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GeForce 8800 GT overkill for this 2005 rig ?

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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November 9, 2007 11:51:26 AM

Hello,

This is my current rig:
-AMD Athlon64 3200+ (2 GHz) OC to 2.4 GHz with Scythe KAMA HSF
-ABIT AN8 Ultra nForce 4 Ultra Socket 939
-2x512 MB Geil DDR400 in Dual channel @ stock 400 MHz (set at 333 in BIOS)
-Gigabyte NX66128-DP2 GeForce 6600 128 MB 450/1000 @ 510/1130 (more about this one later...)
-LG 1932P 19'' LCD 1280x1024 @ 60 Hz
-Samsung SP2504C 250 GB SATA 3Gb/s 7200 RPM 8 MB buffer NCQ
-Samsung SP1213N 120 GB ATA133 7200 RPM 8 MB buffer
-Creative Audigy2 ZS

+ other stuff. PSU intentionally ommited, to be replaced anyway. Running XP SP2 for now, but will probably go dual booting with Vista 32 bit soon (IIRC, this rig got a 4.5 score in Vista and ran it pretty good, quite fast actually, but then again, it was a clean install, without AV, firewall and all the rest).

Up until now, this rig was both an HTPC AND a gaming rig, being pretty good at both, given the tight budget and the timeframe of the build (August 2005).

As a HTPC, the ABIT MB, with its uGuru BIOS & Windows software, allows for a very quiet operation despite the total of 6 fans, all - including PSU & video card with aftermarket fans connected to the MB fan headers - being fully monitored & controlled via uGuru (undervolted during idling & normal operation, running up to full 12 V RPM depending on load & temps).

As a gaming rig, the catch is the fact that the apparent vanilla GeForce 6600 from Gigabyte is in fact an underclocked 6600 GT, running the same graphics core at 450 MHz as opposed to the 500 MHz on the GT, while the VRAM is the same Samsung GDDR3 2ns 128 GB @ 1000 MHz (2x500) as on the GT. I am still quite proud of being able to snatch this particular "GT" for 35 bucks less than a "real" GT ;-) As mentioned, this card is now @ 510 MHz core / 1130 MHz VRAM (should get higher, but not with the current cooling).

I said "up until now" because this rig handled pretty much all games thrown at it in the first year and a half with max settings at first, then with some on medium and so on. It even played FarCry on max with HDR & 8xAF in 1024x768 on my old CRT! I skipped Bioshock, STALKER & some newer titles (as in not even trying to run them), with the last title played being Half-Life 2 Ep. 2 (no HDR here though, even if Lost Coast was playable with it turned on).

And then it came Crysis SP DEMO. Let's just say that it would be "playable" - and even with some settings on Medium or High - only if 800x600 would qualify as such on a 1280x1024 LCD panel. Well, at least I saw, @ a couple of FPS ;-) what it would look like with all settings on High (DX9 mode). Pretty badass !

Damn, this post got this long and I didn't even get to asking you guys for an opinion on my current dilemma. Anyway, here is the thing: I would love to play Crysis (and those other recent titles I missed) at max settings on a new rig, but this is not possible ATM, for two reasons: tight budget (again) and non-existing hardware powerfull enough to run Crysis in DX10 mode, all settings Very High. So the new rig option is gonna have to wait (I think Nehalem with whatever graphics cards available then should do the trick). Thus, I only have one shot left: the 8800 GT. True, even with the high end quads and high performance memory in 4 Gigs configurations, the 8800 GT only pulls 35 FPS @ 1280x1024 (my gaming resolution) in DX9 with High settings in Crysis. But then again, the real bottleneck seems to be the video card, not the CPU or system memory. I know the final version of the game may show some improvement over the demo in this regard, but still, I would like to know your opinion: is my current configuration going to be a major bottleneck for a 8800 GT at 1280x1024? Do you guys think I will be able to reach those 35 FPS, or at least 30, in Crysis DX9 all High with this card in my current system (a new PSU with PCIe connector would also be needed). Would this upgrade be worth 300 bucks now (200-250 for the 8800 GT + the rest on a decent PSU - I'm thinking the likes of Corsair 450 VX), or should I wait 1 more year and build a new rig around Christmas 2008? I'm guessing if it is enough to play Crysis on High, it would also play upcoming titles like NFS ProStreet, BlackSite Area 51 etc. with medium to high image quality. Also, the added noise is another factor to consider; I will have to find a card that will either allow speed control for the fan via own driver/software, or - like I do now - connect its fan to a motherboard fan header.

