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Is my CPU bottlenecking my VGA card?

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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June 23, 2006 1:18:55 AM

I have a P4 Northwood 2.6 ghz CPU and an ATI X850 PRO AGP. I'm pretty sure that my CPU isn't scaling with my VGA card. I have a Scythe Ninja and an Asus P4C800 Deluxe mobo with 2gb of OCZ 2-3-2-5 memory. About to what frequency would I need to OC my CPU to alleviate all of the bottlenecking. I know my ASUS motherboard is notorious for the Vdroop problem. So, what clock do you think I could get without the voltage dropping? Also, what clock do you think I could achieve without going past stock voltage?
June 23, 2006 1:45:49 AM

it shouldn't be bottlenecking your gpu that much but maybe a little
3GHZ should be fine
June 23, 2006 1:52:20 AM

I don't think the CPU is your problem.
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June 23, 2006 1:58:44 AM

Despite giraffe not having a SHIFT key or a PERIOD/GREATER THAN key on his PC, he is about right! CAPTAIN OBVIOUS TO THE RESCUE!

You would still be getting better video performance when you reached 4GHz on that PC - so it is certain that raising the CPU speed to 3.0 will improve matters.

However, how much extra performance you get will really depend on what resolution you play at. At 640x480 the performance is CPU-bound, while at 1600x1200 performance is entirely graphics card-bound.
June 23, 2006 2:02:20 AM

good luck overclocking to 4ghz, but definately overclock to 3.0 at least. If you want to seriously up the longevity of your machine then i would try for 3.4 ghz
June 23, 2006 3:17:15 AM

Alright, I wonder what speed I could reach on stock voltage. I know that increasing the clock will give me incremental performance boosts. I simply want to up the clock atleast enough to where the CPU won't be any kind of bottleneck to the GPU. Hopefully that can be attained with stock voltage. I know that if I want serious OC'ing, I'll need to do the Vdroop mod on my mobo, which I'm kind of sketchy about doing.
June 24, 2006 2:33:47 AM

yes it is bottleneccking ur cpu, my bro got an x800gto and put it on his 2800 and it ran like crap, sold it to my cousin that has a P4 3.0 ghz i think and it runs like a dream.
June 24, 2006 8:39:05 AM

Quote:
Alright, I wonder what speed I could reach on stock voltage. I know that increasing the clock will give me incremental performance boosts. I simply want to up the clock atleast enough to where the CPU won't be any kind of bottleneck to the GPU. Hopefully that can be attained with stock voltage. I know that if I want serious OC'ing, I'll need to do the Vdroop mod on my mobo, which I'm kind of sketchy about doing.
You should be able to hit 250FSB which will give you 3250. You may have to up voltage to 1.60 v, but don't worry about that. vDroop shouldn't hinder you unless you start pushing it a lot harder. GL :) 
June 24, 2006 8:56:25 AM

It's a good pair, that's what I think. Also you get the 7800GS and overclock that P4 to 3.2Ghz and you should be good.
June 24, 2006 9:57:46 AM

Quote:
yes it is bottleneccking ur cpu, my bro got an x800gto and put it on his 2800 and it ran like crap, sold it to my cousin that has a P4 3.0 ghz i think and it runs like a dream.

I say its B. S. the difference of 200 mhz shouldn't even be noticable!
June 24, 2006 12:45:16 PM

Quote:
yes it is bottleneccking ur cpu, my bro got an x800gto and put it on his 2800 and it ran like crap, sold it to my cousin that has a P4 3.0 ghz i think and it runs like a dream.

I say its B. S. the difference of 200 mhz shouldn't even be noticable!

Mmm, while there should be some difference there could also be other factors suchs as ram, overheating (dust and what not), hdd and the like.

But the only way to see if your cpu is bottlenecking you is to oc and measure the difference! :) 
June 24, 2006 8:39:50 PM

It seems that one all-important factor that, unless I mis-read the posts, is something that people are missing here:

Your PC will ALWAYS have a bottleneck somewhere; otherwise, you'd be getting an infinite framerate. Also, where that bottleneck might be will shift depending on the program (game) you use. For instance, play Unreal Tournament 2004 or Morrowind, and even with a weak video card, your framerates will rely heavily on your CPU speed, even with an OC to over 4 GHz. However, go to some other titles like F.E.A.R., and see even a weak CPU easily keep up with a 7900GTX.

Heck, the bottleneck can even shift while you play; a prime example would be in Oblivion. Go around in town, and you'll see the game hobbling along on CPU power; no one really gets great performance here without reducing settings. However, go out into the forests, and your GPU will cry "uncle" under its weight, while the CPU will be fine.

At any rate, in MOST situations, a 2.6GHz Northwood should be fine when paired with an X850pro. That's hardly an incredibly demanding card, as respectible as it may be. Assuming that your PC is "clean," (nothing else is sapping away performance) just about any drop in performance in games or 3D applications would indicate undue strain on the graphics card, not the CPU. Or, possibly, RAM speed or hard drive loading times; it could vary.
a b U Graphics card
June 25, 2006 1:52:23 AM

Good post there.

I'll add that with his setup, a large portion of his gaming can be tuned to be GPU dependant. A x850 pro is good, but turning on the FSAA/AF eye candy will put a strain on it even on aging titles like Farcry and HL2. 10x7 no AA he may very well often be CPU limited. But max playable settings be it 10x7 4X/16X or 12x10 2X/8X, it would quite often be the X850pro doing the hurting.

I had a P4 2.6C 9800 pro and upgraded to a 6800U which allowed for alot more eye candy. When I upgraded to an A64 however, I did see some improved framerates/playability in some games. Basically a few borderline playable settings became more playable. But as you said it depended on the game and the map area within the game.
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