Lower processor, bigger video card or vice versa?

I'm going to be updating my current computer.... or more exactly, completely overhauling it.

I would like to hear people's thoughts on processor vs bigger ram video cards.

I've set myself to buy an 8800gts... but with the price differential between the 320 and the 640, it leaves me with an issue.

smaller processor, like an amd x2 - 4400, with the larger 640.....
bigger processor, like an amd x2 - 6000, with the 320.....

What would any of you do *assuming you can't do both or I would :kaola: * any opinions would be appreciated
33 answers Last reply
More about lower processor bigger video card vice versa
  1. In general, for gaming GPU > CPU. However, VRAM is not nearly as important as you would be led to believe. For example, the choice between a 512MB 7600gt and a 256MB 7900gs would go to the 7900 hands down.

    That being said, the 320MB 8800gts is a strange beast. In most games it's absolutely great, providing 60+fps on the highest settings. In others it can suck hard. World in Conflict is an example (the demo at least). Performance will be great and then out of nowhere it drops to unplayable levels. It's a driver level memory management issue where it doesn't clear unneeded textures properly, causing the system to resort to its main RAM, killing frame rates. This has been acknowledged by Nvidia and they have stated that a fix should be out "late August to mid September," but only for dx9. A dx10 fix may come later.

    Unfortunately this problem is present on all 8800 series cards (there have been claims that it exists on 7 and 6 series cards as well), but the 320MB version suffers most, obviously because it has less room for error than its big brothers with double or more the VRAM.

    I don't mean to scare you into not buying an 8800, I have a 320MB eVGA one right now and for the most part it's awesome. I just want to provide the reason why I would recommend that you go with a 4400+ and the 640MB 8800gts rather than option B ;)
  2. Yeah, I have been leaning towards the bigger card and lesser processor, but I like to hear with others have to say.

    I do keep up on most hardware, or at least I try, didn't realize though that the 8800s had an issue like that. The 2 games I am planning on picking up and using with the new system with be Call of duty 4, and UT3. I'll probably replay bioshock too, get a better experience than with my current x850.

    I guess I can always look at it this way, processors will drop quick enough, can always get a mobo that will take a 6000, but just buy a x2 4400...... anything is better than the ole 2800+ i have, heh.
  3. Voting for option A: 4400 and a 8800gts 640mb, if I had to pick between the two options. Hopefully you have a good enough PSU to power it, because I'd hate to hear that your new setup failed and took out other parts because of a weak PSU.
  4. http://www.zipzoomfly.com/jsp/ProductDetail.jsp?ProductCode=10006428
    thats the one someone pointed to me to use... sadly... it doesnt have specs on the site..... and looking back it was you luny :p you said good for up to a 8800gtx.... so as long as thats still valid with a 640mb, guess im good to go. :)

    btw, I only use 1 dvd drive, 2 sata HDs.
  5. 8800GTS 640, X2 4400 and that psu most definetly!
    get a $10.00 rebate too


    Here are your specs also: 33amps

  6. If your going with the 8800 GTS640 have you condisdered the HD 2900xt? Virtually the same price, with the new driver (just yesterday) runs closer to the GTX.
  7. x2 3800+ and 2900XT
  8. joleme said:
    thats the one someone pointed to me to use... sadly... it doesnt have specs on the site..... and looking back it was you luny :p you said good for up to a 8800gtx.... so as long as thats still valid with a 640mb, guess im good to go. :)

    btw, I only use 1 dvd drive, 2 sata HDs.

