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Which would bottleneck, CPU or GPU? (graphics card rec)

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Last response: in Graphics Cards
November 12, 2007 9:26:34 PM

I write this here because I'm interested in buying a new card this week (maybe next). I'm interested particularly with the HD2600 XT or 8600, with a gander on the HD2900 GT (there is one) or 8800 GT. My issue is not so much the GPU than it is the CPU though. I remember there being a post somewhere on here that a user's issue was not his GPU but CPU, since it was bottle-necking the rest of the system.

I have P4 (presumably Prescott) 3.2 GHz CPU that I got three years ago. The mobo I'm using (Intel 925X chipset) does not support Pentium D. I could presumably upgrade to a Cedar Mill variant, but really, what's the point? (and no, I don't intend to spend $500+ replacing the mobo, CPU, RAM, cooling equipment, power supply, and chassis just so I can upgrade my graphics card. Money better spent on equipment I need for work)

Would the cards I mentioned be bottlenecked by the CPU? And if so, should I aim for a previous-gen card (like an X1950 or 7900)?

(Oh, and for those wondering, I'm currently using an ATI Radeon X800 XT)

More about : bottleneck cpu gpu graphics card rec

November 12, 2007 10:10:32 PM

upgrade the cpu and mobo, then save for gfx
a b U Graphics card
November 12, 2007 10:25:51 PM

I completely disagree with the post above. He is probably thinking AGP, which I'd still say grab a $112 HD2600XT.

Anyway, The P4 3.2GHz meets the requirements for any game out there and is without question good enough to warrant a $100-120 card like the X1950 pro, HD2600XT, 8600GTS, or 7900GS. Generation has nothing to do with it though as the X1950 pro is the highest overall performer of this group. Your card isn't bad(I have a couple in AGP), but it is not supported in some newer games.

Anyway, if you are in the USA, I'd suggest a X1950 pro, 8600GTS, or HD2600XT. I leave out the 7900GS on purpose as I think it's taking too much of a beating in some new big titles to recommend vs these others. (You want links, just ask.) If you like to use FSAA, leave out the HD2600XT.

The card I suggest : $113 AR + shipping for a quiet overclocked ice Q X1950 pro: (check power supple 12v rail close to 30 amp and if you can have a dual slot cooler)

The HD2600XT was a better deal a couple weeks ago than now bundled with the valve black box for $100. 8600GTS also worth considering. If your power supply has a max of say 25 amps on the 12v, then these two would be better than the X1950 pro which needs a bit more.

BTW, what games do you play or hope to play?
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November 12, 2007 11:27:39 PM

I actually have a PCI Express mobo (it was just beginning to be manufactured back then). Anywho...

Thanks for the input. Have any thoughts on the other two I mentioned (the 2900 GT and 8800 GT), especially in regards to FSAA?

As for games, the last game I purchased that needed the graphics was Oblivion a few months after it came out (last game I purchased was Darwinia a few months ago, but you know how the graphics are on that). I intend to purchase both the Orange Box and BioShock sometime in the next few weeks (the latter being the reason I wanted to upgrade), with Spore prolly being my next purchase in terms of needing the power (unless Multiwinia comes out after that, which it'll then be the next purchase, period).
a b U Graphics card
November 13, 2007 12:59:27 AM

Yeah, I knew it was pci-e by the chipset you listed. You aren't in bad shape.

The 2900GT is not worth $170 and can not beat the $113 X1950 pro I linked to. Firingsquads 8800GT preview has reference clocked 1950 pro and 2900GT in it and they are equal, both winning one game each and even in the rest. The 8800GT is in a whole new league compared to any of these mentioned cards. If you play at high resolution, and/or usually want to use FSAA, it may be worth it too you. Otherwise that ice Q X1950 pro is less than half the price.

Ornage Box episode 2 with fsaa:

Notice the X1950 pro does very well in this game. With FSAA it's way above the 2600XT (about equal without fsaa), well above the 8600GTS and 2900GT, and crushes the 7900GT(odd just how low it scored). But at high resolution, the 8800GT shows it's power vs the X1950 pro.

But take a more GPU demanding game like COD4, and you see the X1950 pro, 8600GTS, and HD2900GT about equal, with the 8800GT WAY ahead, and the 7900GT and the HD2600XT falling behind. Again, the HD2600XT struggles with fsaa bigtime, the hit when you enable it is often HUGE.

Anyway, unfortuneatly, Crysis, UT3, and Bioshock don't have all these cards tested for comparison. But it's the only HD2900GT results I've seen.
a b U Graphics card
November 13, 2007 1:38:14 AM

That's an XP2500+ though, well below a P4 3.2GHz. An XP3200+ is about like a P4 2.8C in gaming. A64 3200+ > P4 3.2GHz > XP 3200+.

Anyway, the A64 3400+ is ahead of his system though in part 2 of Cleeve's review. This one compares the two setups and shows how the X1950 pro stretches it's lead when moving to a better system than the 2500+. I would guess he would be right in the middle of the two or leaning toward the A64 side, removing alot of the cpu bottleneck.

Take a look at need for speed carbon: Under the high details the 7600GT and 7800GS are the bottleneck performing the same on the xp 2500+ and A64 3400+. But the X1950 pro was bottlenecked by the Xp2500+ and picked up another 8 fps with the faster cpu.
November 13, 2007 5:41:13 AM

Thanks for your help. It's really appreciated. I hope it's not too much a bother if I ask one more question: Does the X1950 XT have that much a performance boost from the Pro? I know that their supplies dwindle fewer and fewer, but I feel like I could find one if necessary.
a b U Graphics card
November 13, 2007 11:18:25 AM

Sure, the X1950XT is a good step above the X1950pro, but still nowhere near an 8800GT so keep that in mind when looking at pricing.

I have an X1950XT and it's a great card. But at current pricing of about $200 (in USA) new, it's not a good value. I would not recommend anyone spend $200 on one. Under $170 sure. But otherwise, the pro for $80 less offers so much more bang for buck.

If your prices are like my prices, You'd be better trying hard to find an in stock 8800GT or waiting until next week to see the HD3850 and HD3870 which should be priced in the same range as the X1950XT.

Just wanted to add, I myself would be looking at something like an X1950 pro for your system if it were mine. But I'd check price/performance of the HD3850 first if possible.
November 13, 2007 2:15:21 PM

I would second the 1950 Pro for $113 AR. With that card and this setup, you should carry long enough for the next couple years until you'll need an entire revamp. Then again that 3800 series is supposesed to be somewhere between/below the $200 price point, it would maybe be a little overkill, but that would carry you longer.