Gaming CPU Advise please! (Older school-gaming)

Hey all,

I'm new to the forums and I thought I'd take my question to the pros. I'm an old school tech-freak and I "use" to keep up with all the hype in technology but school consumption and lost in interest due to not having money slowly swept me away from my true passions.

Anyways, that's enough about me, lets talk about my computer :P

Basically... I buily my computer a good 2-3 years ago with an aim for overall use and of course gaming. At the time all the craze was with the AMD 64+ socket 939 processors wtfpwning Intel P4 processors in gaming. I've had poor experiences with AMD in the past back in the K6*2/Duron/Athlon era. Does anyone remember picking up a retail game box and remember reading the system requirements? E.g Intel Pentium 2 500mhz + or AMD Duron/Athlon/K6*2 900mhz+ x.x... Aside from that, ignore the
past statement.

READ FROM HERE IF YOU DON'T WANT TO READ FROM THE TOP :)______________________________________________________________________________ ___________________

My current computer specs are:
Pentium 4 2.66ghz 533fsb socket 478 (Northwood)
1.5gb DDR Ram - Kingston Valueram (may turn into 2gb when I add another 512mb, and turn dual channel)
ATI x850 pro 256mb AGP (non-flashed to x850xt pe)
160gb Western Digital HD 7200rpm
350W powersupply
Windows XP sp/2

As you can see I try to make my computer as gaming-possible, possible. I plan on keeping my system for longer haul due to finnancial issues. My question is... is it worth purhasing a USED but working Pentium 4 3.0ghz northwood with HT and a 800mhz FSB? Or will it perform pretty much the same as my current cpu overclocked to 3.0ghz? I know from the technical perspective that it's FSB will only be 150 (@ 3ghz)... quad pumped to 600mhz, and there's no HT... I'm getting a pretty sweet deal for the cpu only $40 bucks for the 3.0ghz cpu. However, with a clocked 3.0ghz northwood, I could obviously o'c even more. But I need peoples opinions. I know this era of 478 was limited to gaming performance compared to AMD's lineup at the time, but I've concidered an AMD (cpu+mobo) overhaul and I think I'd run into more issues, cash being one of them, AND my powersupply, so thats out of the question.

My main thing is, I want to game and I want to get the best out of my system. Please give me advice fellow Tomshardware people :) Does anyone see any bottlenecks to my system? Also, if the switch to the new 3.0ghz cpu is made, can I use my old HSF on my current system? It's the stock one that came with the 2.66ghz, will it be sufficient? CPU temps are currently 50 degrees C, and it's a hot day. Or should I get a zalman aftermarket 478 cooler. I have plans on flashing the graphics card to get the extra 4 pipes down the line. P.S does anyone know if the one by techpoweruip is 100% safe?

Let me know people

And Thanks!!!!
16 answers Last reply
More about gaming advise please older school gaming
  1. I know your limited on budget but a x1950pro agp would breath a lot of life into your system. The cpu might be a bottleneck.

    Im not to good with the older intel so I dont want to offer you bad advice il leave that one who knows more about it than I do.

    For everyone else to help you what res is your monitor and what are your 12v rails on your power supply?
  2. Thanks for the reply, an x1950 agp was something I was considering a few weeks ago, but it's like $200 here. I actually just upgraded from a 9800xt to the x850pro a few days ago...

    My resolution is 1680 x 1050
    and the powersupply is a no name 350w... kingwingsong? lol
  3. so many reads but no replies, please I could use some feedback regarding the matter whether it is worth it or not

    thanks! in advance
  4. You will see an increase in speed, but bottle neck is the video card, abit has a bios driver for gaming called "GAT"., it pretty much puts your motherboard in hyper drive, hear is a link on it ...... son has a 3.0 w/o ht and 2 gig of ram and a nvidia agp 7800 and it runs just about all games at max res. hope this helps...... but when you ask if its worth it or not? that is really up to you. But like alot will say is... agp is a dead end. but im using one and very happy with it. but some time down the road i will have to up grade to pci-x and socket 775 to play the latest and greatest, like crsis and UT3 due in november. good luck on you decision.
  5. i think what you should do is upgrade to a 7600gt if not the 1950pro or xt. i do suggest replacing the powersupply however. here are a couple of suggestions.

    i dont think that spending for a new processor is worth it at all. to gain the few hundred mhz just try ur hand at overclocking. ur best bet is to upgrade to a 7600gt which is a very solid performer and a new psu so everything doesnt fall apart. hope this helps.
  6. your main problem is going to be upgradability in general. agp is a dead end compared to pci-e, and will cost more compared to an equal performing pcie gpu.