    Yes, I'm sure I did say that it's good for a 8800GTX. Here's the link to see the 33 amps on the 12V rail.
    For the $, you won't be dissatisfied!
    And if you want to wait for $45 MIR, here is the screaming deal on a PSU that I can find in this price range. $60 shipped!!!
    Antec NeoPower NeoHE 550 ATX12V 550W Power Supply 100 - 240 V UL, CUL, TUV, CE, FCC, CCC, CB, C-tick - Retail
  9. There are several things you need to consider. First, what type of game are you playing? FPS's tend to need highend video cards to render the screens fast enough. RTS's on the other hand aren't "twitch finger" games, and need more CPU power to handle the movements of 150+ units. So the type of game that you play should factor in to what you need to buy. The second thing to consider is the resolution that you play at. If you have an older LCD, or one with a low native resolution, then you don't need a massive video card. If the biggest you play at is 1280x1024 or 1440x900, then the 8800GTS 320MB is more then enough. You don't need a 640MB card or the 2900XT. (unless you want to play with ultra settings, which require 512MBs of vram.)

    Without know the answers to these questions, its hard for me to suggest what to get. I can assume that you probably don't have a massive screen, so the 320MB card is probably enough. Getting the 6000+ and that card is probably better then the 4400+ and the 640MB. (assuming no overclocking involved)
  10. You need more ram on your gpu for texture heavy games, like graw 2, so if you want to run everything on full get the 640 mb.

    Oh and HD2900.... Much nicer card. catalyst 7.9 yesterday, this time it actually supports the hd2900.
  11. I bought a C2D 6400 and a 8800GTS 320 factory oc'ed.
    I play in 1280x1024 as its my screens native res.
    And for now the only game that have decreased my settings below max is GRAW2(cant remember most games though, short memory).
    But then it runs completely smoothly, i can manually turn some eyecandy up and still be smooth.

    Ive played many games on ultra high textures (Doom3, not sure its a good measurement) so i dont know why people tell me 320MB isn't enough.
    Maybe cause my oc makes it fast enough to handle it?
    Im still unsure about what all the 8800GTS 640 and HD2900xt owners are saying my card is supposed to perform like.

    So i guess to be sure buy bigger and better or if your more into price/performance buy the little "lesser".
    Bigger cpu for RTS.
    Bigger gpu for FPS.
    Big HD for RPG. ;)
  12. bigger GPU and you can get better cpu later on. You will enjoy better AA and or higher resolutions now with the 640GTS.
  13. I'll second the question... what do you want it for?
  14. If you want better gaming, go for the better video card.

    If you want better everything else, go for the faster CPU.
  15. well, I do a lot of things. some RTS, some FPS. The reason I'm stuck upgrading now is because apparently I didn't stay up to date on shader models and such. finding out that I couldn't play bioshock was a bit annoying. Luckily the community released that patch and I was able to play through error free.

    Also, to those that say the HD2900 is better. lowest I can find is $390. While not much more than a 640 8800, its a bit more than a 320. I've been annoyed that ATI dropped the ball with the x850 card I have, the whole not supporting sm3 bit. Is the HD2900 a good buy for the future as well?

    I use my computer for a lot of stuff. So I guess you could just say average, but probably more action/fps games than RTS if I had to say on the average. Also, there is no such thing as future proofing a computer, but I would like to have a card that will at least get the job done for at least a year. * won't cry if at the end of the year its not playing at 60fps smooth, currently I get 5-30 so anything is better than this*

    I do watch movies on my computer, but even now they run fine, cept when im running it to the TV for my gf to watch something while Im checking out websites.
  16. While FPS do require a good graphics card to keeps the frames up, they don't require much vram. RPG's on the other hand, because of the environment, do require more vram. For example, I can play the demo of bioshock on the highest settings as well as bf2 and bf2142 (including AA maxed out). What I can't play at high res is Neverwinter nights 2. Because of the environment detail, my card bogs down a bit. I say a bit because I am only gaming at 1280 X 1024. When I upgrade my monitor later to a 1680 X 1050, I will start to see some problems because of the memory. Go to THG's website and look at the interactive Graphics card charts. Check out the different gaming benchmarks at different resolutions. The most noticable difference will be in obvlion where the frames drop down considerably over 1600 X 1200. If you game at or above 1600 X 1200, get the 640 card. If you are not going to upgrade you monitor any time soon, then the 320 will be just fine and you will benefit from the higher processor more.

