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What do CPUs give the user?

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August 18, 2006 2:00:17 AM

I'm a bit of a noob, and I'm curious as to what the CPU does visually (for games and general use).

Does it speed up the display of information? Does it make games less choppy?

What if I use a low-mid range video card and use the best CPU-- Does it make animated things act more smoothly on the screen? Will I be a better online gamer if I have a better CPU and a not-so-great video card?

Because I would so totally go for smoother animation than better visuals, although visuals are nice.

How does a CPU increase differ from a RAM increase? What will each improve?

Also, how does dual core CPUs work? If one of the cores lag up, does the other one say, "OK, my turn!" and take over until the other one feels better?

I apologize if I horrified anyone with my noobularity. Please don't stone me.

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August 18, 2006 2:49:03 AM

Well, the system your describing (fast cpu, average video card) is the exact opposite of what you want for gaming on a budget.

At least as far as games go, the cpu coordinates all of the various devices in your system as well as handling certain aspects of the game such as physics, and possibly sound.

On a budget, you would be best served by getting a modern but slower cpu, and as fast a videocard as you can afford. Increasing teh cpu speed will have almost no performance increase (in gaming) unless you are able to pair it with a top of the line graphic card.

RAM is where the cpu stores information it is working on. For gaming, 1 GB of ram is sufficient. If you have less than 1 GB of ram, your games will load much more slowly, and you will see occasional stuttering in your game as information is loaded from your harddisk.

Dual core cpu's are a bit more complicated. First off, programs have to be written specifically to take advantage of a dual core cpu. They are called multithreaded programs.

If a program is not written this way, it won't matter how many cpu's you have, it will still only use one. You also need to consider that for many programs, games especially it's not possible to do two things at once since one depends on the other.

That said, if I was buying a machine now it would definitely be dual core.

I hope that helps a little, feel free to ask questions.
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August 18, 2006 3:25:22 AM

If I were in your shoes, and on a budget.... I would get a good x2 processor and system board (they can be found for ~ $200 for BOTH) and drop in a kickass video card.

Here is an example from the latest Fry's flyer:

AMD 3800x2 + ECS am2 mobo = $179
eVGA 7900gt KO = $299, or ATI x1900xt $349, or ATI x1900gt $279
1gig (512 x2) Corsair XMS pc 5400 = $89

A system like that will play any game on the market at fairly high settings. IF you are upgrading, you prolly have the rest of the components you need (but check the power supply for the listed video cards though).

Don't waste your money on the newest and fastest cpu for gaming purposes. The video card is MUCH more important. Just ask my friend who paid a premium for a Dell (against my advise several times). He got a relatively fast Pentium D9 series chip and a P.O.S ATI 1600 video card. He paid more for his system than I did for two what I just built, and Oblivion looks like open-ass on his rig. I run with all settings maxed.
August 18, 2006 3:35:13 AM

Forgive the intrusion, but there must be a differnce when comparing CPU's with identical video cards/ram/et al...
Just look at the reviews on this site, Shaky, and Anandtech... Same cards, ram and mobo, different CPUs yield different results.

Sure, a top line graphics card is going to help a lot, but you're processor's ability plays a significant part..

I think we'd all need some specifics to best help you..

How much are you looking to spend? What are your primary uses? Are you looking for an immediate upgrade, with intentions to go DX10/Vista next year?

Details please.
August 18, 2006 4:02:49 AM

actually... the cpu for the most part will have more of an insignificant impact in overall gaming performance if the gpu is the bottleneck, the gpu is then seconded by the memory amount... ...IF both your gpu and memory amount are [more than] sufficient for the games in question, you can begin looking for a cpu to benefit framerates more... whichcase, youre probably getting consistantly more than 30FPS during gameplay anyhow... so, for gaming framerates, a single core cpu wont have a profound impact in general... ...multicore cpus on the other hand (dual cores and above), can help to alleviate burdons from other running applications and processes while youre playing the game, thus resulting in overall improved smoothness and responsiveness (ingame and out of game)... plus games are beginning to take advantage of multicore cpus anyhow (additional physics, superior ai down the road), and such... any speed dual core cpu will suit you just fine though if youre looking to upgrade your cpu

so, definetly go for a fast gpu, then memory amount, then cpu... hdds would come after that even, as their speed would only be relative really to map loading times and pagefile access times
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