    even though you are limited on funds, if you could scrape enough together for a x1950, and quality psu for stability, that will go a long way to better gaming performance

    the cpu and even memory amount should be upgraded, but theyre not 'quite' as important compared to the impact a better gpu will make under the majority of circumstances for games. even a comparatively lowly s462 athlon xp cpu is still adequate for gaming, when paired with a higher end gpu, as most of the load is carried by the gpu during gaming anyhow in most cases.
  7. 400MHz effective FSB P4s are crap. 533's are so so, while 800MHz P4s are ok. As long as your motherboard can handle it, I vote you buy the P4. Not only do you gain almost 500MHz without overclocking, but you gain the faster effective FSB and the hyperthreading. Seeing as you're only spending $40 to get all this, just do it.

    As for the people suggesting better video cards, I vote to wait on that. You just bought the x850, which btw is about as fast as the 7600GT. The x1950pro would be faster, but not by much. The only thing you gain by getting a 7600GT/x1950pro is SM3, which isn't a 100% must have yet.

    Before upgrading the video again, I would see about getting the memory back in dual channel. 2GBs of memory in dual channel mode will help that P4 do its best in gaming. And ofcourse, you do need to find a bigger better PSU. Don't worry to much about buying one, a quality 500W PSU will last through several builds.

    Last, oddly enough I don't remember what you were talking about. I remember needing a 450MHz K6-2/3 while a 350/400MHz P2 would do, but once the athlon came out there wasn't really a difference in chips anymore. The Athlons were faster and pretty much stayed that way until the P4 crossed 3GHz.

    Thanks everyone for the input on what I should do, but a new problem has surfaced... :(

    I picked up a ram stick today to get my system running back in dual channel (512mb x 4) and the memory is showing in cpu-z as dual channel and all. When I tried loading Half life : Lost Coast to run a video stress test, while it was loading my computer restarted. Since then, I tried the stress test again, it worked. Headed out to dinner and when I came back, the computer was in the middle of loading up Windows!!!!!!!!

    Based on what I know, I think that adding that extra stick of memory is working my power supply harder... which is causing these restarts underload... or can the memory itself be bad, causing this?

    please lend me your input guys. Greatly appreciated
  9. Does it blue screen at all? Is it set to automatically reboot upon error? (if it is, turn that "feature" off.) Are there any events in the event viewer?
  10. Hey 4745454b, thanks for the response

    sometimes when it restarts, right past the welcome screen it gives me a blue screen with a bunch of binary.... it then restarts again by itself too quickly for me to read anything. After this it will restart and work... but restart again when the system is underload.
  11. Swap the new and old RAM around. Your new RAM is probably inferior to your original RAM (or vice versa) and the computer is attempting to run it all at the faster timings.
  12. I think it's pretty unlikely that it's the power supply. Have you run memtest yet? Probably bad memory or a glitchy motherboard/memory configuration. Especially if the memory you are trying to run in dual channel isn't exactly the same type of memory as your old memory, i.e. same speed/timings/chipset. I've even seen Kingston Value RAM use different chipset manufacturers on the same model RAM.

    Personally, I wouldn't bother upgrading the processor or anything in your system. You've pretty much pushed what you can plug into your socket 478 motherboard as far as you can go. Any upgrade would yield only marginal improvements, and you risk breaking something. Better off saving your money for a completely new system base.
  13. WOW. Sad noone address the underlying problem, the resolution, "My resolution is 1680 x 1050". That really pushes the majority of video cards to the limit. del2=722&chart=297
    The chart will be a little misleading, one, it does have the exact resolution your at, 1600 by 1200 is fairly close. and 2 it's using 8x AF and max details at that resolution. And last, it's using an extremely high-end x6800 cpu. But it does give you some idea about your system.
    Changing the cpu really won't make a difference since the bottleneck is the video card NOT the cpu. To use such a high resolution, you really need something much more powerful (video card and a cpu to keep up with it). You should consider upgrading or at least get a monitor to drop down the resolution to 1024 by 768 (far more playable for that system).
    As for the blue screen of death, can be a hardware or software failure, if you're overclocking, return it back to standard settings and try again, if no error, you know what created it.
  14. hey all,

    thanks all for the inquiries but moocow was correct and it was the memory issue. despite all being the same kingston valueram it was a different make of memory chips and that caused the problems.

