Upgrade: 256 vs 512 Video RAM -- vs Motherboard RAM

My son has an AMD2500+ with 512mb, and a geforce 5600. It looks like his m/b supports up to AGP 8x, and he wants to play Oblivion. A limited budget: he plans to upgrade to a 6800GS - slightly more available and cheaper than x800XT here, and faster cards are getting way too expensive for him.
:?: Is it worth getting a 512mb version over a 256mb one? Would it be better to put his $ into upgrading his m/b ram to 1gb (or even 2)?
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  1. first of all,is the 2500+ a barton core?I suspect it is.so i would upgrade bothe the video card and the ram.also,go into your bios and set your front side bus manualy to 199 from 166.you'll increas the cpu to 2.2 gigs from 1.83 and with the 6800gs video card and 2 gigs of ram you chould be able to play most any game on at least normal settings.good luck and have fun.

    athlon64 4400+dual core cpu
    300gig hd
    2x1gig samsung ddr400ram in dual channel mode
    7800gt video card
    EVGA nforce4 sli board
    520 watt psu

    ps.go with the 7800 gs if you can.
  2. Yes I think it is Barton
    The 7800gs is too much more expensive to be an option unfortunately.
    It seems to me that he will at the very least, upgrade m/b from 512mb to 1gb, and replace his 5600 with 6800gs (256mb).
    I guess the question then is, if he can only afford one of (a) m/b upgrade 1gb->2gb, or (b) 6800gs upgrade 256mb->512mb -- which one is likely to help oblivion the most?
  3. youll have the best results for your money with a larger increase in ram for gaming
    the boost in the front side bus is free
  4. Ok thanks, we'll do the mainboard RAM.
    As a matter of interest, can anyone comment on where extra video RAM (in going say from 256 to 512) makes a difference?
  5. I agree, get 1 gb of system or even 2 gb. It doesn't have to be fast system ram, just now-a-days many games use alot of system ram. You can usually get value 2gb ram for under £100 and it should stop those annoying stutters in games when the hard drive needs to be cached to swap files.

    Why go for bigger video ram? The short answer is that the textures on the polygons take up alot of space so it needs to be stored near to the graphics card to be accessed. The graphics processing unit will first store in video ram, then in system ram, then in the hard drive.

    Most games don't use more than 256mb of texture ram (doom3 on ultra settings does though). So 256mb is good enough. There are two more reasons for system ram over more video ram. The cpu needs to use its own ram and it can only access the system ram. Secondly, the drop in performance going from video ram to system ram is not anywhere near the drop in performance when going from system ram to the hard drive.

    512mb video ram will future proof your system but 2gb of system is useful now!
  6. Quote:
    512mb video ram will future proof your system but 2gb of system is useful now!

    512mb won't future proof your system. The 'next big thing' is not 512mb GPUs, it's DX10.
  7. Having 512mb on a video card is pointless now, it doesn't help. Few games see little framerate increases, but that's it.

    Make sure he has at least 1gb of system RAM, and a 256mb 6800GS (if that's the card you want). It'll be a better performing system, then having 512mb on the video card, and 512mb of system RAM.
  8. Thanks for your answers everyone. The 256 vs 512 link was interesting. We'll stick with 256 and concentrate on m/b RAM ... for the current card, and m/b, anyway.
    FWIW the front-side bus increase has proved occasionally flaky (maybe the RAM isn't quite up to snuff), I've rolled it back.
  9. plehunt,
    I'm an owner of a Nvidia FX5600, my system is a barton 2600+ (unlocked multi) and I'm running 2x 512mb of system Ram (kingston pc3200's 2.5 CL)

    my advice:
    for games: 6800 GS or higher.
    upgrading the vidcard is essential as the 5600 works almost aspathetic as onboard graphics 6100. (heck maybe even worse) so get that and make sure you have 1gb of system memory.

    videocard memory is unimportant as long as the interface is good. only in ultra high detail and resolution setups will 128mb vs 256mb vs 512mb matter. if your son plays in 1280x1024 128mb is enough in a cost effective way.
  10. Like a few others have said, 256 mb of Video RAM versus 512 mb of Video RAM, the difference in performance is tiny if noticable. I remember reading here that the idea to market the higher video RAM is just another market strategy where people who don't know the difference would obviously go for the more expensive card (usually with more RAM as well) even though they won't notice much of a difference. The difference really matters when you're playing in higher game settings. Like another poster above me said, video RAM is there for the GPU to access in order to render the texture files etc, but if your GPU is fast enough, your video RAM would never fill up thus getting a card with lots of video RAM won't help you as your GPU would always be able to keep your video RAM free.

    Basically I suggest getting a 6800GS and upgrading the system RAM as much as possible. That way your son can enjoy a much more responsive computer. Though he probably wouldn't be playing the game at full settings, he'll at least have a snappier computer as well as being able to play Oblivion on normal settings.

    A personal opinion though, I'd rather save that few dollars you plan on upgrading the video card and RAM and put it towards a new computer. It sounds like it might be much, but upgrading 4+ year old hardware isn't going to last much longer with the upgrade.
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