haswell or skylake generation I-3 will be adequate on a budget but a true quad core like an i5 in either haswell or skylake would be as much as anyone needs or would be of any benefit in SL. A modern i-7 would not help your SL or mostly any gaming experience if you already have 4 true cores with a healthy single core performance speed.
Secondly) There are 9 series and 10 series cards for all budgets. A low end 10 series card will outperfom ANY card in the 7 series aside from perhaps a 780ti in SL.
When looking at Nvidia cards, the first number is the generation the 7's are newer than the 6's so on and so forth. The second two numbers is where it is in the entry level, mid range level or high range. 50 series are entry level, 60s and 70s are low-mid to high mid range cards. 80s being top tier (or of course TitanX, but that is extreme not high end). A 1060 today offers at least 970 performance and is much closer to a 980 than it is as close to a 970.
That being said a 120 dollar 1050ti is pretty on par with a 780ti, and has modern technological advancments in several areas. Those include power consumption, (requiring less power draw )a nd offering a choice that would not require most computers to upgrade their PSU to one with either more power OR the actual plug with pins that is required on most MID RANGE cards in additon to the pci e slot to provide the power.
Thirdly) while a GPU in most cases is the best place to upgrade, your GPU in fact can bog down and cripple your CPU being the source of the bottleneck by relaying the data required faster than the CPU can deal with it. This is why quad cores do so well on SL. If you take a GPU, the same exact GPU and bench test it using several CPUS you wil see the place where more CPU no longer helps. If your CPU is already 100% adding a GPU will help in one way, it will take a load of your integrated chipset thus in theory giving it more breathing room. Truth is that itt may or may not help at all if your GPU is powerful enough to bottleneck the CPU. This can and often does happen, not just the other way around.
If you want to run Ultra on SL with all the sliders cranked all the shadows and ambient lighting ani aliasing and antiscopic filtering with as decent FPS as your going to get?
The two machines below are what I would conisder the min to enjoy that experience and the maximum that would not do any good but cost more money if you exceeded.
GPU: Nvidia Gtx 970 OR gtx 1050ti
RAM: 8gb of DDR4 running 1800mhz at least
PSU: 450W Bronze+ Certified
the above can easily be built for around 400 dollars give or take depending on choice in components like motherboard and case cooling system etc. It is still going to be better than any console in any game and will do very well in SL, you may have to turn off some of the features in some laggy areas, but for the most part you will be fine never lowering the slider below ultra. Your CPU will hit 100% from time to time but you mostly wont notice it as more than a frame stutter in world.
GPU: GTX 980, GTX 980ti or GTX 1060 6gb version
RAM: 16BG of DDR4 1800mhz
PSU: 550w Gold+ Certified.
While you could certainly spend more on components of "higher end" than this, the returns would be minimal and in my opinion a complete waste. For example a 1070 or 1080 or Titan X while being generally better faster cards, they arent going to help you much in SL, none of the 3 chosed for the best max for SL system will do better or worse either, just get the one you find the better deal on, or the newest if you play other games as a 1060 with 6b is going to do as good as any other at 1080p, only consider anything higher than a 1060 if your screen resolution is greater than 1080p or its a complete waste of money.
While more RAM in most games doesn't help, in SL it does because many things are poorly optimized and use the system memory rather than Vram for texturing. This is why often a high end GPU would appear to struggleif the CPU and RAM are obsolete and working too hard. It may not even be running at 20% as most of the burden is still on the system memory configuration which is dictated by the CPU not the GPU in this case.
The "max" for SL system above would cost between 800-1200 dollar depending on how fancy you get with things like storage (SSD). Cable sleeving, case, choice of modular or semi modular PSU, case fans, motherboard choice etc as this would be a true mid range custom gaming rig. It borders on massive overkill if all you do is play SL but it surely will not the be the source of any issues you are dealing with in world. Spending more will not get you more speaking strictly of SL and most games in fact unless you insist on 4k resolutions then that is a different story entirely. This system is more than adequate even at 2k resolutions.
I have built and tested both of these system above with great results in SL in the past two months, the i5 is a bit more crisp and snappier but the i3 is not unsatisfactory at all with all settings cranked, it just has more fps drops and the occassional frame stutter from the cpu hitting 100% occasionally although even then it is rarely.
I cannot recommend an AMD processor or GPU at this time.The Skylake i-3 is better at everything , even AMDS most expensive CPU with it's 8 cores simply isnt as good as a Skylake i3 and will cost more.