    I've decided to sell my system to a friend for cheap, and i at the moment deciding on what things to include... if you want to give me some ideas (please!) im really looking to make a budget computer.

  15. matharmony said:
    hey all,

    thanks all for the inquiries but moocow was correct and it was the memory issue. despite all being the same kingston valueram it was a different make of memory chips and that caused the problems.

    I've decided to sell my system to a friend for cheap, and i at the moment deciding on what things to include... if you want to give me some ideas (please!) im really looking to make a budget computer.


    Well a budget Processor to look into would be the core2duo e4300 or e4400. The Fry's by me just had a promotional deal where the e4300 was only $79.99. Usually its around $120. Its a very over-clockable core2 for cheap. Just my suggestion. I was planning on buying it at that low price but they had just ran out of them when i got there. Was gonna use that to hold me off until I got my G0 quad.
  16. What your bottleneck is depends on what games you are playing. I have some games made around 2000 or earlier that seem to rely entirely on the cpu, not making use of large amounts of memory or my fancy graphics cards.
    In fact, my grahics cards have never outperformed even the crappiest onboard graphics with some older games. It is all about the cpu with some of these older games because todays onboard graphics are good enough to take care of the graphics side of things.

    Anyhow, for games like 3 years old or newer, believe it or not what screws you is your monitor, as computertech eluded to above.
    At 1680x1050, I'm guessing you have a LCD widescreen and you don't really have good options to lower resolution in order to play newer games faster.
    Yeah, there are fixes for non-widescreen games and yes you can lower resolution, but LCD's use scaling to lower resolution which rarely looks any good at all.

    But CRT's display whatever resolution perfectly. And they would allow you, for example, to play newer games much faster than you can now just because you can simply lower the resolution to something like 1156x864, which still can give you pretty good graphics but takes a load off of your cpu and graphics card, especially the graphics card.

    With LCD's, it is simply just not as easy or as clean looking to lower resolution. Not very practical.
    So one really good fix for you to play your games better is to simply get a CRT monitor. And you can buy decent CRT's on ebay or wheverever for dirt cheap. Get like a 19" that can do 1600x1200 for the times your hardware allows you to play that high, but then of course you can also play at lower resolutions that look great (compared to LCD's). You just set a game to run at X resolution and you never have to worry about messing with that setting again.

    These 1680x1050 or larger resolution monitors really are made for people that have decent capable graphics card. I've known people that got these big LCD's only to learn that not only did they have rotten performance on games now, but that their graphics card would even let them set the LCD to 1680x1050 at all. They are always scaled down to a lower res, which looks awful. And their only solution is to scrape more money together for a good graphics card.

    So for those reasons, I say that technically your bottleneck is your monitor. And that is bottlenecked because of your gpu. Now you obviously can get a really cheap gpu to at least reach your native resolution, but being able to play recent games on it is a whole other story. And that story sounds like your story.

    There is two ways you can go. If you are simply broke, like I often am, your best bet is to get a good 19" CRT, which I've seen on ebay for like $40. So $40 can cure a lot of your issues.
    But you mentioned above you sold your computer to your friend. Did you sell the monitor too? If not, you'll still have this same issue you need to keep in mind when building your new budget system.

    I say go ahead and get at least a gig of cheap ram, go ahead and get a cheap cpu. Yeah, if you can get an e4300 for $80 and get a good OC on that sucker, then that $80 cpu turns into a much more valuable and powerful one. Not to mention that recent games do support dual core which will also help your performance.

    With the RAM and cpu, you haven't spent much at all if you did what was mentioned above.
    And this is good because you can now put your main focus on the gpu, which is extra important if you keep your LCD.
    With the LCD, the one thing you want to look for in a gpu is memory. At 1680x1050, you need lots of memory.

    If you can, get a gpu that has at least 256mb of RAM. The cheaper 8800GTS models are 320mb, which if you can afford you would be in great shape.
    Other specs are important too, but I say buy a somewhat new card that has the most video RAM in your price range.
    If you do decide to get or use a CRT, you still want lots of RAM to play at 1600x1200, but it isn't quite as important since you can easily lower resolution.

    In this case you can lean more toward getting a good all around card, with good speeds and perhaps something somewhat new. While RAM amount would still be pretty important, it isn't as important. For example, with a CRT and running at 1156x864, even something like a 6600gt with 128mb of DDR3 will give you a good gaming experience, and it is a fast card for your buck.
    Plus you don't need a 400+ watt power supply with that card either. I ran mine fine a couple years back with just a crappy 300 watt supply.
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