    See my Sig so you can relate my settings to my rig.

    BTW, if you are not married to AMD? perhaps a 4400 intel and overclock would be better. I know it's $40 more than the 4400, but may you could cut some cost elsewhere on your rig. Post everything you are buying and maybe we can critique it.

    P.S. when looking at the price for the E4400 i found this review:

    Pros: Easily overclocked to 2.8MHZ on stock..low voltages 1.25V on my P35-DS3R

    Cons: Dont know if its my case or not but runs 61C on Prime95 (AC Freezer 7 Pro) on those low Voltages. I think I can easily get to 3MHZ but the more voltage needed would make it hotter than I would like.
  17. well, the monitor I currently have is a 1440x900 native. I don't play any RPGs atm, but I'm waiting to find another I like. Said goodbye to Lagforge on WoW a few years ago, never went back.

    I've never run at 1440x900 So I don't know if I've been missing much, but I would like to be able to actually use my native resolution for a change and not suffer for it.

    Im not married to an AMD, but even though I have built a lot of PCs over the years, I've never been much of one to OC. I've never fried anything, but I don't have the money to replace it if I did. Better to be safe than sorry I guess.

    then again, that may mean a 640 will be a little less :)

    Sad part is, I doubt I'll have the money together until late october, by then all this great info you guys gave me will probably be old and different prices for newer stuff. Ah well, such is the life of the computer user.
  18. I hate when edit doesnt work, 640 part should be last :p
  19. If your not going to buy in late October, please wait until the 8700's come out sometime in Nov. I'm sure it will make things interesting :).
  20. how so? 8700s meaning cards slower than the 8800s? i know numbers are practically meaningless, so I'll just ask you to explain please :)
  21. and I'll say, I dont have any problem buying an 8800 640.... if Im going to be able to play game from 08-09.... I just dont want this whole shader model thing to happen to me again. I dont want to buy X game in late 08 and see a "not compatible with 8800cards or less.... :p
  22. Okay, I was just stating that if your going to wait until late October, to just wait a few weeks and see if your card will come down in price, or if the 8700's will have any different options that the 8800's don't. The 8800's have been out for almost a year and haven't had any hardware changes (not that I've read anywhere, correct me if I'm wrong please). If your buying today, than get the 8800gts and you'll won't be upset. It's going to be interesting what will bring in November timeframe. I know there is supposed to be a dx10.1 update, but not sure if it's going to affect any of the current cards or not. I don't know, just what I've read on a few forums. I can't seem to find any links right at this moment (I'm at work :( ).
  23. of the options you gave me i would go for the 8800gts 640mb so you could play the fps and graphics intense games at higher resolutions.

    you can always wait until the cpus come down, but you probably want to play games now.

    games are just better at higher resolutions
    if you play at 1024x768 then go to 1600x1200 on the same the game, it would be like playing an entirely different game. It's awesome.
  24. DX10.1 will break all current DX10 cards. None of them are DX10.1 compatible. The only cards that I know of that will be DX10.1 compatible is the 2400/2600 refreash cards. (rumored to be the 2500/2650) These cards are supposed to move from 65nm to 55nm, and bring in DX10.1 support. I don't know if the G92/8700GTS will support DX10.1 or not.

    I also don't know how well 10.1 will be adopted. People supporting DX10 is a given, 10.1 I'm not so sure. Seeing the pace of DX10 games coming out, I'm not even sure that 10.1games will be here even one year from now. Being forced to buy 10.1 games is probably a very "long" time away.

    If you can afford it, get the 8800GTS/GTX. (or if your money allows, the 2900XT.) If money is tight and you can't spend that much, get the x1950pro/xt. For your budgeted dollars, there aren't any better cards.
  25. Yeah, as much as I'd like to wait and see about the 10.1 cards. If I can get the money together, I'd rather just get the 8800gts 640 now. I know 10.1 is going to come around sooner or later, but I'll be a bit miffed if companies start churning out 10.1 or even 10.0 only games. The whole bioshock thing still irks me, but I can't see this happening again next year and only supporting 10+.