For Gpu's I tested an RX480 Sapphire NItro OC with 8gb of VRAM in both systems. Ambient lighting causes the wierd screen tearing in SL that is complained about in several threads here with many different R series AMD cards. I do not know why some have the issue and others do not. This is a GREAT GPU in everything BUT SL. It is a situation where AMD doesnt see the user base of SL to be of any influence to fix their drivers on their end and LL refusing to aknowlege this problem on thier end as it is something LL COULD fix easily by intergrating Vulcan which is freely available from AMD. SO LL cares little for AMD card owners and AMD cares little if you have a good experience on SL.
I just cannot recommend anything from team red as of the current writing of this post. I look forward to building and testing new system with the Zen line of AMD processors and the Vega line of GPUs when they are finally released and I have high hopes.
Note on PSU power: Older generation cards AND CPUs require much more power than current generational offerings. You may find your old PSU is more than capable of running something current while an outdated older version card of less GPU power and VRAM would also require a PSU added to the expense of the deal you think you are getting on a 3 or 4 generations old graphics card. It is usually NOT worth it. Just get a gtx1050 and plug it in. If your system cannot handle a 1050 it is probably best to think about upgrading the ENTIRE system and giving yours to a friend or someone who wants to wait 30 minutes for Windows to boot who doesn't play any games.
Also the 450W Bronze is the minumum I would purchase today. The system outlined actually has a max power draw of around 270 Watts meaning even a 300W would be enough, but a 450W would give you some future proofness if you wanted to say add a second card in SLI or a bunch of case fans or storage, things like that.
The diffference in price between a 300w and 450w Bronze rated supply by any reputable brand is negligable, let go of the 5 bucks.On the other hand, everything is becoming more power efficient, I think 750W is the absolute most that 99.9% of people will ever need moving from here forward. People just like to spend big money on big numbers too often it seems. Believe me when I tell you that the marketing teams of those products are well aware of this fact and the diminishing returns past a certain point are not of any value at all other than the big numbers spent and in benchmarks. In reality the only number that now matters is they have more of your money and you have less of it.
PS: the one who said I was a troll used numbers that were very skewed in order to prove their "rightness" when in fact it was ONE benchmark and the card performed below 51 other better choices you could make...more than hald of those costing the same or less to buy. Modern and Mid range is determined by what is available NOW on your current budget. buying that card would be a complete waste of money as it is rendered nearly obsolete and is obliterated in performance by a modern low end 1050 GPU costing less.
Ranking in the 50s is no proof that this is a modern mid range card, it means its the 50th+ suckiest card compared to the 1st. There are over 50 better cards than it and many of those are obsolete by something in the top 10-12 cards for the same money.When considering modern, the what to buy list number 50 isnt even a consideration to most who understand performance statistics benchmarks computers and technology.
I am sure the mid range Chevy 1984 Impala was a heck of a car...for a mid range one in 1984. Today a little korean tin can will whip its ass in prices features and performance and it is low end. However there was a time when a DVD player was 800 dollars and now can be bought for 20 dollars and have blue ray. That's how technology works, each generation is faster better and less expensive to produce. That 800 dollar dvd player from the past may work nearly as good as a 20 dollar cheap blu ray player today, it MIGHT be the 50th best one with all the choices, it is still obsolete and overpriced, even used.
Modern Mid Range Cards include GTX 1060, GTX 1070, GTX 970, GTX 980, RX470, RX480 RX390, RX290 as the only ones to even consider AT all when making a buy list today..making them modern. Anything less than these CURRENT GENERATION thus MODERN offerings is consdired entry level in fact a couple would still be considered entry level by most enthusiasts for a gaming PC. Compare those numbers to a 6 series or 7 series nvidia card and let me know what you come up with. Laughing yet or satisfied with your 5 dollar savings by choosing number 50?
If you think ranking 50 makes something mid range then clearly you do not understand how scaling works. There are mid range cards in the top 10, there are not that many "High End" options to consider.I can only thik of 6 possibly 7 cards that would be considered high end by todays standards, meaning the 8th choice is easily in the mid range category.
High End- 400-1200 dollars
Mid Range- 225-400 dollars
Entry Level- 100-225 dollars
Less than 100- your integrated chip blows the doors off it if it is "modern" there is no point in upgrading your GPU. You would be best upgrading to a better processor and platform and save your money toward it. 100 dollar cards are garbage and would result in a performance LOSS versus just using a reasonably modern integrated chipset on the CPU