Well, this is it. I'm sorry it ended up such a long post. I can't wait to hear your opinions on this.

Thanks.

P.S. I do not intend to try upgrading other components in this rig also, such as CPU or memory. Being on S939, it would cost me more than a new system at this point :-(



November 9, 2007 11:59:33 AM

In my honest opinion, the 8800GT would be bottlenecked by your CPU. <--- my response is pretty anti-climactic after such a long post.

While I haven't really looked at any benchies myself, I would suggest that you try to find some that have lower end components in it. I think the results will most likely show that your frame rates would be virtually un-playable.

-Adam
November 9, 2007 12:13:17 PM

Yeah, bottlenecked by the CPU. You're going to be severely disappointed if you pop an 8800 in your system. It'll probably run 1-2% faster than your 6600 and let you run things at higher res. That's about it.

Sadly, I don't see many options for you that would drastically increase your speed besides a system upgrade. If you get a new CPU, you need a new MOBO. The new MOBO supports the 240 PIN DDR2 modules of RAM, so you need new RAM as well. :(  You really need to get a Dual Core to experience the latest VGA cards to their fullest.
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November 9, 2007 12:25:07 PM

Performance could probably be increased if you could find a second hand dual core CPU like a 4800 x 2 but it would have to be on the cheap to be worth it.
November 9, 2007 2:55:23 PM

Thank you all for your replies.

@ aadamszc: yeah, some benches with the 8800 GT on older platforms would be great, unfortunately, couldn't find any so far...

@ rgeist554: agree, but like I said, I would be more inclined to postpone building a new rig for about a year, until it will hopefully be able to at least play Crysis in all its glory (DX10 all Very High at a minimum of 30 FPS), while, like I said in the P.S., I don't want to upgrade other components in my current rig either, because frankly, latest games aside, is still doing pretty well.

@ fatcat: yes, I thought about it even before this "crysis", but upgrading only the CPU with e.g. an 4800 X2 wouldn't bring major improvements to the global system performance, not enough to justify the costs anyway, since I can't seem to find a really cheap one. Besides, upgrading just to this 8800 GT + PSU is already costly enough to add more bucks to it.

@ einstein4pres: while it would certainly help with that 2nd core in games like Crysis, that 4200+ X2 is slower than my old Venice in single threaded applications at stock speed. Of course, some OC would help. But like I said, I would like to limit the investment at 300 bucks.

Well, from your responses so far, it looks like upgrading just the video card won't be enough for my old rig *sigh*

I'm still hoping to hear from someone who actually jumped from a 6600 GT or similar to this 8800 GT beast, or different opinions than those above.

Cheers
November 9, 2007 3:24:23 PM

rgeist554 said:
Yeah, bottlenecked by the CPU. You're going to be severely disappointed if you pop an 8800 in your system. It'll probably run 1-2% faster than your 6600 and let you run things at higher res. That's about it.

Sadly, I don't see many options for you that would drastically increase your speed besides a system upgrade. If you get a new CPU, you need a new MOBO. The new MOBO supports the 240 PIN DDR2 modules of RAM, so you need new RAM as well. :(  You really need to get a Dual Core to experience the latest VGA cards to their fullest.

You obviously don't understand how a CPU bottleneck works. I don't think I could find a case where his performance wouldn't improve drastically. Games are just starting to take advantage of dual core CPUs, and in the case of Crysis, the game would likely be unplayable even with a Q6600 on the quality he wishes to play. Still, he would be better off buying one of those cheap socket 939 chips from newegg with the 8800GT.
November 9, 2007 4:46:32 PM

Go with the X2 4200 and the 8800GT
November 16, 2007 7:13:49 AM

Thank you all for your suggestions. If I will make the jump to the 8800 GT (later in December), I will post the results here.
November 16, 2007 10:19:05 AM

I'm quite sure that the cpu will be your limitation, just like everyone else.
I tried oc'ing my 8800gtx from 575/900 to 617/940 and it didn't improve fps by a single frame (loading the same savegame), monitored using fraps.
When I upped the e6600 from 333x9 to 380x9 however I saw a major improvement, so even with decent '2007' hardware it's hard to fully use the graphics card if the cpu isn't fast enough. I doubt the upgrade would truely be worth it without getting your hands on an opteron 170 or x2 4600 or so first.

ps. if your psu is good enough, you may be able to attach the pcie power using 2 molex jacks, saving yourself the $100 you need for a new used cpu.

ps. I'd take the cheap hx model psu if I were you (modular cables, not much more expensive)
!