    I'll just be happy if I can play games for 1-2 years, heck, maybe I'll even take the 15 day trial for WOW and see how it looks and actually have my graphics options all up. I also plan on goin back through bioshock.

    Heres to hoping for some extra cashflow, :)
  26. If you are going to wait until october to buy anyways, be sure to get a mobo that supports PCIe 2.0 I think they will be out by then. That way you can guarantee that you can upgrade to a better card a couple of years down the road.

    Also remember that the 640 has no more power than the 320, just more ram. If you are only gaming at 1440, i would get the 320 and the better processor now and look to upgrade your Graphics card in a year.
    That should hold you for a while.
  27. Hey, check out the latest article on THG:


    Get this intel chip instead of the intel. It is the same price as the AMD chip and this review shows that it is equal to the E6850. And all of this was done with the stock cooler!!! You can't beat that.
  28. so how does that OCed chip compare to a 4400 or 6000, call me lazy in looking up intel to amd comparisons
  29. I will be better then both of them. the review on THG says that it is equal to about the e6750 to e6850. Go to the Interactive CPU charts and select the e6750 and the AMD chips that you are curious about and check out the performance differernces. It gives you a whole range of benchmarks.
  30. jedi940 said:
    I will be better then both of them. the review on THG says that it is equal to about the e6750 to e6850. Go to the Interactive CPU charts and select the e6750 and the AMD chips that you are curious about and check out the performance differernces. It gives you a whole range of benchmarks.

    I'll definately have to think about it. The saved cash could be nice, but I am just hesitant to overclock things.
  31. Well, if you don't overclock, then the chip isn't worth it. The 4400 would be way better and the 6000 would be better still. However, these days, intel has made overclocking so easy, it is hard not to. Many of the chips can be overclocked by 1GHz and still run at the stock voltage. If you are not going to overclock, stick with AMD. However if you decide you might want to, there are numerous guides on the forums on how to overclock the Core 2 Duos. The only requirement for overclocking is to have a good motherboard with good overclocking options. Any Gigabyte or Asus board will usually do. What is your budget for the upgrading. I will try to suggest a good Mobo.
  32. I'm not totally sure atm.

    Im thinking oct 15ish I'll have around $700 to upgrade.

    Really looking at getting the 8800gts 640mb vid card.
    2 gigs of ram
    gonna be getting a new case for it all.

    I know HOW to OC I guess, just a little wary of it. What I'm not really up to date with is the voltages, and that link you gave said something about having to mess with the RAM voltages too. Last thing I want to do is zap my ram and cpu, heh. :)
  33. Well, some ram you have to up the voltage anyways. My corsair is spec'd at 4-4-4-12 at 2.1V but the computer set it by default at 5-5-5-15 at 1.9v. I had to manually adjust the voltage for it. However, the ram is supposed to run that voltage anyway. The only way you would need to change that voltage is if you are overclocking the ram too. What you do when you overclock is set the multiplier for the ram really low. My ds3 has a lowest setting of 2 which means that my ram will run at twice the FSB. The default FSB for intel chips is 266 so with 2 as the multiplier, the RAM would run at 533. This means that you can go all the way up to 400MHz on the FSB before you ram will even run at it's rated 800MHz speed. You can set the memory multiplier to different values so you would just pick the one that is closest to 800MHz without going over. Then you are guaranteed no to have to increase the voltage over the default. Another route you could go, if you want to overclock the RAM slightly but not increase the voltage is to relax the timings. A RAM module that is rated at 4-4-4-12 @ 2.1 volts @ 800MHz will probably run at 5-5-5-15 @ 2.1v @ 900MHZ. You just have to experiment to see what is stable.

    In addition, most intel chips can hit 3GHz on their stock voltage anyways.
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