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P4 530 (Prescott) & 8800 GTS 320MB?

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June 14, 2007 8:32:08 PM

I have a Dell Dimension 8400. It's about 2-3 years old, still under warranty. General specs:

P4 530 3.0 Ghz (Prescott core, aka a space heater)
1GB DDR2 533MHz RAM
Intel 925X (or EX) motherboard
one PCI Express x16 slot
Win XP Pro SP2

I currently have an ATI X800XL, and while it was great when it first came out, I've delayed getting Oblivion because I want to play it at good frame rates and decent resolution (1280x1024 or higher) and settings. If I were to buy an 8800GTS 320MB card (for around $260 these days), would my CPU horribly bottleneck any game before the card even got close to maxing out? Is 1GB RAM enough for those types of games?


I read the recent System Builder Marathon article and their gamer's special build, but they're still using an Athlon X2 3800+ AM2 CPU, which is a dual core and I'm sure significantly faster than a single-core (despite the HT) P4.

I was hoping to wait another 6-12 months for a new Penryn based machine and build from scratch.
June 14, 2007 9:07:27 PM

I'm sorry to say but your 530 will create an absolutly huge bottleneck for the 8800GTS. Even the x6800 has trouble keeping up with an 8800 in some games!
June 14, 2007 9:26:38 PM

What about their results in the System Builders article, when they ran an 8800 GTX (Ultra?) with the 3800+?

I know the 530 will be a bottleneck, and I appreciate your reply, but let me repeat the main question. Would games like Oblivion be playable at 1280x1024 or higher resolutions with good (not max, but good) settings with a P4 530, 1GB RAM, and a 8800GTS 320? I doubt it, but would 1.5 or 2GB of RAM matter? Or do I just have to wait until I build a whole new machine?

Unfortunately, I can't drop a 6600 in my 925 motherboard... I was pretty pissed about that. It was kind of the whole point of waiting to buy a new computer last time until the new 9 series mobos with the socket T/LGA 775 came out, but oh well!
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June 15, 2007 4:18:44 PM

with a cpu that slow, you may need to get a second gig of ram. its going to be a bottleneck, but the games will be playable. take as much stress of the cpu as possible. the second gig of ram will make all the data it needs to crunch ready when it finally gets around to it. however, you might just want to wait. why not get a new mobo and a little better cpu.
June 16, 2007 2:34:40 PM

Unfortunately, Dell cases are notorious, at least in my experience, for being non-standard and I highly doubt that I could throw a new mobo in the same case. So an upgrade would most likely require a new case, mobo, CPU. If I buy a retail CPU I could use the stock fan it comes with or buy a third party cooler, but the Dell CPU fans are also non-standard, at least in terms of mobo attachment. I suppose I could try moving the rest of the components over: optical and hard drives will be fine as long as the new mobo has at least one IDE port for the opticals. However, we're now entering the next generation of mobos with the Intel 3 series and the upcoming NVidia 7 series, with DDR3 and in the latter's case, PCIe 2.0. Even if I do a "cheap" case/mobo/CPU upgrade:

Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3R mobo $139
Intel Core 2 Duo E6420 (4MB cache) $186
Antec Performance One P180B $149

That adds up to $474.

And then of course I need the GPU, which is the point of the whole thing. Say, this one:

EVGA 320-P2-N811-AR GeForce 8800GTS 320MB $266 after $20 MIR

But, I'm not sure that the 350W PSU Dell used would be sufficient to run this setup, assuming that I could even physically migrate it along with the drives and RAM. Assuming that the new mobo would take the 533MHz RAM. Assuming that having 533MHz RAM wouldn't cripple the new setup. So if all that worked, but I needed a new PSU, I could get something like:

Antec NeoHE 500 $85 on sale

Which raises my total upgrade (mobo, case, CPU, GPU, PSU) to $825 (after $20 MIR). The only parts I'd be keeping are the drives and 1GB RAM. And, my Dell still has another 16 months of next day, at home warranty. So none of that really makes sense.

I could build a whole new machine, and then upgrade the CPU in a year... but if I wait and build a Penryn machine, which is what I was planning, then DDR3 RAM will be more available, PCIe 2.0 may be around, more 1333MHz mobos will be on the market, etc. In general, the whole next gen of the market will be more mature; it's still in its infancy (or pregancy, for NVidia's 7 series) right now.
June 16, 2007 3:29:35 PM

for a game such as oblivion, having only 1GB of ram is going to be a much worse offender for performance than your cpu is... 2GB is a much more comfortable place to sit for current gaming (and with vista, 2GB is more of a minimum for having performance be smooth)... with only 1GB of ram, you better hope you have a blazing fast storage subsystem for the pagefile to make up for it... and if you get a DX10 capable gpu, youre going to want vista anyhow so you can take advantage of it eventually

regarding the cpu being at all a bottleneck for gameplay, it wont be in the practical sense... such as you want to still maintain a consistantly playable framerate (20fps min)... if youre consistantly getting below 20-30fps as your minimum, youve got a bottleneck... ...the maximum fps on the other hand, doesnt 'really' matter that much in all honesty (which again is why they were able to pair an X2 3800+ with an 8800gtx, and get superior performance to a much higher end cpu, and 8800gts gpu)... the fact that your cpu can handle smp capable games (and virtual smp in general by way of HT), should smooth game performance out some too

i would say, if you want to hold off from overspending, to just have it all be replaced soon anyhow in a half year or so... to instead invest in another 1GB memory, and a better gpu than what you have (it doesnt have to be an 8800gts 320, unless the $260 cost doesnt bother you much... though a new psu would be needed then too most likely, which is another $50-100 for a decent psu)

maybe something like an X1950 pro or 7900gs for $150 (or less) would be better idea (or even an X1950XT for $200, though at that price point, it almost makes more sense to go with the 8800GTS 320 then, so, maybe not), and another 1GB memory too for ~$50... so thats $200 - $250 for a noticably better performing temp investment, and you can continue saving up for your new system then too... as far as your psu, it 'should' be able to cope with this comparatively less power hungry upgrade as well, though not sure to be honest

also, as far as oblivion performance goes, there are all sorts of performance tweaks and mods you can download to greatly improve fps and other things such as visuals ingame (there may even be enough performance improvement through mods and tweaks to hold off on a new gpu possibly)... theyre worth looking into though if you plan on playing it... heres one site i just googled for: http://www.tessource.net/files/
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